Inside Kosmo’s Brain

September 26, 2009

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I’m seriously trying to avoid making this blog “all Kosmo, all the time”. Nonetheless, I have been focusing so much on writing the end-of-quarter short story that this makes a natural topic for today.

I’m about 5000 words into the story. The story will likely be between 10000 and 12000 words when I’m done, meaning that I have about 1/3 of it written. Why the funny math? Because some of the words that have already written will surely fall to my editing scythe before I am done.

Writing a story of this length is really a fairly big undertaking. While I can sometimes crank out 1500 words in an hour, I probably average 500-1000 polished words per hour – meaning that this story will take between 12 and 24 hours of work. I really should put a stopwatch to it. Maybe next time.

What exactly is going on with the story at this point? Well, I don’t give away plot details, but I’ll share some insight into the process.

  • Proofreading – When I get 3500+ words written, I start convincing myself that this would be a good time to read through the initial draft and correct some errors. Sure, a lot of the story still needs to be written, and errors will pop in the later work. Nonetheless, I try to make this an iterative process to avoid too much proofreading at one time, since the task kind of sucks. On the bright side, I get more of a feeling of accomplishment once the story has been printed – it feels more “real”.
  • The plot – When I first beginning writing a story, I just start writing various bits and pieces, with just a basic high level plot. When I get to 3000 – 4000 words, I can start shaping the plot a lot more. I divide the story into “scenes” that each have a somewhat independent plot. I also begin to look more closely at the timeline. Are certain events in the correct location, or would they make more sense in a different spot? I also look for gaps in the plot and starting thinking of ways to fill those gaps.
  • Character lifestyles – A basic foundation for fiction is that readers must suspend belief and allow themselves to be carried away by the story. However, I try to blend at least a bit of realism into my stories. Right now, I’m taking a look at the residences of some of my characters and comparing them to the income they would likely earn from their jobs. Are their inconsistencies? Is a character living in a place that would obviously be unaffordable? If so, something must change – either the type of apartment/house, or the occupation.
  • Brainstorm – A substantial amount of the story has been written at this point, but I want to make sure to keep myself open to new ideas. I’ll agree that it is difficult to force brainstorming to occur, but I do try. Essentially, I try to take a step back from the actual work at time, and let things stew on the back burner. I turn the car radio off when I’m driving, to force my brain to go into an unstructured thought process. I’ll jot down some very brief ideas for the plot – or question about how certain situations will be resolved – and go to bed without making and effort to answer them. I’ll let the ideas kick around the next day, and waiting until some new ideas pop up.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Patti
    Sep 26, 2009 @ 13:06:44

    Since I’m relatively new here at your blog, would you clarify what you mean by ‘end-of-quarter’ short story? Do you mean end of calendar quarters like the seasons…you write a short story every quarter?


  2. kosmo
    Sep 26, 2009 @ 21:17:56

    Every quarter, I will collect all of the stories from quater and make them available to my regular readers in a convenient PDF.

    I’ll also write a special, longer story specically for inclusion in the PDF. Whereas the typical Fiction Friday stories are 700-1200 words, the once-a-quarter (calendar quarter) will be between ten and twelve thousand words.


  3. Evan Kline
    Sep 27, 2009 @ 18:36:20

    Thanks for sharing your way of doing things. I dabble in writing from time to time, and have sort of a haphazzard way of doing it. It is always good to see the methods and thought process of somebody more experienced.
    .-= Evan Kline´s last blog ..Blog Comment System Shootout: Disqus vs. Intense Debate vs. JS-Kit Echo =-.


  4. kosmo
    Sep 27, 2009 @ 21:20:07

    Well, I’m not sure how much more experienced I am. I don’t have a formal background in creative writing, although I’ve read a couple of books on writing over the years.

    I have learned a lot in the time I have been writing the Fiction Friday stories. I can’t even remember why I decided to write the longer stories to bundle with the PDF. Maybe because it seemed lame to just include the stuff that had already been on the site?

    If you have a process that seems to be working, use it 🙂

    On a side note, I edited the comments you made with your other email address, so these now show up in your “count” (rather than 1 address having credit for 38 and 1 having credit for 5). I doubt that you care, but if you notice a small jump, this would be why.


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