January 27, 2004
The problem, I discovered, was that I was approaching the outline from the wrong angle. My original outline for the first draft of Exile wasn't much more than a series of questions arranged in the order I needed to answer them. Finally, this morning, instead of just trying to summarize each scene, I did a brief summary, then started asking questions again. I flew. I've managed to outline the first five chapters today, with pointers for where scenes need to be cut, added, and changed, and where information needs to be inserted. I'm getting somewhere!
It feels like the first draft was all about answering 'who' and 'what'. Who are these people? What happened? What if? What next? This draft is looking like it's all about answering 'why' and 'how'. Why did that happen? Why did she do that? How does the world work? I've got 1300 words of outline that asks some of those questions, and even answers a few here and there.
My goal right now is to finish this outline by Friday, allowing, of course, for additional bits of outline to show up whenever and wherever they're needed once I start writing the second draft.
January 26, 2004
Of course I'm whining about the rewrite, duh.
I'm waffling again. I mean, now that I HAVE so much world building in place on Exile, I'm not sure what to do with it. I swear the thing that's kept me back on this rewrite more than anything has been indecision. Right now I'm torn (again). I could write a new outline from my notecards, including where new scenes should go and where old ones should be changed, or I could do a reread of the first draft again, and note changes on the draft.
Or... I could keep waffling and put this whole thing off!
No no. Outline. I'll start with the outline. If that doesn't work, then I'll try the reread. I'm such a coward about this whole process. It's irritating me.
January 21, 2004
I love The Exile's Daughter: I think it's the strongest thing I've written to date. It moves (albeit slowly at times), it has characters I'm very proud of, there are bits of writing that make my throat get tight and achy.
I hate The Exile's Daughter: There are plot holes you can drive a truck through. People do stupid things in order to advance the plot. There's no setting, no sense of the world, and nobody wears any clothes.
I finished outlining every scene this morning. I have a stack of 90 notecards detailing each scene's action, where in the timeline it takes place, and what POV I was attempting. Breaking it down that far really did help me figure out what holes need to be plugged up, where I want to add material, where I want to cut material. I think my next trick will be to set up an actual outline and figure out the rewrite from there. I still have a few worldbuilding issues going in my head, but I think (I hope) they might sort themselves out while I'm rewriting.
One minute this task looks impossible, the next I'm absolutely confident that I can produce a much stronger second draft. At least I'm consistent in my inconsistency.
January 20, 2004
Progress? And also a block...
Slowly (very slowly) but surely, pieces are starting to come together for the Exile's Daughter rewrite. The world is starting to make more sense to me, a few characters are shifting around, developing different histories than I had anticipated, and I'm actually... dare I say it... making some firm decisions about how my world works.
Which resulted in a rather interesting logic block: If your prince is essentially immortal (or at least believes he is) why on earth would he care if he has an heir or who that heir is? I'm grappling with that one. Cause there's an answer, I'm just missing it.
Things I have resolved, though:
--I know what Alex's "secret power" is (I use that term very tongue in cheek)
--I know the differences between my high court fae, low court fae, mixed blood fae, and half-bloods.
--I know why David hates everybody who isn't high court, well really, I know why there's a huge prejudice between the groups.
--I know a lot of other minor character details that are probably even less interesting to most of y'all than the above. ;)
--I know I've got a shitload of rewriting ahead of me.
I won't even try to make a firm estimate at this point, but I wouldn't be surprised to see another 10,000-20,000 words tacked onto draft two. Not saying I'm sure that will happen, but it wouldn't surprise me.
Of course, the really good part of all this is that when I go to write books 2 and 3, I'll have all of this work already DONE. Suddenly I have a lot more sympathy for folks like Robert Jordan who write 50 million books all set in the same world.
January 19, 2004
Too many irons, not enough fire
I'm beginning to think I have too many things going on right now. I wind up each morning, settling down to work and not knowing what to work on. Of course, I think when it really comes down to it, what I'm doing is avoiding working on a rewrite that has me overwhelmed and feeling a little stalled.
One would think, that being conscious of that, I'd be able to get around the block. One would think that, but one would be wrong. Grar.
January 15, 2004
After a lot of consideration,
After a lot of consideration, I trunked "The Weird Sisters". I hate doing that, especially when it's a story I really like and am proud of, but there was just too much similarity between it and the opening of Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters for me to be comfortable about submitting it. It bugs me a little that I only have two stories out circulating at the moment, but I just don't think in terms of short stories so much. Conventional wisdom says that short stories are the only way to get your foot in the door, but are they really? Is there no other path? Looks like I may find out, unless my unconscious spits a few more ideas my way.
Research for False Light is going swimmingly. My notebook and notecards are filling up with ideas, and the picture is starting to form in my head. I'm working by instinct a lot lately, instead of by a sense of obligation. There's a little voice in the back of my head that tells me I should be focusing a lot more on rewriting Exile's Daughter, but for now I'm trusting wherever my brain wants to focus. This makes me feel a little bit undisciplined and guilty, but I'm trying to ignore that. I'm not sure which approach is better: to rein my mind in and try to make it follow a specific track, or let it roam where it wants, as long as something is getting accomplished. I dunno, but for now, I'm letting it roam.
Research and writing
Countdown to Apocalypse by Paul Halpern has some really interesting things to say about the end of the world. It's a little fluffy in places, and I'm certain the science is watered-down (enough so that I can go "hey, I get that!"), but he's covering all the bases, from Christian apocalypse to natural disaster to ecological crisis to cosmic disaster. Interestingly enough, he's very soothing about it all. "Here's a list of everything that could kill us all, and why it's a possibility. But everything's going to be okay!"
If nothing else, I've gotten shreds of plot out of this and a pile of world building ideas--and I'm only halfway through the book. Granted, I doubt the upcoming sections on nuclear war are going to be of much use to me but...
January 13, 2004
Oh, as an update to
Oh, as an update to this, a friend handed me a copy of Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters over the weekend so I could take a look at the opening.
Jesus Christ. It's exactly the same idea. Same setup, same punchline, same mood, same... you get the idea. Ah well, at least I can rest assured that my version was probably funny, at least. :P
January 10, 2004
Fastest. Rejection. Ever.
I got a six-hour rejection from the story I sent out yesterday morning, essentially informing me that I may have unintentionally plagiarized from a very well known humorous fantasy author (the exact wording was that my story was "very similar in tone and content" to the opening of a book). How embarrassing! I'm resisting the urge to email the editor back and make sure she understands that I never read said author, so I couldn't possibly have done such a thing on purpose. :P
In other news, I'm doing pretty well with my "five days a week" resolution so far.
A little more beating my head against "The Brigand"--this isn't a good sign. My best short stories never seem to take this much blood and tears. I love the central conceit so much. So I keep writing, two hundred words at a time, it seems. I'm having a hard time making the logic work in my head though. Every time I think I have it, it slips through my fingers. Grar.
January 09, 2004
So fast it made my head spin
I just got a six hour rejection on "The Weird Sisters". That's gotta be the fastest one I've ever gotten. :P Apparently Terry Pratchett got there before I did, as it's "very similar in tone and content" to the opening of Wyrd Sisters, which I've never read. Fuck. Thinking I may have unintentionally plagiarized. Can you plagiarize something you've never read?
Grar. Grar grar grar. I hear the sound of something hitting the bottom of my trunk.
POV and rewrite blues
Anyone out there know of a good book on POV? I am guilty of skipping or skimming the section on POV in nearly every writing book I've come across. "I know what the different points of view are," I scoffed. "I don't need anyone to explain to me what third-person omniscient is."
Well yeah. What I don't know, apparently, is when to use each. The Exile's Daughter is written largely in third-person limited, following several viewpoint characters--but it gets muddy at times. There are a few scenes that switch characters mid-scene, or that continue after the original viewpoint character has left the scene. It felt natural when I was writing it, but a couple of my readers pointed it out as a problem.
Now I feel like I need to know the "rules", so I can decide whether or not to fix my "mistakes", if in fact I've broken the "rules" at all.
I'm starting to get a clearer grasp of just how much work rewriting Exile's Daughter is going to take. Holy shit. This is not going to be a little "whip through it and change a word here or there" sort of rewrite. Major structural changes, possibly major plot changes---tons of minor plot and character changes. I'm actually kinda looking forward to it. I'm starting to answer some of my own questions about what's really going on in this world of mine.
But good god. This is a pile of work.
What are we going to do tonight, Brain?
Several times this morning I thought, "I get it now. THIS is why people write post-apocalyptic fiction!" About The Stand, Stephen King said it was like dancing on the grave of the world, a chance to resolve issues like pollution and the energy crisis with one great whack. I was amused by this, but I didn't get it.
Now I get it. Mwahahaha.
Writing is fun. I get to destroy the world, then rebuild it in my own image. How godlike is that? Of course, it's going to take considerably longer than six days...
(Yup, pretty sure I know which novel is next now. I haven't forgotten my rewrite though. I'm having a few breakthroughs there too. Hooray, my brain woke up!)
Get me, I'm working here!
Another story out the door this morning, leaving me with just "Midsummer", always "Midsummer". This story is starting to feel like an albatross around my neck.
I went to the library yesterday and checked out several books about the end of the world--most specifically, comets and their potential to destroy the world. Real research for a book. I'm frightened by this concept. However, once I started thinking about the story again, it's like floodgates opened. Ideas and characters are tumbling over one another in their haste to make themselves known to me. It's a little weird, but fun. False Light (False Dawn, maybe?) is looking like it's going to be my next big project.
January 08, 2004
I managed to get two stories back out into circulation: "Sic Transit Gloria" and "An Eye for an Eye"--the two I feel are my strongest right now. Two more, and I'll have met one goal for this month. Go me!
I feel the tickle of another novel at the back of my brain. It's not that I know specifically what I want to write, I just know that I'm starting to crave the process of writing something really big. Part of me insists that I should finish the Exile's Daughter rewrite first. We'll see. It might be time to dig out my notes for False Light again--the world and story have been occurring to me periodically at random moments. I think it might be planning an ambush.
One thing that occurs to me, however, is that I have to get a better handle on world-building before I start False Light. The world is going to be absolutely essential to that one. I can't do nearly as much skimping because it's not set on modern-day Earth. If I try to fake my way around it, I'll land on my face in a big hurry.
Which means I should probably start researching again. Grar. Post-apocalyptic survival scenarios, here I come...
January 05, 2004
I added about three hundred words to "One Song Before I Go" this morning, and changed a few things here and there. I'm seriously considering retitling it "Sic Transit Gloria", for various reasons. I'm going to let it sit for a little bit, and then send it off to its next market tonight or tomorrow.
Today was a good day for work. I felt really focused on what I was doing, for the first time in a while. Hopefully this is the start of a trend.
2003 in review, goals for 2004
In 2003 I submitted six different stories a total of 23 times, and received a total of 23 rejections. On the whole, however, the rejections have gotten a little more encouraging, so that's a good thing.
I wrote a novel, finished four short stories (2 from scratch, 2 finishes from 2002 starts), and rewrote the hell out of a lot of things.
My word count total for the year was 127,567--not too shabby when you consider that I didn't write word one in March, April, or May.
Now... looking ahead to 2004:
I want to finish the unfinished short story I'm working on currently ("The Brigand"), and write three new stories from scratch.
I want to start sending query letters to agents about The Exile's Daughter, which will mean finishing the rewrite.
I want to write another novel, and do something with The Host, whether it's rewrite from square one or steal bits for a short story.
I want to do something writing-related five days a week, whether it's actual writing or market research or editing, or... something.
And damn it, I know this one's partly out of my control, but I want to get published again this year.
I need someone who read an earlier draft of "One Song Before I Go" to take a look at the revision I'm working on. I've got a tentative title change and a slight shift in the ending going on, and I'm not sure if it's better or just different. If there's anybody who can give it a quick readthrough maybe this afternoon, let me know, I'll owe you big time. :)
(I forgot to mention,