A flash of inspiration.

So, I spent much of my free time today on I-10, and not much on Dexter Moon, but I wanted to at least get the first few steps of taking notes done tonight, because I know I’m going to have no time at all to do it tomorrow.

I wrote down my main theme, which has pretty much been the same for the entire project, and then started trying to come up with subthemes. One that struck me is one that I realize I’ve danced around several times, but never really put into words until tonight. How do we survive after tragedy?

This whole “defining a theme” thing is great, because it makes things simple–either what you’ve written fits somehow, or it doesn’t. And if there’s something you like, but doesn’t fit, you turn it into a theme, and figure out how to tie other scenes into it. (Within reason, of course.)

And as I was writing something else on the page, I saw that theme, and suddenly, it hit me. That’s how I tie Bolivia in. Or maybe it’s not Bolivia, maybe it’s something else, but suddenly, that thread that followed Marie in the beginning (and then got accidently dropped) has purpose. It fits. And I can do something with it.

Happy dance!

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Changing Gears… or not.

So, I did read my current draft of Interstate-10 this morning. I haven’t done that in over a year, probably. Thought about it, took some notes, started writing things down… Learned some interesting things, caught a few little snippets of something interesting, started defining themes, subthemes, and story arcs, as described in One Pass Revision. And then I stopped.

It’s a tricky work. Bits of it have been written at two different times, and, as previously mentioned, I chopped out about 30,000 words. At least a couple of those scenes I remember, and remember kind of liking… The timeline is a mess.

It’s written in three different first person POVs, and I never really figured out how to balance that, so as not to throw people off. It mostly alternates between two of the main characters, and as those two are the strongest, in terms of character building, of the three main characters, I considered maybe just cutting it down to their two POVs… until I hit the last scene I’d written, in that third character’s point of view, and thought that maybe there was something there after all. And I have to say, it was that third character that kept pulling me back to the idea of this story as I was working on Dexter Moon.

But what really clinched was when I opened Scrivener, my main writing program, for something, and it asked if I wanted to open my most recent project, which was… Dexter Moon. 

I went, “aw.” And decided that I wanted to stay in that groove.

So I’m switching back to Dexter and Marie. I learned a lot about the project when I wrote that final scene, and I feel like I have an idea where I’m going with it. I’ll spend December editing and rewriting this novel, while I leave I-10 to marinate for a while. Dexter Moon is fresh, already present. I don’t want to lose my momentum on it. 

I-10’s been waiting for me… it can keep a bit longer. I may dip back into it occasionally as I work on the Dexter Moon edits, if something occurs to me. But I really think that I want to keep my focus on one project, on making this one project the best it can possibly be, before I move on to something else.

Tools for revision

So, using FedExKinkos’ PrintOnline service, I printed out my entire first draft for Dexter Moon, as well as my current working draft for I-10. Dexter Moon ended up coming in at 192 pages, and I-10 is 182 pages–Courier New 11-pt, double spaced (I knocked the font size down to save a bit on the cost. It’s still perfectly readable!). Altogether, it only cost $30 to print the two of them, which I figured was worth it since I don’t have access to a reliable printer. Plus, they each came in their own manuscript boxes, which is kind of exciting, in a geeky way. 

My plan now is to spend the next few weeks working on I-10, my 2006 NaNovel (and 2007 AugNovel), which is different from Dexter Moon in some big ways, particularly tone and POV (I-10 rotates between three first-person POVs). Also, it’s not finished, though I’d guess that probably a week or so of writing 1000-2000 words a day will get me to the end. 

But first, I’m going to read it. And reread it. And then maybe read it again.

I happen to like Holly Lisle’s One-Pass Revision Workshop, which I read ages and ages ago, and, because I read her blog (daily) have often seen how she puts into practice. I’ve never actually tackled a big revision like this before, but I like the idea of putting the big picture first and foremost, and mostly, not doing endless writing and rewriting and polishing. She advocates fixing what needs fixing, and leaving alone what doesn’t. 

I think some of it comes down to confidence in your own writing. I remember the first few times I did NaNoWriMo, or really, wrote any sort of fiction, and I had this feeling, as I was typing… It’s hard to describe, but it was as if half of my brain was writing, and the other half was reading what I was writing, and almost couldn’t believe that it could be that simple, that I could just make up these people, and what they were saying, and doing, and, and… There was an excitement to it, but also a kind of fear, and horror. What if it wasn’t good? I mean, really, what did I know? Who was I, to create these imaginary people and run their lives for them?

Eight years later, I have a certain amount of confidence in my ability to write, and to write well. I know that my first draft isn’t perfect, by any means, but I’ve become very confident in my writing style, which is heavy on the dialogue, (my aunt was looking through my printed manuscript, and said, “wow, you have a lot of dialogue!”) and not so heavy on beautiful imagery, poetic language, or long descriptive passages. I like that Holly Lisle gives you permission to have pristine, untouched, unedited pages, because they don’t need editing.

Anyway, going around the NaNoWriMo Writing 101 forum, there’s a link to a great article called an Editing Recipe, written by a NaNoWriMo participant. It’s the same kind of big picture style editing, and I think what it does is break down what Holly Lisle does in one pass into several steps that still result in only doing one major edit. And it starts with a lot of reading of your work, several times over, to get a feel for it, a sense of the pacing and flow, to check for problems and incontinuity, before starting any sort of real edits, so that the edits you make only need to be done once.

So, that’s what I’ll be doing this December. A few days to read, take notes, come up with a new ending, and then, write that new ending. I’m going to give myself until, say… December 10th for that. Then that leaves me 21 days to do edits. It would be great to get that done in December. 

And in January, once it’s had time to rest, I’ll go back to Dexter Moon.

The End.

So, I did it. I finished. I wrote those two beloved little words.

The End.

This draft has come out to a total of either 55,891 words, or 56,032 words, depending on whether or not you count scene headers (which are mostly descriptive, for my own use.) 

I started it at 12:01 a.m., November 1, 2008, and finished at 7:35ish p.m. November 28. My average daily wordcount was about 2000 words, which also happens to be my daily goal. In fact, my daily wordcount varied widely, from over 5600 one day, to 5 total on my lightest day. I wrote over 2000 words 16 of those 28 days. 

This is the 8th NaNoWriMo I’ve attempted, my third “win” and my first finished draft. 

I am going to go back to this novel. As I mentioned before, I learned a lot about what this novel was about writing that final scene. I get now, why some people write their ending first, and then write to it, though when I started the novel, I had no idea what my ending would be. 

So I plan on printing it out, and spending some time editing, writing another 30K or 50K, or even more words in the process.

But for now, I’m just going to bask in the glow of having completed, and maybe go eat some chocolate to celebrate. 

Tomorrow’s going to be very strange, without something hanging over my head, urging me to finish it.

Almost… There…

So, last night, I did it! I started feeling much better and so I wrote the final climactic scene. Well I have about 200 more words to write (maybe less), finishing up Dex’s POV, but then, that’s it, I’m done with the first draft.

Heavy emphasis on first. I figured out exactly what the story was about as I wrote that scene. Dexter’s arc, Marie’s arc, all of it. I thought I knew it, but I didn’t know, not really. There’s some heavy editing ahead of me. And at a finished length of about 56K, I’m probably going to have to write at least another 30-40K more in new words to get to a reasonable length. Which is fine, because it needs that much more in story to make it work.

Really, the important exciting thing here is being able to get to “the end.” Yay!

Back soon!

Thanksgiving. Words.

I have a really bad headache, for some strange reason. Not sure why. It’s making writing difficult, which is somewhat upsetting, considering the fact that I decided today to skip straight ahead to my climax, (I’m really only skipping one scene. One. That’s it.) and I can practically feel all the words behind their dam, just wanting to come out in a glorious rush, rather than one at a time, as they currently are. Tomorrow, I may well try to wake up early (again) to write before I have to go and do other things, and end up being unable to write yet again.

Sadly, my headache means that I’m particularly unmotivated to do all the other things I wanted to do, such as write to a bunch of people and say thank you to them directly.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Not just one of, but literally, my favorite of all of them. More than Christmas, more than my birthday, more than any other day celebrating any other thing. I have a pile of Thanksgiving stories that I wish I could share, but all I seem to be capable of is rambling.

So, I’ll just say this. At the beginning of 2008, I decided that I would choose a word for the year, and the word I chose was “family.” This isn’t the end of 2008 quite yet, but it is a time for reflection. The word “family” has been surprisingly apt when I think of my 2008, though not in any of the ways I expected. 

We didn’t do it this year, but one of my mother’s traditions for Thanksgiving dinner was to go around the table and say what each person was thankful for. I decided that this year, what I am most thankful for is my family, to have the love and support of people both near and far, people I’ve known and loved all my life, and people I’ve only just come to know. 

That is all.

350 words and not one more.

I didn’t manage to get up early this morning… I barely managed to get up on time. My alarm annoyed me, and it really annoyed Skittles, and then, somehow, amazingly, it managed to get turned off before I’d gotten out of bed. Yeah, that never leads to any good.

I first made it onto my computer at about 7:30 tonight, and since Pushing Daisies was on at 8, (it’s my current absolute favorite show on air–Heroes is good, but not as good as it used to be, so Pushing Daisies it is) I only ended up writing for about 15 minutes. 350 words is what I came up with, and I think it’s all I’m going to get tonight. The rest of my evening will be spent alternately vegging out, and trying to keep the cat and the dog away from each other. (I’m taking care of my aunt’s dog while she’s away for Thanksgiving… Skittles and the dog, who’s otherwise totally mellow and sweet, have not been getting along. She wants to play, on her terms, and he just wants to be left alone, so she bats at his paws and tail, and he growls. It’s not as fun as it sounds. Although now they’re curled up, tail to tail, on the couch, which is kind of cute except for not leaving me any room on the couch to, you know, vege.)

Anyway, tomorrow, I’ll have time to write.

The end’s suddenly feeling close again, though, whereas yesterday it felt very far. Odd how that works.