Author Archive

3/18/04: Paragraphs all over the workshop floor

Word count: 63704 | Since last entry: -68 | This month: 8903 I had a couple of killer days at work, leaving me with little energy for anything else, and then we had taxes to prepare (we use an accountant, but it still takes a whole evening or more to pull the papers together) and plane reservations to make for this summer’s trip to France. So no writing Tuesday or Wednesday. Tonight I started to tear Chapter A apart and reassemble it in a way that fits with the new Jason introduced in the new Chapter Zero. This involves changes in backstory, timeline, and motivation as well as attitude, though not a lot of changes in the actual incidents and actions of the chapter. As long as I was revising the chapter, I cut several paragraphs on principle, so the word count is actually going down at the moment. I’m going to count each anti-word double for purposes of my star chart (-50 = silver, -250 = gold, -500 = red), because cutting is harder than drafting, so I get a silver star for tonight’s -68 words. (This doesn’t address the question of how to handle a good solid revision session that happens to wind up with the same word count, but I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it.) At the moment the chapter is spread out on the workshop floor. I anticipate it will take a couple of days to get it degreased and reassembled; then I’ll haul out my notes from critique and see if anything else needs to be revised. Then I’ll do the same for Chapter 1 — though I’m not going to attempt to make Clarity more alien at this time, that’s too big a job for now — and do the outline and cover letter. I have a little more than a week until crit group, about two weeks until the Lupton deadline. It’s going to be tight.

3/15/04: Tweaking Chapter Zero

Word count: 63704 | Since last entry: 217 | This month: 8971 Added a couple of paragraphs briefly introducing Chris, and edited the chapter to improve flow. Some of the parts that incorporated text from the original Prologue just felt like a loose pile of paragraphs; I killed a few darlings and mangled a few others beyond recognition, and I think it’s better now. Will look at it again tomorrow, but I think it’s done for sure this time. I have moved Chapter Zero and a few other files that will be used in the proposal (three-chapters-and-outline) to a separate directory, so the total word count has gone down (and will stay where it is until I get back to drafting new chapters). But the “This month” word count still includes the proposal stuff. It’s after midnight, I should have been asleep an hour ago…

3/14/04: Back from Seattle…

Word count: 65801 | Since last entry: 605 | This month: 8754 …where I did no writing whatsoever. But I am not going to let this
brief hiatus prevent me from writing every day for the rest of the month. Tonight I moved Jason behind a locked door and presented him with the object he had been seeking. I could write him out of the space as well, but I don’t think it’s necesssary. At about 2000 words I think the new Chapter Zero might be complete. I’ve gone back and added so much to it that I’m afraid it’s too densely packed with information… it’s much less of a “hook” than the old Prologue. On the other hand, it answers a lot of questions that people had about the first drafts of the early chapters. And it does end with a hook, and it does leave some questions unanswered. But there’s still some other stuff I’d like to put in, such as a brief note about Chris. I’ll sleep on it and maybe revise a bit tomorrow. After that I’ll need to substantially revise Chapter A to go with the new Chapter Zero. Chapters 1 and B might need a bit of revision as well. Then I need to complete the outline (which means fleshing out the whole second half of the book), edit it for length, and write a cover letter. Still plenty of work to do for an April 5 deadline.

3/11/04: Stupid, stupid, stupid

Word count: 65196 | Since last entry: 141 | This month: 8149 Tonight we visited a kitchen designer and wrote a large check for a retainer. Looks like we are defintely going to have the kitchen re-done this summer. We spent a long time at the showroom, looking at floor plans and cabinets and countertops. Then, after we got home, I put a couple of recently-rejected short stories back in the mail, and packed for tomorrow’s trip to Seattle. But I promised myself I would write something every day, and so I sat down and did: largely editing, amping up Jason’s reaction to the aliens and their impact on his world. But it would really have been smarter to go to sleep, because I have an early meeting tomorrow morning and a long drive right after work. I won’t be posting anything here for a few days, but I will try to write something every day anyway. Good night.

3/10/04: On the ferry

Word count: 65055 | Since last entry: 335 | This month: 8008 Put Jason on the ferry to the Platform, where he can observe the aliens and the impact they have had on human culture (and be disgustipated at the whole spectacle). This is part of my original concept for the book, but didn’t come out at all in the first draft of the early chapters. Realized today that at some point, if I’m being honest, I’ll have to drop either the original Prologue or the new Chapter Zero from the total word count, which will result in a decrease in word count. Waah! My lovely word count! But it’s way late and I’m not going to do it now. So there.

3/9/04: Balancing act

Word count: 64720 | Since last entry: 463 | This month: 7673 Chopped back a couple of paragraphs from yesterday and wrote forward for a while, continuing to try to put in exposition necessary for the first chapter without going into too much detail. I still think I’m stating too much that should be implied, or left until later. I’m also wobbling on a tightrope of Jason’s emotions — the Cedar Point disaster was the day before yesterday, he hasn’t slept since, he has just broken up with his alien lover, and he has gone all the way over to hating the aliens and wanting them off his planet. I know that a broken love can turn to a terrible hate — I’ve experienced it myself, though only on the receiving end — but writing that moment convincingly is hard.

3/8/04: Harder the second time around

Word count: 64257 | Since last entry: 278 | This month: 7210 I’m finding it much harder to write the first chapter the second time around. The first time, the whole thing was as new to me as it was to the readers. I had a general idea of the world, but I was creating many of the details as I wrote about them for the first time. But now I know too much, and I remember all the critiques I’ve received in which it’s clear that (some) readers don’t understand (some aspects of) the world I’m trying to create. So I find myself cramming in every missing detail, where in the first draft I was able to create a great atmosphere of mystery and raise a lot of questions. So I didn’t write much today, and I think I may scrap it all tomorrow. But, as the mouse said to the elephant, I’ve been sick. With luck I’ll be better soon. Maybe then I can write more effectively.

3/7/04: Start again

Word count: 63979 | Since last entry: 278 | This month: 6932 After considerable wailing and gnashing of teeth, I’ve decided the next thing I will write is a new first chapter. Currently titled Chapter Zero, it will become the new Chapter A and all the other lettered chapters will move one down the alphabet. It replaces the Prologue (since writing the original Prologue, I have learned that some readers skip Prologues and some editors don’t like them), uses some of the same text, and serves many of the same purposes: to introduce the aliens, the Platforms, and the rest of this future world. The major difference is that the new Chapter Zero is focused on Jason rather than Sienna, and Jason is engaging in dangerous, self-directed physical action at the beginning of the book rather than passively taking direction from Sienna. In the new chapter, Jason takes the ferry to the Seattle Platform on the day after Cedar Point. He’s just broken up with Clarity (the continuation of the scene shown in flashback, from Clarity’s PoV, in chapter 5) and is setting out to do some damage. At this point he doesn’t know exactly what he’s going to do, but he’s going to break some rules and do some things he never would have done before (and by “before” I mean both “before this point in his life” and “in the previous draft”). He’s grieving and angry in equal measure, looking to hurt the Taurans as badly as they’ve hurt him. However, I’m not completely sure what he’s going to do either — I have some ideas, but I need to sleep on them. I hope this will make him a better character for the whole rest of the book. If nothing else, it gives me an opportunity to work in some physical description of the Taurans (and Jason’s emotional reaction to them), which is lacking from the current early chapters. Not a productive day at all — less than 300 words and most of them rewritten rather than new — but I kept my resolution to write something every day. More tomorrow.

3/6/04: Whoomp, there it is

Word count: 63701 | Since last entry: 2223 | This month: 6654 Finished chapter 6, in a marathon morning of writing that ran right down to the wire: I finished typing just 30 minutes before crit group. Whew! Despite the speed with which I finished the chapter, I feel pretty good about it. I even remembered to spell-check it this time. Wrote three scenes today: Honor and Raptor arguing about whether or not to take extreme measures with the humans (showing the depths of rancor between Wind Mountain and Green Hills clans), Clarity dealing with a ship that’s refusing to land but insists on being refueled for an immediate trip home (setting up an important revelation), and a brief nasty cliffhanger ending. Then I got my critique of chapter E (despite the fact it said chapter D, with the wrong date, at the top of the first page — oops!). People generally agreed that it was a travelogue chapter in which not much happened, but on the other hand it was engagingly written and conveyed some necessary information. Sara had some good hints about how to improve some of the character relationships. Everyone thought Commander Smith was unconvincing; he seemed too eccentric to have risen to the top of the organization. Since the chapter may be too long for its weight anyway, I might just drop him — I don’t think he’ll be figuring in the story again. But you never can tell! I failed to note yesterday that I passed 60,000 words. Quite a milestone. Even though I have finished my chapter, I will NOT NOT NOT allow myself to slack off now. I am going to write something tomorrow, because my goal for the month is still to write every day. It might be the next chapter, or it might be a new prologue, heading toward a revised three-chapters-and-outline for the John T. Lupton “New Voices In Literature” contest (deadline 4/5, with a $12,500 prize for fiction and another for non-fiction). If I write 500 words every day for the next 3 weeks, that’s 10,500 words — enough for both a new prologue and a new chapter! But tonight I am going to bed early.

3/5/04: Clarity cheats death

Word count: 61478 | Since last entry: 1493 | This month: 4431 Good progress tonight: wrote a scene in which Clarity faces death, but talks herself out of it. Cheated a bit by having her refer to common history that didn’t exist until I made it up. I may have to go back and put in a few references to it in a previous chapter. Or maybe it can stand on its own — it’s in keeping with her character. Lots more chapter to go, though. Early start tomorrow!