Archive for December, 2003

12/30/03: Grind

Word count: 46670 | Since last entry: 1037 | This month: 9204 A difficult scene tonight: Clarity flashes back to her break-up with Jason, and the long-buried (too-long-buried) secret of what happened at Cedar Point is revealed. Didn’t go into a lot of detail, and left some questions open about exactly what Clarity knew and when she knew it. The scene also has a lot of parallels with Jason’s flashback on how he and Clarity met. This is deliberate, but is it too heavy-handed? This flashback actually goes with the revised Prologue I discussed with Jim and Sara at OryCon, though it doesn’t contradict anything in the current draft. I’m also making a few changes in the Taurans’ behavior based on previous critiques, something I said I wouldn’t do, but the changes are fairly minor. I’m very tired. Didn’t sleep well last night. Also spent some of this evening sweeping snow off the walk. Snow! I might be stuck at home tomorrow…

12/29/03: Back to the novel!

Word count: 45633 | Since last entry: 575 | This month: 8167 Well, 500 words is better than nothing, though I was hoping for 1000+. Spent some of Sunday and a chunk of this evening re-reading earlier chapters to get my head back in the world of the novel, and adding a few points to the outline for this chapter. I have some things I’ve been thinking about for a while now — Clarity gets a change of clothes, Clarity’s perspective on her break-up with Jason, and a murder — which aren’t in the original outline but seem to fit here. Lots to cover in this chapter and not a lot of time to do it, and I’m definitely behind my very tight schedule. But I keep plugging away. Tonight I wrote a conversation with Honor and Clarity in which he reveals just how pissed he is at her, she tries to get his help tracking down the fugitive Jason, and I try to show how and why the aliens use telepathy vs. sign language. Don’t know if it works. Moving forward anyway.

12/27/03: Okay, no more Hell puns

Word count: 45058 | Since last entry: 1710 | This month: 7592 Finished the Hell story and sent it to my critique group this afternoon. Yay! I wound up not killing the assistant off. But in my Hell there are worse things than death: instead I subjected him to an eternity of paperwork. The Curse of Beazoel! It’s gentle and silly and I think it works. We’ll see what my crit group thinks. Now I have one week to write a novel chapter. Tomorrow’s largely spoken for, as are New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Things don’t look good for our hero. But I will try.

12/26/03: Hell of a party

Word count: 45058 | Since last entry: 525 | This month: 5882 Spent most of today preparing for and then hosting a Boxing Day open house. Many fine people came, including Jay Lake and Mary Rosenblum. We played Fluxx, Boggle, and Apples to Apples, ate cookies, pizza, and soup, and had a great time. I did manage to write 500 words first thing upon arising, deepening the conflict between the old-style and new-style demons and laying a little more ground work for the climax. This is good, but I must finish this story tomorrow — 1000-2000 more words. And I still don’t know exactly what precipitates the climax. I love a challenge.

12/25/03: Writing like a bat out of Hell

Word count: 45058 | Since last entry: 1027 | This month: 5357 Happy Yuletide! Woke up this morning with no work to go to, so lay in bed for 45 minutes thinking about the story. By the end of it I knew how the rest of the story would go. Then, after a day of eating and unwrapping presents and wrapping presents (we haven’t yet figured out when we’re getting together with Kate’s relatives, so I didn’t get their presents wrapped until today) and a second viewing of The Return of the King I sat down and wrote for a couple of hours. At this rate I might even get done by Saturday! Here are my thoughts from this morning (spoilers ho!). First I thought about what my main character can and can’t do — he’s allowed to reorganize his staff, but not hire or fire or transfer staff in or out of his department (and he can’t demote his obnoxious assistant). Then I changed the red devils to pink demons to create a conflict among the staff. (Basically, the pink demons — think man-size plastic Ken dolls with horns — are marketing types, while the other varieties of demon are technical types.) This sets him up to try and fail to resolve the problem — the department isn’t making quota because the majority pink demons are so technically clueless that even the clever and resourceful technical demons can’t overcome it, but though he can shuffle things around he can’t really change the situation. But he does have the ability to create a sub-project, move all the technical demons into it, and assign himself to head it, leaving the obnoxious assistant in charge of all the pink demons. If he puts the pink demons back to work on mass production, which even they can’t mess up, with the Internet for distribution, and adds a limited amount of custom temptation hand-crafted by his team of techies, the department as a whole succeeds. The only problem with this solution is that it lets the obnoxious assistant off the hook. I want him to die. Specifically, I want him to get dispelled because of his own pettifogging, bureaucratic attitude. But I’ve set the situation up so that the techie team cannot succeed by itself, which means that the pink demons can’t be allowed to fail, so the assistant can’t be dispelled for failure to meet quota. Maybe I’ll find another way to kill the assistant off. In the last scene I wrote I found my main character being surprisingly insightful and multi-cultural. I swear I didn’t set the situation up consciously. (He’s turning into quite an admirable chap, despite being a Pit Demon from Hell. I hope the readers don’t find the story too P.C..) So, since the story continues to surprise me, I imagine a solution to this problem will appear as well. By the way… I am not one of those writers who burbles about characters telling me what to do. I am the writer, I am in charge, I am making it all up. But, in creating something as complex as a story, you have to make a lot of micro-decisions as you go. Sometimes these micro-decisions can suggest macro-changes that you hadn’t originally intended. For example, in writing a scene showing the conflict between the two groups of demons, I made a micro-decision about specifically how the main character resolves the conflict (he spits in his hand before shaking hands on a deal), which demonstrates his cultural sensitivity to one of the two groups, which implies things about his character I hadn’t thought out consciously. It followed naturally from other decisions I made, but it was still a surprise to me. Does this make any sense?

12/23/03: Still on the road to Hell

Word count: 45058 | Since last entry: 387 | This month: 4330 Did a little writing between dinner and decorating the tree tonight. Got to the point of having one character actually ask the other “So, what’s the problem?” (Yes, sometimes my characters ask each other the questions I’m asking myself. In many cases this doesn’t survive to the final draft.) Made a couple of false starts at an answer, and finally had the second character (the bad guy, though he’s more annoying than villainous) give his perspective on the problem, which is a surprise to the first character and (though the first character isn’t certain of this yet) objectively wrong. Have not written the first character’s response to this statement. However, I know what he’s thinking, and this little exchange definitely sets up the conflict between them. Now I know where the middle of the story has to go. But I’m lacking some details, and I still don’t know how my main character’s going to get out of it…

12/22/03: A Hell of a week

Word count: 45058 | Since last entry: 962 | This month: 3943 It’s been a rough week of no writing since the last entry. I was mildly sick for a couple of days — just a sore throat, but it really sapped my energy. At work I have been desperately busy, with a couple of major projects due by the end of the year. Spare time has been taken up with holiday shopping, decorating, and parties (which were fun, but do interfere with writing). And then I got a skin infection on my foot that required antibiotics, and then I got a reaction to the antibiotic. So now I’m achy and itchy and tired and crabby. But I made myself write tonight, and produced about a thousand words, for a total of over 2000 on the story. With luck I will still finish it by this weekend. Although at this point it would take a miracle to get this and a novel chapter done by the next crit group meeting. Still don’t know exactly how the story turns out, though a minor character has appeared from nowhere (he took so many lines I just had to give him a name, and now he has a personality and everything). This gives me some hope that the missing plot twist could appear in the same way. Whatever. I haul my poor infected body to bed now.

12/15/03: Not a Hell of a lot of writing

Word count: 45058 | Since last entry: 577 | This month: 2981 Spent the weekend with my parents in McMinville (didn’t make Bend on account of too much snow in the pass). Saw the Spruce Goose, stayed at the Hotel Oregon, played games, talked, ate too much. After seeing them off at the airport today, Kate encouraged me to sit down and write, and I did. Thanks, Kate! To bed now.

12/11/03: The Hell you say

Word count: 45058 | Since last entry: 536 | This month: 2404 And we’re off on another story. This one is set in Hell, and it’s for a themed anthology — not the one called The Anthology from Hell, this one’s invitation-only. Why two Hell anthologies at once? Steam engine time, I guess. I would really like to be working on my novel, too. But I promised I would write this story, and it’s due in January so I’d better get cracking. My goal is a finished first draft in two weeks. We’ll see. This story is the flip side of my “bureaucrats in Heaven” story from Clarion (not yet submitted anywhere). Like the angel character in that story, my demon main character suffers the worst thing that ever happened to me in my job: promotion to management. I know what his current situation is, at both a micro level (he hates his new job and wishes he could go back to being an individual contributor) and a macro level (population pressure has forced Hell to move to a mass-production footing, meaning that talented demons like him are needed to manage the process instead of pitchforking individual damned souls). I know what happens at the end of the story. I’m just not sure yet what happens in between. So far I have set the scene and introduced the character. I like him and I think I have a voice for the story. He’s already in trouble. Now I have to make it worse. I’m going to give him an assistant. Mwah hah hah.

12/9/03: Off to the editor

Word count: 45058 | Since last entry: -64 | This month: 1868 Edited the Jupiter story, now titled “Interview with the Photographer”, and emailed it off to the editor. Despite previous statements to the effect that I could cut it massively, I wound up trimming just 64 words all told. It’s just the length it is, I guess. (I’m giving myself a silver star for the -64 words.) As I have already mentioned several times, this story is probably too long and too late for its intended market (even though I skipped the critique to get it in a week or two earlier), but I decided it was worth sending anyway. If it comes back, I will have it critiqued and then try Analog. When I went to record the submission in my tracking spreadsheet, I realized that the upcoming anthology deadlines of 2/1 and 3/1 are not really “in February” and “in March” respectively, they should really be considered “end of January” and “end of February” — much closer. The end of January is just 7 weeks away, ack! I may have to put the novel on hold for a whle, rather than alternating chapters and short stories as I’d planned. And the zeppelin story will probably not happen at all, unless I can squeeze it out in an enthusiastic weekend. On the other hand, I did do the Jupiter story, start to finish, in 19 days. Go me. I like being productive! For now, to bed.