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Posts Tagged ‘scribble scribble scribble’

scattered thoughts on the next Memoir

I haven’t been posting much about my progress on the fourth Memoir. (Which does have a title now, but as with Voyage of the Basilisk, I’m going to hold off on announcing it until the preceding book is released. I want people’s attention on that one, not the one that won’t be out until 2016.)

It’s a bit hard to talk about this book, because of the weird way publishing timescales work. I read reviews of The Tropic of Serpents and marvel at people who say things like [spoiler] — and then I remember that those people haven’t even read Voyage yet, let alone the one I’m presently writing. Of course the relevance of [spoiler] is not yet clear. Of course [spoiler] hasn’t developed very much yet. I’m not actually pointing at any one thing with those brackets; I could list several to fill in the blanks. I’m almost four-fifths of the way through the series. Everybody else is barely two-fifths done. What the story looks like from my perspective is wildly different from what all the rest of you see.

I had a plot epiphany the other night that is so freaking perfect, I honestly can’t believe it took me this long to come up with it. Like, how was this not part of the pitch I sent to Tor back in 2011? How was I such an idiot that I did not see this needed to be part of the story until just now? I really have no idea. Seriously, you all are going to read this book and assume I’ve been planning [x] from the start. I will smile mysteriously and try to pretend that’s true, so you don’t all know how blind I really was.

On Twitter the other night I joked that sometimes when I’m writing these books, I think about what the sensible thing to do would be . . . and then I have Isabella do the opposite. It’s funny because it’s true, to an extent. The key is mood: back when I was drafting A Natural History of Dragons, I had to keep prodding myself not to fall into Onyx Court mode. Forget subtle political maneuvering; this series needs crazy shit, yo. So the bit of plot I’m presently wrapping up right now had a moment where Isabella could have gone the cautious and sensible route, informing somebody of a suspected problem and mobilizing various resources to deal with it. But that would have created a story where she sits on her hands and then gets a report from other people that the issue has been dealt with. That? is not pulp adventure. So instead I came up with a reason for her not to tell that person what was going on — a solid enough reason, I hope, to at least pass muster for the genre — and then there were hijinks involving her tailing Person A who is tailing Person B and at the end of it all there’s an abortive brawl. Much better.

I’m also going at this in weird order. I was floundering around in the middle of the book, with Isabella out in the field doing one stage of her research — but I didn’t really know how long I should spend on that bit, and I wasn’t sure where the whole thing was going anyway (this was pre-epiphany), until finally I decided I should skip ahead and write the bit referenced in the above paragraph, since at least I knew what I was doing with that. I think I’m going to keep on from there, writing some — who knows; maybe all — of the last third of the book; then, once I have a chunk of that in place, I’ll be able to back up and know what ought to go in the middle, to set up the end. This is weird for me, y’all. I don’t write this way, out of order. Except that maybe right now I do.

Hey: whatever gets the book done.

Speaking of which, I’m about at the . . . halfwayish point sorta but not really? I have about half of the word-count, but since a chunk of that is from way later in the book, I’m not mentally at the halfway point of the story. More like the two-thirds point, possibly a bit later. But it’s starting to look like a book rather than a short story that got way out of control. And in another few days I’ll get to write the emotional resolution to one of the conflicts, which will make it a lot easier to go back and figure out the rise and fall of the stuff leading up to that. (I hope. Remember, I’m new to this method.)

Darling du jour:

“There’s a bit of difference between swimming in shark-infested water because you’re trying to retrieve something from the bottom, and staying in just because you’re already there and haven’t been eaten yet.”

“We are still trying to retrieve something from the bottom. All that has changed is whether anybody on shore cares whether we — oh, hang the metaphor.”

Back on the horse

Got started again on Chains and Memory last night. I wasn’t sure I’d recovered enough brain yet (between jet lag and the anaesthesia, I’ve been half-zombified for days; I spent most of Saturday alternating half-hour naps with an hour or so of wakefulness), but I decided to put my butt in the chair and see what happened. What happened was 1K of words, so I got to pat myself on the back for that and declare that I am officially Back to Work.

Of course, one day of writing does not actually Back to Work make. It’s a nice start, though, and it was actually rather pleasant to feel like I’m starting to recover. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have another 1K to crank out . . .

Countdown to the final week

Eight days left on the Chains and Memory Kickstarter! We’re just $285 from a short story. Less than that, even, if I count the people who have donated via Paypal — which is a thing I should mention here, I suppose. If you cannot or do not wish to contribute via either Amazon or Facebook (and I can totally understand that decision), then I am more than willing to accept donations by other routes, and will include you in the appropriate reward level when I send things out to backers. Ping me here or by email and we can work out the details.

I’ve been working steadily on Chains and Memory for a little while now, so as to be sure I can finish it by October 4th, and it’s proceeding apace. There’s been some two-steps-foward, one-step-back shenanigans as I figure out how to launch the various strands of the plot, but I’m experimenting with Scrivener for this novel, and I think it may assist with tracking that stuff. Regardless, I am definitely on schedule for finishing the draft by the fifteenth anniversary of Lies and Prophecy.

Anyway, we’re headed into the final push. Do spread the word wherever you can, and let’s see if this thing goes to 11!

Chains and Musicry

Over the weekend, the Chains and Memory Kickstarter reached its first stretch goal. This means that every backer, current or yet to come, will also be receiving the next best thing to me sharing the novel soundtrack itself: a discussion of the “score” I made for Lies and Prophecy, with links to the songs where possible.

I’m looking forward to putting that together. The first song on the list is basically the reason I make novel soundtracks at all: I listened to it a bunch while writing the first draft of the novel, which caused it to become associated with the story in my mind, and then I leveraged that to help me get in the mood for writing, which led to me making playlists for books and so onward to the actual, formal score-type-thing. I love having the story in musical form; it adds another layer to how I perceive the characters and events. And now I can share that with other people!

Now, of course, it’s on to Stretch Goal #2: Short Story. The most likely prospect is that I’ll write about Henry Welton during First Manifestation — the days when half the planet suddenly had psychic powers and no idea how to control them. It’s possible something else will suggest itself while I’m drafting Chains and Memory, though. Speaking of which: I’ve started work on it, and am now a little more than 7K in, counting some material that got written beforehand. That puts me on track to finish it before October 4th, with time off for being in Okinawa and having ankle surgery, with a bit of a cushion to spare. Fingers crossed that things continue to go well.

I knew this was coming

Oh god, book. You’re going to run long, aren’t you?

Of course you’re going to run long. We’re at eighty thousand words, and Isabella has only just reached Lahaui. There’s still [spoiler] to recognize, [spoiler] to steal (again), [more spoilers] to find, and then [great big spoiler] before we can have our denoument. I don’t think I’m going to manage that in the next ten thousand words.

. . . bugger.

Has any author anywhere in the world ever written a series that got shorter as it went along? (Probably.) But the natural tendency of series seems to be to acquire a few thousand extra words here, a few thousand there, as you get more accustomed to the characters and the setting and find more interesting (and complex) (and wordy) things to do with them.

Oh well. I suppose I should just be glad this isn’t In Ashes Lie, running thirty thousand words over my original estimate. NEVER. AGAIN.

131 more words to go tonight, and then I can stop. Because three 3K days in a row is fun! >_<

(Actually, it kind of is. But only because I’m filling those 3K wodges with pulp-tastic adventurey goodness.)

I don’t even need to fall over!

Pssssh. That was only 2,908 words of writing. I feel like I should write something else before I go to bed; I was expecting to do so much more.

What I wrote was the climax, not the ending: this isn’t a complete draft yet. It probably won’t be for a couple of days; I have this Thing about finishing novels, where the last thing I write has to be the final scene (in this case, the epilogue), and what precedes it can’t have any holes in. There are definitely some holes in what I have at present, at least some of which I’ll have to fill before I can let myself write the epilogue — though some will probably get classed as revision-level problems, to be dealt with later. But right now, I have 133,951 words of book, and it is Very Nearly Done.

No, brain, you don’t have to write something else before you can go to bed tonight. Enjoy your victory, and get some sleep.

130K! (actually 131K!)

Long-time readers of this blog know that many of my metaphors for writing are related to textiles: weaving, or embroidery, or whatever. Well, the end of this book is presently the narrative equivalent of the test garments I sometimes sew, where I trace the pattern out on the cheapest muslin I can buy and baste the pieces together, then rip them apart and cut them down or stick in extra pieces of fabric and then sew the results back together again, and the whole thing ends up covered in Sharpie ink as I mark where things need to be changed or fitted together or whatever.

The comforting point to this metaphor is, doing that helps me figure out how to go about sewing the real fabric together, so I do a better job the second time around. So I’m telling myself that this “muslin draft” I’ve got going here is okay, because in the revision I will take all those Sharpie marks and translate them into a much better draft. Cyma’s train station scene will go away; Eliza will have that ability I just decided tonight that she needs; I’ll figure out what the hell to do with [spoiler] plot thread that has, at present, completely fallen out of the story. But before I can do any of that, I need to nail down the central points of this ending, and then reverse-engineer them to figure out how they should be set up. So, ragged Sharpie-covered draft it is.

At least tonight was fun writing. Tomorrow, I think we’ll have a seance, and then it’s onward to the Giant Ridiculous Climax!

Word count: 131,042. I might as well go ahead and give this book the trophy for Longest Onyx Court Novel now; I know it will win in the end.
LBR quota: A bit of (hopefully) ringing rhetoric, courtesy of one Eliza O’Malley!
Authorial sadism: Sorry, Cerenel. Of the people in that scene, you were the best mouthpiece for the elitist point of view. At least I gave you a good reason for it.

on reflection

Oh, that’s why I couldn’t figure out how to end the scene last night.

Because it wasn’t time to end it yet; we needed about eight hundred more words of Eliza having that epiphany I thought was going to happen later. And now it’s clear which of the next several bits of story needs to happen first, before we move along to the others. So if you’ll pardon me, I’ll get back to the book.

kitsune_den, thank you for “Owlsight”

Okay, it’s painfully obvious I had no idea how to end the scene when I finally got to it, but right now that doesn’t matter. I have, at last, written the scene that’s been in my head since before I started writing this book: since I pitched the proposal to Tor, at least. And probably earlier than that. If I had to guess, I’d say 2008, but it might be as far back as 2007.

Eliza ended up getting pov on it, which meant she got to do something unexpectedly cool. And Dead Rick got what he wanted, and now all the characters have to do is save the world.

In about the next ten thousand words, theoretically.

Shyeah right. This is so totally going to run long.


120K! Actually, 122K!

I keep going backwards and forwards in this book, mucking around with crap in earlier scenes, then slapping words onto the end, and that’s why I’ve netted more than 2K today, not counting the words replacing the ones I cut. I think I FINALLY have a working version of Hodge’s Academy scene, which will be a bloody miracle if it’s true. And the thing in there is paying off on the back end with the new scene I added tonight. We’re getting into the Thrilling Climax now — if I can just wrangle all the parties into position.

Three weeks to deadline, and some heavy lifting to do before then. I’m very excited about what I’ve got here, but I really need a mallet to beat this damned book into behaving itself.

Oh, and if you know anything about dynamite, please do comment on the previous post.

Word count: 122,086
LBR quota: Blood. And Dead Rick loves me for it.
Authorial sadism: Aside from the Horrible Thing I Can’t Tell You About . . . Dead Rick not getting the specific blood he wants. (Not yet.)