Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

This month, I completed and published my first novel, Bay City Runaway, and last week I dusted off an older project and began writing it.  It’s a different kind of novel–more of a mystery and perhaps less emotionally intense.  Bay City was rather dark and moody–like me sometimes. I constructed a scant three-act outline for Bay City and jumped right in because it was primarily a character-driven novel, I gave myself a lot of freedom with it, loosely aiming for the outline.  I feel good about the results, but this new book is a different animal.

I feel like writing a mystery has to be tighter, so I’m taking a more structured approach.  I wrote succinct character descriptions and fleshed out a much more detailed outline–chapter-by-chapter.  I have some qualms about doing it this way.  I don’t want to over-plan.  I want room for spontaneity and organic development, but I have more pieces motion in order to make it the ending pop like a good mystery.

In some ways, it’s easier to write with such thorough planning.  I take a peek at the chapter description (usually a couple of sentences) and begin typing with the goal in mind.  But I leave plenty of room to surprise myself. For me, writing fiction is strongly akin to reading fiction.  It’s true that I have a very strong idea about what’s going to happen, but I don’t know exactly how that will translate into words and scenes.  I get to enjoy it as it unfolds.  I get to be the very first reader!

A book has a life of its own.  It’s easy to say, “Well, David. You’re the author you have total control over everything that happens.  You’re the God of this world.”  In a sense, that is true, but that’s not my understanding of God.  Yes, I believe God can do whatever the hell he or she wants, but that doesn’t mean he does it.  God gives us free will and watches our lives unfold, sometimes working closely with us, sometimes just along for the ride.  I feel that my characters have some level of freedom to do what makes sense for them.  I can’t always make them do what I want because I don’t really know entirely who they are when I begin writing.  A common remark from my small circle of readers is that the characters feel so real.  Perhaps that is part of it.

Another thing I’m doing differently is formatting a bit more as I write.  I’m writing in MS Word, which is how I format and produce a file for Amazon KDP, but in the past, I’ve written in Google Docs.  The problem with Google Docs, for me, was that it was so much work to take a Google document and format it for print and Kindle. I’m hoping to save some time and formatting errors by doing it this way; the risk is that it will pull me out of the creative flow.

I’m also not in a feverish rush.  I wrote Bay City in a manic fever, perhaps worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish it.  But I’ve done it now!  I know I can write a novel!  I’m taking a steady, relaxed pace–enjoying myself!  I have no deadline and very little riding on this…

except for my hopes and dreams, of course.

I’ve started writing a new novel–a journalist uncovers a dark secret centered around his childhood church in the south.  When I wrote Bay City Runaway, once I got into a rhythm, I wrote the first draft in about a month.  That’s an average of 2800 a day. A little bipolar mania, nudged that along, and I’m pretty level at the moment, although my kitchen is extraordinarily tidy this week.  Hmmmm…could be on the way!  But I’m out of the habit of writing. 

Although I have edited and published five books this year, I have not actually written anything.  I started this book a few years ago–rough outline (don’t like to over-plan), wrote about 8000 words, then put it away.  A few weeks ago, I sent the start of three projects to a faithful beta-reader to ask what she thought might be a good next project.  She picked this one–thought it could be my best work, yet.  I’ve begun dusting it off–reading what I have so far and trying to remember the seeds I had planted for suspense, polishing it a little (not a good idea for a first draft…gotta just write whatever crap comes to mind), and telling myself that as soon I was done with all that, I would actually write it!

I gotta say, it can be painful at first.  When you’ve just read the final, published drafts of books you’ve written, it’s hard to see the rough stuff that comes out on a new WIP.  I want it to be as good immediately, but that is a crippling idea!  I know so many would-be writers who are paralyzed by the idea of writing crap.  But that’s the KEY to writing for me.  Writing crap is a risk I have to be willing to take!  But when it is done, I never feel like it’s bad at all.  In fact, I feel pretty darn good about my writing!  Please check it out.

Amazon

Goodreads

 

“Sometimes it’s important to stop whatever break you’re taking and just do the work.”

David Wilson-Burns, author of Whiff and My Wife Says I’m Complicated, offers his gritty and emotionally potent debut novel, Bay City Runaway, a story of two runaways finding each other in their escape from abuse and tragedy.

James, a thirty-something software wiz with a drinking problem, runs away to San Francisco to escape a tragedy in his home state of Oklahoma. In front of his favorite pub one night, a teenage girl with a nasty bruise on her face asks for a cigarette. He sees her several more times and gives her food and smokes. She appears to be living on the street, running away from abuse. Late one night, the frantic teen, Amy, shows up at his China Town apartment. Having nowhere else to go, she seeks shelter and protection from her abuser, who could show up at any time. They form an unlikely and complicated friendship.

Wilson-Burns’ moving and engaging novel brings to vivid life the struggling, lonely alcoholic, the precocious, street-wise teenager, and the sexually-charged complication of a would-be girlfriend, Kyra, as their lives become intertwined.

He also captures 1990s college life as he tells the story of how a new friend, Zach, helps James win back the girl he will marry, leading up to the tightly kept secret of the tragedy that puts him on a plane to San Francisco in 2007.

In gripping detail, Wilson-Burns delves deeply into how alcoholism can grow from little seeds into a tragic and disastrous bloom.

Wilson-Burns uses his expressive, straightforward writing style to create an emotional experience for the reader and brings a deep sense of redemption and faith in humanity into his characters and story. Those who have experienced alcoholism in their lives will identify powerfully with James and Amy’s struggles. He shows how love, friendship, and faith can redeem the running, lost, and hurting.

Bay City Runaway: A Novel https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0863X5ZHN/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_basIEbMTDGWRQ

Hey readers, I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty much shut in.  I’m able to work my day job from home.  I’m writing a new novel.  I’m doing a little baking and cooking.  AND I’m reading.  The problem is, many of you are losing income while at home, and reading isn’t always cheap.  So while we’ll all home, I’m lowering all my Kindle books to the minimum allowable price which is $0.99.

You’ll find them on my author page or below. Help yourselves!

Bay CityDavid Wilson-Burns, author of Whiff and My Wife Says I’m Complicated, offers his gritty and emotionally potent debut novel, Bay City Runaway, a story of two runaways finding each other in their escape from abuse and tragedy.

James, a thirty-something software wiz with a drinking problem, runs away to San Francisco to escape a tragedy in his home state of Oklahoma. In front of his favorite pub one night, a teenage girl with a nasty bruise on her face asks for a cigarette. He sees her several more times and gives her food and smokes. She appears to be living on the street, running away from abuse. Late one night, the frantic teen, Amy, shows up at his China Town apartment. Having nowhere else to go, she seeks shelter and protection from her abuser, who could show up at any time. They form an unlikely and complicated friendship.

Wilson-Burns’ moving and engaging novel brings to vivid life the struggling, lonely alcoholic, the precocious, street-wise teenager, and the sexually-charged complication of a would-be girlfriend, Kyra, as their lives become intertwined.

He also captures 1990s college life as he tells the story of how a new friend, Zach, helps James win back the girl he will marry, leading up to the tightly kept secret of the tragedy that puts him on a plane to San Francisco in 2007.

In gripping detail, Wilson-Burns delves deeply into how alcoholism can grow from little seeds into a tragic and disastrous bloom.

Wilson-Burns uses his expressive, straightforward writing style to create an emotional experience for the reader and brings a deep sense of redemption and faith in humanity into his characters and story. Those who have experienced alcoholism in their lives will identify powerfully with James and Amy’s struggles. He shows how love, friendship, and faith can redeem the running, lost, and hurting.

Still my most popular stories, Whiff: A Novella and The Smell Collector are certainly still available to read for free online.

“The Smell Collector” was a serial I published many years ago.  It is a whimsical and quirky story of a man with limited social skills and an extraordinary sense of smell.  For a full blurb click the above link.

“Whiff: A Novella” is the product of an editor who read The Smell Collector and said “Dude!  You need to write this as a book!”.  So I did–smaller than I had expected–but perhaps that is all it needed to be!  Whiff is written from the perspective of the main character, Jim Bronson.  Although the quirky nature of the original serial is evident, it is more in the style of literature.  Both are short reads and have something unique to offer.

If you are looking for light and funny, read The Smell Collector.  If you are looking for a more in-depth literary experience, then Whiff.

It means a lot to me when people read and comment on these stories.   Enjoy!

 

 

bay city runaway - wattI’ve decided to go indie web with this.

Bay City Runaway is a serialized novel published weekly.

James Roberts is a lonely drunk escaping a tragic past who gets entangled with a teenage runaway girl in San Francisco. Set in the 90s and 2000s, Bay City Runaway explores alcoholism, abuse, love, loss, and an unlikely friendship.

 

Whiff: The story of a man with the most extraordinary nose who meets a woman with the most extraordinary scent.

Read here

Back to the 90s!

Posted: September 6, 2018 in writing
Tags: , , ,

My current project has a lot 1990s backstory.  I went to college and started my career in the nineties, so I know a thing or two about it, but it’s not really about the nineties.  It’s about the relationship between the protagonist and the woman who would become his wife and ultimately the reason he has left Oklahoma in the 2007 timeline.

Getting back into the 90s frame of mind is not exactly easy for me.  My world was very specific.  I spent half the nineties in the School of Music at the University of Oklahoma studying how to be a singer, how to direct a choir, and how to teach people how to sing.  I was not immersed in the times.  I was immersed in a centuries-old art form, studying Western music from the middle ages on.  I knew little of Notorious B.I.G. or fashion.  But I’m piecing it together.  I wasn’t entirely blind.  It was all happening around me.

My protagonist is a computer science major, but he joins the choir and his girlfriend is a voice student.  This allows me to write something a little closer to home even if it’s from an outsider perspective.  I’m a computer programmer myself even though I didn’t study it in college, but much of his college chapters centers around the music school and music majors.

I’m having to deal with language and culture and issues like sexuality in pre-millenial ways.  It’s hard to peal back 20 years of remarkable change in the world.  No cell phones.  The internet barely in place.  The 90s perspective on being gay, especially in regard to being black and gay…which one of my characters is.

I’m writing very steadily right now.  I’m getting in 2-3k a day mostly on breaks at my day job plus a few hours on the weekends.  I have topped 40k words today.  I’m drafting at the moment.  When I draft, I like to think of it like a graphic artist does a comic book.  He/she sketches out the frames.  No color or shading, less detail.  Rough.  There is very little color or style in the book so far.  I just want to tell the story and nail down as much as the dialogue and action as possible.  I’ll color it all in later.  I want a really tight, compelling story.  I can give it beauty and atmosphere and pathos on a second write.  I look very much forward to doing that once I have bones.

Not being a pro, there’s not really any kind of pressure to produce this.  I don’t even know if and when I will publish it.  I have two or three other projects lined up after this, and I might write or draft them before publishing anything.  At least, that’s one self-publishing strategy….to have something ready to go soon after the launch of a book to get readers hooked into my writing.

My readership is tiny right now.  I’ve been honing my craft over the last 15 years or so, waiting for the right time to produce a full-blown novel, and I’ve decided this is the time.  My kids are grown.  My career is settled.  I have more free time.  I have a better idea of how to write something potent and compelling.  I’ve got no place to go but up!

About ten years ago I wrote ten short parts of a web serial called Bay City Runaway.  Here’s a five chapter teaser.  It’s about an alcoholic who has left Oklahoma in the 2000s to live in San Francisco to get away from his old life and the demons that haunt him, and his entanglement with a seventeen-year-old runaway girl.  There is plenty of 90s background story as well.

Once every year or two I’ve gone back and reread this incomplete work and I found it to have some potential, but I could never figure out how to continue it.  Then a year ago, I sat down and wrote a sketch of what it could be if it were a novel and revised the existing writing into a form more suitable for a novel.  Then I put it away again and didn’t think about until I logged into Wattpad a few weeks ago and read some comments.  People had read my original incomplete serial and were asking me to write more, so I did.  I added about 1200 words.  It felt good.  It felt so good that I decided to write ten thousand more.

Now, I feel I have something to work with and the motivation to do it.  So I’ve taken most of it offline and have written about 25k words.  I think this will be my first full-length novel.  I self-published Whiff: A Novella on Amazon, which I’m now publishing as a serial to gain some readership, but I couldn’t get more than 32k out of it.  I believe Bay City Runaway will be more than twice that making it my first complete novel.

I’m writing at a pace of between 2000 and 3000 words a day, mainly on my lunch hour at my day job as a software engineer.  That’s a lot to expect in one hour or even in a day, and I’d be surprised if I could keep that up for long, but it’s very gratifying for now.

Don’t expect anything very soon.  I have a long way to go.  But it is a thrill to be writing again!