putting things in order

Every so often, I enter a very visual mode of operation.

So far, I’ve been writing Midnight Never Come along three separate tracks. The two primary ones are Deven and Lune, each of whom I’ve been writing as a continuous block of scenes; the secondary one consists of flashbacks, kept in a separate file. Last night I realized I was at the point where I needed to interleave the Deven and Lune scenes and decide how this opening chunk is going to flow, which also meant inserting flashbacks where appropriate.

I used index cards for this when I did it to the first half of Doppelganger (originally it was structured as three-chapter blocks of each character; my editor asked me to change it, and was right), but I knew that book like the back of my hand, so a couple of notes on a card were sufficient to guide my thinking. MNC is much newer, so this time I printed the actual manuscript out, shrinking fonts and margins so as not to waste more paper than necessary, and putting a page break at the end of each scene.

The top row is the beginning of the book; the second row is Deven; the third row is Lune; and the fourth row is flashbacks and the beginning of the next section.

And that’s it stitched together. I’m not entirely happy with the way things are weighted between the two characters, but now I can see that, and think about how to adjust it accordingly. I’ve gone into the actual file now, rearranged things, and inserted the flashbacks; miraculously, the novel is now almost 1500 words longer. Yay! (Not that this lets me off the hook for today’s writing.)

I think it’s time to go to 1590. There may turn out to be more things that need to happen in 1588, but I won’t know what they are until later.

0 Responses to “putting things in order”

  1. sartorias

    Writers’ processes are so fascinating! Are these two women enemies or co-protagonists?

    • Marie Brennan

      A man and a woman (though it’s fascinating to me that you assumed two women), and they’re co-protagonists. It turns out they’re not all that unevenly weighted, either; adding up the numbers (obsessive? who, me?) Deven only has about 200 words more than Lune; they’re just scattered across a large number of shorter scenes. And once I patch a hole in Lune’s section, they’ll probably be equal.

      • sartorias

        200 words, wow!

        Re assuming gender (and if I’m wrong, a single line of description always fixes that) so far, ‘Moon’ characters (or any variants thereon) have been women in my experience, and I’ve taught four Devens and Devins (one, three) altogether who were all girls. The only variant on that (a co-teacher) who was male was a Devon, and he came from Wales.

        • Marie Brennan

          Ah, but it’s a surname. (Though he can’t make up his mind whether his given name is Michael or not.) Use of given names was a good deal rarer back then.

          • sartorias

            Are they both surnames? At any rate, it all sounds quite intriguing, and I had fun shifting possible images as your explanations came in. (Being extremely visual means that I can be so very way off base by single-word associations, but then given more clues, my brain gives me a kind of kaleidoscope effect as it reassembles the clues and presents a new image. cheap thrills!)

          • Marie Brennan

            Lune only seems to have the one name. She showed up in my head with her name; Deven I had to search for, which was a pain.

          • sartorias

            Ah yes. That one comes firmly under the heading of “Naughty Character Tricks.” I mean, if they’re going to pop into your head, they could have the courtesy to bring their names along!

          • Marie Brennan

            Actually, the real problem in this case was that I had to drag Deven out before he was ready, on account of an impending deadline. Names, at least for main characters, usually aren’t such a problem, because until I have a name, I don’t have a character.

            The major exception to this rule is Saoran (short for Saorainei), who faffed around semi-concretely in my head for something like two or three years before deciding what her name was. Meanwhile Tirean, in my short story “Lost Soul,” made off with one of her cast-offs.

  2. unforth

    I still think this is an awesome way of solving this problem…I’ll be copying you, I expect, with my thing, because I’ve been weaving a few character lines together, and right now I don’t think they are weighted right AT ALL, and then I realized that I have yet to introduce a single female character (I’ll be rectifying that tonight…) …but yeah, anyway, glad that it helped and showed you the imbalance and stuff. 🙂

  3. kniedzw

    I can see my house from here!

  4. pameladean

    I love your icon.


    • Marie Brennan

      I’m told it originated with , though a number of people have it these days. I’ve always liked it, and when I got going on this book, I figured it would make a good “work in progress” icon — especially since this book is chock full of all three.

      I think this is the first time I’ve really looked at the text of your icon. I’m not quite literate enough to have gotten it without Google’s help, but with that help, I am quite amused. ^_^

      • pameladean

        It’s an excellent “writing a book now” icon.

        As for mine, thanks. My sweetie made it for me after we saw the painting in a travelling exhibit. We both felt, under that gaze, exactly like Coleridge’s person from Porlock.


        • Marie Brennan

          What’s the painting? (That’s somewhat less easy to google than “Porlock” is.)

          • pameladean

            Sorry. I certainly wouldn’t have recognized it myself, before the exhibit. It’s Salvatore Rosa’s “Lucrezia as the Personification of Poetry.” This is apparently a sub-genre of painting, depicting a model (ofetn one’s mistress) as Poetry; but most of the personifications look a great deal more benign. I just love her glare.


          • Marie Brennan

            For some reason it took all my google-fu to turn up a bigger image of that painting, but having found one — yeah. Poetry looks rather irritated at the interruption.

  5. kendokamel

    Most excellent. Despite the nifty advances in portable computer technology, I still love ye olde notecard technique.

    I was glad to have my own room in the staff lodge at camp, the summer I was writing my first masters thesis, because that’s what my floor looked like. (;

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