The Crotchety Old Man

Oct 16, 2017
By Michael Rupured

Three Tweaks Shave Eight Months off Time to Write Novel

Three tweaks to my writing process enabled me to finish The Case of the Missing Drag Queen in a record-breaking four months rather than the usual twelve or more needed to write my first four books. To be honest, the changes brought my process more in line with what experts recommend. #SlowLearner Tweak #1: Write Every Day I tried to write every day. In the past, I’ve waited for weekends and other days off and written until I simply couldn’t write anymore. The greater the time between sessions, the longer it took to get back into the story, and the more likely I was to waste time editing and revising instead of adding new chapters. Tweak #2:  Stop in the …

Oct 09, 2017
By Michael Rupured

Sprinting for the Finish Line

I’ve almost finished the first draft of The Case of the Missing Drag Queen. I woke up yesterday believing just one chapter stood between me and “the end.” Close. Halfway through that chapter, I realized another chapter was needed to finish the story. This time, I’m sure. One more chapter and the first draft is done. Whether today. tomorrow, or Wednesday, I’ll finish this week. That’s about ten days later than predicted, but still a good eight months faster than it took to write any of my first four novels. I’m amazed, and after abandoning several false starts, thrilled to finally finish a story. The much shorter time to finish is due largely to changes to my writing process, discussed ad …

Oct 02, 2017
By Michael Rupured

Growing as a Writer

In a recent email exchange, a good friend and mentor said, “One nice thing about writing is the learning never stops. Ever.” Amen. Experience is a great teacher. In previous posts I’ve written about lessons learned from my first four novels. Each story, one way or another, pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me to grow as a writer. My fifth novel, The Case of the Missing Drag Queen, is a little different. The story is smack dab in the middle of my comfort zone. The mystery is made up, but much of the rest is loosely based on my recollections* of gay life in 1982 Lexington, Kentucky. Any resemblance to real people or places is entirely coincidental. …

Sep 25, 2017
By Michael Rupured

Picture It: Lexington Ky, 1982

My fifth novel, The Case of the Missing Drag Queen, is set in Lexington, Kentucky and takes place in the fall of 1982. It’s my first story set in the city where I grew up, came out, and spent my salad days. Writing it has been a walk down memory lane. I chose the year on purpose. By 1979 when I came out, gay bars were the center of the homosexual universe. Thanks to the 1969 Stonewall uprising, police raids of gay bars had become increasingly rare. Outside of the bar, life could be rough, but inside, we could dance, flirt, make-out, and sometimes, fall in love. In September of 1982, the Centers for Disease Control identified Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome …

Sep 11, 2017
By Michael Rupured

My Gypsy Curse

A month ago, I blogged about my horrible, no good, very bad week. Since then, my run of bad luck has continued, unabated. I strongly suspect a gypsy curse… To refresh your memory, my air-conditioning went out ($300), I got sick, Toodles had to go the vet twice ($600), and to top it all off, a pizza delivery driver pushed my garage door into the back end of my car and then drove off without saying anything about it. My car was trapped in the garage for three days. I had to get a new garage door ($732) and paid another $150 to find out the rear bumper had not been damaged. I got a copy of the police report …

Aug 28, 2017
By Michael Rupured

Update: Case of the Missing Drag Queen

My fifth novel, The Case of the Missing Drag Queen, continues to progress at a record-breaking pace. With 41,000 words in 24 finished chapters, I’m well past the midpoint. If all goes well, I should reach “The End” sometime in September. For me to get so far, so fast, is unprecedented. I usually hit a wall somewhere around 20,000 words. Sometimes, I break through and finish, but with a half dozen abandoned manuscripts, I did not. Thanks in no small part to the three-act structure and my epiphany about the role of the main character, I’ve so far avoided the wall with my fifth novel. I’m having fun too. My fear that something would get lost by planning so much …

Aug 14, 2017
By Michael Rupured

My Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

A week ago last Saturday (August 5), my air-conditioning quit working a few minutes after six in the evening. In Georgia. In August. I called the folks I have a service agreement with, but it was too late for emergency service that day. I decided to  tough it out until an already-scheduled service call Monday afternoon. I wussed out Sunday morning when I woke up and the house was eighty degrees. The service call cost me $300. Perhaps from sleeping with the windows open and a fan blowing on me, I picked up a bug. It started with a scratchy throat and a cough, but by Sunday night, had acquired various other symptoms that left me feeling like shit. I …

Jul 31, 2017
By Michael Rupured

Progress!

Each of my first four books took about a year to write. This past weekend, I hit 30,000 words — roughly the midpoint of the novel I started writing six weeks ago. At this rate, I’ll reach the end sometime in September. Finishing in three months rather than the usual twelve is amazing. That’s like trimming my time to run a mile from twelve minutes to a world-record-breaking three minutes. Why has The Case of the Missing Drag Queen come together so much faster? 1) It’s my first story centered around the transformation of the main character. My first four novels are more about gay life at particular points in time than the journey of any one character. I’m too thrilled to …

Jul 24, 2017
By Michael Rupured

A Glimpse of the Future

I haven’t taken more than a few days off from the day job for years. Nobody fills in when I’m out. An overwhelming quantity of emails, phone messages, and snail mail waiting when I return offset the benefits of getting away. I use vacation days a few at a time for long weekends throughout the year. I went into work on June 26 and, after checking my calendar, decided on a whim to take off until July 10. For thirteen glorious days, I hardly left the house. I did check my work email regularly and ended up having to go to the office once. But the rest of the time, I did exactly what I wanted to do. Not long …

Jul 17, 2017
By Michael Rupured

Online Shopping: Easy, Convenient & Cheap

The internet has changed the way we shop. Big retailers are closing stores at an unprecedented rate. Shopping malls look like ghost towns. It’s hard to compete with virtual everything. Shopping is not my cup of tea. In fact, thanks to poor or non-existent service, long checkout lines, and people getting in my damn way, I hate it. When necessity leaves me no choice, my goal is always to get in and out as fast as I can. I’ve dabbled with online shopping in the past in search of uncommon, hard-to-find items or gifts for out-of-town family and friends. Buying mundane, everyday goods online never occurred to me. #SlowLearner That has changed. My dog, Toodles, is responsible for a lot …

Jul 10, 2017
By Michael Rupured

Let the Writing Begin!

Armed with the three act structure and a detailed character profile template, I started planning my fifth novel on May 28. According to Word, I spent more than 120 hours mapping out the story, developing the characters, and fine-tuning my outline. After incorporating character information into my outline and fixing a problem with stakes and tension, the first act was six chapters too long. Three turned out to be unnecessary and anything of importance in the rest was easy to squeeze in elsewhere. I went over my outline one last time to tweak a few things, switch stuff around, and add notes about dropping hints, revealing clues, and foreshadowing. On Saturday June 10th, I started writing what I’m tentatively calling …

Jul 03, 2017
By Michael Rupured

Saved by a Character Profile Template

Planning my next novel with the three-act structure has been a piece of cake. Identifying the central conflict and major plot points for a Luke Tanner mystery and writing short descriptions for every scene took a couple of hours. But before I could start writing, however, the characters needed to be fleshed out. A template an editor shared with me consists of thirty or so questions about physical appearance, psychology, sociology, role in the story, and history. Developing a profile for Luke and ten supporting characters took an hour or longer for each one, but was worth the time and effort. Although still subject to tweaking, the characters are clear in my head. I also have way more information about each …

Jun 26, 2017
By Michael Rupured

Uninformed Pantsing

Writing fiction was missing from my formal education. Discussions about the novels and short stories we read in school revolved around major themes, symbolism, and meaning — not how to craft a story. Or maybe I just forgot. Either way, I consider myself a self-taught author. I make my stories up as I go along. Writers call it pantsing. Based on my recent epiphany, I’d call my old process “uninformed pantsing.” Rather than the main character’s journey, my stories revolve around an event (or series of events) with a cast of characters to show how things play out. Sometimes, it worked. More often, it did not — especially lately. After my epiphany about the central role of the main character …

Jun 19, 2017
By Michael Rupured

The Cure for My Genre Identity Issues

I recently shared about giving up on writing novels and accidentally discovering the problem with my abandoned manuscripts. Confusion about how to proceed with the trilogy I envisioned prompted me to turn to the gods of the internet for help. A few clicks later, I stumbled upon the cure for my writing woes. My problem is embarrassingly basic. My stories –finished and unfinished alike — revolve around events occurring at particular points in time rather than any particular character. For evidence, I offer my pal’s question about my latest abandoned manuscript: Who is the maim character? I’m not trying to be avant garde or make some kind of literary  statement. People have tried to tell me this for years, but I just didn’t get …

Jun 12, 2017
By Michael Rupured

Genre Identity Issues: Part Two

In the previous past, I shared I’d quit writing novels. Too many things compete for my attention to waste time on stories that never go anywhere. Maybe I’ll pick it up again when I retire. At first, not writing was a relief. The pressure to produce was gone. I caught up on chores around the house, spruced up the yard, and watched a ton of television. But quitting nagged at my conscience. In truth, I hadn’t quit writing novels. For some reason (or reasons), I couldn’t do it anymore. I had tried and tried until I finally just gave up. What was going on? The possible causes I could identify made no sense. They weren’t new, and for the most part, had been around …

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