Wonder

So my Wonder Woman comic arrived yesterday and I read it today.

It’s got a lot of good stuff in it, I can certainly say that. The writing is good. But I wonder if maybe I’m just not used to superhero comic pacing or something, because a lot of stuff seemed to go by very quickly without much exploration or attention to detail, mostly in the form of what seemed to be cameo appearances by other characters – not so much that I lost track of it, but it seemed like it expected the reader to take a lot of things for granted. Then again, this is Wonder Woman, which has been running for over 70 years by this point, so I guess in that context this was actually a really well-executed comic in terms of what it explained and how much time it spent on it. It integrated the cameos well enough for the purposes of the story, and in the end, that’s all that really matters. In a way, it added to the almost-camp undertones of both stories, and I have to say that I rather enjoyed that aspect of the comic

Also, Wonder Woman apparently has a sense of humour, or at least when Gail Simone is writing her, which I most certainly appreciated.

What struck me the most, though, was how coloured my expectations were of the comic after I read the foreword by Mercedes Lackey. I really, really wish I hadn’t read it until afterwards, because the whole time I was looking for all of these things that just didn’t turn up, or not the way I was expecting them to. I wish I’d gone in cold.

But it only took like an hour to read the whole thing, so I will most likely read it again. And it told a whole story, too. A bit of a self-contained episode (and then another, shorter one to follow it up). A couple of short stories, I guess. I was expecting something of a graphic novel for some reason, so that’s also part of it.

But I did like it. And if this is how Wonder Woman is supposed to be, then I think I’m a fan.

In fact it was quite surprising that she was just kind of like any other archetypal superhero you might imagine – strong, resourceful, compassionate, honourable, uber-competent – and I was expecting her to be constantly compensating for something. It’s the impression I’ve always gotten from Wonder Woman, the aura that’s been projected around her, though whether that’s due to the character or her reception or the fact that so many other female action-heroes do suffer from being written that way I have no idea. She was not, though. She came across as completely whole, and a little otherworldly – which makes sense, seeing as she’s an Amazon and all that. So yeah, I dig it. I would totally read more. By Gail Simone at least. I do strongly suspect that a big part of the reason she’s so compelling is because it’s a woman writing her. Which has happened only three or four times in Wonder Woman’s 70-year history. Not surprising, sadly.

And also she made the Lasso of Truth … cool. Like … actually cool. Not mind-bogglingly awesome or anything, but still, I don’t think there are enough points in the world to sufficiently award Gail Simone for pulling that off.

The story itself (the first, main story, The Circle) (also: spoilers, skip this paragraph to avoid) concerns Wonder Woman’s origins, and ties in with issues of both female identity and colonialism. I can at least talk about the colonialism; it was handled rather … amusingly. The story starts with WW facing down some sentient gorilla dudes and getting them on her side, and they then come back to fight for her when the Nazis invade Themyscira. She says a few lines from a poem and one of the gorillas responds: ‘Hmm. Kipling. Not my favourite.’ And I must admit that I appreciated that. Making peace with a race of Noble Savages and then getting them to fight for your agenda is a really standard colonial narrative, so I at least appreciated this little touch of self-awareness. I mean it was still happening but whatever, maybe if I was more familiar with the comic continuity it wouldn’t be quite the same. Also there’s a dude called Captain Nazi. It’s pretty hilarious, and it adds to the ‘almost-camp’ feeling that runs throughout the first story, and gets a little stronger in the second. All I can say about the theme of female identity, not being female myself, is that I thought that it worked well for the story and raised some very interesting questions.

I wasn’t expecting the stories to be as light-hearted as they were. Not that they were, strictly speaking, light-hearted affairs, but I really liked the balance between comedic and dramatic elements; it worked very well, especially in The Circle. The second story, the name of which escapes me, was pretty ridiculous, but it still worked with this dynamic. And it really is the kind of stuff you have creative license to do when you’re playing with a superhero, so obviously Gail was having a bit of fun, and as a reader I definitely enjoyed it.

~~~

I’m still not sure whether I want to actually ‘take a break’ from Tallulah right now. In terms of taking notes anyway. Not my own, but I want to read my beta feedback and keep up momentum. Having said that, though, I felt much more eager to get underway yesterday, whereas right now I’m starting to think that at least waiting until the weekend is probably a good idea, just so that I have a little bit of time to snap out of tunnel-vision mode. I think this next … phase, I don’t know what else to call it really … I’ll just play by ear and see how it goes. I should also keep track of what I’m doing with myself within it, so that I can learn from it for future projects.

I definitely think that I’ll have to incorporate more reading into my Writer Schedule, though. More stuff in general. Exercise, for instance. And a bit of socialisation. It all feeds me in some way, and writers gotta eat, yo.

I mean I can get a lot of reading done in two days. I could read, like, two novels tomorrow if I really wanted to.

And maybe I will.

Stepping

Yeah okay that was a really stupid idea.

This is the kind of thing – not taking breaks, not letting ideas sit, not making clear plans and sticking to them – that got me into trouble while trying to draft Mark and Jessie. I ended up feeling so stuck that I ended up resenting the project in its entirety, and only now, five years later, am I starting to feel like picking it up again.

So, I still need something to do, and reading and job-hunting is only going to get me so far. Thus, the Interim Projects return.

I want to take a very short break. Two weeks to a month, tops. I want to keep up momentum. But if nothing else, my little splurge just now in trying to make a synposis tells me that I am simply not ready for that step. There are other things I need to do first. I probably need to read other people’s feedback, for a start, and let that sink in. But I also just need a break. I need a vacation from the project, while I also want to keep writing.

So it’s finally time to get to work on that Little Red Riding-Hood re-visioning project of mine.

I may also read beta notes. In which case this Interim Project may well serve as a sort of emotional buffer between me and the trauma of exposing myself to other people’s feedback. I don’t know if I really need a break before I move onto that, but I do know that I’ll need a break after it, just to let it sink in, so perhaps it’s best to get it over with now? I don’t know. I really don’t know.

I feel the urge to read the notes, but I felt the urge to write that synopsis, and now I feel sick. Maybe I’m just having withdrawal symptoms and need to tough it out for the next however long it takes until they go away. Or maybe reading the notes is actually the best thing to do.

Ugh.

I mean it might be the best way to round out this process – making my own notes, at least having a rough idea of what I could do with draft 2 written down for reference, and ending with reading other people’s notes. Because I think part of the reason my synopsis felt like a drain was due to that lack of outside perspective. And I think it’s outside perspective that I need right now, whether that’s through writing something else, stopping writing altogether for a while and just doing other things, or reading over my beta readers’ notes. I don’t know. All I know is that I can’t sit still right now and it’s driving me insane. I need to get something meaningful done.

~~~

All right. I took a moment there. I needed it.

What I’m going to do is read other people’s finished work.

I need a pick-me-up. I’ve got all of these books sitting in my room waiting to be read, some of which I have never touched since buying them (most for English at university). And I might end up reading some beta readers’ notes. I might. I’ll probably have to go over them a few times each anyway. But whatever happens there, I need to interact with something new, right now.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake is waiting for me right now, and the first chapter was good, so I’ll start there. Then I’ll probably cave in, break my own solemn oath to never read the Old Kingdom Trilogy again (not because I don’t love it, because I do, but because Lirael reminds me way too much of myself in my darkest moments as a teenager), and then by that point I’ll possibly be picked-up enough to move back to Tallulah. And if I find time/energy to work on my Little Red Riding-Hood thing, I’ll do that, too.

There. A plan. I have two weeks in which I may enact this plan. Once the two weeks are up, I’m back to Tallulah, no matter what, though of course that doesn’t mean I can’t be doing other stuff simultaneously. A plan. It is made. It is written. And so it shall be.

I really hope this is the right move. But, as Kirk said in the latest Star Trek film: I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. All I know is what I can do.

So that’s what I’m gonna do.

I really wish I had a Spock right now …

Best-laid plans

For any other writers out there: have you ever done the thing where  you sit down to write out a synopsis of your story, get about halfway through doing really short, concise bullet-points, and then get to the point where you actually have to start making stuff up and suddenly you can’t be concise anymore because you don’t know what happens anymore?

That’s currently what I’m doing in trying to plan out draft 2. And I mean it’s not surprising or anything, it’s just giving me more reason to think that perhaps I did not read my manuscript with the attention that it deserved, because I feel like I should be able to draw a lot more on the stuff that I already have to fill in some of the blanks here.

But maybe that’s being unfair. For all that it was generative and had a lot of ideas that I definitely can use, it was still a very rough draft. And I mean I’m not planning to only make one synopsis and stop there; I will be drafting these synopses as well, especially after I get around to reading my beta readers’ feedback, so nothing’s set in stone here.

It’s just hard. I didn’t stick to my own plan. I was going to take a break. Though I didn’t specify how long a break it would be, so that didn’t help.

Ah well, I’ll finish this just to get it out of the way. I can always resort to ‘Then something happens’ if I really need to. Placeholders are totally legitimate authorial tools in the drafting process.

A lot of it is coming together very smoothly, though, so I’m certainly happy about that. And I finished The Hunger Games. I like it. I have a few issues with it, as I have a few issues with everything, but it’s good. I would definitely like to get my hands on the next two.

It’ll get done eventually. That’s what matters. That’s good enough.

Writing While Writing – Round 6

All right. I have slept. My skeletal structure no longer feels like it is caving in on itself. And I can breathe.

As I draw closer to actually writing draft 2, I’m worrying more and more that I’ll miss something from draft 1 and then regret it later, that I won’t have identified everything that I could have in terms of themes I could develop or issues I could explore, etc. The thought of finishing the book and sending it off to be published and then realising that it isn’t finished at all terrifies me.

So I’m trying to keep myself calm by bearing in mind that this, what I’m doing, is what I’m capable of doing right now, and what feels right right now. That if I stopped now, I would have done the best job that I was capable of doing. Otherwise I’d be doing a better job. And that what I’ve got now, considering that it is now and not later, is good enough.

Having said that, there’s a ton of stuff that I tried to signpost to myself while writing draft 1 that has gotten lost, and that frustrates me to no end, because I know it was there, and I don’t know if I picked up on any of it. But perhaps it was only important at the time, if I didn’t pick up on it while reading through this time around; perhaps it was never important at all. I have yet to go through the copious amount of notes I took while writing draft 1 and see if there’s anything useful in there to mine for precious minerals – I think I’ll wait until I’ve gotten a plan for draft 2 outlined at least, though, so that I have a clear structure to work within. And also I’ve still got my beta readers’ notes to get through, so they may have picked up on it for me, as well as other things that I never even considered.

I suppose that as long as I’m happy with what I’ve got, it doesn’t matter what it isn’t. So my goal is therefore to be happy with what I’ve got.

On with the final chapter!

~~~

Who is a better antagonist: Voldemort or Gollum?

I raise this question because it’s becoming more and more apparent to me just how important it is that I do what’s right for my story, with regards to my characters. I have all of these options with what directions I could take certain characters in, and they all interest me. But I haven’t really looked at which versions actually suit the story the most, and now that I’m trying, it’s becoming apparent that the choices are actually very obvious – they’re also difficult, though, because I still like the other ideas, and they don’t really work anywhere else.

Trying to imagine Voldemort and Gollum switching places makes it very clear to me that antagonists especially (and the dilemma I’m facing right now is what to do with an antagonist) need to help tell the story; it’s just as important to have an antagonist who suits the story as a protagonist who suits the story. It all has to come back to the story. It all has to feel like it belongs there, because if it doesn’t feel like it fits, that’s a weakness that the story doesn’t need to have, and will suffer for having. Like if Wickham had been a Decepticon. While a pretty awesome idea, it doesn’t really work within the context of the story.

~~~

UGH Male Writer Syndrome rearing its ugly head again. I mean obviously I can’t help being a male writer, nor do I want to, but I can help being a Male Writer. Though I suppose to my credit I did at least manage to spot it. And it’s only the first draft. There’s still time.

Also I need to do some medical and police procedural research … no these two things are not really related …

~~~

Cover-stories as plot-points are always interesting. It’s a bit like Mr Charles in Inception; if it goes wrong, it’s because it’s exposing the narrative as being tied to the writer’s agenda and breaks the illusion. I mean it’s the same with anything your characters have to react to in the story, but the fact that this thing they’re reacting to is a story really is really making that apparent to me right now.

~~~

I mean I know it’s the last chapter, but that doesn’t mean characters can just start crawling out of the woodwork to participate … it’s not a cast reunion …

~~~

Lol for university in-jokes. English is Arts. Arts is funny. Lol.

Oh, there’s another one. This one’s actually funny.

Seriously I rather enjoyed English and am glad that I had the opportunity to exercise my critical thinking skills by doing an Arts degree, but a lot of how it’s structured is rather ridiculous. I mean why do English exams even exist? The whole point of English is learning how to develop an informed argument by doing research and having heaps of resources available to hand for referencing, through the process of which you come to develop your own critical opinion, not rote-learning and memorising quotes and articles for a pop-quiz.

Anyway.

~~~

Oh, the gratification that comes with seeing that you’ve managed to characterise a character exactly the way you wanted to, even if it’s only in one isolated part of the manuscript. A most validating experience.

~~~

It is almost as gratifying as getting to the end of the draft and having the ending feel pretty much exactly the way you’d hoped it would. I got chills. I am a happy writer.

And …

That’s it.

I have made notes on a full draft of a book.

I AM AMAZING.

I mean yeah I still have all of this other stuff to do but seriously, I have never ‘been here’ before. This is pretty awesome. I feel like I can actually do this thing.

I think my next step is actually going to be to take a break, just a quick one, in which I will finish reading The Hunger Games (and probably write up a review-ish thing, more just my impressions than an actual review). I think I’ll save note-reading and draft-outlining for the next step. Then maybe another quick break, and then draft 2 commences, woot!

Thanks to everybody who’s been following me, whether you’re new or whether you’ve been here since November last year; I really appreciate it. Knowing that other people are in some way watching my progress helps keep me honest, and more to the point, keeps me writing consistently. This Writing While Writing thing is super-helpful. I earnestly recommend it to anybody struggling with motivation.

Until next time!

 

Sick day

I haven’t slept in over 48 hours.

Well, that isn’t true – I remember sort of dozing off for about two hours the other day, and having fitful dreams in which myself, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost were saving our post-apocalyptic jungle-showboat-theme park world from leather-clad cyborg aliens and there may or may not have also been Pokemon involved, so I guess that counts – but the night preceding that afternoon I didn’t sleep because I went to bed too early and sent my circadian clock into shock, and last night I couldn’t sleep because one: my face-bones felt like they were caving in from the stress exerted by gravity, and two: having congestion, I couldn’t breathe through my nose properly. But most that first one, because that was horrible, and it’s still going on now, meaning I am loath to even lie down.

Strangely enough, I don’t feel all that sleep-deprived. I guess it really does go to show that when you stay indoors all day and partake in virtually no physical activity past typing and breathing, you really don’t need much sleep. That or I’m actually becoming a teenager again and have regained my youthful vigour. I’ve certainly been feeling more teenagery over the last couple of days, but in a mostly good way, so that’s nice.

Coming up to this last part of the note-taking process, I actually feel like I ought to go back and read through the whole draft again from start to finish now. A lot of what my notes have ended up being consists of changes I want to make in draft 2 feeding off what I’m identifying structure-wise in draft 1. And I mean that’s important; that’s something I have to do, and there is no way I’d take this draft as it is and just tidy up the spelling a bit and leave it at that. Most of the changes that I want to make are to swap around certain scenes as well, so that part of it feels organic, and of course nothing is set down in stone; but at the same time I can feel myself getting tunnel-vision, that stone is actually exactly what my notes are set down in, and as such I need to get some perspective. A second read-through, just focusing on what’s on the page and not looking for ways to make changes, might be really useful. Or it might not. Maybe just taking a few weeks off to get distance before coming back would be more helpful.

Or maybe taking a few weeks off to get distance and then doing a second read-through. Because now that I’ve gotten all of the ‘make changes to fix things’ urges out of my system – well, actually, I have no idea if that’s true, but at least I’ve given myself a chance to vent them, and there’s still one chapter to go – a second read-through would, I feel, give me a chance to more clearly see what is on the page, rather than just jumping directly to what could be on the page.

I mean there’s the issue of time and stuff, but honestly I know I can work far faster than I’ve been doing up to this point; last year I had a massive paradigm-shift in how productive I was because I introduced structure into my work ethic (a shocking correlation, I know), and through the Writing While Writing initiative I’m now almost compelled to do work on my project every single day. Being sick is compromising my stamina, yes, but it would be folly to sacrifice the body for the sake of the art that it can potentially produce. I need to be smart about when I work, is what I’m saying. There’s no point in revising or drafting if I’m not lucid or clear-minded enough to be working at peak performance. Also I actually want to get healthy again, and stress via overworking is kind of not the best way to go about that.

And also staring at computer screens is not helping my face-imploding sensations, and I do all of my revision on a computer, because, well, I do. I might try the old pen-and-paper approach with the next project, or even the next draft, but since I’ve almost finished my notes anyway it seems silly to switch over to an entirely different medium just for the sake of avoiding electronic stimulus for a few hours.

Actually maybe that doesn’t seem silly. Maybe that seems smart.

Ugh I don’t know.

What I do know is that I’m excited about getting to do some actual writing again once I’ve got a plan for draft 2. This is going to be interesting, because I tend to not gel with pre-planned structure when it comes to writing something. Or, rather, the last time I did it was a really long time ago – like, wow, eight years – and it felt like a fluke, albeit a fluke that I stuck with for almost a year. So obviously I can do it. And having a stronger structure will help this story a lot; it’ll provide a strong skeleton to prop up the flesh.

But it is the flesh that concerns me, and the reason I want to do this second read-through, so that I can take in more of the content now that I’ve taken care of how it’s presented. Although perhaps that’s something to save for draft 3. I’m working off what I hear other writers do with their drafts by putting structure first, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing to do. I suppose I’m just getting a bit hung-up about it not being ‘my style’, but then again I’ve never gotten this far with writing a book before, so I hardly know what ‘my style’ even is at this point in the process, so there’s no harm in trying what’s worked for other people.

And at some point the structure does have to come in. And again, I think it’ll be for the better when it does. I do like structure, in the sense that I enjoy the feeling that I’m ‘playing the game’. There is something to be said for the satisfaction that can come with being an effective replicator.

Having said that, I do now think that I’ll leave that second read-through until draft 2 is done. Once the structure is there, I’ll have something to embellish and decorate and enfleshen.

Enfleshen. I like that.

The other thing I’m worried about is the fact that I want to add new stuff to draft 2 that isn’t there at all in draft 1. It’s stuff that fulfills certain roles that are not filled by what I’ve provided myself with in draft 2, so even if these are not the appropriate additions to bring in, additions will need to be brought in, of that there is no question.

I mean I think they do …

Argh. A second read-through could help me with that! But yeah, I am pretty sure that I don’t have a whole story here just with the parts I’ve got – I have a lot of a story, which is great, and to be fair, yeah, I could take what I’ve got and turn it into a story just with clever editing and reshuffling. But I don’t think it’d be the story I want to tell. There is a lot of disparity between what I wrote and what I had in mind; that’s fine, and the idea I had was not a complete picture anyways, but I would like to bring the two of them closer together.

I do want to see if I can get away with adding in very little, though. A lot of it is just expansion on stuff that’s already there, which I don’t really count, but there is one big sequence I like the idea of that isn’t in there in any form, and thus I’d be bringing it in out of nowhere. That’s the part I’m worried about, because it will be the first draft of that scene mixed into the body of the second draft.

Oh well. Only one way to find out I guess. While I won’t be doing revision tonight, I will probably finish up The Hunger Games. It’s hard to put down, so judging by that I’ll say that I’m really enjoying it. I mean I also like Katniss and the premise and the little twist on the love-triangle that’s going on, even though I hear it gets less subversive as the books go on, which does not sound to my liking. But I’m invested now, so I will try and read them all before the next film comes out. Revision can wait until tomorrow, by which time I will, hopefully, have gotten some freaking sleep.

I hope I’m doing the right thing. But since I can’t know that, I hope I’m doing what I really want to do. I guess that’s the most important thing, because that’s the only thing I can know for sure.

I really want to not be sick. That’s what I really want …

Writing While Writing – Round 5

So I’ve been having what I have referred to as Sleep Bulimia for the last couple of weeks, in that I’ve been having wildly fluctuating sleep-patterns from day-to-day. Last night I went to bed at 11pm in an attempt to rectify this and ended up not sleeping at all. It was horrible. And now I have a cold, so I spent a couple of hours today just snoozing in an attempt to feel better.

What ended up happening was that I actually felt kind of worse, and I think it’s because I tend to become very insular when I get sick – I become very self-focused. Which makes sense I guess; your body starts acting up so your attention naturally fixes on the disturbance. But then it’s not just a change in health and comfort that you’re dealing with, but also a change in habit and activity, and just gathering from what I’ve been experiencing today I assume that’s just as disorienting.

So with that in mind, I’m going to do whatever I would have done today had I not been sick. I mean if I had the flu or something then maybe I’d just give today a miss, but then again, maybe not. Plus now I have chilli to eat. With other stuff. Not just straight chilli. My mother can do that, but apparently chilli-tolerance is not hereditary.

To the climax!

~~~

Whoops, almost missed a pretty big slip-up. Although it may have been intentional, now that I think of it. I hope it wasn’t. It works, as in it’s the sort of thing other stories do all the time – two characters with a lot of unresolved tension are having a conversation, some important, plot-hinging-upon issue is about to be raised, but then the conversation gets derailed by one of the characters bringing up something personal and they have to deal with that first and the other thing is never brought up again until it’s too late to do anything about it and cue climax.

I hate that.

And it does make sense that it would happen, given the kind of tension that these characters have, but it’s also such an obvious distraction, the kind of thing that tends to take me out of a story because the answer to the question is conspicuous by its absence and in this case turns out to be a huge plot-point, and almost always is when this happens, so it’s so easy to see through if you know what to look for – a self-fulfilling lampshade, if you will. A good story will be able to distract the reader so much by having them engage in what’s going on with the characters that they may not mind at all, and to be fair this might be one of those cases, but still, on principle I am a little bit disappointed that I did this myself, especially since I don’t think it was my intention. But then, in that case, I guess there’s no point in blaming myself.

~~~

Oh dear. I wonder if I just committed a bit of a Deus ex Machina.

That’s two! Two cliches I hate and yet am guilty of using myself, ah-ah-ah!

~~~

And another Deus ex Machina … I mean it’s technically foreshadowed, but it needs to be made more significant, even if I do want it to be a surprise twist thingy, because if it’s just a surprise twist then it feels cheap, and is cheap. But if there’s enough foreshadowing, even if it’s very subtle (which is probably the best kind), then it’ll feel like a payoff when it’s finally revealed, and it will be a payoff.

Hmm, I think being sick is forcing me to be nice to myself. Which I do appreciate, I must admit. Gives me a different perspective on how I make notes. After all, constructive criticism is the best criticism, and really the only one I want to have to deal with, so I should probably hold myself to account in that regard as well.

~~~

Ah, character-arcs.

I mean I’m really steadfastly against the idea of making this book into a series. But it makes a lot of sense in a lot of ways, regarding what I want to show with characters and give them their turn in the spotlight. The reason I’m against it, though, is that I honestly don’t think there’s quite enough there to make more than one satisfying self-contained story, and I much prefer self-contained stories, even as part of a series. Harry Potter is a good example of a series that does this well, with the exception of Half-Blood Prince, which is why it was my least-favourite when it first came out, whereas now it’s tied equal-first with Azakaban and Hallows, because the series is finished and therefore counts as a self-contained story in and of itself. I had the same issue with Empire Strikes Back until I saw Return of the Jedi. And basically I don’t want Tallulah to be a serial. It doesn’t have to be, but again, I don’t think there’s enough story here to fill that much narrative space. So I guess my option is to cut down on some of the characters’ roles.

😥

~~~

“Back” is a word that, if you use it enough times in succession, stops looking like a word. back back back back back back back back back it’s like a sound more than an actual thing like something you’d see in the old Batman show when they hit each other or something back back back back it’s really ugly-looking too just that arrangement of those letters and the sound that it makes and ugh yuck

~~~

It’s one thing to think up a soundtrack for your book. I mean I think plenty of writers do this, or at least have writing playlists and stuff if not for specific books. It’s another thing entirely to want a specific cover of a specific song for a soundtrack for a specific book and to have that cover not actually exist and for it to make you just a tad more upset than it probably should.

I mean seriously, it would be perfect. Like theme song perfect. Except that I’ve already got a designated theme song.

I tend not to listen to music while I’m drafting, but revision is a different matter entirely. Music can be quite helpful while revising, just because it makes me feel less anxious. Having background music just kind of makes things more chill. It can still be intrusive, though, so one has to be careful.

And i just spent like half an hour making a new playlist … I wish I could say that I’m only feeling so distracted because I’m sick and haven’t slept in like 24 hours, but that would be a lie …

~~~

So there’s a lot of last-minute exposition going on in this chapter, which is not only last-minute because it’s never been brought up before and is important to the plot, but also feels like last-minute exposition, like the kind you’d find in a bad 80’s fantasy film. Such as Krull, which I watched a review of today, and dear lord does it look horrible in terms of storytelling. Or like what I’ve seen of that horrendous Earthsea miniseries, only with both of those examples the exposition is not last-minute, because it’s spread out throughout the entire thing. Even in my first draft, let it be known, I managed to avoid what two big-budget productions could not, on my budget of patchy self-discipline and personal satisfaction. So that’s pretty good.

~~~

Hmm.

There are scenes that are meant to be hectic and panicked and kind of thoughtless, and this chapter has a sequence where I felt the same way while I was writing it, more or less – it’s a scene where Tallulah has to improvise, and I was improvising while I wrote it, so there was a feeling of synergy there. Now, reading back over it, it just seems like she’s being a dunce. But perhaps that’s just me being hyper-critical. Maybe it’s fine. Maybe it works.

~~~

Oh Jenna Marbles. You so cray.

Uh, I mean, this chapter has some promising ideas that I can totally develop in draft 2. Which I am aware of, because I am totally paying attention to this revision. Which I have been doing for like four hours now.

… I hate being sick …

~~~

Well, not bad. A lot of the issues with it are simply the last-minute feel of a lot of it, and then just some consistency problems. But I think almost every idea in that chapter would work great if I take the time to develop it.

Only one chapter to go. That’s pretty rad.

Writing While Writing – Round 4

Ah, the second of two monologue chapters. I like the idea of these chapters, though I’m not sure if they’re a bit too disruptive – contrast is great, disruption is not. And it’s rather short as well, so I may get two chapters done tonight. Let us begin …

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Well, already there’s an issue of voice, and while this is a first draft, for monologues voice is absolutely vital, so I’ll be making notes on that. This is also where one of the core themes of the story is explored and applied very heavily, and I’m very conscious of how I portray it with relation to what it says about gender norms. So this is going to be interesting to read.

I suppose this actually counts as first-person POV, doesn’t it … well, not entirely. It’s a person speaking rather than thinking. Which is what I like about the idea of monologues – it’s revelatory, but also biased. Another reason why voice is so important.

~~~

Hmm, this is such a loaded chapter. It’s got so much going on – exposition (backstory), character-development (the mere act of the character divulging this information is a huge thing for them), and balancing driving the narrative forward by revealing this character’s secret, which is vital to Tallulah’s own story, and putting in character things – things that she would tell Tallulah just because she has the chance to speak to her now. I’m not sure where the balance is here yet. A lot of it is stuff that isn’t important to the story she’s telling, but it’s important to her as a character that she share this stuff with Tallulah, and that is obviously also important. Tricky.

~~~

Also, I know this is set in a fictional place, but it’s definitely a fictional place in the real world. Dialect is something I’ll have to think about. They’re all saying ‘Mum’ instead of ‘Mom’, because that’s what I say and ‘Mom’ just feels so unnatural to even type, let alone say, for me, but maybe I should pick a country and set this story there.

Not New Zealand. Oh dear Horus not New Zealand.

Maybe New Zealand. But I’ll never mention it, and just have it in my mind, whatever country I decide to set this in.

Yeah. Knowing what to mention and what not to mention is another issue – even an offhanded mention of something, like a location, can raise questions that, if indeed raised, need to be answered for the sake of consistency. Same with the supernatural stuff.

UGH.

~~~

It’s always rather amusing when you run into something in your writing that you wrote on the spur of the moment, some little plot-twist or reveal that you never followed-up on. This one I like because, the way it’s currently implemented, it’s very ambiguous. Just something for people to think about. But that’s also what I don’t like about it, because I haven’t made up my own mind about it, so it feels a bit disingenuous to leave it in there without an answer to give, even if I never give it.

~~~

Man, I’m having feels about my own book. MY OWN BOOK. This is weird.

Really hope I’m not alone there, haha …

>.>

~~~

This character is getting perhaps the most quotable lines in the whole draft so far. I don’t mind it. It’s good, actually, given their significance to the story.

I really am having horrible doubts now, though, about writing this character as a man. I mean there’s still drafts to come after this, still time to get it right, but there’s something … off about some of what this character is saying, the experience she’s having. I can’t tell if it’s just the voice or if it is really just that I don’t have the perspective necessary to talk about this at all. Hopefully one of my beta readers picked up on it, if there is indeed a problem and I’m not just second-guessing myself for the umpteenth time.

Maybe it’s just that I’ve left something out that is necessary to complete the picture. It does feel incomplete, her experience, now that I think about it.

Stupid gender identity. Why must you muddle the universality of human experience?

~~~

There are actually a few good moments of this character’s voice coming through here. That’s a heartening sign.

~~~

Oh WOW. Apparently I can write pretty damn believable male characters … oh that was delicious …

And apparently I can write believable relationships! Well, believable enough for me, anyway. We’ll see what my beta readers have to say about that soon enough.

What is also exciting me now is the idea of voice in monologues when the character delivering the monologue is speaking for another character. I mean that’s always an interesting thing when it comes to voice, but with monologue in particular there’s almost nothing but voice going on, so this could be very fun to play with in draft 2 …

~~~

And we end with yet another potential solution to certain structural issues I’m having with the plot – I’m not sure if it’s quite what I want, but it would work. I do want to have a think about some other options too, though.

Hmm. Since then next chapter is so short … yeah. Why not. Let’s do another!

~~~

~~~

~~~

I’ve mentioned before that sometimes when I try to write visceral, gritty, realistic dialogue or emotions it comes off as melodramatic, at least to me. I think part of it is to do with glorifying something – an emotion, an event, whatever – and I tend to do that a lot without really thinking about it. I think: ‘I need this to really stand out and have impact and be significant and emotionally-charged’, and while that’s certainly true, at least some of the time it comes off as melodrama because it’s so exaggerated, which is not the kind of significance I’m going for at all. Probably a good point to keep in mind …

~~~

Emphasis being an issue again, but at least I identified the problem. And in the process found my way into better understanding Tallulah’s character-arc throughout the story. Yay!

~~~

Wow, vitriol definitely runs in this family … I rather like it.

Aaand apparently I did actually address that emphasis issue! About three pages after the fact, but hey, awesome to see that past-self was onto it …

~~~

And after having come up with all of those ‘solutions’ to issues with the plot and how the story is structured, I find a single paragraph that makes almost just as strong an argument for keeping things pretty much exactly as they are. I mean it would still work if it was moved around, so that’s good. It’s good to have more than one option.

I mean it’s ridiculously frustrating as well. But good.

~~~

And we close off this chapter with yet more fleshing-out of character-arc stuff, and yet more self-inflicted feels. I am becoming quite the fan of my own work.

Two chapters to go. The next one is the Big One – the climax! Where everything goes down, and I introduce a whole bunch of stuff that was never mentioned before and only very vaguely alluded to like once ages ago and then never brought up again and it ends up feeling kind of like a Deus ex Machina, but whatever it’s a first draft! And then the one after that is actually also a pretty long chapter, and it’s the wrap-up, and I remember distinctly getting quite Mary Sue-ish again in that one. But I’m still excited. I’ll be done before the weekend.

I’LL ACTUALLY HAVE MADE REVISION NOTES ON A WHOLE FIRST DRAFT MANUSCRIPT YOU GUYS THIS IS SO NEW FOR ME I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT TO DO YOU GUYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYSSSSSSSSSSSS

So yeah, looking forward to it.