First Draft: week 2

July 29, 2011 at 10:37 am (Writing work)

Not so good with the word count this week.  I’m averaging only about ~2000/day, which while better than I’ve done in the past is nowhere near what I know I can do.  (Funny how that works.  Three weeks of 5000 words per day will completely skew my ideas of what is normal.)  Part of it’s because I had some obligations cutting into my writing time, but that’s just an excuse.

The other part is that I’ve hit the point in the outline where I wasn’t really clear on what happens, and so that’s slowing me down a little.  It’s always a temptation at this point to say “well, once I clear the next couple of chapters, things really pick up!”  Experience, though, has taught me that maybe the action might pick up, but the writing gets no easier.  Right now I know where I need everyone to be, I know how I want the chapters to end, I know what information needs to be presented so that it won’t be pulled out of my hat at the end . . . it’s just getting from A to B that’s the problem.

Say, for example, I want to end the chapter with a dirigible crash.  (I don’t, but let’s go with that for now.)  I know the crash will be at a certain point in the plot and in the chapter.  But how does it happen?  How can I plausibly get certain people off the dirigible while leaving others on it?  How would the characters react if I choose one method (no, this one wouldn’t desert his friend! No, this one has no reason to go down with the ship!) and does it stay consistent?  I can list the reasons why they’re in this particular situation, but I can’t waste a whole chapter or even a whole scene on that.  And then there’s the pressure of pacing, and whether I’ve worked out the timelines sufficiently to ensure that two chapters down the road, it makes sense for the survivors to run into the big evil dude.  (Also not going to happen, but you get the gist.)

I know a lot of this can be fixed in the next revision, and looking at what I’ve written, it’ll have to be fixed.  But it takes a conscious effort to put those concerns aside and just write.  This is a first draft.  It doesn’t need to be perfect.  (Repeat as necessary.)

Still, I’m further in the story, some things are coming together, and I’ve stopped (for the day at least — and this weekend, I’m going to see if I can hit the 5K mark) at a really good action point.  I should be able to jump right in tomorrow.

Bits written this week:

  • a distraction that actually works this time
  • the big expositiony chapter (remember I said it will have to be fixed?  Yeah.)
  • a very nice end to the expositiony chapter that is perfectly in-character
  • more fake trashy novels for one character to read and comment on (I talked about this at Readercon, and I wonder if that’s why I’m adding more now.  Well, I can cut them next time through.)
  • a completely gratuitous shirtless scene that will, unfortunately, have to be cut if I can’t think up a better reason for it
  • the fuse lit for a really good boom next chapter

And the wordcount as a whole is getting up there.  Ten and a half chapters to go, I think.  Assuming one of them doesn’t split again.

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Readercon, melting, and composition

July 22, 2011 at 10:48 am (Cons, Writing work)

Readercon was delightful.  These last couple of years have been really good — maybe I’m just acclimating to the con.  Or maybe it was because I went out to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 Saturday evening with family.  Neville Longbottom FTW.

Since then, it’s been hot and ugly.  Every year, I try to tough it out without air conditioning; every year, I swear it’ll be the last.  So far, I’ve only had to stick my head in the freezer once, but today might be my breaking point.  Melting point?  Vaporization point?

I’ve also been writing this week — a little less than I’d like, averaging only about 2K per day, but it’s a start.  I can’t really do Anatomy of a Composition the same way I did Anatomy of a Revision, since it’s a longer process without nearly as much to show for it.  (Never mind that it’s first-draft stuff and therefore absolutely terrible.  I already know several scenes that are gonna have to go or at least be severely overhauled.)  However, I liked blogging the Anatomy of a Revision posts, so I’ll try to do weekly composition updates.

So far this week, I’ve written pieces of the following scenes:

  • the end of the dance
  • a distraction that distracts no one
  • that one incredibly awkward “we didn’t think this through” moment, which turned out just right
  • and a really sweet moment a little while later, which currently seems so perfect that I suspect my “turn the id loose on this project” approach is clouding my vision.  Well, the editor-mind can have it later.

These haven’t really been action-packed chapters — those come later — and so I’m a little worried about pacing right now.  Stopping the action so that people can have long soulful talks is not the best way to keep your audience’s attention.  (Although, come to think of it, it worked in Ghost in the Shell . . . or maybe it just worked for me in Ghost in the Shell.)

If I keep up this pace, I should be able to get through Big Exposition Chapter (I am not looking forward to this) and into the next phase of action sometime next week.

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Small update and Readercon

July 7, 2011 at 8:57 am (Cons)

Well, a couple of weeks away from the internet has taught me a valuable lesson: I miss the internet.  Even when I don’t have much to say.

Smaller revisions continue, but with an end in sight, and more compositions continue, though slower than I’d like.  I’ve also been noodling around with a few more ideas that will probably require more research.  Back to the library I go!

In the meantime, here’s my Readercon schedule:


10:30 AM  Reading. Margaret Ronald. Ronald reads from a work not yet selected.  (I’ll probably go with “Salvage,” a story that will be coming out in Beneath Ceaseless Skies later on.  Derelict airships ahoy!)

2:30 PM  Beneath Ceaseless Skies group reading. Scott H. Andrews, Michael J. DeLuca, Matthew Kressel, Margaret Ronald. Contributors to Beneath Ceaseless Skies read selections from their work. (Not sure which I’ll read from; depends on how much time we have.)


11:00 AM   Kaffeeklatsch. John Crowley, Margaret Ronald. (11:00 should be late enough that I’ll be able to do more than mumble into my coffee.  We’ll see.)

1:00 PM    I Know What I Like: The Artistic Tastes of Characters. Greer Gilman, Geary Gravel, Resa Nelson, Margaret Ronald, Sonya Taaffe (leader).Exploring the artistic tastes of characters can lead to interesting and subtle exposition of personality–or be a ham-fisted shortcut that reinforces stereotypes. Talking about art also expands the setting of a story, as all art is an expression of culture. What are some of the pitfalls of approaching a character from this angle and how do you avoid them? (I’ve got a couple ideas about broader comments as well — I love describing a new world through its art, especially how it reinterprets its own past through art.  But I’m curious to see where this goes.)

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