Thursday, November 29, 2012

Huzzah and Hooray! Aka 7K

7,000 words into the second treatment of Ghoulish Happenings. I have finally passed my notes files for it in word count, and been doing 1-3K a day roughly. The story is shaping up well, and writing scenes by hand is handy in fixing them later; I've already corrected one minor plot glitch and one character pointed out a potentially more major one -- that I am choosing to think of as a plot point to be explained rather than a hole in the narrative -- but the story is working rather well at present.

In another 60,000 words, it may not be at all but we shall see when we get there. So far the plot involves Wray being asked to help ID a body and track down who or what killed the hiker along with some fun character bits and hints towards people's pasts.

A small snippet:

 "And you wanted me mad," I said slowly, "because you figured you'd win if we fought?"
"I did, yes."
I frowned. "Now you don't?"
"Magic does not seem to work on you. I had not taken that into consideration," Lance said blandly.
I said nothing to that; I was pretty sure he was lying, and not just because he was a cop.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

So ... the state of nano!

It is a state, with boundaries and everything. To whit: the end result of this years nanowrimo escapades was a very mixed bag. The Second Theft was fun to write but the ending failed entirely and in the same way the first idea of this story did back in 2004. On the other hand, the story was a lot more solid and the characters worked a lot better. I doubt I will ever go back to it, but I should have plotted better than I did.

I plotted ~8 chapters, with some end-points. Had I plotted more in terms of story/character arc, I would have realized that if you give someone the magic to wish things to happen the chances that anyone will be able to imprison them to stand trial for crimes is a bit difficult. I got a lot out of penance and the desire to be punished, but if I'd been plotting better Jake's growth in his magic would have been a lot slower and him being forced to rely on the myth of his previous time in the world to bluff people. Or done the entire novel from Thomas's pov.

On the other hand, it was a good sign that pantsing a novel can't work for me at all. As was Ghoulish Happenings which literally began with 1 page summing up all the characters and the plot. As a result, I lost the MCs voice often and ended the novel realizing that the setting needed a drastic overhaul and the final third of it wouldn't remotely be in the next draft. But hey: one writes, one learns. One gets better. I use nanowrimo not to make 'I will publish this!' novels as much as framework-drafts and notes to myself on things not to do and do better next time.

For example: I am working on the second version of GH now. 6K words. 4.5 is setting and character and notes on magic, 1.5 is 3 pages of plots. 20 points, story plotted out. I've moved several points, know the person the novel is meant 'for' in-world, i.e. it's a letter Wray is writing to his sister, or more likely a series of letters never sent. And knowing that should keep the voice more solid. A lot of the story worked. I had a few awesome moments.

We shall see what the next version brings....

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The 'oh, crap' moment

Or, the one wherein I realize some of the ideas for the setting aren't working. Which will involve jettisoning about 20K and redoing another 20K of words.

I am 1K from 50K on this story, and think it will end in a very fast and ugly method so I can begin the next version with a more solid idea of the MCs voice. It will be a better story, and none of this is wasted since a lot of it might get reused, but still a very crappy thing to figure out.

Otoh, on the plus side I realized the story simply can't work as I originally envisioned the setting and I think I'm going to bump ages up a year or so. And that, for the voice to work, the novel has to function on some level as if it IS a voice to someone.

Which means I need to figure out who that someone is :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Signs your attempt at YA may be classed only an an attempt....

  1. The MC has resisted the urge, at least once in-story, to kill someone and eat their bones. (Granted, he is a ghoul and in this story they prefer bones over most anything.)
  2. Said MC is tortured and threatened to acquire information via having his toes cut off and being made to eat them. It works.

There is also underage sex, but given the MCs are in their late teens I'm not really considering that an issue at all. As the story could be cast as post-apocalyptic and the MCs food preferences are spelled out from the first sentences I think it still could fit in YA, but definitely late teens.

More amusing problems ...

I tend to have a default voice in my head for first person, so Wray tends to slip out of character some times and into it. It won't be major tweaking to fix, but it it is something I've noticed and will need to correct in another draft. It isn't anything really major at least and the story is about the MC finding, well, something to do with his life. (His boyfriend, otoh, has figured out what to do with his life, but hasn't found it rewarding enough. Which would be easier to explore if he wasn't terrified of cursing or blessing people by accident when talking to them...)

This entire story has been pantsed [I plotted nothing at all...] thus far and is actually working surprisingly well. My notes for it consisted of brief character names and 2 lines of backstory on each, and half a page as history of the setting. For me, that's downright beyond minimalist, but it does work rather well since Wray isn't much concerned with the world beyond his immediate sphere of friends and neighbours: how the City functions and how food and power make it in aren't important to him. It happens, the why and wherefore are stuff he vaguely knows via friends.

Certain plots are coming together now that the story is at the 25K mark though the actual cause/instigator of the Major Plot has yet to show up except for a brief scene, though he is mentioned pretty often. I suspect I'll need to alter that in the next draft, but we shall see. Still having a blast writing it, so that is really what counts.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

In which (poor) attempts are made to help someone...

In which an attempt to help someone goes horribly awry...

      Nigel Rosenblatt laughed the sound short and ugly, tearing his arms free of the car-tire chains they'd used to tie him to shelving. I heard bones break and knit themselves together, magic burning through his body like acid. "Human children playing at magic. You think you can kill me?"
      "Wray," Sheldon snarled from the top of the stairs. I could smell his gun out, aimed at us. The old lady behind him was chanting some prayer, maybe Latin or French. Something foreign.
      "I could, but I'm not supposed to," I said, and shot a glance at Bryce. I didn't want him to act, but I think Sheldon would have shot me if I'd beat his son into the ground, no matter what Nigel had been turned into.
      "Stand still or hurt," Bryce said, his voice low and flat.
      Nigel stepped forward with a snort then let out a gasp of shock and stopped, muscles and bones twitching as Bryce's curse dug into his body. "I care not if this body dies."
      I ignored his words and bent close, taking a deep whiff again, trying to ignore hunger, to deny need. I could have eaten him and never needed to eat again; his memory alone food for a life. I tried to think past that, catch anything, grabbed his mouth and tore a tooth free.
      Nigel roared in agony, hand snapping out and hit the ground in a convulsive fit. The tooth tasted sharp, bitter on my tongue, the smell of rotten egg and burnt sugar hitting my nose as I spat it out into my hand.
      Bryce was hiccoughing beside me, fighting back tears as Nigel twitched painfully at our feet.
      "Let him go," I said to Bryce.
      "Blessings against a curse," Bryce managed, his voice cracking. "Your anger to unmake pain. Please work," he added, barely above a whisper.
      Nigel – the thing inside him – let out a deep ugly laugh, rising from the ground.
      I shoved my left hand into his chest, his tooth in my right and hissed: "I have your bones, as you have the the bones of others. I bind you to this child, your bones to his, your life his life, his death your death: do you doubt I can do this?" I had no idea where the words had come from, why I was speaking them, but Nigel stilled at them.
      He eyes narrowed to red slits. "I am nothing to the monsters that made me; they will destroy you."
      "Maybe." I held up the tooth and grinned, whatever had been speaking in my voice gone. I hoped. "Or you can leave him and this world and never come back. Choose."
      Nigel let out a low growl, his eyes flaring crimson, and then collapsed between one moment and the next, his body shuddering as it shrunk down to the merely human. Above him the air melted. Colours slid into each other, the world blending to grey and sickly-green and swirling into a funnel that pulled something into it.
      I knew something had left this place, this world, I knew it in the bone-truth of a ghoul, but what it had been, what it looked like: nothing. My brain had simple shut down, went blank, refused to let me grasp what I had seen. And that was somehow almost scarier than having someone else speak through me.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

You know it is nano when....

the second nano you start isn't the one you planned to do at all. To be fair to me, I did add some some  words to the weird-untitled-thing but it isn't the kind of story that fits the pace of nano, so my brain rummaged about and produced something else. Which is not the nano idea I had earlier this month, which I deleted(!) in its entirely as feeling too derivative of other things I've done, or at least not being new at all. So I am taking a stab at YA....

I'd like to tell you my life fell apart when I got caught up in a turf war, but I'd probably be lying seeing as I was busy eating the bones of a pigeon in the dumpster behind the McDonalds on Fourth and Cameron when two werewolves crashed together in a frenzy of growls. So I didn't notice them snarling threats at each other and get out of dodge. What can I say? It was a really good pigeon: four days dead, marinated in fries and gravy. The bones were like chocolate, the marrow warm butter. Never mind. I doubt you're a fan.

.. IF the story of a 16 year old ghoul in the broken remains of a City in a world where magic has come back and led people to flee cities entirely works as YA. It might. The trick is finding and holding the character's voice; I've deleted entire sections that felt too adult/exposition-y thus far. But it is fun and a neat and weird change to work on, so that's always good. I've no idea how it's going to end but at least have a basic idea/framework to pants from. 

Plus, mad scientists. Which always are fun. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Creation by other means...

A remarkable 'knitting clock' that creates 6ft long scarf by stitching together a loop of thread every 30 minutes for a year is a very interesting concept.

Came across this by chance and wondered about clocks that made other things, esp. in a setting using magical methods (or nanotech, if one wants the magic-by-science route): a clock in a smithy that makes weapons, for example, or even just hilts for weapons, or something to make clothing or tools for any artisan/smith in a setting would be pretty useful and handy.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Day 10 ughs.... (Yes, ughs instead of thoughts. It's that kind of day.)

My novel is slowly but surely heading into the final act despite my desire for a longer story. I wanted to end up with 90-120K; I think I will end up with closer to 80K at best. Which is fine. It's a first draft and I know a lot of things need to be fixed, such as two characters who have upped and vanished for a good 10K of words. That I haven't got a great handle on Jake AS a character probably doesn't help the fact that his sections seem to have less weight and importance to them, but I think this was as true in the version of this novel I did in 2004.

The past 3 days have been the bleh of not feeling good and also the fact that the entire middle section of his novel has been done via pantsing rather than plotting. And all it proves to me is that I absolutely suck as pantsing and shouldn't do it for most novels I am working on. (For weird things, like this story it works somewhat.)  I try to hit a mid-point between having some stuff plotted roughly and leaving a lot of things open so the ending is free to surprise me and keep me writing to find out more about it; for this story I had a solid 6-7 chapters roughly plotted out, and then after that vague goals to hit before novel's end, most of which I have reached.

The question, of course, is going to be what to work on for the rest of November ..... I may, just may, work on the story linked above a bit and naught else, but we shall see.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

And Day #8

Sooo.... Last night night 50K and a change and the end of chapter 13.

Then there was today. I woke up with the start of an entirely different story in my head, complete with the first line and characters and some scenes. And I have not been able to get it OUT of my head despite attempts to work on nano.

Now back to trying to focus on the nano and get at least one chapter finished during the day ...

(Sadly, I also have 6+ pages filled out in a small notebook toward the story I was working on before nano as well.)

Monday, November 05, 2012

Hitting Day 5 ...

Closing in on 30K; I'll likely end up with between 35-40K tomorrow and slowly begin ramping up the plot toward the climax, which will include Jake being on trial as well as Thomas running into one of the two antagonists that fix the story. (Neither has been named; the existence of both is so far only inferred. This is, probably, a Bad Move writing wise, but there is no way to have the one show up until the end anyway.)

I have also passed the end of plot, which means at some point I need to sit down and write out plot for the next few chapters in rough point-form to avoid the problem(s) of other novels where I throw in filler that makes no damn sense at all. OTOH, I'm having fun with the one character being genre-savvy and the secrets we keep from each other for -- in our minds -- their own good and what that does long-term to everyone.

On a plot level the War-derived sexism of the Kingdom was fun to explore, both in arguments for and against it along with other questions regarding how, in a society where nobles can have anyone killed on a whim, progress is made at all. One of the key points for this story is that the novel isn't sett on earth, so our morals and beliefs don't necessarily fit to this world, and the reserve is as true. It also makes it difficult to ask more complicated questions ...but that will be the subject of another post once I work it out for myself.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Day 3 ....

Three days in, at 15,000 words at present.The story is flowing decently though I'm going to have to pause soon and do a mad dash of notes to figure out the next few chapters as I am on chapter 4 and my notes reach chapter 6 with scattered point-form for the chapters after that. I do, however, know 2 major plot-points for the end of the novel, assuming I get there without too much difficulty. Been having fun with weird research and exploring some of the fun realities of 'person from earth on another world'.

The way I see it, most people wouldn't be able to improve another world directly. Oh, you know how X and Y work, yes, but to build them from the ground up sans any tools at all is something else entirely. Which means it's little things, like the characters wearing underwear and the astonishingly intricate seams of their clothing, that attract notice and the amazement of others. I'm also having fun lampshading worries, like eating the food on another world and worries over diseases you might get or bring with you. That said issues are taken care of via the gate between worlds doesn't stop the one character from getting worried about things like that.

Plot wise, the character that should be the most fun to write is showing up soon in the one timeline; I am not quite sure what is going to happen in the other though Jake being tried for war crimes is now complicated because he is travelling with a deserter from the army and said deserter's son.

Notes for me:
  • Having brought up skin tone, it shouldn't come up again often. Jake had no reason to mention it as he has been in the Kingdom before and is aware that, as a Caucasian male, he isn't common in some parts of the Kingdom but it's hardly cause for wonder or alarm. (At least in the southern parts of the Kingdom.) 
  • The deliberate lack of female characters thus far - Seri excepted - will come to the forefront soon as the status of rights in this world (both noble and commoner, male and female) collide with the sensibilities of Jake and Thomas and the extent one should impose on other cultures or seek to change them.