Lexifabricographer

November 27, 2014

NotNaNo Day 26 – Editing is the hard kind of writing

Filed under: fictionchunk,news of the day,Uncategorized,wordsmithery — Tags: , , — lexifab @ 12:34 am

I spend most of my spare time today editing the back half of Third Violin, rewriting about two-thirds of 2000 words.

I find editing incredibly difficult work. My mind still resists it. “No, don’t change that clunky run-on sentence with four adverbs and two tenses!” my brain shouts. “It’s prefect!” [1]

Even knowing there are passages that contribute little or nothing to the character development, the themes or the advancement of the plot, I still struggle to wield the word-cleaver. It’s not just that I overvalue every pristine textual pearl I’ve scattered through the manuscript, though for sure I suffer from an undue attachment to my own blathering style. It’s the concern that I might cut away good flesh along with the necrotic zombie-stained garbage. Worse still, that I might do that and then not notice, creating some sort of story-ruining, reader-offending vacuum in the heart of the piece that sucks so hard joy itself cannot escape.

And what about that witty exchange of dialogue, or this insightful narration, or that evocative description is too clever, two original, too brilliant to lose? Well, those bits are gold, aren’t they? I mean, sure, it’s gold that’s sort of dull brown and not so much metallic as nutty and smellier than gold usually is and oh my god my story is full of excrement, isn’t it?

What I’m saying is that editing confirms all my worst suspicions about how much of a derivative, cheating hack I am. Better to not edit at all than to confront an awful truth, right?

Right?

Okay, fine. Mutter, mutter. Tomorrow I’ll go back and explode the first page and a half of the story, reinsert the one or two bits of essential information, and then pretend like I wrote a much tighter story in the first place.

(But that’s tomorrow. Tonight I’ve done a good job, dammit, and I deserve some play time. So I am going to start writing a new fantasy short story which I outlined some time ago. Its codename will be The Countess until I come up with something better. The tally will refer to that new story, because I’m not counting editing in my ‘new words’ totals, even if the editing involves substantial rewrites as they it did today).

Tally: 350

New fiction words for the month: 13,020

This is how the new story starts:

Soffatt was waiting on the rain-soaked dock, guttering lantern in hand, as the Countess’ punt emerged from the mist. 

She kneeled at the fore, still and composed; the veteran poleman behind her did not need to compensate for her weight. Charcoal, her falcon, sunk his talons deep into the shoulder of whaleskin slick-jacket. The bird turned its head one way and the other, watching the punt’s master and Soffatt in the same smooth movement.

 

[1] sic

January 8, 2013

Flash fiction – Snowball’s Chance

Filed under: fictionchunk,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 12:34 am

Over the holiday break I had hoped to set aside a lot of time for writing but it turns out that that’s not as easy as I thought it would be when the kids needs all-day amusement. Instead of powering through a massive chunk of the novel draft, I frittered away at a few flabby, meandering, overwritten scenes. It’s not quite nothing, but it’s not where I’d hoped to be either.

Just as waistlines have softened and widened during the Season of Gorging, so too have the writing muscles lost some of their tension. So despite this being the middle of the worst Australian summer heatwave in years – not the worst I can remember by any stretch, but still far from negligible – it’s time to knuckle down and tone up. Exercise the body, exercise the…author-gland.

(Don’t ask me. Dammit, Jim – I’m a writer, not a physician)

In times of crisis like this, where else would I turn but to Chuck Wendig’s Friday Flash Fiction prompt? In this week’s instalment, Der Wendigster demands that his acolytes roll the bones to randomly generate three story elements from [/maths] a thousand possible combinations.

Mine are: Conspiracy fiction / On the surface of a comet / A blizzard. Enjoy this, whatever it is… (more…)

May 25, 2012

Short story – Team Evaluation (Happy 500th post!)

Filed under: administraviata,fictionchunk,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 12:50 am

For the hilariously meaningless milestone of the 500th Lexifabricographer entry since its rebirth as a WordPress site in 2006, I was going to post a short story told entirely in Twitter(-like) captions of up to 140 characters. Luckily for the sanity of anyone suffciently hard-up for entertainment that they would read such a thing, I’m still working on a second draft of that one.

Rather than renege on my promise, I wrote another story, which I just finished writing. I hope you like it.

(With apologies to Linbot, who inspired certain elements of the story)

Update: Some minor typos edited (thanks again to Linbot! And Clam, again!)

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April 25, 2012

Flash Fiction – Moonlight Serenade

Filed under: fictionchunk — lexifab @ 10:10 pm

The site is playing funny buggers. I’ve already tried to post this entry once and it black-holed out on me. Wodin knows what it’ll do this time.

Since technical dysfunctionality has already eaten one post, I’m not going to risk writing anything lengthy. So instead here is a short piece I wrote last week when I was procrastinating on doing something – I can’t even remember what that was. Would that work avoidance was always so productive…

My damn cough is still hanging around. I thought I’d knocked it on the head but now I believe it may have been more tenacious than I gave it credit for.

Let’s see if some sleep will deal with that.

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February 14, 2012

A terrible ingenious idea

Filed under: fictionchunk,Uncategorized,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 11:30 pm

Last night I was chatting on Twitter with Kaaron Warren – whom I might actually meet in person tomorrow night when I go to my first Canberra Spec Fic Guild meeting (writer’s group). We were discussion flash fiction and how the primary appeal of a short-short-short story of 100-150 words is that it’s pretty easy to finish. Unlike, say, a flabby, meandering, nonsensical novel.

“I can write 150 words,” boasts I with naive confidence.

“Do a thousand of them,” she jokes, “and join them all with ‘and then’.”

Bam. New literary subgenre invented. Or ghetto. Either’s a good description for a fat novel-length collection of loosely related or more likely unconnected micro-vignettes.

Yes, it was a joke (I actually laughed, as the young people would contract it, out loud). But I also haven’t stopped thinking about it. It’s a terrible idea. The possibilities are endless. It’s a terrible idea because the possibilities are endless. Reading it would be like listening to They Might Be Giants’ ‘Fingertips‘ stretched out to Wagnerian proportions. It would be aggravating, and inconsequential, and completely unsellable and…

I kind of want to do it.

Thankfully I have my dedication to my current novel – frustrating though it is – to shield me from impulses this deranged. I have so little time to do any of the stuff I want to do now that to even contemplate a project of stupendous dumbness is…only slightly less appealing than it might otherwise be.

Clam – there’s got to be something to this, right? This is a stupid plan whose day is about to dawn, is it not?

Right? Right? Don’t leave me hanging.

January 10, 2012

Flash Fiction – Sunset Strip

Filed under: fictionchunk — lexifab @ 10:09 pm

While I’m still trying to figure out my next move on the novel – which I think will have to be something along the lines of “mock up a new outline that gets me to the end of Draft Zero and start again from there” – I am trying to keep up momentum by making sure I write something every day. So I’ve dipped once more into the writing-prompt well of the weekly Wendig flash fiction challenge.

This week’s really was a challenge – 500 words with a title based on the first song that came up on random shuffle on my iPod. I played it straight, no cheating. The song was “Sunset Strip” by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters (from the 1987 solo concept album Radio Kaos). It is not a favourite – I have no idea what it’s about – but the name duly sparked an idea. It was a prick trying to cut the first draft back to 500 words though.

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January 5, 2012

Flash Fiction – The Rutherford Expedition

Filed under: fictionchunk,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 9:55 pm

In the spirit of cheerfully avoiding working on my novel, I have committed another act of delirious short fiction. Once again I’m taking a prompt from Chuck Wendig, whose flash fiction this week is the Sub-Genre Mashup. Participants select two from the list of six sub-genres (Dystopian Sci-Fi; Cozy Mysteries; Slasher/Serial Killer; Lost World; Spy Fiction; Bodice Ripper) and blend them in a 1000-word story.

It should be pretty easy to spot which ones I went with. It’s such a fun list I’m almost tempted to do another one (there is something seriously enticing about the dystopian bodice ripper, an impulse I don’t care to examine too closely).

No, I’ve procrastinated enough. Time to get some other work done. Please enjoy ‘The Rutherford Expedition’.

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November 22, 2011

Flash Fiction – Russet Powder

Filed under: fictionchunk,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 3:35 pm

I’m going through the agonising mid-novel crisis phase of writing at the moment. I have all the classic symptoms – shiftlessness, frustration, disenchantment. Uncle Doubt has rolled in on scratchy barbed-wire wheels, carrying a bootload of awkward questions: Where is this going? Who are these people? Why would anyone care what happened to that guy? What the hell is going on? Why don’t you care that your plot makes no goddamn sense? WHY DO YOU HATE ART!?

(Uncle Doubt is a creepy bastard. But he’s family. What can you do?)

Anyway, while I get through that, one nonsensical scene-to-be-removed-in-editing at a time, I decided to distract myself for a couple of minutes with something else. Happily, Chuck “Him again?” Wendig has come up with another one of his 100-word flash fiction challenges: Frog Powder Seagull Tower Scissors. As usual, the idea is to write a short-short (I think hereabouts we call the 100-word-exactly form a ‘drabble’, do we not?) using one of those words for inspiration.

So here we go.

Russet Powder

The fine rusty powder coated every surface inside the abandoned Beamer. Detective Inspector Graumann couldn’t make head nor tail of it, nor of the sharpened oak shaft protruding loose from the centre of the black velvet driver’s side seat cover.

A Forensics trainee passed a twine sightline from the splintered wooden head of the arrow through the windscreen entry hole. When the clumsy labrat cut a finger on the glass, Graumann sighed at his contaminated crime scene.

The powder sizzled and coalesced around the spilling droplets. Graumann clutched for his mother’s crucifix as the powder regathered into hissing human shape.

September 4, 2011

Flash Fiction Challenge – Revenge

Filed under: fictionchunk,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 1:55 am

Over at the bubbling, writhing word-pit known as terribleminds.com, Chuck Wendig does weekly fiction writing challenges, for anyone who feels like playing. This week, the subject is revenge, with a 100-word limit. Even I can remain focused and committed for a span of 100 words…and here they are (I cheated a bit and didn’t count the title).

His Chance will Come Again

“He’s breaking his conditioning!” Sister Cheryl’s beatific monotone cracked with panic. “Jesus fuck, does anyone remember his trigger word?”

Brother Zachariah – well, Constable Zach Barnes again, I guess – shook his head clear for the first time in months and snarled with comprehension. “You’re going to pay for this, Padre.”

I drew the .38 from the doubled fold in my sash. In their musclebound haste for the door, Brothers Fergus and Weasel knocked the piece from my hand. Cheryl screamed.

As meaty cop hands closed around my throat, I uttered my benediction. “This is the worst fucking cult ever.”

July 29, 2011

Wendig flash fiction challenge – “The Ctesian Ass”

Filed under: fictionchunk,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 4:45 pm

While I continue my relentless and ill-thought-out campaign promoting the works of Chuck Wendig, I figured I would join in his weekly flash fiction writing challenge this week. The subject: unicorns. I wrote three-quarters of this short story last Friday night, and then had a hell-week of colds, sleepless nights and kids with colds and sleepless nights. It’s taken all week to finish the damn thing. That’s my feeble justification for the clumsy ending…  Still, it amused me so I will probably go back and tighten it up in the next week or so. Enjoy!

Edit: Story has been renamed after Emma sensibly came up with a better suggestion than my uninspired placeholder…

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