March 24th, 2003

bear by san

Monday morning you sure looked fine...

Friday I've got traveling on my mind? Okay it'll be Thursday, but still.

I'm very happy with the work I got done yesterday. Scardown clicked last night: I have a five-page point by point outline (a whole plot! And I know how it ends! And I know what the aliens want with Earth! geek geek geek), and I got about 1500 words written on top of that, and factual correction on Hammered. Go me.

Damn, I feel good.

bear by san

Malt does more than Milton can / To justify God's ways to man.

It's a day for Housman.

The street sounds to the soldiers' tread,
And out we troop to see:
A single redcoat turns his head,
He turns and looks at me.

My man, from sky to sky's so far,
We never crossed before;
Such leagues apart the world's ends are,
We're like to meet no more.

What thoughts at heart have you and I
We cannot stop to tell;
But dead or living, drunk or dry,
Soldier, I wish you well.
bear by san

Century Mark

Well, what with one thing and another, I only got about 550 words on Scardown tonight, but I did shore up some weak spots early in the narrative. I know why it has that title now, and I know why the third book in the series is called Wetwired. Unless I decide that Wetwired is too much like The Song is the Road, The Road is the Song. In which case, I think they become the same book. :-P Enough time to worry that rag later, however.

And that 500 words brings me to ~101 pages. I think I'm going to reach 450 to 500 MS pages on this one, too, although the story may go by faster than I think. It feels like a nice chewy complicated book, though, and--Hallelujah!--I'm not scared of it anymore. It's got a size and a shape. They're much easier to handle when they have a size and a shape, and they're not just amorphous grey blobs I'm feeling my way around in a mist.

I've noticed that the early part of a book, for me, is a process of assembly. Scenes get written out of order, I have to go back and add and correct information, introduce characters as I realize I'll be needing them later, set up foreshadowing and backstory.... put the bracing and the tripods down, put up the scaffolding, build the shell I'll hang the wallboards on later. It's a craftsmanlike part of writing a book, and I really enjoy it.

The middle of a manuscript can really turn into a grind. I find myself chugging along, plugging the scenes in, doing the character development, writing the connecting bits. That's travel, and it's got the little revelations that good travel does--travel to new places. But it's not the destination. And then by the end of the book, I'm just desperate to get the damned thing out of my head.

I'm enjoying this one right now, though. It's ahowing up on radar, which Bridge never did, so I have a feeling for the shape of it: a plan. Maybe this will be a better-behaved book than the last two. Bound and Sea were pretty mannerly. Writing Hammered was like trying to eat something bigger than my head. Bridge? I don't want to talk about Bridge.

But I think I may be learning some things about writing books.

Chief among which is put your butt in your chair and do your 500 words a day. And more if you've got it in you.

And when you don't have a story ripe in your head, for the love of Mike, go watch Iron Chef or something and wait for the well to fill up. But when you start feeling that book, like it might be ripe, like it's getting heavy and round in your head.... then get your butt back in that chair and write. You'll never figure out when it's ripe if you don't poke it once in a while.

If you;re going to write a novel, you need to be prepared to be consumed by that novel. To breathe it in and breathe it out, hold it up to the sun and look at it from all angles. To be aware that a novel is too big, really, to hold in your head all at once, and to acknowlege that it takes some backing and filling and smoothing and writing and unwriting to get from this end to that end.

For you, above, of course read "I." :-)
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