The Threefold Revenge: Outline Completed

A Victory, of SortsWhew! I’ve finally finished the outline for “The Threefold Revenge,” which is Episode #2 of Pageeda’s story. I don’t have an official title for the serial, which I’m currently projecting to be five parts. However, it’s been considerably more difficult to write than I expected, mostly because the story I’ve chosen to tell is so complicated and intricate.

I was very happy with how the first episode, “Bitter Days,” turned out and originally expected the second episode to flow as smoothly as the first one. Alas, and despite originally outlining it, the second episode ground to a halt after three chapters. I was happy with the individual scenes I’d written, but not with the overall plot and pacing. Hence, the revised outline, which I believe has done a much better job of capturing the intertwining plot lines, the multiple character viewpoints and the steadily increasing stakes. It also sets up the following episodes much more effectively.

Not only have I finished the revised outline for the story, I’ve also sent it out to a couple of my alpha reviewers to get some outside perspectives on it. I can tell you, though, that Episode #2 is going to come out at about 34K words, compared to 19K words for Episode #1.

More details about “The Threefold Revenge” will be appearing soon, so stay tuned.

Posted in Writing Tips | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Film Review: Thousand Pieces of Gold

Thousand Pieces of GoldMy friends and family know that I have a thing for indie films that pack an emotional wallop. Well, I came across another gem of a movie on Hulu. It’s called Thousand Pieces of Gold and it’s a low-budget indie film from 1991. In fact, the Internet Movie Database gives it 7.3 stars, which is an excellent crowd-sourced rating.

In China during the 1880’s, farmers and herders are facing poverty due to famine conditions and military conflict, exacerbated by the depredations of soldiers who might as well be bandits. Facing an inhospitable winter and likely starvation, Lalu’s father sells her into marriage. Instead of becoming a bride, though, she’s transported to America against her will and sold as an indentured servant.

Lalu ultimately ends up in an Idaho gold-mining town, the property of a Chinese saloon owner who wants to turn her into an exotic whore for the locals. However, he never counted on Lalu’s strong will, which foils him at every turn as she tries to make her own future in this strange new land.

The story does a great job of capturing the turmoil of frontier life in a gold mining town, the culture clash between the Chinese and American residents and the transition of Lalu (admirably played by Rosalind Chao) into a force to be reckoned with, all leavened with a dose of humor and a smidgin of romance (with her love interest played by the inimitable Chris Cooper). I also appreciated the nuanced characterizations, which allowed all of the characters to have shades of gray and white rather than slipping into easy stereotypes.

Even more interesting, the story is based on real life events and real people, as described in the 1981 book by Ruthanne Lum McCunn, Thousand Pieces of Gold, upon which the movie was based.

Not a perfect movie; the ending comes across as a little abrupt. Still, a very good movie and one well-worth your time. Check it out on Hulu or look for it elsewhere.

Posted in Film | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

2014 Writing Group Stats

OK, I can’t help it. My computer science background means that I’m a numbers guy. On top of that, I’ve always been taught that you can only improve what you can measure. In 2014, I tracked my attendance at my two writing groups, as well as my submission percentage, i.e. – how often I submitted content to the groups to be critiqued.

Here are my statistics:

Writing Group First Meeting Attended Submissions Sub % Stories
Loudoun County Writers Group 3/24/14 36 15 42% 5
Loudoun SF Critique Group 6/8/14 26  8 31% 3
    62 23 37% 8

So let’s break this down a bit. I attended 62 meetings. Each meeting is two hours. In addition, there are sometimes post-meeting discussions or lunches that are just as valuable, creatively speaking, as the meetings. On average, let’s add an hour per meeting for the “extra stuff.” Each meeting requires roughly two hours of work to critique the weekly submissions. That adds up to 310 hours over the year.

That doesn’t account for writing time, of course. I had 23 submissions averaging around 2000 words each. Let’s call that four hours per submission, which we’ll round up to a hundred hours. So, we’re up to 410 hours. This still doesn’t account for blogging, content that’s been written but not yet submitted, content revisions, background research, etc.

When all is said in done, it’s likely that I spent more than 600 hours last year writing, logging, critiquing, networking and otherwise honing my craft. This is what I believe is required in order to ascend to the professional level of writing to which I aspire.

The next challenge, of course, is to actually make money.

Posted in Writing Tips | Tagged , , | Leave a comment