Friday, July 19, 2013

The End of the Beginning

Welcome to my final post on this site. It's been a fantastic three years. Thanks to all of my readers and supporters for helping my platform grow to the point that I need a new blog.

The fun will continue on my new site, which will launch on Monday. This site won't be going anywhere. I intend to leave it running as an archive with links to the new place.

Thanks again, and see you Monday!

Update: my new blog is up and running at http://brianniemeier.com/. All are welcome.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Moving House

I've reached a decision. It's been a great three years here at Blogger, but my web journaling needs are quickly outgrowing my gracious host's ability to meet them.

As a result of these and other factors, my blog will be relocating to a self-hosted WordPress site. Along with the new address, my web journal's name will also be changing. Soul Saga forms the core of my speculative fiction work, but making it or any one fictional universe the masthead of all my professional efforts is too self-limiting.

Look for the new site to launch on Monday. New posts will continue to appear thrice weekly, along with "best-of" style reprints of my most popular articles on Tuesdays and Thursdays (until I run out). I'm also planning to release more exclusive material through the new site, such as short stories and possibly serialized novellas.

The new URL and name will be posted here soon. I hope that all of my dear readers and loyal subscribers will join me for the housewarming party.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Roger Ebert's Little Movie Glossary

I recently had the pleasure of discovering Roger Ebert's (Bigger) Little Movie Glossary. In this book Ebert assembles a list of film tropes, conventions, and clichés. Many of these insightful and hilarious terms can be found here.

Some of my favorites include Baked Potato People, the Engine Equalization Law, and the Law of Economy Characters.

I'm not sure why, but sorting entertainment tropes into easily referenced categories like these holds a strange appeal for me. Check out the book or the sample list above and see how many movies you can name that included one or more of these clichés.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Souldancer Revision Log

It's taken twelve years of intermittent work to write a version of Souldancer conforming to the norms of contemporary novel format. I'd like to share a few insights on the process.

I composed the first draft of the novel ten years ago after a long, collaborative world building project. I figure it took me about two and a half years to finish that draft. Being my first attempt at a novel manuscript, the first version teemed with amateur mistakes. Bloated by redundant exposition on every page, reams of purple prose, and only the faintest hint of a story structure, the original MS weighed in at 300,000 words (1135 typed pages).

I still can't believe I found stalwart souls willing to beta read that monster, but I did; and I'm forever grateful for their efforts.

I attempted sporadic revisions from 2005 until 2010, when Nick inspired me to get serious about writing. Looking at what I'd written confronted me with another rookie mistake: I'd started backwards. Or rather in the middle. My extensive world building had yielded four books' worth of notes, and Souldancer actually comes second in the planned continuity.

I resolved to start over and began work on Nethereal, the first volume in the cycle. Two years and three revisions later, I'd refined the story into a satisfactory form. Building on this foundation I revisited the Souldancer project. The futility of a line edit soon became clear, and I decided to redraft the MS.

Starting from scratch gave me the chance to correct structural flaws and clean up the prose. My chief working principles were (in no particular order):
  • Narrative flow and economy.
  • Logical story structure informed by theme.
  • Believable, organic character development and motivation.
  • Maintaining conflict, tension, and tight pacing.
Again drafting one chapter at a time, I gradually became aware that the book's page count was shrinking. Soon I noticed that this phenomenon had become truly dramatic (I was writing action on page 50 that occurred on page 100 in the original draft). Not until I compiled each chapter into the new MS did I learn just how effective my streamlining had been.
  • Original Souldancer MS (second revision): 300,000 words, 1135 pages.
  • Current Souldancer MS: 88,000 words, 370 pages.
What amazes me is that, besides a few tangents and extraneous subplots, I cut very few scenes from the original version. The current MS covers the same principal action in almost exactly one-third of the space. Even better, I don't think the narrative feels rushed; just faster paced.

I'll let you know what the beta readers say.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Share My Joy

I just finished the latest full Souldancer draft.

This manuscript, which I consider the beta for version 2.2, is at present the most refined form of a story I've been working hard to tell for twelve years. It is my greatest achievement to date, not because it's objectively the best writing I've produced (I leave that judgment to my readers), but because enshrining this tale in written form has always been a labor of love.

My undying thanks to all the friends who've helped me realize and share this story. I eagerly await the beta readers' verdict. If you'd like to join them, I'm considering applicants via email and the comment box.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Multiple Updates

A series of developments occurred over the weekend.

The Nethereal partial manuscript submission I sent to Tor back in December resulted in a form rejection.

The agent I'd queried most recently replied today with identical results. I'll be sending out another query to a new agent tomorrow.

It's startling to look back at that December update and see that I was only on chapter ten of the latest Souldancer revision. I'm now on chapter 46 and expect to finish the latest draft of the book this week.

End transmission.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Ocean at the End of the Lane

Neil Gaiman's new book is out. Here's Benjamin Percy's review. It's a tale of childhood reminiscence uncovering forgotten wonders and horrors.

I shouldn't have to say anything else. Go read it.