Scene Building via Dialog

Here’s the thing, I set out to write this next project without an outline. My plan was to just blast out the words as they came to me and see where the characters took the story. I’ve heard this works. Not for me (so far, anyway). I kinda need to know what’s going to happen or I can’t come up with the connective tissue. So instead of writing a bullet point outline, I thought I’d build scenes one-by-one, but instead of just writing a sentence for what each scene does or going too far and writing it full out and unattached, I tried splitting the difference. I wrote only the dialog.

It was pretty fun, actually. I basically transcribed important conversations between the main character and others in the book. My main concern was that it might end up completely disjointed and random. Or that these conversations would end up being the negative space and no story would develop. In fact, the opposite happened. The conversations all ended up being pretty intense and took me places I never intended to go. In a good way!

So I’m moving forward with this approach. Dialog scenes with little or no description or internal monologue that build into the story. Naturally, not every scene will make it into the final story, but for now, it’s a great way to get a lot of words down fast and generate building blocks for the narrative.

Irony Bites

A few weeks (months?) ago, I dished out a piece of advice in which I state that a person who wishes to release a piece of media should do a title check to see what is already out there. I had done it for my second book. BUT NOT THE FIRST BOOK! Yes, friends, I was comically surprised how many exisiting books had the word “progeny” in the title. And how many of those had “progeny” as the ONLY word in the title. Guh.


So I’ve changed the title of the book to Dolan’s Son. And you can buy it here on Amazon for 99 cents.

OR you can read it free in PDF form or .MOBI

See what you think and please write a review. The book description reads like a telegram so I have to re-do that. And the cover is temporary as well, but I didn’t use comic sans or papyrus on it so it’ll do for now.

First Person Time

I finished the first draft of Progeny a few months back. It’s been out there with my reader friends. Several have gotten back to me with encouragement and constructive feedback. A nice combination of “I liked it!” and “what the hell were you thinking here?” My old friend Tom pointed out some great stuff and once I make those fixes, I’ll post the book for the Kindle, Nook, Smashwords and right here.

On Progeny, I used the third person because… I don’t remember why, actually. I never broke from the main character’s story. Maybe I thought I would splinter off the plot lines as the story went on, but then I didn’t. Truth is, I prefer the first person. So when I started this next project, it’s a little crazy that I didn’t think of going first person right of the bat. Why? Not sure.

I was thinking of ways to open the next project and I turned to some of my favorite books for inspiration (aka theft). Count Zero is third person, but has multiple threads. Altered Carbon is first person. Lee Childs’ first Reacher novel, Killing Floor, is in the first person, but the rest of the Reacher books I’ve read (up through book 4, I think) are all third person. Weird to switch it up, but I guess he decided he wanted the reader to know what was happening to people in the story besides Reacher. Mankell’s Faceless Killers is third person, but feels like a first person narrative. You get the sense you’re feeling what Wallender feels even if you never hear his inner thoughts. It’s great writing, and way out of my league.

One of my problems with Progeny is how much it felt like a screenplay (as I’ve said many times here). Third person description and action. How many times can you write, “Jim thought” after every time the guy has a thought? Gets old. For the new project (untitled as of right now), I wrote the first chapter in the third person and I struggled with the same problem. Pretty bland storytelling. Dry description and chains of dialog. Just for kicks, I rewrote the chapter again in the first person. It was like a light went on. Actually, it was more like a floodgate opened. The words came easy and the story unfolded more naturally. The story is about a guy who acquires rare objects for the ultra rich. It’s a future where cities have no vehicle traffic and areas are either overcrowded or abandoned. He has just lost his partner and mentor and is making a go of it on his own. He owes money, his friends don’t trust him, and his confidence is shot. He poaches a job from another collector and is soon in over his head. That’s the setup. Seems obvious now, but it took me a while to figure out that it’s a personal story. It centers around this character and not really the events themselves. The story is Creighton’s story, not a sweeping account of the great battles of the Nextor System. I made that up just now. Gold, right? Gold.

There are enough writing advice blogs and twitters out there and I never intended this blog to be anything more than an account of my progress and decisions. But if you’re banging your head against your idea and the word counter is laughing in your face, try a change of narrative voice. Worked for me.