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, January 31, 2010

I didn't do a very good job of forcing myself to stay on that problem spot yesterday, but today I bore down and got through most of it. That's not to say it works. Just like I thought, it makes the emotional story veer off on a tangent, and I don't know how to bring it back. But anyway, I got the basics of the first problem part down. The thing is, I know this is going to happen two more times--I'll insert a specific tragic event that has to go in there, and it'll shift the story away from its true emphasis. So I'll have to pay close attention to any fix I figure out, because the story's going to need to be patched up at least twice more.

I don't like to use the word "theme," but that's what this is. The story has always had one basic main idea I want to explore. But these scenes of personal loss are so strong (in theory, anyway; I don't know how they actually read right now) that they sweep away everything in their path. However, they're not the kind of events you can deal with offstage or offhandedly, either; they are a big deal. Ugh.

The only fix I can think of right now is to show the passage of time before and after each event, to kind of tamp things down and bring everything back to normal. I don't know if that's enough, though. I'm afraid it's not--I have a very uncomfortable feeling that it's not--but we'll see.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I have been working on my former GN this week, just haven't posted. Today I am determined to write out some of a certain part I keep dodging. I keep writing around that part because my time is so cut up, and also when I sit down to work interruptions can pop in at any moment, so what's the point in getting deeply into something that's difficult? But today I have no excuse. It must be done.

Been working with other writers on their WIPs, and thinking about their stuff is sparking writing parts of my brain that usually lie dormant. I'm thinking maybe when I'm ready to pick up the swordfighting ms, I'll do so with a big jolt of nice, fresh energy and (I hope) a new angle of attack.

Was thinking about American's Next Top Model, one of my current guilty indulgences (along with Wife Swap; no longer of interest are Ghost Hunters and Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares). For some reason, I like the parts where the models practice/learn their runway walks. I don't know anything about it, but you certainly can tell when their walks have energy and power and when they don't. Then at the end of the runaway they have to hit a pose: BAM! Like, here are the clothes, and here I am, and I'm looking at you. And I was thinking there's something similar in writing novels; that's kind of how a scene feels when it's done properly--it moves in one direction with energy and power, and then it hits you with the point it wants to make: BAM! And you can feel when a scene's not "walking" properly, even if you can't define it. If there's no "pose" hitting you to make you understand or feel something, then the whole thing is a letdown and comes off as limp and dishraggy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Worked a lot today on the latest round of changes. I'm splitting up the three traumatic events that have been clogging up the middle, and moving them farther apart. I'm still on the first one, but as I work I'm darting around, picking up threads and pieces that need to be adjusted or shifted to another place in the story, and getting those balls rolling, too. So I actually touched on the second event, and also on some things that happen after that. Am still also fine-tuning exactly where the three events go, and what their movement does to the emotional storyline. I ended up shifting something from yesterday several years into the future (storyline-wise), when it was only yesterday that I even figured out it was actually a separate idea from what came before.

Sometimes moving forward is overrated, IMO. Sometimes it's good to forget about progress, to plunk yourself down in the middle of a ms and just start doing stuff to it. Digging in, ripping out, plumping up, rearranging. Sometimes that feels very damn good. And...sometimes I guess it feels alarming and counterproductive. Today, however, it was the exact thing that needed to be done.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Yesterday I worked on the former GN most of the day. At the moment, however, I can't even remember what I did to it. All I know is that near the end of my writing time, I started reading over parts that don't need to be worked on at the moment, tweaking and generally getting into a nonproductive mindset where I know what feeling I meant to get across and therefore assume that it is indeed coming across in the writing. That's like sitting around patting yourself on the back for deeds that haven't been accomplished. I really don't have time to waste on mistaken self-congratulations right now.

However, I don't feel too bad about it, because I worked my butt off for many hours before that, and made some fairly large structural changes. Large for this stage of the game, anyway.

I was thinking again that if this had been a regular book, I'd have been long done with it by now. The weird format means that every tweaked thread stirs up more changes than it would in normal prose. Every time I rethink something, I have to fix all kinds of stuff down the line. I'm going to be 90 years old by the time I finish it, and that's if I'm lucky and my mind holds out till then.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I have character arcs on the brain lately, because I've been thinking about them for other people. At the same time I've been rereading MWT's Attolia series (in anticipation of the new book this spring). And I'm like, whoa. I'm not sure The Thief even has a character arc for the MC--at least, not a strong one. It has one for the reader, that's for sure. The Queen of Attolia certainly does, for both MCs. But The King of Attolia...I'm just over halfway through my reread and am thinking this is a book that does its own thing. I think you can divide most books and movies into three-act structure, not because it's the right way or the natural way, but just because that's how Americans tend to tell stories. You can impose the three-act structure from the outside, and almost anything looks like it fits and was planned that way. But the big old turning point of KOA is about halfway through. That big old turning point lasts for pages and chapters. Up till then, it looks to me like the main character arc (growth and change) belongs to Costis, and afterwards it mostly belongs to Eugenides. But I could be wrong. And I guess you could impose the 3-act structure anyway, and say that those pages and chapters in the middle are the second act. But that's really stretching the situation, to my mind.

All I know is that this level of complexity in combining plot and character is totally beyond me. The whole story shifts purpose in the middle of the book--it's like two different books put together. Yet everything keeps moving along. I'd give some good cash money to hear what MWT's writing process is. I suspect it's something like Louis Sachar's, because they both have that ability to combine character with plots that loop around multiple times, picking up on prior points that looked like throwaways at the time, but turn out to be keys to the story and to reader satisfaction.

I need to think why the story keeps moving along after that halfway point, with all its exciting scenes. Multiple problems are solved, characters revealed, and the book ought to end right there. But somehow the new problem that's brought to the fore doesn't let the story slack off enough to make the reader lose interest. There's no question that I was able to put the book down and go to bed, rather than staying up reading. But there's also no question that I'll pick it up again and finish it today--even though I've already read it and know what happens.

The first time I read it, I wasn't able to put it down at all.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Feels like I may be gearing up for a nice bit of work on the former GN. I've got some notes I made during discussion with a fellow writer, and now have some ideas about stringing out the main problem area so it doesn't lie there like a big forbidding blob. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to try to tackle it, but am thinking I'll read through the ms making notes rather than just diving in and typing new stuff.* First, however, I need to get a clear idea in my head of what any changes need to accomplish or draw out. I might try to do that this weekend. Will see.

*Because I printed it out already. And I haven't looked at any of the ms in a while, so I ought to get a fairly fresh read, which would be ruined if I just dive in and start adding new stuff and trying to smooth it in with the old. I can't afford to waste a fresh read at this point--been working on it too long.

Friday, January 15, 2010

note to self re. point between loss and suitors

Emphasis at beginning is on family. Drive home the point that this is gone, that even with a house full of people, activity, noise, and things to do, it's still empty, lonely. The heart of it is gone--a hive, but hollow.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Will be out of town for two weeks, so no blogging till I get back.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It's gotten pretty obvious to me that I'm not going to be doing any writing of my own for at least two-three weeks. I might be able to do some thinking about my writing, but we'll see.

I am bitterly disappointed by the fact that IFC has stopped having Samurai Saturday. I asked them about it, and they replied:

"In 2010, our inventory does not have an adequate amount of Samurai films to sustain a consistent weekly airing."

I can't express how much this sucks. Samurai Saturday was like a good librarian; it put stories into my hands that I never would have sought out or even heard about otherwise. Even if somebody just told me about certain movies and recommended them highly, I probably wouldn't take the time to get hold of them myself and set aside time to watch them. But there the movies were, all kinds of them, right in my hands--my mind and creative eye expanded exponentially, and all I had to do was get up and be in front of the TV at 7:00. a.m.. Damn.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

No writing of my own. No thinking about any writing of my own, either. Too many other things going on.