Archive for October, 2004

10/24/04: Under way again

Word count: 109855 | Since last entry: 487 | This month: 7394 I promised myself I would really, truly start on the next chapter right away instead of waiting a week or more. I promised myself it didn’t have to be good, and it didn’t have to be much, I just had to start. I’ve started. It’s not good, and it’s not much, but I started. Jason and Sienna are on the train headed back to New York. The outline for this chapter seems kind of thin, and I’m wondering if there’s really whole chapter in it. But I seem to recall I felt the same about the previous chapter at this stage, so I’m prepared to see what comes of it. Got my critiques on the previous chapter yesterday. There were a few suggestions about raising tension (the consensus is that the computer hacking scenes went on just a bit long) but really people don’t seem to have much to say about the big issues — everyone’s just hanging on for the ride at this point. I hope they like the destination when we arrive there.

10/21/04: Defeat! Woe! Misery! I’m happy!

Word count: 109368 | Since last entry: 1787 | This month: 6907 And in one great burst of writing I finish the chapter, with a long scene in which all Clarity’s plans collapse in flames. Things couldn’t be worse for Clarity now, which is perfect because there’s just two chapters left to go: one Jason chapter and one which is currently planned to be a Clarity chapter. I’m thinking of either breaking that one in three (Clarity, Jason, Clarity) or doing alternating viewpoints within the chapter — something I’ve never done before, but the last chapter is a special place and might not have to follow all the rules. In either case I have about six weeks for all that plus the epilogue. Fortunately it’s all outlined. Also, the kitchen is really coming together now, with countertops and tile and crown molding and it is just looking completely nifty!! See kateyule‘s LiveJournal for photos. I’m pleased. Very, very tired, but pleased.

10/20/04: This is what democracy looks like

Word count: 107581 | Since last entry: 305 | This month: 5120 Went to a voting party tonight. Here in Oregon we vote by mail (everyone, every election) — ballots went out last week and are due by November 2. So some friends convened a potluck to get together, talk about some of the more confusing ballot measures, and fill out our ballots. It was way keen — Kate pointed out that now she’s certain she hasn’t voted for any person or measure who looks good on the surface but has a nasty surprise buried inside. On the way back from the party we dropped off our ballots at the county elections office. Wrote a little bit after coming home from the party — I’m tired, tired, tired, after several very busy days at work (with no end in sight this week) but I need to keep plugging away if I’m going to make my next deadline (this Saturday). I wrote the beginning of the last scene in the chapter, in which protestors begin to gather around the Platforms. Lots of tell here, rather than show, but it would be insane for Clarity to be in the middle of this situation. I’ll strive for it to be as visceral as possible as things wind up to a fever pitch, though.

10/18/04: Death in the family

Word count: 107276 | Since last entry: 1186 | This month: 4815 I attended a funeral today, of one of my apartment-mates from college. Even though we lived in the same city after graduation, I didn’t keep in touch with him; I think the last time we saw each other might have been at my wedding, 13 years ago. He passed away suddenly this weekend, of a massive heart attack. We were the same age. I really ought to spend more time with my friends. A good evening’s writing, though. I wrote a scene in which… a major character dies. I swear, that’s what came next in the outline. And I don’t think the real funeral had any impact on the actual death scene, because the characters’ relationship to each other was completely different from my own situation. But it is weird. Very weird. I also used this scene to summarize the plans that the characters have made in the last couple of days, leading up to the massive assault to follow. Because, even though this is some pretty heavy action, it’s not really important to the main questions of the plot. One scene left to go in the chapter. It’s a biggie. I spent far too much time looking at a map of the world’s largest cities and an earth/moon/sun map viewer (Home Planet) trying to figure out the best time for a simultaneous worldwide strike on December 13, 2051. Turns out that, even with today’s population, 8am UTC (3am New York time) is the best time for most of the 24 biggest cities — it’s just before dawn for London and Rio and just after sunset for Tokyo, with most of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia in daylight. Only North and Central America, with 3 of the top 24 cities, are in the middle of their night. The situation will be even more heavily weighted to Asia and Africa by midcentury. Well, isn’t that going to make things interesting for Clarity…

10/17/04: War!

Word count: 106090 | Since last entry: 1860 | This month: 3629 Usually I post an entry here every day I write something, but in the past few days things have been better for writing than posting. So, by dint of plugging away, a few hundred words on an okay day and a thousand words on a good day, I’ve got 1800 words since the last entry, for a total of 3500 words in the chapter so far. And it’s war. Civil war between two factions of the aliens. I didn’t know it was going to be war, but there really wasn’t any alternative. As soon as Clarity and company realized what Raptor had in mind, how great the stakes had gotten, an all-out military assault became the only sane alternative. I realized this by thinking about the question “given what he plans anyway, why doesn’t Raptor just…” and realizing there was no reason he couldn’t, or wouldn’t. And my main characters also know this, so they have to stop him by any means possible. And the means remaining to them are pretty slim. One good thing about this situation is that it really allows Clarity to show what she’s capable of. She’s uncertain whether she’s doing the right thing, of course — as any sane person would be — but she doesn’t let that stop her from taking action. And when a confrontation came with one of her Councilors — a confrontation I’d planned to end with him storming out, to show just how tenuous her support was — damn if she didn’t deliver a speech so rousing that he just had to stick around. It wouldn’t have been fair to her to let him go. Just as well, she has plenty of other forces ranged against her, as she’ll be finding out before the end of the chapter. At this point I’m wondering just how much violence is actually going to occur when things really start to roll, and how much of it to show on the page. I recently read Metropolitan by Walter Jon Williams, where a really massive campaign is waged on the other side of the world while our hero, central to it though she may be, watches on television. This may be the only way to convey something this big in a story that is, fundamentally, about two little people in a great big crazy mixed-up world. So I may wrap up the actual fighting part of the war in just a couple thousand words. Or it might drag on in some form until the end of the book. Writing is full of surprises, let me tell you. Anything could happen.

10/14/04: Fits and starts

Word count: 104230 | Since last entry: 350 | This month: 1769 Some progress tonight, not as much as I’d hoped. Too many other things to do… many of which didn’t really need doing, but I did them anyway. I spent quite a bit of my writing time going back and adding details to what I’d written already, and continuing to work out the outline for the last few chapters. Questions I’ve had for almost two years about exactly how the story ends are falling into place, and Clarity’s going to really kick ass and take names. Meanwhile, the universe being what it is, my whine in the last entry knocked loose a response… a rejection, 346 days on a short-short. At least it was an encouraging rejection. This was the first story I wrote at Clarion, over four years ago, and it’s already been just about everywhere that I thought might want it (which is why it was at a market known to have response times up to a year). Into the trunk it goes. But I still hold out some hope for some of the other stories still out there. Some good news, though: I’ve now seen the cover for All-Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories, and it’s fan-freaking-tastic. The book will launch at World Fantasy Con, Halloween weekend, so I’ve put up a page about my story (including the cover) here.

10/12/04: Reasons and rationales

Word count: 103880 | Since last entry: 493 | This month: 1419 Hare reveals her reasons for returning, which are not as altrustic as Clarity had expected. Nor, frankly, as I’d expected. But when I actually wrote the speech I realized that Hare’s priorities are not Clarity’s and the thing that would drive her over the edge is not what matters most to Clarity, or to the reader. This way also will help to drive Jason harder in the following chapter. Meanwhile, I’m getting antsy for responses to short story submissions from a couple of markets that have been sitting on stories a lot longer than usual, plus another market that is known for long response times but this is getting ridiculous. I hope these long response times are indicative of good news, but I know that isn’t always the case. (Whine, whine, whine.)

10/10/04: Special delivery

Word count: 103387 | Since last entry: 752 | This month: 926 Some more re-outlining today, making sure that all the pieces are in place for the grand finale. There’s a lot of stuff that has to happen in the last three chapters, and I think I now have all of the spring-loaded bits stuffed in where they need to be, but I’m not convinced that the amount of time in the outline is plausible for it to happen — but other factors require that it can’t be extended. Well, maybe some things happen faster in the future. Then I actually (huzzah!) began adding text to the chapter again. Seven hundred new words in which Hare returns, by helicopter. She is greeted with suspicion by all but Clarity, so I haven’t gotten around yet to the first point in the revised outline, where she reveals the reason she came back. On the other hand, if I hadn’t covered these suspicions and Clarity’s reasons for believing Hare despite them, I’m sure that one of my critiquers (JWF) would have called me on it. And rightly so. Thanks to his comments I’m going to have to go back during rewrite and add much more suspicion and paranoia — Clarity is just too trusting, and even if she is a little naive at the beginning of the book she’d be surrounded by people whose job is to keep her safe. Speaking of paranoia… this weekend we saw the remake of The Manchurian Candidate, which I thought was actually a better film than the original. I came out of it realizing that, just as Blade Runner (the movie) looks like Neuromancer (the book), the new Manchurian Candidate looks like I want my book to look. It’s got the New York setting, the movement from the corridors of power to the most squalid little apartments and back, the constant swirl of underlings around the powerful people at the center of the plot, the mix of white people and black people, the fact that you’re never really sure who are the heroes and who are the villains… but this movie is a lot richer in detail, with a lot more motion and a lot more light and shadow than I’ve had in my mind while writing the book, which means my book probably won’t look as good in the reader’s mind as the movie does. I want to add more detail (more senses, too, not just sight and hearing), more motion, more chatter, more underlings. (It would help if I knew in a more personal way what New York is like. But I don’t think I can justify a field trip just now.) We also watched the last bit of Angels in America on tape. The dialogue is wonderful… elliptical, indirect, contradictory, fragmentary. Very real. And the characters are so twisted, in many cases unlikeable, and yet sympathetic. No wonder it won all those Tonys and Emmys. We’d seen it in the theatre, but with the cinematography and special effects — not to mention Meryl Streep and Al Pacino — the miniseries might be even better. Meanwhile, the kitchen is starting to look like a kitchen again. See Kate’s journal for more details and pictures.

10/4/04: Re-outlining with an end in sight

Word count: 102635 | Since last entry: 174 | This month: 174 Spent the evening re-outlining the last 3 chapters, since my current outline for those chapters has gotten a little out of sync with what I’ve written and what I’ve got planned. It’s hard to really internalize the idea that, after so many months of looking so far down the road to the end, it’s now practically here. Suddenly there are so many loose ends to wrap up. And how the heck am I going to bring some of the necessary information on stage, given that the only people who know it wouldn’t tell the viewpoint characters about it under any circumstances? I’m going to have to settle for letting my viewpoint characters make some clever deductions. In some cases they have almost all the information they need to do it; I do have one wild card I can play to bring a little more info on stage. Now I know why the villain always brags about his fiendish plan while he has the hero tied up. It’s the only way for the author to get that information onto the page/screen when only the villain knows it! I hope to avoid that cliche, though. I will still have to figure out how Jason learns a key skill, how he can put that skill to use in just about no time, and how he determines that he has to be in the right place for his climax. (I think I have earned a little bit of implausibility.) But that’s not for a couple of chapters, and my ideas on those questions are firmer than they were a few weeks ago. A solution will present itself in time, I’m sure.

9/30/04: Milestones in the rearview

Word count: 102461 | Since last entry: 2639 | This month: 11411 Item: Took the train to work today, so as to use time normally wasted in commuting on writing. It paid off handsomely, as you can see by the word count above. Item: Passed 100,000 words, somewhere on the bus to work. Yay! Item: Finished chapter H, with a day to spare. Yay! It’s 8785 words, and probably could use a little trim off the sides, but it’s not going to get it right now. It’s a funny thing, how you can write a scene where a character is just sitting around and you give him a little bit of business just so he has something to do. And then, a few scenes or chapters later, you discover that little bit of business turns out to have been exactly the set-up he needed for the big revelation that happens now. Either that, or the big revelation happens the way it happens because you had that little bit of business before. It’s hard to tell which way the serendipity really runs, but it happened about three times today. The third one is a lulu, and ties together the two plot threads in a way I hadn’t even thought about until about one paragraph before it came off my fingers. Now everyone is implicated in everything and there’s plenty of guilt to go around. It’s almost like Memento, where (spoiler ho!) Guy Pearce winds up pulling the wool over his own eyes. Must sleep now. Many meetings tomorrow. Things are really heating up at work — I’m a key player on at least three major projects in the next quarter. The good news is that I will get one or two additional people to help me; in exchange I’m supposed to mentor them. I’m feeling suspiciously responsible.