J. J. Brown, Wordslinger

"I Sling Words As I Go Along."



So, My Haunted Theater Story……

… approximately five to ten pages from being finished. Adapting the screenplay into narrative form has been an interesting experience so far – frustrating at times, but a lot of fun in seeing how it would turn out.

Overall, I’m really happy with the result – it’s uneven in places, because narrative fiction and screenplays are completely different animals and what works in one doesn’t translate well in the other (or at all). So, that’s where I have to get creative and figure out how to resolve things so that it all fits together in a seamless manner.

An empty theater. ūüďł J.J. Brown

This will often occur after much gnashing of teeth; long walks from one’s front door to the next state (this would actually be an easy feat to accomplish, if one lives close to the state line ūüėČ ); staring at the empty page or the blinking cursor on the computer; endless cups of tea (or, if you want to get Hemingway about it, whiskey). But that light bulb thought will happen, the solution will appear, and the tying of scenes together will happen organically.

For any of it to be seamless, however, requires a LOT of revision, re-writing, and removing of bits from one place either entirely or to put them somewhere else.

But that’s okay.

When the first draft is done, the rest is a piece of cake.

Sort of.

So, I’ve begun a new journal for the story……

…….that had been inspired by an incident at work (thankfully, no one was turned into a toad or other amphibious creature).¬† As of this writing, er, typing, I’ve only got the bare minimum put down in writing.¬† These would be locations, a couple of characters (including the Narrator) and several questions that as of now, I do not have the answers for.

I expect that to change and evolve as I go along.¬† Any writer will tell you that that’s usually the case.

Right now, all I know is that the Narrator lives in a small to medium-sized town, works in retail, cursed a customer and that some guy named Roger [1] has a lot of questions surrounding him and his role in the story.

Things are about to get interesting.


[1] His name is subject to change at any given moment.¬† As I’ve discovered on Novel Now Finished, it could go up to nine name changes, plus a nationality change.¬† It was more than a little irritating.


So, every story I write has its own journal…..

……where I can jot down every idea and thought related to it.¬† That journal goes with me as I go about my day – you never know when that illuminating idea will strike.¬† And I enjoy this process because it allows me to keep everything in one place and readily accessible.¬† I’ve got at least three journals for Novel Now Finished and I expect that it will be the same for the sequel.¬† Most of my novels (in progress or finished) have more than one journal to document my journey, from inception to completion.

Photo credit: Unknown. But I need this mug.

Writers a funny breed – we observe, we document, we report on our findings, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction.¬†¬†I even keep a story idea box, which has become the repository of random items I find in my daily travels.¬† And I keep everything – from scraps of old news clippings to a broken pair of glasses, that box is chock full of potential stories.

The more I write and read, the more I’ve learned to discern the voices of other writers.¬† What does that mean?¬† Well, if I listen to particular composer’s music often enough, I can find his (or her) musical signature in other compositions.¬† Same with a particular writer – their ‘voice’ and writing patterns become familiar and within a few seconds of reading, I’ll know who penned that particular piece of writing.

This is all a part of my education as a writer – the more I read, the more I enrich my writing.¬† And the more I journal the process, the better chance I have of either skipping a step that didn’t work previously or taking it in a new direction.

So, I’m slowly building my editing business…..

……and it’s starting to take shape. ¬†I have a few potential clients and am creating a website designed for this purpose. ¬†My portfolio is beginning to look respectable and I’m excited to see where this will take me. ¬†Yes, it means taking time away from my own writing to help others shape theirs. ¬†However, by tackling issues in someone else’s work, it will help clarify similar ones that I’m having with my own work.

Most of my work will be focused on managing website content for local businesses.  Keeping the information short, to the point and exciting helps direct traffic to their site and then to their business, which encourages cash flow.  Marketing pamphlets and press releases will also fall under the umbrella of my business.

Will I be tackling manuscripts? ¬†Yes, and I’ve already got a couple of potential clients. ¬†My own experiences with my editor taught me a lot on what to look for and what to ask. ¬†My goal is to help the writer shape their work into the best possible story it can be. ¬†Beyond that, is up to the writer. ¬†Just like it’s up to me to push my work into published form.

As mentioned earlier, I’m excited to see where this business will take me. ¬†It involves words, I love words and it’s something I’m very good at.

So, after six years with nothing but an idea…..

…….a time frame, and one chapter, I finally found the story to the sequel to Secrets & Howls. ¬†If Novel Now Finished gave me insight to its own sequel (and it did), as well as the first couple of pages, then I feel confident that it also gave me a window into two characters that featured prominently in¬†S&H.

And I’m excited about that, because I genuinely like these characters. ¬†I’d like to get to know their story better, of how they met, how they became lovers and what led to their decision to have their relationship play out as it did. ¬†The questions I have for them run deep and I suspect that more than one surprise will happen when I finally dig in. ¬†Of course, there will be plot threads from¬†S&H running throughout the sequel. ¬†Those threads will be tying into different time-frames that I’d set up for the world of Wolf’s Head Bay.

Some threads will be tied into a neat and tidy knot, others will serve to create more questions to be answered in succeeding books. ¬†As is my plan for my other series, I’m planning five books total for the village of Wolf’s Head Bay, with a few short stories thrown in. ¬†I have an overview of how my supernaturally themed stories tie in to each other and I think that’s why I like them so much. ¬†These stories have a kind of depth that is demanded of me, and so I throw everything into them, including the kitchen sink. [1]

I’m interested in seeing how this sequel turns out. ¬†One scene meant for¬†S&H is being utilized in this story, but with some minor differences. ¬†I keep everything I write, in part because these cut bits are really good when I read them. ¬†And they got cut because, as it evolved, these bits no longer served the story. ¬†But I knew I could use them elsewhere.

And I did. ¬†And now it’s time to find out what happens next.

What secrets lie hidden in this small, coastal village?

[1] Not really, but it feels like it.

So, I’m plugging along on my Ancient Greek Comedy….

……and I can feel the tangents wanting to take off and create something new. ¬†This is exciting to me, because it means that this play has a lot to say, that there’s more depth to it than I had originally anticipated. ¬†But because these tangents are too nebulous and without form, I’m making them wait until this revision is finished.

I know, I know, I’m being terribly mean to these tangents. ¬†I mean, they only want to help my Ancient Greek comedy become something truly magnificent.

And I can’t argue with that, because I want the same thing. ¬†Still, this revision has to happen first and then the tangents can come in and do as they please. ¬†If it makes anyone feel any better about it, I write these tangents down to remember them. ¬†That is, if there’s something solid enough¬†to write down.

In any case, I’m delighted to see characters that I’d written out make their way back in, ¬†One character has regained his speech after I took it away from him. ¬†Issues that I have strong ideas and feelings about are working their way in, which is only right. ¬†Theater, and the arts in general, are about exploring ideas (good, bad, ugly) and politics and feelings. ¬†The arts are here to make us think, not just make us feel. ¬†There is something at work within the confines of this play that I can’t readily identify, but it’s exciting to me.

And that’s a very good thing.

Title and cast list of Hotel Mt. Olympus.

So, I’ve begun a new notebook of ideas……

……for the sequel to Novel Now Finished. ¬†This is new territory for me, because I’ve never actually written a true sequel before. ¬†I’ve written many stories that developed into multiple novels (written or in summary form), but never upon completing a manuscript. ¬†I know who’s returning, who’s new to the story and I even have a story to go with the idea.

I’d known from the start that this would be a five-book arc – I didn’t want to write more than that involving these characters. ¬†Part of that is because of my own experiences in reading several different series – by the time I get to book six, I’m bored and wishing the whole thing had been wrapped up in the previous book. ¬†This is not the fault of the writer – I’ve read many authors whose series spanned multiple titles and have always enjoyed them. ¬†But lately, my attention span has petered out at book five and I’d rather leave my audience wanting more than losing their interest (this is also an old theater saying).

While writing Novel Now Finished, I had no idea of how I was going to carry this character into another book, let alone four more. ¬†I don’t usually plan my stories out to the tiniest detail nor do I use an outline – I tried the outline once and found it to be more of a hindrance than in any way helpful. ¬†[1] ¬†I was a little worried about how I was going to stretch this character’s story out beyond this one novel, regardless of how much I enjoyed her world.

The idea came to me while I was rearranging a snippet in Novel Now Finished – a simple image of the character standing at the entrance of a seldom used road. ¬†Suddenly, I had an idea of what the story would be, of what the mystery would entail and who was going to be involved. ¬†I also knew that there would be some character dynamics at play that I hadn’t tried before, so I’m curious to see how that works out.

And a few days ago, I wrote the first page of what’s to eventually become the sequel to Novel Now finished.

The character showed me what’s going to happen next in her story. ¬†Now all I have to do is pay attention and write it.

The Manuscript in Question.

[1] I’m not suggesting that outlining or planning out a story to the smallest detail is wrong in general, just wrong for me, specifically. ¬†If it works for you, then by all means, keep doing it.

So, I’m getting close to writing ‘The End’ on my Novel In Progress….

……and I know this because I’m distracting myself every ten or fifteen minutes.

If it’s not a post on Facebook, or a handful of tweets, or even preparing a few entries for¬†my Patreon page, it’s channel surfing. Or I’m surfing the internet, looking up articles for new story ideas.

I’m procrastinating, in other words. ¬†Not an unusual thing, but a definite habit. ¬†Because once it’s done, it’s done. ¬†There’s no going back…..well, okay, that’s not true, because there’s editing and revising and moving whole chunks of narrative around or eliminating altogether.

The point is, writing ‘The End’ on a story means that I no longer have this project to go back to, in the manner that I’m used to. ¬†Now, when I go back to my novel, it will be to murder my darlings (words, for the lay person) and tighten up the narrative.

I’m distracting myself right now, writing this blog post. ¬†And in a few minutes, that distraction will carry itself over to errands that need doing in town. ¬†Maybe even lunch.

And when all that is done and behind me, I will fire up this computer, open up that document and throw words at it until I have no more.  Take a deep breath, throw some more words in, move things around and I will keep doing that until I am forced to write the inevitable.

‘The End.’

The Manuscript in Question.

So, I’m enjoying the constant learning…..

……of my websites, from this blog to my Patreon page. ¬†The joys of finding little things that make the process of posting a little easier. ¬†Of being able to write as many posts as I want and not sharing them immediately, but scheduling them out a little at a time. ¬†Of finding new ways to shape what I’m presenting to you, my audience, that will make you feel welcome and inspired and energized.

It’s not just the technical aspects, either. ¬†The more I post, the more ideas seem to come out of thin air, some as solid and real as cotton candy, some with the substantive weight of a thousand pound horse.

Some of those ideas survive, some don’t, and that’s okay.

That’s known as process.

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