Monday, June 30, 2014

Answering the Question

I watched the first episode of HBO's The Leftovers and I'm intrigued. A friend commented that it has 'a train wreck quality' to it and that's pretty accurate but it also has some fascinating character building going on.

The situation is that 2% of the world's population is just gone in some sort of 'departure' event that may or may not be a biblical rapture depending on how one looks at it. The show focuses on the 'leftovers' in one small town. Life carries on in the new normal of loved ones just being gone. Very different kinds of thinking are evident in the pilot from a group of white-clad, silent smokers who watch select people in the town to the tortured chief of police to the man who shoots dogs to the high school kids at parties.

And because I'm a glutton for punishment, I went to the show's IMDB entry to read up a little on it. Message boards there listed complaints about the ending of LOST, the current Under The Dome and just general bitching. You'd think I'd know better. Still, I got a nice piece of information about the book there, and that's inspired the writing of this post.

It may be that the cause of the 'departure' could never be known either to the characters on the show or to the audience.

I like that!

That's life, you know? Everything is not always wrapped up nice and neat to be presented even when one takes the time to ask the right questions. In my case I will never know (or at least it's beyond unlikely) what caused the blood clots that gathered in my lungs like the Woodstock crowd crashing the gates. I don't know why my thyroid is weak and failing. I've been told "sometimes the body just fails" by doctors who I respect.

If there is something I can do to prevent more parts of my body failing I will do it but if science doesn't know then the lack of an answer is something I'll have to live with.

As far as stories go, I like wondering what happens to characters when the screen fades to (or cuts to) black. Inception is a great example and so is Blue Jasmine. I don't require an in-depth explanation of the whys and wherefores as long as I've been entertained. I'm comfortable, though scared, about not knowing everything in life, too. I can't control everything. I've tried that and it drove me crazy.


So I'm definitely part of the target audience for a smart show like The Leftovers appears to be. HBO and the producers have to be thinking that their target audience has to be relatively small, too, because the prevailing opinion of the majority of television watchers is that they want things nice and neat. They want the explanation.

And HBO should have learned that from the ending of The Sopranos.

Friday, June 20, 2014

And It's Done

The Zero Draft of The Silent Well is finished. 

Next week I'll begin the process of dashing it against the rocks and cleaning it up into a Zero Point Five draft that I can share with the folks who've been asking me about it. 

So, the story behind this book is that it's a sequel to my novel The Cold Distance, which is out on the street trying to find an agent and/or a publishing home. I have collected several rejections on it already but there's some hope. I'll let you know if/when things are moving on it.

I started this book on November 1, 2013. NaNoWriMo, yes. By the end of November I'd written 61,000 words on it. I kept writing into December. I don't remember exactly when I stopped but the book stalled out about 10,000 words later right smack in the mushy middle. As to why, I can't really say. I think it was a bit of boredom, maybe a bit of the holidays, maybe some other stuff. I was still recovering from my illness in August and the weather was getting heavy with lots of snow to come. 

And for months the book sat there on my hard drive, the death bar on the right column of this blog sat there taunting me, too. The characters were begging me to finish. Or I imagined so, anyway. 

Spring was busy and I had to get back into a regular exercise routine that had also fallen fallow during the snowiest winter I'd experienced in a while. My health was far more important. And my son graduating high school, too, took precedence. 

But in the week following that graduation I found the thing I didn't know I was looking for. I knew the end of the book, had already outlined the final scene. What I needed was a little motivation to think about how it would get there. (Yes, I'm a hot mess of planner/pantser when it comes to plotting stories, so what?)

But once I knew what had to happen to get me to the end it actually ran pretty quickly. I started carving out time to type.

I'd had a goal of 2,000 words a day and I rarely made it. But it was a goal. Often there were 1,000 words but almost as often there were only 700 or 800 words a day. It didn't matter. I was moving toward the goal of finishing. 

It took me almost a month to write some 30,000 words to finish the draft but I did and it's done.

Now comes the process of hammering it into readable shape. First things first, I will read the book backwards, chapter by chapter, and write the summary of beats. That way when I go back through the book from the beginning I will know exactly what's happening where and if things need to move I'll have a better idea of how to do that.

I hope.

Anyway, it's done. I can relax a little. Gotta finish cataloging the comic collection then get started next week on finishing a novelette that has the working title "Outgrowth". More on that another time.

In the meantime, I'm kinda doing this:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Novel Update

In case you don't visit the blog very often but read it through Facebook or a reader of some kind, you might not know where I'm at in the writing stage.

I'm nearly done.

About ten thousand words from typing the favorite words of every writer, I suppose. And that'll be the end of the Zero Draft of The Silent Well.

Then begins the drag of editing the thing for all the stuff that I know is wrong. Hopefully that'll only take a month or so and I can send it to my faithful first readers. Then it's the long haul of compiling their notes and taking (or not taking) their suggestions.

And from there, we'll see. I'm maybe two weeks (maybe less) from finishing. That's the patch of sunlight and blue sky I see in my head.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Fun Again

When you gonna finish that thing? I need crunchies.
As you may have noticed if you look at the death bar over on the right of the blog, I've been writing more lately.

Some 3000+ words have been added since the last post here, most of them in small chunks of 300 to 500 words a session until today when I wrote 1332. Man, did that feel good.

To recap, I started this novel last November during NaNoWriMo and I stalled out shortly after the end of that month, then added a bit more over the end of the year holidays and a few in January. For nearly five months the book was sitting at a shade over 70,000 words. Around the beginning of May I started pecking away at it again and even came up with the ending of the story.

See, I have to know the end before I get there or I can't get there. I start wandering around aimlessly searching the ever deepening dark woods for microscopic crumbs that will lead me home. Then the wolves start to howl and some guy with an axe drops by to ask me where the old lady's house is and I don't know what's happening.

(Okay it's not THAT confusing but you get the idea. I hope.)

So I had an idea what the last scene would be for the last few weeks but no idea how to get to it. So I started looking at my dangling plot threads and began to tie them up. This put the characters in danger so that gave them something to do. Which meant I could get back into writing. Thus, the small chunks that I've been tapping away at mostly every day for the last couple of weeks.

The other day I understood the ending a lot better. I started to formulate why what happened at the end happened and how it could complicate things even more, leaving an opportunity for a sequel. In short (too late!) I figured out the cliffhanger.

Really what happened was I got excited about the story again. I'd written myself into a corner I didn't see any way out of immediately so I became bored and listless when it came to writing. Thank goodness I had Planet Comicon to keep me busy and build up some energy in March. Finally I'd remembered that if I wasn't excited about my story no one else would be, either.

So that's why I'm writing more lately. My 'in' to the story is exciting.

Now that's not to say that the draft is going to be perfect because it's not. But the skeleton of a good story is there and I'll have something to change when I get it done.

All right, that's all for now. Keep an eye on the death bar on the right. That's how you'll know I'm working away at this. Oh, and the occasional snippet that appears on my author Facebook page, too.

Although you've read this far, maybe I should give you a taste here.

Mid-morning on Wednesday June 26th was a bad time on a terrible day in the worst week of Reid Carter’s life. Buried under the sudden rubble of a collapsed building was the last place he thought he’d be. For now, he was alive and that was something to be happy about. It was the only thing worth being happy about. He was pretty certain that his left leg was broken and a couple of ribs. Breathing was painful.
He might also have a cut on his forehead that was leaking blood into his eye and that hurt, too.
Wonder how Reid's going to get out of that? Stay tuned.