Friday, December 28, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Okay, I've always liked Arthur Kennedy. I think the first thing I saw him in was Bend of the River way back in my youth, and I always looked for him after that. And he's at the top of his form in The Man from Laramie.
This was an okay Western. Not particularly great, but not bad either. I like Bend of the River better. Jimmy Stewart is always good, but his character was rather two-dimensional here. The only thing that elevated his role was Jimmy Stewart himself. Not so with Arthur Kennedy. He got the oh-so-lovely complex grey character, the one who wants to do right and tries, but he's got a temper, and he wants things now that he can't ever seem to get the honest way. So he strays a bit to the wrong side and tries to justify it to himself. He tries all the way to the end to make things come out right, and yet he never quite can. I loves loves loves him in this movie! I'd watch it again just for him. (He's also riding the prettiest buckskin.)
It made me realize yet again how important motivations are for me in liking a character (book or film), and how important it is that they stay true to themselves. Add in the layers of complexity and I'm sold.
Now I want to see Bend of the River again.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Really, my brain is rather obsessed with the 50k it already has and editing that. I feel like I need to get it in shape, stop carrying the true story only in my head and have the paper reflect what I learned on the nano run. Been spending a fair amount of time rolling it around without much conscious thought. Letting the images and feelings run, letting the subconscious control the pathing. It has been solidifying nicely. Had one nice realization about one minor but important character. I feel a little surer of the voice I want now. I still can't figure out whether to go with my sort of alt-1940's world with the automobiles and suits and modern conveniences, or switch it into something more classically magic-oriented. I lean towards the former, because that's how the story was conceived. But that doesn't mean it serves the story. It just means I like it. And the world-building of that alt-1940's is a bear and brings some potential reader baggage I want to avoid. But... ? When the right setting gives me a zing, I know it'll be time to write.
The rest, as always, is a matter of sitting down and doing.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
But that's okay. I knew that would happen from the get-go, and I accomplished what I set out to do -- get a first draft that explores the ideas I had and shows me what I don't want to do. I learned a lot about what doesn't work in this book. My brain is already trying to edit, refining and removing the dross, nailing down what I really want the final draft to do. Not letting it, not yet. Want to finish the second half of the book first because without knowing how it truly ends up, what's the point of revising?
Alas, I don't quite know where the second half goes yet. Good thing nano ended when it did! LOL! I have a bunch of broad notes, but I can't see how to get there in detail yet. I think another focus shift is in order.
So, music listened to while writing the first half:
"The Secret of NIMH" - Jerry Goldsmith (90% of the time was this score)
"Justine" - Jerry Goldsmith
"All the King's Men" - James Horner
"Just Cause" - James Newton Howard
"Ransom/The Chairman" - Jerry Goldsmith
On word counts, the most I got in one day was a little over 5000 words. I had two days of zero words. I found it worked well to get about 500 words in before starting work. Then I could do the standard 1600 after work and end up with around 2000 for the day.
I'd like to keep that approx. hour of writing first thing in the morning as I head into December.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Best part of "Detective Story" was that Bert Freed was in it (coincidentally, he's in "Sidewalk" too). I love Bert Freed. I'd watch him in anything. It's interesting, isn't it? It isn't always the good-looking hero we want to bring home.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Also had a new C! story idea. That one will keep awhile, but it rather intrigued me. I think it might actually be a re-working of another C! story idea I already have partially mapped out. I do tend to keep coming at an idea that I love until I find the best characters and plot to tell it. That's half of what P.O.W. is... ideas I skirted around in both DTD and Variance now coming to the forefront.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
This movie is perfectly cast, and the script is tight and vicious. One rather big thing I kind of had to suspend disbelief on, but they made it work. A great movie, but not one I can watch again any time soon. It hurts too much.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I'm very intrigued by this unexpected chick, and I will let her go wherever she will.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
And I'm writing a book about a POW Camp survivor, and today, I met one from WWII. Now that's an odd coincidence. I'm never prepared for these kind of encounters, so I mostly let him talk. I couldn't think of the questions I really wanted answered while I was sitting with him, even the simple ones, though now, they're flowing in an endless cycle of question marks. Naturally. So, maybe that just means I need to go back and speak with him again.
Had my best writing day yesterday, even after all my various attempts to fail. Exceeded 4000 words and got myself nicely caught up. Got 1700 today, so I'm staying in line. I'm wrapping up chapter six, sitting at 56 pages single spaced. I didn't make it to the scene I thought I would, but that's good, as tomorrow should be easy to jump into.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
and now I want to either watch "The Horse Soldiers" (I'm long overdue on re-watching that one anyway) or write about the cavalry.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Had a thought of perhaps telling one character's past story and one character's present story simultaneously, in alternating chapters. Not sure yet whether the second story is necessary or truly serves a purpose, but my brain is having fun playing with the contrast, the added suspense, plus having a way to do a slow reveal that's necessary for the ending. Will see how it plays out.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
I knew the voice was wrong, so I switched to first person. That helped. Mitchell's much clearer now. I also had a problem between my notes (he was quite bitter there) and what was coming out on paper (he was turning rather heroic). I knew the latter was all wrong, but what could I do? That's what was coming out when I was writing. Today, he started edging around the bitterness I wanted.
And I found out some of the reason today. I already knew I going to be re-writing everything up to this point, but now I'm really re-writing it! In fact, I couldn't resist going back and starting to change some scenes around. (Stop me!! Can't get new word count by simply replacing the old! Grrrrr.)
Now, I'm more in sync with my notes, and I also understand more where Mitchell's coming from, which should get me through the next couple chapters. Then I think I'll smack another wall, probably around 30K.
And Dezane? Not sure where this came from, but he's very foul-mouthed when he's angry. Not something I expected from him, as he seems so educated and urbane, but no, he's all about expressing himself in four-letter words. Not sure where that's going, but it has resulted in a couple of very funny scenes between him and Mitchell (who rather prudishly objects to the language) so I might just have to leave it.
Friday, November 09, 2007
So, I resort to pictures to, um, er... inspire me?
I keep getting the feeling it should be in first. I may even try a section like that, see how it reads.
And the other big problem is my lack of setting. I've been very careful to try and keep this as low-key fantasy as possible, mostly urban, and not much of that. And I think that might be exactly backwards. I'm coming to the conclusion that this story needs to embrace the fantasy aspects, head-on. That I can actually tell the story I want better for the fantastical and the contrast it allows, than for trying to steer clear of it. Hm.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
And oddly, that doesn't bother me at all. I think with this story and subject, I need to experiment a bit. I think I need to get the whole thing out before I can figure out the proper way to tell it. And I like that. I like that a lot. This time doesn't feel wasted at all. It feels like necessary discovery and learning time. It also frees me up during nano itself. The past few years I've stressed over the words, editing and chopping as I went. It made nano very hard, but it also gave me fairly clean drafts.
This time, I'm not worried over how any of it reads, and don't really care how lousy the sentences are. I just want to see where the characters take me so I can learn what makes this story so different in the actual telling. Why the straight-forward approach that worked on my other novels fails here. The sense that some important discovery about my own writing lies ahead makes me write faster and quibble less. It's quite cool and rather exciting. And oh-so-different from my normal writing experience.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
Oddly, the score to Waterworld has been great outlining music for this novel. I say odd because that's not a score I would have picked as appropriate just off the shelf.
Am having trouble with setting for this book. I cannot get a handle on it. Okay, that's not exactly true. The POW camp is very clear in my mind, as is this one particular street in the city (not sure why that exact street or what I'll use it for, but I can see it!). It's the later action... it has no locale yet. Very unusual, as the locations are part of the foundation of a story for me.
Dang. Read the top of this entry and realized again how little time remains before I actually have to start cranking out words. Lots of 'em.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
I've started compiling lists of names for it. It's stupid, but lack of the right names can be one of those annoying things that can really stall a project. And during nano is not the time to stall over something dumb. I'm not talking the main characters -- they're all already named. I'm talking the extras and secondary characters. But calling characters Jack 1, Jack 2, Jack 3 just doesn't cut it. Hence the name lists made up in advance. Need a character name? Just open the file, scan until something jumps out at me. Done. And in a fantasy novel, the flavor and sound of the names is important. Average novel potential name list for me needs 50-100 names in it. I won't use even half that, but I've got to have the selection at hand. Even that many's sometimes not enough, and I'll have to fish around elsewhere to supplement the list. Place names too... usually need a lengthy list of place names to choose from.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
And now! Now, that it's out of my brain, I can start some serious nano thinking. Once again... too many projects and none of them screaming for attention. They're all exciting, I want them all done, but that extra 'write-me-now' spark is proving elusive. Leaning now, not towards the P.O.W. novel, but a YA book that was supposed to be last year's nano book, only Variance booted it aside. Gonna take a couple nights, review the notes on each book, see which one grabs me.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Okay, so on my birthday, I wished for one thing. That my muse come back from whatever extended holiday he's been enjoying and work with me, damn it. In turn, I promised focus and industrious work on whatever he gave me.
So, big (BIG!) note to self: 'Dear Deb -- when making such promises about writing, do not -- repeat, do not start off your first writing night by watching any movie where Aldo Ray goes shirtless. It renders your brain (and most of the rest of you) to mush, from which it takes hours to recover. And little to no writing will get done, and you will just get pointlessly angry. Reading. Reading's the ticket. Thanks.'
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I should be working on that novel. But I'm not. I'm working on the other novel. I'm unpacking boxes (got about 8 taken care of). I'm finishing off the contact paper in the last cupboard of the kitchen. I'm watching "L.A. Confidential" and wondering how I'd recast it if I'd been making it in the 50's. I'm cooking twice-baked potatoes for the gang. I'm sorting crud that's not mine in the garage. Oh yeah. And I'm working on the other novel. Because I can't get my brain into DTD mode. Need to watch "Where the Sidewalk Ends." Doesn't matter what mood I'm in. This is business. This is work. This is discipline.
Which I don't seem to have today. Sigh.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
So. It will help, even a little bit, to start earning money for my writing again. So, I did a quickie look-see of my short stories and found all except one in need of serious rewrites. Cruised Ralan to see who takes reprints, found one that may be a nice fit, and sent it right off.
Tonight, I will do a serious evaluation of the various drafts of stories and see which ones are actually worthy of being sent out. My current goal is to work on shorts through the end of this weekend, complete and send out as many as possible. After that... it's on to the big stuff. DTD. No excuse not to finish the final draft and get it out the door.
And this means nano's out this year. The last thing I need to do right now is start a new novel, when I've got three completed and just in need of revisions. When those are revised and out the door, then I can both finish Variance and start the new one. Not until then.
And that's also the end of my fanfic run... I was just revving up on MM too, but I can't spend time on it any more. Not right now. Maybe after I get some more stuff out the door, I can slip in a few hours a week on it.
Monday, September 17, 2007
I've got eleven major characters with speaking roles crammed in one room with forty other extras and a band. It's the scene that sets up the entire rest of the story, and everybody has to be kept straight. If I had to think about what I want to accomplish in this scene, try to plan it out, use my conscious visual brain, I'd go nuts. This is where I rely on the subconscious's in-the-can version playing in my head. Which, yes, is different from what my conscious brain sees. My conscious brain sees the sets and the cameramen and actors and lights and marks on the floor. It wants to shout orders and play director. The subconscious shows me the 'finished' product. It already has the camera angles, the focus, and I trust it to be what the story needs.
And, of course, there's always the blessing of re-writes, which are usually not so much re-envisioning the scene, but refining how I describe what the subconscious shows me. It's odd to me sometimes how much the physical act of writing a story has little to do with the words. That probably makes little sense, even to other writers, but it's how I work.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Ahhhh, I love writing.
And oddly, the Aldo Ray character in the movie that inspired this switch is not at all like the lt. in my story. He's not reluctant, isn't a loner (I sort of got a William Holden/Stalag 17 attitude imposed on him, LOL!) . It's just that I can see him being the way I want in my story. That's usually the way it goes. Someone grabs my attention and I think, that's nice, but what if he was like this instead? And the new character is off and running.
Friday, August 31, 2007
My new novel (working title of P.O.W. cuz I gotta call it something), which I do believe I will give a shot at for nano this year, is in that lovely formation phase where there is nothing but beautiful discovery after beautiful discovery. The whole thing kicked off from a what-if branch off of an unsatisfying tv episode I watched, and it's now so far removed from that, I can barely recognize its origins. But the casting of the lead was one of the driving forces. Only he won't stay who I want him to be. The lead has turned into a totally different guy, and the guy I wanted has taken over the other lead character.
You know, the bad guy.
Who now that I watch my subconscious shift and change this story around, know that this takeover means I've got my heroes mixed up. Again. Must be another sign you're reading one of my books. Yeah, the characters aren't who you think they are. Didn't realize quite how grey I was on the borders of good and evil where my lead men are concerned. Okay, I knew, I've always known, but it still surprises me when it pops up in a book. Weird how I can still be surprised by such things.
Monday, July 30, 2007
So I was catching up on Storytellers Unplugged, and the following section from an essay by Brian Knight caught my eye:
(rant alert – most of the so-called envelope-pushers who self publish their work via Publish America and Lulu like to call their abuse of the rules of grammar Experimental, but leaving the “Speech Tags” out of the dialog in your novel isn’t innovative, it’s just dumb).
Which quite cracked me up because I know at least one writer who that would apply to. The annoyingly conspicuous absence of dialogue tags, that is.
Rather interested to see what project I get into as soon as the move is out of the way and I'm settled. Revisions on DTD? Or starting the new POW novel? Or should I save the latter for Nano, even though I promised myself I wasn't going to do nano this year. And I'm curious to see how revisions go on DTD, because when I started it, I had specific actors in mind to play the leads (not that "casting" lasts beyond the conceptual period -- the characters rapidly come into their own shortly into the writing process). But now, one of those could/should be played by someone else, and I'm quite curious to know if that will subconsciously color the re-write a bit, and if so, how.
Friday, June 22, 2007
I'm oddly cool with this huge chunk of downtime. I'm not feeling like I can't ever write again, it's just feeling like necessary time off while some big changes occur. I think if I started to work on a bigger project that's important to me, I would resent the Real Life things for intruding on my valuable writing time.
So, opting to stick with very short things that won't engage the better part of my brain.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Writing has been unproductive of late. My own fault. Simply a lack of concentration. Novel edits were going well until I hit a wall. Have to shift a few things around and am not quite sure how I want to go about it just yet. And so it sits while I figure it out. Two new fanfic pieces are going considerably better, but they're not hopping either, merely plugging along. And how exactly does it all work out so prolifically during nano, anyway? Sigh.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Saturday, January 20, 2007
But that knowledge is not helping during the writing of this particular story.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
I'm on the first pass, which is namely: yanking all excess wordage, flagging sections that need to go, and putting notes in on new stuff that needs to go in. Pass two will be writing the new material. Pass three will be making the whole thing shiny. Then it'll need a beta reader or two to make sure I didn't break anything new, then it is declared done. I'm figuring two months, maybe less, with March 15th my current deadline to polished final draft.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
This is a novel that I've struggled with the beginning, because I originally felt I couldn't jump into the action without setting a few things up first. The beta readers all said once they hit chapter two, they couldn't put it down from there, but chapter one, that all important chapter one, bored them. So, there's the "swap chapter one and chapter two" theory, which I toyed with and don't like (or haven't figured out how to make work). There's the "throw out chapter one entirely and just let her rip" approach. Or there's something between those two. But on that subject, I read number 5 of this post today, which made me rethink what I need to do to the beginning. Again.
And I really liked this consise post from Elizabeth Bear today on narrative tension. I was talking recently with a non-writer friend on why they can't put down some books, and wish I'd read her post first. Then I would have had words (dilemma, escalation, resolution) and an easy example to explain it properly. My take was much more long-winded.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
I briefly thought about doing this too. It's only 750 words a day, it's a deadline, I've got a bunch of friends doing it, so there's that peer pressure thing to help keep things on track.... The only thing holding me back is that I tend to devote heavily to projects, and I'm not sure how much I want to split my brain up into a new project while I edit the older ones. I'm not the best writing multi-tasker in the world. And I don't exactly need a new project when I've got three others needing editing and a fourth that needs to be finished. Still, going to spend tonight contemplating which project I would write for the new novel, or if I'd rather just focus on editing.