13 ways of looking at a manuscript.
I was just looking at catvalente
's post on 32 things about writing, and what amused me was how much I disagreed with almost everything she said, except for the things with which I nodded enthusiastic agreement. And then just yesterday, I was reading papersky
's post on POV, which I was also disagreeing with enthusiastically (I find omni to be the hardest (and probably the densest) way to tell a story, rather than the easiest and most sprawling, for example.)
And yet I respect them both as writers, and as thinkers-about-writing. But their process is so stunningly not my
process that I can't even recognize how they're building a book from my spot up in the cheap seats.
The moral of the story, I guess, is that--as in learning to unpack the Writer Koans--we have to find our own paths and learn our own truisms.
today's writer koan (and I know it's today's because I just wrote it down and emailed it to truepenny
, and I don't think I've ever said this before): when in doubt, cut it out
Has a certain Johnnie-Cochranesque ring to it, doesn't it?
Last night, lying in bed with a cat on my butt, I drew up a scorecard for Whiskey & Water
. The teams are starting to sort themselves out. Now I just need to know what the swanmay, the African princess, and the bunyip are plotting (individually, not coterminously) and I'll be in business for the middle of the book.
Although I am stuck on what exactly Kadiska and Bunyip have to talk about. Maybe they should have a fight. ("Send in a man with a gun.") Maybe I should go work out and see if I figure out what they have to talk about. (Turning off the brain through sweaty activity is a good way to kickstart inspiration. Distracts the brain squirrels when they get really going on that wheel, and not moving
I do envy those of you who go into a book knowing how you're going to get from the beginning to the end. Me, I go in knowing the beginning and the end and maybe a few stopping places along the way, and then I just keep breaking stuff until I can't figure out how on earth they're going to get out of it in one piece, and then I let the characters thrash on the hook until they solve it for me, or gut themselves.
Hmm. This book is just wall to wall coy characters. I guess that's the price I pay for a book about illusions and stories and the Prince of Lies.Progress notes for 29 April 2005:Whiskey & WaterNew Words:
1,235 and hey took all damned day to get. I started around ten.Total Words:
256Reason for stopping:
tired, and end of scene.Mammalian Assistance:
mastiff lying on the wheels of my chair. That can't
be comfortable. Cat on my shoulder while I type. Now that looks very
comfortable. For him. Me, it gives a neckache.Stimulants:
tea. lots and lots of tea. Also a root beer floatExercise:
nomailToday's words Word don't know: knappingTyop du jour: through rustling laf litterDarling du jour: A smiling, narrow man dressed for a dinner party wandered through the bright November afternoon, twirling a silver seal-headed cane and tipping his hat at the ladies, unaware that a shadow tracked him.
See, now there's something I like about this omni thing. Because that's nobody's POV but the narrator's, and that lightning change of focus is just cool
. (and before you tell me that stalking shadows are cliche, it's meant literally in this case. *g*)
That is such a great trick, and there's not another POV I could do it in. It's like sleight of hand--once you figure out the trick, it's just fun
to make it look easy. Palm, misdirect, presto chango. And now I'll pull this bunch of lillies out of your ear.Books in progress, but not at all quickly
: Ed Sanders, Tales of Beatnik Glory
; Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver
Interesting research tidbits of the day: snowflake obsidian
. a brief history of tar-and-feathering
.Other writing-related work
: noneMore on horta shock troops:
So, some of all y'all will recall this winter's great revelation about Horta shock troops
Well, I just had another thought. Hortas are, in fact, evolutionarily suited
for the role, because out of the entire Horta population, only one
Horta survives to breed.
So all the rest are expendable. They, in fact, exist to protect the Horta queen. They would be utterly fearless fighters, throwing themselves on the enemy like bees protecting the hive.
Moral: don't fuck with the Hortas.
this made my day:Prometheus, the problem child, still juggling with his brains
Gives his limping leftwards visions to the miser in his veins
Within the ruined factories the normal so insane
As he sets the sky beneath his heel and learns away the pain
--The Incredible String Band, "The Mad Hatter's Song"