Your End of September update

Hey all. After a busy September, I’m making my way closer to the end. Ellexis’s story is almost done. Almost.

Here’s what I wrote in September:

  • Finally finished Chapter 8.
  •  Started Chapter 9.
  •  Edited my chapter structure. Hung Chapter 9 on an outline, wrote a few places to tweak for previously written garble of prose and outlined the concluding chapter.
  •  And smiled at how close the end is.

Chapter 8 ended up being a lot longer than I thought. I originally wanted to separate it, probably into halves, then carry the plot straight into Chapter 9 with no time skip or POV shift. That would again carry straight into Chapter 10. I found that by simplifying Ch. 8 into its core, I came away with a truncated plot. Easier to piece the rest together. Character arcs could get their moments without going off on too many tangents. And to be frank, I wanted to keep pushing toward the end. Ch. 8 became pretty lengthy.

Chapter 9 is gonna be just the same.

In the end, I choose to combine certain plot points into a couple of longer sections. The more time I took to build them out, I think it would fluff this draft up. It’s already over 70k words. Only that much. You might say that’s good for most books. 

It is. 

Instead, I wanted focus on the essentials. Chapter 9 will be another chunky one, as I said. It’s the most, let’s say, fascinating, of the entire novel. Seeing what Alpha readers think of it will help me know if it works. As well as how much revision it gets. 

That is if I do write another draft. On the flipside, I know how to connect this chapter to the climax already written. 


When will it be finished? At this point, I want to finish it by my birthday. I need approximately 12,300 more words. And if I don’t? That’s how it goes. I run on my timetable.

I will save concluding thoughts for another writing update. Its is the last big push and I’m enjoying seeing it come together. By the next update I ought to be three quarters through writing Chapter 9.. Or father.

Ill let you know in a month.

See you then. 

August Writing Update + New story concepts

Tis the middle of a busy summer. Lots of social outings to choose from; so many that I feel FOMO. Been spending far more time with people than usual. Add in a large handful of 90 degree days and you have a season that doesn’t slow its stride.

But its been worth it. I think summer should be that way. Always something exciting to do. Last Saturday, I drove to a renaissance faire. Never went to one in high school nor in college. When I found out about it, I absolutely had to go. Besides, I wasn’t interested in the time period as a kid. Nothing but Industrial Revolutions, Medieval times, and two World Wars were all I was fascinated by. A few games I’ve played are set in them. The only story I’ve written like those is a forty page fantasy one.

Now for what I wrote in June:

  • The beginning ten pages of Chapter 8.
  • New story concepts.

And thats it. Yeah, not a lot. Chunks of it writing dialogue. A character tuning in to radio talk through earbuds, a few angry words, and confrontations. Stuff of drama. I wanted to write more, but I got too busy with the real world to focus any better.

New story concepts though! Recent inspiration has led to five brand new ideas. Amped up by random things taking place in life, I had to keep them for later. One came as a combination of a previous idea, a picture of my baby nephew, and the Roaring 20s. They’re safely stored in my ideas document on my PC. Two of them I already had in mind, honestly; they don’t count as much. But I still am! For the sake of this update.

Two are plays. Ive never tried writing a short play. I dont know if I’d enjoy it. Different in format, voice, and structure than prose. Formatting one can have similarities to script writing. Dialogue, character names, maybe stage direction and narration. I think placing stage direction is the hardest part. Does it need to be explained? The answer lies in trying. And yes, they would be adaptable for theatre. I’ll make sure one character is Shakespearean, one is straight out of Fiddler on the Roof, and another wears attire from Nazi-occupied France.

In other words, the only plays I have read or watched; barely any Shakespeare. He’s a tough read.

The next new idea is a fantasy story. Not the one mentioned earlier. While writing the novel, I started spontaneously daydreaming of scenes. My mind thought here is this weird scene, and here’s a location, and here’s a couple of characters.

Was it a short story? Novel? Trilogy of some kind? I want to write one. Personally, I’m leaning toward books. Writing an own epic tale ala JRR Tolkien. However, short stories are easier to gain first time publishing credits from. You can even apply to videogame writing jobs with them!

The last two are, in line with the above, videogames. One may be a powerful drama. Another a short, fun, click-based game. Neither are solidified.

Life Events

I am close to a month into working my new temp assignment. I run the front desk for a homeowners association company. Work is good. Pay is good. I was going to apply for the USPS this past weekend. Long story short, I didn’t. I’m staying at this company for now. And while I do that, I look for videogame writing positions. I did apply for a Junior Writer role last week, in fact. An uncommon opening. I spent three evenings after work tweaking my application. Was not letting this one out of my sight!

I don’t remember writing it last time, so I will say it now: I am moving out. By September 1st I will be in a new room somewhere else in Portland. As much as I want to leave Oregon, I don’t have a compelling direction. No career opportunity solidified, no relationship, nor for a friend and not yet for family. Any of those are incentive. I could always be adventurous – just make one up. Pack my Pontiac Vibe and head out. But I dont see that as wise yet.

Alright, thats it for July. See you next month!

Update for the month of Juuuneee.

Days of heat. Weekends staying up till the midnight hours. Times for movies, home style meals, and as much ice cream you can afford. Its summertime!

Now we’re singing the High School Musical songs. That brings back cheesy nostalgia. Oh gosh. Making me feel old. Eh, not the time for discussing age.

Well, lets get into it.

Writing for the month of June:

  • Chapter 7 in the novel is checked off the list.

I made the changes I’ve talked about. The differences worked out better than my initial idea. I added weight to a character’s decision past the book’s midpoint. She will think back on it as the plot moves on. Without saying too much, thats the start of the choice. Background characters in colonies on planets may have something to say. Or maybe another fork in the road is coming. They don’t really know.

I do though.

My mischievous planning is unfolding. Hahaha. And Im not telling if it is terrible or wise. You will have to find out when you read it. Maybe I stuck a new enemy in and killed off a character that I know readers will hate me for.

If or when.

Life Events for June

I started my next temp job. It’s for a property management company, filling in their front desk. Learning curve is easier, so I will have more creative energy after work.

Was applying to writing, non-writing, and freelance jobs for two weeks. I thought about my career path as I near turning the big 3-0 this year. I can work a side gig while advancing my writing. SEO, marketing, and blog content is fine. However, I feel that helping storytellers is more beneficial.

So, if you are a writer punching out words of fiction or about fiction, I offer the following services for prose and videogame writing:

Story Conceptualizing

Structure

Line-by-Line editing

Character Development – motivation, goal, relationships.

Price? Free. Until I hit the quality bar to charge. I’ve accumulated about five years critiquing experience – in school and online. No, I’m not published. Contact me via my writers’ Facebook page, Facebook Messenger, the message box in my About Me page, or my email: matt.birdzell@gmail.com.

That is all for this month. See you in August.

Writing Update for May

I started writing this on a late May morning. Clouds are the order of the day with a temperature in the 50s – dark spots of rain from yesterday’s shower cover the yard. Last week had more than one day of sunshine and a bit of heat. Oregon weather never can make up it’s mind. Up and down weekly forecast describes how this month’s writing has been.

Real quick: I couldn’t find suitable images small enough to section it up. Some setting to fiddle with.

Here is…

What I wrote in May:

  • More of Just as Human Chapter 7.
  • Love Thy Nerd article first draft, plus editing.

My mood has been a hit or miss writing Chapter 7. As I said in my previous update, it has a tough section I had planned for a while, which Ive tweaked, and that made it better. First, I am going forth with my original idea. Then I am deleting specific lines in favor of a better idea. Further down the plot, this changes a few moments, including the ending in a better way. Editing my chapter spreadsheet showed me where those changes take place. Also showed me that I needed a simpler plot. So, I removed scenes that I could try again later. One or two can be expanded on in the existing chapters later. For the meanwhile, they were overcomplicating things. My chapter content became a bit more streamlined. That really helped put the end of writing this in place for…

later this summer.

Yep! Going to finish the last approximate 25,000 words by the end of August. This misshapen, broken draft of a passion project is gonna be done.

*fist pump*

Sometimes writers need a supplemental project. I need to break up the challenge with another small piece – my next Love Thy Nerd article.

It is my finale for the newer trilogy of Tomb Raider videogames, discussing Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Writing these over the last year and seven months has been a terrific learning experience. Seriously. The two editors over three articles – Madeline and Joey – have showed me how to turn these pieces from crap into something readable. Strong, even. It’s sad seeing sentences that I ooze over get put through the shredder, uh, backspace bar. But.. kill your darlings.

Editing is writing. Personally, I believe it is my strongest article for Love Thy Nerd. And I thought that on my analysis for Halo. Typically happens every time you are ratcheting up the quality bar, you know? You kind of aim high each time. This is my fourth feature-length article; fifth as a contributor. I love the topic of this one. All three of these have surprisingly applied to my life in more ways than one. I hope they apply to readers much more. If they do, that makes me grin.

Work Life

Since the beginning of April, I got hired for a hospital in a non-clinical role, through my temp agency. This contract-to-hire assignment has been a great challenge – a good learning experience. Long story short, I am taking that with me into my next step. For me, it was dull, unfulfilling, but a great brain exercise. Making more sense out of health insurance is a bonus. After the computer’s clock arrived at 5pm, I did not have much creative juice. I managed some writing, even worked my way back up to five hundred or more words a session.

Real Life

Connecting with contract work above, I will be returning to the world of freelance writing. Some of you know that life: that hustle before it all makes sense (literally), clients email you a lets-do-it message, and you try not living paycheck-to -paycheck.

Working these office roles since September 2021 have expanded my skillset. Stuff that intimidated me for a while. I used to think it was all far too much for my grey matter to absorb. Looking back, I can juggle more programs, use sheets of data and information, locate missing tidbits, and communicate with more detail. I am taking it with me into giving freelancing a second try. It’s one avenue into professional writing that I can break in to. With patience, planning, and persistence – and God pointing “Take that job” – I am confident this will work.

Who knows? A full-time permanent position can still jump out of the woodworks. It could work for time, then lead to something more. My game writing goal remains the same. Taking the longer path is the direction I felt an urge to this week. That said, I am coming to terms with an acknowledgement: not developing major video games. Only God knows whether or not I will.

For next time:

  • Wrapping up Chapter 7. Starting Chapter 8, maybe getting that done sooner.
  • Having the last Tomb Raider article published.
  • Re-learn freelance writing.

As always, thank you for reading!