thewhitelily: (Lily)
Yay, I have solved a major plot problem.

This is better, this is perfect, this makes sense of everything, both narratively and structurally, and this stupid scene that hasn't been working for me?  Poof!  It's awesome now!  AND I've got worldbuildy threads to pick up later for a couple of other bare scenes I know are coming up.  Things that make me build this world up more are veeery very good.

Of course, it means some rewriting but not actually that much, just tweaking a couple of mediocre scenes one chapter back in ways that should actually make them better, and maybe sliding a little more worldbuiding in earlier on my next pass.  The research I had to do to get to this point also meant I got to spend last night's approximately biannual date night debating awesome sci-fi concepts with Hubby, which was great fun since we're both massive geeks and... well, the way we get when we're talking about this kind of stuff?  Well, there are many, many reasons he's the love of my life, but this is definitely one of them.  :)

High five, Brain.


Sep. 21st, 2016 09:54 pm
thewhitelily: (Lily)
I spent a few minutes this evening updating my word count spreadsheet, which had recently fallen by the wayside, and I'm very glad I did.

At a total of 6K words, posting The Wrong Kind of Snow has put me over two somewhat related milestones.  I'm now up to 104,823 words of fiction I've written this year, which is, like woah.

When people started talking about Get Your Words Out goals at the beginning of the year, I looked at the targets and I laughed and laughed.  And then I cried.  Even the 75K disability goal, if I counted anxiety and stress migraines and toddlers, seemed completely out of reach.  But hey, look at me!  Over 100K, it's September, and I'm still planning to do NaNoWriMo... I could have signed up for the 150K goal after all!

Possibly more importantly to me, I'm up to 101,916 words I've actually finished and posted this year.  (Yes, I started the year with about 12K words already written on things I've since posted, but that's possibly even harder for me than writing new stuff to post.)

Go.  Me.

I think I'm particularly proud of the ratio, because my real goal when I started the year--and the eventual reason I decided not to sign up for GYWO because writing more words was not actually what I wanted to focus on--was to stop half-writing things, stop hoarding and chewing on them forever, to finish writing them and to get them the fuck out of my head.  Because it's pretty damned crowded in here, what with the plot bunnies and the brain weasels and trying to remember my kids' names and all.

Discovering that I've passed such a massive milestone in both at exactly the same time makes me pretty bloody pleased. And I've been making progress on long term writing projects which are not postable as yet, so I'm totally chuffed.  If I can finish off Futureproof, keep up the flashworks, AND do NaNoWriMo, which is still my at least moderately realistic goal, the two might even finish the year not too far apart--but with words I've let go in the lead.  Now that's a goal to strive for.

So, now I'm finished the latest flashwork, it's time to put my nose back into Futureproof.  There are seriously only five scenes left that I am deeply unhappy with and/or are absent because I was deeply unhappy with them and in posession of a delete key.  Five.  A couple of them are big scenes, all are central to a dodgy point in some plot thread that runs through the whole story, but still. Five.

Move it, Lily.  Even if all you do is paste wallpaper over them and whistle loudly enough that nobody notices.
thewhitelily: (Lily)
I may not have said this recently, because I've been too busy panicking about the bits that didn't work, but Futureproof seriously kicks arse as a story.  Like, there are so many amazing moments.  So many wonderful characters, with amazing, human motivations.  So many awesome plot complications, little bits of worldbuilding that first seem tangential but after turning up a couple of times suddenly interconnect with a host of other things to drive everything onwards.  And this pass I'm doing is making everything so much better, too.

It's finally come alive in my mind again, and I love this story.  It's also just tipped over 70,000 words, which is awesome, and I'm getting great feedback from Pear which is even better.

I'm almost half way through what I'm callling my 'second draft', although it's a bit nebulous how many times I've edited it, really, given how sporadic my efforts have been over the last ten years.  It's probably at least third.  It's much, much more than that for some sections, because I love to polish my shiny objects, but also the occasional difficult scene which has been ripped out and rewritten and needs to be ripped out again is barely more than an outline.  This pass is about sharpening characters and plots and foreshadowing and filling in those continuity gaps to make it smooth, so everything come together all inevitable and shiny.  Next pass after this will be focussing on incidental worldbuilding and visuals.  Then the final one is the spelling/grammar check.  No, there's no way I'm going to hit my ten year deadline for those two - but hope I can make it to the end of this edit in time.  Maybe even the one after that, and have it be my deadline to send the whole thing off to a couple of people who can give me final-draft style feedback.

But... I'm about to strike the next unhappy valley where what I've written gets a bit dodgy.  Where the plot has changed since I first wrote the section and doesn't quite fit any more, or sections where I've never quite managed to write something I felt entirely pleased with.  Where I'm not entirely certain how I can make point A flow to point B.

It'll be okay, as long as I can keep a handle on the fact that it doesn't have to be perfect.  Done is better than perfect.  Done gets it out the door, so the golden moments can light up for people, so the characters can walk into their hearts, and the sly incidentals that turn out to be not so much so can blow their minds.  Occasionally, hands can be waved.  This is a story, not a mathematical proof.

All I have to do is a little bit of plumbing to connect it all up, and it will be golden.  These dodgy scenes don't have to be amazing.  The story is not only as good as its worst scene; quite the reverse.  Of course every scene won't be as amazing as the most amazing ones that carry their own freaking spotlight with them.  That's not every scene's job.  Some scenes are backstage workers, their jobs simply to say what they're there for, set everything up, and then get out of the way so we can move on to the payoff.  Not just for the reader, but for the writer too.

Futureproof is an amazing story, and it's not the incredible scenes that wrote themselves that will get it out the door.  It's the other ones.  The difficult ones.  The unsung heroes of any story: the bits that didn't feel quite right, but got written anyway.

They're not going to feel quite right, no matter what I do.  But I need to write them anyway.
thewhitelily: (Lily)
1) I am now officially up to date in MCU. YAAAAAY! It's been a long time coming
Spoilers! Because now I'm the one with the spoilers HAHA! ) Anyway, I'm up to date now, so I can safely read the shoobies' snippets without my head exploding.

2) I have finally, finally managed to open Futureproof to resume my second draft editing. Chapter 3 and I have been having an epic mexican standoff in my brain for... wow, is it only four weeks? It seems longer! ... which has in any case at last, like in the last few hours, spilled into shots fired in an actual word processor. I'm officially done with listening to its excuses, and this afternoon I made a first edit through to the end of the chapter. I'm going to stop trying to cram in things that don't go there. If I'm having this much trouble, now is clearly not the time for those revelations. I'm drawing a line. Moving on. It'll be off to Pear for review tomorrow night, and the next stop is editing Chapter 4. In which Gary is woobie and put upon, and we're back to the other plot arcs with the character who doesn't drive me nuts, so that should be easier, right? Right?

3) Also, we have no milk. I think Sherlock's done something to it. My only other theory is that the kids drank it all, and that just doesn't seem plausible. I have, however, discovered that cream is not half bad in tea. Much better than powdered milk. And substantially better for the putting-on-weight campaign, because if I have a couple of spoons of cream in every cup of tea throughout the day, that adds up to quite a bit of cream--surely eventually some of it will stick to my bones. I might keep up the cream even when we have milk again.

Speaking of Sherlock: My fanvid. Which I am pimping all over the place because I am so damn proud of it, but it's my livejournal and I'll pimp if I want to. :)

May Goals

May. 2nd, 2016 09:42 am
thewhitelily: (Lily)
So, I had a few March goals for Futureproof, but... well, I didn't quite get there for several reasons.

I mostly mucked around with character charts and trying a single crucial scene a few different ways, to sort out a particular character relationship issue which has a huge impact on the plot.  I still wrote about 5K words on it this month, but... yeah, I'm still trying to work out how much to change it to improve things down the line--and what to change, because it's all a complex thing where I pull one string and the whole thing warps in one direction or the other.  I feel like if I find the right string or set thereof, it should just all fall into place, but... to be honest, I probably just need to force it through.  I'm not very good at doing that.  But I'm giving it a rest for the moment because...

I'm currently working on the BBC Sherlock Rehabilitation fic, which I've written 6K on in the last couple of weeks.  I'm still expecting to end up around 10k total by the time I'm finished fiddling with it, and I reckon I should be able to finish it and get it off to beta before the end of this week, because I'm really not that far off complete framework.  I've only got a few bits to fill in left, really, and my aim is to get *that* done by the end of today, finish the framework, and then spend the rest of the week polishing and bouncing it off my beta.  Possibly not realistic to have it posted by the end of the week, but hopefully no more than another week after that - then I want to get back onto my March goals for Futureproof.

The other distraction, in addition to what's going on with my mum, who has about until the end of the month before she's allowed to weight bear on her leg again, Hubby and I are having Big Serious Discussions about the Future.  Or mainly, Hubby stressed out of his mind and hiding under a big rock pretending it isn't happening while I draw up charts on the whiteboard and try to analyse the unanalysable.  There's a... decision coming up, a fork in the road.  And one way means a lot of stress on him and probably less time to write for me and basically taking the risk on our family of wiping out everything we've built--but seems to really be the better decision financially and with family politics, and it's mainly the fear holding us back.  And the other way means disappointing a lot of people, and... isn't necessarily safer or lower stress, but... it does mean we wouldn't have to take on the weight of a very, very large loan.

Do we want to buy out the family business when Hubby's parents retire, that is the question? Which is two parts, really: do we want the business at all or should they sell it to a third party, and if so... do we want to buy it for lots and lots of money.  Being as it's a family business, we could possibly also officially take over without the very, very large loan.  But taking the very, very large loan has major financial advantages for tax minimisation for the family clan as a whole, and leaves us at an excellent tax advantage for the future, no matter how the business tracks long term.  But... all the risk is on us.  And, it's not like it's a big risk, because we know the business is sound and long-term viable, but... we're talking big, big dollar figures here, figures that dwarf all the equity we've worked hard to build up over the last fifteen years since back when I was working five jobs at once while I was at uni. At least, for the first time, it's being presented as a decision we need to make, rather than an assumption that we will.  Did I mention that the loan would be large?  *sigh*

Okay, back to writing proper.  This is my least favourite stage of writing any story, but if I can get my head into gear and complete the framework today, it'll be done.  And done with it will be a good place to be
thewhitelily: (Lily)
So far, working on Futureproof, I mostly seem to be mindmapping and charting and researching.  That's cool.  I'm developing and elucidating a lot more mental depth in both my protagonist and my main antagonist, and that's all going to come out when I get back to writing properly again.  I've been deliberately developing them as mirrors of each other, because that's one of the things I feel strongly about; every protagonist/antagonist pair should have deep similarities which draw them together--and a few tweaked circumstances that totally oppose their ways of expressing those similarities.

I don't usually do it on paper.  I don't usually do it so explicitly.  But you know what?  Usually--when I write successfully--I write fanfiction.  I have a whole body of canon for the characters I love to draw on, and fandom, and meta, and I can't expect creating a character from scratch to be as easy as fitting an existing character into a new situation.  Even constructing Erica--who I consider to be really my first published OC, even if she's kind of canon-based--for Ring Truly, I had a lot of stuff to start with, to try to make fit with what I needed from her.

Despite my paranoia of pinning things down wrongly, I actually work at my best when I'm trying to fit a round peg in a square hole.  So I need my characters to develop some bits that don't fit, all on their own.  It's too easy when I'm writing my own story to write exactly the character who belongs in the situation, and it just ends up... flat.

I'm also really enjoying using the new character thesauruses I bought on a recommendation.  They are amazing: each trait is listed with similar traits, possible causes, associated behaviours, thoughts, emotions, and positive and negative aspects, examples, as well as conflicting character traits and challenging scenarios for a character with the trait.

I didn't pull them out at all while I was writing Ring Truly; I guess I thought since I bought the books thinking about creating original characters, they wouldn't be useful for characters I already had.  But while flicking through searching out things for Futureproof, I looked up Clark and Lex's defining negative traits for the story, the ones they had to grow through to reach their happy endings, and... wow, it's like the authors were in my head, describing the characters that had grown there.  Even some of the minor things that I hadn't thought related, are apparently characteristics they consider related to those major traits.  It would have been SO incredibly useful back when I was at the banging head against the wall stage, trying to approach finding a happy ending from the plot angle!  It's also a bit of a boost that I'm obviously creating consistent characters instinctively, that the listed charateristics for a trait I've identified can light up in my mind like that as yes, yes, yes, not so much, but oh YES!

Here's me, learning from experience.  Character drives plot.  Yes, I tend to be a plot driven writer, but the more you understand the characters, the more you understand the plot.  And if I'm not writing fanfiction?  I'm gonna need to put more effort into understanding the characters.  Living them.  Being them.  And it doesn't matter if they develop in a way that doesn't necessarially serve the final direction of the plot; I'm a problem-solver at heart, and that's the situation where I thrive.

These characters are still missing... something.  They haven't properly woken up.  I don't love them, not the kind of love that would make me put down a book and go straight onto AO3 to check out the fandom.  Or straight to my word processor to write that scene that's shining vividly in my head despite having being left out of the official story.

So, I'm not writing words right now.  I'm (not entirely successfully) trying to still check in for ten minutes or so of actual writing per day, because personally, even thought I do tend to work a lot at a high level on a story, I also need to work at prose level to properly come to grips with how a character feels, and whether they're awake, or still just notes on a piece of paper.  But I'm enjoying the planning.  And Futureproof's characters are that little bit richer for it.  Hopefully soon, they'll be a lot richer.
thewhitelily: (Lily)
So this is it.  The big one.  Only actually not, because that's the whole point.

This year was going to be all about finishing things and booting them out the door, perfect or not.  I've made a fantastic start.  I've been tracking my writing this year, which is really interesting.  I've written almost 30,000 words in three months, and it's about to be nearly 40,000 that I've posted.  I'm about to release my fourth fic for this year.  This is... seriously amazing, for me.  (Objectively, 3/4 of the posted words being newly written is not exactly a high hit rate for 'getting previously unposted words off my hard drive'.  But that's how my process works; all the words come in the editing phase.)  Three of those fics weren't finished when the year started.  One was, but I'd been having some significant problems with letting it go, so I'm counting it.  And one fic wasn't even started.  I've got five more fics lined up for posting after that, all ready to go, which takes me through to September on my Fic Per Month schedule that I'd set myself.  Some of them are pretty wimpy little fics: one's 2000 words, but the rest are under 500, and one's only a drabble.  So if I feel inspired to upgrade to finishing one of my other WIPs instead, I can do that.  But given the energy I've expended on the big three, and in combination with cross-posting some of my older works I've already posted around the place, I'm happy to consider that they satisfy my goal.

I'm also planning to do NaNoWriMo again this year, so I'd like to have enough fic to see out the year before I hit November.  Preferably some more Sherlock, because it's a great fandom and I'd love finish off my expansions to the Living Conditions universe.  Or maybe some Imperial Radch, because those books sucked me in liek woah.  But I've got plenty of time to think of that, because we're only about to hit April.  I don't feel like surely it must still be January, like I usually would at this time of year--I feel like it must be at least June, because I've already done so much.  I'm way ahead of the game.  Which is good.  Because the other thing I'd like out of the way before November, so I can focus properly, is... Futureproof.  Oh, man, I'm sure anyone who's been following me since 2006 NaNoWriMo is bored of me trying to finish Futureproof, because... only, no... wait... That's right: I have no ongoing followers from back then.  Or if I do, you are lurkers who never post or comment and have only yourselves to blame.  And I love you anyway.  :)

So here I go.  Finishing Futureproof was the ultimate goal of this year.  Finishing it, and getting on with my next novel. This story has been dogging my steps for nearly ten years.  It's not going to make it to ten, do you hear me!  Before November, it will be gone.  Off to a publisher, or posted online, or something.  Out of my brainspace.  It doesn't have to be perfect, it just needs to be out of the way so I can get on with writing the next thing with a clear conscience, learning and getting better all the time.  I can't throw it away.  It doesn't deserve that, and I ended up literally needing psychological help after I tried.  Yes, literally.  I'm a writer, I don't misuse that word.  Also, Futureproof's good.  It's actually really good.  And it's come a long way from the NaNovel I tried to walk away from.  But it's got some major flaws in it that have made it difficult for me to deal with.  Maybe I can fix them; maybe I can't.  But if I can't, I think I need to learn to live with them and sign off on it anyway.  It doesn't have to be the best thing I've ever written.  It just has to be done.

I've taken the last week of March off writing, because otherwise after Ring Truly I was starting to look down the barrel of burning out.  I hope Conservation plays well when I post it, and gives me the boost I need, because as of April 1st--yeah, I know, hello irony, but I'm not actually kidding--my main focus is going to be on getting Futureproof finished.  Not getting overwhelmed or depressed or convinced that this is the only idea for a novel I'll ever have so it'd better be absolutely perfect, because my hard drive is overflowing with proof to the contrary.  Like The Unknown Clone, and Cloud Castles, and Shifting Sands, and even The Enchanted Cello, all of which deserve to be finished.  Wow, I don't think I've ever listed them out like that; I honestly hadn't realised that I have five original novels lying around waiting to be finished.  I'd mainly thought about my finishing problem being one original novel and a stack of fanfic, but... five original novels! Shifting Sands has over 75,000 words!

I just need to get them done, one by one, because each one will teach me something new I need to learn so that the next one will be better.  And easier.  If there's one thing I've learned about getting things finished in the past few months, it's that with my work?  I don't need to worry about the polish; that comes on its own, all I need to do is make myself sit down and work on the problems I see. Futureproof is first, because it's by far the closest to being there.

Current problems I see with the manuscript:
1) A very few minor holes in the narrative.  No problem, I should be able to nix them now I've buffed up my filling-in-holes muscles, and I can definitely use a combo of the following four points to fill the gaps.
2) Protagonist problems.  Gary's kind of limp, actually.  Reactive.  And cowardly.  Which is in some ways how he's meant to be, because those are his main character flaws.  But he does believe in things, and passionately--it's just the way that I've set up the plot, for the majority of the time, the only actual actions he takes in pursuit of his beliefs are passively waiting it out in the conviction things will turn out for the best, studiedly doing nothing when presented with a decision, and manfully not wetting himself in terror when presented with a consequence.  He really needs some brainstorming to work out how to bring the reader investment into him.
3) Antagonist problems.  My three minor villians are brilliant and deep, but the Big Bad is... absent.  He's got motivations and actions and history and so on, what he's missing is a character that promotes any reader investment at all.
4) Tension issues.  This is a big one actually, and relates to problems 2 and 3--particularly 2--and also a poor mystery/suspense writing.  I wrote this while I was in my keep-everything-secret-for-as-long-as-possible mode, and I was ending up writing stuff that was not so much 'wow, what a twist' but 'what's going on, why am I reading this, and by the way what just happened and why was I supposed to care?!'  Okay, so it's not that bad, but I'm much much better at handling tension than I was when I originally wrote this thing, so I should be able to fix it easily.
5) Worldbuilding emptiness.  This is mostly a problem for later.  I can deal with this when I've got the whole thing complete.  Or not.  Because it's really not that bad.  But in the meantime, if I'm having trouble writing anything else, I can start writing behind-the-scenes vignettes to wake up the little grace notes that make a universe sing in the reader's mind.  Writing that sort of thing is usually pretty good at waking up uninspiring plot/characters, too.

Looking at all that, it's hard not to feel overwhelmed.  Some of those things sound pretty fundamental.  But no really, there's plenty of good story that's actually there, I just haven't talked about those bits.  And I think the foundation I've got should mean most of those things are more in the realm of elaboration and tweaking than major rewriting.  I'm going to need to do some drawing and charting, but that's good, because the next couple of weeks are school holidays and I'll have the boys at home with me.  Messing around on big bits of paper with them is always better than trying to hide away in my room on my laptop.  I think it's realistic--if assuming some level of tenacity--to think I should be able to deal with problems 1-3 in April, with possible opportunistic forays into 4 and 5, although I intend to mostly leave them until May.  I can do this thing.  If not perfectly, then at least... successfully.

And that's all I need to ask of myself.  Tomorrow will be here soon.  This isn't a big deal, it's just writing.  One word in front of the other.  I'm rested and ready.  Bring it on.
thewhitelily: (Lily)
Hello everyone!  I'm sure no one's watching this any more--it's been five years, but I think I might have somewhat started to emerge from the fog of mothering very young children.  I'm writing again, and so here I am, writing about writing, and about my life.

It's funny, because in the last two months I've somehow managed to write an entire, stunningly brilliant 60,000 word fanfiction novel, and I've talked very little about it.  I've been obsessed; I've been consumed; I've given up eating and sleeping and talking to anyone who exists outside my head; I've lost over 10% of my body weight, which is usually the sign of a good story for me.  And I've created something extraordinary.  It's turned out to be little like the evil adult love-child of His Son's Father and Mother of Invention, and it's in the BBC Sherlock fandom.  Come on, there's so many geniuses in that fandom--you knew I couldn't stay away.

Yes, it's fanfiction, which is not the direction I had decided to go with my writing, but I guess I must write where inspiration takes me.  Speaking of which, it's... disturbing.  And explicit.  And very gay.  And did I mention disturbing?  None of which was really where I wanted to be heading with my writing either, but I haven't been able to leave this story alone--it's just too good.  Did I mention it was also powerful, and hopeful, and thought-provoking, and tense, and emotional, and packed with vivid characters, and absolutely laden with layers of meaning and genuine things to say?  And it has a happy ending?  The comments I've been getting seem to confirm it; it's not just me.  This story deserved to be finished.

You know the thing of which I'm probably most proud?  I know it's not perfect.  There's lines, there's whole scenes, there's words that aren't... exactly right.  Words that I could spend hours or days on, obsessing over, trying to find exactly the right fit.  But I'm not doing that.  I'm not saying I haven't done that at all, because I have.  One sentence ended up with an essay and a flowchart to sort out the six layers of meaning I was trying to convey with it--but I'm doing my best to save it for the moments that are the most important.  For the rest, I'm doing the easiest 99% of the job, and letting the other 1% go. And I'm posting it anyway.  99% perfect is actually pretty damn good.  

In any case, at this point I'm about to post the tenth and final chapter, and I guess I'm coming up for air.  I'm thinking about what I've done, and what I'm going to do next.  And I'm thinking about how I'm going to do it, to make sure that I keep this momentum--keep finishing things, keep creating things that are worthwhile, and keep doing things that are important to me, not just as Mum, but as me.

I've still been checking in on Futureproof regularly, and it's progressing.  It's had a lot of good work on it, and I'm going to go back to working on it, or perhaps have another go at starting something else original, as soon as this current story packs itself and its assorted outtakes up and vacates my brain.

I've come to terms with the way I work on things.  It takes me a long time to write something good, it needs to bake in my brain.  Bursts of all-consuming obsession interspersed with vacations--it's during the vacations that some of the most truly extraordinary things happen to the story, so I'm not worried--when I do get back to Futureproof, there'll be something amazing there waiting for me again.  If there's not, I'll give it a brief spring cleaning to make sure nothing's hiding under the beds, and then work on something else for a while.

So here's my question: does anyone still read this?  Or am I still stuck in my head, talking to myself?
thewhitelily: (Default)
Futureproof (whose working title was Return to Sender) is nine scenes away from complete second draft. Perhaps five to ten thousand words all up.

Not all the rest of it is as polished as I would like (that would be third draft, for weaving and threeing), but it's more than adequate to support the story. Nine scenes, though, are pretty close to empty, with notes on things I need to happen there. A follows a reluctant B home. X dies. Y makes a stirring speech that contains crucial exposition and character development (ack! No wonder I'm having trouble with that one!). P gets manipulated by a guilty Q who can't help himself. All are in the third quarter of the story; the second half of the second act, where we're past the midpoint and the plot thickens with every word, but we haven't yet reached the point where the ball starts rolling inexorably onwards.

It's all important development, and each individual scene is incredibly close to reaching critical mass, where enough components fall into place that there's only one path and the writing simply takes care of itself. I feel like with enough brainstorming, it should just fall out. All I need to do is get back into it, put my head down and use the snowflake technique rather than the stare at the page until I think of something to write technique, and stop getting distracted by the shinyshiny rest of it.

Still. Nine scenes. Three times three.

I think my manuscript might be mocking me.
thewhitelily: (Default)
I really have to come to terms with the fact that not everything is better if it comes as a surprise.

I suspect I need to have Orson Scott Card's views on the subject in How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy engraved on my wall.
I believe that most stories that fail do so because the writer, having thought up a neat idea for a story, then structured the story so that it leads up to the moment when that neat story idea is revealed.

This is fine, of course, when the story really is about the struggle of a character to find the answer to a question. But it's terrible when it's the readers, not the characters, who are doing the struggling. The mystery in these cases is not a single question--Who killed this man? Why does this large planet have such low gravity? Instead the questions are more basic. What's going on? Why am I reading this?
Perhaps, Lily, if it's difficult to convey necessary information, or to keep the POV character from thinking about a certain subject in a certain way until after The Reveal(tm), perhaps, just perhaps, it's not a secret you should be keeping.

Just a thought.
thewhitelily: (Default)
I'm beginning to realise anew that the most truly horrifically powerful scenes are ones where the point of view character is undisturbed by events. And that contrasting reactions to similar (to the reader's mind) situations is an excellent way of exploring a protagonist's moral code and exposing the path for growth.

In related news: Return to Sender is now closed for new characters. Please do not turn up in my narrative expecting a substantial supporting role, because in addition to being quite enough, nine is a nice round number. Thank you for your cooperation.
thewhitelily: (Default)
I’ve realised one of the reasons why I’m usually disappointed when I consult a thesaurus looking for whatever that word is that I’m really looking for—what I’m usually looking for is much closer to a word association dictionary than anything else.

For example, at the moment, I’m working on a paragraph that begins: It was like kissing a squid.

I love the image. For starters, squid is an excellent word in this context, because it’s short and punchy and the squ sound is uncommon enough to bring a little surprise to intensify the humour and onomatopoeically bring to mind a host of appropriate unpleasant words like squish, squelch, or squeeze. It’s creepy and unnatural and undignified; it’s a confusion of flailing limbs; it’s cold, wet, and impossible to escape the suction to surface for air. And don’t even get me started on camouflage, grotesque intelligence, coiled arms, inky eyes, beaky noses, or cold fish.

The word use is coming really easily; I’m having to rein it in with both hands and my teeth to halt the descent into madness. That's no problem. I'll pick a few (perhaps three?) of the best, and then scatter a couple of the more subtle ones into the remainder of the scene, the reader’s mind will fill in the rest.

But finding the words doesn’t always come this easy, and it’s obvious, now I think of it, why I hardly ever find it helpful to look in a dictionary, thesaurus, or even an encyclopaedia for help with imagery. None of them are close to the actual relationship between the words that I’m looking for, which I guess is why it’s so damn hard, and why it’s so damn awesome whenever you find a writer who pens excellent images.

Surely there’s a niche market out there, though, for an imageaurus? Something like Visual Thesaurus, where you can follow the links to relations of relations, to go from squid to ink to black, or squid+ink to cloud, etc.

What I really need to do is build a web crawler that examines text for words commonly found near “squid” (and every other word, of course) and ranks the strength of their relationship based on number of hits and proximity. Of course, it wouldn’t go all the way to producing original and compelling images, any more than a dictionary or a thesaurus does. It would probably even contribute the problem of having every kiss described as ‘passionate’ and every villain described as ‘evil’, but I think it’d be an awesome tool in the hands of a good writer...

On second thoughts, what I really need to do is to find that someone else has built this exactly as I want, with minimal effort to me.

Who said all the good ideas were taken? :P
thewhitelily: (Default)
Feels like we've been here before, doesn't it?

This, however, is a significantly prouder moment. This is 25,000 words edited. Not super-shiny-zomg-hand-me-that-booker-prize edited, but... good second draft edited. Plenty of gaps, plenty of omissions, but really not much in the way of anything actually incorrect or out of line with what's turning out to be the final story and incidentally a decent serving of damn, I'm awesome.

It's also really beginning to feel like my own writing. Like something I can be proud of. )

Ah well, it's been nearly two years getting me this far. Just keep swimming, eh?
thewhitelily: (Default)
See above.

Inner Editor, are you following? Good.

Edit: Also, why do I keep writing stuff that makes tenses completely impossible? e.g. I resisted the urge to interrogate SEER all the way down to the platform, but only because the me with no inkling of a future without Simone had continued to pepper me with trivial questions about his day yesterday morning. I mean: WTF?!

Edit 2: Ah, appropriately enough, the solution is to ignore the time differential and take it out of perfect tense. I didn't even plan that. TAKE THAT, INNER EDITOR!
thewhitelily: (Default)
Of course the major problem with having pushed through a patch of easy bits is that on the other side of them lie hard bits.

The current problem is the second appearance of Jasie. She's a very hard character to get right, particularly because she's there in my head in three dimensional Technicolour, and... for goodness sake, how is it possible to do justice to a Slytherin from the point of view of a Hufflepuff, anyway? This is a challenge for Lily's show-don't-tell skills, but I'm sure I'll get there eventually.

The more serious problem, the one that has caused both major skips, including the entirety of chapter 2, is that I haven't really got much written for Gary's workday. The answer for writer's block on a specific subject for me is usually that my brain's trying to tell me it's superfluous. I'd believe it - it's ten hours at work, after all - but... look, I know it's important.

It's not actually routine boring why-is-she-writing-this stuff. I know that the board have summoned him in for a meeting to check in on the progress of Gary's project, which started as a bit of midnight coding to make his job easier and turned into a major business concern. I know that it's running late on a tight schedule that he can't quite understand the absurd urgency for, and I know he's under increasing pressure from the higher-ups to get it operational, like, yesterday. And I know that - unlike when I was writing it the first time - now he actually has an in for all the plot development sessions he previously had to be horrifyingly cliche and out of character to listen in on.

And, while Gary doesn't know it yet, the completion of this project will turn out to be the absolute pivotal piece of the climax, in a Lily spectacular of knitting together disparate elements right at the end.

In short, I know there's stacks of interesting, plot-related, exposition-expediting stuff going on at work - possibly even more than what's going on outside.

But I haven't written it.

Why is that, again? *sigh*

Random stats of the day:
Word count: 48,134
Editing bar: 9,604
Highlighted: 1,828
Days to completion: 52
Number of random new characters who'll probably turn out to be crucial invented: 1
Simone's profanity ratio: 6%
thewhitelily: (Default)
Haha! Three cheers for perseverance!

In one day, I've shot from 5% complete to 12% complete. Can we say w00t?!

Of course, the numbers are a little misleading today, because I've finally managed to join up with some big chunks of story which were actually pretty good already. When it's only a tweak here or there, it makes things go a whole lot faster than when it's a situation where I can't even decide what should actually happen.

Not that I haven't been doing plenty to earn my editing credits this weekend: the beginning's looking much the better for being about two thirds the size and completely rewritten in large segments. Another major shudder scene is now no more than a memory, and the way Gary starts to react to his circumstances rather than simply going with the flow actually makes sense!

Yeah. Go, me! :)

Random stats of the day:
Final word count: 47,388
Editing bar: 7,784
Words skipped: 1,805
Significant skipped sections: 2 (admittedly, one of them's the entirity of chapter 2)
Days to completion figure from yesterday: 84
Days to completion today: 42
Morale: Pretty darn good
thewhitelily: (Default)
I'm reaching the hard stuff. Or at least, the stuff that makes me think "who wrote this crap?!" even though I have no idea how to rewrite.

I'm currently working on the parts which I wrote while trialling actual in-order writing. As a result, there's a lot of faffing around, and not much actual stuff with a point. I've proved to my satisfaction now that I can only write stuff that drives forward if I've already written the place it's driving to.

But I can't think of a way to edit in a structured manner without forcing myself to work through the document in order. If I fall back on editing wherever fancy strikes me, will I actually get any closer to the completion of said editing?

HSF is the biggest thing I've ever written, and this rough draft is more than double the size that one was. I was forced to work through editing HSF in order, because I was sending chapters through to Gus as I finished them. I didn't work in order even then then - I worked in the order inspiration came, but kept the bar moving for finished chapters at the same time. Maybe that would be a better approach.

But regarding my current problem, you know what? These passages are not only pointless, they're just plain shit. And you know what I do with shit?


Random stats for April 3rd:
Long-awaited realisations made about tricky plot points: 1
Words made up for worldbuilding purposes: 2
Chapters complete: 2
Earliest word retouched today: 279
Words added: 286
Words removed: 1,282
Words pronounced edited: 2,157 (minus 165 highlighted)
Final word count: 49,692
Days to completion, at this rate: 72
thewhitelily: (Lily)
All right, Mr. Muse, sir. I've dropped Cloud Castles for the moment, I'm working on Return to Sender. Ouch! OUCH! Geeez, gimme a break, here, I'm typing, I'm typing!

I've written a different bit in as the prologue, and it's gorgeous. The clumsy introduction has been one of the shudder points for me, and it's totally awesome to have it out of the way. And, whaddaya know, the rest of the morning flows a whole lot more smoothly when I haven't just hamstrung it by jumping far too far ahead to do a scene which doesn't make sense yet for the character I'm building.

All right, so Schroedinger (the cat) is still causing trouble by having an otherwise totally pointless introduction, but I've followed TPWFL's advice and highlighted the whole passage then moved on in my iterative quest for perfection. The waterfall model is so last century.

Also, for some reason, Simone continues to insist on being unbelievably foulmouthed. Mozzie, have you dyed your hair blonde and sneaked into my story? :P

Random stats for today:
Final word count: 50,683
Words added: 357
Words now on the "done" side of the editing bar: 1,457
Words not really done but highlighted for further thought: 162
Days to completion, at this rate: 38

Oh, yeah, I'm practically flying. I can't wait to hit something actually hard.

Still, it's feeling good, and that's the main thing. :)
thewhitelily: (Default)
Some people find the blank page intimidating. A whole empty white page, staring at you, with nothing on it but possibility.

Not me.

I have a short attention span, but as long as I prevent myself from alt-tabbing away from a blank page for long enough, it ends up with writing on it. Lots of writing.

My problem is the imperfectly filled page. (tl;dr) )

This year I have a great deal on, writing wise. First of all, there’s the personal commitment I’ve made to submitting a manuscript to the Australian Vogel Award this year. (Deadlines = Love) I haven’t yet decided whether it will be Return to Sender or Cloud Castles. Given the above, I’m going to have to work pretty hard on at least one of them to bring it to a standard where I’m willing to let it out of my sight in just over four months time.

At the moment, I’m procrastinating. I’m supposed to be writing a play for my nieces’ school’s Mystery Festival: a humourous whodunit that concludes with each one of six suspects looking equally guilty. I’ve got almost two pages of it written, out of about ten – after which it will need editing. It’s simple enough now that I’ve got a multi-layered plot with a cast of seedy characters. It’s easy, it’s fun, I’ve got stacks of fantastic ideas, and it’s good procrastination for getting stuck into my more serious manuscripts.

Still, I’m having trouble focussing. I should be gazing at the empty third page of the Mystery Festival play, staring it down long enough that, to prevent me from dying of bordom, the creative juices will start to flow and sweep me up into that literary orgasm of productivity that will result in another few pages of script.

Instead, I’ve opened up a second word document, where I’m writing endless pointless introspections on my psyche and personality traits. Such as procrastination.

Speaking of which, my apologies for randomly disappearing for a six weeks once again. I’ve been rather overwhelmed by life: since we last spoke I’ve attended to Hubby’s grandma’s funeral, hosted the Lily Family Christmas Spectacular starring nine children under ten and a chocolate fountain, maintained an incredibly high level of productivity at work, broken down at Hubby under the strain and threatened to move to Sweden for a year, mopped up the remains of a two-foot deep flash flood in the office, and generally continued running at top efficiency in procrastinating writing.

Hmmm. Time to get back to it, I guess.
thewhitelily: (Default)
Wrote a letter to the future, asking for directions
It came back to me 'return to sender'
There I go… am I here yet? Am I?
There’s got to be more to this.
     -- Billie Myers, Am I Here Yet?

So. Return to Sender's exploded in my mind again. I'd prefer to keep working on Cloud Castles before it goes stale, but the muse goes where he will. *sigh*

It's an idea I've considered for RtS on previous occasions, but never as seriously as this, because it'll be hard, and it opens up even more difficulties than it solves. I took the cheat's way out for HSF because I could, but I won't be able to do that here.

It's spinning in my mind right now, leaving trails of fire wherever it touches, transmuting something fairly generic and mediocre into something truly extraordinary. However hard it will be - and however much more work - I think it'll be worth it. It fits in so many different ways, with the themes, with the technology, and with the characters.

It's the general theory of everything.

It's just that it's at least three times as much work. I'm not kidding. I'm not sure if it's even possible, let alone whether I can do it. I don't even want to name it in case I scare it off.

But hey, it sounds like fun anyway, so how about I give it a try? :) With any luck, my muse will run away screaming within a day or so and be ready to go back to Cloud Castles. :P


In related news, I can highly recommend How To Write Killer Fiction by Carolyn Wheat. Definitely one of the better writing books I've read, pitched at exactly the right level of useful tips, structures to consider, cliches to avoid, strategies to employ, and they're all just guidelines anyway. :)


thewhitelily: (Default)
The White Lily

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