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Posts Tagged ‘sspchs’

tonight’s revision wisdom

Mistyping “brain” as “brian” creates much amusement when the character’s boyfriend is named Brian. At least in this particular sentence.


So, wow, tonight has not been going as planned, on account of unscheduled unconscious time on the sofa. But on the bright side, I’m getting my revision work done at a godly hour for once.

And when I’m done, I may even permit myself a small reward.


I did like that scene. It had development and humor and all that good stuff.

But it just didn’t make sense with the thing I had happening in the scene before, so away it goes.

Such is the necessity of revision, alas.

And then there were nine.

1686 yesterday, 5195 today, and we. are. done.

60095 words, not including the title, because this is the first time I’ve hit the end of the book without finding an acceptable name to slap on it. I blame the fact that it’s so damn short; if I had another 40K to think, maybe I would come up with something.

Not that I want another 40K, mind you.

The little niggling slave-driver in the back of my head is reluctant to count this as my ninth novel, since it’s less than half the length of some of the other ones I’ve written, and only three-quarters the length of even my shortest adult novel. But that’s YA for you. It’s a book by SFWA standards, so a book I shall call it, and it is the ninth such I have completed. And my first YA!

Time to go flop around like a landed fish and try to turn my brain off. (It hasn’t quite yet noticed that we’re done.)


I’m finally getting around to the post I was going to make on Friday, except that I decided it would be better not to bump the signature contest down peoples’ flists.

So, that YA I’m working on. I wrote steadily through January, and even managed to keep it up while at VeriCon, which is little short of a miracle; it required me to be up and working at 3:30 in the morning when I had a panel in seven hours, but hey. I got the words down.

But I came back from the con and that Monday got handed a stack of student stories to grade, which came as something of a rude awakening; I’d seriously underestimated the time each one would demand from me. That might have been fine, except that the sudden increase in workload happened to coincide with a realization about the story: that I was about to step into the endgame, and I was very much not ready. I could have kept plunging ahead, but after eight books I’m developing a sense of when delay is the better part of valor; I needed to step back and get my ducks in a row, or whatever I wrote was just going to be useless crap anyway.

That turned, unfortunately, into a week and a half long hiatus. Which tends to be a bad thing, right before the end of a book. I ultimately had to go back and re-read everything I had so far, but at least it had the salutary effect of convincing me the entire thing doesn’t suck; certainly it has its weak points, but the middle is decently solid. Then I embarked on an incredibly tedious task, namely, plotting the book out scene by scene, one per index card — from multiple points of view. Val’s the only narrator the book has, but it’s long occurred to me that I could probably make my plots more well-knitted if I took the time to think through the story as it’s seen by different characters. What do they think is going on in particular scenes? What are they doing when they’re off-stage? I ended up cheesing out and only noting four other characters on the cards (it should have been six), but that was enough. The last one gave me the reason I needed for why the next thing was going to happen, and that was what had been stalling me.

I’ve gotten nearly six thousand words in the last three days, and at this point, quotas are going out the window. It’s a dead push; I’ll be writing everything I know every day that I can, because I think I can only figure out the next bits by putting down the ones I have. I’m near the end, certainly — 53K on the ms so far, and I’m aiming for something just over the 60K line. I just need to figure out what kind of confrontation we’re going to end with, then work back from there to get the next few paragraphs after where I stopped last night. If I can get that some time today, I should be clear to the end.

It’s tough going. Maybe I shouldn’t novel at this time of year. But having gotten myself into it, the only way out is through.

hello, middle

I think that may be my pivot point, right there. I’m in the middle zone — 30K to 37.5K, depending on where the book falls in 60 to 75K — and today’s writing, which more than made up for yesterday’s lack, puts me right at a neat 33,333 words.

(Okay, it was 33,334 words. I deleted one to make the number pretty. It didn’t need to be in there, I promise.)

And this chunk of writing — this whole chapter, really, which was all tonight’s writing — may very well be that pivot point at the center of a book, when you stop moving away from the beginning and start moving toward the end. Things get a lot worse for Val from here on out. But she knows most of the major pieces now, at least about herself; the second half is what she decides to do about it.

I’d been wondering what my pivot point would be. Or if this book would have one. But all is well; I think I found it.

Screw it. This scene is just not happening tonight.

Nor is any other scene, apparently, despite my attempt to skip past it. Unless I want to write something totally disconnected that I’ll probably have to replace completely anyway when I get there. And I don’t actually want to do that, as I’d be pulling teeth and then throwing them out.

As much as I hate missing a day outright, I think that’s the better part of valor, here.

book improvery

I only just recently remembered that this is supposed to be my icon for stories-in-progress. So out it comes, even though it’s less apropos for this YA book than it was for MNC. (Said YA is shambling towards a title, btw, though it hasn’t settled on one yet.)

I had an epiphany while long-distance driving yesterday. Gotta agree with Bear on this one; drives really are the bomb for story pondering. Anyway, I realized that I could probably reduce the suck in the early part of the book by taking three scenes whose intended purpose was to postpone a certain event by developing a different part of the plot, but which never quite justified their existence like they were supposed to, and moving them to just after the bit I’m writing now. Not only does this work (I think), it also looks like it will solve several unrelated ancillary problems. In fact, it feels kind of like this is the way it was always supposed to go, and I was just too dumb to realize before.

My hindbrain is smarter than I am, nine times out of ten.

So the scenes are relocated, though there are still Frankenstein seams where they got cut out and where they got pasted in that need fixing. Oh, but I just realized there was supposed to be [redacted] in the scene I wrote today, to set up the lead-in for the relocated scenes. Well, that can be tomorrow’s work. I’ve put in a good day’s effort inflicting pure, unadulterated high school trauma on Val; the physical blood, instead of the social kind, will have to wait.

Tonight’s writing revelation: I keep trying to pretend I will somehow trick my readers into not noticing the obvious. When instead I should embrace the obvious (since they’ll notice it anyway) and move on with the story.

So yes, hypothetical readers, that subplot you think is there? Is there. And yes, I know it’s a standard-issue subplot. I have faith that I’m going interesting places with it, but I will not get there by pretending I’m not going anywhere.

lessons learned

Yesterday’s writing lesson: when at a loss for plot, crash a car.

Today’s writing lesson: when at a loss for plot, I can always get Ethan and Val to fight.

I shan’t be at a loss tomorrow, because I know what to write.

Nearly 2500 words on the YA today. I’m starting to get into a groove with these scenes, but man am I sucking the beginnings and endings of them. I can has good transitions plz? Apparently not.

A voice in the back of my head is singing “Tonight I’m gonna write like it’s 1999.” Because it really does feel like I’m writing my first novel all over again, facing all the same hurdles I did then. They’re both first person, too, which I don’t normally do for more than a short story at a time. I wonder if that’s why my transitions are sucking so hard.

But earlier today I read Paul Graham’s essay “How to Do What You Love,” which is an excellent reminder of why I’m in the right field. “You have to like what you do enough that the concept of ‘spare time’ seems mistaken” — indeed. If you decide to forgo a movie or hanging out because you’d rather be writing — not all the time, but if it happens — then you’re doing something right.

And, as he points out, it’s good to try the thing you think you’d rather be doing, and see if you really do like it and can be productive on it. To that end, I should mention that is starting up a new round January 1st. It’s 750 words a day — a much saner pace than NaNoWriMo’s 1500+ — for 90 days, for a total of 67,500 words, which need not (and depending on your genre, should not) be the entirety of your book. I’ll be there, since I’m noveling anyway, and so will any number of other writers ranging from rank newbies to experienced pros. If you’re minded to try writing a novel, and external motivation is something that works for you, it’s a good place to go.