I am back from vacation. The blogging will now continue…
A good writing Sunday. 2600 words on Bunny Trouble and I used the phrase “dishonorable curs and scallywags”.
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be dishonorable curs and scallywags …
Inadvertently I have setup a situation where two characters in Bunny Trouble are going to get into a row and that was unintended. It is not obvious, I did consciously go down this path, but the undercurrents of their incompatibility stand out when one reads the story: tension.
Why did I do that?
I do not know. Perhaps something personal at home or work caused me to be more disputable than normal.
Now I have a choice. Either I can go for it, which causes me to rethink a rather large portion of the character interaction that itself has consequences and adds to my word count: I am approaching 120,000 already! Alternately I can backtrack and do a rewrite that I would rather avoid. There are many other places needing work, I do not want to add to that list, God forbid.
What I cannot do is the middle road, just pretending that these two are not going to get into it. There are already enough weird tension-filled things happening in my plot. The middle road is just lazy. Readers do not like lazy authors.
This is a situation where I could see a writer’s support group would be handy. I could present the problem without explaining a large amount of context.
We have been here before.
The end of a gravel road which itself was
The end of a lonely paved road long forgotten
Most likely only maintained because it was on a map
Connected to interesting things only at each end
“How did he get this place?” I ask.
It was wonderful nothing for miles and miles
“Saving the life of that lumber company boss,” she said.
“On a mountain, I think. I do not know. It was a boy thing.”
It was my favorite place
Hills, woods, deer, rocks… the mountains
Always the mountains
The house was ratty but I loved it
As much as one could love a thing
“It needs a lot of work,” I said. It did not even have electricity
“That’s the fun part, do you think?”
“Do I still have to work in my math books?”
“Everyday, my Sweet. Everyday.”
I frown. She laughs.
“Boys climb mountains?” I ask.
“Men climb mountains.
“It is the boy inside that makes them want to do so,” she says.
“I don’t understand.”
She gives me what I have been thinking of as The Eye.
“You will someday. All too soon… all too soon.”
My wife and I were big Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans. Before it was moved to a different channel that DirecTV would pick up with our DirecTiVo, you should have seen the convoluted workflow for me to get an episode and display it on our TV. I learned more about video formats and the underground world of fandom then I have ever wanted to know in my life.
It did not hurt that Buffy was all hotness and ready to kick butt at a moment’s notice, but my true appreciation for the show was its sheer grimness. Stabbing your only true love after his epic moment of redemption to close a Portal to Hell™, well it just does not get better for me. And that was in the early seasons. The dialog was snappy and witty. And people died.
Nothing says “conflict” than a good old-fashioned body count.
Buffy did one more thing for me other then entertain. I realized my tolerance for insipid little mousy-twerp protagonists was low and in Buffy, insipid little mousy-twerp people just died. There is enough conflict in this world to entertain with without reducing people you want to identify with to passive-aggressive dorks. In other words, do you want to read about the victims of bad upbringing or do you want to read about the people with the heroic mettle of the Americans on Flight 93?
Of course, the Action Hero rallying against the System of Passive Sheep is also a contemporary cliché stretching into middle-age. On the other hand, being a literary witness to watching Passive Sheep get what they so richly deserve can be a vicarious thrill.
Which brings me back to Buffy. Buffy’s rally against the Apocalypse(s) might have been a new look at an old idea, but at least the people fighting were more than just caricatures of heroes you would rather see tossed into a wood chipper for their ineptitude and lack of common sense.
Only 1600 words today on Bunny Trouble, but major progress in a difficult part of the book. I had to move along some stagnating characters and connect some plot points. At the same time, I set the stage for some major conflict with some obvious, and not so obvious plot work. It’s not exactly foreshadowing. More like foreslinkingshadowing. Foreshadowing along the edges, if you will.
All in under 2000 words. Funny how a multi-directional plot can start to become interconnected without even consciously drawing the points. It is a complicated style, but that’s what I like to read, so there you go.
Work starts early. Must pass out now. Brian hurts.
The beach was empty.
To the left, rocks and forest
To the right, forest and rocks
Ahead, more rocks jutting upwards through the surf
As if they were angrily protecting their beach
The mist wanted to be rain, or the rain wanted to be mist
The weather was no match for wool and silk
But my nose was getting cold.
My small hand in hers again. I always liked holding her hand.
She never grew tired of it, and it was always warm.
“If he loved the sea so much, why didn’t he live here?”
“Look and listen, maybe the ocean will tell us,” she said.
I watch and listen. Waves crash in, hiss of water receding
The roar of the wind and the surf far off mixing with the close by.
The sounds are the same but they never pattern
Lonely, so very lonely…
She picks me up and kisses a tear
I did not know I was crying
“I don’t like it here anymore, can we go?” I ask.
“Of course. Where would you like to go?”
“Ice-cream?” I ask hopefully.
She laughs and ruffles my hair
I hate it when she does that
But every time she does it she smiles
On Writing is an autobiographical look on the art of writing stories. There are many fascinating gems in this book. The brightest one for me was his plotting technique. King does not outline so much as he stuffs characters into a situation and sees how they come out. Some make it, some don’t.
His free-flowing method of writing is pure storytelling goodness. For me, there is a price to be paid. Brevity goes out the window, and one must circle back or bloat ensues.
I tired this and the result was a book of 150,000 words in the first draft. My outlines, I realized, were confining me. Confining my characters. They were wooden, characters forced into a role because The Plot demanded it.
A prime example is my protagonist in Bunny Trouble. She started out as a little fluffy piece of blonde, set to give “the main character” trouble because she is young and sexy and determined to get her way with whatever man she chooses.
Ha! She sure showed me. She decided that she was too cliché. That, instead of being a bit of sexy filler, she would dominate every setting she was in by the sheer force of her amazing will. She owes her very existence, her ability to be smarter then everyone else, to Mr. King. Without his little book on writing she would have merely served to annoy The Wife Unit, and get me into trouble. I think of the protagonist now looking at me with her sky-blue eyes and waving a feminine finger at me saying “Shame on you for stereotyping me so. You owe me an apology, Mister!”
Stephen King, I thank you for such a helpful little book.
Words written today: 597
Words deleted: 1250
I win novel!
In reference to this post I bring you a little blurt:
Lang was driving uncomfortably fast with one hand while the other was fumbling with the patrol-rifle lock in the other. The setup was new—rifles moved to the center rack while the shotguns moved to the trunk in 2007. He did not have a lot of experience with it and not being able to look at the thing while he was driving was giving him fits.
He growled and smacked it in frustration. This seated the rifle all the way in its cradle with an audible snap, and this time when he turned the key the rifle guard swung out of the way.
“HA!” he yelled.
He did not know if it was the Abusers, Pereira, Phelps, the shotgun-wielding neighbor or a combination of all four who fired the shots. He held certification with his M4 since 2003; he was not going to bring just a Glock to a gunfight. Not a gun enthusiast as some of his buddies were, he was knowledgeable of the fact that in the shotgun vs. M4 match-up, the shotgun was going to lose, especially in his desire to stay as far away as possible from any unfortunate incident involving firearms.
“Militarization of the police, Baby!” he yelled, slapping the dash.
Then he remembered that he was running code so the in-dash recording system was recording everything he said and did.
Deputy Lang is a minor character in a near-future novel. Here, he is on his way to back up the other Deputy on a domestic disturbance call that went the wrong way. He does not use his M4 on this call nor does he meets an untimely end, or become harmed in any way.