Category Archives: Uncategorized

New Release! The Dawn of a Desperate War (The Godlanders War, Book Three)

The Dawn of a Desperate WarLast week saw the release of The Dawn of a Desperate War, the final volume in the first trilogy of The Godlanders War.

It’s the best thing I’ve ever written.

I understand it’s normal for all creators to feel that way about whatever happens to be their newest work. Maybe that’s the only thing at play here, but I’m incredibly proud of the universe this story is set in.

The Godlanders’ world of Hurope was an ambitious idea. I wanted to write comic book-style high adventure in a (somewhat) traditional fantasy setting. I co-created the universe with my good friend Dan, and before I’d written a single word of narrative, we’d invented dozens of heroes and villains, along with the personalities of nations and vast, shady organizations.

It’s the first time since middle school that I engaged in serious, extensive worldbuilding, and it was thrilling. Then I started writing the stories, and that process was both invigorating (getting to play around in this very cool sandbox) and, at the same time…hard. I hadn’t tried to develop a new fantasy setting since high school.

There’s a big difference between imagining cool characters or strange cultural artifacts and then actually weaving them into a dynamic narrative. Worldbuilding can be a fun hobby, but it’s surprisingly hard to integrate that hobby into the almost unrelated practice of storytelling.

The Dreams of a Dying GodI didn’t notice that back in high school, because I had nothing to compare it to. I was learning both disciplines from scratch, mostly self-taught, so everything felt hard. But over the last two decades, I’ve been hard at work honing the craft of storytelling. I’ve practiced the process over and over again, sometimes discovering new settings within a narrative, but never really trying to force a narrative onto a massive, pre-built framework like that.

So the first time I really encountered that challenge with the perspective to recognize it came when I started working on the first book in this new series, The Dreams of a Dying God. That book was hard to write. As much as I loved the setting and the characters, every page was a challenge. I’d made plans to jot down that novel in the second half of 2012 and then churn out another FirstKing novel and another novella or two. You can look back in the archives here and see where I made that promise.

The Wrath of a Shipless PirateIt didn’t happen. I toiled for six months to write that novel. And in the process I missed four different delivery deadlines, so by the time I finished it I had to shove myself straight into the sequel. The Wrath of a Shipless Pirate felt a little easier, but instead of enjoying that, I pushed the envelope. Finally comfortable writing the enigmatic Corin Hugh we met in Book One, I sent him on a world tour in Book Two and introduced him to the characters that are meant to drive the next seven or ten books.

I love re-reading that book, but I barely remember writing it. I wasn’t getting much sleep in those days.

And that’s why I love Book Three so much. It was easy. For the first time I wasn’t fighting to reconcile our worldbuilding with the demands of my plot. The world was built, all its rough edges smoothed down by 150,000 words of published canon, and now all I had to do was tell another story in this incredible universe.

Now it’s done. It wraps up the story that began in Book One, but as the title suggests, it also lays the foundation for a whole new trilogy.

I’m looking forward to that. Corin Hugh was a wild protagonist, but the next trilogy will follow Auric Truefaith, a natural hero. It will be grand and epic and hilarious in a very Patrick Warburton kind of way.

But before I get to that, I have some other work to do. The FirstKing’s world has been too long neglected, and turning back to it now is like a breath of fresh air.

I’m diving in. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Ask Me Anything

I’ve never been a regular at Reddit, but I have friends who are and they’ve been encouraging me for a while to do an AMA (Ask Me Anything) thread.

It’s a little scary, but that’s how I plan to spend my work day today. Swing by if you get a chance.

You might want to keep an eye out for spoilers while you’re there, if you’re that sort of reader. I’ve asked anyone who asks spoiler-y questions to mark the question that way so you can skip it, but for my part I’m entirely willing to talk unwritten plot.

The Week in Words (July 31)

At the Editor’s Desk

At last, it’s here! Three months of talking about it, a month straight of setting up, and a week-long, thrilling extravaganza of business plannery have combined to make this the most exciting weekend at Unstressed Syllables since that one time when I wrote an e-Book.

We’d better get straight to the action!

The Consortium

This week I finally unveiled the glory that is my current project: the new new media, the right-brained brain trust, the Consortium…OKC. It’s amazing.

If you haven’t already been by, go check out the website. My graphic designer hasn’t gotten around to making it pretty yet, but it’s packed with good information about what we’re doing, and grandiose hints at what we plan for the future.

Believe it or not, you’ll probably hear more about it below, too.

The Girl Who Stayed the Same

I’m still talking about the girl I’ve been talking about for a while. (In case you haven’t been keeping up, her name is Kelly Lane.)

This week I added three new scenes to chapter seven of The Girl Who Stayed the Same, messing with my newest narrator’s muddled mind, and bringing back Jonas with the promise of chess. I’m looking forward to exploring his devious technique.

On Unstressed Syllables

This week we covered two major topics: a business plan as an example of a good document template, and a business plan presenting the ultimate solution to a month’s worth of complaining about (C).

Sunday I introduced the Technical Writing series on business plans with a story about my first effort at a sales pitch for the Consortium. It wasn’t terribly compelling…but it worked anyway.

Then on Monday I reminisced about the week before and its obscenely long list of template elements. I answered the questions in that list with a look at how the parts of a standard business plan line up with the template elements.

Then Tuesday I got into the nitty gritty, with a look at exactly what goes into the standard business plan. If you ever need to write one, it’s probably a good place to start. Not a good place to stop, but you could at least start there.

On Wednesday, Courtney proved she’s been paying attention with a timely look at how you can (and should) find inspiration in the public domain. By way of illustration, she talked Lincolns, zombies, Frankensteins, and Koontzes. (Personally, I find the Koontzes scariest.)

Thursday I introduced the Creative Writing series on art with a story about a story about the Academy of the Arts in my fantasy world. Turns out fifteen years ago I was already laying a conceptual groundwork for the world-changing ideas I just dreamed up last February. How unsettling.

On Friday I settled down, though, and spoke to you for the first time in a totally mature and professional voice. Don’t worry, I promise you won’t hear it from me often. This was a special occasion, though. It’s not every day I share the Executive Summary to a business plan about my world-changing ideas.

Then I wrapped up that discussion with today’s invitation to become a part of the movement, and find your place in the Consortium. I want you working for me. I’ve got nothing to offer, and it’s going to be a bunch of work, so dive right in!

Around the Web

I’ve also seen more than a handful of good articles around the web this week, that I thought you might find interesting. Here’s the best.

  • Kate Shaw at Ars Technica reported on a recent experimental study that found “Pay what you want” benefits companies, consumers, charities. That’s a pretty promising finding non-profit organizations and new-media artists hoping to compete with traditional publishing on customer service rather than litigation campaigns.

  • Speaking of litigation campaigns, the litigious J. K. Rowling is defending her own work against claims of copyright infringement, but she came out swinging this week. The Bookseller sums up the current legal situation with J. K. Rowling moves to dismiss plagiarism charge.

  • Meanwhile, guest writer Phyllis Zimbler Miller writes at BookBuzzr explains why Book Authors Need a Dedicated Website for Their Books. That’s something that’s been on my mind lately, with all the work on the Consortium. I’ll let you know if I find any better ways to get it done.

The Week in Words (July 24)

At the Editor’s Desk

I spent the week getting ready for Trish’s birthday. But that didn’t take as long as it probably should have, so I’ve gotten some other stuff done, too.

Consortium Time

I’ve gotten to the point I spend most of my project time these days doing something for my new patronage program (which I do intend to finally announce in complete detail here all of next week). That doesn’t mean I’m working on the Consortium instead of writing.

I started chapter seven of The Girl Who Stayed the Same this week, and started coordinating a photoshoot for the cover of Gods Tomorrow (which I intend to publish sometime before November).

I also spent a lot of time working with my programmers to get the Consortium’s website working (and doing amazing things), and we’ve made arrangements to do even more of that this weekend.

My Homeroom

My other big project this week has been my three-year-old daughter. She’s learning to read.

You can (of course) expect to hear much more about that in future blog posts, but I worked with her nearly every day this week, and she’s accumulating words at a pretty impressive clip. By my last count, she’s got eleven words she can recognize on sight now (with a little prodding, anyway).

It’s fascinating watching the way she learns, the way pieces slowly start falling into place. And (again of course) I am extraordinarily proud of her.

On Unstressed Syllables

This week we covered two major topics: what goes into a good document template, and what goes into mastering a craft.

Sunday I introduced the Technical Writing series on document templates with a story about a Photoshop tutorial, a blog post illustration, and a reality that’s so much less than fantasy. It was a great reminder of the purpose and effect of a good document template, though.

Then on Monday I made the connection, explaining how document templates create context through style. That article included an incredibly handy list of all the elements that go into a document template definition.

Then Tuesday I explained how to use that list, by searching for sample documents and reverse-engineering a template. The trick is to recognize what’s general and what’s specific — and then to borrow the best, and leave the rest.

On Wednesday, Courtney told us with a straight face that she’s not an expert writer, and we just sort of snickered in disbelief. Who does she think she’s kidding? That article was full of expert advice.

Thursday I introduced the Creative Writing series on patronage with the story of the time Kris Austin offered to support my writing. It helped inspire this month’s long-running series, and it helped drive me to be the best writer I could possibly be.

On Friday I discussed my ignorance of history, and then went on to give you a history lesson. At least I got a little expert input first. Anyway, it turns out the Renaissance community chose to support the artists to support the arts. They called it patronage. I’d call it retirement.

Then I wrapped up that discussion with today’s article on becoming a master of an artistic style. It’s all about learning the craft, practicing a refined style, and sticking to the path (even when it feels a little demeaning). My advice to you? Join the school of a master you can be proud to imitate.

Around the Web

I’ve also seen more than a handful of good articles around the web this week, that I thought you might find interesting. Here’s the best.

The Week in Words (July 17)

At the Editor’s Desk

This week I’ve spent a whole lot of time advancing hundreds of different projects and goals in hundreds of parallel paths. The net result is probably only a gain of a few inches on average, but miles and miles if you add them all up.

I suppose that’s too vague to be useful, but getting into all the specifics would probably be tedious. So I’ll just give you an overview of the more interesting pieces.

Visiting with Family

My parents came to visit two weeks ago for the holiday weekend, and my mom stuck around, so I got to drive her home last Friday night. That gave me five hours to chat with her on the drive to Little Rock, which was probably the first uninterrupted time we’ve had together in most of a decade. She just finished her degree to become a certified therapist, so she’s got a lot of exciting stuff going on.

I also got to check out the major work they’ve done on their house, and spend lots of time talking with Dad about his plans for opening a web practice for his therapy. It just so happens I’ve spent most of the last six months learning the kinds of things he really needs to know right now.

It was a busy weekend, but it was also incredibly valuable. I’ve got to make the time to get out there on my own more often.

Writing

After promising to get caught up last weekend, this week I did prewriting work on three different books, and finished chapter six of The Girl Who Stayed the Same. I also got to know Jesse Lane in the process, and he’s turning out to be a much more interesting character than I expected him to be.

In fact, I wrote a lot this week. I wrote six detailed project descriptions, and a couple dozen critical emails. I wrote editorial reviews for a dozen different projects in a dozen different media. And best of all, I wrote ten blog posts this week. For the first time since February, I’ve got an actual blog post buffer.

I’m really hoping to get some significant fiction writing done this weekend, to brag about in my next newsletter. In the meantime, here’s the firstfruits of my blogging labor:

On Unstressed Syllables

This week we covered two major topics: the ways writers use word count, and the value of free art.

Sunday I introduced the Technical Writing series on word count with a story about a busy weekend I spent finished up a digital copy of Ivanhoe. It wore me out (but, as I admitted this morning, it also inspired me to start on a brand new project).

Then on Monday I talked about the single metric writers, editors, and publishers use to avoid that same confusion: word count. It’s amazingly handy for a lot of reasons (and you’d better believe I exceeded my allotted word count to list them all).

Then Tuesday I explained how to convert word count to page (and vice versa), and listed some standard word counts given for a handful of common document types. I also tasked you with figuring out the right word count for the documents you write, but what are the chances you followed through on that? Probably about (one):(the word count of the fifth Harry Potter book). I can live with that.

On Wednesday, Courtney told us what she learned about writing this week from words, and weird as the words were, their message was a simple one: until you’ve got them right, you’re never completely making the connection with your reader that you want. Spend a little extra time, and hone in on the fine details. You’ll be glad you did.

Thursday I introduced the Creative Writing series on the public domain with a story about Twilight that I thought was funny. I suspect in the process I probably alienated nine out of ten of my readers, though (and that’s not a ratio, sadly enough, that’s a direct accounting).

On Friday I discussed the difference between free speech and free beer, and it was all in the context of stealing a Dickens novel from Barnes and Noble. Wait, no, that’s not right. I know it had something to do with the public domain. Go read it, and find out for yourself.

Then I wrapped up that discussion with today’s article on how to use free art in your original creative works. It’s not as complicated as you might think, and it can be incredibly valuable. If you haven’t already, check out the Creative Writing Exercise and give it a try.

Around the Web

I also found an article or two online this week that you might find worth reading (in light of our current discussions).

  • I’ve been hanging onto this one for a while, because I knew I had an article in the works on free art, but Julie Roads (yes, that Julie Roads) posted an article at Geek Girl Camp with a great primer on Using Creative Commons to Add Media to Your Blog. And, y’know, I was just talking about that yesterday!

  • And I’d like to pretend that, like last week, I’m sharing this post as a valuable counter-point to some of the things I’m saying in support of self-publishing, but I mainly wanted to share literary agent Mary’s post over at Kidlit in which she talks about Self-Publishing, Finally so that you can see the viciously condescending attitude the publishing industry has toward…well, most writers. It’s painful to sit through.

The Week in Words (July 10)

At the Editor’s Desk

Wow! Thanks to the holiday and some clever use of vacation time I ended up with a six-day weekend this week…and I’m still exhausted. The world is moving in fascinating directions, though.

The Girl Who Stayed the Same

I’ve stumbled a little bit with The Girl Who Stayed the Same this week. Monday’s post didn’t actually go up until Wednesday (although, to be fair, I wrote it out longhand in its entirety before lunch on Tuesday). Thursday’s is still waiting. I’ll get it live before the new one comes due on Monday, but it might be close.

There was a bit of an exciting development there, though. When I finished Part I (with its entire last chapter taking place in Paris), I shared it with Andi Fisher, a friend of my blogger friend, who happens to be in love with Paris. She’s now in love with The Girl Who Stayed the Same, too. (I think I’m allowed to repeat that….)

She gave me some fabulous feedback and valuable criticism, but mostly it helps to know that someone who has no real incentive to flatter me considers it a worthwhile project. And that’s on just 20% of the book. And in a state barely better than rough draft.

So…yay.

New Book Idea

This one doesn’t even have a working title. It’s that new.

But yes, as you may have seen if you follow me on Twitter, I came up with a fantastic new story idea this week. I don’t have time for a fantastic new story idea. I’m going to follow my own advice, though, and at least do a full prewriting package for it. That should be enough to capture the inspiration until such time as I can give it the attention it deserves.

Extraordinarily brief synopsis: the wizard Claighan, Master of the Sarian Academy of Wizardry, somehow gets banished to our universe where he finds the magic too erratic and feral for him to return home. Based on nothing but the preview of the Nicholas Cage movie, I’d say this story is like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, but not dumb.

I’ve been wanting to do an action-packed urban fantasy for a little while now, I’ve been wanting to discuss “Science as the last magic” for a decade, and Courtney has gone and rekindled my love for my old fantasy stuff. This project is the result of all those forces.

On Unstressed Syllables

This week we covered two major topics: Microsoft Word Styles, and copyright.

Sunday I introduced the Technical Writing series on Microsoft Word styles by telling a story of the time I used a well-styled document and created an automated Table of Contents in seconds. It blew their minds.

Then on Monday I backed away from the magic a little bit to show you the goings-on behind the curtain. After all, before you can make a Table of Contents in seconds, you’ve got to put in half an hour or so setting up and applying your custom styles. Once that’s done, you’re in business.

Then Tuesday I pretended to backpedal some more, admitting that there is a little bit of work to do to create a beautiful Table of Contents. I dove right into the illustrated tutorial, though, and it took all of four steps. So easy, they’ll think you cheated somehow.

On Wednesday, Courtney served up some knowledge (and a tantalizing book description) with her high praise for Descent by Jeff Long. The lesson she shared was that as writers, we should all be adventurers. So get to it!

Thursday I introduced the Creative Writing series on copyright with a story about the I got paid to write some fiction. Yes, “time,” singular. Shut up.

On Friday I dove into some discussion of how you could get paid to be a writer, with a brief primer on how copyright works. It’s not easy and it’s not terribly reliable (and it might be a little bit easy), but that’s the system we’ve got to work with. If you missed the article by Dean Wesley Smith in there, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Go read it.

I wrapped that up today with some words that might get me in a little bit of trouble. I’ll blame it on Courtney’s WILAWriTWe, though. I was being adventurous. Frankly, though, I don’t believe copyright is good — for the public or for artists — and I said as much in a detailed look at what it costs you to make money off of copyright.

Around the Web

I also read some fascinating articles this week that all did a pretty solid job challenging some of my positions. In the interest of fair play, I’ll go ahead and share them with you.

  • First, I’m going to throw in Dean Wesley Smith’s Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: Can’t Make Money in Fiction because I don’t entirely trust you to have gone and looked it up again for yourself. I know it’s long. You’re a good reader, though. Make your way through it.

  • Then Joel Friedlander from The Book Designer went and undermined my advice that you write a serial novel with Top 5 Reasons Authors Shouldn’t Blog Their Books. I don’t consider either of these articles crushing blows, but it’s worth your time to get both sides of the story.

  • Oh yeah! And this one doesn’t defy me in the slightest. Thank you, internet! Iain Broome over at Write for Your Life wrote up a tutorial on How to Write Smarter in Microsoft Word with Document Map. That’s a fantastic supplement to this week’s Technical Writing series, and will let you take that well-styled document even further.

The Week in Words (July 3)

At the Editor’s Desk

Once again, I’ve had a remarkably busy week working on Consortium stuff, but the tidbits I’ve been doling out here just haven’t been terribly enlightening. I’ve got a big reveal planned for the near future, so I’ll just stop discussing it in my newsletter until then. Here’s everything else I’ve been doing.

The Girl Who Stayed the Same

This week saw the end of part one (of five) of The Girl Who Stayed the Same. The book is over 25,000 words, and it’s going as well as I ever hoped. It’s incredibly exciting.

I’m also probably going to be running a contest on Twitter sometime this weekend for anyone interested in a free copy of How to Build an e-Book. So if you’re not already following me on Twitter, click here to get started.

The e-Book Challenge

I’ve only just started on this one, but it’s going to be in the news for the next eight weeks, probably.

It’s time to start thinking about the e-Book Challenge, though — a month-long event for bloggers interested in monetizing their blogs by building an e-Book. If it sounds vaguely familiar, it’s the third in the Blog Challenge series that has consisted of Carlos Velez’s Pre-Writing Challenge and Dave Doolin’s Blog Maintenance Challenge.

I’ve had a lot longer than either of them did to make plans, so I feel like there’s some pressure on me to get it right. Lucky for me, I’ve already got a guidebook written, in How to Build an e-Book.

Anyway, if it’s something you’re interested in, make sure to sign up for the e-Book Challenge newsletter now, because I’ll be sending out a special opportunity for all its subscribers in the next week, before opening up the general enrollment in mid-July.

On Unstressed Syllables

This week we covered two major topics: HTML styles in Google Docs, and the proper therapeutic approach to writing in drafts.

Sunday I introduced the Technical Writing series on HTML styles in Google Docs by telling the story of a simple little web-scraping script I wrote that evolved into a robust publication process for converting Google Docs into ePub e-Books.

Then on Monday I actually dug into that program, providing an illustrated tutorial on customizing paragraph styles in Google Docs. Of course, the tricky part isn’t finding the editor, it’s knowing what to do with the editor. The answer: Google.

Then Tuesday I had to answer some criticism from a submissions editor who saw Monday’s post on Twitter, but it gave me a chance to point out the difference between formatting your text, and labeling it with styles (which is the whole point of this three-week series), and I provided a quick overview on making your Google Docs styles match a publisher’s submissions policy.

On Wednesday, Courtney returned from her summer hiatus with an excellent excuse for her absence: a whirlwind of kitten food purchases, flea treatments, and frustrating discussions regarding the future fate of our furry foundling. She turned that into a phenomenal intro for the posts I had pending, discussing the need to protect, nurture, and de-worm your rough drafts.

Thursday I introduced the Creative Writing series on writing in drafts by providing a follow-up to last week’s story about my social anxiety. I’m getting it under control now, thanks to a rigorous workout schedule and my own personal marble statue metaphor.

On Friday I extended the behavioral therapy metaphor, with a glimpse into Narrative Therapy, a recognition of the desire for a perfect, healthy, balanced first draft, and a promise that when yours doesn’t turn out quite that right, you can fix even the ugliest rough drafts with a few good habits, as long as you make them deliberate.

I wrapped that up today with some blindingly obvious writing advice: you should write every day. It’s blindingly obvious in the same way “you should exercise more” is, but personal experience has taught me the powerful difference between trying to do something in pursuit of a long-term goal, and learning to recognize the immediate benefits. They can be much bigger than you think, but you can’t really gain them unless you’re already watching.

Around the Web

I do want to get back into the “Around the Web” game, but I’ve decided to ease into it. So this week I’ve only got two for you, and you’ll be able to see the common link: self-publishing and trying to turn your writing into a paying business. That’s more Consortium stuff bleeding through.

The Week in Words (June 26)

At the Editor’s Desk

This week I finally started on a novel I’d been talking about for ages. And I talked to many people for many hours. And I learned way more about CSS than I ever wanted to know.

The Consortium

After about a week of researching various art grants, I met with an accountant Wednesday to figure out what I need to do to get incorporated and registered as a nonprofit. Turns out what I need to do is “pay this dude $1,800 and have a lot of patience.”
That’s not stopping me, though. I also met with several of my artists about projects we can start on now to get things moving in the right direction, and I’m taking my first halting steps at playing Mr. Manager. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

The Girl Who Stayed the Same

The Girl Who Stayed the Same is now one or two scenes away from the end of Act I, and it’s been a pretty intense week in Paris. I had two very different scenes this week that were each challenging in very different ways. It was fun.
Once again, you can follow that story on my private series page at the Creative Copy Challenge, or just wait for the e-Book coming to digital purveyors near you in February 2011.

SEATAC

SEATAC, my new sci-fi title, finally has a Google Doc to call its own. Well…it’s actually had a Doc for a while now, but that was prewriting. Now it’s real.
Two days of work to come up with 400 words of real….

On Unstressed Syllables

This week we covered two major topics: markup languages, and the blogstory style of Julie Roads.
Sunday I introduced the Technical Writing series on markup languages by telling the story of the college mission trip that crippled my faith. It was all about labels.
Then on Monday I took labels a step further, with a look into how markup languages (like HTML) can be used as document authoring tools.
Then Tuesday I got specific, telling you how to apply heading tags (and which tags to use) in WordPress. Blog better.
On Wednesday, Courtney learned another important lesson about trusting her brain when she forgot it was Wednesday already. See? That’s why you need a scribblebook. If you’re still craving the article you missed, just go back and reread last week’s. It really was that good.
Thursday I introduced the Creative Writing series on the blogstory style by introducing the blogstory master (or…mistress?) Julie Roads. If you were reading along, you got to know that name quite well.
On Friday I told you why I thought she was so special. It’s not just that she’s a great blogger, but that brought the fundamental value of story her blog, and perfected the mix. If you’re not already reading her blog, you should be.
I wrapped that up today by talking about you. Well…no, not really. I talked about Julie some more. And about me. But it applies to you! Because Julie got as good as she is by choosing a writing style she loved and practicing perfection. You can do the same thing, no matter what type of writing you do.

The Week in Words (June 19)

At the Editor’s Desk

Perhaps my biggest accomplishment this week has been the production of an email newsletter. It has taken me a hair shy of seven weeks to prepare.

I do apologize for the delay. I changed the blog posting schedule at the same time I took on three major new projects, and the newsletter fell through the cracks

I might have a thing or two to say about some of those projects, though.

The Consortium

That’s right. After realizing I probably shouldn’t be giving away my new genius business idea a full decade before I had the resources to pull it off, I have nonetheless continued in pursuit of that idea (and those resources). I’ve also discovered a handful of things that make me think maybe it won’t take quite so long to make it real. And maybe I don’t have to be quite so secret.

I’m not going to go into detail here, though, because that would rob me of a month’s worth of blog post material. You can look forward to an interesting series throughout July, though, as I build the case for my right-brained brain trust.

The Girl Who Stayed the Same

I’ve also continued the serial novel I first announced in the debut Week in Words. This week I finished chapter four, and I dare say it’s finally getting interesting.

You can follow that story on my private series page at the Creative Copy Challenge, or just wait for the e-Book coming to digital purveyors near you in February 2011.

On Unstressed Syllables

This week we covered two major topics: document outlines, and story structure.

Sunday I introduced the Technical Writing series on document outlines by telling about my own harrowing encounter with an outline-wielding high school debater.

I thought I was doomed, but it turned out I could easily get over the fear of failure by not trying to win. That’s the happy ending to that story (although my debate partner didn’t much appreciate it).

Then on Monday I got down to the nitty gritty, explaining why you actually need to understand and use document outlines. Turns out they’re a fantastic way to visualize and improve your document’s structure.

Then Tuesday I told you how to actually do one, with a detailed explanation (and examples) of the standard outline format. It was awesome.

On Wednesday, Courtney forgot what she was talking about, which made for a fantastic WILAWriTWe reminding you that you should get (and use) a scribblebook.

Thursday I introduced the Creative Writing series on story structure with the tale of a year when I wandered away from writing to focus on designing and drawing mazes.

On Friday I explained what that had to do with writing. If you look at it the right way, the structure of a story is just like a maze, and there are several principles of mazemaking that can help you improve your story structure. One of the most significant: solid structure doesn’t have to be obvious structure.

I wrapped that up today by pointing out the big difference between mazemaking and storytelling. In this business, it’s absolutely your job to make sure readers can follow the plot of your novel. If they get, ahem, lost somewhere in the middle, you’ve dropped the ball. And I’m going to be classy here and not mention the writers of Lost at all.

Across the Web

I do intend to include interesting writing-related links in these newsletters, as I was doing for the few short weeks that “The Week in Words” ran as a Saturday blog post. I don’t have any for you this week, though. Maybe next week I’ll manage my time a little better. One can always hope.