Friday, March 31, 2006

Snip, snip here, snip, snip there...

Today I'm humming that song from The Wizard of Oz, you know, the "Makeover-Oz edition" tune sung in the Emerald City. Because the cutting (and pasting -- it isn't all lost) for The Manuscript That Ate New York has begun. Last night, I sat in the living room with both versions of the Prologue and all three version of Chapter One, as well as the one version of Chapter Two and started to try to figure out what the heck I was thinking 'way back when I started the book. I now have some idea of what I'm going to do -- the shorter prologue is the one to use, even though the longer one contains what I originally envisioned at the opening of the book. Sorry, editor, that scene now bites the dust. Why? It reveals too much.

Then I went to Chapter One. I've now know who I want to focus on in the first scene (the hero), and how/when to move to the heroine for the second scene. The hero and heroine meet in the second scene. Chapter Two will now move back to the hero, to show his reaction to the meet, because we've been in the heroine's head during the meet. I have that meeting written from both points of view (hence the different chapters), so I'll be cutting and pasting various bits of the hero's reaction from the meet scene to the next one.

Sound like a drag? A lot of depressing re-writing? Not to me. I love this part of the process. It's like I've assembled all the ingredients for a meal and finally decided on the menu (the first draft) and now I'm going to start the cooking. I'll be (mentally) like those chefs you see charging around the kitchen, excited, complaining, shouting, exclaiming and generally living life with gusto.

To add to the fun, it's spring. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, it even smells like spring. Later I hope to get out for a good long walk. And you'd better believe there'll be a big ol' grin on my face.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Drury Lives!

A few years ago, burned out from trying to write for two different publishers, I made the decision to write for one house only, for a number of reasons (you can read more about that here.) Unfortunately -- and this was the toughest part of the decision, actually -- that meant leaving behind two male characters I had really come to like: Sir Douglas Drury, barrister and baronet, and Lord Justinian "Buggy" Bromwell, an expert on spiders.

However, I felt a choice had to be made, so I made it.

I don't generally get a lot of reader feedback, and it would be months before the last Regency was published, so I figured people might wonder a bit about Drury and Buggy, but that would be all.

I was wrong. It seems my regular readers, as well as new ones who perhaps don't like medievals, liked those guys, and Drury in particular. I received several emails asking me if and when I was writing about him. I'm still getting them, although it's been years since my last Avon book featuring Drury was published.

Oh, man, I had NO idea this would happen. I usually feel like I'm writing into a great void, or for an audience of about ten (exceptionally marvelous and clever) people. Seriously.

Anyway, long story short: having just received another query about Drury, and having written synopses for Drury and Buggy's stories, I decided to "resurrect" those two young men by posting the synopses on my website. I even found pictures of guys suitable to represent them. (Okay, so I'm ga-ga over Richard Armitage -- what can I say? He does work as Drury!)

But here's the thing I hadn't counted on: upon rereading the synopses, I like them. I really like them. I had forgotten the heroines, and Drury's especially seems like she'd be fun to write. Now I want to write the books. There's nothing that says I can't, but one publisher isn't usually keen to take over a series without holding all the rights to all the books. So there's that. The other thing is, I'm committed to four other books that I also really want to write. I have a feeling, though, that Drury and Buggy aren't going to go away. They're going to haunt me, lurking on the edges of my imagination and trying to seduce me.

I can think of worse fates....

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Longest First Draft EVAH!

I think I've just finished the longest first draft of a novel I've ever written. I'm pretty sure... Anyway, today, I wrote "The End" on the first draft of MY LORD'S DESIRE, and that baby has clocked in at a whooping 444 pages. Whooo doggies! That's about 44 pages over what it should be. But this is fantastic! Why, you ask? Because I can cut without fear, without guilt, without worrying that I'll come up short. It's Freedom 444!!

But then, when I went to print it up? I discovered I have three versions of Chapter One. Ummm...what's up with that? Different POVs, apparently. I've printed them all and I'll have to decide which one I like better.

AND I'm nearly finished with the page proofs for HERS TO DESIRE, my Aug. book. They may be ready to go tomorrow; if not then, Friday for sure, and oh, the joy of having a full two weeks to do that job!

Another milestone reached: I now have over 1,000 subscribers to my email newsletter. My monthly draw from among them for a $25 electronic gift certificate from Amazon continues, so if you're reading this and you haven't subscribed, and you wouldn't mind hearing from me once a month, head on over to my site and sign up.

AND AND AND my daughter's friend, who knows of our admiration for Richard Armitage from the BBC production of "North and South," has informed us that he's going to be playing Sir Guy of Gisbourne in a 13 part series about Robin Hood being made by the BBC. Oh, boy! If that comes out here, and/or in DVD, I'm so there. That guy will be one sexy villain -- and I love a sexy villain. In fact, and you heard it here first, about two minutes after I heard about RA being Sir Guy, one of the villains in MY LORD'S DESIRE, which is set during the reign of King John, suddenly morphed into a medieval Richard Armitage! Oh, it was a magical moment. Between having lots of words to work with, and that vision dancing in my head, I can hardly wait to get revising!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Quote o' the Week

"Literature was not born the day when a boy crying "wolf, wolf" came running out of the Neanderthal valley with a big gray wolf at his heels: literature was born on the day when a boy came crying "wolf, wolf" and there was no wolf behind him."
-- Vladimir Nabokov

In other words, literature was born when somebody made up a story.

This quote could also be talking about the origin of theater, though -- but then, both theater and literature came from the oral tradition of story-telling. In my case, both off-shoots have influenced the type of writer I am. I did a lot of theater in my youth, and to this day, I approach my stories from a "theatrical" angle. First and foremost, I want my stories to hold the attention of my audience, to be dramatic and interesting and entertaining.

This theatrical basis holds true in more practical ways, as well. My first drafts are mostly dialogue and "blocking" (moving the characters about the stage). I learn about my characters through dialogue -- I need to "hear" them speak before I have a really solid grip on them. I don't describe the setting much in a first draft; in fact, I have yet to completely visualize or map out the castle where most of the action takes place in my current work-in-progress. Description and details will come in the later drafts, after I've distilled the dialogue (cutting and/or combining scenes where necessary) and made sure I've got the activity in the best possible general location. I suspect this is why I'm most comfortable with "one set" stories, rather than "road" stories, where the hero and heroine go from place to place. That requires a lot more emphasise on description. (I do note, by the bye, that Nabokov described the wolf, so clearly, there is a very important place for description. It's just that with me, character comes first, description of the physical setting second.)

So why not write plays? For one simple, yet important reason: in a book, I can detail my characters' thoughts. Readers, hopefully, get to feel they know and understand my characters in a more profound way. If I've done my job really well, my characters will become real people, the way the little boy convinced the villagers that there really was a big gray wolf.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

What's with the love scene interruptions?

I tell ya, there are times I think the current w-i-p is suffering some kind of curse. Every time I try to write a love scene, I get about two pages done and I get interrupted. Last night, I didn't get to work until 8 p.m. (busy day) and while I was tempted to take the day off, I want to get this first draft done by the end of the month (ie next week!). So there I was at about 8:20, writing what is, for me, the most difficult type of scene to write, when there's a knock at the front door. That was weird in itself, but last time I was trying to write another love scene, the phone rang. Talk about yer mood-killers! Sigh. I did go back and I did finish the scene, but geez! I may have to start hanging out a do-not-disturb sign on the front door and unplugging the phones.

Also yesterday, the calls went out to the authors who received RITA nomintations. For those of you not in Romance Writers of America, that's the annual awards they hand out.

I did enter this year (THE UNWILLING BRIDE), but alas, no call from Texas for me. This is, I'll confess, kinda depressing. Nobody likes to feel like a loser.

However, over the years I've found several words of wisdom to help when the feelings of writerly inadequacy rear their ugly, pointed little heads. I've decided to share some of these wise words. I'm going to try to find time to blog every Monday with a Quote of the Week.

But I'll start now:

"You take on the ordeal of being an artist, and your reward get to be an artist. That's it. That's all you can be sure of." -- Bruce Holland Rogers, Word Work: Surviving and Thriving as a Writer

That may not sound very inspiring, but it is to me. Praise and recognition may come or it may not. But if it doesn't? You still get to be an artist. I get to create places, people, and whole worlds with just words. And I get paid to do it. Whether I'm nominated for an award or not, I'm still a very fortunate woman, able to do work I enjoy, and even if I get interrupted at the most inconvenient times.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Eyes on the finish line and confused by Lost...

I can see the finish line of the first draft! It's getting close! Mind you, I still have a big ol' trial by combat to write and the denoument, but still... And then I have to do extensive renovations, but still... And I'll probably lose at least a hundred pages, BUT STILL "the end" is in sight! When I start a book, that always seems a million years and a million miles away, so it's cause for joy to think I'm nearly there.

Last night, I watched Lost and there was something I just did not understand. Why did Sun tell Jin that he was the reason she couldn't get pregnant after keeping that secret for so long? Why give him any cause at all to think he might not be the father? I suppose we could think Sun was wondering that, too, except for her expression as she embraced Jin. It seems to me she's pretty sure he's not the father. Is this intended to make us sympathize with Jin? Or set up more conflict? Either way, it struck me as pure "plot device." And that's not so good.

Speaking of Jin, there's an interesting, complex character. And not exactly hard on the eyes, either. Well, I can say the same about Sun. Somebody nominate those two for an Emmy. Possibly Sawyer. Also, Hurley. I cannot imagine that show without him. Oh, and how great was it to see Rose and Bernard? But enough! My own characters beckon!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Happy TARsday!

Yippee -- another Tuesday, another episode of The Amazing Race. Not that I want to see or hear another "intense" word out of ol' Lake. Still, it's the best reality show out there. I didn't realize how much I appreciated the various tasks in various international locales until the last season, which stayed pretty much in NA. Boooring!

And yee haw! I have reached the end of the middle that had been relatively non-existent in the synopsis. It's turned out to be quite a few pages -- as in about 250 (!!). But that's great, because it means I can slash and burn when I revise without being really worried I'm going to wind up with a novella, not a novel. There are a few plot/subplot threads I've dropped along the way, and some I've added (like the BHB -- see post below for explanation) so I'll have to decide what will stay, be expanded, or shortened, or cut entirely. I have no problem with cutting and rewriting. Which is good, since I'm not patient enough to do a big outline.

Also, since it's TARsday, I get to make another pudding cake. YUM!

Monday, March 20, 2006

He's trying to take over the book!

Okay, now I've done it. A secondary character who was playing a very minor role is trying to take over my book. Here's how it happened: this book is the start of a new series about a group of half brothers. The first book is about the eldest, Armand. His younger half brother, Bayard, is in a dungeon in Normandy, being held for ransom (and conveniently out of the action of Book I). So far, so good. I'm liking Armand a lot, and since he's just got out of a dungeon himself at the cost of all his family's cash and desperately wants to save his brother, he's got some troubles of his own. The third book is about their illegitimate half brother that Armand and Bayard saw when they were children. Now he could be alive or dead for all they know.

Then I had this big brain wave to bring the bastard half bro into Book I. I was delighted by this development...except that now the BHB has become quite a presense. In just one scene. I think it's the Irish accent. Give me a hero with an interesting voice, and I'm over the moon. But I can't be. Not yet. He supposed to be waiting in the wings until Book III!

This isn't the first time this has happened. I had one character who was so vivid the moment he appeared in a scene, I gave him a concussion to keep him out of the action.

I know what I have to do, and it's not tone down the fascinating BHB so much as make sure Armand is even more fascinating and at least as vital, sexy and interesting as the BHB. Bayard shows up at the end of Book I, and Book II is his, so I'll have to make sure he's really fascinating, sexy, etc. in person, too.

In the world o' TV, I've given up on Desperate Housewives. I didn't watch last week, and didn't miss it this week (it was a rerun). Susan has become a rather pathetic fool, and they really lost me with the insurance scam. Killing off Rex was a big mistake - the relationship between Bree and Rex was interesting and unusual. I thought Lynette's situation would be interesting -- a career woman coping with being a full-time mom and the change in (perceived) status. Once she went back to work, not so interesting. It seems to me that the original concept -- what's really going on behind those pristine white picket fences? -- has developed into a world that's just plain bizarre.

Tonight, Prison Break with the pretty Capt. Wentworth (thanks, some clever person at TWoP), The Apprentice (will they make sport of the heavy guy again? SHEESH!), and the velvet-voiced one himself on 24. Kiefer Sutherlands's low raspy whisper? In my mind, all my heroes sound like that when they whisper to their heroines. :-)

Friday, March 17, 2006

The more I have to do...

The more I get done. Seriously. Yesterday, with the first draft to work on and the manuscript to be proofread arriving? I not only met my writing deadline, I finished sorting and totalling my expenses for my income tax, started on my proofreading, did laundry, rowed for half an hour, made dinner and worked on a baby quilt I'm making just for the fun of it (as in, I have no baby in mind to give it to -- it will probably wind up as a donation to the church bazaar) while watching that new reality show about inventions because Survivor wasn't on.

I probably won't watch that show again. Too heavy handed with the melodrama, for one thing. And it was disturbing to hear how much money some people had spent to "follow their dream." I'll say one thing, though -- it sure made trying to become a published author sound cheap! A computer (which you can use for other things as well), printer and paper, and there ya go. Maybe you buy some books (although you can always use the library), join a writers group or two, and attend a couple of conferences -- still nowhere near the $100,000 one guy spent. I suspect, however, that similar amounts of self-doubt, hope and angst are involved.

Just for the record: I liked the sand bag shovel best. I could see that having a practical application, not so much for individuals as for cities, emergency organizations, etc.

Now back to work! I've already written one scene today, but want to do another before switching gears and tackling the proofreading.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Holy motivation, Batman!

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe I have hit on one of the all-time great motivations for writing. I've booked a plane ticket to NYC to hand-deliver my manuscript. Yes, I will showing up in the offices with a bulky package in person. Not only that, I've informed my editor I'll be doing so.

What prompted this apparent insanity? First and foremost, the realization that, using air miles, I could go to Ny myself for only slightly more than it costs to FedEx my manuscript. I use FedEx because I like the extra time it gives me, and I know it will arrive on time for sure. I've never had a problem that way with them.

Secondly, because of family commitments, I'm not going to the RWA national conference in Atlanta this year. By going to NY myself, I can meet with my agent and editors, and frankly, in a much more relaxed setting (for all of us).

And finally, I love NY. I especially love NY in spring. My sister's coming with me, so it's a chick fest! She can shop while I hobnob, because after several years, we have concluded we simply shouldn't shop together. She's a browser, I'm a buyer and never the twain shall meet.

However -- and of course -- after booking the flights yesterday, today I get proofreading to do. Which will interfere with the w-i-p and see below re switching gears. Fortunately, I have a long turnaround time, so I can still work on my first draft; I don't have to abandon it to work on the AAs. I'm also glad I did my weekly website update yesterday. I found a wonderful Isish proverb, since it's nearly St. Patrick's Day and what with the Moore Irish ancestry:
May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and the road downhill all the way to your door.

So if my blogging is even more sporadic than usual? You know why.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Switching gears is hard to do

I decided that I finally had to get started on my income tax organization yesterday. I don't do my own taxes; I'm fortunate enough to have someone do that, somebody I can pay with a kiss (ie. my husband, lest anybody think I'm having a wild affair with an accountant). He does the research, the filling and filing of the form(s). I have to organize my expenses. So yesterday, during my lunch, I began to do that.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to get to my writing first. Life interfered. So that meant I had to do my writing after the organizing, and I tell ya, it was not easy switching from "organizational/secretarial" mode to "creative first draft writing" mode. I did get my writing done, but it took me awhile to get "into it."

This is yet another reason I don't like doing a lot of PR-related things. The main reason is that I'm not convinced anything I can do with my limited resources and time could possibly match what my publisher can (and sometimes) does do. And it is time-consuming. For my last chapter booksigning, I wrote and sent out several press releases. That took time away from writing -- and irony of ironies, of all the authors doing the signing? Guess who got not a single media mention? Yep, that would be me.

But regardless of PR's possible benefit or ultimate futility, that sort of thing requires a different mindset from creative writing. And right now? I need to be in "creative first draft mode." I'll finish the organization of my expenses, and I have to update my website, but I'm going to do the writing first. (And in case you're wondering? I consider this blog a creative writing warm-up exercise. )

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

My glamorous life....

So I decided to watch some fleece pullovers today, along with a spring jacket made of black fabric that the (mostly) white cat had slept on (natch, and how it got on the floor of the closet? No idea.) Anyway, when the washing cycle ends, I open the washer and discover....white bits of tissue all over everything.

ARGH! I thought I'd checked all the pockets, but no.

I put the clothes in the dryer, thinking (hopefully) that the drying process would take care of most of it. Then I did my half hour of rowing. Then I checked the dryer. Alas, there are still white bits of fluff clinging to the fleece. The jacket, however, is fine.

I laughed. I mean, how many times have I done this? Too many! And I can't be too frustrated on TARsday. I made a special treat, too -- chocolcate pudding cake. It's a mix, but oh, my, it's yummy. I'm still chugging along on the w-i-p, too. Wrote more than my self-imposed deadline today - whoo hoo!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Four degrees from Beowulf...

I just realized, after seeing Beowulf and Grendel, that I'm four degrees removed from Gerard Butler. When I was in university, I performed in musicals with Mag Ruffman, who was Aunt Olivia in Road to Avonlea, that also featured Sarah Polley, who's in Beowulf and Grendel with Gerard Butler. Cool!

Sadly, the movie? Not so great. First, I should explain that we had a couple behind us who kept up a continual stream of yakking until we were forced to move. However, it was also very difficult to hear/understand a lot of the dialogue at any time. I've had my hearing tested; it's in the "normal" range, and yet I found myself constantly straining. I've had this problem before. Is it because most movie sound systems are set up for big explosions? Lack of enunciation? Poor sound quality when filming? I mean, why can't I understand what they're saying?

And it probably would have helped if I knew the story going in. But alas, I took Chaucer, not Beowulf, in university. So I was in a sort of "huh?" state for a lot of the movie. Gerard looked good, though.

In writing news, I'm at the stage where I try to write every day, lest I lose my momentum. Despite having (for me) a very busy three days, I managed to do that. Yeah me! :-)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

And I thought a bad review messed with my head...

I read something in the paper this morning that left me gobsmacked and saddened. A Canadian writer who wrote a book that was very well-reviewed and sold accordingly had a subsequent book that received a bad review in a national newspaper. There were other reviews that were better, but because of that one terrible review, the writer quit writing for ten years.

What the --? Good Lord, I've had some really rotten reviews in my day - the kind that made it sound as if not only am I a depraved idiot as well as a rotten writer, but everybody who likes my work must be nuts, too. Yet I was never so despondent that I considered chucking writing entirely.

To be honest, I did go through a stretch where my confidence sagged really, really badly, and I was tempted to throw up my hands and give up, but it was a combination of many factors -- midling reviews, feeling like I wasn't getting anywhere career-wise, probably hormones and other life experiences. Nevertheless, I perservered. I kept selling books. My career propects took an upswing. If I'd quit? None of that would have happened.

I had to wonder -- would it have been better if the first book hadn't received so many accolades? Would a few midling reviews have given this writer some armor against the bad one? Basically, though, I was just stunned that a writer would give one critic that much power.

Then I wondered if the critic read that article, and if so, how did he or she feel? I don't blame the critic for the author's extreme reaction, though. Expressing an opinion is what the critic's paid to do. I can only feel sorry that the writer took that review so much to heart and let it so utterly destroy her confidence.

The writer's actually rewritten the second book and gotten it published with a new title. This made me sad, too. Move on and keep writing -- but something new. That's the best antidote I know to a lousy review.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hey, that guy could be this guy!

I had another brainwave as I was writing yesterday. It was one of those unforeseen plot and/or characters developments I live for. I wanted to introduce some new characters, and I wanted one of them to have a particular characteristic. And then, it occurred to me that he could actually be a character from one of the planned sequels. Oh, baby, that could totally work! I was thrilled, and excited, and then I had to stop writing.

That's what happens when I create an unforeseen plot or character development -- I have to take a break and wander around, thinking about how it's going to affect the rest of the story. Sometimes, I decide it'll mess up the story too much -- make it too complicated, or take it 'way off the path into uncharted waters, waters that are not what my editor's expecting. But other times, like this time, I can work it into the story and it adds a whole new layer to the tale. Yippee!

On an Amazing Race note: Eric and Jeremy have earned my scorn with their comments and behavior and I hope they're out soon. I was sorry to see the Glamazons go. Next week, with the dolls? Looks like a nightmare!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Percolating along

Oh, kaloo kalay! I'm having a good time with the w-i-p, even if it's a bit of a "kitchen sink" draft at the moment, as in, I throw in everything but. The story and characters are taking on a life of their own, and that's exciting. Revisons lie ahead, but for now, I'm just going with the flow.

And tonight, The Amazing Race! I gather some folks think the Frosties are too screechy and a bit vulger, but I love 'em. As I said to my daughter, I'd be screeching, too, if I were them. I'm not liking the dentist, Lake. What some guys consider competitive intensity translates to being a poor sport and sore loser to me.

There's also a new show starting tonight, featuring President Palmer. Well, Dennis Haysbert. But he'll always be President Palmer to me. Which reminds me. RIP, Edgar. *sniff* (Fans of 24 will understand.)

Now, if I'm going to indulge in TV tonight, I'd better get back to my own story. I've written seven pages so far today, but have more to do before I call it quits.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Oscars and Ideas

Okay, I just have to ask this. Is Jack Nicholson some kind of deity in Hollywood? Why does he always get a front seat at the Oscars? Why does the camera pan to him so often? I mean, yes, he's a fine actor and he's been in some great films, but so have lots of other people. Is it because he's "cool?" I just really don't get it. At the same time, I'm wondering if George Clooney is the new Jack Nicholson. He has some great reactions, and he's purty, so I could live with that.

I get asked a lot about where I get my ideas. Nobody ever asks when I get my ideas. Last night, during a lull in the Oscar festivities, a plot twist for the work-in-progress meandered into my mind. It didn't appear like a bolt from the blue; it was more like, "I'm concerned that idea seems too cliched. Is there something else ...oh, wait a mo'. What if I have that character do that? Now that's different and more interesting. And then I could maybe bring in that character who got cut back in that revision and use him with her...ya, that could work...."

The other idea I had over the weekend actually came to me in a dream. Now, this is the very first time that's ever happened to me (that I remember). In my dream, I was meeting with an agent. Not my own agent, or even an agent I've actually met. I'd recently read an article by said agent, with a picture, so I guess that's where that came from. We were talking about paranormals and how popular they are. The word "vampire" was mentioned, to which I replied that they'd been done a lot. "What about.... this?" I said, giving an example of an, as far as I know, unused paranormal-type character, followed by the memory of one of those historical tidbits I tend to keep socked away in my mind. And voila, I had the seed of a story. Now, here's the thing: I have absolutely no desire to write a paranormal. However, I kinda like this idea. I probably won't do anything with it, but it'll no doubt rattle around in my brain for awhile. Who knows, though? Maybe it'll take root. And that's why I'm not going to say what it is. >:-}

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Synopsis Gapicus

So there I am, writing merrily away, and I've gone just past the end of the beginning of my synopsis in terms of the story. I've got the set up, I have some backstory there (but certainly not all), I've got the major players in play. I decide to see what I've got for the middle portion and discover...nothing.

In the synopsis, which also functions as my main outline, I go from the set-up/backstory (end of the beginning) to the beginning of the end, with no real idea of what goes on in between (about 100 to 150 pages). On the one hand, ACK!! What the heck's going to happen? How could I have so little planned?

But on the other hand, COOL! I can do all sorts of stuff with the conspiracy subplot, another subplot that's crept in there, I still have some important backstory/character history to reveal, and lo and behold, this story is turning into one of my more "sexy" romances, so I can have some intimate moments that I hadn't envisioned. No need to panic. I've got lots I can do to lead up to the beginning of the end.

And then, along comes the episode of Battlestar Galactica with Mr. Kennedy (Jamie Bamber, who plays Lee Adama, aka Apollo, but who'll always be the ill-fated Mr. Kennedy in Horatio Hornblower to my daughter and me) in just a towel. That boy's been working out. Oh, my word! There is something about a muscular, naked male thigh that's just...something to remember when I'm working on those intimate scenes in the middle of my book.

(Just for your viewing pleasure, I found a screen capture here. Go to Pictures, Film and TV, Battlestar Galactica, Season 2, "Final Cut" and scroll down until...well, you'll see what I mean.)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Pushing through the wall....

You'd think after writing forty books and novellas I'd have a system -- a consistent method or means of approaching the writing of a book. Sadly, I don't. My system is no system, apparently, except for the multiple drafts approach. I've rarely met a page I didn't want to edit.

However, for the past few books, I've had a specific problem. I'd get so far into the book, then feel compelled to go back to the beginning and revise. Last year at this time, I simply couldn't seem to get past page 100 in the work-in-progress without revising. So I'd revise, then write a couple more pages, then go back and revise again. Writers' block? This was a complete brick wall. Finally, I simply ran out of time. The book had a deadline and I had to move on -- but that proved to be the "cure". The book was done on time, and it's gotten some of my best reviews ever.

This time, however, I began to feel that compulsion to revise even earlier. I surrendered to it once, because I'm well aware I have a major tendancy to tell, not show, at the start and I put in too much backstory. By the time I reached Page 50 of the first draft, I'd actually written more like 80 pages, and lost 30. But that was okay, I told myself. I'm on a firmer foundation.

However, I'm now over the Page 100 mark and I'm feeling that urge to go back and revise again. This time, though, I'm going to ignore it and just keep going. I'm thinking of it as heading off writers block before it takes hold, even though I know what I'm writing will need a lot of revising. Even though what I'm writing is, basically, dialogue and not much else. I can fix it. I will fix it. But in the meantime, it's damn the revision compulsion! Full steam ahead!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Lost is losin' me

When I write a book, I try to maintain what I call "plot logic." That is, I want my characters to react to things in a way that makes sense both in terms of the characters as I've described them and in a believable, conceivable, realistic way. And that's where the TV show Lost is losing me.

Last night, Claire, the young woman who had the baby, discovers her child is ill. She starts having flashbacks of what happened to her earlier on the island, when she was kidnapped. She becomes convinced that the "others" have infected her baby, and that the medicine that will cure her baby is somewhere on the island, in a place where she was kept in a fairly drug-addled state before she escaped.

Now, does she gather everybody around and reveal the details of the these flashbacks and ask for a "posse" to help her find this place? No, she hands her sick infant over to another woman (prompting me to think, "How or what is the baby supposed to eat while she's gone?"), and takes one more (armed) woman off into the jungle. They meet up with a (maybe) crazy woman and off the three of them go on this little search -- without apparently telling anybody WHY or WHAT FOR.

They find a big underground complex. They know there are "others" who aren't nice on the island. Do they go back for reinforcements? Ah, heck, no, they just go right in.

They find working flashlights. Does this cause them to consider that perhaps this place isn't quite as deserted as it looks and maybe back-up would be a good idea? No, they keep going. At this point, I'm thinking of all those horror movies where some nitwit goes creeping around with a candle. This is not a good thing.

Fortunately, the place was, indeed, deserted. But do they go back and say "guess what we found?" Nope.

At least, it didn't look like it to me. But hey, the baby's okay (just like the person who's really a doctor said) big whoop, I guess.

ARGH. This sort of thing just drives me nuts. If I'm on a creepy island looking for people who kidnapped me and wanted my baby, I'd sure take along more people than one woman with a gun and a possibly nutty woman with a rifle. And if I found a bunker? I'd be fetching everybody I could get.

Sawyer may be pretty and an interesting character, but too much more of this, and I will be "lost" indeed.