Category Archives: nuts & bolts

Checking in – nearly five months later

The hacking 50k words out of Boralos is still underway, having been interrupted by various pesky excrescences of real life. I'm about six chapters from the end (of sixty chapters), and looking like being about 130k words by the time I'm finished. That's slightly less than I was asked to cut out (50 rather than 60k) but I'm pretty happy with it as a first pass, and suspect that I can carve more from the first third still.

What's more, I'm pleased with the changes its wrought to the story itself. I'd always been worried that there was a little too much sitting around and talking going on (but then again, I'm constantly worried that I'm a derivative, pedestrian, paint-by-numbers storyteller who's committing all the sins I hate most about genre fiction and delivering nothing big, nothing new, nothing amazing and I should give up right now and set fire to my work… so basically I squint suspiciously at everything my subconscious kicks up about my writing and often ask other people for their opinions). On the other hand, I'd always sort of been aiming for “political fantasy of manners (in the tropics)” for this book, so I have resisted most strenuously the urge to have people dashing about doing uncivilised violence instead. But in the course of editing, I've been able to trim, combine, elide, circumvent and trick out quite a bit of the sitting-around-talking stuff.

Once I'm done, I may need to find one or two readers who haven't seen the thing before to see if it still makes sense, or if I've cut out something vital to the plot without realising. That could be tricky, since I think I imposed upon just about everyone I know to read it the first time. We'll see.

(While I've been doing this I have, of course, had another story idea. I've always been a bit hysterical-laughter about that whole “how do you get your ideas?” question. I want to respond with, “How do you stop??“)

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Meanwhile, back on the hippo ranch… (aka doing November backwards)

Last week, I got a response from an agent I queried last year. This, in and of itself, was sort of spiffy, since I was batting at about 60% cricket-chirping silence in response to Boralos queries. As a (big) bonus, it was a “I really like your writing voice, but…” response. I've been getting quite a few of those. But I can't sell single-volume fantasy in Australia. But my list is full. But there's no action in the first chapter (being the last one that stymied me in conflicted inaction on the book). This one was “But it's too long at 180,000 words. Could you cut out 55-65k words?”

I considered that Actually, no, first I said, “HOLY SHIT!” (in the office; no one noticed) and then spent two minutes trading exclamation marks on the phone with my husband. During which I calmed down enough to say, “Well, I don't know. Can I?”

It's a writing challenge. Anyone who knows me in any sort of writing capacity knows how much I like those.

And so I am back on the horse hippo!

Yay, energy on a project! )

Related on a technical front: using Scrivener to edit )

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You'll go blind

I've been roleplaying quite a bit for the past… er, well, thirteen years. But my involvement with and the nature of Harry Potter roleplaying fandom has meant that in the past six or so years, I've done a lot of hopping into and out of games – there have been a few long-running campaigns that have been wonderful, just great adventures in group storytelling, but in general, the area as a whole is characterised by the way games coalesce and disintegrate, and people drift hither and yon. This means lots of creation of new characters, adaptation of existing or previous ones, and – even if you're not the one doing the moving about – reconsideration of storylines for your characters as others come and go.

It needs flexibility, but it can be its own sort of exciting, as an important element of your character alters, and new possibilities and interpretations open up. I have had so many conversations with people that go along the lines of, “Well, they could be friends, or they could be enemies, or they could be past or future lovers, or they could be complicated frenemies who are engaged in an ongoing potions duel but go for smoothies. I know how each of these is made possible through my character's history and personality, but I don't know which I like better.”

Emphasis added, because that's the point here. There are so many options, and once you've been RPing for a while, you play a whole range of different sorts of storylines (well, you do if you're actually doing it right – whole different rant) and you come to realise that every option – every option – has its own varieties of delightful and delicious to explore. And this is the problem I'm finding. I can see the wonder and opportunities that lie down every branching of the path. It's fine when you're in a game with other people – you wrangle and negotiate and brainstorm and come up with a way that's maximum fun for everyone involved.

But when I'm writing prose, it's just me standing at the fork in the road, looking into multiple distances that all look equally splendid and not taking a fucking step because I can't make a bloody decision. RPing, you have broken my certainty of the singularity of story.

Realising this over trying to plot a new story idea – come on in and help me flip my metaphorical coin )

…Great, I just came up with more options in writing this out than I had before. *le sigh*

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Less a new chapter, more a redrafting of familiar material

All right, let's try this cross-posting malarkey.

An orientation note to start: my dreamwidth journal is for writing. I discuss original things I'm working on, the process of writing, media consumed as it relates to the general business of creativity. I will also begin using this for general life-updates, in the hopes of inculcating in myself a mindset where writing is intrinsically tied up with my life. (Yes, I do play these mindgames with myself. What's more, I win.)

Recent renewed productivity (post wedding/moving/lifestyle-change-panic) has been assisted by everyone's new favourite thing, 750 words. Though I'm not really using it the way it says on the box. Personal ruminations on the Artist's Way )

…and on ruthlessly exploiting tools for your own uses )

And the most important thing, of course, is summed up nicely by this wonderful piece of advice.

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