A moment ago it was gray outside, but now it’s sunny. That describes my work this week on The Foreigner. I devoted the week to working solely on the novel, pre-writing work–laying a foundation for the plot. I’m not writing from scratch; I’ve got nearly 200 pages of manuscript, some connecting strands and many holes, a ragged spiderweb of story. I could see the problem was lack of structure. The main plot stands, but novels are organic so if something comes along that fits, I’m taking it.
I’m trying to solidify the story’s engine, the thing that drives the plot. Wrote a lot in my Moleskine about the characters and their motives. I think I’ve got the main plot worked out. I have the structure outlined: inciting incident, plot point 1, mid-novel reversal, plot point 2 and the resolution, but the actual narration is loosey-goosey.
A book I find inspiring and helpful is Novelsmithing: The Structural Foundation of Plot, Character, and Narration by David Sheppard (By the way, it’s free to the Kindle). When I’m wrestling with structure, this is my go-to writing book.
It’s taken me too long to write this post because I kept getting the spinning wheel of death or the blank page of no return when I surfed to Amazon, and oh yeah I had to re-create it because it disappeared into the nether reaches of the ‘net, which sometimes reminds me of a marshy bog where you don’t want to follow the lights.
It’s way past time for me to get to the real work.
February 29, 1940 – October 8, 2007
Mommie was the second child of George and Ethel Mae Kinchen of Franklin, Louisiana, younger sister to Arthur, older sister to Edward and Delores. Her father called her ‘Peaches.’ She was a Daddy’s girl, a tree-climber, a joyous tomboy. She grew up in Assumption Parish and attended segregated W. H. Reed High School where she ran track and played basketball. In 1956, she married Pvt. First Class Moses Raymond Young and for the next 20 years she followed her Air Force husband and lovingly shuttled the five of us from state to state and country to country. She loved talking to people, and her cheerful smile invited friendship. She was a great mimic. She used to have us in stitches telling stories about her cousins and elders. She lived her life every day with compassion and laughter and love. We miss you, Mommie.
Beautiful outside, sunny and warm, and with a nearly cold wind blustering through the palm trees to keep the heat under control. I’m preparing for a trade show, the World Tea Expo at the Long Beach Convention Center. I’ll be an exhibitor. Took 3-1/2 days of my time last week and I wrapped up the final details today. This is my first time doing a trade show and I had no idea about all the logistical details that go into it, but I know them now. The Expo opens Wednesday and closes Friday. So little writing done last week and there will be be none this week, except for what I might manage today. Tuesday is move-in day for my booth.
I’ve finished Dust, found a market, but can’t let it go yet. Want to give it one more pass, and then I’ll shoot the engineer. I’ve printed out 90 pages of the Shadow Walk novella; it’s roughly finished, but far from ready to wing away.
Michelle and I had our monthly accountability and writing meeting. I restructured a chapter of The Foreigner. I’d like to work more on it. It’s a good novel.
Since the writing will be down for the week, where am I with things:
- Crossing, short-short, submitted
- Edited Dust, 5000 words, ready for submission
- Shadow Walk, horror novella, rewritten and restructured, about 36,000 words (restructured from 50,000-word novel manuscript)
- Romancing the Night, stalled novel, 6,565 words
- A Terrible Thing, short story, submitted
- Shadow, horror short story, published, The Horror Zine
- Runaway Heart, novel, in progress
- Chained, fantasy novel, a little bit of work done on it
- Attended Literary Orange Conference
- Attended IndieReCon, online conference
WORK IN THE HOPPER
- The Foreigner, fantasy novel
- The Red Goddess, sword and sorcery short story
- A Useless Blind, steampunk mystery
- The Friendship Killers, novel
- Vampire article
- Non-fiction project: writing workshop
There I be.
Loki, Lord of Mischief
So…got a roommate. He’s six weeks, maybe seven now, half-Siamese and half black Tom from down the block. I suppose he’s going to grow into those ears, and his eyes will be blue.
My great-aunt’s backyard, a thick expanse of spongy St. Augustine grass, led to the bayou, sloping into weeds, brambles, maypop vines, and mud full of all kinds of crawlies.
Once in a while I’d pick my way along the edge watching the deceptively sluggish Bayou Lafourche, hoping to glimpse a snake like the venomous water moccasin. I’m deathly afraid of snakes, and feared one would whip out of the water at me. Yet I’d peer into that brown water looking for one. And if I caught sight of a sinuous coursing, I’d stand repulsed and fascinated, and shiver as if a nest of spiders were crawling on me.
Yeah don’t know what I was thinking.
A bright and sunny Sunday outside, makes yesterday’s trouble with Shadow Walk seem minuscule, but still, after a week of wrestling with the story, I’m feeling frazzled and anxious. It’s the last day of Grand Prix weekend, could hear the furious buzz of racing cars from Shoreline all day yesterday. April’s progress so far . . .
- Finished Dust, short story, draft was 8014 words, edited final 5743
- Finished Werewolf, Zombies, Sunrise, short story, 1311 words.
- April 5, attended Literary Orange Conference, Irvine. Excellent conference. Really enjoyed the “Modern Ficton” panel. Emily St. John Mandel was the morning speaker. Bought her book, Station Eleven, and got her autograph too. The afternoon speaker was Annabelle Gurwitch, actress, activist, and comedic writer.
- Shadow, horror short story, published in The Horror Zine Summer Edition.
- Revising and editing Shadow Walk, horror novella, at 28,152 words, (wrote 4,747 words this month so far)
- April 15 – 17. Attended online IndieReCon 2015. My first time; great conference for independent publishing. Took pages and pages of notes from the many video seminars, learned much, saved a number of seminar blog posts too. Recommend it. Also, discovered writer Roz Morris
- Started a new short story, working title, Brenda. Wrote 581 words.
- Romancing the Night, vampire romance novel for April Camp Nano, stalled at 8049 words. Don’t think I’ll make it this time.
- Prepared A Terrible Thing, horror short story, for submission. Second time.
- Posted 7 blogs
Total words for April so far: 46,756.
Carnival of Harlequin, Joan Miro
I’ve got a monster in a box. It’s been in that box for several years and every so often I open the box and poke my head in, and then I pull it back all chewed and slobbered on, and close the box.
The head-chewing monster is my fantasy novel, A Lamentation of Swans. Every year I swear I’m going to get it written, but I don’t. I’ve worked on this book for a long time. It’s no longer the book I began originally, not quite the same, and I don’t really have a book yet. What I’ve got is a great premise poorly executed. The basic idea is good, but where to go with it? Where I’ve gone so far has led me nowhere. The book lies in a devastated country of words, its characters caught in a diaspora of failure.
I’ve decided to start over. Keep my main idea and develop it better. I’ll need more than one point of view. Two, I think, maybe three, though I’d rather keep it to the two characters who have the most going on–the inquisitor Rijjan Mira and the Chaelmaeca assassin, Ferrant. I’ve got a great premise, a fascinating society and compelling characters–how could I screw it up so badly?
Right now it’s confusing. Despite all that I’ve done, I still don’t know who the antagonists are nor what the big conflict is, nor the theme. I’ve got ideas, but nothing solid. Yet I’ve somehow managed to write 300+ pages. Good grief, Charlie Brown.
So I’m turning the box upside down and shaking the monster out into the light of day. No more head-chewing.