August 9th, 2006

bear by san

(no subject)

Middles. Otherwise known as The Hard Part.

Well, unless, for you, beginnings or endings are the hard part. For me, it's middles. (A work of fiction is composed of three parts--a beginning, an ending, and a muddle. And so forth.)

This is where the fine art of recomplication comes in. If the opening of a novel is devoted to setting up the situation, demonstrating the conflict, introducing the characters and the world, the middle is about building and maintaining stakes. (and getting to the climax, of course.)

I like to say that I just keep breaking things until I can't figure a way out, which is pretty accurate. But there's a balance to it--the narrative has to reward (pay off) as it recomplicates, or it becomes boring. In other words, you can't stretch one question for 500 pages. Well, okay, you can. But along the way there need to be mini-arcs, small conflicts and small resolutions, little victories to go with the losses. Otherwise, the book becomes, well, one-note. And can be enjoyed as well by skipping to the end as by reading the entire narrative.

That's all very vague and not very practical, isn't it?

Okay, here. So you've gotten to the end of the setup, you've hit the point where you're not sure what happens next, and you're stuck at the previously discussed Inevitable 30K (35K, 40K) Wall. You are staring the Dreaded Middle Of The Book in the eye, and it's not looking down.

What do you do?

This is the time for the first major reversal. Give the characters something. Take something else away.

Jean Valjean agrees to rescue Fantine's daughter, but he's also confronted with his Wicked Past. Conflicting obligations! And a cop is on his trail! Raise the stakes!

Send in that man with the gun. Kill somebody. Get somebody laid. Hand him the key to the puzzle and then snatch it away. Change it up!

Open three books you like to page 150 and see what's going on. Flip a few dozen pages to either side. I betcha, in most of them, something Big will have just changed.

And then you follow the implications of that reversal to the next reversal, and so on, until everything goes boom.


like that.

bear by san

ZOMG fangirl SQUEEEE!!1!!

Okay. Having a peak moment.

So, yanno, I'm a huge embarrassing Grimjack fangirl. Yes, I am. Somewhere in a storage unit in Nevada, actually, I believe I have a complete run of the book, unless the gnomes have gotten it. And I was always awfully fond of Jonah Hex, too. (There's a Jonah Hex joke in one of the Jenny stories somewhere, unless I wound up cutting that scene. But it did get written at one point.)


I have Tim Truman cover art.

Yes. Me.

You can touch me, but it will cost you a quarter.

Issue #5 of Subterranean, You can order it here. Complete cast list:

"Mazer in Prison" by Orson Scott Card
"Doc Savage and the Cult of the Blue God" by Philip Jose Farmer
"Being Intimately Aware of the Past: An Interview With Alan Moore" by Dorman T. Shindler
"The Plot" by Stephen Gallagher
"Getting Dark" by Neal Barrett, Jr.
"Lucifugous" by Elizabeth Bear
"Some Thoughts Re: DARK DESTRUCTOR" by Tad Williams
"Wendy" by Jim Grimsley
"On Books" by Dorman T. Shindler

yendi says nice things about Blood & Iron here.

bear by san

link salad

I love everybody's answers to the perfect book question. It's like getting a glimpse of somebody else's love affair--it makes me wistful and contented, all at once. Thank you for indulging me.

In other news: What having a book published is really like.

via riba_rambles. Stephen Colbert explains the difference between devils and balrogs

Maureen Johnson explains, "All deadlines are homing deadlines."

CA Reviews reviews Blood & Iron.