Finished post-outlining and deleted the fluff. CHOMP. Added a few bits at the end.
I am on page 23 out of 360 (1.5 line space is what I edit at) of my grammar check/readability pass. This consists of fixing glaring errors and tightening, turning my word smiting into my prose. At the end of this process is officially Draft 2.
Now I am at 149,997 words. The word count has nowhere to go except down.
I also printed chapters one and two for The Wife Unit to read tomorrow. She reads my blog, and informs me she does not necessarily agree with my open door sex policy. This is from the woman who said the Meyers vampire books did not have any steamy vamp sex scenes (pout). At least she said she would keep an open mind about it, and what more could a man want out of a wife?
Done for the evening. Beer now.
First draft, finished.
I wrote the epilogue during my lunch break and am quite enamored with it. It is a heartfelt and a depressing bit of writing, true to the theme of my novel and ultimately a great tie-end to the next part of the story. I don’t coddle my readers, and at that point they shouldn’t be surprised if I take the darker path.
I started Bunny Trouble a little under six months ago, it took me twice as long to write it as my first novel, not too shabby for a 152,000 word manuscript. As my first draft, I am very pleased with the way it turned out.
My next steps:
**I am going to proofread Bunny Trouble for glaring grammatical errors.
**Then I give a copy to my wife and wait for feedback. Can it pass The Wife Unit?
Assuming she likes the book and doesn’t beat me over the head with own manuscript, I will then outline the book. It is one thing to have an outline in your head and write a novel, quite another to see if after the fact I can assemble a coherent outline. It is a trick I leaned and suits my writing style perfectly, a great way to expose logic issues and unnecessary plotting. Then I am off to:
**Tighten the book
**Expanding my feedback circle to five of my friends
**Find an editor
Those things don’t have to happen in that order. I’m a man who likes efficiency after all. Some tasks were designed to run in parallel.
Wow. What a fun and interesting journey this has been. What should I write next? The choices, it hurts!
-1600 words on Bunny Trouble last night.
I wait until finishing a story (novel, short story, poem, etc.) to make substantial, non-readability edits. Mainly because in the first novel I wrote, I made edits that I had to go back and revert. It was a pain, lesson learned. I’m not particularly experienced in writing novels (novel 1: finished, novel 2: set aside after 80k, novel 3: currently working on), but I can learn new tricks.
Last night The Wife Unit caught me chuckling to myself. The main character in Bunny Trouble has two friends. Inadvertently, when these three get together they wind up doing something mischievously naughty. This particular bit of writing had them doing something very over the top and it was so out of character that I knew I had to kill it. She of course asked “what?” so I explained what I created and asked point blank if it should go. Maybe there was hope…
She rolled her eyes. “I wouldn’t read that, it’s just unrealistic. You shouldn’t be reliving some obvious teenage boy fantasy in your novel!”
Ah, well, I thought so. Secretly I was hoping, but alas, it was not meant to be. Highlight 603/143,722. DELETE.
While I was at it, I deleted a convoluted plot point that was… too convoluted. I felt it was safe to do so and the story didn’t even move when I was finished, a clear indication of a needed cut if there ever was one.
Since my last post was about sex, it is more than fitting to follow up with the inadvertent follow up, babies. This topic also pertains to my writing.
BABIES! BABIES! B A B I E S !
Is there any doubt as to why there are so very many mommy blogs? That’s because babies are awesome. I just love babies. But I digress.
My wife and I practice what I call ‘rational attachment parenting’. Stick a researcher and a super-smart lady together and you get two practical parents. One of the benefits from our parenting technique is our kids are little sleepers, even as babies. As soon as their tummies got big enough, they were little snoozers, even with the reflux Thing Two suffered from. Sleep sleep sleep sleep. It was glorious.
The secret to that is no secret. Basically, make an assumption that for the last 100 years, the majority of the people shoving parenting advice into main-stream media were assholes. Then, have these assholes ignore contemporary American cultural shifts caused by two World Wars, and finally a sprinkle a smattering of basic incompetency and finish off with some group-think. At this point, you have some really good assumptions going, mainly a lot of people are full of crap and they are selling it:
Don’t have your baby sleep with you because you can roll over and squish you baby.
That is true.
If you are drunk. Or high. Or sick.
Guess what? If you are drunk or high or sick you can go sleep somewhere else. Babies were born to sleep with their parents. How many thousands of years has this been true? To ignore biology is pure hubris.
Many parents have, in the last century, started rallying against biology with marginal to no success. Then after awhile the child adapts because that is what children do. This sleep change is mostly moot in the long run, I feel. It’s not something I lose sleep over (ha ha ha I kill myself I really do).
Baby Thing One would wake up and pounce on me like a cat. The penalty of course for waking up Daddy by crawling all over him would be Torture by Tickles and sometimes wrestling and the obligatory baby arm chewing while going nom nom nom nom. I treasured these moments.
One morning, Thing One woke up, yawned, and tried to go back to sleep. It was really cute, he was trying to press himself back into the bed, and he rolled over with his back to me.
Okay little man, that’s just too tempting. I slowly reached out and scriched his back.
Scrich scrich scrich.
Thing One just giggled. However, instead of turning over, he reached out his little hand and… scritched Mommy on her back.
Daddy: Scrich scrich scrich.
Baby: Scrich scrich scrich (giggle).
Mommy: Er. Mrph.
Daddy: Scrich scrich scrich.
Baby: Scrich scrich scrich (giggle).
Daddy: Scrich scrich scrich.
Baby: Scrich scrich scrich (giggle).
At this point the Baby goes “AHHHHHAAA!” and jumps on Mommy, who was trying to go back to sleep by pretending she was not awake.
Now how do I bottle that kind of Baby Magic and put that in a book? I do not exactly know, but I can try. I do know one thing, however, unlike the real world, where our society segments off people who harm children, Bunny Trouble contains people who will take a dim view of abuse and abandonment, and their pent up furry is Epic.
You can bank on that. I promise you.
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.
There is a chapter in Bunny Trouble that is action packed and filled with Conflict Goodness. Bad people do bad things and get their asses handed to them by the good guys. It is glorious and a corner of my brain would like to think if Tom Clancy ever read it, he would go “ooh rah!” Sometimes the Good Guys have to win. They just have to win.
It is also brutal. I finished the chapter and had to get up and go outside for some fresh air and reflection. I have written some disturbing things before but this was ugly. Several times I have contemplated deleting the chapter and moving the book in a slightly different direction.
It comes to this: if I do not want The Wife Unit to read it, then I just cannot have it as part of the story, and I am not too sure my wife would want to read something like that. Did I mention it was brutal?
After some soul searching, I have decided to keep it. In the chapter, I introduce a minor character, someone just above plot convenience and slightly below ‘give me more of that person please.’ Without intending it, this character says a few things that sum up the premise of the book plot in a sneaky way and makes the entire chapter necessary: not so much to move the plot along but to justify the entire book theme. Thus, what comes next is a validation of the entire Bunny Trouble series of books. How could I delete that? I cannot. It was like a gift from the Literary Plot Producing Gods. You will be reading book two and go “well shit I should have seen that coming.”
Therefore, what do I do with The Wife Unit? If I have to leave the chapter in, I just have to deal with the consequences that she and some of my friends will just quit reading the book and come kick my ass for wasting their time putting emotional investment into characters they do not wish to read about anymore, even though they won against Evil.
In the end, I am gambling that The Wife Unit and my friends would want me to be true to myself and true to my story. Bad things happen to good people. This is the reality of the world in which we live. No one, including myself, wants to read about these bad things in the course of entertainment if the book does not bring any value to the table. Thus, I have to trust myself that I am bringing value. That long after you put the entertaining book down; you are thinking thoughts of a deep and meaningful nature. One of the best books I have ever read, I felt like I received the end of a literary sledgehammer, the ending of the book actually had me feeling vaguely ill. There are no regrets in the reading, for in the end it was a story of a love between a father and a son that said so very much on what it really means to have such a relationship.
I used to think writing was easy. I wish I could travel back in time and kick my younger self in the ass. “No it’s not easy. You just have not started writing yet.”
If you were wondering (and even if you were not), here’s what it means to be a writer. On a hot hot summer day:
heatherpa [1:42 PM]:
Are those barista boobs at the coffee shop really necessary?
Tony [1:42 PM]:
I am so getting coffee after work.
heatherpa [1:43 PM]:
A normal man (let’s leave off the ultra-cool fact that my wife will point out Epic Breasts for me to gaze at), would drive to the coffee shop, do his leering, and putter on home.
Noooooooo. Not I. What I did was go to the coffee shop and look around the parking lot, in which my mind, for reasons on its own, formulated a book. Indeed, I envisioned an epic book about the next American Civil War. Starting right there. Right in the very spot I was parked in.
Thus, my leering wasn’t terribly productive. I spent the entire week resisting the urge to put Bunny Trouble aside and work on this story. The desire faded to a controllable burn, akin to something between indigestion and a morning erection.
This happens to me every day.
Be careful what you wish for, the road to Hell is paved with creativity.
heatherpa [9:26 AM]:
so when are you going to explain Bunny trouble on your blog?
Gibbers me muh book!
Tony [9:27 AM]:
Ha ha the book is not done yet
I guess I should edit the first book and print it for you
heatherpa [9:29 AM]:
um yes b/c I’ll be done with my other books in no time at this rate %)
My wife and her lusty desire for good reading material. I am doomed.