Thursday, November 29, 2007

2007 nano wrap up

So, another nano completed. What do I have to show for it? 50,000 words I can't use, for one. Okay, that may be exaggerating. There was quite a bit of dialogue I rather fancied. And the story is still sound. But I never once got in the groove, that place where the language flows and you know you're writing stuff that will survive the edit. That freedom and immersion in language eluded me. It was an exercise in the mundane.

But that's okay. I knew that would happen from the get-go, and I accomplished what I set out to do -- get a first draft that explores the ideas I had and shows me what I don't want to do. I learned a lot about what doesn't work in this book. My brain is already trying to edit, refining and removing the dross, nailing down what I really want the final draft to do. Not letting it, not yet. Want to finish the second half of the book first because without knowing how it truly ends up, what's the point of revising?

Alas, I don't quite know where the second half goes yet. Good thing nano ended when it did! LOL! I have a bunch of broad notes, but I can't see how to get there in detail yet. I think another focus shift is in order.

So, music listened to while writing the first half:

"The Secret of NIMH" - Jerry Goldsmith (90% of the time was this score)
"Justine" - Jerry Goldsmith
"All the King's Men" - James Horner
"Just Cause" - James Newton Howard
"Ransom/The Chairman" - Jerry Goldsmith

On word counts, the most I got in one day was a little over 5000 words. I had two days of zero words. I found it worked well to get about 500 words in before starting work. Then I could do the standard 1600 after work and end up with around 2000 for the day.

I'd like to keep that approx. hour of writing first thing in the morning as I head into December.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Another one bites the dust

And that marks the completion of my fourth successful nano. Observations and conclusions tomorrow. Done with writing for the night.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Doesn't it figure?

3000 words left to go for nano... and I just ran out of detailed outline. Now there remains only a general outline with broad headlines and no specifics. Just 3000 words...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Tough cops

"Detective Story" shares some similarities with "Where the Sidewalk Ends." Detectives haunted by their fathers, obsessive in their pursuit of justice because of it, both chasing criminals they're told to lay off, both violent in their methods. Kirk Douglas in one, Dana Andrews in the other. I find "Sidewalk" a very satisfying film. "Detective Story" disappointed me. Maybe because the first moves and shifts constantly, with the hero getting himself into deeper and deeper trouble, and in "Detective Story," the hero reacts to situations and circumstances, he doesn't cause them. There's nothing wrong with that, and "Detective Story" is a good movie. Kirk Douglas is awesome as usual. It just isn't a repeat viewer like "Sidewalk" is.

Best part of "Detective Story" was that Bert Freed was in it (coincidentally, he's in "Sidewalk" too). I love Bert Freed. I'd watch him in anything. It's interesting, isn't it? It isn't always the good-looking hero we want to bring home.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Only 10K left now

All right! 5000+ words written today, which not only caught me up but got me beyond where I technically needed to be. Interesting stuff today. I started out with one goal-scene in mind, but by the time I got there, things had changed and that scene wasn't possible. Then I aimed for a second one, and danged if that one didn't fall through too! So be it. Realizing that 50K really will only put me at about the halfway mark to novel completion. I'm going to attempt to keep going, maybe not up to nano speed, but as close as I can until I hit the end. I did DTD in 3 months, no reason I can't do this one. I really really need to see where it's going because I have a feeling I can turn it into something very cool, but not yet. Not at this stage where the characters rule the show and not me.

Also had a new C! story idea. That one will keep awhile, but it rather intrigued me. I think it might actually be a re-working of another C! story idea I already have partially mapped out. I do tend to keep coming at an idea that I love until I find the best characters and plot to tell it. That's half of what P.O.W. is... ideas I skirted around in both DTD and Variance now coming to the forefront.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

All for a story

Whew. Watched Billy Wilder's 1951 "Ace in the Hole." Movie's almost as hard to sit through as "The Ox-Bow Incident." Egads. A kick-in-the-gut movie. In the same way, you know it's going to end badly for innocent people, and you keep desperately hoping someone's going to do the right thing, and then when they finally try, it's far far too late. In some ways, this one is actually worse than Ox-Bow. At least in Ox-Bow, the lynch mob thought they had the right reasons. In this one... Kirk Douglas's character's motives are strictly self-serving as he toys with a man's life. He's great to watch in this one, so smug, so confident, and then so desperate and wrecked.

This movie is perfectly cast, and the script is tight and vicious. One rather big thing I kind of had to suspend disbelief on, but they made it work. A great movie, but not one I can watch again any time soon. It hurts too much.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


So, 32K and 62 pages into POW and an unknown character just appeared. A woman, no less, and I'm wondering 1) where she came from, and 2) where she's going, because she's obviously not in any of my outline notes. Ahem. So, how's she tie into things? How much does this change? Clearly, she's trouble with a capital T. But I'm not sure what kind. Does she have her own designs on Mitchell? Is she working for Stark?

I'm very intrigued by this unexpected chick, and I will let her go wherever she will.

Monday, November 19, 2007

And another well-timed discussion

This post sums up some of where I'm at while working on POW right now. I had a little bit of that last year doing Variance, the telling of which still feels beyond my current skill set.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Those odd coincidences

So, seems everybody's talking pov this weekend. Writer blogs I frequent, as well as new ones I followed links to. All of it appropriate, as I'm still debating how I want to tell this tale, except no one's saying anything that either 1) gives me some new fuel to contemplate, or 2) made the light bulb go off yet. It's just all really good recaps of what I already know, the kind that makes me nod and go "yep."

And I'm writing a book about a POW Camp survivor, and today, I met one from WWII. Now that's an odd coincidence. I'm never prepared for these kind of encounters, so I mostly let him talk. I couldn't think of the questions I really wanted answered while I was sitting with him, even the simple ones, though now, they're flowing in an endless cycle of question marks. Naturally. So, maybe that just means I need to go back and speak with him again.

Had my best writing day yesterday, even after all my various attempts to fail. Exceeded 4000 words and got myself nicely caught up. Got 1700 today, so I'm staying in line. I'm wrapping up chapter six, sitting at 56 pages single spaced. I didn't make it to the scene I thought I would, but that's good, as tomorrow should be easy to jump into.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The important interruptions of Nanoing

Don't you hate when a mere half-second of research siderails you into completely new and unrelated stories (and pleasant methods of procrastination)? I had mentioned bugle calls in my lastest novel, and I'd listed off three and just wanted to check to make sure I named them right... and of course, googling "bugle calls" brings up lots of fun sound bytes of the various calls, and I had to check out which ones I knew and which ones I didn't...

and now I want to either watch "The Horse Soldiers" (I'm long overdue on re-watching that one anyway) or write about the cavalry.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It's the little things

Fourth best word count night since starting nano. First person is working out okay, and so far it's far better than third had been. Even got some other writing done on the side yesterday without impacting nano that much. I'm looking forward to the next couple nights of nano. There's a drunken brawl to write and a hate rally. Not to mention an unexpected reunion, an arrest, and then an unpleasant reunion. I can't hear the dialogue yet, but I can see the scenes, which means it should flow fairly easily.

Had a thought of perhaps telling one character's past story and one character's present story simultaneously, in alternating chapters. Not sure yet whether the second story is necessary or truly serves a purpose, but my brain is having fun playing with the contrast, the added suspense, plus having a way to do a slow reveal that's necessary for the ending. Will see how it plays out.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It comes a little clearer

Ah, see! Now the stuff I was hoping to discover is appearing. Yesterday, I got a couple hundred words, but that was it. I didn't even try for more. Just ate dinner, called it quits, and went to bed before 9 pm. Today, I'm already up to 2000. Taking a break now until evening to let some new stuff gel.

I knew the voice was wrong, so I switched to first person. That helped. Mitchell's much clearer now. I also had a problem between my notes (he was quite bitter there) and what was coming out on paper (he was turning rather heroic). I knew the latter was all wrong, but what could I do? That's what was coming out when I was writing. Today, he started edging around the bitterness I wanted.

And I found out some of the reason today. I already knew I going to be re-writing everything up to this point, but now I'm really re-writing it! In fact, I couldn't resist going back and starting to change some scenes around. (Stop me!! Can't get new word count by simply replacing the old! Grrrrr.)

Now, I'm more in sync with my notes, and I also understand more where Mitchell's coming from, which should get me through the next couple chapters. Then I think I'll smack another wall, probably around 30K.

And Dezane? Not sure where this came from, but he's very foul-mouthed when he's angry. Not something I expected from him, as he seems so educated and urbane, but no, he's all about expressing himself in four-letter words. Not sure where that's going, but it has resulted in a couple of very funny scenes between him and Mitchell (who rather prudishly objects to the language) so I might just have to leave it.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Excuses, excuses

Hitting the wall early this nano. Got 500 words this morning, but tonight... brain refuses to work. I cannot see ahead right now, and it's driving me crazy. And I ran out of orange juice for my sore throat. And I'm cold. And I have "Rest in Peace" from Once More With Feeling stuck in my head now.

So, I resort to pictures to, um, er... inspire me?

Perhaps I'm going about this the wrong way

Still suffering inability to get the right voice down on paper. I'm currently writing in omniscient, which is a great surprise as that's not a pov I ever use. I like to get in someone's head and stay there. I can't get in these characters' heads. So, in this novel, so far, I'm mostly observing and pointing thing out as narrator. I keep trying to pull in tighter, and each time, I pull back, so from that aspect, it is a weird combo of povs as I experiment.

I keep getting the feeling it should be in first. I may even try a section like that, see how it reads.

And the other big problem is my lack of setting. I've been very careful to try and keep this as low-key fantasy as possible, mostly urban, and not much of that. And I think that might be exactly backwards. I'm coming to the conclusion that this story needs to embrace the fantasy aspects, head-on. That I can actually tell the story I want better for the fantastical and the contrast it allows, than for trying to steer clear of it. Hm.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

How not to tell a story

Interesting. Nano proceeds, and I'm finding it quick and easy to get my word counts this year. However, the writing sucks. The story's events are exactly what I want, in fact, I've had some interesting surprises as I go along, all good. But I am not telling the story the way I want to. The voice is wrong, the pov might even be wrong. This actually fascinates me, how wrong everything's coming out. Not wrong, exactly, just not what I want. This will be the first time in the nanos I've done where very little will be kept from this first draft.

And oddly, that doesn't bother me at all. I think with this story and subject, I need to experiment a bit. I think I need to get the whole thing out before I can figure out the proper way to tell it. And I like that. I like that a lot. This time doesn't feel wasted at all. It feels like necessary discovery and learning time. It also frees me up during nano itself. The past few years I've stressed over the words, editing and chopping as I went. It made nano very hard, but it also gave me fairly clean drafts.

This time, I'm not worried over how any of it reads, and don't really care how lousy the sentences are. I just want to see where the characters take me so I can learn what makes this story so different in the actual telling. Why the straight-forward approach that worked on my other novels fails here. The sense that some important discovery about my own writing lies ahead makes me write faster and quibble less. It's quite cool and rather exciting. And oh-so-different from my normal writing experience.