XbyFri… Failure is NOT an option

Sorry, Apollo 13.  It is an option. It’s always an option.  Declaring this bold statement doesn’t eliminate failure, it just removes the mindset or drives it underground.

With that in mind, I have not delivered on my 10 pages by Friday deadline.  I am still knee deep in Write Great Fiction – Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell.  It’s been crystallizing how the structure is supposed to look, and I’ll be able to mate that with  The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi (and the dark side, The Negative Trait Thesaurus by the same authors) to get a grip on the characters and their part in the structure of the novel, upon which I can hang the words.

The thing about XbyFri was that I was attempting to produce pages for Kristin Lamb to review and give me feedback.  While I value Kristin’s kind offer, I am not at a point to accept it. Any writing I give her would be stunted and lacking in the things I’m working on mentioned above, and that would waste her time looking at it.  I would rather use her time for valuable pursuits such as those who do have content to review who would benefit from her wisdom.

Give it a few weeks. I think that the understanding of plot structure will open up the whole thing immensely.

Go ahead, comment. It won’t kill you.  And, um, it’s not because I’m desperate. Because I’m not. I’m NOT! Just comment. If you comment, I’ll be your best friend!  C’mon. I’ll give you a cookie! Yeah, I love the “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” books, too.

Curse you, XbyFri! In Which the Author Rides in Airplane with a Talkative 7 Year Old

I had opportunity to review a few pages of a craft book on plotting.  A craft book, for anyone new to the biz, is a book to guide you and help you understand basics or nuances of minor stuff like plot, character arc, archetypes, and sundry other junk.

Or major stuff.

I was on an airplane yesterday with my son.  He’s 7.

Awesome, time to read how to do plot, I think.

“Say dad, I’m scared.”

“Close your window then. Here’s my phone. Fruit Ninja?”

“Fruit Ninja! AWESOME!” He descends into slicing fruit, his fears of impending death/maiming/flying forgotten. That, my son, is why I only let you play this very rarely. You treasure these fleeting moments of Fruit Ninjadom.

I open the page on my kindle and begin to read. The author explains he was deterred from writing by the conventional wisdom that good writing can’t be taught; it’s there in your bones, or forget it. He details that he finally started figuring out that no, it’s not in your bones, as much as it can be taught. And how he decided to write this book to bring the Truth to the Masses and help the rest of us pull ourselves up.  Good, good, let’s get into the meat of it. Tell me what I need to know.

“Say dad?” That’s my new name. Saydad. A majority of his sentences to me start with that.


“I have a new high score in fruit ninja!!”

“Ah, yes, very good.” There. That ended the conversation. He’ll go back to–

“Say dad?”


“Look at this high score. This is my highest score ever!”

“Yes, yes it is.” Back to plotting.

“I keep hitting bombs,” he says.

“Yes, I know, but you’re not allowed to say that word because it’ll get us in trouble. Call them cherries.”


Now to plot.

“Are we in the air?”

“No, open your window and you’ll see. We’re not moving yet.”

“Oh. It’s too bright, I can’t see fruit ninja.”

“You’ll know when we’re moving, though. You should open it.”

The plane begins to move, pushed backward by a tug.

“There, we’re taxiing. It’s like moving in a car.”

“I’m scared,” he says. Fruit Ninja is forgotten.

“It’s fine. We’ll be fine.”  I lean over and open the shade to see out. He closes it.

I get in a few more pages of plot, but the 7 year old is peppering me with comments and questions. I conclude that I will not be reading anything on this flight. This is a Big Deal for him.

A few moments after takeoff, I negotiate to open the window shade and I point out the beach below, and the mountains, and our house.

“Hey, this is pretty cool. I think I like flying,” he says. He’s an external processor. We spend the rest of the flight discussing atmosphere, height, speed, how long it will take, snowy mountains, lakes, why planes are better and safer than cars. Soon, we land, and gather our bags and walk through the terminal. I explain what a slot machine is and advise him that gambling is evil. I’m a dad, I’m allowed to paint the opposition with broad swaths and descriptions.  We look at a display of big horn sheep, a large rocket, and a model of a train. There are pictures of wild horses lining the walls.

I decide to stick it to the mustang lovers. “Son, don’t ever let anyone tell you those wild horses are natural on this continent. They are not. They are escaped horses from the conquistadors. They are not natural to this environment and there is no argument that will ever make them that way.”

We walk down an escalator.  There’s his grandma.  He stands still for a moment, indecisive. “Go give her a hug!” He runs to her, calling out “Grandma!” and is wrapped in a hug. She never thought she’d have grandkids, so this is a nice gift that keeps on giving, watching her two grandchildren grow over the distance.

I didn’t get to plot yesterday. I did get to hunt for rocks in the eroded tailings of a hydraulic gold mine, and the little boy and I played in the snow a little while.  Grandma gave us a styrofoam box and we brought home some snow for my 3 year old daughter, though it’s a little slushy now. I got to drive for 8 hours, time spent talking to my son.

Now you know why I didn’t get to read much about plot.  I tried, but yesterday wasn’t quite right for it.  I can see that XbyFri is going to be a bust; I need a lot more information on how the large picture comes together before I can make the small picture come together on the page.

Go ahead, comment. It won’t kill you.  And, um, it’s not because I’m desperate. Because I’m not. I’m NOT! Just comment. If you comment, I’ll be your best friend!  C’mon. I’ll give you a cookie! Yeah, I love the “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” books, too.

Meeting that deadline xbyfri

This is a miserable process.

The more I study character archetype, the more conflicted I am. (That’s good, conflict!) My goal? Fix the character archetypes to match the standards of whichever system you’re using (there seem to be several, Jungian included).

Doing that requires that I fix the story to meet the requirements of the character arc. The start point of the writing has been changed three times now.  It may get changed again. From my previous post, I had the story start with the navy crew detecting four ships. It was a yawner. Well written, but boring from a plot perspective. [Modestly speaking.]

So I yanked that out. Started it with the Captain getting on the bridge, evaluating the threat, saying alert the marines.

This is still inadequate because it’s not meeting a scene/sequel format.  I believe that the captain scene will also be dropped.

Alternate currently considered beginning: Marines get alert, get ready, load on shuttle, some equipment failures, shuttle launches when ship is in danger and the shuttles make their way back to the planet.  The ship becomes a bookend ship (destroyed in first act).  Obviously, this is moot, writing like this, since there’s no plot.  I’ve abandoned the one I have, so I need to go back and re-do that part.

But first things first! Back to creating a plot.  The one I have isn’t going to work, primarily due to the character arc.  I. Am. Throwing. Clumps. of. Hair. On. The. Floor.

Argh! back to my outline.  Define the character. Surround character with the stereotyped characters. Create goal. Create conflict.  Redo characters. Adjust story to characters. Expand from general short outline to one page on each act, then create scene sequel pairings with specifics: goal, conflict, disaster, recovery, dilemma, (oxford comma ftw) and decision.

This is going to be bloody.  Step back.  I will do this.  There will be a book series. I will prevail.

What do we call it? WriTePaByFri? The 10 page 7 day writing challenge

I’ve got this goal of 10 pages by Friday. Good pages. I can write 10 pages of mediocre adequate slush in an evening, so the amount isn’t the problem.  It’s the content.

One of the problems is to name it something, so it’s iconic and stuff.  Write Ten Pages by Friday becomes WriTePaByFri, or Writepabyfri. Which sounds dumb.

Maybe latin? Decem ceras a veneris. That’s hard, the Romans didn’t have pages per se, so it’s ten wax tablets by Venus-day.  Maybe XCeaVe. Exceave? Sounds like a sleep medication for seniors.

A mix! WriXpabyVen.  No, no, that’s not it.


That’s what I’ll use.  Mind, I think nano is a horrible name and emulating it causes me digestive stress, but it’s just what we’re going to go with.

I’d ask for your votes, however, I’m impassably dictatorial about this and you’d probably all decide Writepabyfri is your favorite, and who cares what I want?