Archive for June, 2006

6/7/06: Briefly

Word count: 1946 | Since last entry: 328

Found another way to handle the opening. Now there’s at least a hint of something weird within the first two pages. Will have to clean up the edges a bit tomorrow.

Also, I worked in the main character’s name in paragraph 2. One of the perils of first person is that I managed to write over 1500 words without naming the narrator. Oops. Fixed now.

6/6/06: On the train

Word count: 1618 | Since last entry: 834

Took the train to work today, always a good way to get some writing done. And unlike last week, this time I didn’t leave my work badge on the train and have to pay $20 for a new one.

I’m pleased with the character and setting development so far, and I’ve just introduced the main character’s internal conflict, but the actual plot is still somewhere over the horizon. My current hope is that the situation and characters are engaging and unique enough to carry the reader along until the fantastic element appears — certainly I was engaged in the original diary (the true story around which I’m weaving my fiction) even when I knew no fantastic element was forthcoming. If it doesn’t work I can always start with the first fantastic incident and put what I have now in as an expository flashback.

However, if the story continues on its current trajectory it’ll be in the 8-10,000 word range, which is too long for many markets. I may have to go back and trim quite a bit after I’ve finished the first draft. (Yes, I’m obsessing over word count again. As if this is a surprise?)

6/5/06: Bleah

Word count: 784 | Since last entry: 409

I got absolutely pummeled at the day job today. Being in a separate user interface design group means I get to work on a lot of different projects, but it can sometimes create a slightly adversarial relationship with the developers. Today I really missed being part of the development team — we did have our arguments, to be sure, but I had a better idea of what the issues were, and neither I nor the developers got blind-sided the way I did today. It wasn’t too bad, really — no hard feelings, but a very intense discussion.

I filled out one of those census forms the other day — how many people live at this address, where do you work, how much do you make, how did you get to work last week. Boy, do I feel lucky. I own my home, I drive my own car, I work every week. This survey really made me think about just how much of a privilege those simple things are.

Meanwhile, in fictionland, I’m developing the setting and introducing the rather large cast. One recent volunteer to join the cast (you know who you are) hasn’t appeared yet, but I’ll find a way to fit him in soon. I’ll get the plot rolling within another few hundred words, I hope.

6/4/06: And we’re off. Finally.

Word count: 375 | Since last entry: 375

It has taken me entirely too long to get started on this story. I’ve been researching, outlining, and thinking thinking thinking… entirely too much. I’ve been paralyzed, I think, by the responsibility of writing a fictional story set in a real situation with characters based on people I know. I want to be true to their experience, but at the same time it has to be a proper story, with a plot, and that means conflict. So I’ve been trying to find a way to inject conflict into the situation without offending anyone.

I’ve written three complete cast lists, some more recognizable as the real people and others less so, each around a different central conflict. The final cast list is the closest to the originals, because the conflict I’ve settled on is mostly an internal one, and internal to one of the people I don’t know as well. So I’m less likely to step on toes because I don’t know his real problems — anything I come up with will be entirely mine, not his. I’m hoping that the resemblances between my characters and the real people will be seen as homage rather than appropriation.

The other big problem was finding a viewpoint character and a grammatical person/tense. I’ve settled on the second-in-command rather than the leader (though the real-life person he’s based on is not really the second in command) because for some reason I feel that leaders are best seen from the side, and I’m writing it in first person past tense. I’m a little concerned that I’ve been doing a lot of first-person stuff lately, because I know it’s kind of restrictive. But given the internal conflict and the source material, I think this story has to be driven in first.

This story scares me. I’m concerned I may not have the chops to pull it off. I suppose this is what Kelly Link said we should be trying to do. (I had an interesting discussion with Jay Lake about this topic at his birthday party yesterday, and we came to the consensus that the author’s truly unique voice is something that can’t be invoked consciously, though there are things you can do to encourage it.)

Whatever. At least I have begun.