Finding Entertainment

Date posted: November 12, 2018

Hello all. Here I am again.

Another week has passed, and boy am I tired. I had another weekend of day-shifts, and it sure does take it out of me. Long hours in a time where I see the sun after I usually only ever see the moon certainly doesn’t help my sleep schedule. Honestly it wasn’t so bad, just boring. But again boredom is way better than certain types of excitement, so I’m not going to complain too much.

Anyway, what have I been up to besides working ‘strange’ shifts? Well I finished up watching the episodes of Fairy Tail on Netflix. Decent shonen show, I’ll probably continue it on Crunchyroll here shortly. Also the co-author recommended the animated Castlevania on Netflix, and I watched several episodes last night/this morning while I tried to reset my schedule. I think I like it. I like the writing so far, though I will say some of the delivery doesn’t sound quite right to my ears. Then again I’m generally used to listen to Japanese when I watch something animated, so perhaps it’s just that.

Other than that I’ve been reading, of course. Since I’m a glutton when it comes to the written word, I’m starting to worry that I’m not going to find something enjoyable to read again. Not that I’ve gotten quite there yet as there is a vast ocean of books to read in the Prime Reading category, so I should be able to find something to please the palate. But since my pleasure lies in the sci-fi/fantasy category, and as huge as their collection is, I’m still having difficulty deciding what next I should read. I can’t rely on going through all the books from authors I’ve already enjoyed, as much of those you do have to pay for. So I’m hunting and clicking around much of the time trying to locate a hidden gem. I’ve found quite a few, though I’ve also dropped a number of books that just didn’t do it for me for one reason or another. I just wish there was an easier way to find good books on Amazon. Certainly they have their ratings to go by, but while others may have enjoyed something, it doesn’t necessarily mean I will. As my Goodreads list grows I wish it did a better job at recommending. Oh well, I suppose I’ll just have to keep hunting on my own with little help from algorithms they implement.

We’re still editing, so there’s that as well. It’s going much smoother for me this time around, and I’m not finding too much to change, as I’ve said before. The co-author keeps adding things as well, so I’ll be checking those changes out soon. But mostly I’ve just been re-wording things, and trying to decide if I should add anything, or if there is anything that should be removed. Right now, after re-reading this book around five times, I think it doesn’t need much changing. Of course the co-author could come to different conclusions, but luckily we generally agree on such things.

And with that I shall leave you to it. Have a great week, and I’ll keep working on the book.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update: Currently on chapter 28 out of 36

Steven Oaks

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Still editing, still enjoying

Date posted: November 5, 2018

Howdy folks. I’m back.

So, what have I been up to? Well I’ve been editing of course, though I’m mostly going over well trodden “edited” words at this point. There’s very little that I find that needs fixing, and mostly it’s just me re-wording things so they seem more pleasing to my tastes. Only rarely am I finding anything that needs any work, though amusingly enough mostly it’s the addition of ‘the’ before names. I suppose when the co-author and myself are writing we are used to using a descriptor as apposed to a name so we’ve been putting ‘the’ there, but looking back they are easily spotted and discarded. But it does make editing amusing when you here someone referred to as “The” so and so. So much import, for no reason. Heh.

I still can’t express how helpful it is to have an audio version of the book to listen back to while editing. The human eye will not catch any errors, especially after re-reading when editing so often, as our brains will re-word everything into what was meant as apposed to what is there. I wish I had used this method for the last several books, as I assume I’ve missed things I shouldn’t have. But here we are, and I get better each time I write. Perhaps one day I’ll look back in embarrassment at what I’ve already published because of such errors. But the truth is I’m proud that I was able to write at all, and without those first books I’d not be who I am today.

Speaking of this book, the co-author continues to edit. They keep adding to it, and I keep going back to the section they’ve worked on. It’s interesting to see what they change, though mostly it’s to add a bit more characterization. They are very good at world building, and in a subtle way that I still struggle with from time to time. An example would be for me, I’ll write a scene, focused mostly on words, but they’ll put in the background, and focus on what they characters are physically doing. I guess I’m an oddball, as while I read another writers book I almost entirely focus on what characters are saying, and only as necessary am I paying attention to what they are doing. So much so I find myself going back through a paragraph to understand what I’ve just read because I’ve missed something. This is something I’ve been aware of for a long time, and I’d like to think I’ve gotten better, but it still happens from time to time. But since I read so fast it hasn’t made a huge difference in my enjoyment, so I’ve probably haven’t tried hard enough to fix this.

Another thing I find so fascinating about this book, is that I find it difficult in recognizing who wrote what. Sure, there are a few things that stick out, and I know for sure there is an entire chapter that was written by the co-author, though I think I put in a few things there myself. It’s a great chapter by the way, but we blend together so perfectly we entwine our words, it’s nearly impossible to tell who wrote what. Together we are making a really good story. At least in my opinion. I can’t wait to have it published so you all can enjoy it.

And with that, I think I’ll leave you for now. I hope you all have a great week.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update: Currently on chapter 23 out of 36

Steven Oaks

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Why I drop books

Date posted: October 29, 2018

Hello again dear readers. I’ve come back again with another post for you.

Today I’m going to talk a little bit about reading. Before this year I’ve only given up reading a few books. Part of that was because either another or I spent hard earned money on them. A few, were terrible, but I pushed through. Some still linger in my thoughts, either as they were so dreadful, or they were on subjects that just either didn’t interest me, or were too vulgar. But for the most part, I felt I could last through anything.

But now I have a nearly limitless banquet of books via Kindle Prime, I’ve taken to being a bit more critical. Certainly there are interesting or clever things to learn from these books, but while I do read with that in mind, I also don’t want to waste my time on reading things I abhor.

Of course there are things to take away from a book you dislike, especially for those of us that write, but eventually it’s counterproductive. I can last through clunky writing, but I can’t stand bad characterization. Take for example when a person is attempting to write someone as if they were a genius, or at least brilliant. If I spot anything less than clever it takes away from my immersion. Of course clever people can do unintelligent things, but when they consistently make poor decisions, it really irks me.

To me it’s characters first, and story second. Yes a story needs to exist for a book, or at least some sort of narrative, even in a biography. But, truly if you can’t write a person, believable in their own world and from your own words, then that isn’t a book. That’s a collection of things that happen to an ever shifting blob of a person. Not a character, and not even a person really, but a thing that reacts the way you want the story to go.

When I write I do so with the idea of a story, but a clear picture of a character in that world. I let my concept of that person lead me around said universe, and see what happens. Yes I try to make sure they follow the path I want, but with as little encouragement as possible.

Without a believable character you lose the ability to empathize with the perspective of that person you’ve created. They are there so the audience can live in that world to. Perhaps not making all the choices the audience would make, but at least making believable choices. Otherwise you are left with a broken story.

This of course is all from my perspective, and I realize other people enjoy an interesting world more than they do characters. However, try to think back on any book you’ve truly enjoyed. Do you remember the people written there, or do you remember the world? Obviously there have been certain books I’ve read when I was younger that I remember the world more, those being more hard sci-fi, but for the most part it’s always been about how those people deal with those interesting worlds. I have more of an investment when reading about characters that have personalities, but again that’s just me.

So from my viewpoint, if you are to write, invest in your characters. Don’t make them too plain, nor too over-powered. Make them real, or as realistic as your world allows. Grant them individuality, and your investment will grow into a believable story.

Until next time, I hope you have a great week.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update: Currently on chapter 19 out of 36

Steven Oaks

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Different Styles of Writing

Date posted: October 22, 2018

Hello once more. I’m back for yet another blog post.

So what shall I write about this week? I’ve not much to report. The editing is still going well, and since I missed out on using the text-to-speech program for the first half of the book I’m doing that now. Surprisingly there are still a few errors, mostly missing words now and again, or additional ones that seem to be more of a garbled mess when they are spoken as opposed to simply reading them.

I think that perhaps this has been the most effort I’ve put into editing. Likely because it’s not just myself involved in writing the book. I’ve never been too concerned about how I am perceived, I already know I’m not perfect, but the co-author deserves my best efforts. I could have easily stopped my own editing and moved on to another book at this point, but I’d like to think continuing to edit will make this book shine. I’ll just have to keep it in mind for the next thing I write, as I think because of the extra work I’m putting into the book has made it so much better than things I’ve written before. My fault entirely on those previous occasions for just giving myself a specific number of run throughs I would do, but now I can set the bar higher for myself.

As to writing, there are two thoughts on how to compose a story. One is to meticulously create an outline with all story beats laid out, and then to write the story in between each section. I’m not one of those persons. I’m the other, crazy type that lets the story grow mostly on its own. Certainly it would help direct the story, but for me I just like to create a character and watch them explore the world I make, instead of already deciding what they’ll do. Sure I have a beginning, an ending, and a few scenes already thought up for the middle, but mostly I set my pieces on the board and see what happens. That’s the reason my first few books seem closer to a stream of consciousness than anything else.

This way of writing does involve certain issues when it comes to editing though. When you have an outline you already have the world worked out, and all items are in their place. You can simply look back while you write at your little diagram and expand upon what was written there. The way I write I find that I miss a few things here and there, like little things a character picks up, and then I might forget to mention those things ever again, or perhaps they’ve dropped them, and then I’ll later have them pull it out when they shouldn’t have them. That’s where I think something like an item sheet would be helpful. I just wish there was a program that had a character sheet that would have save states for each chapter, then I could just look over and see what each character has on them. I find it mildly frustrating going back through entire chapters looking for mentions of what I’ve given or taken away from these people I’ve made up. I’ve been relying on the co-author to catch me on any mistakes there, as apparently I’m more concerned with dialogue than anything else. I’m lucky to have them watching my back.

In the end I think I’ll start using a hybrid of both styles of writing on any future book. One where I write out a basic outline, and yes, I think I’ll even make a character sheet with traits and inventory. I already have several programs opened when I write, what’s another one to clutter the screen? Luckily modern computers can handle such things, as when I first started my journey as a writer many years ago I only had a word processor opened, and I was lucky to have a stereo nearby to play music.

Now I can do all that in one place, and have an even wider selection of resources to call upon. Admittedly I at times miss the simplicity. It was a distraction free time in my life, but now with all the things I can look up on the Internet to double-check myself, I at times find that I’ll fall down the rabbit hole. There is so much to learn, and so many interesting things that I wasn’t aware of. Much of which is no use to what I’m writing, but it’s still fun to know things. But knowing something can only add to my ability to write, and never will diminish me, though it might distract me.

Until next week I’ll leave you with a wish that you have a great one. I’ll see you next time.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update: No estimate available, we’ve gone beyond where I thought we’d be done editing.

Steven Oaks

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Growing as a Creator

Date posted: October 15, 2018

Hello. How’s it going?

Me? Well I’m alright I suppose. I’ve gone through the book at least four times, and I’m doing another pass to meet back up to where the co-author is. They’ve been able to edit and review a bit more since last time, and even listened to my advice about using text-to-speech to help edit. So there’s that.

Else-wise I’ve just been reading more, and going through the book in my free time. You could say we’re well on the way to having this book ready for release. We are definitely more than halfway through editing, but that may not be saying much. It took about a year to get the first draft finished, and we’re only in the 10th month of editing.

Now some people say it should take at least much time to edit, or revise, your first draft as it did to write it. I’m not one to hold with absolutes when it comes to creating things. Certainly I think their rule speaks on the side of caution, no one wants to release an imperfect creation, however it is up to you the creator to decide when such things are done. Unless of course you are working with a publisher or team to complete a book or such thing. I do suggest putting a large effort into making sure you are releasing something that is as perfect as you can, but don’t beat yourself up too much if there are errors. Yes you should put some due diligence into editing, but you won’t please everyone.

Let me go back to my first three books. Those I wrote to prove to myself that I could do it. I’m sure those that have read or will read them in the future will find grievous mistakes, probably in sentence structure. I did my best, and had several people read over it, while I wrote and after, but as humans we won’t find all errors. As to how it’s written, well, I’ve not come across anything too similar. It likely rubs people the wrong way, and I don’t blame them. As I’ve said I wrote them to see if I could, and since I’d never written something as long as a book, I wrote what I knew. Myself, and my own stream of consciousness.

Now a few more books under my belt, I don’t think I could even write like that again. Maybe if I’d held off until I got a bit more experience under my belt they’d be better, but they wouldn’t be the same. I like them, though admittedly it’s embarrassing to look back at them with my ever-growing critical eye. However, to me, they are a glimpse of who I was, and what I was thinking. Certainly there are huge swaths of things that haven’t changed in me since then, but it’s those differences that I find interesting. The political climate, religion, and all those things that were important to me at the time. But always the search for truth, be it universal or personal, are always inherent in what I write.

Working with another person so closely has changed the way I write as well. Hopefully I’m learning a little on how to write like them, and if I have anything to add, they are learning as well. In the end, each book I write I grow. Until I start writing worse, heh. But I’ll keep writing, and keep reading. I learn something everyday about storytelling, and try to incorporate each thing I find enjoyable in things I read and watch, and this is why I have a feeling this next book will be a better example of what I think a book should be. And the next one will be another step.

Whether or not another person finds each step in my progress better or worse, I get closer to what I think of as good writing. So don’t give up, keep working and get better. No one starts off perfect, and no one is perfect no matter how good they are. We are our own worse critics, but that helps us to try to achieve the best version of ourselves.

I hope you all have a good week, I’ll see you next time.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update: No estimate available, we’ve gone beyond where I thought we’d be done editing.

Steven Oaks

Follow me on the things below.

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