Friday, December 22, 2006
Since nano, I've been mostly reading. Reading reading reading. Three novels down, working on a fourth now, a bunch of short stories, some biographical non-fiction. And, as usual, with so many words floating around in it, my brain is coming up with new stuff. And, as usual, the new stuff is little bits and images, a bunch of unconnected bubbles floating around, waiting for the links that will turn them into stories.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Lesson 1. Do not attempt a complicated novel when you don't understand what you're doing yet.
Lesson 2. If you don't know where you're going or how even to accomplish it in a non-linear story, do not expect the story to just write itself.
Lesson 3. Do not attempt stories that require a lot of research without actually doing the research prior to nano.
Lesson 4. You can still write 50,000 words while not knowing what you're doing.
Lesson 5. Those words will be crap.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
And yet, it's funny. Because when I had the choice early on this nano to drop this one and pick up the first book of the fantasy trilogy instead, my only thought was, but what's the point? This new book raises the bar for me, and nothing will be the same after it. I still like that other fantasy story, but if I ever write it now, it has to be reimagined into something different. It's so... straight-forward. A good exciting story, sure, but nothing distinguishes it from a hundred other good stories. And this is the problem with growing older, watching your writing and ideas mature. Sometimes you just can't go back.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Friday, October 27, 2006
still laughing. particularly as it was Dana Andrews who called it that. ahhhhh, I adore old movies.
"Why so gloomy?"
"I got a 48-hour liberty and four dollars. What am I supposed to do, get the hysterics?"
mmmmm, love when Dana gets all sarcastic. William Holden who?
Monday, October 23, 2006
I'm sure the characters will delight in surprising me when I actually get there.
My goal this week is simply to read and read and read. Get words flowing easily in my head.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
More and more, I understand that the key to my nightly productivity is having the right score playing in the background. The wrong music will halt a project faster than a computer crash. The correct music slips me into the right frame of mind, almost without me knowing it, and off I go. Whether I meant to or not. Boy, the debt I owe these composers that I love so much. Sure, they score movies, but they also underscore my stories. Without them, I'd get nowhere.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
The scifi western IS a novel.
Insufferable, smirking, stupid, shirtless character.
I guess I have my nano project.
I don't like any of my possible Nano projects!!!
What am I going to do?
10 days down, 21 to go. Somewhere in those 21 days, a project must be found. And where the heck are my muses when I need them? What good are they? Why is an annoying pestering C! character lounging around, grinning crookedly, and going "how about my sci fi western story?" while the muses remain absent? It's just not fair. And unless he's got a subplot or six up his sleeves, that idea is a short story, novella at best. You got that, buddy?? So it won't cut it.
And I still don't have a project.
Does it have to be a novel? Can it be two novellas? Five short stories? Anything totaling 50K new words?
Sigh. That's the character talking, not me. He wants his story. It's about love. Figures.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Uh-huh. Need to start getting characters and world nailed down. Fast.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
I forgot how much I like flash. I love how you write and write to get the story started, then roll your eyes and chop it all out as unessential once you finally get to the point. I love the hacking and slashing in flash, the word counting, and the ways you find of chopping any excess to meet the 1000 word limit and still tell your story. I love succinct, and nothing says succinct like a flash story.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Well, there's most of a month still to decide, though I'd like to do a chunk of plotting first before I begin.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Thursday, September 28, 2006
This is just so pretty, I must share: the cover for the Combat! fanfiction zine I've been working on editing/formatting. If you're not a Combat! fan, it won't mean much, but I love it. Okay, Brockmeyer's missing, but I won't hold that against the cover's creator... LOL!
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Friday, September 08, 2006
So, after recently reading about a potential remake of "A Walk in the Sun" is in the works, all I want to do is watch the original again. Hollywood and their stupid remakes. I'm sure when I'm a silver-haired old lady, I'll be reading about the remake of "Star Wars" that's in the works.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
It's funny, cuz I've had a very productive couple of months; the productivity has just been in other arenas.
Read a young adult novel recently called "Premonitions" by Jude Watson. It's a lesson in vividness and brevity, and I enjoyed it immensely. I got into her writing many years ago when she was writing the Jedi Apprentice books. Yes, I was in my 30's reading young adult Star Wars books. Yes, I bought the entire series as they came out. I visited the bookstore frequently, waiting specifically for the next book to hit the shelf so I could snap it up. I bought not one but two copies, and gifted my best friend with the second set, because we both love SW that much, and she had also fallen in love with Jude Watson's writing. You couldn't pry those books out of my collection, I love them too much. The first one she wrote, "The Dark Rival," is still my favorite. It was bloody brilliant, and I was an instant fan.
So, browsing around online, I found some non-SW books she'd written and bought "Premonitions." Ah, what an enjoyable book. Very similar to the SW books, in that she doesn't wimp out on the difficult topics. She dives right in and makes her characters deal. It's one of the things that grabbed me in the SW books. I've been proofing a lot of fanfiction recently for a print version of a zine, and if I see one more overwritten, prepositional phrase-loaded, participial phrase-loaded, dangling modifier (oh God, this one is killing me, kiiiiiiiiiillling me!), and adverb-loaded sentence, I'm gonna scream. And yes, I read examples that shoved all those things into one single sentence. You'd think the page would bend out of shape from all that word weight. This novel was the biggest breath of fresh air after drowning in prose that simply doesn't work. Short, concise, direct. There's much to be said for reading (and learning from) good young adult novels.
Friday, September 01, 2006
Had to turn out a vignette that I've been procrastinating on. Had tried working on it over lunch, but turned out only a few bland sentences. Looked at the CDs I have downstairs right now, and picked "Memoirs of a Geisha" by John Williams. I wrote my last fanfic story to it, and since I was working with those characters again...
And it was the perfect mood. Again. (Which is still the oddest thing to me -- how this score works for writing Combat! fiction... but writing is all about mood, and it's got that in spades.) And I got my 450 word piece done, beta-ed, and submitted, all with "Memoirs" playing in the background.
And a three-day weekend lies ahead!
That's the plan anyway.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
I read one of those tonight. It's a story I could never even conceive of, let alone write, and that's not a bad thing at all. On a story like this, I only ever want to be a reader.
Monday, August 07, 2006
But I already have cats and dogs, so the weekend was spent acclimitizing everybody and breaking up minor spats. Elanor, the youngest of my indoor cats, warmed up first. She can't watch Grady playing soccer without wanting to get in on the game. Kit tolerates Grady, but with much hissing and swatting. Rosie, who is Elanor's mother, and was abandoned with her kittens in my backyard, is the most stand-offish. Brinja, my old dog, has renewed her resident household position as cat-defender, and has been trying to protect Grady from my younger dog's rough attempts to play. Maxie, thinks the new kitten is just grand, a perfect toy I brought home, just for him to stomp on and bowl over. Sigh.
And so, writing ground to a complete stop on Friday and Saturday. Yesterday, things started settling out, and when the whole gang crashed out for a siesta, I took advantage of the quiet to get 1000 words done. It was something anyway. Made me feel the weekend wasn't entirely a loss. I read a lot on Saturday, cuz it was easier to pick up and put down a book through the animal madness, then it was to attempt to stay grooved into writing.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
I think after seven months of being committed body and soul to one project (the last novel I did), I haven't been ready to jump that heavily into something else. It's been vacation time, and it's been wonderful, but it's time to get back to business. I reviewed my pending projects last night, and it's come down to writing draft 2 of my fantasy novel, or working on two novellas. There's three months between now and November, when I'll start a new novel. That's a nice chunk of edit time. If I can commit to something.
I'm leaning towards the novellas, mostly because they're shorter projects. They're just as immersive, but less writing required... and that leaves me open to do what I REALLY want to do before Nov. 1st -- complete the final draft of "DTD." I'm just not distant from it yet to go back to it, and I'm waiting on feedback from one of the beta readers. And I haven't figured out how to solve a couple problems in it. See? Excuses, excuses... I can't truly commit to it yet either, although it's never left my brain. It dwells there, in the background, biding its time.
And here it is August.
Monday, July 31, 2006
That's not to say there aren't short stories that I enjoy, and I do read shorts regularly. And yet, when I look back at the stories from, say, F&SF magazine, the first two that pop to my mind are Kate Wilhelm's "Naming the Flowers" and Adam-Troy Castro's "The Funeral March of the Marionettes." Both are novellas, not shorts. Both awed me. Both rank among the best stories I've ever read. The other one that really stands out is "Death and Suffrage" by Dale Bailey, which was much shorter and just as fabulous, and any and every story written by M. Rikert. I would buy anything she wrote, sight unseen, because her stories are always that good. But those are about all that I remember by title and author. A handful out of.... fifteen years of diligently reading the magazine? That's not to say I didn't enjoy most of the stories I read. Because I did. F&SF consistently prints good stories. It's just that in the realm of the shorter stories, it's more difficult to find something truly inspiring.
So I write short stories infrequently, and most of them get read by maybe one person I trust, and then they get filed away in the "practice" folder. Because that's what 90% of my shorts feel like to me. Just practice sessions, experimenting with voices and tense and structure. They're useful for that. I have only three or four shorts that I really like and think would be worth working on. And the one I like best of all, I'm not ready to write. I know that. I'm missing something yet that would allow me to do it justice. And so it sits, just a title, the outline of the story, and a few experimental paragraphs, waiting.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
It's weird to me to watch how this story's translating from screenplay to prose story. Part 1 and 2 combined equal just the teaser and Act 1. Part 3 (still in progress) is Act 2 and 3. And Part 4 is Act 4. I didn't really consciously break it down that way, it's just the way it went. I remember when I wrote the script last year, it was hard because I'm used to 5-act television shows. Combat! is only a teaser and 4 acts, and my mind wanted to bust the story automatically into 5. I think my first draft WAS five, and then I shifted scenes around and cut some stuff to make it the proper 4.
Odd too, because there are two distinct versions of this story floating in my head. The original screenplay, which I can still see with all the camera cuts, music, etc., exactly as if it had been filmed in B&W and aired back in the '60s. And now the new story version, which, while the same plot and same actors and much of the same dialog, runs very differently. For one thing, it's now widescreen. For another, it's color. The scenery is no longer "stock" C! locations, but something new. Even the music is different. I can play the same scenes from each version side-by-side on my mental silver screen, comparing them, and it trips me out. The new one looks like a modern movie remake! Which, as much as I hate remakes, is oddly apt, because instead of just writing down what I see happening in the original version, I'm being forced to re-imagine the story in its new prose context. Which is turning out a lot harder and more time-consuming than it was supposed to be.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Friday, July 14, 2006
This is just not my year for short stories. Even my C! fiction is all novella-length.
Talking back to the material -- is this a good thing? Is this something you want to evoke in readers? It indicates a nice involvement in the story, but for me, the need to start yelling at them also almost always stems from frustrations with characters not doing what I want them to do. What's right, what's fair, what will save their lives.... There has to be the proper balance, so that you don't stay too frustrated too long and give up on them.
(Reminds me: my sister is slowly reading through my current novel. She just announced to me yesterday that she couldn't discuss the book any more with me until she was done (she's about two-thirds through). Why? She explained: because things are happening that she doesn't like, and she is afraid her conceptions of how things should go and what is actually happening on paper are not going to reconcile, and so she told me she doesn't know what to think anymore. That she's afraid to think ahead, and that she just has to keep reading to see how it turns out. Seems like a fair indication that I've done my job as writer on this particular work.)
The movie that prompted this is "Attack" from 1956. Shockingly brutal WWII movie for the middle of the '50's. (I was completely wide-eyed at the gruesome fate one of the leads met. Just didn't expect that at all.) I liked the film a lot, but the pacing was off a little to make it truly effective. It slowed down in a few places where it shouldn't have, and people talked to much. Again. Why do they insist on making characters chatter like jaybirds while they're under enemy fire? This is driving me nuts. The rest of the dialog was top-notch, it just got to be disproportionate in the wrong places. The movie played like an overly-long Combat! episode with the wrong cast. Trim out the excess, and it would have been awesome. As is, it's merely the high end of good.
The cast made the film. Jack Palance, Lee Marvin, Eddie Albert, William Smithers. I've always loved William Smithers, and he was absolutely great in this. WS was in one of my favorite Star Trek episodes, "Bread and Circuses," as one of my all-time favorite Star Trek characters. Looking back on it, of course, Capt. Merik would rank highly: he follows my classic attraction pattern: essentially good but flawed man has to redeem himself. Guess I started liking those types VERY early in my life, very early indeed. This was his first feature film, and watching him and Lee Marvin go at it... yes. WS truly carried this movie, even with the other big names chewing up the scenery around him.
And, yes, I talked a lot to the screen the whole time. The story was one of those that sort of demanded it. Incompetent infantry captain screwing up left and right, getting men killed, not acting when he needs to. I wanted to shoot him in the first scene, because I just knew he was going to get a lot of good people killed with his cowardice before the end of the movie, which he did. But it wasn't all frustrations and "get back to your post!" and "Shut up!" and "Shoot him already!" kind of comments. There was also a fair amount of genuine cheering when people did things right and said some very cool things. And the ending -- ah, the ending was just exactly right! Dig it.
Monday, July 10, 2006
It was odd, because I knew what the movie was about, and, as a writer, I immediately had the story plotted out the way I thought it would go. Woops. Not even close. I thought it would be more secretive, with Kirk Douglas running around uncovering the plot, when in fact, everything's brought out in the open early on. This is not remotely an action movie, which I'd been sort of anticipating, but it was never boring, never slow, because the people and the dialog and the tension of the way it was filmed kept it moving. Fascinating.
I watched it a second time with the director's commentary, and that was great. Some things I took for granted, seeing if for the first time in 2006, forgetting it came out in 1964. Like not realizing the movie was supposed to be set in the future, and that they sci-fi'd up the technology. They created video-conferencing and several other things, which didn't actually exist at that time. The cars they chose were mostly European vehicles so they wouldn't look familiar to audiences of the time. Now, they just look like 1960's cars, and I couldn't have told you what model and make they were. Never occurred to me I wasn't supposed to recognize them. Kind of spins the movie differently when you switch the context back to when it was made. Not to mention the movie's very premise, which in 1964 with the Cold War going on, would have been all too real for the audience, who would have brought their own tension and fears into the theater.
And he told a fabulous little tale that all writers will appreciate. The movie takes place, as the title says, in seven days. The novel on which it was based started on a Sunday and ended on Saturday. Frankenheimer shifted it a day, so it began on Monday, and would therefore have to end on Sunday. Which gave him a problem. See, the story hinges on the last day coinciding with the Preakness race, which is always run on a Saturday. His last day was now Sunday, and he was completely screwed as far as the horse race was concerned. He spent a couple of sleepless nights, debated how to get around this, was completely stuck.
He played tennis frequently with a writer friend of his (dang it, I've forgotten the name!) and they would bet their time instead of money. So, apparently, his writer friend owed him twelve hours of writing time. So unable to resolve the problem, Frankenheimer called him up to avail himself of the twelve hours. His friend said, so, if it only takes me an hour or two, is the debt clear? Frankenheimer said, absolutely. And the guy promptly said the solution was easy: you simply have a shot or two showing a poster advertising the Preakness and stating clearly "First Sunday Running of the Preakness!" Problem solved, in five minutes. And that's what Frankenheimer ended up doing. And he said no one ever questioned it or critiqued it, they just accepted it. Hee-hee!
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Monday, July 03, 2006
The thing with creative brains is, they don't stop working just because you tell them not to. So while my conscious brain has its hands over its ears singing loudly "la-la-la-la-la," the creative part is actually seriously considering what he's saying. Stupid easily-duped imagination. Stupid smug character.
He'll be insufferable now.
Saturday, July 01, 2006
This idea was triggered while watching "The Train" today. What a fabulous movie that was! I may have to buy it so I can re-watch it whenever I want to. It's the second John Frankenheimer movie I've watched in the last week, the other being "The Manchurian Candidate." "The Train" was much more up my alley, fond as I am of the whole brainwashing theme. But in "The Train" I get WWII, damned bloody awesome Resistance fighters, trains crashing and derailing left and right (real ones too, not some dumb-assed special effects), strafing planes, Burt Lancaster... what's not right up my alley? (And yes: "The Manchurian Candidate" = mostly talking; "The Train" = mostly action, so which film I'm going to like better is pretty much a no-brainer.) Nice and tense story, and some great camera work and angles that just made me go "OOOOOH!" in the most appreciative way. Otto Preminger's the last director to get me ooo'ing and ahh'ing over their camera work, but this one ranks right up there, particularly some of those long shots at the end. I can't wait to watch it again with the director's commentary turned on. John Frankenheimer provided what I still consider the best commentary I've ever listened to, for "Ronin" (a film I absolutely adore), so I can't wait to hear what he says on this one, see if it's in the same vein.
Monday, June 26, 2006
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Now earlier today, before the heat set in in earnest and knocked me out, I wrote three pages of notes on one story, hammering at and dissecting each scene until I understood what didn't work for me and came up with the only solution I can find at this moment. And I yanked 400 words out of another story. Sigh. Maybe I can use them elsewhere in the future. I don't mind losing them, but I do mind losing one line of dialogue that I really liked, that sort of made the whole scene work for me. I was going to work on both of these tonight, until the other story demanded some airtime.
Friday, June 23, 2006
So, I guess I'm still instinctively watching movies that match my mood. From the sheer desperate despair of "Ox-Bow" a few days ago, now modulated to the feeling unneeded, unable-to-fit-in depression of "The Best Years of Our Lives." Didn't realize that was where my mood had shifted until after I watched it and made the connection. But hey, as opposed to "Ox-Bow," "Best Years" at least ends on a note of hope. Things are improving around here, anyway. I'll work my way back up to "Swamp Water" yet.
And writing... is proceeding. One story goes well and has been easy to write. I've added over 2000 words to it already. The other... the one so close to completion, goes nowhere at all. I like the beginning, then it falls into a morass of unfocus. I think I just need to throw out the last half and start over. And the Garage Sale flash piece is just sitting in my brain, drumming its fingers impatiently.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
I'm actually looking forward to tonight, to picking up where I left off.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Now, I have useless brain. It's forgotten how to put together a sentence and it's unwilling to work with me right now. Appeals to long-absent muses are going nowhere. I resorted to a movie.
Now, I was supposed to watch "Swamp Water," which is a HAPPY movie (well, mostly) and something to BREAK my mood. What ended up in the DVD player? "The Ox-Bow Incident." NOT a happy movie!! It didn't break my mood: it INTENSIFIED my mood. I haven't put that one on in several months, and I got the kicked-in-the-stomach reaction all over again. Now, I'm going to bed without a word written, more depressed than when I started.
I'm a bloody fool.
Friday, June 16, 2006
So, I'm opting to launch into full-on reading mode to recharge the language batteries. I've actually been reading quite a bit lately, but in small doses. I'm way behind in my F&SF and Realms of Fantasy magazine reading. Like several months behind, so there's tons of short stories to read... which will be good for that Garage Sale story coalescing in my brain. But, of course, last night I started a friend's novel first, and that was the end of any consideration towards those poor neglected shorts. :-D
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Friday, June 09, 2006
Monday, June 05, 2006
volplane - to glide in or as if in an airplane
defilade - to arrange (fortifications) so as to protect the lines from frontal or enfilading fire and the interior from fire from above or behind.
The latter, of course, forced me to also look up enfilade, which I have heard of, but couldn't have defined. It means gunfire directed from a flanking position along the length of an enemy battle line.
This is the only short story I've submitted this year, and it was accepted, so I'm one for one, at least! I need to write some more shorts now that the novel is mostly done.
Friday, June 02, 2006
"Darkland" - autumn
"Dreaming the Dead" - winter
"While Gods Lie Dreaming" - spring
"The Red-Flamed Mystic" - summer
Different seasons, though the first three still all feature snow. I seem to like icy, snowy weather, yes I do (though I never consciously chose those seasons -- the weather came with the stories). Dark, overcast, bitter, and bleak... characters bundled in coats off all varieties, freezing to death (in some cases, rather literally, because I'm mean that way).
And then the last book runs with the hot and dry weather and nary a coat or cloak or jacket in sight. And my two novellas are set in summer.
Monday, May 29, 2006
I listened to very little variety in music for this book. It was basically three scores, over and over. Compared to the twenty or so I used for "Darkland" this kind of surprised me. Or maybe not.
"King Kong" - James Newton Howard
"The Blue Max" - Jerry Goldsmith
"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" - Patrick Doyle
Towards the end, I added two others for when I needed sneaking around music:
"The Interpreter" - James Newton Howard
"Shadow Conspiracy" - Bruce Broughton
And that was it on the music front. "King Kong" and "Blue Max" were the main ones. This amuses me, as I used to think of "Blue Max" as the score to this novel I came up with years and years ago (and will still write some day) called "Heaven's Debt" that was inspired by being in the redwoods and hearing "Blue Max" for the very first time. The score seemed all about lost innocence and the military to me at the time. And here, I used the music almost strictly for writing Reisher's sections... well, the military flavor was quite applicable, but lost innocence? Um, no. Interesting how fourteen years will change how you hear the same piece of music.
I wish I'd kept track of how many tea bags I went through... probably in the hundreds over the last seven months. I think I averaged 3-5 mugs a writing night.
Monday, May 22, 2006
I just finished the second draft of my current novel.
Who cares what time it is?
Listening to Duran Duran's "Love Voodoo" right now. Fits the novel, oddly enough. I don't really like 95% of "modern" Duran Duran, but I dig this song, and it nicely concludes the epilogue. Sort of end credit music, even though there's almost nothing I hate more than movies that have orchestral scores throughout, then end on some fricking song. Annoys me no end. Ah well. Still fits.
Still work to be done, I was making mental notes on things I need to change, but that can wait awhile now.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Which leaves just two chapters left to revise. And that puts me nicely back on schedule. I will finish by tomorrow night, maybe even by tonight, if I keep going with this momentum.
I forgot how absolutely ecstatic one gets when the end truly *TRULY* is within grasp. When the big hang-ups are now behind ("You're problems are all behind you now." -- James Bond, "Diamonds are Forever") and it's just the normal everyday minor revising and tweaking left. La-la-la-la!
Must eat lunch. Immediately.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
And that's where I'm stuck at.
What I need to do is back off a bit. The answers are there, right in front of me, but due to artificial time constraints, I'm attempting to patch and jury-rig it, rather than gutting the ship properly and rebuilding it, which is what it actually needs.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
And all because I was thinking I needed to write one Green Room story per month, and while pondering May's story, Billy popped up and said it would be about him and the reward he'd get for solving my novel problem. And I said, "huh, you?" And he nodded earnestly and said, "Yep, cuz I AM going to solve your problem." And I went, "huh, you?" And he pointed at the keyboard, and so I wrote exactly nine lines of Green Room dialog, not even 80 words total, and as I trailed away, staring at the dialog I'd just written for him, Billy smiled and said smugly, "See? Problem solved."
And damned if it wasn't. And it was all because Billy wasn't in my story "Reckoning" and, more importantly, the reason he wasn't in the story.
The boy is a genius.
And yes, this means I am THROUGH the scene that's been driving me nuts since draft 1.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
And I decided tonight, I've been wasting my anger threatening the wrong character. S is genuinely cooperating. And that makes this major road block R's fault. He's failing to ask the right questions. He's letting me down. So, we'll see how he likes being on the wrong side of my wrath for a change. He's neither sneaky nor clever like S is, so maybe that means he'll actually be helpful.
May tomorrow bring Kirby to the rescue, careening stolen trucks through check point gates. Hm, maybe not. I might start working on the wrong story....
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
I suppose it's not all that unusual. I have always had problems writing during summer. I simply don't write well when it's light outside. I'm my most prolific during winter. In the dead of winter, I'm usually rolling by six, with several productive hours ahead of me. Once daylight savings time hits, once that sunlight keeps crawling on towards 8 and 9 pm, my writing goes to hell. So, this year, I seem to be countering the daylight shift by starting and writing later into the night, so I get my darkness. Unfortunately, that means my lunch break is turning into a desperate collapse-and-sleep-hour, cuz I'm not getting enough sleep at night any more. Upsides, downsides.
Whatever, I'm going like gangbusters right now. I jumped ahead in the novel last night -- need to let current chapter stew longer -- and got 18 and part of 19 done.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Yeah, sounds vain, but what do we write for, anyway? If we don't enjoy our own stories, who else is going to? And I really like the ending to this book. It came out tense and surprising and frustrating and satisfying all at once. Just what it should be.
Okay, late night sleepless exuberance worn off now.
Friday, May 05, 2006
I actually like the first draft version the best but, for various reasons, it ultimately doesn't work. But replacing it just-so, is turning into a lengthy and frustrating endeavor. Sure, what it boils down to is I don't know what I'm doing yet in this chapter. As author, I simply know too much. I know where it all goes, who's planning what, and I've lost the ability to see only through the limited character's eyes. There's things I WANT to say, but they're not necessarily things the characters have figured out yet. I need to forget what I know. Forget the story's outcome. Forget it all, and write from ignorance. I'd really like to set the whole thing aside for a month at this point, let it all get muddy again, and then approach it fresh. I need objective distance, but I don't have that luxury, so I'll just keep on with the trial and error re-writes for now, pick one that gets the closest. It can all be re-written later if it doesn't work.
To gain space, I've been working on a fanfic story instead. Entirely refreshing writing NEW words, not editing old. It does pay to have multiple projects sitting around.
Friday, April 28, 2006
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Two-thirds done and starting act three exactly on cue. Not planned intentionally, but it came out that way just the same. This from a story written with no pre-existing outline and penned almost completely on the fly. Makes me realize how little I have to think about such things any more. Natural plotting is so engrained in me, it'd be almost impossible for me to BREAK this kind of structure, even not knowing where the novel is going. Cuz, really, my novels are just movies. Everyone single book I've written, for better or for worse, follows the pacing/structure of a two-hour screenplay. Again, not with any deliberate intent, it just seems to be the way my brain tells a story. Yeah, yeah, I know. Boring. No avant-garde, push the literary box stuff from me. Tough.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Too little, too much, too hot, too cold... Just call me Goldilocks.
Mystery is all about balance and truth and sleight of hand and concealing curtains blowing open in the breeze, just so. Writing is all about knowing when to turn on the wind machine.
Friday, April 21, 2006
As they say, be careful what you ask for.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Nope, the combo doesn't work for me.
An icy snow-laden gust of wind blew across the room, from open window through open door, and Smith shivered. 'My God, it's bitter.'
'Loss of blood,' Schaffer said briefly, then added, unsympathetically: 'And all that brandy you guzzled back there. When it comes to opening pores--'
He broke off and lay very still, lowering his head a fraction to sight along the barrel of his schmeisser.
--from "Where Eagles Dare," Alistair MacLean
I thought I asked him very nicely, with my best smile and everything, thank you very much, but he just raised an eyebrow, then shook his head, the uncooperative so-and-so.
I know, it doesn't work this way. The muses pick me, not vice versa, but you'd think, when I asked for one tiny little thing that one of that bloody lot might help me out. Just a little.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
And I've had the word "maladroit" stuck in my head for two days now. Not sure why.
And I have two novellas, both completed but in various stages of revision, that do not have titles. They've never had titles. Today, here and now, for some perplexing reason, this is really bugging me ("You're buggin' me, man, you're buggin' me! - Sylvester, It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World). I want titles. I want something to call them instead of "the mother story" and "the telling." I'd also like to finish them but, really, that's secondary to finding decent titles. Argh. Why this popped up here and now, I have no idea. But now that it's in my head...
Thursday, April 13, 2006
I was visiting with them this past weekend, and my sister made the mistake of mentioning that I used to do these "traps" for her. Really, it was just a choose-your-own-adventure type maze that I would draw out on paper first, then lead her through it verbally. She (and sometimes her friend too) would lie down and listen while I spun them a tale and gave them choices... It was much fun, and challenging for me, to describe as accurately and interestingly as possible the environment they had to traverse. Well, she mentioned that, and my youngest neice pounced. So, I had to make up one on the spot for her. I took her through a dank smelly cave, and she ran into a pink and cream feathered dragon-bird thingy and got eaten. And she loved it, loved being told a story she could visualize in her mind and make decisions on whether to climb the boulder or cross the cave or whatever, and, of course, I couldn't help it and got really swept up in the telling (I've been listening to too many Dana Andrews radio shows... I'm turning into dramatic unreliable narrator girl). She bugged me incessantly the rest of the weekend for another one, then my nephew found out about it, and he wanted one too, but I got out of doing another one. But I guarantee the next time I'm visiting, I'll be pulled into making up a wild story for them.
So, anyone who says the oral tradition is dead... lies. All kids need is someone to start telling them exciting adventure stories that involve them, and they're hooked.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
1. The more you read, the better your writing will be.
2. Write, write, write, write, write.
3. For productivity: a deadline is good, an actively waiting audience is better.
4. There is a huge difference between an idea/concept and a story. You usually need both to create a successful piece of fiction.
5. You can argue successfully with characters when they start trying to lay down the law and tell you what to do. You can also threaten them, shoot them in their next story, or simply tell them to go to hell. You can do none of that with muses.
6. Writing flash fiction (1000 words and under) is the best exercise I've ever found for learning how to eliminate extraneous words and tighten prose.
7. It's okay to take a break and not write a single word for awhile.
8. Never submit a story the night you finish it, no matter how awesome it seems in the exhilaration of the moment.
9. Have at least one beta reader who gives it to you straight. And listen to them.
10. There is nothing you write that can't be improved in a re-write, even if that re-write means throwing out the original story and starting over from scratch.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Last night's session was so profitable, I reached the halfway point on editing this book, and I stopped at midnight only because practicality dictates you must be at least mostly rested for your day job. But that won't stop me from grinning all day long and counting down the hours until 5 pm, when I'm free to get swept up in/perpetuate the current momentum.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
So what the heck am I writing in here for? Time to get cracking. Dead tired and hungry though. No, hungry is such an inadequate word for this feeling. Famished. Fall-down-in-the-desert-can't-take-another-step starving. (I AM defrosting chicken to cook for dinner right this second. It'll only be ready in an hour or so, after I've passed out. Typical poor planning in the meal department. I need a keeper, I really do.)
Monday, March 20, 2006
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Saturday, March 18, 2006
So I rewarded myself with a movie, a nice short 97 minute movie. Figured I'd go right back to writing afterwards. Um, no. Emphatically no. See, there was this one scene...
Melted me like buttah in a saucepan... like chocolate chips microwaved for, well, I've forgotten the exact second count required to render it perfect, but just like that.
And I'm useless now, just utterly useless for writing. Worse, that thought doesn't seem to be bothering me any. Seems, once dropped into a high state of puddlization, you feel no pain. None whatsoever. Better than morphine.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Monday, March 06, 2006
I think I'll just keep working a bit more tonight.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
So, spending my lunch break, not writing like I meant to, but pulling a book off the shelf to check on one little tiny insignificant trivial detail -- and then spending the rest of the hour flipping through the rest of the book, mindlessly drooling.... bad, very VERY bad. (All right, all right, the book was The Complete Films of William Holden... and I can't help it if it's loaded with pictures and I'm a sucker for a handsome guy. If there was a matching book on Dana Andrews, I guarantee you I'd have to lock it up and mail the key to Rachel because it would be twice as dangerous to have just lying around.) Fortunately, that episode was BEFORE I got fired up, but it's a prime example of how NOT to "waste" my lunch breaks in the future. (yes, waste is in quotes because it may not have been a productive hour, but it was an awfully enjoyable one.)
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Monday, February 27, 2006
Such a relief.
Yesterday, I started converting a script I wrote into short story format and finally started getting somewhere on it. I've had a huge mental barrier on this project. Scripts are written from such an outside perspective, I simply couldn't get in close enough to write it in story form whenever I tried in the past. But I was finally able to stop watching the film from the camera's perspective and get into the middle of it. Helps that I decided to start the story from the outside character's pov first. It was surprisingly easy to remember what the world feels like from his perspective.
And I also completed my DTD outline spreadsheet. I have everything I wrote documented. Now to tear it apart, fix it, and put it back together.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
There are four main characters, and they are all flawed.
L - the only woman. A fence-sitter, unable to commit to taking a stand.
S - who has noble goals, who once was admirable, but years of failure have driven him to brutal, ruthless tactics.
R - who enjoys the perks that go with power without understanding the responsibility that goes with it. Selfish and spoiled.
B - the best of the bunch, except he's dead. And when you're dead, the basic needs that drive living people are gone, and this skews his outlook.
And, of course, that's only how they start out in the story. All four change and grow throughout, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. But none are true heroes, none are admirable. I would not want to emulate any one of them. However, they suit the story I want to tell. Their moral ambiguities are necessary but it doesn't mean they don't have good qualities as well. I did not set out to write a story about admirable people this time around. I set out to write a scifi/noir story.
Is that a bad thing? Is it bad that I am not writing about upstanding and morally clear citizens? That I'm not writing about heroes? That my characters blur the lines between good and bad, do bad things to achieve worthy goals, and do good things that get them in trouble? I'm not a message writer. Never have been, though the themes I write about matter very much to me. For better or for worse, I write to entertain. I love and understand all four of these characters. I wouldn't be writing about them otherwise. But this is a book I will not give my dad to read. He's not interested in human failings and how we overcome those flaws to better ourselves and our society. He's not interested in the grey area. And DTD is all about the grey.
For the record, my previous two novels both offer up true heroes, the kind my dad would happily root for and aspire to be like. Oh, both novels have their share of grey (and my absolute favorite characters in both are the greyest of the lot -- hm, maybe my dad is right to decry my taste in men/characters), but there are very admirable noble characters in both for someone like my dad to latch onto, and clear-cut evil characters he can root against. Characters I ultimately find to be rigid in their outlook and best used to contrast against the greys. And of course, for me, it is the grey characters who are the important ones, as it is they who force the black and white characters to evaluate their own motives and goals -- and where they draw their line determines how much of a hero they really are or can become.
Friday, February 24, 2006
Instead, it's a short post. I'm in post-novel complete brain failure status. Don't have the desire to work on anything, and instead of forcing myself to work on a project -- any project! -- I've surrendered to laziness and the sweetness of doing nothing at all. And, of course, the perennial problem with doing that is how quickly I lose the discipline of daily writing. Which then just frustrates me. Sigh. No win situation.
Tomorrow, I write. Something. Anything! Tonight, however, I'm watching movies. William Holden movies. Of course, that's liable to be far more detrimental to my productivity than Valentino, but we'll see.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
WRITE THINGS DOWN WHEN THEY OCCUR TO YOU.
I know this. KNOW THIS! And I broke Rule #1 tonight. I was watching the silent movie "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" and I had a tangential thought on my novel. And I failed to pause the movie and write it down. And the thought is *poof* gone vanished disappeared blowing raspberries my direction. Son of a squishy! I'd blame the handsome Mr. Valentino for this lapse, except he was nowhere around when I had the thought. It's no one's fault but my own. Pen. Paper. Computer. WRITE THEM DOWN!!!!
The picture is to mollify my self-irritation. :-D
Sunday, February 19, 2006
So, after dinner, three things came together again. I was surfing the internet, following an online arc of links from "Sunset Boulevard" to a film noir page, which went through examples of all kinds of sub-genre noir, including Western Noir... and then two other things that had happened today sort of meshed with that and just like that I had another story idea. The other pieces were when I was taking a walk earlier through the snowy forest, listening with eyes closed to just how far voices can carry outside straight-line, and seeing an eBay item this morning with the title of "Lobby Card 1958 THE FEARMAKERS Dana Andrews roughed up." I know, I know, don't even go there... but it was less actually Dana Andrews as much as simply the title of the movie and the "roughed up" phrasing. It sent me off thinking about the various reasons people would get "roughed up." And the title of that movie is also the name of a "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" episode. The two have completely different subject matter, but since I know "Voyage" and have never seen that movie, my brain went off on futuristic submarines and scientific experiments gone awry. And a story was born. And it has nothing to do with Dana Andrews. Really. It's more like something out of "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.," but all cold-dark-winter-noirish. And damn, I miss that show! Come on guys, release it on DVD already! Please? (And while you're at it, release "The Fearmakers" too so I can see why Dana Andrews is getting roughed up and by whom.)
Friday, February 17, 2006
So, I filed away all my daily drafts last night and backed them up, then started with a new draft of the whole novel. First step is to put page breaks between every scene and label them all (I use simple labels like "CH1, S2" for Chapter 1, scene 2). Tonight, I'll print the entire sucker out, and then comes the fun part. Re-reading the whole thing and logging everything down after each scene into a separate document. POV for the scene, which characters are involved, what happens in the scene, date and time and location, what the scene was really supposed to accomplish... all that info goes into a doc that I then review and use to sort out all the obvious problems. Time consuming, but effective.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
This book was nothing but one new discovery after another.
And it was a roller coaster of a ride. The bad guy turned into a good guy. The good guy turned into a bad guy. The romantic lead (yeah, there was a third guy) got side-lined by the other two. I uncovered a conspiracy. Things blew up. People I liked got killed. People I liked even more got hurt. Badly. Betrayal, vengeance, lust, love, redemption... they all showed up where I least expected them.
I would say this was a fine lesson in how NOT to write a novel... except, somehow, it ended up working. Oh, sure, there's a ton of editing to do -- there always is on any first draft -- but, as a whole, the book works well. I'm actually very happy with it. That's what surprised me. That I could stay blind and let my subconscious, the characters, and muses lead me along and have the whole thing work. I tried about fifteen times to wiggle out of starting this particular story for NaNoWriMo. I had nothing but doubts and misgivings, but I wasn't allowed to set it aside. Muse #2 got mad and said to stop stalling, just trust him and write the fucking thing already. His words, not mine. So I did. And he was right. As always, damn him. Grumble, grumble.
So flying without an approved flight plan is not always a bad thing. Would I do another book this way? Depends upon who's swearing at me, I guess. LOL!
Thanks to a handy spreadsheet I kept while writing this novel, I know I wrote 113,168 words total on 70 days between Nov 1, 2005 and Feb 14, 2006, for an average of 1600 words per writing day. Interesting. The most I wrote on a single day was 5052 words, the least was -351, meaning I deleted more than I wrote that day. Urgh. 21 chapters, a prologue and an epilogue.
Music used as background:
King Kong (James Newton Howard)
The Interpreter (James Newton Howard)
Snow Falling on Cedars (James Newton Howard)
The Blue Max (Jerry Goldsmith)
Inchon (Jerry Goldsmith)
Morituri (Jerry Goldsmith)
"I Will Wait for You" (Bobby Darin)
And Rachel had made a plug regarding getting yourself a writing buddy. I second that. I don't think I ever would have finished this so quickly without her to push and encourage me. Thanks!
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Monday, February 13, 2006
In hindsight, every "surprise" this bunch of characters has hit me with was actually there in the manuscript long in advance. They aren't really surprises, they're logical outcomes of events and personalities I set up back in November. But somehow, I still managed to not see any of it coming. That's what floors me. That I could set it all up and not see what I was setting up.
This has definitely been an extremely unique novel-writing experience.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Anyway: what's left to do (unless one of the other characters decides they have to mess with me too):
Chapter 19 - finish last scene
Chapter 20 - three scenes
Chapter 21 - five scenes
Friday, February 10, 2006
Monday, February 06, 2006
So, on a whim, I found these other things I do on a daily basis. They're all British:
Judgement and arguement. There's no E in American: judgment and argument. My spell checker always changes these on me automatically, but it doesn't stop me from typing them with the E originally. Though it could just be me. Same with travelling. I always put in two L's and spell checker removes the extra.
Dreamt, leapt - and similar words ending it T - American would be dreamed, leaped.
Even my sentence structure, I'm discovering reading up on various links, tends to the British... One example -- I would almost alway say: "I've just seen a movie." It appears that most Americans would simply say "I just saw a movie."
And it goes on and on.
So, does this mean my books will be naturally better sellers in Britain (don't I wish!), or will I simply drive my future American editors insane??
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Friday, February 03, 2006
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
So, I wrote novel instead. Thought it'd be hard to get back into the swing of things after a week of inactivity, but the scene I had to write involved my favorite character, and writing his stuff is effortless and grinningly fun. Over 92K total now. 100K is just around the corner if I can keep up the 1000 words a day minimum.
Had an odd realisation the other day. I've worn the same necklace for over four years now. Silver pendant of the Norns in swan form on a choker chain. I've never taken it off, not for any reason; it's part of me. But I realised that on the day I finish the first draft of this novel, I will take this necklace off and put it away. As if its purpose will have been served. And the weird part is that it feels right to do so. It's time for a change. Which means I now have to start looking for a new necklace. I know what I want, but I've never turned up anything remotely like it. We'll see.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
I went, hm, that's interesting. Let's give it a try. So, I then had files named "novel 08-30-05.doc" etc.
And what then completely surprised me was how fast I got used to this system. I can't think of working any other way now, and I even do longer short stories in this manner. Sure, I end up with a lot of files (I have 61 on my current novel, which is rather interesting in itself -- 91K, 61 days, average of nearly 1500 words per day), but then I hit a night like tonight, where I realize that two nights ago I screwed something up. I wrote a scene on Sunday, decided on Monday it went the wrong direction and promptly deleted it and wrote a new one. Now, here I am on Tuesday, realizing the first version was the correct one. Had I been working in just one file, that original scene would have been gone. I would have deleted it and overwritten it with the new scene. But tonight, all I had to do was just go back to Sunday's file, copy and paste the scene into today's file, and life was good. I lost nothing. I don't have to recreate the scene from memory.
Daily backups. Don't leave home without them.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
And I remember back last October before I started writing this book that I feared it was only novella-length. That was back before I knew anything but that a murder started the story and a murder ended it. Back before the characters took charge and the plot took off. Silly me.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
This is an interesting meme from QueenoftheSkies on LJ. I'm going strictly with novels here, which, HAH! no one has read, cuz they ain't been published. Yet. Don't worry, I'm working on remedying that. In the meantime, this is what you have to look forward to:
1. It will be scifi, fantasy, or a combo of both.
2. It will explore to varying degrees several of the following: freedom, loyalty, friendship/love, integrity, honor, sacrifice, oppression, and redemption.
3. Someone will betray someone and usually not who you think it will be.
4. Someone will get backhanded and someone will probably get their throat slit.
5. You'll cry "Noooooo!" in your best Luke Skywalker imitation (pick Star Wars, Empire, or Jedi -- there's a "Noooooo! from Luke in all of 'em) because something will happen that you really REALLY don't want to happen to a character(s) I've made you care about.
6. The superstructure will fall off. Or, in non-Deb-nautical-plot talk, just when you think it can't get any worse for the main characters, it will.
7. People get hurt/die. Lots of them. Usually ones you care about. Sometimes this is linked to number 5, often not.
8. There's much more to the bad guy's plan than the main characters know about until the end of the story, and, yeah, there's usually a McGuffin.
9. It will be visually written and the plot will move fast
10. I use the British "towards" instead of the American "toward" though you won't probably see that because there's a handy feature called "find/replace" that neatly solves my Britishismist leanings, but, for those who beta my work, it's a dead giveaway that I wrote it.
Monday, January 16, 2006
"I've always wanted to sail to the South Seas, but I can't afford it." What these men can't afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of "security." And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine--and before we know it our lives are gone.
What does a man need--really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in-- and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That's all--in the material sense. And we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.
The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.
Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?