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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Typed in about 70 pages worth of fixes. The going will be slower from here, though--got some rethinking and rewording to do.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Okay, hmm. I think the first 107 pages are workable. I need to enter the edits I made while reading (which will take at least a couple of days), then figure out what this last scene or two needs to be (out of the ten or so that could go here), and then I think I can set most of this aside in my head and start fresh with the middle. Not sure how the pacing's going to play out from here, because even if I alternate stuff happening with the stuff I'm more interested in, the stuff that's happening isn't as edge-of-your-seat as what's in the first 107 pages. So, we'll see.

Monday, September 26, 2011

I printed out the first 107 pages to read over tomorrow. It's a scary little stack of paper, lying there on my desk saying, "I may suck, and if I do that means you haven't moved forward even one single solitary inch in six months of writing."

I know I've actually done a lot in six months, and I know that six months is an arbitrary number anyway because I have no clue where I stood with this half a year ago. But still, that's what it's saying to me. It's saying, "Be afraid. Be very afraid." And I am. I don't want to have to trash fifty pages of writing and start them over from scratch. I want to be able to move into the next fifty pages and start pulling those pieces together.

It was a good writing day, though. One especially nice part was when I went through a scene more carefully to figure out where everybody really was and why, and it turned out that one of the characters went and had a conversation offstage with another character. I pulled up a side file and wrote that out, and it was surprising and enlightening. Now my MC gets to find out that they were talking, and he will be disturbed and confused by the knowledge. Heh heh.

I'll try to think about that instead of what might happen tomorrow.
Going through the scenes and grounding them deeply has meant thinking through some of the minor secondary characters. These guys have been mere redshirts standing around, usually in one mass. Even just trying to get them separated into real human beings--albeit shallowly delineated ones--has changed a key scene and the direction of the scenes that follow.

I'm tired of dealing with so many characters, though. It's tempting to have an meteor crash into the story and kill half of them off.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Busy here, but I have been working on the dystopian a little nearly every day, still working my way through the deeper grounding of the part just before the middle. I can't seem to wrap my mind around what I'm going to do as I move into the middle. I've got a lot of scenes lined up ready to go, but I'm feeling iffy about the transition into them. Iffy as in not knowing what to do.

I think this is why I'm currently compelled to do that deeper grounding. If I can get it right, I should be able to understand this upcoming transition, and also how the middle needs to be paced, timewise. The middle is where more time starts passing between scenes, and I'm not sure how to show that without losing the rapid pacing I've been going for in these first hundred pages. Also, the transition into the middle will set up its pacing and get it rolling--so if I blunder around not getting this transition right, the next hundred or however many pages won't coalesce.

I'm wondering if I need to mentally break the story here and start a new section--like, in my head, call the forthcoming middle "Part II" and treat it as a separate entity as I write. Or it could be that the narration needs to flow directly from one chapter to the next.

What I might do is get these hundred or so pages settled enough that I'm willing to let other people see them, and send them to my agent for a reality check re. pacing while I regroup and dive into the next part. Who knows. It looks to me like I need to trim some of the end of the hundred-page part anyway, and that may take a while at this rate.

I've been considering having brief tags at the beginnings of chapters, to help ease the moment of understanding when the reader finally gets the main secondary character's full story. It might just be sappy and off-putting though. Not sure.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Still busy. Have been working here and there on heavy-duty grounding and fleshing out scenes, including working them through from the pov of minor characters. Also seem to be collecting post-its from waking up in the wee hours with thoughts re. thematic and character arcs.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Yesterday, filled in a transition between two scenes. In order to get it grounded, I had to rethink the layout of the place my MC lives. Sketched out a map.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Very busy. Have been thinking about the dystopian, and realizing it's time to print out and do a readthrough. I have no sense of how the story ideas flow into each other, or whether the action I've got is rising action. And I can't hone any of the scenes that need to be honed until I'm sure they're in the right places.

That will have to wait till I have time to actually read my own ms.

For now, I'm suddenly thinking about the former GN re. format and structure. I've had to do a lot of thinking lately about how format and structure can be used to bind a story together. One big idea is that providing an outside viewpoint can create tension if it shows conflicts and dangers the main character is unaware of.

I already knew I needed that outside context in the former GN, and have been trying to shoehorn it in mostly via my MC's pov. Also, some time back, I tried putting framing devices around chapters. They weren't working because they weren't cohesive enough. It was like slamming the reader into a wall every time a new chapter started.

So now I'm thinking I'll look around at other characters and see how many might have something to say. I've had to do double backbends to get the world-building context-y information into my MC's pov, so I'm interested to see exactly how many places there are where it can come out and happen in real time. I may look to see if there's a potential pattern for outside viewpoints, something that would keep the story flowing while also keeping tension up.

It's not going to be simple, no matter what. This ms is a real puzzle.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Woke up briefly at 4:40 a.m. with a bunch of sudden clear thoughts.


The thoughts included:

  • A character I've been on the fence about doesn't die, he just gets hurt really bad and gets his eyeball poked out, which is what I've been wanting because I can see him in my head being older with an eyepatch.
  • The reason he doesn't die (and only gets hurt really bad) is because he does something the MC told him to do earlier in the book.
  • I can bring this around to an idea I keep circling in the ms: when you've got no good choices, intentions count as much as, if not more than, outcome. If you don't have the equipment to win, and you honestly do the best you can, then you shouldn't berate yourself for not winning.

Now, the interesting thing about this writing-wise is that it seems to me to slam straight up against audience, market, and business. Explaining would mean humongously detailed spoilers, so I won't explain--but it's clear that I've got an unintended subtext here. My MC does something that one isn't supposed to do in YA or midgrades. I'll need to keep pulling back once in a while to keep an eye on that subtext, while making sure I go all the way in staying honest and true to the character. I know what my guy did. I know what drove him to do it. I need to make sure that I don't back off who he is, or accidentally drop the core of him just because I feel bad about it whenever I put my temporary gatekeeper hat on and look at the story from their angle. Every bit of this story thread has to remain mindful and deliberate and thorough.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Busy with school starting and family stuff going on. WIP will have to fall by the wayside while I bear down on family and writing-related obligations.

Right now, the WIP seems to really suck, anyway. I haven't read any of it for real (like, sat down and tried to read straight through as a reader instead of a writer) in a long time, so I don't know if it sucks in the real world or not. But in my head, it's like a blob of unflavored gelatin on the sidewalk. I look at it and I think: Bleh. Bleh, bleh, bleh.

So what I've been doing instead is trying to find the right place for the bad guy's winter camp/home. It's been gnawing at me that this isn't settled, because I can't properly write the scenes that take place there until I have a feel for it.

Also, I want to find the right place for the final confrontation.

I did flesh out some of a falling-apart-shoe related piece. I'm now thinking I need pieces like this in order to write a book that works, because they're simple and character-driven and there's no larger questions to consider about what the reader would be expecting or wondering about. If I write too many scenes where exciting stuff happens that moves the plot forward, I get bored, and eventually confused, uninterested, and disconnected. Like now. Pumped-up fictional life-or-death drama is just not real enough for me to stay related to, not when it's scene after scene after scene.

So I'm going to lay off the writing--unless I get a craving for it--and instead make sure that every day I focus on something about trying to get strongly connected to the ms again. Which means stuff like finding settings, thinking about how these people got here, and trying to understand what their daily routines and lives really look like, from inside their bodies and heads. Much of this type of thinking can be done behind the wheel of a car, so I don't know how often the actual file will get pulled up.