Writing a short story

Having a short story or series of short stories published in magazines is the recommended way to gain an agent and the ever elusive publishing deal. Getting a short story published has kicked off a number of big authors careers. Stephen King is a great example of an author who started his career having his short stories published in magazines before his first book Carrie was picked up by DoubleDay.

When I attended my first science fiction convention, I was lucky enough to start at the top with 5 days at the World Science Fiction Convention – AussieCon4 which was held in  Melbourne 2010, I listened to panel after panel of writers, agents, publishers and editors recommend establishing a short story publication track record to assist in getting your novel published.

So after my planning attempt at a novel for NaNoWriMo I had a moment of clarity. Why not scale this plan down for the purposes of a short story? I have yet to do this but it’s now on my todo list for this week.

I need to be organised to get anything extra into weeks that are consumed by a job and family. Successfully planning and writing a short story would be a great achievement for me and a chance to test drive a scaled down version of my NaNoWriMo plan.

I will let you know how I go and post the modified outline, hopefully in a few days.

Good night and good luck my fellow writers 🙂



The Outline

I did it. I managed to write my first outline and to scare myself witless in the process. I took everything I have been reading about writing an outline and produced a tight day by day plan. I must confess to stealing from Save the Cat.

Yes this plan is based on how someone might write a screenplay but in my defense I chose to co-opt Save the Cat because it is very precise and following the story arc with a modified word count allowed me to create a tight plan.

The output from this writing exercise is not going to be a book ready for publishing but a bare bones, mashed up, 50,000 words. It can be then be edited into a manuscript to send to someone i.e. agent.

I still need to come up with the final path my story will take and want to add points to write to for each day. Its always easier to get to a finish line if you can see it. In this case there will be  a finish line for each day with a huge payoff at the end.

This task is becoming more daunting rather than less as I plan. My hope is that with sufficient prep I will be excited to get started by Friday November 1st. It should feel like taking a well planned trip, exhilarating and exhausting.

Now for the big reveal. Below is my plan. Ta da.

Goodnight and good luck my fellow writers xx

Date Beat Beat Beat Daily Word Count
Friday, 1 November 2013 Opening Image:500 Theme Stated:500 Set-up:700 1700
Saturday, 2 November 2013 Set-up:1700 1700
Sunday, 3 November 2013 Set-up:1600 1600
Monday, 4 November 2013 Catalyst:1000 Debate:700 1700
Tuesday, 5 November 2013 Debate:1700 1700
Wednesday, 6 November 2013 Debate:1700 1700
Thursday, 7 November 2013 Debate:1700 1700
Friday, 8 November 2013 Debate:200 Break into Two:500 B Story:1000 1700
Saturday, 9 November 2013 B Story:1500 1500
Sunday, 10 November 2013 Fun and Games:1700 1700
Monday, 11 November 2013 Fun and Games:1700 1700
Tuesday, 12 November 2013 Fun and Games:1700 1700
Wednesday, 13 November 2013 Fun and Games:1700 1700
Thursday, 14 November 2013 Fun and Games:1700 1700
Friday, 15 November 2013 Fun and Games:1700 1700
Saturday, 16 November 2013 Fun and Games:1800 1800
Sunday, 17 November 2013 Midpoint:500 Bad Guys Close In:1000 1500
Monday, 18 November 2013 Bad Guys Close In:1700 1700
Tuesday, 19 November 2013 Bad Guys Close In:1800 1800
Wednesday, 20 November 2013 All Is Lost:500 Dark Night of the Soul:1200 1700
Thursday, 21 November 2013 Dark Night of the Soul:1700 1700
Friday, 22 November 2013 Dark Night of the Soul:1600 1600
Saturday, 23 November 2013 Break into Three:500 Finale:1200 1700
Sunday, 24 November 2013 Finale:1700 1700
Monday, 25 November 2013 Finale:1700 1700
Tuesday, 26 November 2013 Finale:1700 1700
Wednesday, 27 November 2013 Finale:1700 1700
Thursday, 28 November 2013 Finale:1700 1700
Friday, 29 November 2013 Finale:1700 1700
Saturday, 30 November 2013 Finale:600 Final Image:500 1100




Off Topic #1 – Non Technical Project Managers

Begin Rant

OMG Anyone who puts someone completely non technical in charge of a technical project should be shot, along with the Project Manager. As a technical person there is nothing more infuriating than being emailed technical questions and then having the Project Manager follow up only to waste your time by ignoring your answers.

Don’t ask for my assistance then choose to not use the technical details I am giving you because clearly your managing this project is more important letting anything technical get in the way. This is the equivalent of putting the tea bag in the bin and then pouring hot water in the cup. Good luck to you Sir, enjoy your hot water.

End Rant


Outlining for NaNoWriMO

So last night I started to outline my manuscript for NaNoWriMo. I decided to start this process using Google Sites. I have been using Google Sites for a while to write. It means that I have a collection of ideas and reference material that sticks around between my sporadic attempts and avoids the usual data loss that happens when I change my hardware or it dies.

I am still using the Manuscript app on my iPad but I always fear losing data on standalone devices, even though I can backup to Dropbox from within the application, I still have to remember to do that. On Google Sites its just always there.

The first outline question I have asked myself is, how detailed does this outline need to be? At this point I am looking at having a daily plan. I figure that it is better to have a detailed plan and not need it rather than write myself into a corner that I cant think myself out of in the time I have to produce 50, 000 words. This may prevent my turning out a pile of crap that is too much effort to edit into anything after November.

I have started to create a page on the site for each day and am planning to have the direction, plot point etc at the beginning of each page. I figure I can change it on the day if I come up with something better but I will at least have a starting point. I already have the main idea and major plot points written out. I am enjoying looking at the story as a whole and trying to find the most interesting ways to develop certain aspects of it or how to bring out aspects of my characters.

Joy. It is creative joy.

Good luck my fellow writers 🙂


I have signed up for NaNoWriMo this year. Deep breath. I don’t know at this point if this is even realistic. I would love to be able to get a large enough piece of work done so that I can spend time shaping it.

I seem to spend time starting but I don’t even get to a middle or end. Maybe I am not creating enough of an outline to work with. Or maybe this is like uni and without a deadline I dont know how to put pressure on myself to get this first piece done.

Only one way to really find out. Do it.

Good Luck fellow writers 🙂

Red Wine and a book review

The book club meeting for World War Z ( audio version) being reviewed over on cheesbugergothic,  ended up being changed, changed and changed again. Needless to say I missed the actual day and time but added my 2 cents worth anyway. While reading through the comments, some loathed the book and some loved it, JB shared with us his choice of red wine, Jim Barry’s 2006 McRae Hill Shiraz, being that I love wine, in particular red, I had to go look this one up and another commenter added Jim Barry The Armagh as a wish list item. We are now talking a $40 bottle and a $250 bottle. These people drink some expensive wine and I clearly don’t know anything about wine, apart from drinking it.

Speaking of drinking, I  had a recent discovery in the region of a locally produced dry red. There has been a winery that I have passed on a weekly basis over the past 8 years, it sits right in suburbia, no other winery’s around. I have often driven slowly passed, its just before a set of lights, and commented on how I should check it out. It has never the right time. Then there I was on a Friday night with a kilo of local freshly cooked prawns, procured from a place just down from my place of work, and I found myself sitting at the lights. It was finally time.

So I park up and headed around to what I through was the front, it did have the open sign, but on the door was a notice, please enter at back door. So I walked around to the back door. On this door there was a chain and padlock along with the sign, If unattended please go up to the house. So up to the house I went. It was a hundred yards away and looked like an old style home. I stood for a moment looking at the house for a moment, decided to not be a scaredy cat, and go knock on the door.

Hi Are you selling wine? – Something I have never asked when someone answered their front door.

Yes, oh isn’t the shop open? – she smiles at me from behind the screen door. Her voice thick with what I assume was an Italian accent

So the elderly Italian lady comes out and starts walking me back to the shop.

So ah what wine to you have? I ask

Do you like red?


How much do you want?

A couple of bottles? –  This got me a frown


How much is a flagon?


Great can I have a taste first? –  I ask this even though I now feel committed to buying something since I got her out here.

She opens up the shop, a wooden, paint peeling barn really. Inside it is cool, concrete floor. I follow her in a small way and down a couple of stairs. She goes across and opens the door to the street so we have more light. Then she takes a small glass and pours me a drink from an almost head height barrel, I’m 160 cm. Wine straight from the barrel. I drank it straight down expecting vinegar. But what I got was a light dry smooth red that went straight to my head. The glass was bigger than I had thought and it had been many hours since lunch. So I bought 2 flagons and headed home with a big grin on my face. Local wine and seafood was awaiting me. I had an image of a Lucille Ball style grape stomping, which made me laugh.  I was going to make my partner very happy with today’s gathering.


Good night and good luck fellow writers

What is real writing?

Tangible. That is how using the Manuscript iPad application makes me feel about writing my first novel. It has become tangible. I have character descriptions, chapters, research tools and a book graphic I open that has my name and manuscript title on. I have a real relationship with what I am creating, it feels real. I spent last night writing instead of playing Candy Crush Saga. I still sat on the couch, with my partner after the end of the day. Everyone fed, kids in bed, adults winding down. And it felt good.

I finally gave myself permission to just write. I have done as much outlining as I felt I needed to and so I am doing the fun part. Writing. I have given myself permission to not have a word count. I don’t have to write 2000 words a day. Writing is not my full-time job. I have a full-time job that I love and pays the bills better than most writing jobs do. But I still have this urge to write. It’s an urge I have had since childhood.

Turns out giving myself permission to write at my own pace, in my own time is all I needed to do. Trying to live up to other peoples goals and expectations gave me writers block. I wanted to approach writing as a professional does, not like it is a hobby, and it didn’t feel like I could take pride in what I wrote if it didn’t meet some professional standard. Bah Humbug. From what I have read Stieg Larsson wrote his books at night for fun. He thought about them, loved them. I want that experience. No I don’t think that will bring me the same level of success. I do expect that I will produce the best manuscript I am capable of. This is not a race, it is fulfilling a passion.