June 6th, 2010

criminal minds garcia technopeasant

you and your sister live in a lemon world. i want to sit here and die.

Augh.

I can tell there's a good story in this story somewhere, struggling to get out, but I cannot seem to find the bones of it. I may need an intervention. Or the ghost of James Tiptree, Jr., to come do a quick line-edit for me.

Or something.

This is one of the Hard Things about being a writer. See, I've been over this story a dozen times now, and every time it's gotten closer to being the thing that I feel like it should be. But it never quite clicks in on that really deep level.

And I've picked a hell of a story to do it in. Whatever it is that I'm doing. Because somewhere in the accessible subtext of this thing, I need to inclue enough information about dominant/submissive serial killer partnership and Persian childbirth vampires that the casual reader will understand what's going on here. Without actually coming out and saying, "hey look, it's a dominant/submissive serial killer relationship, and here's what you need to know about Persian childbirth vampires."

And I need to figure out how to make the theme feel like a kick in the chest rather than a little banner with a legend fluttering off the port rail.

Meanwhile, back in the Iskryne, I have realized that if I never write another relationship story, I will be a happy person. I'm tired of relationships, and after Carnival and The Stratford  Man I am more tired of gay male relationships than any other kind. I think I have said all I have to say on the topic, and need to move on to something else.

Like serial killer partnerships. Friendships, friendships are still fine.

Oh and of course, The Steles of the Sky? All about goddamned relationships.

At least the only relationships in "Confessor" (yes, the furry animal story grew a title last night) are professional or sibling. Thank God.


Sentence-level craft is really on my mind again. Specifically, the level of control it takes to imply things, to express them, and to do both things plainly.

Some of this is the tiny tiny particular sentence-level work it took to get an unreliable-narrator, cryptobigot villain in a story that I recently did some beta work on to come across as what sie is, without making it blatant. (Not my story, but boy did I do a lot of thinking about the tiny nuances of one word versus another, in editorial mode.)

Some of it is what I'm trying to do on "Needles," and what I have likewise been trying to do on "Dolly" and "The Romance." Because one thing I am working very hard on right now is making my work more accessible without pulling the layers out of it. Which means actually getting more layers into it, and doing it in the same number of words.

It's frustrating and it's fascinating and it's incredibly hard work, and it requires diamond-cutter attention to detail. I'm used to bringing that to my prosody and the shades of meaning within narrative passages, but now I'm having to learn to layer that over with words that reveal as much as possible while still supporting layered (or sometimes alternate) readings.

It's a level of meticulousness and it's hard to talk about in specific terms, somehow. Because mostly it's just about thinking really hard about what the words suggest, and how they pull in the same direction, and either do or don't contradict one another.
criminal minds garcia glam femme geek

attachment is suffering

Well, I'm declaring the straw bale gardening idea a dead loss. All they appear to be doing is providing an excellent staging ground for the damned slugs.

At least the slugs are enjoying the strawberries.

This winter/ next spring, which is less crazy deadline-wise than NOW, I will mulch the straw in, build raised beds, and compost over it. For now, I guess I don't get to eat much lettuce or many strawberries, because I just don't have time or energy to repair the situation.

At least I have a nice little gastropod sanctuary.
writing companion to wolves _ truepenny

concrete, specific, vivid

Chewing away at the wolves this morning. 50K or bust!

Okay, so, when I talk about sentence-level craft, here's yet another example of wiggling a paragraph around to remove scaffolding and repetition and get it where I want it. It's not a particularly showy sentence, being simple narrative exposition, but in some ways that makes it a better example.

Scaffolding is killer. By scaffolding, what I mean is all those words that don't do anything to actually make your sentence mean anything, or contribute to its rhythm. Those excess adverbs, prepositional phrases, restatements, cliche expressions, and so on. The stuff we do reflexively, which does nothing to our prose except clutter it up.


Brokkolfr remembered from things Isolfr and Frithulf had told the threat about dealing with the svartalfar that the race of smiths held generosity in high esteem. As high esteem, Frithulf had said, as any wolfcarl held valor.

Brokkolfr remembered from things Isolfr and Frithulf had told the threat about dealing with the svartalfar that the race of smiths held generosity in high esteem. They esteemed it as highly, Frithulf had said, as any thane or wolfcarl regarded valor.

Brokkolfr remembered from things Isolfr and Frithulf had told the threat about dealing with the svartalfar that the race of smiths cherished generosity. They esteemed it as highly, Frithulf had said, as any thane or wolfcarl regarded valor.

Brokkolfr remembered from things Isolfr and Frithulf had told the threat about dealing with the svartalfar that the race of smiths cherished generosity. They esteemed it as highly as any thane or wolfcarl regarded valor.

Brokkolfr remembered from things Isolfr and Frithulf had told the threat about dealing with the svartalfar that the race of smiths cherished generosity. They esteemed it as highly as any thane or wolfcarl did valor.

Brokkolfr remembered from what Isolfr and Frithulf had taught the werethreat about svartalfar that the race of smiths cherished generosity as highly as any thane or wolfcarl did valor.

From what Isolfr and Frithulf had taught the werethreat about svartalfar, Brokkolfr remembered that the race of smiths cherished generosity as passionately as any thane or wolfcarl cherished valor.

From what Isolfr and Frithulf had taught the werethreat about svartalfar, Brokkolfr remembered that the race of smiths cherished generosity as passionately as any thane or wolfcarl did valor.

Yeah. It's not poetry, it's not a great flight of description. But it's clear and it's well-organized and the line of direction is obvious (earlier versions suffer from the paranthetical in the middle, slowing things down.) It's a sentence that is doing its job.

And I'll probably change it three more times before the book hits print.

Prose is not just about pretty. It's about making the words do their jobs: concrete, specific, vivid. Those are the things that anchor the reader firmly in the fictional dream the writer hopes to conjure.

And yeah, I do this with pretty much everything I write. So my first draft story is comprised of seventh-draft sentences. And then I go over it seven or eight more times in various revision passes.
mythbusters kari eye

no sign or omen

Sometimes, it takes a village to write a story.

I just "Needles" back to the editor.

I'm still not sure I have it working as it should. But over the course of the past week, I've been throwing myself beseechingly before some glorious and talented writers, begging assistance, and I have it working as well as I can.

I hope it's enough. I really don't want this to be one of the near misses, because I like this story, and it's important to me. It's about monsters, you see, and how sometimes horrible things are just horrible things.

And the problem I've been having with it all along is that it's almost there. But it was almost there in the same sense as Mark Twain's almost-right word: the difference was as between the lightning bug and the lightning.

Regardless, I have done everything within my power to it, now.

We'll see if it worked.