Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and COLD

Yesterday was a conflicted day, as far as work went. I’m on deadline for a couple of projects; at the same time, both REDEMPTION KILL and ANGEL HUNT are on a roll that I don’t want to stop.

I fought and fought and fought to keep away from ANGEL HUNT yesterday, trying to get to work on the other projects and then get back to ANGEL HUNT. I lost.

As I’m working on these last few chapters in the draft — I think I have three more to write, including the climactic sequence and the aftermath — I realize how much I’m going to have to cut. With three more chapters to go, I’m over 113K, which is unacceptable. I don’t have the clout to dump a manuscript of that size onto an editor’s or agent’s desk. The book also can’t be split into two books – it’s a single story. I already cut out an entire subplot and two whole sets of characters.

I broke one of my own rules and went back to re-read the early chapters. And I cut A LOT. There are scenes that work rhythmically unto themselves, or within the context of the chapter, but where I can cut out beats — or sometimes entire pages — without hurting the overall piece. In fact, it makes the book stronger and tighter, and keeps more of the focus on Lianna and Zeke. I’ve introduced Zeke earlier — in the first chapter, which is vitally important for the overall story, and his presence is felt in the first few pages, although about 2/3 of the initial scene between Lianna and Lucius DeWitt has been cut and tightened. There’s room for their verbal volleyball elsewhere, and just hinting at it here does the trick. Lachlan’s entrance remains where it is, although I’ve tightened a lot of the exposition. Gaston, who is a major figure in the bulk of the book is now mentioned early on, but doesn’t actually appear until much later because that serves the story best. HIs physical presence is a necessary catalyst, and to bring him in earlier would destroy the build of the piece, even though it’s an often-used convention to place all players on stage in the first few chapters. I’m careful not to make him a deus ex machina — in fact, I’m worried that such a character will show up in the climactic sequence and I want to make sure that doesn’t happen. But I can cut a lot of the debate and wheel-spinning out, so that’s what I’m doing. At this point, all the subplots feed and strengthen the main plot, but I have to streamline and trim so every word, phrase, and beat drives the piece forward. Lianna may stop to take a breath here and there, but there’s no room for a vacation! 😉

I also did some work on the short story, and on the deadlined assignments. I’ll get the one due today out the door by the end of the business day — barely. And I’ve set specific daily goals for the essay for each day, so I’m not leaving it until the last minute — I need to turn in something polished by Monday, and since the details weren’t settled until yesterday . . .and my focus is completely elsewhere . . .you get the idea.

Layer on the fact that I’m writing about the Olympics over the next two weeks, and, well, it’ll be busy.

I had a wonderful first writing session this morning on REDEMPTION KILL. Eddie’s not getting everything his way, and he’s just about reached the limit of his flexibility. So now he’s being pushed further. He’s used to facing down physical dangers, but now, emotions he thought he’d controlled for years are returning to haunt –and taunt — him. In other words, right now, I have the upper hand with Eddie instead of the situation in the past week where he had the upper hand with me.

Yes, when I’m writing them, the characters are as real as anyone who walks through the door. I’m always surprised when I go to fix dinner and they’re not in the kitchen. 😉

I haven’t even packed yet, and I’m leaving around noon. I should have limited internet access over the weekend, although I may have to switch between MacGeorge and (oh, horrors) a PC.

Better get going — noon’s not too far away!

Have a great weekend, all, and I’ll catch up on the Prolific Blogger Award (From Kim Smith) and the Sunshine Award (from Michelle Miles) early next week. Thanks to both for the honors!


Published in: on February 12, 2010 at 9:09 am  Comments (7)  
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  1. I like what you said – “Yes, when I’m writing them, the characters are as real as anyone who walks through the door. I’m always surprised when I go to fix dinner and they’re not in the kitchen.”

    I love when characters tell me who they are and what they’re doing. My goal is to listen to them but avoid letting them be predictable. It’s something I spend the majority of my time on – avoiding the cliche, not allowing the reader to guess ahead of time, letting the characters be unpredictable. It’s the toughest part of the book for me, and the one I love conquering.

  2. I had the exact same experience last night when I was writing the prologue for this novel I’m taking to Fishguard. The prologue is set 10 years earlier when the 4 main characters are 8 (the girls) and 11 (the boys). I felt as though I was sitting in that pavillion with them, smelling fresh rain on hot earth, watching a boring football (soccer) match, and sharing hopes and dreams for the future. Then I went into the kitchen to make us all a drink … 🙂

    Have a great trip this weekend.

  3. Yes, I agree that characters become so real.

    You normally wait until you have written a first draft before you begin editing?

    • Yes. I believe very strongly in working in full, complete drafts and not going back and editing as you write. I find I usually shoot myself in the foot if I do that, and it gets progressively weaker, not stronger, because there’s no impulse driving the story.

      This piece is different — the original incarnation ran as a serial, twice a week, for 18 months, and the company went under before it was finished.

      So, when I went back to adapt it, I had to cut out the tangents and the extraneous material one needs to keep the reader going indefinitely.

      I wasn’t expecting Zeke to show up — he wasn’t in the original series. But he’s really the pivot point in the new direction of the book. Very little remains of the serial except some of the character names and one or two of the smaller arcs.

      In my normal process, if I go back and edit before the draft is COMPLETE, it’s never finished. It’s a stalling tactic, and does not serve either me or the book.

      Complete the draft. Put it away for 2 weeks to 2 months. Re-read with a fresh perspective, as though someone else wrote it, and then work through the next draft.

      The biggest mistake I see made by those trying to get published is that they finish a draft, keep going back and tweaking it as they write, which means they’ve lost the throughline that working in full drafts provides, and then they wake up the next morning and call a revision or an edit just running it through spellcheck and deleting a few adverbs.

      Preparing a manuscript for submission is a much more intricate process than that.

  4. Have a safe trip! I like hearing how your characters are so real to you.

  5. Hi Devon .. have a great trip and congratulations on the two awards .. it’ll be interesting to hear your views on the Olympics .. have a good weekend – Hilary

  6. Aloha!

    Sorry to gatecrash your blog, but I noticed you were a fan of Jorge Garcia’s “Dispatches From The Island” and thought you may be interested in a competition I am running where I am giving away a free Lost t-shirt!

    To enter, simply email and answer this Lost related question:

    – Describe how you would have Lost Season 6 end: who will survive, who will die, and what will happen in the last scene?

    More details are available at , but it really is THAT simple.

    I hope this was of interest to you 🙂

    – Chris

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