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Voice is Hard

March 28, 2011 1 comment

Today, I discovered ‘okay’ is a late nineteenth century Americanism. There were eleven ‘okay’s in my fantasy story. I then went to replace them with ‘alright’, but that came about around the same time. So I used a few new, but old sounding, colloquialisms and a combination of ‘all right’ and ‘a’right’. I figure that’ll be okay. As it were.

I’m glad dictionary.com has the little bit of etymology it does, because I’m able to look these things up. It’s quite a help, but I often find myself looking at the etymology for every polysyllabic word I write. Again, voice is hard.

The novel is coming along. I’ve reached 72,800 words. Not that words alone define the quality of a novel, but I’ve added some good ones in there. I’ve tweaked the voice quite a bit from the first and second draft. I think it’s better. Not good, maybe, but better.

I still have quite a bit to do, though I am near the end of this pass. I want to revise the end more and add at least two more action scenes, which are fun to write, though I have to be careful not to get repetitious. Even after I’m done (I project that to happen by the end of this week), I’ll have to turn around and start revisions all over again. The 20-30 thousand words I’m adding are all ‘first draft’ level, so I need to go back through the whole thing and make sure it isn’t embarrassingly rife with typos and voice errors. That should be done by the end of the first week in April. Then I send the manuscript out to a slightly larger group of friends and family to test read it. I’ll give it back to my first readers, but they are, in many ways, already tainted. They’ve seen it before, so they might miss things. Others will have to be found.

As a side note, I finally recovered from the flu. That ruled. I’m still hacking up phlegm constantly, but the fevers have stopped. Now, I just sit around and wait for the toddler to bring home something else.

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Double Roadblock (and a Bonus)

March 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Today I hit a double roadblock:

One- I’m ill.  Not deathbed ill, but I’m coughing up giant chunks of phlegm. They inspire awe. So the coughing and hacking has me taking meds, which, among other things, ship my brain to outer space. Turns out, outer space is not a brilliant place for my brain. It’s cold and dark there with a touch less oxygen than my brain prefers. Whatever, I’ll trudge on.

Two- My protagonist leaves an idyllic city and runs, almost immediately, into a giant wall of refugees. What? Why was there no warning of this? Why are villages a day’s travel south swarmed, yet the city just chugs along hunky dory? I clearly need to go back in and layer in some foreshadowing. And then I need to push back the refugees. The mass of them should be further away and less immediate.

Either of these things by themselves would be okay, but together, they make my head hurt.

My, adjusted and modified, goal for today is to figure out a plan of action and to begin implementing a fix.

On a happier note: my total word count is over 71,000. I’ve reached ~285 pages, paperback. That’s a book-ish length.

I think, speaking of roadblocks, that the first person voice is really hampering my ability to round out the story. There are times I would definitely appreciate the ability to follow other characters around for a while. It would help break things up and add suspense. Unfortunately, the first person bit is necessary because of how my protagonist works. I’m glad I’ve played around with first person, but I can’t wait for my next novel, where I’ll go third-person all the way.

On Dreams

March 22, 2011 Leave a comment

This morning I had a pretty detailed dream that, upon waking, seemed to make a good story.

Which helped me realize one aspect of being a writer: those dreams we cling to in the dim light of dawn under warm blankets, the ones we try to snuggle back into because they were so intriguing, or intoxicating, or fantastical. Writers can, sometimes, recapture those.

We can scribble down the thoughts before they flee us, and we can find them someday on a scrap of paper, when the actual memory of the dream has long been burned away by the light of day and the process of living. When we find them, though, we get to have them again. We get to wrap ourselves in them, and then, if we work at it, if we wrestle with it, if we craft a tale worth the dreaming, we can share it with others.

And, maybe this is the part- the secret sauce, others, in their reading add to our dreaming. A reader’s imagination takes the dream further than ours. A reader gets ownership of a sliver of a dream and nurtures it into a world.

I’ve been hammering out more poetry today. I doubt it shows. At all.

Categories: Fiction

Iambic Pentameter is Hard

March 21, 2011 Leave a comment

After about an hour or work, I wrote this today:

A cardinal- of ends and life doth warn,

His worldly worries done are they for now,

So sit not lightly on your deathly bough,

And carry on this soul to its new morn.

And… it’s garbage, really. How did Shakespeare write entire plays in this form? I can wrap my head around da-DUM, da-DUM. and I can find it when I read it, but to put it into practice while also making it make any sense, is an impressive feat. And I’m not even playing with the form as Shakespeare, Donne, and their contemporaries did. I just want four lines of vanilla five foot iambic.

I will leave it as is and dream about it and likely erase it all and start again. For four lines. I only thought I respected poets before. Maybe that’s why modern poets live William Carlos Williams, because he freed us from the hegemony of the iambic. Maybe I like him a little bit more now, too.

And yes, I just used hegemony and iambic in the same sentence. This is what you get when you cross an English and an International Affairs degree- polysyllabic, masturbatory gibberish.

Behind the Scenes

February 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Today I wrote 1,500 words that should never see the light of day. I sat down and fleshed out the international relations of the Five countries in my novel’s world. I figured out some culture, history, resources, climate, political structure, and views of their sibling nations.

It’s pretty dry stuff, but it maybe should have been done from the start. I’m not sure. Maybe right now is the perfect time to do it. Now, instead of focusing on the background information as I write, I can go back and layer it in. I can talk more about Ithian shepherds versus Sytian pirates. If I had done this from the start, my would would now be winnowing down the amount of information I had put in the novel. Now, my job is layering it in. We’ll see how it goes. I’m doing such a large amount of revision, I don’t mind having to add in so geopolitical facts. I think it will help ground the novel in the context of a larger world. I just need to shy away from a Tolkein-esque complete history of a given land with accompanying completely invented language.

Maybe after this revision, I’ll have a better idea of whether this work is best at the beginning or here in the middle somewhere.

Categories: Fiction, Novel Tags:

Map

February 24, 2011 2 comments

I spent some time this morning pondering the history of my world for my novel Wolf: Sins of the Father. I figured I would work on a map to help me flesh it out. This is super rough, and more representational than actual. Still I thought it might be interesting to post.

World Map- Sketch

Again, it’s super basic. It also demonstrates why I’m writing and not drawing. I changed a country’s name today. I’m sure it’s residents will adapt over time. I also delete four whole countries. Mostly because there was no need for them. I have my hands full with three or four. Five works to give me some room to grow. A full Nine is a bit much for now. Besides, if I ever want to add more there are the warnings the people of Magdaran try to give about Things East.

Categories: Fiction, Novel Tags:

Review: Raise The Titanic!

January 18, 2011 1 comment

Raise The Titanic! (Dirk Pitt, #4)Raise The Titanic! by Clive Cussler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of my brother-in-laws gave this to me for Christmas. It’s one of his favorites from his favorite author.

This novel is classic Dirk Pitt. There are exotic locales to explore, authority figures in desperate need of telling off, women in need of bedding, Soviet agents in need of killing, murderers to be caught, and archeological artifacts to be recovered. Only one man can handle all of these tasks (James Bond was not so good at the artifact recovering), Dirk Pitt.

This was written before we even knew the location of the Titanic, so Cussler had to guess with quite a bit of what he wrote. He got some things wrong, we now know, but that doesn’t stop it from being a gripping tale.

Anyone who enjoys Indiana Jones, James Bond, or other action adventure tales will likely enjoy this book. The thing that sets Cussler’s writing apart is his attention to detail, and that shines through here, too.

View all my reviews

Categories: Fiction