Original fiction project – week of 08/21/2011

Dis/inhibition: Still working through the final read-through. The artist has finished the first of six character portraits for the webpage. Now that we’ve worked out what information she needs to complete each of these, hopefully, the rest will go quicker. The plan after that is to design a small promotional website, and a Facebook page for the novel.

New story: Finishing up chapter five. It has been a bear. I introduced two new characters and wrote from both their points of view, then realized one of them just knew too damned much to let the reader into his head this soon. Cutting his bits didn’t take anything from the chapter, and kept it from being one and a half times longer than the other chapters so far.

As it is, the remaining character’s POV reveals quite a bit as well, information that maybe it’s too soon to reveal, but that’s just one of the tightropes you walk in a first draft–figuring out the pace at which you should offer up clues to an unfolding mystery.

Original fiction project – week of 08/14/2011

Dis/inhibition: Started my final read-through of the manuscript for typos and hired the cover artist runner-up to make the character illustrations for the promotional website. Things are moving along.

New story: Working on chapter 5. It is proving to be a big challenge, because I am introducing a new character and fleshing out another character who has so far has only been seen in passing. Not only do I have a lot of ground to cover introducing them to the reader, but they both possess a lot more knowledge than the other two characters I have featured, and I have to decide how much it is they know right now, because it’s bad form to have a character aware of something you don’t want the reader to know and deliberately have them “just not think about it” for chapter after chapter until you’re ready to reveal it. On the other hand, an info dump to the reader doesn’t make for the most entertaining chapter. So tippy-toes.

Bridge over troubled waters

So I finally, finally finished the latest Dresden Files novel, Ghost Story. I think I am the last one on my flist to do so. Some folks gave it enthusiastic reviews, others were less than impressed. I have to admit to slogging through some tedium at times, which is part of the reason I took so long to finish it. The other part is, I only read non-interweb stuff for a short while before bed each night.

But see, there is a reason this book wasn’t the Best!DresdenFilesNovel!Ever! It was a bridge story. And bridge stories are traditionally kind of mediocre. Thar be spoilers beyond here!

Where do you get your ideas?

My old novel, the one I’m trying to get out the door now like a twenty-something child that’s overstayed their childhood, has a few plot points and characters in it that people will assume I pulled from own life.

And they’d be wrong.

For example, there is a Quebecois character who predates my teaching stint in Quebec, who predates me even imagining I’d ever live there, by three years. And I have scientists using MRI scanning in their brain research that predates me working for MRI brain scientists by six years. Now, I’ll grant you that these weird life coincidences were an unexpected windfall for researching story elements that already existed, but since the life experiences were jobs that I managed to get out of the blue, it’s not like I took those jobs to do research for my novel.

There are other things people might assume I know very little about that I didn’t read in a book, like the Native American character who is based partially on my old live-in girlfriend of four years.

So where did I get the idea for a French Canadian character and using MRIs as a research tool? Who knows, I honestly don’t remember. But I’m sitting here this morning bemoaning the fact that one of the major plot points of my new story appears to be a major plot point of Season 4 of True Blood. Now, granted, I can’t say that for sure yet, having only seen two episodes so far, but there will be people who will assume I took my plot from that, even though it predates the season by two years and was an attempt, when I came up with it, to turn a common fantasy trope on its ear.

There are no new stories, I guess, only new angles.

Original fiction project – week of 08/07/2011

Dis/inhibition: I have finished going through all the editor’s comments/edits, and tentatively chosen Lulu as my publishing platform. Now comes the job of formatting the manuscript and going through it one more time to check for stray issues. The covers are done, and this is the one I am probably going to go with. Next up, I want to design a small promotional website for it, and I’ll need more illustrations for that.

New story: Finished up chapter 4 and sent it to the Sculptor. I already started poking at and organizing chapter 5, so now that is the new focus.

Original fiction project – week of 07/31/2011


I am working a little bit every day finishing the edits on this story, and when I am done and I have the cover art chosen, I suppose it will be time to pick a self-publishing venue. At some point last year, I went to several self-publishing/print on demand websites and asked for an information brochure. It’s funny how many of them took that as meaning I was signing up for their service, rather than shopping around for one. I don’t want to be rushed into making a choice, since I have heard some horror stories about these places and I want time to do research, which I just haven’t done up until now as I finish the manuscript. Enough time has gone by that most of them have stopped calling and emailing me, all except XLibris, which has this one persistent salesguy or whatever you call them. I think “agent” would be a misnomer here. They keep having sales on their services and he is trying to use that as a wedge to get me to sign up.

New story:

I had a heck of a time “outlining” chapter 4, by which I mean, cobbling together the various elements I want in the chapter into a coherent narrative. I am trying not to have a 185,000-word manuscript when I am done, which means those dozens of long, leisurely scenes in which my archeological investigators go about uncovering the clues in the main mystery of the novel are a luxury I can’t afford. I need to cover big chunks of their investigation as paragraph-long “this already happened” summaries that bring the reader to a present moment where an intriguing puzzle is set that defines the current action of the chapter.

I managed to get that done. Then the next challenge was that I decided to write the chapter, which is formatted as a four-scene day-in-the-life of my main character, not from her own (limited third person) point of view, but from the (limited third-person) point of view of a different friend or colleague she interacts with in each of the scenes. While I might not keep the chapter written that way in future drafts, this is really helping me bring out what a pain in the @$$ my character is supposed to be, which is what I want to explore. I may well keep the chapter this way, even though three of the four characters whose points of view I feature may not appear “on stage” again.