megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
I've got a week and a day left until I get married next Saturday (October 10th for the interested), and four days left until I fly down to Florida for the big event. Feel free to shower me with ridiculous amount of cash to wish me the best on my upcoming nuptials. You know, if you happen to have ridiculous amounts of cash just laying around. If not, a simple "congrats" is both sufficient and heartily appreciated.

I tell people I'm just getting married for the cake. But I'm also marrying because there's cheap health insurance in it for me. And because I like this guy enough to steal the covers from him for the rest of my life. That, too.

My only sadness? I have a number of friends attending who could not do the same thing because the state says their genitals are the same and thus they are ineligible for cake and health insurance. On the day that my country comes to the sane and compassionate conclusion that this ought to be remedied, I feel that they owe the same-sex couples of this country one big goddamn cake for their trouble. With doilies and buttercream icing and gum paste flowers and the works. Like, epic cake we're talking here. Epic "I'm sorry we were such buttfaces to you" cake. The kind you'd see on cake wrecks, except it has to be photographed aerially.

But, writing wise (because I know my personal life is oh so interesting to you) that means I'll essentially be on vacation for a week or so. My goal for finishing the first draft of Soul Machines is November 1st and I have no doubt that with my nose to the grindstone, I can accomplish just that. I'm more or less 40k in and that's half of where I intend to be. I'm not precisely half way through the plot, but I'm close to halfway and that's doing pretty good given that all my books tend to come up way over budget and I have to go back and trim them like unruly hedges.

Unless things go badly, I do intend to do NaNoWriMo again this year. I've won five years in a row, it's fun, and it gives me a reason feel like the slain turkey on my table is both festive and celebratory. Did I mention that all the best things happen in autumn because it is the BEST SEASON EVER and I am so sad that it doesn't last long enough?

As for today? I'm basically going to watch a lot of movies and put the heating pad on my aching shoulder and if I should trip and fall and accidentally hit the keyboard and get some writing done, so be it.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
Borrowed from the inestimable, ever awesome [ profile] fairmer

1. Are you a "pantser" or a "plotter?"

Plotter, no question. I've never been a pantser, not really. I have to know where I'm going, at least vaguely, or it doesn't work for me.

That said, I don't plot in terribly great detail. I outline the basic chain of events and let the details surprise me. It's like drawing a map that gives me room to take the scenic route or take a different exit. I plan the destination and certain must-have rest stops, but the rest comes as I travel.

2. Detailed character sketches or "their character will be revealed to me as a I write"?

Mostly it's revealed as I write. I only know a few things like gender, name, race, and vague physical characteristics. I pants it with characters. I have a theory wherein plot and character work best when they are opposite and complimentary. If the plot is well planned, let the characters surprise you. If the characters are planned, let the plot fall into place.

Either way, it's about mastering the art of planned spontaneity. Some things should be written in stone, and some should come out of the blue. If nothing is planned, it gets confusing and tangled. If nothing is a surprise to me, I doubt it will surprise a reader.

3. Do you know your characters' goals, motivations, and conflicts before you start writing or is that something else you discover only after you start writing?

See above. I consider these things to be part and parcel of character or the plot, depending.

4. Books on plotting – useful or harmful?

Any book about any aspect of writing can be useful or harmful depending on who's reading it. Any writing advice must be taken as just that, advice. I don't tend to read a lot of "how to" books these days, but I do pay close attention when other writers (especially professional ones) speak about their processes. I don't take those things to be strict how-to guides, but rather helpful suggestions that might enhance my own process.

You have to learn to pick and choose and digest any kind of writing advice. Keep what's useful, comforting, or good. Throw out the rest.

5. Are you a procrastinator or does the itch to write keep at you until you sit down and work?

Both. Some days I dread the keyboard and every single word is a struggle. Some days I can't type fast enough to keep up with all the things in my head. I let myself procrastinate a little sometimes. For me, being too strictly disciplinarian with myself just makes things worse. So I'll let myself take twenty minutes to go do the dishes or check my email. But I make sure that I'm getting a minimum amount of work done regularly.

I set a goal and say, "I'm getting 1000 words minimum done today" or "I'm finishing chapter 6 today". I can allot that time any way I want. I can do it in one sitting if I'm feeling up to it. I can write two hundred words at a go and then piss off to do something else if I'm feeling distracted. But by hook or crook, I'm making 1000 new words appear on the screen.

6. Do you write in short bursts of creative energy, or can you sit down and write for hours at a time?

See the above answer. It varies daily. On my current project, Soul Machines, this week has been full of ups and downs. On Monday, I wrote precisely four paragraphs. On Tuesday, I eked out - in several small parcels of writing - a very scant 1200 words for it. Yesterday, for no good reason, my brain turned up to eleven and in four hours (broken up for breaks, chores, and other things) I had 8,500 words. Today's been, so far, a 5,000 word day.

Friday could be a 10,000 word day or I could decide to fuck it all and curl up on the couch and watch TV and forget I have any writing to do. IDEK.

7. Are you a morning or afternoon writer?

Mid-mornings to early afternoons because my schedule works out that way.

8. Do you write with music/the noise of children/in a cafe or other public setting, or do you need complete silence to concentrate?

I write with music because complete silence is weird for me, but generally I tune out that music unless I'm using it to make my mind get into a certain mood for a scene that requires it.

I don't like writing in public places except - weirdly enough - airports or on airplanes. Being trapped for three to six hours, thousands of feet in the air, gets the juices flowing. Probably because I have shit all to do otherwise and even getting up to use the bathroom more than once or twice is right out. You have to write because there's nothing else.

9. Computer or longhand? (or typewriter?)

Almost exclusively computer unless circumstances force me to do otherwise. When away from my computer, I carry a notebook. I do my best work when transcribing, because I can flash edit as I type and insert things I've thought of in retrospect. I get frustrated with my terrible handwriting, though.

10. Do you know the ending before you type Chapter One?

Yes, more or less. I might not know the precise last sentence, but I know where the story ends.

11. Does what’s selling in the market influence how and what you write?

Only in that it influences the books I buy and read, which do inevitably influence my writing.

Do I say, "Ooh, boy wizards are hot this year! Better start making up a magical fantasy school!". No, never.

It makes neither practical nor fiscal sense given what I know about how the publishing industry works. Marketability is a tricky. Writing based what is selling right now is, essentially, trying to fit in. Fitting in is a marketing strategy that sound smart to people who are scared and very tight fisted with money. It isn't. It's quite foolish. However counterintuitive it sounds, fitting in is death. You need to stand out.

Furthermore, writing based on to-the-minute market trends is impractical. Given the publishing world's collective time lag, most books you're reading are nearly two years old by the time they hit shelves.

You can start penning that Boy Wizard novel, but by the time you've written, edited, revised, rewritten and re-edited it? The Boy Wizard trend is dead and zombies, pirates, and cats who talk are the Cool New Thing.

It comes down to this: write the best book you can and promote the sweet, lovely hell out of it. You're better off starting a trend than following one.

12. Editing – love it or hate it?

As with everything in this meme: both. Depends on what I'm doing. I suck at copyediting though, because I can't spot my own typos and missing words for beans.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
My frustration with the UF!2girls novel has now reached epic levels. I feel like a piano player just banging on the keys making terrible noises come out.

I'm worried about a lot of things, I feel like I'm writing drivel, and I have absolutely no frame of reference right now for what actually sucks and what is just my own hang up.

I keep telling myself that all I can do is finish the damn thing and decide later, when I've had a bit of time and distance to clear my head and get a more objective point. Great novels aren't written, they're edited, right?

It's just I already can see mistakes I'm making, and I wonder if the idea is trite or stupid. I wonder if my characters are two dimensional. I wonder if the research I'm doing on the Chinese bits of the novel are just a thin veil for hurtful appropriation or if I'm getting them totally wrong. I wonder if my skanky race issues are showing through at every turn. I wonder if I'm making my female characters into Mary Sues. I wonder if my prose is clumsy. I wonder if my plot meanders. I wonder if the book is going too slow or too fast.

Like I said, epic frustration. It doesn't help that it's hot enough that we have now turned on the air conditioning in the apartment because it's 90 degrees inside. At least it's not so humid we can't breathe.

The only comforts I have are that I have yet to meet a writer who didn't have these types of frustrations and that I almost always feel differently after I've finished a novel and given it some breathing room. Whatever does suck about it, I can always edit out later.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
I'm still gathering research, and building my spreadsheet o' doom for this time around on the Merry-Go-Agent.

I think I might be ready to go, after another run through of my query letter, synopsis, and the manuscript by the end of this week. I'm trying to build up my confidence so I can do this without devolving into a nervous wreck.

I got a lot of progress done on the UF!2girls novel, but I realize that editing this thing is going to be hell on wheels, because there's so much stuff that I need to cut out, other stuff I know now I need to add, and yet other things that just need to be plain old rewritten.

The wordcount is getting heavy because I'm at 80k and little more than halfway through, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be able to cut out at least 40k. After all, I took a 123k draft down to 82k with the Tower!Guy novel, and I'm sure I can do at least that much for this novel.

Lately, I've been metaphorizing my writing by thinking of clay sculptures we used to do in art class at school. My teacher told us that the first stages were about sticking everything on, and then you shave things down and smooth them out, but first you have to get the basic form. That seems reasonable right now. I'm letting myself stick lumps of text here and there, knowing I'll go back with the refining tools to make it all come together attractively and it'll be an editing problem later on.

Also, it helps to make editing notes and stick them somewhere for later use.
megwrites: Shakespeared! Don't be afraid to talk Elizabethan, or Kimberlian, or Meredithian! (shakespeared!)
I have my suspicions that this blog has become spectacularly boring as of late. I wish I could think of something to spice it up, but right now, what I'm doing isn't all that fascinating. I'm doing final revisions. As spectator sports go, it's not one. I'm correcting a lot of grammar and spelling errors as well as nipping and tucking bits that need nipping and tucking.

It's like the plastic surgery of writing, really. Nothing major and reconstructive like my last rewrite, but the chin needs lifting and boy does that tummy need a tuck.

But I digress. I'm sorry for the boringness as of late. I hope things will get interesting soon enough.

I wish I was one of those people who make their writing process really fascinating and deep and meaningful to other people. Seems like there are plenty of other blogging writers who manage it. But, then again, a lot of those are published and well known writers, and I suppose knowing how bestselling books are written is interesting to most.

I guess maybe readers go to writing blogs looking for advice, for rules, maybe. It can't be because they find the minutiae of putting together words on paper so utterly fascinating. Even I don't always find reading about writing that interesting. Sometimes I bore myself if I think too long about what I do when I write. Sad, but true.

BTW, as far as rules go, if you haven't heard the word, the word is that success is the only rule. I'm kind of surprised at the number of people who commented that they needed to be told success was the only rule, or that they felt guilt over not writing according all the clever little bits of advice people like to hand out like fruitcakes at an office Christmas party.

Pithy advice seems to be like fruitcakes anyway. Often regifted, rarely partaken of.

Me? I didn't need to be told this, though it's nice to see others feeling freed up in their writing. I'm all for creative freedom, inward and outward.

But, gee, I never thought I'd be grateful for unapologetically lazy and procrastinating nature, but I am now. I don't write according to the rules, and I could care less if I do. I never did get too caught up in the need to write in accordance with the company line.

That may be because:

a) I'm ornery by nature and the rules sort of made me tired

b) I didn't have a lot of access to "How To" books or writing groups until I was in college

c) I tend to assume that if you're just that good at what you do, you can get away with anything

d) all of the above were reinforced by my experiences in school.

Thing about school was that even though I'm actually not that smart (I'm actually probably only average intelligence), I was good at it. I was good because I had an almost pathological need to please authority figures and could get pretty decent grades without breaking a sweat.

Other kids had to study before tests. I stopped even remembering when we had tests, because it didn't matter to me. I didn't need to study, especially if it was history or English (my best subjects), where all I needed to do was scribble some notes, look over them twenty minutes before class began, and collect my A+ a few days later. (Math was another story, though, because I could study all damn day and never understand it. I still don't, to this day.)

So I learned early on that even though the teachers would tell you how to study, if you made an A, they couldn't say crap to you about your study habits because you were getting the job done.

As naive as it sounds, I sort of applied the same thing to writing. If you're good at it, who cares how you got it done? Who cares if it took you three years or three weeks?

When you submit it to an agent/editor, they don't know how long it took you to write it. They don't know if you sat down very neatly every single day and wrote for an allotted time. Hell, you could write it standing on your head while trying to recite the elements on the periodic table. Nobody's gonna know but you how you got it done (unless you tell people, of course).

The people who decide what happens to your manuscript once it leaves your hands (agents, editors, readers, critics) only know that there's a story in front of them and whether it sucks or not.

It's just like those stupid little science projects that the teacher gave you two weeks to do, but you always ended up doing the night before. It doesn't matter if you did it two weeks ago or the night before. So long as you show up with your paper mache model of the solar system, it's all good.

In case hearing it from a far wiser source than me didn't drive it home - guilt means nothing and it just slows you down and makes things harder than they have to be. After all, getting to be a master in any field, creative or otherwise, is basically the art of learning to keep your own counsel when it matters.

In conclusion: Guilt sucks. Write like you wanna. And I'll try very hard to be more interesting in the future.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
Right now my "muse", inasmuch as I can be said to have one, is actually whining and refusing to get out of bed, citing that it's much warmer under the covers.

Of course, my muse better rise and shine before November 1st, because I've got some serious noveling wot needs doing.

Right now the problem is that I'm stuck between three ideas. Two are in the urban fantasy neck of the woods, and one is sci-fi. Right now, I'm quite sure that all of them suck, I'm trying to figure out which one sucks least, but I'm afraid that they all sound like bland rehashes of other people's much better stories.

The only thing I have to recommend my ideas is that at least I'm not doing vampires.

The problem for me is the issue of investing my time. I have neither the time nor mental fortitude to write three novels at once. I mean, I can do NaNoWriMo, but three at once is more like National Beat Yourself In the Brains With A Rock Month, which I think is actually in March.

I originally did type up my three summaries of my ideas with the intention of posting them and even maybe asking for opinions, but I've decided to spare your eyeballs. Trust me, they really are that bad.

That's the thing about deciding to fully commit to an idea and flesh it out into a story of any length. It's like a blind date. Sure, it all sounds good on paper and your friends tell you how wonderful it'll be - but then you sit down and you realize that nobody mentioned that your date (or your idea in this case) has a goiter, a lazy eye, and no conversational skills.

Three bachelors to decide from and just a few days until November. I don't suppose I can ask them what kind of tree they'd be or where we'd go for our first date.

The only good thing is that I always give myself permission to abandon NaNoWriMo ideas if, come December 1st, I realize that it just isn't working. You're not required to marry the first person you go on a date with, after all.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
I goted you some emo, but I eated it. I tend to think that my angst and inner emotional turmoil is a bit like that scene in The Birdcage (wonderful movie) where Robin Williams' character instructs one of his dancers: "No! You do an eclectic celebration of a dance! You do, Fossie, Fossie, Fossie. Or Martha Graham, Martha Graham, Martha Graham. Or Twi-la, Twi-la, Twi-la. Or Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd. Or Madonna, Madonna, Madonna. But you keep it all inside."

So, my inner Madonna! Madonna! Madonna! of angst will remain inner.

Needless to say, outlining for NaNoWriMo has been causing me great angst and gnashing of teeth. Especially after having [ profile] ladyslvr's wonderful, wonderful brain check a few of my ideas and realize that they're terribly trite and have been done.

And not in the way that general topics have been done. Vampires, aliens, angels, time travel, it's all been done, but the key is to have some original twist. Except that my twists? Not so original, akshully.

It makes me worry that I'm not widely read enough in my chosen genre. I mean, I'm trying as best I can to read as much as I can. But I have really limited funds for books to begin with and I can only read so much in a day.

Not to mention that the Queens Library system leaves everything something to be desired. The branch closest to me has a SF/F section of just two shelves. And I don't mean two whole bookcases. I mean, just two shelves. Maybe, they have fifty SF/F books in total. I have a bigger SF/F collection than they do. That's sad.

Is there a way to know if you're widely read enough? Is there a way to know who you should be reading, who's the next big thing?
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
Things Wot Are Deadly To My Ability To Make My Deadline:

1. The new Wii.

2. Things on the interwebs

3. The need to clean things and do dishes.

4. People calling me on my cellphone.

5. The headache that is laughing at the stuff I took and threatening to go migrainal on me.

I'm so very close. I have to keep reminding myself that I just have to write a scene and another scene and then write the Big Finale bit and then insert some stuff that got left out and then I'm frakking done.

But there's a migraine and a wii and the internet. GAH!

Quick link

Sep. 6th, 2008 04:30 pm
megwrites: Shakespeared! Don't be afraid to talk Elizabethan, or Kimberlian, or Meredithian! (shakespeared!)
The "Question/Answer" meme that's going around the pro-authors on my f-list is yielding some interesting things. Particularly this, which made me say, "Yes, THANK YOU, [ profile] ilona_andrews."

I am not a fan of the "Let's Pretend the Fictional Character Is Autonomous and In Control" school of writing. I think it leads to sloppy, masturbatory work.

The characters don't get out of control. They're just electrochemical signals in your brain. What gets out of control is you. What happens is that you find something about your own story that hits a mental happy spot.

And in case you're not clear? That's not fun for me to watch or read. Because what tickles your pickle does bugger all for mine. Which is why you keep a conscious rein on things. You ask yourself if anyone else would actually give a damn about what you're writing.

Like, [ profile] ilona_andrews is careful to say (and she says it far better than I could), it's not always bad to get carried away on a feeling.

There are times when something hitting a mental happy spot is a good thing, a sign that you've stumbled onto something that will be interesting, innovative, original.

Still, the brain is a nigh sexy organ, and it's got a lot of happy spots. It can be hard to tell which are just your own, quirky subconscious pecadilloes and which aren't. Which is why you can't navigate a story by feeling alone. You can't grope blindly at it like a teenager in the back of a Chevy and go wherever feels good.

Your eyes must be wide open, and you must be willing to be critical, even callous about your own feelings. Even when it means not just killing your darlings, but gutting them and burning them at the stake.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
I have too many ideas, none of them panning out, and nothing is working right now. Yesterday and today were complete washes, although yesterday was a Research Day at least. I got absolutely nothing done today. Not even useful research.

Part of the problem, if I'm being honest, is a fundamental lack of confidence. Because I'm pretty sure that no matter what I write, it sucks like an electrolux. Thus, I feel like there's nothing I can do. I'm swimming on a sea of my own complete incompetence and I don't even have a compass to tell me which way's north, and oh, it's a cloudy night tonight.

I'm going back to working on the Tower!Guy, because it's over halfway done. If I can't do something well, I might as well do something complete.

The Wolfshorde is broken, in a deep, fundamental way. It's broken because I don't want tell another story about a heroine who discovers her hidden powers and her hidden past and her hidden parents and her hidden drama llamas. That's been done, and even I'm not interested in it. Also, it's similar to what's going on in the Tower!Guy story. But at least there, it makes more sense and isn't so abominably trite. There are so many elements of The Wolfshorde that I love, but I don't know how to work the story around the heroine needing to have undiscovered powers and a secret parentage she doesn't know about.

If I actually did as much headdesking as I feel like doing, I would give myself a bloody concussion. I am just that frustrated and COVERED IN BEES.

I'm going to bury my nose in Cast In Secret and maybe watch some Eddie Izzard and figure out how to unclog my brain.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
Poll on POV changes in reading/writing by [ profile] miriad.

I heard someone in a writing group I was in say once, "Each time you switch POV, you give the reader a chance to walk away."

There are some pieces of advice doled out in workshops and books that I immediately just rebel against. It's like I'm a five-year-old faced with a white wall and a box of brand new crayons. I can't walk away while that wall is in pristeen condition. And I've got 64 of my best buds willing to help me out. I have to make a mess. It's practically a command in the programming of my soul.

The advice, I don't think, is meant to evoke that sort of reaction. On it's face, it's a sound statement, reasonable and logical. After all, aren't all told not to go playing with POV, because it's not a toy?

Well, the answer is this: I think the kid with the crayon has a point. Oversimplification just begs to be scrawled all over with the Big Purple Crayon of Reality. And writing rules tend to be oversimplifications.

I fundamentally disagree any clever writing rule someone comes up with, because, as Elizabeth Bear so wisely says (and I paraphrase), "You don't learn how to write a novel, only this novel." Every novel, like every person, is different.

Don't believe me? Go ask doctors why we need so many different treatments for the same diseases - because folks' bodies just don't respond the same. Some people perk right up with a bit o' penicillin and some bedrest. Some people (me) are horribly allergic to penicillin and might, yanno, DIE if you gave it to us.

Same way with novels. Putting an injunction against POV switches might really streamline one novel, but kill another. Why?

Because POV switches are like lane changes when you're driving. When used unnecessarily in the hands of an amateur who has no idea what they're doing and has just gotten behind the wheel, they can cause flaming wreckage. In the hands of someone skilled, it's a tool, like anything else, that can add tension, drama, and dynamos to the story.

However, I do think that the person who made the statement in the group was not entirely wrong, or at least not without some justification. From what I remember about the story being critiqued, it was cluttered feeling and messy.

There are stories in which putting an injunction on POV changes will do a world of good. It will streamline, simplify, clarify, and sharpen the writing. There are other stories that need the POV changes if they're going to do what they need to do.

So, as with anything, either writing or driving, you can't live by pithy rules. The conditions of the road and the craft of writing are ever changing. All you can do is use your best judgment and make sure your insurance is up to date.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
A question from the inestimable, inimitable [ profile] ladyslvr in this entry: So, those of you who are writers, could you please take an entry to talk about overcoming hurdles within your stories. Not writer's block hurdles, but story ones. How do you recover the plot thread when it breaks?

I think it's a good question, and I'm passing it on to my f-list. Why not take an entry to discuss your process?

My answer under the cut because it might get lengthy. Your mileage from the answer may vary from state to state. )

So there, [ profile] ladyslvr, I hope my long rambling and needless metaphors have helped you or at least made you feel better about yourself in comparison. Because, hey, what are friends for if not to make you warm, tingly superior feeling?
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
For no good reason (mostly because I didn't have my Tower!Guy story notes with me) I started working on the other story I'm thinking about.

I ended up writing three chapters and will probably get a couple more done tonight. I don't know why, but the Force is strong with this one.

*sigh*. Don't look at me, I just work here.

Hence the subject line. My creative process is actually controlled by a troll. A slightly attention deficit troll, I think, and not the kind with the jewel in it's belly button. The kind that traditionally hides under bridges and in caves and likes to fuck people's shit up just for setting foot in the forest. Good news is that it only likes to eat nachos, diet coke, and LOLcats.

I'll try to get some progress notes going on this one. It's on the To Do list right after typing my written notes into Google Docs and getting a new paper notebook because this one is getting near the end (geez, I only had it a month and a half and it's nearly finished!)

I also noticed, as I was looking around, that several people have friended me and I haven't friended them back. This is not because I'm rude, it's just because my head!troll is all over the place.

So, if you're new, please do introduce yourself. It'd be nice to know how in the heck you came across me, just for curiosity's sake.

If you're not new, tell me something about yourself that I don't know or heck, just anything in general I don't know. Feel free to be random. Pic spams of attractive people, cat/dog/critter macros, favorite recipes, book recs, and any other randomness is more than welcome.

Tomorrow: THE BOOK BARN. Or as I like to call it: "The closest to heaven you can actually get without actually going into cardiac arrest and making your loved ones sad". I feel I deserve it, if only because I ruthlessly went through my shelves in NYC before we left and weeded out as many books as possible.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
Ah, it's that time of year again. The time when I get to read my f-list and hear about the various cons that everyone else is attending or will be attending shortly. Wheee. Let the flood of con reports come upon the f-list like a mighty wave.

I've always wanted to go to a con, but frankly, I've either been short of the money or the time to go to one and I'm bit afraid. For varying reasons.

Happy Memorial Day to them that celebrate it. And to the many brave, wonderful servicepeople who have given life and limb for our country: my heartiest thanks.

No matter what I think of the war, of our commander-in-chief, of our politics - there is no denying that the men and women of our armed forces deserve our support and thanks for the sacrifices they make. While I disagree with our president's decisions, it gives me great hope to know that if the time comes when military action is legitimately needed, that these will be the people who keep us safe.

Now, that said, onto the writing.

This weekend, of course, has been rubbish for getting much writing done. But I sat down, and with the aid of some vanilla tea (my writing beverage of choice), got a pretty respectable sprint of writing done in my notebook.

I'm halfway, thematically (and probably wordcount-wise) through this chapter. I'm hoping to pick up some momentum now that I've gotten through the exposition-y bits that needed the most dire rearranging.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
I've just realized that I rely on the phrases "seemed like" and "as though" far too much in my writing.

Apparently, I have a hard time being decisive in my prose and committing to what the characters see, think, and do. Not sure why, but it's probably been weakening my writing all along.

Time to pull those weeds up by the root.

The only good part about not being madly in love with your story is that you can take a hacksaw to it and not feel bad.

I think maybe being good at editing is like being good at marriage. You can work with it when the mad passion has worn off and bills have to be paid and you realize that your One True Love has the world's most annoying snore. And if you're really good at it, you can even get up in the morning and say, "I love you" and still mean it.

Fortunately, my One True Love only snores a little and he brought me flowers last night and kissed my hand like I was a princess. Just because. Yes, yes, I know I'm spoiled rotten.

I'm also failing at my word count. Time to get back to rooting and hacksawing and what not.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
Yesterday's determined march towards my goal netted me a fairly respectable 3036 words, and most of the next chapter.

Today's goal is still at 5000 words, but also to get done with this chapter and move on into the next chapter.

I think one of my best ideas so far has been to go through a plot out, bit by bit, who's POV we're seeing through, and allowing myself to change POV in a chapter, so long as there's some sort of break to let the reader have a pause.

I have three POV characters, and I think mapping out when each person gets their turn to tell their bit of the story is useful. At the very least, it keeps me from jumping from viewpoint to viewpoint all over the place. And believe me, I will do that if left to my own devices.

So, right now the count stands at:

Tower!Guy Story editing, by wordcount
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
13,876 / 100,000

Tower!Guy Story editing by chapters
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
3.8 / 20
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
Well, I have to hold myself publicly accountable from now on, or I'll never finish the Tower!Guy edit/rewrite. I refuse to let myself fall into the excuse of "I don't know how to measure progress". It's not a scientific inquiry, so I'll just guesstimate.

Tower!Guy Edit by Sections

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
2 / 20

Tower!Guy Edit by Wordcount
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
4,027 / 100,000

I'm hoping that even with new material folded in, having gutted the entire center will mean that I won't pass the 100,000 word mark. I really, really, really hope so. Because I will cry if I did all this and still have to contend with being 20,000 overbudget again. I'll cry, and I think Baby Jesus will cry, too.

I'll post by the end of business today on the progress I'm making when I'm not longingly staring around the apartment going, "Wow, I could do dishes. Dishes do need doing!"

The only advantage of my crap internship was that when I had downtime, I could write like my hands were on fire because I literally had nothing else I was allowed to do except look busy.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
I think my novel resents my efforts to rewrite it. I took out the printed manuscript for the Tower!Guy story to start hacking away and got an ultra-irritating papercut for my troubles. The kind that's in a weird spot that you can't put a band-aid on really well, but that you need for typing and other manual type activities. It took a small chunk of skin and now there's a little indentation in my finger.

I know, I know. The world's smallest violin is playing a song just for me. But sweet singin' Jesus in a Volkswagen it stings.

In the manuscript's defense, however, I can see how it might have gotten scared. I came at it with a brand new sharpie and a Never Say Die look on my face and didn't stop until I reached the last page and couldn't make anymore marks.

Not sure I can quantify that, but it's somewhere between a medium to large buttload.

I started with a 424 page manuscript and sliced away until there are only 32 pages left in anything resembling their original condition. No I did not mistype that. I pretty much completely chucked 392 pages. If you do the math, that's a whopping 92% of my novel that I just pinkslipped.

Basically, I kept the prologue, kept the epilogue and the end of the last chapter (although they too will get reduced, reused, and recycled) and just put big x's on the rest of the pages for the most part.

It's weird. The plot, for the most part, follows the same series of events, but the shape of it is different. I'm not sure how to describe this, except that I sort of moved a few things up in the chain of events and deleted a few others and figured out how to tell a story in eighteen chapters that previously took thirty-six.

I also got rid of a lot of things that were in the story because I felt the need to keep showing and showing things instead of letting them become evident to the reader. Character development has to happen during the plot. You can't stop and say, "Hey children, gather 'round and let's all watch this character develop." You have to keep going and then let the reader realize something is different.

Also, I realize a lot of what I put in was put there to create drama or interesting character interactions instead of trusting the actual story to take care of that.

So that's what I did today. I edited 'til it hurt. Literally. The good news is that now I only have 32 pages and nine uninjured fingers left!
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
Well, it's taken me nearly twenty years to learn how to write. I just hope it won't take another twenty for me to figure out how to edit.

I have no idea how to measure progress on editing, because I've realized I'm not entirely sure how to judge when the story or even a particular chapter/section is ready. It's not like making casserole. You can't just peak in the oven and see if the crust is golden brown or anything. Hell, there's not even a timer that dings.

I was using Holly Black's One Pass Revision Method but I think I've also realized that revision and editing may not be exactly the same thing. It's a good method, but I think it only can work when you're sure that the fundamental structure of the story is good.

And to metaphorize: if stories are like houses, then I think that this house not only had errors in the construction, but the blueprints themselves were bad because the architect was a bit rubbish.

I think in my next lifetime, I'm going to take up an easier profession. Like building castles out of toothpicks or climbing Everest standing on my head. I shouldn't bitch. I knew this was going to be hard. And I'm still loving it, but sometimes it helps to let a little steam out of the pot and grumble. And in my next lifetime, I'll probably do this same damn thing, because Ceiling Cat help me, I do love it so.
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
I finally finished the outline to the Queenmaker story, or at least the first installment. The thing about this is, I already know that there's no freaking way to tell this story in one novel. I can tell it reasonably in three, and since the publishing industry seems to like that kind of thing, so be it. And I do think that this has potential to at least make it to an agent's desk and probably not make them scream or tear their hair out or anything like that.

In this tale or 'verse or what the frak ever we're calling it, everybody has a really interesting tale to tell so I sort of have to direct traffic and make sure nobody's stories get into head on collisions. Because right now it's a challenge to keep things balanced. Especially since the next story is desperate to get told and outlined as well.

Though that's understandable, because frankly, who wouldn't want to skip ahead to the part with bickering Emperors and the monkey with his four monkey daughters, and the old lady pirate admiral who thinks everyone just needs either a slap or a good shag and the duel to the death over party decorations and and excuses to slip famous lolcat sayings in under the guise of legitimate literature. Because, well, jesus christ, it's a LION!.

But at least the outline for the first part is finished. I took longer on this outline than I usually do because I think one of the problems with the Tower!Guy story was that when I did the outline for it, there were parts of the story/background that I didn't know, so all the info I didn't have got pastede_on_unyay with whatever I could come up with.

This lead to fundamental problems when it came time to explain certain logistical elements of the story.

Thus, I decided that it would be worth my while to take the time to really think out and structure the parts that I didn't immediately already have invented in my head.

As you can probably tell, I'm having a lot of fun with this story.

It'd be nice if I could have as much fun editing the Tower!Guy story, but so far it's just an exercise in, "What the frak was I thinking? I SUCK."

But no matter how much it sucks, no matter how much I'd love to give in and abandon the damn thing, I made myself a promise. It will be put in an envelope and mailed to either an agent or editor somewhere. Of course, said agent and/or editor may laugh themselves into a vegetative state over how bad it is, but still. It will at least get mailed somewhere to someone.

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