Words Per Hour and Quality

Hey folks. In my last post I said that I would soon post an example of my words per hour when I’m writing at 2000 words per hour versus 3750 words per hour. The difference is quite comical, I can assure you. Both of these examples will eventually have to be re-written or even discarded based on what happens during revision. The idea here is to illustrate that while the 2000 words per hour sample is much better in almost every sense, the 3750 words per hour example does something significant. It gets the story out faster and more pure.

So here’s my first sample. This is completely unedited from my original discovery draft of my third novel. Charlotte’s best friend has just woken her up as she sat with a pile of papers surrounding her. I’m trying to ramp up some mystery.

“Sorry,” I said wiping a small bit of very un-ladylike drool from the side of my mouth. I sat up in my chair and began shuffling the papers together. I hadn’t been able to tell what was what and couldn’t draw anything more than some vague ideas of what might be related to what, so I simply scooped those piles up together and then stacked the piles on top of one another.

“Oh Char,” Sophie said in the manner that always told me that she was about to lovingly reprimand me. “You need to get some sleep now that you are human again. And you need to eat right. Eggs and toast will not due anymore. You need fruits and vegetables too. And some proper meat on occasion.”

I winced when she said meat. I’ve eaten enough meat in the last couple years to last me several years, but I knew that she spoke the truth from a place of love. That did not make the fact any more easy to swallow.

“I know. I know,” I said. “I had gotten so used to never needing to sleep unless I was hurt. I feel like I’m sleeping my life away.”

Sophie gave me a look. “Yes my love. I know. Yet you only sleep about four hours a day, unless I count all of the minutes that you fall asleep sewing.”

I nodded.

“Or eating,” she continued.

I nodded some more.

“Or on the privy.”

“Hey!” I objected. “That only happened the one time.”

Sophie laughed. “I thought I had lost you. You had been gone for almost an hour.”

“It was some of the best sleep I have gotten in days.”

“The most disgusting too.”

I could only nod again.

OK. I can’t say that’s my best writing in the world, but it’s pretty clean for me. Now below is a sample from book two. This is from a bit that I was doing for NaNoWriMo. Charlotte and Edmound have broken into a merchant’s home and are looking for incriminating evidence or trade secrets, the like. Everything seemed to be going well enough until they are discovered.

I had 2 days to write 15000 words and it only took me about 4 hours … plus some change as the first hour or so I waffled on if I was going to be able to do this or not. Needless to say I could. My message here is that you can too if you get out of your own way. Now be prepared because this is pretty hard to read, even for me. And I wrote it.

There’s a pounding at the door and the knob begins to jiggle. Edmound is all “OH SHIT” Charlotte is all darn. Let’s move the desk in front of the door. Good thinking. Wait it weights a ton? What? No it doesn’t but it is heavier than I can move. Push man push! Edmound begins to push and then Charlotte starts to push in truth. She pushes just hard enough to allow Edmound to do all the work he can. He’s sweating and his sweat is getting on some of the documents causing the ink to run. They slide the desk over to the door just as the lock clicks and the door starts to open. Something gets in the door, a sword blade wide and keeps the door from closing, but the big old desk is all in the way. Charlotte and Edmound begin gathering papers and the things the decide to steal. Charlotte is all “how are we going to carry all this?” And Edmound is all our I brought bags and she’s all out? And he pulls out a pair of tightly woven cloth bags, like sail material and all double stitched. Where did you put this? In the back of my jacket. The bags have a pair of straps. Charlotte fills hers – she still has some space. Edmound fills his. Banging on door intensifies. So the tow are all ok now what the fuck. Charlotte is all, idk but I’m grabbing some of these books. What they’ll only weight you down? I’m stronger than I look. It’ll be fine. Whatever. Charlotte packs her back full of books. They kick open a window. It’s a long way down. Shit. But it isn’ very far up? Charlotte is all, I can climb that bitch. Bitches love to be climbed. So she climbs out the window, and climbs right up the side of the building to the top of what is the tower. There she finds some well placed rope which she dangles down to the window. Edmound climbs. The door is being chopped in two as Edmound climbs out of the building. Charlotte pulls him up as quickly as he can climb. When he gets over the lip of the roof, a crossbow bolt flies up nearly striking him. Shit. They got guns …l sort of .

Now, there’s some right comedy in there, because that’s how my brain thinks at high speed. In memes and swears. I can clean that up pretty well in revision. Granted some of it is almost golden in its own way, but that’s not the kind of story I’m looking to tell. Not this time at least.

In both instances, I got the story OUT. If you remember my insistence from the prior post, then that will sound familiar. GET THE STORY OUT. A blank page is potential and in a lot of ways perfect, much like the idea of a child. But if you really want to HAVE CHILDREN then you are going to have to realize you’re going to have to do some really nasty things in the beginning. The kids will almost never be exactly as you imagine them. And you might really f’k up a time or two. But that’s ok. That’s what editing … um … psychiatrists are for. Regardless, you’ll probably find that you’re having a lot of fun in the process. Especially in the beginning. 😉

Now I’ve revealed to you my shame. Look at those examples. So much editing needed. But that’s fine. I like editing my stuff. Revision is fun … at first at least 😀

No you go out and create something new.

© 2018, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

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Writing Process

Hey folks. I know it has been a while since I last posted, so I thought I would post something hopefully kinda funny and a little informative.

If you’re just starting out like I am, then like me you may not have a ton of skills. Building new skills is a constant pursuit of mine. Well it is at least when I’m not procrastinating, fighting depression, or stuck deep in some mindless pursuit. I’m constantly trying to get myself into a consistent schedule. I’m starting to come around, but it is tough at times.

One of my original problems was thinking too much about what I was writing. Sometimes I know exactly what I want to write and the words just pour out of me. Other times I sort of know the gist of what I want to write about, but I don’t know how to get there. In those instances – which are far more common than I’d like – I worry and fret about what to write. I’ll often remove entire paragraphs or even pages of text because I decided to go another direction or it just didn’t “feel” right.

What I’ve come to discover however, was that I’m just doing this all wrong. The goal is simply to get the story out. As Ann Lamott says so eloquently in her book, Bird by Bird, “All first drafts are shit.” I’m probably paraphrasing because I don’t want to reach over the three feet it would take to pick up my copy of the book and find the actual entry, but I got the spirit of quote if not it exactly. That stuff that comes out of your fingers either by pen, pencil, keyboard, or maybe if you’re 10000 years old, a clay tablet, that stuff is all shit. You are going to have to re-write it. All of it. Maybe many, many times.

So why not just … get it out?

Get it out as quickly as possible. Just write whatever your stupid fingers tell you you want to write, and then later your sober, rational brain can read it and say “WTF was I trying to say here? Damn, you fingers write some real shit.” And then maybe you scratch that part out, or maybe you look at little more and go, “Oh wait, I was wrong. This is actually quite brilliant once you wash the shit off of it. I just need to re-write this part like … so …” and suddenly that part will be better than your first draft. As a side bonus, it will exist, which is what it will most likely NOT do if you fret about it unendingly.

For me the first draft is like pulling mud from a creek to try to make a dish or a pot. There’s a lot of mess and quite a bit of waste, but I’m new to this so I’m not going to kick myself in the ass anymore about it not being immediately perfect. I’m just going to do it. One day I may be able to do it without quite as much mess or waste, but it’s still mud. There’s no getting around that part. Hell even when I get my clay to the wheel, I still don’t know the exact shape of what I’m about to build, but I do have a good idea. Once the base shape is formed, I can modify that to my heart’s content. The fact remains that even at this step, it’s still really just mud, nicely shaped mud. There’s still more to do. So the process must be followed step by step in the proper order until one day someone is going to be eating out of the bowl or pot or whatever I made and they’ll never see, never even consider that at one point in time that thing they are eating from was once simple mud.

How freaking cool is that?

In my next post, I’ll provide some sample text from some sprints I’ve done recently. My average words per hour during the sprints was just over 2000. At the end of last NaNoWriMo, I wrote 15,000 words in about 4 hours over two days – so about 3750 words per hour. The difference in quality of my writing from 2000 to 3700 WPH is comical, but I DID get the story out with those 3750 words per hour. I probably would not have won NaNo 2018 had I wrote at 2000 WPH. Getting the story out is the most important, supreme number one, first bullet point thing period!!!!!11!11!11!!!!! (Was that emphasized enough?) 😀

No go forth and create something new.

© 2018, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

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Draug Counts to Ten

Hello.

My name is Draug. I’m a student of Master Rue of the Vengeful Wardens Monastery in … um … some place warm? I forget the name of the land. I don’t remember a lot of things very well. Big Brother Otimo says I’m stupid. Master said that might be true, but he also said I was wise which means I can see the truth of things without having to look hard. Big Brother is wise too, but he has to look harder than me. Hehe.    

Big Brother isn’t bigger than me. He’s actually smaller. That’s because I’m half of a ogre and half of a human. Otimo is half of a giant but his other half is half of a dwarf. I don’t even want to know how it was possible for me to be made so you can guess I really don’t want to know how he was made. I imagine a lot of screaming was involved.  

People usually laugh at that part of the story.  

I don’t know why. It sounds horrible.  

Anyway, I guess the dwarf in Big Brother makes him smaller than me. He’s strong like me though, just smaller. Believe it or not I’m faster with my hands though, which is weird because my hands are really big compared to everyone else’s.

My fists are really big too. Scary big.  

I wanted to tell you about a time when everyone was making fun of me. I think it is important that people hear this story  because at first  it made me really mad, but now it’s funny. So now when I get mad, I think about this story, and it makes me smile a little.

Big Brother and our friends were all on a boat. A big boat. It had huge sails and a bunch of people on board. It was fun to watch them run around and do all sorts of things like climbing ropes, pulling ropes, tying ropes, coiling ropes, cutting ropes … they really loved ropes.

There was one lady, she wore blue pants and a white shirt. Well when she wore a shirt, it was white. She was really nice to me. She would climb the middle pole of the ship to a bucket at the top. She would climb in and looked all around the sea. I don’t know for what, but I bet it was pretty. I really wanted to climb up there and sit with the lady, but Big Brother said I was too heavy and I might break something.

When Big Brother said he found us a ship to take us to the new place, I was surprised. Me and Big Brother are usually told to go away with very colorful words made serious by the pointing of swords and bows. So when the captain said he will take us and our friends on board, I was surprised. When I saw the captain for the first time, I figured out why. The captain was a monkey.

“No,” Big Brother said, “Captain Blu was an ape. Monkeys have tails.”

Captain Blu didn’t have a tail, but he did have four arms. One arm had no hair because of a fire or something, but Captain Blu covered the hairless arm in tattoos. He said something about turning cut rope into string or something. I think it meant to turn a bad thing into something better. It would have been easier to just say that though. Not everything has to be said all fancy.

Captain Blu was really smart, and he seemed to like to pick on people less smart than him, the stupid ape.

OK, I might still be a little mad.

Anyway, one day we were close to a city when he was talking to his crew. I laughed at something he said, and he looked at me like I punched him or something. It wasn’t my fault. He was the one that said ‘duty’ and made it sound like ‘doody’. How could I not laugh?

He looked at me and said that he doesn’t have room for idiots on his ship. I said I was a little slow, but I wasn’t a dummy. So then he asks if I could count.

I sighed, because counting is hard for me. Master tried to teach me once. I know two full hands are supposed to be ten, and once you run out of fingers you are supposed to start again with eleven. Next time is twenty or something. I know these things, but I can only get to eight, one number for each finger. Big brother has one more finger on each hand, so he could get to ten, but I never really figured it out. He always counted for me so I just stopped trying to learn it.

But now this big smart monkey, sorry … ape, was challenging me to count. I couldn’t run away. We were close to shore, but I didn’t want to swim for a mile to the city that we were going, and I didn’t want to look like a coward. Master always said trying was most important, so I tried.

But I sighed again too.

I used my fingers, “Thumb is one, two, three, and … um four.”

Captain Blu said, “Further than I expected. Good, good.”

Everyone else was quiet.

I looked up to see everyone was staring at me, so I quickly looked back down. I started to sweat a little and switched hands.

“Um five, six, seven, and um thumb is …”

But then I got really nervous. What was the next number? Ten because two hands is ten. But what about eight? I know I have eight fingers not ten. Isn’t there another number too?

I just stood there looking at my big stupid hands.

“T-eight-en?” I asked.

Captain Blu and everyone laughed at me, even the nice lady with blue pants and sometimes shirt. I got really mad and sad all at once. I went and sat where I wasn’t in the way and just wanted to break something. And scream. And maybe cry a little too. Mostly I wanted to run away and punch something for a long time.

Stupid monkey.

I still felt bad when we approached the dock at the city. Big Brother said the city was a good place for people like me and him. We wouldn’t scare anyone if we didn’t do anything bad, and people would treat us close to normal. Right then, I didn’t care either way. I just wanted to be away from the captain.

As soon as the boat got close enough, I got up and started running to the side of the ship nearest the dock.

Captain Blu yelled at me, “First one off the boat has to pay the fee.”

I smiled. I was happy to pay just to get away from him.

I can jump a long way so it was easy to reach the pier. Despite being big, I landed softly and started walking toward the city as fast as I could without running.

That’s when a little man stepped in front of me. He had tiny squinty eyes, a pointed nose, and scruffy hair everywhere. His teeth were long in front too. I stopped in front of him and wondered if it was possible to be half of a squirrel. He held a big open book and stared at me like he wasn’t smaller than me at all.

“You. You there. That boat is docking, and I don’t care if it’s still a dozen feet from the pier yet, nobody and nothing gets into the city until the fee is paid. Ten silver. You got that big man?”

I told the little man that yeah I had that. I started to go for my coins, but the little squirrel man had to keep talking.

“Can you even count to ten, fella?”

I don’t remember the rest.

—-

When Big Brother found me in the woods outside of the city later that night, I had knocked over three big trees by punching them over and over again, and I was working on a fourth. When I knocked over that one I stopped for a rest. Big Brother told me that he saw what happened from the ship. I said I couldn’t remember so he told me. He said that I was talking to the little man and then turned bright red. Then I held both of my big beefy fists in front of the little squirrel man’s face and I yelled, “TEN!”

Big Brother then said that the man fainted, and I walked over him and disappeared into the city.When the squirrel man woke up, he said he was really sorry for insulting me and our fee was waived. Big Brother even said Captain Blu was impressed with my quick thinking. He said that even though I couldn’t count to ten right, I knew how to use my numbers. He invited us for drinks at the pub if Big Brother could find me.

It seems I wasn’t a idiot after all.

© 2016, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

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