Who Says Outlining Stifles Creativity?

Last night I was writing a section in my WIP where, while riding in a carriage, the female characters engage in exposition as dialogue. Things are getting a little heated when the carriage stops – there is an obstruction in the road. Classic highwayman technique. The driver gets out to let the ladies know what’s happening when he gets shot with an arrow, turns, draws his sword and is slain by two more arrows.

As it turns out, it’s a character known to the ladies who does the killing. Evidently, according to this character, this is a plan to abduct or kill the occupants of the carriage. What no one knows yet, and probably won’t for several dozens of thousands of words, is that this character staged the entire false-attack event to get in the good graces of one of the ladies. There is no plot.

The best part about this? This isn’t in my very detailed outline. The journey in the carriage from point A to point B most assuredly is, but this bit with the arrows and blood and death and all just popped into my head as I was writing.

Just goes to show you that knowing where you started and where you’re going to end up doesn’t necessarily mean you know what’s around the next bend.

Be safe and be well.


#NaNoWriMo Week 1 Update

Just a quick after-the-patriots-before-the-pizza-arrives update on my NaNoWriMo Week 1 progress.

Billy, show ’em the chart:

Nano15 Week 1

As you can see, I’m a bit behind the curve and I know why. I violated one of my rules and did not use the Pomodoro timer at all until yesterday (the word count spike). The new words from today are in week two.

I find my lack of Pomodoro disturbing.

A mistake I shan’t make again.

I hope you’re doing better than I am.  Until next time…

Be safe and be well.

Not Just Pretty Designs

Groovy Geometrics for Adults

Groovy Geometrics for Adults now on Amazon

When I told you a few days ago that I had spent the majority of the last year designing a series of coloring books, I was not as honest as I could’ve been.

As it turns out, I was working out a draft of a rather long series. I didn’t realize I was doing so at the time; such is the nature of my genius. 🙂

I’m taking some well-deserved time off from my EDJ during which time I will eat too much, drink too much, spend too much time in the sun and do very little writing to advance the outline of which I just spoke. It’s not that I need to break from writing (I really need a break from job), but I need to let the outline float around in my subconscious a little more.

I’ll be using the excuse of NaNoWriMo to see just what kind of output I can get. I know I can get 15-20,000 words out of my brain in the course of the day if I spent all day focusing on productive writing, but I’m not going to get that chance in November.

It will also give me an opportunity to determine what my current “Pulp Writing Speed Warp Factor” is. I would very much like to have 1 million words written in 2016. If I take weekends off that’s about 3800 words a day, but I don’t take weekends off when I’m writing. I may reduce the amount of time I spend writing because I have other things to do, but I don’t completely stop.

I just wanted to take a moment here, at 6 AM on my first day of vacation, to let you know I will be posting far more frequently than I have in the past year.


Be safe and be well.


Act 0

Yes, Act Zero.

The Act before Act One.  The Act with all that groovy backstory that you’ll only squeeze in through flashbacks, dreams and exposition.

This is the equivalent of the scrolling words at the beginning of all the Star Wars movies.

Episode IV


It is a period of civil war.

Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.

Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy….

We NEVER find out the details of this “fist victory against the Galactic Empire” in any of the six movies. In the later writings it is explained, but not in the films. We just need to know it happened. Like the Clone Wars. Luke’s father and Ben Kenobi fought together in them, but for about 20 years no one knew what the hell the Clone Wars was about. Personally, that bugged the Hell out of me, knowing there was a massive something that happened before.

Likewise in “The Hobbit” and “Harry Potter” we don’t, at first, know anything about the One Ring or the Cloak of Invisibility, but they are critical to both stories. We eventually find out about where these things came from, but there is no immediate explanation.

This can bog you down, this Act Zero that no-one ever sees.  Make sure it sings just as sweetly as the rest of your narrative.

This is the reason for my low output for the month of January, as reflected in the chart below.

Some days I did well, others were only moving paragraphs and entering connections,  and sometimes I did nothing. There are a lot of distractions to deal with, one of them (for me anyway) was the holes in my backstory.

Why are they here? Got it. Family tree? Check. Fluidity of pot (“as a result they…” as opposed to “and then they…”)? Handled. What did they do yesterday or last week that got us to the underlying conflict complicated in Act One and totally blown out of proportion in Act Three?

Yeah, that’s where it got me.  Act 3 (of five).

In Star Wars IV, we see Greedo corner Han Solo in the cantina on Tatooine. Bounty hunters have been  looking for Han because he dumped Jabba the Hutt’s cargo when he was boarded by the Empire.

We see none of this, because it’s Act Zero, but it sets a major plot point for the next two films (the carbonite thing).

Lesson Learned.

Word counts

Wordcount graph
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This represents about 15,000 words. Writing fiction is a lot different than the kind of writing I’m used to, and it shows.

Be safe and be well