The Motel Writing Binge

For the last seven years, I’ve worked full-time from home, and by the time my work day is done, I’m ready to get the hell out of the house. Most evenings, Saturday afternoons, and Sunday mornings, I camp out in one of the many coffee shops on the east side of Pittsburgh. But even this routine is wearing on me.

So I decided to do something new and adventurous: the Motel Writing Binge.

This is where I go somewhere—sometimes for research, sometimes just to get away—find a cheap motel, and binge-write for an evening and a morning.

Research in Clarion and Oil City, Pennsylvania

For instance, last weekend, I needed to do some research at Clarion State University for novel #6. A friend who lives in this quaint little town took me for a tour of the campus while I snapped pics with my iPhone and we caught up with what’s going on in our lives. Here are a few photos from the campus.

Clarion University Clarion University

Clarion University Clarion University

After dinner, I fired up my laptop in the junky little room and wrote til 11:00 p.m. (This particular Super 8 Motel room was more like a Crappy 2…)

Writing at the Super 8 Motel

I woke at 5:30 a.m. the next morning, snagged some unspectacular yet complimentary foodies and COFFEE in the motel office, then went back to writing til 10:00 a.m. Then I traveled to Venango College (now a branch of Clarion University) and checked out the tiny campus. (My protagonist in novel #6 gets his nursing degree there.)

Venango College Grounds Venango College

I drove in to Oil City, which I’d never been to before. I discovered the Venango County Museum of Art, Science, and Industry, so I made a donation and learned about the historic oil boom in the area—and about Rattlesnake Pete.

Angel of the House Pennzoil Signs

They happened to be holding a street fair, so I listened to the live music, visited the vendors’ booths, and bought some jewelry. Then I devoured half a barbecued chicken and came home pleased with my weekend adventure and the work I got done.

At the Terrace in Brockway, Pennsylvania

I had no research to conduct in this little town in northern PA, but I always pass through there on the way to my parents’, so I parked my carcass at the Terrace Motel on Main Street last night. Better digs than last weekend’s Super 8. I brought leftovers with me, which I ate cold. (I’m a tuff sumbitch.) Then I wrote for three hours on novel #6.

Terrace Motel Main Street (PA 219), Brockway, PA

I woke at 6:30 a.m. this morning, hiked across the empty highway in the drizzle and got myself some breakfast and a huge COFFEE at the Sheetz. I wrote til 9:30, when I threw my stuff in the car and then drove further north to my family reunion, where I laughed too loud and ate too much. Breakfast of Champions

My take on the motel writing binge experience

I would say that anything that jolts me out of the familiar routine helps to fuel my creativity.

Motel binge-writing doesn’t cost a whole lot ($46 for the Terrace), but it’s not free either, so I want to get my money’s worth. I have all my basic needs met (bed, bathroom, reading lamp and electrical outlet), but there are none of the distractions that seem to lure me away as they do at home. It’s hard to believe I get distracted by things like laundry and watering the plants, but I do. Usually it’s Facebook…

If your cheap motel is in the middle of nowhere, there’ll be nothing out there to distract you, either. Except maybe for the yahoos in the room next door. Just make sure you bring shampoo, any writing resources you may need, and that you have access to COFFEE if you need it.

I had a couple of great weekends, and I can’t want to do it again. If you’re considering this option, all I can say is, give it a try!


Advertisements

I Finished the First Draft of THE BEDWETTER

Almost two months ago I posted the first scene of my work in progress, a dark psychological thriller I’ve titled THE BEDWETTER. It’s about an abused young man with chronic secondary nocturnal enuresis who, as pressures mount, embarks on a killing spree using the tools of his dark fantasies.

I tracked my daily writing milestones with nightly Facebook page updates, and posted a progress report two weeks ago.

I finished ahead of schedule, completing the first draft the evening of April 4, 2013, at a total of 51,167 words—very close to my revised goal of 52,500. I was ecstatic! Since the beginning of 2013, I’d been spending two hours almost every weekday evening, and three to six hours on Saturdays and Sundays, plotting and writing. My all-time daily writing record was 2528 words on 3/26; my weekend writing record was 5024 words on 3/29-31; my daily average came out to be 1339/day.

I forced myself to let it cool for a week (well, almost a week) while I worked on getting DEATH PERCEPTION ready for release (next month). Today I exported THE BEDWETTER Scrivener project to a Word file and printed out the entire draft: 241 pages. I will begin my read-through tonight, making notes in the margin. Here’s a peek at the first draft. 🙂

Bedwetter Manuscript, First Draft

I’ll keep you updated on my progress. In the meantime, drop me a line!


Progress Report on THE BEDWETTER

A month ago I posted the first scene of my work in progress, a dark psychological thriller I’ve titled THE BEDWETTER. It’s about an abused young man with chronic secondary nocturnal enuresis who, as pressures mount, embarks on a killing spree using the tools of his dark fantasies.

I’ve started to keep track of my writing progress and wanted to update you in a more comprehensive way than my daily Facebook status updates and tweets.

Idea Development in THE BEDWETTER

I originally received inspiration during some time off I took at the end of last year. I got the idea about a young man being punished in a horrifying way for wetting the bed. I used those two weeks to formulate a big-picture plan for the story, filling out plot and character questionnaires, just getting to know the story.

From that point on, I began to hear this character’s voice and was often interrupted by creative “downloads” of information that I would later work into scenes and dialogue.

Plotting of THE BEDWETTER in Truby’s Blockbuster 6

I spent all of January and the first half of February doing more detailed plotting using John Truby’s screenplay development software, Blockbuster 6. The application leaves a lot to be desired, but it enabled me to draft a list of scenes and arrange them in the right order. Then, I fleshed out each scene, answering questions such as:

  • My challenge in writing this scene
  • My strategy for writing this scene
  • The scene goal (POV character’s desire)
  • The character’s plan to achieve the goal
  • The opponent in the scene
  • The scene’s conflict
  • Any twist revealed
  • The scene’s moral argument (value A vs. value B)

Blockbuster 6 also enables you to include the structures of up the three genres in your story (for example, horror, thriller, and myth); track six storylines; and monitor key words, symbols, and tag lines.

I completed a scene form for 59 scenes in the book, and included in each scene some details about what needs to happen and the information I must reveal when I write the scene.

Drafting THE BEDWETTER in Scrivener

I downloaded the Beta of Scrivener for Windows over a year ago and played around with it, but didn’t use it seriously. I got serious with THE BEDWETTER. I created folders for characters, research, and scenes. Scrivener 2.0 isn’t perfect either, but it offers scads of cool project management features geared toward writers. I love using it now and likely will continue to do so.

Starting mid-February, I began taking my Blockbuster scene sheets and writing actual scenes from them. Weeknights I would spend two to three hours in any one of half a dozen coffee shops around Pittsburgh’s east end—the same on Saturdays and five hours on Sundays—drafting scenes and making progress. I didn’t start keeping detailed stats until March 3, but here are my word count stats so far:

Date Daily So far Weekend
2/12/2013 1000
3/1/2013 ? 6,980
3/3/2013 1691 8,671
3/4/2013 406 9,077
3/5/2013 1253 10,330
3/6/2013 1848 12,178
3/7/2013 912 13,090
3/8/2013 1001 14,091
3/9/2013 1201 15,292
3/10/2013 2290 17,582 4,492
3/11/2013 711 18,293
3/12/2013 666 18,959
3/13/2013 875 19,834
3/14/2013 884 20,718
3/15/2013 884 21,602
3/16/2013 942 22,544
3/17/2013 1,845 24,389 3,671
3/18/2013 541 24,930
3/19/2013 604 25,534
3/20/2013 766 26,300
3/21/2013 537 26,837
3/22/2013 735 27,572
3/23/2013 1,907 29,479
3/24/2013 2,134 31,613 4,776

Panties Ad
My initial goal for a first-person, present-tense novel in this voice was 42,500 words. But by the time I finished the beginning scenes and started writing the middle, I realized it would be longer. My present goal is 52,500. We’ll see where it comes in at when I’m finished. And I already have 45 scenes; my total will exceed 59.

Read the First Scene of THE BEDWETTER

I invite you to read a draft of the first scene. I’m warning you, it’s dark. (I’ll confide that some of it has been tough to write.) But I must remain true to my inspiration. This story wants to be told, and I’ve never before enjoyed such a flow of ideas and writing.

I’ll keep you updated on my progress. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you!


Guest Post: Stephanie M. Wytovich, Member of the Dead Poets Society

The number one rule in writing is that if you want to write, and write well, you must write every day. Poetry is no exception. When I decided I wanted to become a poet—something I distinguish greatly from being a fiction writer—I knew it wouldn’t be easy. Poetry doesn’t have a huge market, it certainly doesn’t pay well, and to add to the frustration, when you throw genre on the table, you’re looking at a dead end.

Except you’re not.

I’ve dabbled in literary—as I think every up-and-coming poet should—but anyone who knows me realizes my heart is firmly cemented in the black shadows of horror. So not only am I a poet, but I’m a horror poet, and contrary to the monsters and creatures that we all know and love, we do exist and there is a market for us.

And for you, if you’re willing to take the jump.

My connection with poetry has always been very visceral and intuitive, and I’ve come to realize, that unlike my prose, it’s not something that I can just sit down and work on routinely like a job. I need inspiration, crave it, and much like a succubus, I bleed the art form dry when I’m done. It’s hard for me to describe it, but for anyone who has seen what Bo does to her victims in Lost Girl, you can get an idea of how poetic energy works for me. Before I can act, I need a source. A vein. Something living that I can tap into.

Usually it’s art.

Most of the time it’s music.

Sure, I have times where I experience a swell of emotion spiraling inside of me and it’s easy to find the words to expel it, but other times I need to look at or listen to something so I can get hold of its story. Pinterest has been a great optical vessel because I can sweep through pages and save visuals and sayings that speak to me, and make collages or boards based on a specific piece or particular emotion. This is a great way to do character studies or pinpoint locations, and I find myself coming back to it more and more when I need assistance purging a poem.

Spotfiy, however, is my auditory mistress. I pace my writing based on the song I’m listening to, and I recently became enthralled with artists such as Jill Tracy, Johnny Hollow, and Sopor Aeternus. Their music is dark, seductive and beautifully gothic; it’s a wonderful aid when it comes to soft, psychological horror. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that one of my favorite pastimes as a horror writer is creating and administering the kill scene. In poetry, you don’t have the luxury of going on for pages about a kill. You have to be quick, fast, practiced, and effective. Much like if you were actually going to commit a murder.

So let’s write a horror poem using this process.

Step 1: Find your victim. Put on your favorite, high energy song or look up a piece of artwork. (These don’t have to be scary. They just have to elicit emotion). For example, here’s my current inspiration:

Currently playing: “Click Click Boom” by Saliva
Victim: A stalker

Step 2: Predict their next move. If it’s not scary, how would you make it creepy? If it is, how does it make you feel? This will give you your topic. Here are thoughts I jotted down:

Observations: He doesn’t see me watching him, watching her. He thinks he’s going in for a kill, but doesn’t realize that tonight… he’s the victim.

Step 3: Stalk and take notes. Write down individual words or phrases that come to mind when thinking about the subject matter.

Notes: Oblivious, sloppy, unaware, misogynistic, rape, watching, young, pain, knife, old blue jeans, broken, pervert, swelling sex, doesn’t understand, who does she think she is, I deserve this, curls, masturbation, innocence, gun.

Step 4: Go for the kill. Be creative and don’t limit yourself. Feel free to play.

Here’s what I came up with using this process.

Her Stalker’s Stalker
By Stephanie M. Wytovich

He watched her pull her auburn hair
Back into a loose ponytail, moaning
As flyaway strands caressed her teenage face.
He stroked the barrel of his gun, pretending it was her
Fragile hands around his cock,
Thinking, hoping, that after tonight he
Wouldn’t have to imagine it anymore.
He liked to watch her like this—
Catch her in the throes of passion
As she discovered her womanhood,
Felt what it was like to touch herself
Between the legs—but what he didn’t
See, was me. Me pulling back my soft,
Black curls into a ponytail, and
Fingering my knife as I watched him
Watching her, while I planned my kill.

I’d love to know how this process worked for you. Send your creations and trophy kills to wyt3319(at)gmail(dot)com, and I’ll showcase your poems on my blog at: http://joinmeinthemadhouse.blogspot.com/

Stay Scared,

Stephanie M. Wytovich

About Stephanie M. Wytovich

Stephanie M. WytovichStephanie M. Wytovich is an alum of Seton Hill University where she was a double major in English Literature and Art History. Wytovich is published in over 40 literary magazines and her collection of poems, HYSTERIA, will be released this summer. She is currently attending graduate school to pursue her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction, and is working on a novel. She is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, a book reviewer for S.T. Joshi, Jason V. Brock, and William F. Nolan’s Nameless Magazine, and she plans to continue in academia to get her doctorate in Gothic Literature.


Ferreting Out Filter Words

Wordsmithereens: Undangling Your Participles

Guest Post: MIAMI SPY GAMES: The Progression of the Story by Armand Rosamilia

Every story, no matter how long or short, begins with a kernel of an idea. I like to call it the What If? moment. With MIAMI SPY GAMES the basic idea presented to me was, “What if there was a weapon that could turn people into zombies?”

That was what was pretty much dropped into my lap when Hobbes End Publishing came to me with the idea to write this story. I love a challenge, and when they gave me the three main characters and not much about them, I was even happier. I was allowed to create the story as I wanted, and it wasn’t being treated as some kind of adaptation, where I’m given pages and pages of notes and storylines and forced to implement them.

MIAMI SPY GAMES: ZOMBIE GUN by Armand RosamiliaIt’s always fun when you’re given the keys to another kingdom, I suppose. But you know what ended up happening? MIAMI SPY GAMES became my world. I populated it with secondary characters, created all the bad guys and situations and settings, and The Powers That Be let me run with the ball.

The story progressed in ways I didn’t expect, like certain minor characters stepping up and moving the plot along in intelligent ways, and certain characters’ personalities having an effect on the people around them. The bad guys ceased to be one-dimensional cartoons and became real and suddenly more deadly, and the ACES team weren’t just three pumped up killing machines who made no mistakes and had no feelings.

There became several What If? moments during the writing, and each character had to find their path while bumping into the other people around them. Like in real life.

And the story kept progressing.

Armand RosamiliaIf you have any questions about the MIAMI SPY GAMES series, I’d love to hear them: armandrosamilia@gmail.com.

Armand Rosamilia

MIAMI SPY GAMES on Amazon Kindle only $3.99!