The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Yeah, I think I'm getting through this tricky part--after having overwritten it, underwritten it, rethought it, and re-sorted it out multiple, multiple, multiple times.

Another thought/quote passed along by the friend who's been reading Alderson's book has turned out to be very helpful.

Re. the "threshhold" between beginning and middle*:

"When you find the scene that serves this purpose, rewrite it with the significance it deserves."

*See previous post

Friday, October 28, 2011

I went back over the lengthy transition, this time shifting mental gears to an "end of Part One" mindset. This allowed me to cut all but two of the scenes and to slant those two toward building a new hook for my imaginary "end of Part One." Now "Part One" ends on a strong idea that draws the reader on, thus buying me a little time to ease into "Part Two."* The scenes I cut haven't really gone anywhere; they can either be cannibalized into other scenes, or used early in Part Two.

A writer friend who has been reading The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson shared this quote, about the transition from beginning to middle: "The threshold marks the point at which the real adventure begins." I wonder if looking at the middle as an adventure rather than as a sagging pain-in-the@ss can help me figure out how to present it to the reader. I may try, although it feels a little like telling myself that my ugly baby is beautiful, all evidence to the contrary.

I wish I had a week to lock myself into a hotel room and do nothing but work on this ms.

*That's not to say that the end of Part One works as is. I'm pretty sure it s*cks. But I'm also trying to leave it and work out the details later.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The transition into the middle section has been too big and messy for me to comprehend, so today I printed it out (the transition) with the aim of getting rid of the parts that aren't strictly necessary. The goal was to keep my writing mind at a slight distance and not get sucked into any scenes or trains of thought--especially not explanations or backstory. Just read all the pieces and mark the ones that needed to be moved away and dealt with later; that was the goal.

The transition I started with was 19 single-spaced pages long--in 11-point font. No kidding. No wonder I couldn't wrap my head around it.

I ended up having to dip fairly deeply into the very first part of the transition in order to get started in the same mindset as the MC. After that I kept myself to the slightly-distant writing viewpoint, the one that allows me to see things in terms of structure and overall pacing. I went through whittling scenes and pieces off one by one, and putting the ones that were left in an order that seemed to work.

I ended up with a transition of 10 pages (single-spaced in 12-point), made up of five or so scenes, some of which are currently just sketched notes. It probably doesn't really count as a transition, and probably won't read as one, when all is said and done. But to me, right now, it is one, and I think I may have it to where it'll move me smoothly into the middle without creating a total slump. There's no question that it's moving slower than the first hundred pages, but I probably need to take what I can get at this point.

I just hope I don't get the transitional part fleshed out and flowing and making sense--and then find that I've lapsed into a boring drone that makes everyone's eyes glaze over. That will mean starting over, rethinking it from scratch. And dear Lord, I hope that does not happen. I don't know what the odds are, maybe fifty-fifty, that it'll turn out that way. I don't expect to know till I get to the end of the path and turn to look back.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

No time to work on my own stuff. However, it seems that the back of my head has been working busily, unbeknownst to me, because suddenly a whole rash of tied-together ideas came out while I had Tyson out on a nice four-mile walk/sniff-fest. Basically the whole line of thought just involves one new not-very-exciting scene and an unrelated old scene that still serves the same purpose it did before. However, multiple layers and depth are suddenly piling on both of them.

When I got home I jotted down everything I thought I'd need to remember (squirrel! flour! composite bow! head-on-a-pike!) when I pick up the ms again. That could be tomorrow. If I get to work right now and put in some long hard hours today to get other obligations completed.

In other news, the w-f-h ms I did last year or whenever it was--the one that taught me so much about fight scenes and writing from action/plot--is not going to be published, because the series was canceled before it began. It's too bad, because I ended up liking the character a lot, and would have liked to see how the book read in print. However, I got paid up front, I learned a ton, and it was somebody else's idea, so it's not on the list of things I'm losing sleep over.

And now, back to work.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Taking a little time from other people's work so I don't go bonkers from WIP-separation. I'm trying to set and clean up the transition between the first part of the story and the middle part. (I haven't decided what to do about the questionable spot near the end of the first section yet, and am working around it.)

For the transition, I realized I don't have to follow my MC as he works himself around to causing the next encounter I need him to have. The encounter can start on its own, offstage, and somebody can come to him and say, "Hey, you need to get in here and deal with this." That moves the story to its next problem quickly and efficiently.

Friday, October 7, 2011

I was thinking about the part of the ms that's bothering me, and I realized I don't have to peel away anything. All I have to do is back up and change the circumstances slightly--just have my guy arrive a little sooner. That would mean he gets there before the part that sends him halfway off his rocker happens. His being there prevents it from happening.


I'm not sure whether this is what I'll end up doing, but it would tighten up the story a little and make it move more directly into the next part.

I think the reason I'm stalling out is that I need to have a grip on everybody's state of mind as the next part gets rolling.

The next time I hear somebody say, "I always wanted to write a novel, but I just haven't had the time to sit down and do it," I think I may strangle them.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I have been making my way through corrections, but a new problem has reared its head. I've been thrown off a little by the read-through I did of the first hundred pages.

When I finished reading, I thought, wow this guy's really being pushed to the end of his rope. That ought to be good, right?

But by the next day, I was becoming more and more alarmed and uncertain, because my MC is seriously halfway to being off his rocker. And I don't know if this makes sense within the story, or if I've entered some kind of psychological vortex where I'm writing stuff that has nothing to do with what the book needs to be.

If I look at some of the things he does near the end of the book, he really is off his rocker by then. He's completely left the tracks in those parts. Those are the parts where I skipped ahead and wrote him when he's already lost all control. It makes sense, if I think about it intellectually, that he would be pushed near the end of his rope early on, so we can worry about what might come later.

But jeez. This is scary. It's actually scary to see what I've written. A fellow writer will be looking at it shortly and providing a reality check, and in the meantime I'm more or less stepping back and eyeing the ms with suspicion, from a safe distance. It's a good time, because I'm in the middle of packets.

In my mind, though, I'm tentatively poking at the ms and gingerly thinking what it might mean to the story if I have to go back and peel away all the mentally-careening-out-of-control stuff. I honestly have no clue where I'd start. I'm also gingerly thinking what it might mean if this really is the slant the story wants to take, because how do I get the reader to follow this guy as he quickly gets all the way back on his rocker for the middle of the book? And how can the book possibly have a satisfying ending?

I think the bottom line is that recent revision presents two possibilities. One, I'm way off course, have lost the essence of my character, and have a lot of major retracking and rethinking to do. Two, writing this book could be similar to writing Damage. That had a whole extra set of writing problems unlike any other book I've written. If this book has similar issues, it adds another layer of writing difficulties on top of the usual ones, plus the difficulties in the challenge I've set myself here, which is to keep a fast page-turning pace without losing any of the depth or the emotional story that I'm interested in.