Archive for the 'NKNK' Category

Writing, Inc.

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

So, Queen of the Skies on LJ asked me how my writing was going, but I figure my answer to her comment would’ve been too long, and I might as well turn it into its own post.

Though few of you out there would recognize the title, or have heard much about it, I wrote Thunderbird (you’d recognize it as Biohazards), polished it off, sent it to my beta readers, and even received feedback through a mentorship with a well-known author in SF&F. The feedback I received was very positive, with encouragement that it was ready for publication, and I submitted it to the rounds. I was also encouraged by the author to write the synopses for the two books that were meant to follow Thunderbird, which I did, but because I don’t want to waste time on something that might not sell, I didn’t write the books themselves.

There was one caveat. The style in which I wrote Thunderbird was very different than the previous books I’d written. It was harder, grittier, with a chopped-up first-person voice that I love, love, love, even now, a year later. But it’s so different and so rough that I can understand this book would be (and was) difficult for my beta readers to get into from the get go. Because I knew it was difficult — because one of my beta readers came back and told me that he absolutely hated the main character, but couldn’t find anything wrong with the character’s motives or actions, he just didn’t like her one bit, even though he couldn’t stop reading because he needed to know what happened next — I braced myself for a very hard round of queries.

Love or hate, the main character is an antihero — not because she’s a bad guy, but because she’s afraid. Maybe in some ways that’s why she’s an easy character to love, or an easy character to hate, because she’s looking in the mirror and deep down in the abyss, and she doesn’t like what she sees, but she keeps on trying because the darkness rising is bigger than her.

The queries aren’t over. I’m not giving up on Thunderbird or the sister books that are meant to follow, but I’ve moved on while waiting to hear back and I’m still writing.

When I can.
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Difficult

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

The worst thing for me to do is having to put in some worldbuilding background to help the reader along, and having no choice but to write an infodump.

The difficult part is making it short, meaningful, and not letting it feel like an infodump.

It’s taken me one hour to write less than a hundred words. ARGH.

If someone tries to tell me writing is easy, I will rub their noses in a steaming pile of stinky infodump.

I’ve never met anybody who does that

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Nothing’s worse than having the end in sight — or at least within 10K — and knowing that, once I type “The End”1, I have to go back and cut giant chunks2 to make room for what should be there.

This last week — and every day until I’m done — I’ll be an irritated jumping bean. You just try to fix something at work that insists on staying broken3 when all you’ve got on the brain is The Book. All I want to do is write it. Finish it.

Then go back and put in the bits that need to be in there.

The plan was — finish Biohazards no matter what problems I hit along the way, put it aside for a couple of weeks, rewrite the first 50 pages of NKNK (and get those to my crit partners), then go through Biohazards to rewrite and revise. But I have Biohazards on the brain, so I’ll be pushing NKNK until that’s done.



1 I don’t actually type “The End”.
2 Even if it means cutting darlings. I don’t want to cut them, but if they have to go, they have to go.
3 And has been broken for nearly 2 months now. Broken things aggravate me. Particularly when I can’t fix them.

And she’s gone…

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

OH SHIT.

This is where I have the What Have I Done panic attack and cross the heck out of my fingers.

And wait.

Believability in writing

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

So I’m sitting here on a vacation day, watching the renovation guys driving my dogs nuts by coming in and going out every few minutes to cut tiles for the basement, procrastinating on finishing the edits/revision on the very last chapter of The BookTM by flipping through the satellite channels and landing smack dab in the middle of a movie.

The program guide information on the movie listed one of my favourite (bad) actors, not that he’s necessarily a bad actor, but that he doesn’t seem to have much luck getting good movies, so I figured, what the hey! Procrastination!

I landed into the movie right in the middle of an action scene. The main character, a cop, arrives at a seedy apartment door, gun in hand. The lighting’s good. The cop’s beaten up and gritty. You know there’s a fight coming up.

Then the cop does the inexplicable.

He puts his gun in his holster. What the hell for? He’s entering a bad guy’s territory, and he puts away his gun??

He kicks the door in. Could’ve just knocked. In fact, should’ve just knocked, to get the guy away from his weapons.

He moves across the room quicksilver fast and knocks the gun out of the hand of the guy sitting on the couch with a popcorn bowl in his lap. Not even a vampire on speed is that fast. And why was the guy eating popcorn when his TV was off?

They scuffle. They fight. In the middle of this scuffle, the guy who lives there pulls out no less than three different guns and they all get knocked away. This is ridiculous only if you compare the size of the cop — big — with the size of the guy in the apartment — small. Also, he keeps loaded guns between the pillows of his couch, behind the record player, and in a bowl of fruit. Who does that? That’s like getting your butt shot off if you sit down on the couch, your finger blown to bits if you change the record, or eating a bullet instead of a banana.

Someone on the fire escape shoots the guy in the head. He means to shoot the cop, but misses at point blank range. POINT BLANK RANGE. WHO MISSES AT POINT BLANK RANGE?

The cop doesn’t check to see if the guy who lives at the apartment, his snitch, is alive. Drops him like a load of bricks and takes off after the guy on the fire escape. Wouldn’t it make at least sense if the cop showed some concern for the guy who was shot? I don’t know, checked for a pulse? Called in for backup? An ambulance? He didn’t, not once.

Who somehow is already at the bottom of the fire escape before the cop makes it out the window, and it’s a four-flight difference. Who gets into his unmarked van (why is it always an unmarked van?) and turns the key in the engine. Again the super speed.

The van doesn’t start. The engine grinds. And grinds. Oh, gee. If I was a bad guy, I’d want to have a getaway vehicle that, you know, worked.

It finally roars to life just as the hero, our cop, reaches the handle on the driver’s side. The bad guy, the assassin, drives off. Aww, if only he’d had his wheaties that morning, the cop could’ve caught up.

Oh no. What is the cop to do?

About ten feet away there’s a classic steel body Chrystler, pristine leather seats, light brown soft-top. The driver’s side door is wide open. The engine is running. There’s no one around. **HEADDESK** Oh, come on! You can’t tell me the director/producer/writer couldn’t come up with something better than that!

With that series of unlikely coincidences, you’d expect that our hero, the cop, would jump into the car, roar down the alley, swerve into traffic, spot the unmarked van out of a whole slew of unmarked vans, and run down the assassin.

Not so. He’s nowhere to be found. I feel cheated now.

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Revisions and Schedules

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

It’s been three weeks since I’ve looked at The BookTM. I’ve heard from one reader, received preliminary feedback from a beta, and am hoping to get more critiques this week.

The plan is, this week I’ll be going through The BookTM to see if there’s anything that smells “off” to me. Then I’ll go through it again for line edits and typos.

And, hopefully, by the end of the Halloween weekend, I’ll have received comments from my remaining readers and betas(1), to incorporate their comments with my last pass review. Then, November 1st, I’m editing and revising.

What’s with the scheduling?

In a nutshell, the number one advice writers is to sit down and write. Every day.(2) Maybe for a set period of time, maybe for a certain word count. Doesn’t matter for how long or for what goal so long as the criteria is met:

(a) sit butt in chair; and,
(b) write.

I haven’t heard the same sort of advice being given to writers when it comes to revisions, but it’s fair to assume that it’s very much along the same lines:

(a) sit butt in chair; and,
(b) revise.

In order for that to get done, I need to schedule the work time. If I don’t, I become a serious contender for the throne of Procrastination. I will curl up in my chair and watch football (and I don’t watch football rather than write/edit/revise.

Setting a deadline(3) helps kick-start my brain into motion to get it done. And ultimately, the goal is to get it done by November 15th, so that I can send The BookTM off once again.

Someone knock on wood for me. I might need a volunteer to kick my bum if I start to slack.



(1) Yes, this is a gentle prod; I know life rears its ugly head, and there’s no hurt feelings if my deadlines are missed. I STILL want to get your feedback, though, because I can always go back to the beginning if necessary. I just prefer to do it all in one pass.

(2) The last three weeks have accumulated a big goose egg of no writing, but not completely unproductive; I worked on the outline for the sequel for The BookTM, notecarded 3/4ths of Biohazards, and wrote an out-of-sequence scene for Biohazards.

(3) Also known as “the date by which I will complete this, or die trying”.

Stubborn Book

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

The BookTM: What are you doing?

Me, crouched between two pieces of furniture and holding up a tasty chocolate morsel: I’m trying to get Book One, Series Two to come out.

The BookTM: Oh. Why is it in there, anyway?

Me: How the hell should I know? It’s not talking to me.

The BookTM: Want me to try?

Me: Be my guest.

The BookTM: Hey, Book, why are you in there?

Book One, Series Two (henceforth known as B1-S2, its voice small and tinny from being so deep in the dark hole): Watching the football game.

The BookTM: Oh? Who’s playing?

B1-S2: Some guys in white and blue and silver, and some guys in dark blue and grey and black. The only other thing on TV right now is The Mummy Returns on Space, and I’ve seen it seven billion times.

The BookTM: The Mummy Returns ain’t bad.

B1-S2: The kid annoys me. Plus, I have a crush on Ardeth Bey, and it pisses me off that he doesn’t get more screen time.

The BookTM: Totally with you on that one.

Me (whispering): What are you doing?

The BookTM (whispering): Talking to Book One, Series Two. It sounds like we’d get along.

Me (whispering): You’re supposed to get it out of there.

The BookTM (whispering): Oh, right. (louder) So, why are you in there if there’s nothing on TV?

B1-S2: Because she is busy working on you.

The BookTM: What? No, she isn’t. She finished me a while back, and she put me in the dry cupboard to ripe.

B1-S2: That doesn’t mean she’s stopped thinking about you. How the hell can I let her work on me when she’s not giving me 100%?

The BookTM (aside): Is that true? You can’t stop thinking about me? Aww, that’s so sweet!

Me (hostile): Get her out of there!

The BookTM: Well, I have it on good authority that she’s been working on you. There’s a stack of notecards with plot and scene items with your name all over them.

B1-S2: There is?

The BookTM: Sure is.

B1-S2: I don’t believe you.

The BookTM: Would I lie to you?

B1-S2: Yes.

The BookTM: I’m hurt.

B1-S2: No, you’re not. Plus, everyone knows that she’s going to work on you some more in another week or so, depending on when she hears back from her readers and her betas.

The BookTM: Oh. Well, that changes things. I’d feel the same way if I were you.

Me (hissed): What are you doing!!!!

B1-S2: Glad you understand. Hey, there’s room on the couch, and I’ve got plenty of beer. Want to join me?

The BookTM: That sounds great! Yeah, I’ll come in. Excuse me, boss. Outta my way.

Me (!!): Hey!  You’re supposed to be on my side!

The BookTM: The poor girl needs consoling. What do you want me to do? Ignore her like you’ve been doing?

.

Progress, Completion and request for beta readers

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

The latest version of The BookTM is complete!

No word metrics, because there’s no need; it’s done, it’s done! The word count goal was to match the previous version of the book while including the revisions suggested to me by the agent interested in it. Even though I slaughtered a few scenes, added new chapters, included new characters, resurrected a buried plot, I came within 2,500 words (more) than my original word count.

Except for one (new) chapter that needs some work, I’m happy with the new draft.

Now what? Now, I sit on it for a few weeks, then go through it again. I want to send it back to the agent by early November.

In the meantime, though, I’d like to find another beta reader or two who haven’t read The BookTM, don’t have any preconceptions about it, who would be willing to read it and give me their thoughts on it.

I don’t need line-by-line grammar and spelling edits. Just a general feel and impression of the overall setting, plot, story, and characters (I’ll make it easier by asking a few questions after you’ve read it).

If you’re interesting, let me know!



More Progress

Monday, September 28th, 2009

There has been more progress on The BookTM, and the end is in sight. I figure that there’s three more chapters to go, plus a comb-through to clean up “woopsies”, then I’ll set it aside (after sending it to betas to read) for a few weeks to do a data dump of my brain.

Here’s where I am right now:

96502 / 100000

Nearly done, huh? I like how I’m on track to hit the same word count as the earlier draft.

Now here’s the problem. I have three more chapters to write. Not that heck of a lot of room to write it in.

Then it hits me. I’m using Microsoft Word count, not SMF word count. So a quick whip of the calculator, and a da-da-da-da of the rubber end of the pencil, and we get:

93004 / 100000

Ta da! I have room for the three chapters!

Yeah, I like the Microsoft Word count progress meter more, because it tells me I’m almost done. But I like the SMF progress meter more, because I’ve got room to spare.

Somehow, it feels like I’ve been in this exact same situation before…

Progress Report

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

So I’m not as down with the whole regular posting thing as I’d hoped to be, and it’s got about as much to do with having little time to come up with an actual post as not having time to write it once I do have an elusive topic to post about…

But I’ve also been writing. Rewriting, that is. What should’ve been a simple revision of The BookTM to address some flaws has turned into a rewrite.

The core of The BookTM is still the same. The story, the characters, they’re still there. But other things that weren’t there before are there now, including a buried plotline that would ultimately reach over several books (*knock wood*) that was buried too deep, resulting in too many dropped threads.

It would have been nice to simply revise. It might’ve been easier and faster. But it wouldn’t have been better. I wouldn’t have been happy with it. I liked The BookTM when I finished it the last time, and I like it even more now with the rewrites. Some of the rewrites are simple — rewording what was in the original, adding missing information that disappeared the first time around. The rest of the rewrites aren’t so simple. Reintroducing plot threads. Establishing more cohesion between characters. Reinforcing cause-and-effect. New chapters.

But I like how it’s turning out.

The rewrites aren’t complete. I’m almost there. I’ve given myself a deadline of the end of September to complete the rewrite. It’s not a firm deadline, I might need a couple of extra days because of some things coming up between now and that will probably stop me from doing any serious writing, but it’ll get done.

Here’s where The BookTM stands right now —

80004 / 100000