Ask Dayton #121 on the G and T Show: “Rewrite or Wrong?”

Well. Golly gee. Lookie what happened, today.

It’s been a while, but I finally was able to ask a query that’s been in my possession for the G and T Show‘s occasionally recurring “Ask Dayton” segment. I’ve had the question for awhile, but schedules and such kept me from getting to the poor thing.

What do we have this time around?

Dear Dayton,

How do organize your rewrites from first draft to finished manuscript?

Signed,
Dave Chapple

I can’t speak for other writers, but I lay my edits out in counterclockwise fashion.

Thanks for the question.

ask-dayton

Okay, okay, okay.

I don’t know that I’d call my rewriting process “organized.” I’m not even sure I’d call it “sensible.” I suppose if I had to classify this part of the writing cycle, it’d slot in somewhere between “necessary evil” and “too scared to submit this festering pile of elephant shit to my editor for fear of having a contract put out on me.”

Here’s my deal: I tend to edit and rewrite “as I go.” Basically, I might play with a sentence even as I’m writing it, trying out different words or phrases, or reordering it so that it flows better after the preceding sentence, and so on. Once I get a paragraph or two, or maybe even a whole page put down, I go back over that section and make sure it’s the way I want it, then repeat that process for as many times as it takes to complete the novel. Sometimes I get on a tear and write for longer periods without spending a lot of time reworking things, but usually I end up revisiting that output before moving on.

The result of all these shenanigans is that when I finally get to “The End,” the manuscript is probably eighty or eighty-five percent of where I want it to be. Next, I do what I call a “polishing draft,” which along with a check of spelling and whatnot is where I verify that I didn’t leave any plot threads unresolved, and make sure I didn’t do anything stupid. You know, using a character killed in an earlier chapter, or turning a left-handed character right-handed, or flipping somebody’s gender, or whatever. Hey, goofy shit happens, sometimes.

What I don’t do is go over and over and over the manuscript multiple times, at least not before I deliver it to my editor. A writer I admire, Dean Wesley Smith, cautioned against that years ago, and it’s one of those bits of advice that’s stuck with me. Basically, he believed that all those rewrites usually served to drain the life or energy from whatever creative spark gave birth to the original story. Instead, he’s a big advocate of writing it, doing a quick edit, and calling it done. Over time, I adapted my process along those lines. Now, years later, I’m usually fairly confident that what I deliver to my editor is going to pass muster, and the notes I get back are almost always pretty minor.

It’s when I get the copyedited manuscript returned to me that I give the whole thing another, comprehensive read-through. At this point, it could be as much as two months since I last looked at the thing, so I’m able to bring fresh eyes to it. I also know that this is likely my last chance to make any major changes, so I take advantage of this window of time and fix things I’ve decided need revising all while addressing the copyeditor’s notes.

A month or so later, I’ll get the typeset manuscript, which is basically a PDF of what the final book will look like. This phase represents my last chance to make any sort of changes or fixes, and except for extreme circumstances those updates have to be very minor, like replacing a word choice or something similarly limited. That’s not to say that there haven’t been some wild rides, like finding out that the entire middle section of a book was nothing but blank pages, or that the page headers at random intervals change to show a different author or book title. Yep, those are real things that really happened.

I think they do shit like that as a test to check whether I’m actually reading the damned thing.

So, there you go. That’s my process, which I’ll grant you might come off as six or seven different flavors of fucked up in the minds of some people, but hey! It works for me. I’ve developed this approach over time as I’ve grown accustomed to writing pretty much everything on a deadline. I simply don’t have the luxury of torturing myself with a manuscript or dicking around with “writer’s block” while waiting to engage my “muse.” There are bills to pay, faces to feed, and other projects waiting in the queue, so I’ve learned to just get on with it and leave the second-guessing at the door.

I can’t say I’d recommend my method to anyone who’s just starting out, and still finding their way through the various twists, turns, and other weirdness to be confronted as one attempts to tame the written word. As with pretty much every other piece of writing advice out there, your mileage may vary.

Good luck, you glutton for punishment, you.


This question and its answer was read during G&T Show Episode #270 on March 12th, 2017. You can hear Nick read the answers each week by listening live, or check out the replay/download options when the episode is loaded to their website: The G and T Show. Listeners are also encouraged to send in their own questions, one of which will be sent to me each week for a future episode.

As always, thanks to Nick, Terry and Mike for continuing to include me in their little podcasting games.

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Ask Dayton #120 on the G and T Show: “Dayton’s Ten Commandments of Writing.”

Three of these in as many weeks? GET OUT OF TOWN.

Tis true, folks! I’ve managed to answer a query for each of the past three episodes of the G and T Show for their irregularly recurring “Ask Dayton” feature. An actual question, answered like I semi sorta kinda maybe know what I’m doing.

(Psst. I don’t. Keep that to yourself.)

Hosts and friends Terry Lynn Shull, Nick Minecci, and Mike Medeiros found a pretty good one waiting for them in the “Ask Dayton” mailbox this time around:

Dear Dayton 

As a, as Nick says, New York Times bestselling author, if you were to descend from the mount with stone tablets in hand, what would be your Ten Commandments for fandom/writing?

Sincerely,

A Burning Bush (I really need an analgesic cream)

Shut. The. Front. Door.

A writing-related question two weeks in a row? Holy shitsnacks! Let’s not even waste a second of time and Nick’s voice with one of my usual longwinded ramp-ups before I finally get to the fucking point, and just get right on with it, amirite?

ask-dayton

Continue reading “Ask Dayton #120 on the G and T Show: “Dayton’s Ten Commandments of Writing.””

Ask Dayton #119 on the G and T Show: “Weather, or Not.”

Holy shit! Two weeks in a row!

That’s right, sports fans. For the second week in a row, the G and T Show had an “Ask Dayton” query for me. In the interests of full disclosure, they actually fed this to me a few weeks ago, but it along with last week’s question got stuck in my queue as my attention was focused on other writerly things. However, I was able to knuckle down and answer this latest entry, thereby giving show hosts and friends Terry Lynn Shull, Nick Minecci, and Mike Medeiros, a chance to go to the bathroom during this break in their normal show shenanigans.

(That’s a lie, actually, since Nick is the one burdened with reading my answers on air.)

What did we have this time around? Check it out, yo:

Dear Dayton,

Considering all the talk of global climate change, I have to ask: As the seasons change and the weather becomes more extreme, do you find the weather or the seasons ever creeping into your writing (I am keeping in mind, of course, that many of your scenes take place on ship).

Bonus challenge: Please feature someone drinking a pumpkin spiced latte.

Thank you.

Hey! Wow. It’s a writing-related question! I’m guessing this person is new to the show, and has therefore not yet had his spirit broken and soul crushed. Well, let’s just see if we can’t accelerate that process a tad.

ask-dayton

Continue reading “Ask Dayton #119 on the G and T Show: “Weather, or Not.””

Ask Dayton #118 on the G and T Show: “Your Florida Side is Showing, petaQ!”

From out of the darkness it comes.

Yep. Been a bit since we last did one of these things, hasn’t it? If I’m being honest, this should’ve happened a few weeks ago, as I’ve had the question for this latest installment for a while. Work and other stuff kept getting in the way, and I must also confess that I forgot about it at least once. But we’re here now, ain’t we?

And so it was that this week’s episode of the G and T Show, the Star Trek-themed podcast hosted by friends Terry Lynn Shull, Nick Minecci, and Mike Medeiros, was able to feature one of my rambling answers to the random, often off-kilter queries which come their way.

Hey, they started this.

Given how jam-packed their shows can be depending on the topic du jour, it’s nice when they can find time to fit me in. What was in the hopper this time around?

Dear Dayton,

I am a Klingon warrior stuck on this miserable rock you call Earth.

Well, I will be going to a place called Disney World this coming Halloween for something called…the Food and Wine Festival…where I’m hoping to find a decent mug of bloodwine and plate of gagh.

I’m also hoping to get in some epic hunting as my daughter tells me the location should be ripe for spearing some legendary creatures called PoQemon (or something like that).

As an author of travel guides, my family is hoping that you can give us some advice on what glories we should expect on this trip as well as the must do’s and do not’s plus foods and spirits that should be on every Klingon’s list.

What would you do on such an expedition? What glories do you recommend?

With honor,

— Mayq, House of Leng

P.S. We tried visiting Vulcan with your travel guide on the dashboard of the bird-of-prey, but found nothing more than a black hole in space. WTF?

I wonder if this is how Samantha Brown got her start.

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Continue reading “Ask Dayton #118 on the G and T Show: “Your Florida Side is Showing, petaQ!””

Two new interviews!

STLV2016-WTF

That Vegas convention, man.

Just when I think it’s behind me, it keeps reaching out and grabbing me by the collar and yanking me back.

While my hetero life mate, Kevin Dilmore, and I were in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago for the massive Star Trek 50th Anniversary Convention, I (or we) sat down for a few interviews over the course of the show.

Why?

People like talking to us.

Why?

I have no idea.

Anyway, first up: Talking with our friends Terry Lynn Shull and Nick Minecci from the G&T Show, who had a booth setup in the vendor’s room and who were our most gracious hosts all weekend. It’s probably worth pointing out that this isn’t really an interview of sorts, but instead an installment of their “Shuttlepod One” feature, where they throw out a list of four characters, and we’re supposed to pick which three go in the shuttle while consigning the fourth to some flavor of agonizing death. Or, something.

Oh, just listen:

G&T Show – STLV 2016: Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore Interview

Elsewhere during the weekend, I literally bumped into Jordan Hoffman, host of Engage: The Official Star Trek Podcast, while roaming the halls after visiting a panel, and we decided to have the sit-down interview to which he’d already invited me during the run-up to the con. Topics discussed include how I got my start writing Star Trek for Pocket Books, what’s new and upcoming, and whether hackers might seize control of your car. The result of that interview ended up as part of the podcast’s fifteenth episode, in which Jordan also talks with actor Robert Picardo, aka “the Doctor” from Star Trek: Voyager. Check it out:

Engage, Episode 15: Science & Tech in Star Trek with Robert Picardo and Dayton Ward

Many thanks to Terry, Nick, and Jordan for having me/us on their respective shows. Call me a nerd, but I never get tired of talking about this stuff. 🙂

 

Ask Dayton #117 on the G and T Show: “T-Rex Mix.”

Well. Here’s something you don’t see every day.

It’s been a since an “Ask Dayton” query was posed to Yours Truly as part of the G and T Show, the Star Trek-themed podcast hosted by friends Terry Lynn Shull, Nick Minecci, and Mike Medeiros. Of course, they’ve been rather busy trying to cover so many different aspects of Star Trek goings-on, silly stuff like this tends to get lost in the shuffle. That’s understandable. After all, when they first posed this idea to me, I was sure it was a gag that might last a month.

Shows what the hell I know.

What was in the question queue this time around?

Dear Dayton,

Why are the videos of the people in the T-Rex costumes so fucking funny?

Signed,
Bang A Gong

Well, if this isn’t a reason to come out of “Ask Dayton” seclusion, nothing is.

Continue reading “Ask Dayton #117 on the G and T Show: “T-Rex Mix.””

Kevin and me, blabbing on the G&T Show!

Yep, it was another interview.

Our friends Nick Minecci, Terry Lynn Shull, and Mike Medeiros invited us to take part in a special live edition of “Supplemental Logs,” a sort of extra channel of programming they sometimes do in addition to their regular G and T Show podcast. It’s here that they tend to do the bulk of their interviews, and as they’re friends, we gladly accepted Nick’s offer to come on the show on the evening of Friday, April 1st.

Heeheehee.

The bulk of the interview was spent catching up, as it had been a while since the both of us were on. In and around the usual banter about things only we find funny, we were asked about what we’d been working on and what’s coming up so far as new releases, convention appearances, and all sorts of geekery.

If you’re a regular reader of this space, then you know we’ve been busy. We’ve got our contribution to the forthcoming Star Trek: Legacies novel trilogy to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original series. I’ve also got Elusive Salvation (my sequel to From History’s Shadow), Star Trek: Hidden Universe – A Travel Guide to Vulcan, my 24 novel Trial By Fire coming later this year. I’m currently writing a new Star Trek: The Next Generation novel, Headlong Flight, and there’s another TNG novel waiting in the wings to be written this summer.

Kevin and I have a couple of smaller projects on the table, both relating to Trek’s 50th, but Nick really want us to spill the beans about one particular mysterious endeavor, which we could only talk about on April 1st:

SpockOfAges-Poster

So, if you’ve got nothing more interesting to do for the better part of two hours, give us a listen. We had fun, anyway.

G&T Supplemental Log: Ward/Dilmore Update

Heeheehee.

Many thanks to the gang over there for having us on. Oh, and sorry. 😀

Ask Dayton #116 on the G and T Show: “Gimme That New Star Trek!”

Hey, whaddaya know?

Yesterday being Sunday, there was another episode of the always fun G and T Show, the Star Trek-themed podcast hosted by friends Terry Lynn Shull, Nick Minecci, and Mike Medeiros. Given all the hoopla that seems to have consumed…ahem…certain segments of Star Trek fandom in recent weeks, the show’s profile has been a bit elevated. You’d think they’d use this opportunity to solidify themselves as a bastion of Trek fandom and news, but nooooOOOOOooooo! They had to invite me and my particular brand of lunacy to help fill a few minutes.

They’ll learn their lesson. You know…one of these days.

So, what’s up with the latest “Ask Dayton” query?

Dear Dayton,

By now, you’ve surely heard about Bryan Fuller taking the helm of the new Star Trek series and Nicholas Meyer being brought onboard to write and produce. What do you think they should do with the new series? What would you do with it if you were asked to join them on this latest effort? Thanks.

Yep, fandom has been abuzz for months with the revelation that a new Star Trek series is in development and slated to premiere next January on CBS’ own internet streaming service, CBS All Access. This excitement is further fueled by word that fan favorite Trek alumni Bryan Fuller and Nicholas Meyer are now attached to the project.

There are, of course, those cynical folks out there who don’t think CBS must have a lot of faith in this new series if they’re “banishing” it to a streaming service. I’m guessing these are the same people who’ve never heard of shows like Orange Is the New Black or House of Cards and the ass loads of awards and A-list talent these efforts attract to another little known, seldom used service called Netflix. I mean…Kevin Fucking Spacey, people. That dude could make reading the directions on a pack of suppositories look cool and sound like Shakespeare, for shit’s sake. If he and Robin Wright are okay headlining an internet series, I think the rest of us should just calm the fuck down for a while.

Anyway….

Continue reading “Ask Dayton #116 on the G and T Show: “Gimme That New Star Trek!””

Ask Dayton #115 on the G and T Show: “Fanning the Flames.”

Don’t get excited, but it’s possible the fine folks over at the G and T Show might be getting back into the swing of things. Hosts Terry Lynn Shull, Nick Minecci, and Mike Medeiros continued with the latest episode of their weekly Star Trek-themed podcast, which apparently has received elevated attention in recent weeks, and instead of conducting themselves in a professional manner in all respects, they instead opted to drag me into the fray. This of course, had the totally predictable effect of casting their entire show into the gutter.

Sorry. My bad.

Yep, the “Ask Dayton” feature made a return, this week. What was in the question hopper this time around? Behold:

Continue reading “Ask Dayton #115 on the G and T Show: “Fanning the Flames.””

Ask Dayton #114 on the G and T Show: “Nice save, Gene!”

Lookie what we have here!

It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these, but apparently the “Ask Dayton” option was once again added to the G and T Show this week. Hosts Terry Lynn Shull, Nick Minecci, and Mike Medeiros managed to scrounge together a few minutes during a rather action-packed show, taking them away from their usual discussion about the latest happenings in and around the “Star Trek Universe” in order to devote them to this sad little exercise.

(Never forget: This shit was all their idea. From the jump. 114 of these damned things, and every single one of them is on those three chuckleheads.)

Anyway, what was in the mailbox this time around?

Dear Dayton,

What do you think is on Gene Roddenberry’s floppy disks?

Okie doke, folks. Here’s your chance: cue up all those “You turn my floppy disk into a hard drive” jokes you’ve been saving since the 1980s. Go on, get it out of your system. I’ll wait.

Everybody cool, now? Grab your cigarettes and bask in the afterglow while I get on with answering the question.

A couple of weeks ago, geek circles were abuzz with news that a computer data recovery firm, DriveSavers, had been contracted by Gene Roddenberry’s estate to look into possibly retrieving whatever secrets might be squirreled away on 200 floppy diskettes that once belonged to the renowned Star Trek creator. 200 floppy diskettes! For all we know, the Great Bird of the Galaxy might well have been hoarding a heretofore undiscovered prototype copy of Windows or HALO.

Nah, probably not.

Though finding hardware to read such an antiquated storage medium is pretty tough for regular everyday folks, the gang at DriveSavers is pretty savvy, and this sort of thing was right in their wheelhouse. According to various articles I read, the group was successful in prying the data from the cold, dead claws of those ancient coasters. However, as DriveSavers was bound by a confidentiality agreement, they couldn’t tell the rest of us spectators just what had been retrieved. So far, the Roddenberry estate hasn’t shared anything, either. No doubt they’re sifting through the archives and deciding what’s private and what might be appropriate for sharing with the masses.

Therefore, we’re just going to have to speculate, aren’t we?

Now me? I figure a lot of the material is likely stored correspondence, like early versions of email or other documents Mr. Roddenberry would’ve first composed electronically before printing it and having it distributed to staff and whoever else. I’m sure a lot of it is pretty mundane, but given the time period the disks were used, there might be some pretty cool memos and whatnot pertaining to—for example—the early development of Star Trek: The Next Generation. We could be talking about stuff that has yet to be chronicled in any sort of “Making Of” book or documentary. That alone might make the whole effort worth the trouble of retrieving data from all those disks.

What else might there be? Early drafts of an outline or chapters from The God Thing, the Star Trek novel Mr. Roddenberry was supposedly writing way back when, but for which nothing has seen the light of day beyond a very small circle of people? If you don’t think I’d love to get a call one day from somebody wanting to hire me to take all of those notes and make an attempt at finishing it, you’re insane.

Part of me is hoping there might be a draft of a never-completed and never dispatched reply to a fan letter I wrote him in 1977, but I’m not holding my breath.

How about this? What if there’s a contract he was drafting to put out a hit on George Lucas? Oh, relax. It’s a joke, people!

What if there’s a half-completed Star Trek script in there, somewhere, focusing on the legendary Garth of Izar and the Battle of Axanar? Hold on…who am I kidding? Who would want to watch that?

(Wait………)

I’d love to think there might be notes and other stuff pertaining to ideas for new television shows he may have been trying to develop. We all know he attempted to do just that in the 1970s before his return to Star Trek, and I admit to having a soft spot for some of those efforts, flawed though they may have been. And let’s not forget that a couple of series actually were developed from his initial concepts, like Earth: Final Conflict and Andromeda. Personally, I’ve often wondered if one of the early ideas he was thinking of dusting off might be a new take on Assignment: Earth, the series he had devised in 1968 before making it a Star Trek episode. A new version of that, without the Star Trek connection, is something I’ve always been surprised has never happened.

Lastly, anybody want to take bets on whether they find a stash of his favorite Kirk/Spock slash fanfic? Come on, that’d be pretty damned epic, amirite?

Hello?

Come on, Roddenberry estate! Don’t keep us waiting like this!


This question and its answer was read during G&T Show Episode #221 on January 24th, 2016. You can hear Nick read the answers each week by listening live, or check out the replay/download options when the episode is loaded to their website: The G and T Show. Listeners are also encouraged to send in their own questions, one of which will be sent to me each week for a future episode.

As always, thanks to Nick, Terry and Mike for making me a part of their show.