A.M. Jenkins blog

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.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Still working fairly steadily, getting a working draft of the area around pp. 150-200. Once I get the ms all laid out, I'll have to go back and make it really work, and then I'll have go through again and tend to all the threads I'm dropping as I pick up the ones that are foremost in whatever scene I'm working on.

I have pretty much given up most of my financial expectations for this book, because it's taken me so long to get it done, and also it's pushing the line between adult and YA, sex and violence-wise. That's not to say it isn't YA, just that sex and violence tend cut out a sizable portion of the "YA" audience. Too bad for me, but the story is what it is. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I will be posting even more sporadically than usual because of the problems with blogger. Only news here is that I'm working steadily on the WIP, fitting it in around and between packets, and trying to give full attention to both (!). I may very well have a full draft by July, unless something happens to throw me out of my working mindset--which it usually does.

Ignoring that possibility for now...I don't know if I want to shoot for a working draft sent to agent by the time I leave for VT, or if I want to lay off the ms while I'm at residency then do a revision between my return to TX and first packets coming in. Will decide later.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Google has changed things up, so now it's a real pain to post, and I don't have time right now to figure out what to do about it. The timing is good, though, because I'm on a hot streak with the WIP and have been doing all my thinking on paper, as I write.

My copy of Story came, but I haven't had time to open it yet.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pausing for a brief writerly message:


Now, back to your regularly scheduled program.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Finally finished a first-pass grounding of that one plotty sequence, then moved back to where I left off in the ms, trying to focus and tighten this little bit of the middle (40 pages, maybe?) before plotty stuff kicks in. It's tough. The hooks that are there are decent, but they're not of the life-threatening variety that's in some of the plotty chapters. I keep fretting about this, that "decent" may not be enough, next to "life-threatening."

So I guess the way to describe what I've been doing, amidst my fretting and picking at stuff, is to say that I've been honing and slanting my scenes to try to give "decent" the most power I possibly can.

In related news, I have finally ordered a copy of Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting (Robert McKee), and a fellow writer and I will be attempting to read it at the same time, so we can discuss its practical applications to our own mss re. tension and pacing. I say "attempting" because I just heard that it's a thick book (I never checked the number of pages, d'oh!), and I zone out quickly on craft-speak; my brain just doesn't recognize or retain it. Craft-speak has to have direct meaning to a writing problem I'm struggling with, or it's like I'm reading Chinese or Sanskrit. So stay tuned.

Anyway, in the same order I also finally rewarded myself with a book that's been on my list for a long time, Brittany and the Angevins: Province and Empire 1158-1203, by Judith Everard, and it's going to be hard to force myself to stay with pages and pages of theoretical writing advice when I could be reading a case for why everybody is so f*cking wrong about Henry II's fourth son being a sly, amoral lowlife. But I will try. And who knows, maybe Story's not really that long--maybe it's even a page-turner of a craft book.

(Here's to writer friends who read craft books and tell you the parts that are pertinent to your ms! May the writing gods bless them with many days in the Zone and also lots of cash.)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Still putting in a few minutes here and there on the WIP. For three days I've slowly worked on grounding a plotty scene that's been sitting there in raw pieces for a long time. I'm doing the roughest of rough grounding--like where everybody is and what's going on physically--and I get so bored that I keep jumping up and walking off to take care of something else. However, day after day I've been forcing myself to stick with it for my 15-20 minutes, so I can get down that first solid layer of the scene.

I'm almost through this first rough pass, so soon it will at least be all one piece.

Last night as I knitted two bits of dialog together I noticed that one character's comment would completely knock my MC for a loop. I sat there and looked at the gap between the two lines of dialog, trying to think what would go there--just some kind of emotional marker to be replaced later with something sturdier and more carefully thought out. But I came up totally blank. I looked at the situation, and couldn't for the life of me think how to get across the stunned feeling my MC was hit with.* Finally I just put down:


which is slightly pathetic, but at least it's still a step up from pieces of unknitted dialog scattered all over the page.

Anyway, I don't feel too bad, because I keep remembering that w-f-h piece where I started figuring out this whole idea of "layering," and also the fight scene from this WIP that was so boring to work through, mechanics-wise, but that people seemed to get into when they read or heard it. I know by now there's a good chance that, although the first few layers are an excruciating drag to write, the scene will probably start perking up after I get it grounded and the characters start to enter into it more.

*I can't stand the thought of writing "stunned" as a placeholder here. "Stunned" is exactly what the MC is, but it's so smoothly generic a tag that I can't afford to stick it in there now, because that might allow me to ignore the gap and not pay attention to it. If I'm going to use "stunned," it will need to be chosen and placed,** not tossed off and then forgotten about since it more or less fits the bill.

**"chosen and placed" means I need to play around with sentence structure, paragraphing, and also think deeply about how it really feels when you get this kind of news, like physically, and also what it does to your perceptions of what's around you (what are you noticing as you feel that way?). I cannot afford to stick in f*cking "stunned" just because it's easiest right now. Sloppy writing is a slippery slope.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Very busy. Have been trying to put in about 15-20 minutes on my own WIP at night, just to keep it fresh in my writerly subconscious, and also because every bit of forward progress is important, if I want to finish. Which I do.