Saturday, November 3, 2012



Today I rewrote 6,163 words of DDS.  Yesterday I did nothing because life got crazy and then several people crashed on my couch.  So today was a makeup day.  Tomorrow I'll be writing new material and that should be fun.

I consumed

I read Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater over the last few days.  The problem was that I didn't know that this was the first book in a series, and it felt like I knew what was going to happen at the climax.  But that climax is going to be the climax of the series, not the book, so when the climax of the book happened, I just kept reading, expecting things to happen, watching myself get closer and closer to the end and wondering how on earth this was all going to get accomplished.  Then it didn't get accomplished and I was confused.  For a moment I considered it as though it were a single, complete work, and I realized that I pretty much knew what would happen, and thus that was why I was waiting for it, so maybe that didn't even need to be included in the book, just hinted at.

Of course this isn't what happened, and the lesson to take away here is that I need to check if something's part of a series before I read it.  Google search.

But I've been thinking about how a story might be able to get away with that.  Hmmmmm.

Anyway, aside from that it really held my attention and I devoured it and now I'm looking around for what to read next from Stiefvater.  It had nice multilayered characters who had really nice human interactions that actually sounded like people talking.  The little details stood out for me: a sentence about the grass peeking up through the spokes in a bike on the ground, the way a car door takes multiple tries to close, little gestures that speak volumes about characterization.

There was a plot twist that I honestly didn't see coming, and that so rarely happens to me that I'm always excited and impressed when it happens.

Also, one of the main characters reminded me of a character from something else that made for some unintentional hilarity.  You'd think that imagining over dramatic glitter tears would detract from the experience, but surprisingly it did not.

Thursday, November 1, 2012



Today kicked off NaNoWriMo.  I've come to terms with NaNo in that I appreciate that I can use it to set goals and then push myself to achieve those goals.  But I'm not writing 50,000 words of a fresh novel this month because that wouldn't be useful for me.  I'm going to whip DDS into shape instead.

Today I rewrote the first chapter.  Lots of new material was added.  Lots of things were cut.  It wasn't fresh writing, and it went a lot faster than fresh writing goes, but I did put a lot of work into it and I'm liking the results.  So 2,897 words of re-writing. 

Things I Consumed

Today I watched a lot of Adventure Time while I folded laundry.  The best part was the Ice King singing Marcelline's Fry Song  (original Marcelline Fry Song for reference).  The song is great because it's awkward, and the Ice King singing is great because it's still awkward.  But the thing I've been thinking about is how the show made a joke about itself.  How it referenced itself and it worked.  That original Fry Song was not very long, yet it was memorable enough that when it was referenced nearly two seasons later, it still made sense and it was funny.  It added an extra layer of meaning onto itself. 

I'm wondering if a single self contained story can do that.  This is a series, and the creators could judge what worked and what didn't and hone in on the parts people liked and repeat them.  But can you do that if you don't have that feedback?  Maybe it's just a risk that it might not work. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012



Today I made an outline for DDS.  I'm pretty proud of myself for it, because I've been grumbling about how it wasn't going to work for a while and now it's looking like it will work.  Turns out I just need to sit down and draw myself a chart.  Who knew? 

The other cool thing about it was that I took care to include all the different strands that I want to include: what's going on with this person, with that person, charting the development in relationships and marking the points of strain. 

 Vonnegut once wrote about an outline he had for Slaughterhouse Five.
"The best outline I ever made, or anyway the prettiest one, was on the back of a roll of wall paper.  I used my daughter's crayons, a different color for each main character.  One end of the wallpaper was the beginning of the story, and the other end was the end, and then there was all that middle part, which was the middle.  And the blue line met the red line and then the yellow line, and the yellow line stopped because the character represented by the yellow line was dead.  And so on.  The destruction of Dresden was represented by a vertical band of orange crosshatching, and all the lines that were still alive passed through it, came out the other side."
I like this passage for a lot of reasons.  I like the imagery.  I like how the characters' stories are lines that meet and part, as if there are many stories being told at once and they still have to fit together somehow.  I like how he made multiple outlines for a story he'd been working on for years and I wonder how much it changed between outlines.  I like the general idea that this outline was unhelpful.

My outline is like this in a few ways, and different in others.  I guess all things that fall under the same label are like that: different and the same.  But the point is that I was reminded of this passage while drawing my crazy diagram.  It had five different horizontal lines, telling each of the stories I wanted to tell, then there were arrows that showed where the events from each of the stories happened in relation to each other.  There was also a post-it attached.  But when I got it all sorted, I ordered it all into bullet points and now that's up on my bulletin board.

Weird thing of the day

 I grew up in Texas and now live in Chicago, and it always really confuses me that people have to wear coats over their Halloween costumes.  Stupid weather!  Stop detracting from people's costumes!  There were a bunch of kids out trick-or-treating and they basically had on winter gear and funny hats.  You'd think think that the costume market would have adjusted itself accordingly and the pikachu and princess outfits would be made of fleece or be long sleeved, or that everyone would dress in a baggy dinosaur costume so they could wear their coat under it.

I also pronounce trick-or-treating as tricker-treating.  Of course I've seen it written before, but I just now realized as I was writing this that tricker-treat is not a thing.  Trick-or-treat is an option between giving a treat or getting a trick. Tricker-treat is giving a treat to people who are tricky (trickers.)

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Things I Consumed: 

This evening I trawled through DeviantArt, which is actually one of my favorite past times.  Lately I've been picking some feature that one of my main characters has, or some plot point, or some piece of a setting, and searching for that thing.  I get a whole bunch of pictures of things that look like what I want.

The part that I really like is that these searches and looking at other ideas on the subject help cement it in my mind.  This doesn't happen because I see a picture that exactly depicts what's in my head, this happens because I see pictures that aren't what I see, and I'm able to pinpoint those things so they become crystallized.  For example:
  • This one isn't quite right because Dustin's too muscular.  He's still growing into his height.
  • This one is not quite right because of the expression on Ani's face.  That's not how she would be feeling.
  • This one is almost right, but the wheat should come up right to the very edges of human habitation, even taking root between buildings.
Also, I get to see some cool art.


I wrote exactly 1,500 words today (of DDS).  It's crazy.  I didn't even know I'd done that until I did the subtraction.  I was hoping to write 116 more words, but I just conked out and couldn't finish.

DDS makes it sound like it's about a dentist, which I kind of like.

I also had a long talk with the spouse about one of the big plot points.  She was super excited when I explained what I needed to know and why, and she sat there for fifteen minutes and told me about her vast experiences.  "And you could have this happen, because it would be funny!"

Then I've been thinking about how I'm going to rewrite SF.  I'm in the first love stage with my latest plot idea, which means I think it's awesome and dreamy and I want to snuggle with it, but if I give it any attention or look at it directly in the eye, it'll probably turn sour in a week or so.  I'll think on it more when I'm in a place to think, but I wrote the ideas down anyway so they don't elude me later.

Weird Thing of the Day:

On XRT, my preferred radio station, this weird thing has been happening for the last two or three weeks.  When I get in the car in the afternoon, after seeing a student or going to see a student, they'll play a song or two, then the DJ will come on and list the songs that just played.  That's pretty typical and not the weird part.

The weird part is that without fail the song before I got in the car was Love Interruption.

How?  It's sorcery!  I should send an e-mail to Terri Hemmert and ask that - only for the sake of my sanity - whenever the wants to play it, she'll wait just one song.