masqthephlsphr: (draft)
Still hanging in on there on schedule. But I'm doing it by rushing. I feel like all pretense of quality has gone out the window. And why the hell not? part of me argues. This is the first draft, it's supposed to suck and basically be an outline on steroids. I'm still finding the story.

But the part of me that always lingered on the first draft and tried to get a sensible, consistent draft out of it is cringing. Chill out, Nancy. This is really draft zero. As soon as you finish it, you will re-outline it with a mind to an actual plot. You'll have an idea who the characters are, and the settings. This is how it works. :whistle:

Working title: The Girl From Venus
Planned # of chapters: 27
Planned date of first draft completion: Jan 31st, 2016
Current chapter: 20
Finish last week's goal? Yes
This week's goal: Start chapter 21
This month's goal: Get at least party way into Chapter 21
masqthephlsphr: (glob)
Up until now, I've been slightly ahead of my schedule. Now, I'm right on. I am hoping a week off after Christmas will give me a boost so I don't get too far behind. However, life has gotten more complicated in the last week, and not in good ways (long story short: my older nephew got in a bad car accident over the weekend. My brother and mother are moving this coming weekend. Christmas will be an afterthought this year).

I am past the mid-point of the novel, now stepping into the parts I've spent a lot less time pre-writing or even thinking about. That makes it more interesting, but I also have to honor what I've written up to now. A balancing act.

Working title: The Girl From Venus
Planned # of chapters: 27
Planned date of first draft completion: Jan 31st, 2016
Current chapter: 19
Finish last week's goal? Yes
This week's goal: Start chapter 20
This month's goal: Get at least party way into Chapter 21

In other news, I have a new telescope. So I also have to find time to learn how to use it to best effect.
masqthephlsphr: (sibs)
One day late, but not a dollar short.

Alas, life gets in the way, as it is bound to do this time of year. The holidays are being made even more complicated than usual this year by my recently-divorce brother moving to a new house, and my elderly mom moving out her retirement apartment to move in with him and his kids. They are each of them in a state of Total Chaos as their lives get packed away into boxes and transported from one place to another.

Between my assistance with that, and a few medical issues of my own that need attending to, and the girlfriend distracted by an upcoming art show she is preparing for, and Oh, Right, again... Christmas.... (have I shopped for anyone except my six-year-old grandnephew who is a small child and therefore easy to gift? Noooo.)

Oh, and on top of the online class I'm taking right now, I signed up for a one-week novel revision class--you know, the kind that always pops up in December to take advantage of the NaNo-ites. I didn't NaNo this year. My first draft isn't even due until the end of January, but I signed up for a revision class now anyway, 'cause this is when they all seem to pop up out of the woodwork.

I entirely blame my apparent success at reaching my weekly goals this week on the fact that the chapters due were already written in earlier classes from last summer.

Working title: The Girl From Venus
Planned # of chapters: 27
Planned date of first draft completion: Jan 31st, 2016
Current chapter: 18
Finish last week's goal? Yes
This week's goal: Get at least part way into chapter 19
This month's goal: Get at least party way into Chapter 21
masqthephlsphr: (glob)
First off, congrats to all my flisters who either won NaNo or did NaNo this month. Hard work is what counts, not 50,000 words.

Second: spent a day down in Tuscon over the Thanksgiving weekend visiting a couple telescope stores (and avoiding all the other kind of stores, blech). The Sculptor and I bought our one and only Christmas gift to each other, a brand new telescope. This is one for seeing planets and nebulae and star clusters, not your neighbor's naughty habits. It has a computer attachment to help you find specific objects, but you have to move it, aim it, and focus it yourself.

Third: Wee! December. Star Wars and The Expanse.


Accountability check in 11/30/15:

When I got to chapter 15 this week, I felt a bit adrift in the story (middles. pffft), so I decided to revisit my outline in order to get an idea where the next few chapters would take me, and ended up revisiting the entire outline.

That seems to be a thing you need to do to from time to time in writing a novel: step away from the trees to look at the forest and make sure the forest blue print still makes sense, given how much the details of the story have evolved since you first outlined the thing.

I often get hung up on planning out the over-all plot too way too much for a pantser, and it ends up being overthinking, because the best-laid plans that cost me hours and days end up getting derailed by the nitty-gritty word by word. So I didn't let myself linger on that before diving back into chapter 15.

Okay, so December goals are in order.

Working title: The Girl From Venus
Planned # of chapters: 27
Planned date of first draft completion: Jan 31st, 2016
Current chapter: 16
Finish last week's goal? Yes
This week's goal: Get at least part way into chapter 17
This month's goal: Get at least party way into Chapter 21
masqthephlsphr: (TGFV)
Yesterday, I finished the chapter I wanted to have done by the end of the month. It's gone back and forth from being referred to as "chapter 14" and "chapter 13" multiple times. Currently, it's chapter 14 again, because I realized there was an additional scene I needed to insert earlier in the story. That earlier scene isn't written yet, and I don't know when it will be written. By some of my previous standards of "done," chapter 14 isn't technically finished either, even though I'm calling it "finished."

Let's face it, no amount of perfectionism is remotely useful in the first draft. I have had way too many experiences where I slaved over the prose, research, technical detail, and plotting of a scene in a story, only to find that once I analyzed the plot after the first draft was done, it just didn't serve a useful role. Then you have to jettison it, but you don't want to because you worked so hard on it.

The interesting thing about actually "finishing" chapter 14 this week is that it is about four times longer than I had planned. It was supposed to be a transition scene between one setting and the next, the "quick road trip", so to speak. As I started writing it, however, I saw that the relative isolation of travel (in this case, in interplanetary space) was actually a good opportunity for the antagonist to ambush the protagonist and ratchet up the action while also forcing her to face some of her inner story issues head-on.

At the same time, bringing the antagonist in at this juncture makes it all the more obvious I really need to add a few more scenes to establish my antagonist's evolving motives better for the reader.

Which means changing the outline, and the schedule, because what’s coming out is good stuff that is both a logical plot development and more exciting as well.

Outline? Who needs a bloody outline. It's the first draft.

Working title: The Girl From Venus
Planned # of chapters: 27 28
Planned date of first draft completion: Jan 31st, 2016
Current chapter: 15
Finish last week's goal? Yes
This week's goal: Get at least part way into chapter 15
This month's goal: Chapter 14 15


In other news, I am sticking with the audio books. I finished The Girl in the Spider's Web in about three days and am currently "reading" Saturn Run by John Sanford and Ctein.
masqthephlsphr: Halt and Catch Fire (girl geek)
I have almost finished chapter 12. I'm starting chapter 13 this week, which, because of the reshuffling, is actually the chapter I've been referring to as "14" in all my weekly goal references. So technically, today I'm starting the chapter I wanted to finish by the end of this month. I don't want to use that as an excuse to get overly ambitious. In fact, it would be good to cut myself a break this week. I have at least one day when I will be go, go, going from before dawn to after dusk on non-writing things.

Besides, chapter 13 promises to be just as involved as chapter 12.

Working title: The Girl From Venus
Planned # of chapters: 27
Planned date of first draft completion: Jan 31st, 2016
Current chapter: 12
Finish last week's goal? Yes
This week's goal: Get at least part way into chapter 13
This month's goal: Chapter 13

In other news:

(1) A bit of a shake-up at work-work as my supervisor of eight years and another team lead were "let go" a few weeks back. In my sup's case, I think it was a mutual decision. He seemed pretty miserable there the past few months. But he was basically fired for incompetence--"not having the skill set his job as it is now under the new CEO regime requires." Did I mention our old CEO sold his business back in July, and we've had a new Jefe for a while? A lot of the changes I've been trying to convince my ex-bosses of for years are part of the new bosses' business-as-usual. One can only hope that after putting up with eight years of chasing my tail the craziness will level off.


(2) I have been discretely noting my writing friends' Nano progress, and what is interesting is I've noticed my feelings on NaNoWriMo have come full circle. A decade (!) ago, I wrote a skeptical entry about the utility of writing 50,000 words in a month. Then a year later, I did Nano. I did it a few more times, and one year, I did Camp Nanowrimo in July. I always felt free to change the rules to fit the moment (a different word goal, writing fan fiction, writing more than one piece, writing a story I already started).

But now I'm right back to the opinion that me and word counts are unmixy things. Mostly because I'm a born over-writer, and my forward momentum on a story is usually in an inverse relationship to the number of words I write on it. I cringe at what the novel I am working on now would be like if my goal wasn't the concrete "finish chapter 13 by the end of the week" and instead was the nebulous, "write 500 words a day."

Anyway, your mileage may vary, yada, yada.


(3) I have recently started listening to audio books. On the plus side, lying quietly in the dark in the position of your choice having the story read to you? So much more comfortable than the contortions I normally have to do to read eBooks, or God forbid, paper books. On the minus side, audio book readers consider themselves performers and you get the story through their oral interpretation of it, rather than just a straight prose reading. That can be distracting. I am encouraged, though, as I whizzed through The Girl in the Spider's Web, the latest tome in the Millennium series in about three days.

That book, I'm happy to say, ended up reading like vintage Steig Larssen despite the fact that he's been dead for years and it was written by a successor. The only quibble I have is Spoilers )
masqthephlsphr: (Default)
Finished chapter 10, although I reshuffled a few things and chapter 10 became chapter 9 and vice-versa, but both are drafted. My old chapter 12 disappeared, and chapter 13 has been split into 12 and 13, so same number of chapters, same schedule. Welcome to the fluctuating world of the first draft.

Note to self: When you're still working out the plot, don't worry about perfection.

Working title: The Girl From Venus
Planned # of chapters: 27
Planned date of first draft completion: Jan 31st, 2016
Current chapter: 11
Finish last week's goal? Yes
This week's goal: Get at least part way into chapter 12
This month's goal: Get at least part way into chapter 14.
masqthephlsphr: (world domination)
I've reached that point in my first draft where the story is getting bogged down and going in a million directions at once and I'm not sure which way it ought to go, or if what I have outlined for the middle and end is right for the story. Certainly, a lot of the "directions" it wants to go in would involve scrapping the later planned scenes (oh, hell, I'm a pantser, who am I kidding? "Outline"? It's just an empty golden idol there to appease the story gods).

This is the point writers start getting frustrated and want to give up, and you need to keep going until you figure out what the story is really all about and the best way to tell it. Then you will see how to cut the crap out.

So, with that in mind, I am going to start a little accountability journaling.

Working title: The Girl From Venus
Planned (cough) # of chapters: 27
Planned date of first draft completion: Jan 31st, 2016
Current chapter: 10
This week's goal: Finish chapter 10
This month's goal: Get at least part way into chapter 14.

NoNoNaNo

Oct. 28th, 2015 06:31 am
masqthephlsphr: (word)
I am not going to be doing NaNoWriMo this year, ironically, because I am busy working on the first draft of my new novel. I have a rhythm down and it really isn't compatible with cranking out as many words as possible every day for 30 days. Plus, next month, I have a three-day work conference, a new writing class starting, and plans out of town for Turkey Day.

I've been doing my writing first thing in the morning. That is about the only time of day I have any energy, as work has been really busy for the past couple months (if you don't understand the reference "ICD-10", count yourself fortunate).

And I have other sources of social energy besides NaNo. The writing classes, including a course following Julia Cameron's Artist Way got me going on morning pages. And the Twitter hashtag #WriteChain has continued that by giving me a place to keep accountable for my daily writing goals.

My main excuse, though, has been physical pain. Unless a quip is short enough that I can peck it out with a finger or short enough for my voice-to-text not to get lost mid-sentence then crap out on me, I don't post it much. Hence my continued presence on Facebook.

I might try doing a November blogging thing if there are folks still around here in LJ/DW land. Roll call?
masqthephlsphr: (Emma)
Welcome, September. I for one will be glad to see summer go. It's going out like a lion rather than a lamb--the monsoons--but "bye bye."

I tend to hibernate in summer, and this one was no different in that respect. We also got mega busy at work in the past month or so, and I have veered between long days at work and sleep. OTOH, I found out recently I will lose a week's accumulated vacation if I don't take it before mid-November. So I will have 5-6 three-day weekends in the next month and a half. Can't say I mind. I was saving up days for next year's Australia trip and possible days off due to my back procedures, and have not nearly had enough days off.

Watched Season 4 of OUAT when it came to Netflix. Still poorly executed, but it makes more sense the second time through when you know they aren't throwing free will off the table.

Anyone seen the new Star Trek online movie, Renegades? I just started it. Planet and ship special effects are much better than 90's series, but the ship interiors and some of the characters look like amateur YouTube Trek. This despite it being a collaborative project of several Trek veteran actors.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eE2Wgop9VLM

GF and I are watching Farscape. First time for her, second time for me. Enjoying it more the second time around. I guess seeing it before changes my expectations for it.

In writing news, I sidelined the novel I've been working on for the past few years because it was spinning out of control and not getting finished. Started a short story in a writing class that has now turned into a novella. How does this happen to me? Plan: learn the art of plotting for brevity.
masqthephlsphr: (word)
I am working on a short story with a main character who is Spanish (as in, from Spain). I would like to have her thinking in Spanish at some key moments in the story, but I do not trust online translators.

Anyone willing/able to translate a few English phrases into Spanish (bonus points if it sounds genuinely from Spain)?

The Beast

May. 30th, 2015 10:22 am
masqthephlsphr: (word)

Original fiction, 3,873 words. Wrote this for my literary fiction course, Spring 2015. The ending/climax still doesn't work. Also, my instructor thinks the title of the story doesn't work.

Suggestions/comments are welcome.

Title: The Beast
Genre: Adult contemporary/lab lit
Summary: Golshan has issues. Ignoring them just gets the best of her.

The Beast )
masqthephlsphr: (laura)
I am reading a book that's been on the back shelf for years and years, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. This book has its pros and cons, but one of the most vexing-though-valid concepts in it for me is the notion of the "Artist's Date." This is an hour a week you set aside to let your inner child out and give it freewheel. The idea is, soundly enough, to feed that creative part of you without goal or expectation. To simply play.

But what, for me, is "play"? It's a bit of a family joke that I was born 40 years old. It just took a while for my body to catch up to my intellectually-inclined mind and serious personality. But looking back now, I can see ways that wasn't true. I was a kid, once. I did kid things. I "played" in a way that's difficult to do now.

Is writing "play"? It's my favorite activity, but a lot of time, it feels like work. Cameron's "Morning pages," for example--free writing every day for 15-20 minutes--still falls in the "wait and see obligation" category, and so feels like work. God knows composing a story or essay, or editing same can be a LOT of work. Is "I pretend I'm writing even though what I'm actually doing is looking at pretty pictures on the internet and calling it research" play or work?

Usually when I'm tired at the end of the day and too sore to write, I collapse in front of the TV, or grab my kindle. But many (my momma included!) would say passive absorption of someone else's content, as relaxing as that can be, isn't "play." Play is Active.

When I was a kid, I hated sports and bored easily of bikes and roller skating. I spent oodles of time in my room with the door shut inventing my own planet complete with its own language. That was play for me. Or my brother and I would build entire cities out of blocks and Little People buildings. We'd work hard on our cities, then when bedtime arrived, we played "It's the end of the world!!!1!" and tear it all down.

Nowadays, it would be unthinkable to engage in an imaginative activity that was so light-hearted I'd nonchalantly tear it all down when I was done! No, all imaginative activities must have an end goal! They must be precursors to writing or writing itself. But that makes them work more than play. Letting the imagination run wild for no reason whatsoever….

Sometimes, I tell myself stories without writing them down. I even act them out. That's play, right?

"Play," I guess, is whatever random calming or enjoyable activity I do that makes me feel guilty because "I should be working on something where the goal is productive and obvious." Play may even be all those times I fool around at whim/randomly and even make a record of the results, intending to go back to them and "do something with them," but never do.

INADEQUATE PLAY MAKES NANCY A DULL GIRL.
INADEQUATE PLAY MAKES NANCY A DULL GIRL.
INADEQUATE PLAY MAKES NANCY A DULL GIRL.
masqthephlsphr: (compgeek)
A piece that is neither essay nor fiction nor memoir but all of them and none of them I wrote for a writing class (390 words).


Read more... )
masqthephlsphr: (masq)
It has been a while since I've posted. My bout with back pain last fall has become shoulder pain, and the standing and walking I was doing to relieve it have been complicated by inflammation to my right knee. Bottom line is that sitting and typing can be painful, so I have had to save it for work and my writing class.

I have been experimenting with voice recognition input, which is great for one-liners on Facebook, or for making notes to myself, less good for composing, to say nothing of editing. Any tasks which put me in a similar position as typing (sitting with arms bent at a 90 degree angle), such as driving, are also difficult.

What have I been up to? See above re: work and my writing class. I have another short story finished, although it's probably not something I would submit anywhere. The teacher in this class wanted us to write "literary fiction," which apparently means NO GENRE WRITING OF ANY KIND. Not sci-fi, not mystery, not historical fiction (whut), not anything that's actually interesting. So the story I wrote doesn't particularly inspire me. But there are more writing classes to come. I find it a good motivator, and a way to connect with other writers. Just will have to keep my eye out for profs that are tunnel-vision SNOBS.

I have also been spending time at the gym, which has partly helped and partly contributed to my difficulties (exercise smart, not just hard, kids!) I have also been in and out of the pain clinic, getting various shots and procedures to my various screeching parts.

And for those of you who've friended me on Feeb, I am of course following and echoing the latest Solar System antics of 2015.

Now that my writing class is wrapping up for the semester, I hope to post a bit more.

The latest

Jan. 24th, 2015 01:18 pm
masqthephlsphr: (word)
Wanted to thank everyone that gave me feedback on my short story, Home. I submitted an updated/edited version to the Maricopa Community Colleges Creative Writing contest and won an Honorable Mention Winner in the Fiction category. It will be published as part of an annual publication the contest puts out.

In other news, got done a round of epidural steroid shots on my cervical vertebrae. I have some other interventions lined up for shoulder muscle tension and an arthritic lumbar, so stay t00ned for that excitement.

I joined a nearby gym as part of the Wellness Program at my job and have been working on strength training and stretching with a personal trainer. I am also looking into non-inflammatory diets. OMG, I lost five pounds in the last month just eating healthier. Nothing motivates like PAIN.

I got my new orthopedic recliner finally. It's a good chair, but I still have issues that mean I can't sit all day like I used to. I think having to move around more just for comfort reasons contributed to the weight loss.

Finished the second draft of my novel despite my sitting issues, just by letting is SUCK all it wanted to. I needed to move seriously to working on the plot before I spilled any more pixels on the words.

Happy Birthday, [profile] crimsonsenya!!

Happy Birthday, [personal profile] lakrids404!!

Masq update

Jan. 5th, 2015 02:50 pm
masqthephlsphr: (astronomy)
Had my first appointment at the pain clinic this AM. They have ordered a whole slew of interventions for my poor, beleaguered bod. Not going to get into details, because I don't want to invite the casual horror stories some people feel inclined to share when they read about other people's impending procedures. I am nervous enough as it is.

I did NOT get my new recliner delivered while on vacation, which I am disgruntled about. I had two weeks off to accept a delivery at their convenience, now, not so much. I'll work it out. My stay-cation was very awkward without a good chair to sit in. I got some novel writing done, which is great, but it was not very comfortable.

Now, I am back on the job. Yay?
masqthephlsphr: (boring)
...I don't even know where to begin. I guess... a month ago? I started to experience incredible pain while sitting. In my neck, in my back, in my left shoulder. Some of this is arthritis, some is muscle strain from arthritis. I've been experiencing arthritis twinges in the knees, back, and neck for a few years now. But I've never had any trouble sitting for long periods of time. Then the pain got exponentially worse at some point in November, I am not even sure when, to the point where I can't sit and write anymore, at least not comfortably, and I have to do pain drugs from my orthopedic doctor to get through my work day. I can't sit on my recliner (at all), or on my couch/at the dinner table without major neck and back support (or any chair, really). I have an inexpensive ergonomic chair at work that I can sit in most of the day, if I get up frequently and walk and stretch out.

That's the crazy thing. It's more comfortable now to walk than sit. I take walks when I'm in too much pain. At home, I have been reduced to lying down in my bed to do most sedentary things (and you can't lie flat--I mean, everything flat, including your head and neck--and do most sedentary things, it turns out). Over Thanksgiving weekend, I lay down so much, I got a bed rash.

Now, you might say, "Well, all that sitting isn't healthy anyway." But that's kind of like saying the barn door shouldn't be left open after the horse is long gone. I am writer, and a computer programmer. I have been sedentary for a long, long time. All I can do now is try to fight against the tide.

I'm trying to figure out what changed between October and now to effect me so radically (besides crappy genes on both sides finally coming to a head against years in sedentary pursuits). And there's only one thing I can think of. In late October, I went to my orthopedic doctor about my neck arthritis, because it was becoming something of an issue at work. He sent me to a physical therapist, who worked on my neck and shoulders. It was after those sessions were completed I started to have the constant, piercing pain, even when everything was well-supported, and repeated muscle pulls and muscle tenderness.

I made a follow-up appointment with my orthopedic doctor and he took me off PT and had me schedule two MRIs, one on my back and one on my neck. I literally broke into tears from the pain in his office. I was (still am) very fearful I won't be able to do my job anymore. I remember the day--it was my birthday, last month--when the words "going on disability" popped into my head for the first time as a possible scenario.

Now, I am hoping that won't happen. I am working on all sorts of interventions. A new, orthopedic recliner (zero-grav) for home, a new gym exercise/muscle strengthening program with a personal trainer, and then, whatever interventions my orthopedic doctor recommends after he sees my MRI results (I had those done Tuesday evening).

Pain is a strange thing. I always considered myself pretty stoic, but the pain I've been experiencing lately--inescapable, debilitating to normal, everyday activities--has turned me into a harpy. You just discover this wounded animal side to your personality.
masqthephlsphr: (word)
I sort of fell off the LJ train after my thirty days of posting thing.

Final Non-Nano November report: 65 out of 117 scenes

52 left for December.

These are the mini-scenes I identified for clean-up, double-checking, and/or composing.

Might have gotten a few more done over Turkey Day weekend, except I had another short story to write for my class, and arthritic impediments to writing I won't detail here.

Fryday

Nov. 14th, 2014 09:05 am
masqthephlsphr: (shane)
I don't have to post today, since my thirty days was up yesterday, but I am so glad it's Friday. Loooong week. We had a national user's conference at work, and I had to commute to Phoenix for the first three days, then I had an early AM blood appointment yesterday, so I have gotten little writing on the novel done this week. Some of that has to do with I am SO THROUGH with my La-Z-Boy recliner, where I do my writing (and reading, and TV watching, and everything else). Currently shopping for a more ergonomic replacement.

Today is my 7th anniversary of working at this place.

OTOH, check out my original fiction short story.

Also distracted by a robot landing on a comet (a bunch of times).
masqthephlsphr: (word)
Conference in Phoenix for work this week means my mornings are getting eaten up by commuting, and my evenings involve collapse. Plus, this evening: comet!

Scene countdown, 11/11/14: 81 30%
masqthephlsphr: (hold)
...I could do some damned interesting writing under the influence of mind-altering substances. But being a total dork, I've rarely been able to get my hands on such substances (other than alcohol). Truly, I could not trip over a drug dealer if he were lying on the sidewalk in front of me.

Luckily for me, there is early morning why-am-I-not-asleep insomnia, which has (perhaps?) similar effects.

Scene countdown, 11/5/14: 93
masqthephlsphr: (hold)
11/1: 117

11/2: 106

11/3: 100

Looks like I'm speeding along, but the scenes I'm working on will only get progressively more involved the further I go. I sorted them more or less by how much work needs to be done, so the ones I'm working on now are short, almost completed, or just need a polish. Then I will move on to longer, meandering scenes that need to be cleaned up, or are just big spaghetti messes of notes and half-written blurbs. Finally, I'll get to the ones that are basically a couple jotted outline notations and not written at all.

Fun, fun.
masqthephlsphr: (word)
...I have taken the remainder of the chapters for the second draft of my novel and divided them into a bunch of little mini-scenes, 117 in all, for clean-up, double-checking, and/or composing. I am going to try to get as many finished between now and the end of December as possible.

Actually at 106 left to do after yesterday and today.
masqthephlsphr: (bang)
I have noticed an unsettling trend with myself lately. I have been doing a lot of eBook searches, looking for reading material. What I've noticed is, if I get the impression from the price/book description that a book is self-published, I have a tendency to think, "The writing is probably crap," and pass it by.

And I myself have a self-published novel.

I think we're past the point where one can assume that books that have not been accepted by a publisher are a sign of a weak writer. And yet, that lingering assumption remains in my head.

You'd think, for $2.99, or 0.99, I could take a chance on a book. I'd want a reader to do the same for me.
masqthephlsphr: (trubel)
(1) Had my first PT session for my neck/shoulders this AM. I was at the therapist for about an hour and a half between early arrival, paperwork, interview with the therapist, and actual therapy. Therapist did heat therapy and a massage, which was great, but also pressure point testing to find tender spots ("Ouch, there's one!") and of course taught me some "exercises to do at home" which while good for the shoulders/neck, did not make my back happy.

(2) New Grimm season starts tonight! There is something not to be grim about.

(3) I wrote another short story, 2,974 words. Class busy-ness makes me insane, but... story!

No No Nano

Oct. 18th, 2014 01:08 pm
masqthephlsphr: (NaNoWriMo)
I just updated my profile and novel on Nanowrimo, but I'm not doing Nano this year. Probably.

I know Nano outright encourages rule breakers nowadays: pick a goal less than 50,000 words, pick a non-word count goal, write fan fiction, work on a second draft, write multiple short stories, etc, etc, so, in past years, I have felt free to use the energy of that month to accomplish whatever needs doing, but this year it's a matter of not having the time.

See re: writing class kicking my butt. There will still be lots of writing.

Things

Sep. 24th, 2014 01:11 pm
masqthephlsphr: (robotsonmars)
(1) I am reading stuff. But it's all trashy true crime, so, we'll skip that part.

(2) I had the stomach flu over the weekend and still feel crappy.

(3) Nevertheless, I climbed up on my roof on Sunday and cleaned off all the pine needles so roofers could come and give me a bid on resealing the flat part of my roof. Bid was humongous. *croak*

(4) We are moving to a new building at work on Friday. This will in no way be TOTAL CHAOS (/ sarcasm)

(5) I am taking an online writing class through a local community college. It is a LOT of work. Between that and the constant dental appointments (root canal, crown prep, crown...) I am feeling a bit stretched. Which explains (2).

(6) Mars! NASA MAVEN and ISRO's (India) Mars Orbiter now circling the red planet. September has been a cool month at least in that regard.

(7) Not prepared for new TV season. Just don't know when I'll have the time for any of it. Planning on watching Disney's Frozen as homework this Saturday, though. When did TV start having homework?

(8) Friend visiting in a couple weeks for OctoberFest. I hope it feels like fall by then, 'cause it doesn't right now. September is, traditionally, still summer here, except for the early mornings, which finally begin to cool down. We've been known to have 100+ in early October. I am losing my tolerance for this *&^%.

In conclusion, chocolate.
masqthephlsphr: (groovy)
I have not been posting lately, except for the onslaught of September birthday greetings. Things are just kind of all happening at once around here.

(1) My novel writing stalled out. I realized I had too much material for one book a while back, so I decided to plan for a trilogy. But then I didn't outline books 2 or 3, and lately, I've found all the stuff I should have moved out of book 1 creeping back into book 1. So I am taking time out to outline all three books. In the meantime, the novel 1 second draft ground to a halt. Trying to get back to that.

(2) Wanting to write other stuff besides aforementioned novel, I decided to take an online writing course through a local college. It started September 3rd. I am trying to keep my A-student, decades-of-writing-experience ego out of this, because it's been a LOOOONG time since I was a student, and the main challenge for me in this course is finding the student mindset again. Learning, not teaching, getting assignments done instead of bitching that I don't have the time. And courage, courage to let other people read my writing while it's still raw, and without the very act of making it public change what I write about. These have all been problems in the past for me.

In other words, my goal is just to pass the class, not get an "A." I am hoping writing classes will push me to be more interactive and social with my writing, allowing more feedback and motivation for more small projects unrelated to the Novel that Won't End.

(3) I recently got a new dentist, who insisted on fresh x-rays. So this fun week, I had a root canal on Monday, after which the endodontist said he would not give me a permanent crown until after I had the wisdom tooth next to it (the cracked one) pulled. So this morning, I had that tooth pulled. It was quick and non-eventful, except for the pre-procedure jitters and the--ouch, damn!--local anesthetic injections.

(4) I'm getting really tired of eating soft foods. I've been doing that all week. I think if I see another mashed potato, it will end up on someone's face. Still, pasta and apple sauce and soup's still the food plan for at least another three days.

(5) On Monday--yes, the same day as the root canal--the Phoenix area had a record rain storm, most of which landed squarely in the Tempe/Guadulupe area. In other words, my stomping grounds. I have been putting off a roof recoating for months because it never rains in Arizona. Monday, I had leaks in at least three windows and two roof lines. So now I have a wee-hours appointment next week for the roofers to inspect it and give me an estimate.

Dentist bills. Home maintenance bills. Tuition bills. And the giant Time Suck of Everything. Please to be stopping the world, I want to get off for a day or two? Thnks.Bye.
masqthephlsphr: (kilgharrah)
Spoiler warning: Skin Game (The Dresden Files)

A while back, I posted an angst about point of view and the pacing of information reveals in my novel. My novel is, at its core, a mystery. The answers to the mystery gradually unfold for the reader as the protagonists investigate and make discoveries. In the first draft, I set a major "reveal" towards the end of the novel. The challenge was setting the stage for that reveal without giving it away.

The novel uses rotating third person subjective points of view. This created a problem for my reveal, because there was more than one character whose point of view I wrote through who knew a lot more about what was going on than my putative protagonists. It seemed rather contrived to me that we could be in the head of a character who knows important information about the events unfolding around them, and they would fail to think about those events using the knowledge they had. It would be one thing if the novel's point of view was the omniscient narrator, dancing around from head to head. But this is the subjective third person, where the narrator just is the character.

In the second draft, I moved the big reveal to a few chapters in from the beginning, and took the point of view of characters who knew too much out of rotation until I was ready to reveal what they knew. Better to have them remain enigmatic then let the reader enter their heads and have them somehow just not think things that would give the mystery away.

As a result of my struggle with this, I now have a low tolerance for published authors who hide the "big twist" at the climax of their novels by having characters who are already aware of this twist conveniently not think of it.

This is something Dan Brown has done flagrantly in his past couple novels. In both Inferno and The Lost Symbol, he reveals facts about particular characters towards the end designed to change the reader's whole perception of the events of the novel. But he does this by taking us into their heads throughout the book and just not showing them thinking of things that are no doubt on their minds, like, "How am I going to pull blah-blah-blah off without giving myself away?" That would really be foremost in their minds, I would think. Sometimes, Brown has characters think of events in their lives that are later revealed to never to have happened. Were they rehearsing their fake backstories to help pull off the con?

It just seems to me a simple fact of psychology that, if the stakes are high, and you are a character deliberately withholding information from other characters, you would think about what you knew. Because people? Don't control their thoughts. We think what we think.

In retrospect, you can see the clues Brown scatters for you throughout his books that reveal the twist, which a twisty story should do, but you also see the cheating attempts at misdirection.

I'm not surprised by this sort of clumsiness from Brown, who knows oodles about history and archeology, but much less about writing. But it is also a reason I was less than fond of the latest Dresden Files novel, Skin Game. There's a "big twist" towards the end of the novel in which Harry is in dire straights and an unexpected alliance is revealed that comes as a surprise to the double-crossing head of the expedition Harry is on, and to the reader.

Hiding that information from the reader is even clumsier in Skin Game than it is in Dan Brown novels, because Butcher's readers spend the entire book in Harry Dresden’s head (indeed, it is written in the first person), and if anyone is an up-front guy, narrating his every thought and bit of reasoning (so much so it breaks up action sequences awkwardly), it's Harry Dresden.

Maybe I shouldn’t worry about writing in the head of a character and not revealing highly relevant things s/he knows. Heck, if bestselling authors get away with it, why shouldn’t I?

June 2017

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