Original fiction project – week of 10/02/2011

Dis/inhibition: I finished my proofreading on Tuesday and uploaded the manuscript to Lulu on Wednesday. Funny how seeing the novel in something that resembles “published” form suddenly makes you notice all sorts of flaws in your word choice, font choice, etc, even though I spent an entire day prepping it for Trade Paperback layout in Word before uploading it. I am studying the general format of some books I think are well laid out before finalizing the manuscript and moving on to the cover layouts.

New story: Chapter 7 continues to be a challenge, but I’m still shooting for the 15th to finish it. I have been tackling each chapter of this new story in “layers.” I start with a broad outline (a few sentences) of what will happen in the chapter, then I write the first layer, which is the dialogue. Dialogue is the easiest thing for me to write, and tackling it first helps me transform an intuitive idea of what happens in the chapter into the beginnings of an actual narrative. Dialogue, for me is like the “back bone” of a story.

The next layer is blocking, including action, facial expressions, and where the characters are in physical space. Next, I add in descriptive material–the details in what the setting and characters look, smell, or sound like. The final layer is introspection. I generally already have a good idea of what characters are thinking as write the dialogue and action, but I don’t include it until I have the “what you’d see/hear if this was on TV” part done first.

That’s my usual process, but I must admit, it hasn’t really worked for me this time. As I was writing the dialogue and blocking, I kept being dissatisfied with it, and realized I needed to get in the character’s heads simultaneously. Which makes sense, I guess, I still don’t know the characters that well, and as I enter the crucial middle chapters of the story, I need to know how their inner worlds are changing.

So for this chapter, I am doing layering of a different kind. I have three point of view characters, four characters total, and I am layering in each character one at a time. The other characters are still there, but they are vaguely written as I concentrate on just the one character’s actions, words, and thoughts. I may have to go back and change that up a bit once I layer in the next character’s details, but that’s art for you.

This story is proving very challenging to construct, which makes me wonder how I’m going to pound out 50,000 words next month without having to stop and think and plan for five days at a stretch between writing bouts.

Original fiction project – week of 9/25/2011

Dis/inhibition: I decided I just wanted this final proofreading over, so I set a goal of doing one chapter a day (and twice on Sundays!), and today I’m on chapter 40 out of 43. So go, me. Still on the fifth character illustration, though. Those I just get picky about, lol.

New story: I started to make good progress on chapter 7 after spending some extra time on figuring out mythology and backstory, then I hit another snag. My old novel, Dis/inhibition took place in a fictional town quite a bit like my home town, but not actually my home town. I prefer fictional settings, because if you need a particular location, you just invent it. My new story takes place in San Francisco, and while there’s a bit of play possible, if you go naming actual streets and intersections and then claim there’s a building/bridge/park there, or that a building/bridge/park was there a century ago, you can’t do anything too wildly untrue.

Well, I suppose you could, but the further from reality you are, the more you are writing about alterno!San Francisco rather than real San Francisco. And I always had the impression that one of the tools of urban fantasy was to use the accuracy about the real world settings to make the fantasy elements seem more compelling, more as if they could be true as well. And I don’t want to veer from that, not if I don’t have to. So I am having to step back once again and think through every setting I use–do I need it in the story? Really need it? Do I need it to be there?

I want to get this chapter done by mid-month so NaNo prep can start. Back to it.