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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

Sleepy Bear

Overslept this morning. Was ten minutes late to work. Have been forgiven, due to mitigating circumstances.

"Honest, officer, the cat wouldn't let me leave...."

Not much writing done yesterday--it sort of got declared a goof-off day, and I had dinner with friends, hung out in chat rooms, edited about a page and a half (which somehow involved writing an additional 131 words--despite the fact that I kept cutting things, so I guess I did write about a page) and did not go to bed early, after all.

I'm in an interesting place, writing-wise. After two years of really intensive effort and productivity, I'm trying to convince the guilt gorilla that I really don't need to spend *all* my time racking up word count, and that it's okay to relax a little and let the well refill.

The world will not end if I do not get all 11 novels I currently have competing for space in my brain on paper by Tuesday next.


Time for a switch to sustainable agriculture, I think. As soon as I can figure out how to de-overclock the productive part of my brain.


"The world will not end if I do not get all 11 novels I currently have competing for space in my brain by Tuesday next.


I really must tape this to my forehead... or perhaps a tattoo...
I was thinking of taping or tattooing it to my loved ones' foreheads instead. You know, where I'd see it.

I was also thinking, "Eleven! Lucky girl...."
Well, several of them are serieses or sequels....
I know, but it's still few enough to keep some order. Like a kindergarten class, perhaps. Past a certain number of children/novels you just have to give up and get used to the screaming.
heh. Well, some of that is the fine art of telling some of them that they're not very good ideas, overall.

And then there are the ones that get demoted to the ranks of Short Fiction, where they may be dealt with summarily.
When I engage in such demotions, editorses (nasty, tricksy and false) tend to spot it and send me rejections saying they think the story would make a much better novel. That's my least favorite kind of rejection to get, I think.
pacing problem, perhaps? Or overdevelopment for a short, do you think?
Oh, it's several things, when I've truncated a longer story idea down to short actual story length. Sometimes it's that events are summarized that they'd prefer to see dramatized, to a great enough extent that they think the whole thing would end up long, and they're right. Sometimes it's that we don't get to see all the stuff the editor-being would like, either before the beginning or after the end, that they're still caught up in what-happens-next or how-did-we-get-here when I'm wrapping things up.

Maybe it's just that I'm not good at truncating, because to me it doesn't feel like a natural process. It doesn't feel like any story idea could be any length -- some can't stand more than 500 words and others can't stand fewer than 50K. That seems more inherent than otherwise, to me. But maybe I'm missing something.
And then there are the energetic and overcompressed short stories that grow into stillborn novels....


I wrote a longer post and lj ate it.

Generally I find that short stories have one paired conflict (internal/external); novelettes have two or three, and novels have as many as I can jam in there.

The idea isn't the issue: it's the conflicts and how I layer them.
Oddly, lj mailed it to me before munching.

Number of conflicts isn't a good measure for me, because some conflicts are long and some are short. I mean, yes, subplots, definitely, or parallel plots, or other lovely novelly bits of goodness. But the central conflict itself can still need 400 words or 4000 or 40K. For me.
Hee! This is so *interesting.*

Can you give an example of a long vs. a short conflict?
Tam Lin is a short conflict. It has enough possible anticipation that it can carry a novel as long as it's got subplots and diversions, but the conflict itself of Janet vs. Q o' A&D is pretty brief, and once it's over, it's defnitively over. (Or is it? See Timprov's and my upcoming The Continuing Adventures of Carter Hall project...but that's a diversion.)

Long conflicts...well, the fall of most empires is long; most wars are long conflicts even when they're not long wars. The bigger the ethical question, the more likely I think a quick resolution is to be unsatifying, so if that's the heart of a story's conflict, it's probably a longer conflict. Just about any story where the protag(s) has/have to unravel what the conflict is in the first place is going to be longer. And if you write a mystery short, for example, where you cut off the unraveling and have "Someone was dead, Bob found the knife in the car, therefore he knew Cynthia was the killer" as the scenes, that's going to be vastly, horribly unsatisfying.

Sometimes we manage to find large conflicts where microcosms are still satisfying and interesting. There the trick for not annoying the crap out of any Mrissas reading the story is not suggesting that the microcosm solves the large-scale problem in all particulars. "Protag's mother accepts his boyfriend enough to have them over for dinner! All gay rights questions solved forever!" Etc.

to me, Tam Lin would be a series of external conflicts--Janet vs. her father, Janet vs. society, Janet vs. Tam Lin, Janet vs. the Queen of Faeries--which are tied together by one internal conflict--Janet finding herself. And it's probably a novelette or novella plot, if you do the whole ballad without too much elaboration, because there are a series of interwoven conflicts to carry the story forward a while. If it's just Janet, Tam Lin, and the Queen, then it's probably not worthwhile to chase it past 4K or so.

Curious you should pick that example, as the novel I've been rewriting is heavily themed after Tam Lin. But I've brought in other elements as well, because as a straight fairy tale retelling, Tam Lin is pretty played, and also because I don't think it has enough conflicts--enough story to support a novel.
Yarg, formatting!

Okay, so: I think Janet finding herself is an interesting addition to Tam Lin, but it's certainly not in the song I've heard. She's always running around following her own head and heart, going to Carter Hall when she's told not to, defying her father about the baby's father's identity, etc. Doesn't hesitate a moment on the saving of her lover. Doesn't sound to me like she's having a hard time figuring out who she is. I don't think I'd find a version of it that posited that *implausible*, I'm just saying that it's not part of how I'd read the thing in the first place. I can see why it's one of the things you would tie in to make the story novel-length.

You certainly *can* make a novel out of a shorter story by bringing in more separate conflicts. But...well, here. You can make a trip last longer by taking a twisting road instead of a straight one, or by making stops along the way, or by hauling enough gear to slow you down. But you can also just take a longer trip, is what I'm saying.
"Honest, officer, the cat wouldn't let me leave...."

Thank you. You gave me my grin for the a.m.

You're kidding...

Eleven? You have my sympathies. And my envy ::Grin::

You're kidding...

Eleven? You have my sympathies. And my envy ::Grin::