Monthly Archives: June 2013

Progress… and a problem

654 new words, which brings my total so far to… (drumroll, please)…. 10,036 words.

That’s right, I broke the 10k barrier this morning!

Imma take a moment to bask in that.

Ahhhhhhh!

OK, that’s enough of that.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled to have reached a milestone like this, even if it is only about 10 percent of the usual word count on a finished novel.

My lack of more effusive celebration is due entirely to the problem I alluded to in the post title. And that problem is also the reason it took me so long to get past this significant-seeming milepost. (Errr, wordpost??)

The problem: I don’t know what my main female character’s deepest motivation is. In other words, I don’t know what she really wants. And as a novel is generally best when the main characters all want something very badly and spend the book interacting and affecting one another as they try to get those things, it behooves me to figure out what my gal wants.

At this point, she’s more drifting than moving. I need to get to the core of the woman’s motivations, because nothing stalls a book (or a life) more than having no idea where you want to go.

Can you say “fiction mirroring the author’s psychological state”? Because I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up… except very, very old.

Until I get this sorted, I fear my writing is going to be done more in fits and starts than in regular progress.

It’s a little scary.

Can anyone suggest a tool I can use to psychoanalyze my heroine? I could really use the help.

Thanks.

And, one last time: YAY for 10K!

I write like…

… Stephen King when I write drama*, like David Foster Wallace and Arthur Clarke* when I write romance***, and like Chuck Palahniuk and Charles Dickens when I write blog posts.

I know, right?! Pretty heady comparisons!

And, no, I did not make this up.

And also no, I don’t try to write like anyone other than myself, although there’s always seepage, they say.

In fact, I couldn’t have been influenced directly by three of these authors – Clarke, Foster Wallace, and Palahniuk – as I’ve never read any of their works. [Confession: I’m now sorely tempted to correct those reading oversights. Because if they write like me (ahem), I’ll probably really like them!]

I have read King and Dickens extensively.

King was one of my earliest favorite authors, as I started reading his stuff when I was a teenager (yes, a million years ago) and consider him an amazing writer. There’s not much of his oeuvre that I haven’t read (except the Gunslinger series, which started coming out when I wasn’t very patient with serial fiction), and I consider The Stand to be a masterpiece.

I didn’t get into Dickens until I was an adult, but have read and loved his works.

The Meyers thing? I don’t know where that came from. Nope, no Twilight for me. My sole foray in Meyerdom was The Host… which was pretty darned good, but hardly powerful enough writing to have been an influence.

So, if I didn’t make these comparisons up, where do they come from? From here. I read about I Write Like in a blog post by Wil Wheaton, in which he discovered he writes like Cory Doctorow, too. (I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the coincidence makes my inner Wheaton-fangirl squee a little… and I wouldn’t lie to you… Really. Promise. Ahem.)

Who do you write like? Go find out, then leave me a note in the comments to tell me, ‘kay?

* Where drama = my short story “Magic Hands”

** Also like Stephenie Meyer and Cory Doctorow, depending on what bit of text I had analyzed.

*** Where romance = my novel-in-the-works

Life happens

I haven’t been writing since my last post.

My house has been unusually quiet, so I’ve had time and few physical distractions, but my brain has been scattered.

The most I’ve been able to do is go through the eight chapters I’ve written so far and create a character spreadsheet, so I can keep track of names, descriptions, relationships. It’s not on any specialized writing software, just Excel. And I expect I’ll keep adding to it until I get to the point where I don’t add named characters (even “extras”). It’s also given me a chance to look at the age/racial/gender roles I’ve assigned, so I can avoid the mistake of making everyone generic. I want the book, set in modern-day Florida, to reflect the diversity of people who are actually here now.

So no writing, but progress nonetheless. I feel like I can move forward now without worrying that I’ll contradict or repeat stuff I’ve already committed to pixels. (I’d already forgotten some of the details, and I’m not even 10K words in yet!)

And I’ve been fantasizing about future developments for my characters, as well as background details/episodes that might flesh them out. Unfortunately, later I don’t remember most of the ideas, although a couple of strong ones resurfaced when I was going through the pages to do the spreadsheet. I scrawled a few keywords in the margins of those pages, so I can develop them further.

I feel like I’ve let myself get distracted by busy work, but it was necessary busy work. I mean, it was going to have to happen at some point. And in the future (if/when I write a different story/book) I’ll start the character spreadsheet waaaaay sooner in the book-writing process.

That’s all technical stuff, though.

The real reason I haven’t been writing, and that my house has been quieter than usual, is that life has interfered in an unavoidable way.

The Hubs has been in Tennessee, at his parent’s house. His dad was diagnosed about three weeks ago with pancreatic cancer, late stage, so he was terminal when he got the news. The Hubs has been there this last eight days, helping his mom with his dad physically, as well as with the work of sorting his belongings and finalizing his arrangements.

And this morning, around 5:45, my father-in-law died in his home, attended by his wife and the Hubs and a hospice nurse.

I’ve been here with our teenage son, taking care of the eight cats and three dogs, working my usual schedule. I couldn’t take off from work on such short notice (due to needing coverage, not due to a lack of leave), although I will be automatically approved off for three days of bereavement. Now I wait to hear what arrangements have been made in Tennessee, so I can take our son and join my husband and his family there.

It’s been hard for me to focus on a romance while I’ve been waiting for news about a family tragedy. Understandably.

Until life settles again, in whatever pattern that may be, I don’t anticipate much creative output. Busy work may be all I can manage.

Because my family is more important than the story.

And the story will wait for a while. I’ll just have to keep a notepad handy, so I can jot down some of my ideas when they’re fresh. There might be gold in there, just waiting to be mined and shaped. I hope.

520 new words!

New total: 9382 words!

717 new words!

Current total: 8862 words.

417 new words!

Current total: 8,145!