Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Revision, Stage No. 1 (with pictures!!)

So I've decided (realized?) that revision, with any method you use, comes in three basic stages: Identifying Problems, Figuring out what to Do with those Problems, and, finally, Fixing those Problems. Last night I successfully completed my initial read-through of Seer, hi-lighters, spreadsheet, and shrunken manuscript in tow, and have identified a heck of a lot of problems (though thankfully I found as much cause for hope as despair).

I really found the hi-lighter method, the shrunken manuscript, and the scene-list-spreadsheet to be immensely useful in assessing what I've got to work with and in pointing out my problem areas (of which there are many), and found myself jotting down notes for each chapter and ideas of how to fix/change/rework things. Hopefully this will make the transition to the much harder and not-quite-as-much-fun revision stages two and three. I'll let you know.

And without further ado, I give you my 70,000 word novel in glorious shrunken form:

Close up:
I marked POV (green for Braise and purple for Iria), Parts that were Interesting and Awesome (orange stripes), and any scene I really really really liked got a heart sticker (or two or three). As you can see, there are LOTS of spots missing orange stripes and hearts. This is, of course, Not Good, and one of the main things I'll be working on fixing!!

Here's a closer-up on one of the pages (I had to do the dual column thing to make everything fit):

Here's a manuscript page, complete with hi-lighting and scribbled notes:

 I was getting into quite a little system: orange to keep track of any world-building/room description/character description details; blue for anything having to do with the enigmatic Ethereal Plane; yellow for repetitious type stuff; pink for anything that was either not working or was inconsistent; and purple and green, respectively, for tracking certain phrases in my two MCs' voices. Quite an excellent way of gathering information! Here's hoping I can make good use of it...

On to Stage Two!!

 Me 'n the Shrunken Manuscript

Monday, March 29, 2010

Book Review: Incarceron

Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher, is about a prison—vast, sentient, and possibly malicious—and two people desperate to unlock its mysteries: Finn, a prisoner who believes he came from Outside and longs to Escape; and Claudia, the Warden's daughter, who's doomed to an arranged marriage and life in the stifling falseness of the Queen's court. Connected by identical copies of a mysterious crystal Key, both Claudia and Finn begin to dream that Escape is actually possible...

There were a number of things that impressed me about this book. One was Ms. Fisher's deft handling of POV changes and snappy scene divisions; the two main voices are Claudia's and Finn's, but occasional viewpoints of other key characters are woven in seamlessly. Her pacing is extremely impressive, as are her settings: the dark menacing weirdness of the prison and the glittering facade of the Outside world. Though the first part of the book didn't suck me in quite as quickly as I'd anticipated, I was pleasantly surprised by the plot twists and unexpected revelations in the last hundred pages or so and accidentally stayed up until 1:30AM the other night finishing it. I'm not at all sure I can wait until December for the American version of the sequel, Sapphique, to be released, so might have to dig up a British copy online. We'll see. :-)

One other thing: I'm curious as to how people are labeling this, genre-wise. To me it comes off firmly in my pet genre, science-fantasy; I really don't feel like it's one or the other. What do you think?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

And so it begins...

So, so, so: I plunged into Stage #1 of revisions for Seer today. Pretty sure it's the shortest amount of time that's ever passed between rough draft and edits for me, but I just couldn't bear to wait any longer. The story wouldn't leave me alone, and that's a good thing, right? It's been several weeks, at least. That's something. :-)

Anyways. I wanted to try a slightly different tack than my normal scribble-on-my-manuscript-with-colored-ink-and-make-lots-of-notes-and-get-lost-in-overwhelming-bouts-of-wallowing-despair revision process, and through various tweets and links and Google searches, am attempting a combination of the Shrunken Manuscript Technique, a spreadsheet outline, and working through Anita Nolan's wonderful-looking revision checklist. We'll see what sticks and what doesn't.

So far today I printed out a shrunken manuscript and marked the different POVs, then began working through my regular-sized manuscript page by page, making notes and hi-lighting things I want to keep track of (like world-building and character details), and marking things I realize aren't working (like much of chapter three). If I find a scene that's Interesting, Intriguing, and Filled With Wonderful Tension, I get to mark it on the shrunken manuscript. So far only one scene has made the cut. o_0 As I'm reading through the scenes, I'm also filling out my spreadsheet, which thus far includes the categories Voice, Location, Time, Synopsis, Point of Scene, Notes, and # of pages.

By the time I finish my first read-through, I'll hopefully have identified all the problem areas and have three different ways to look at the novel (shrunken, spreadsheet, scribbled-upon-manuscript) and figure out how to fix it.


I'll keep you posted. :-)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Conspiracy of Bookstores

So today is March 23rd, a day I have been looking forward to for some months, as it is the day that the fourth book in Megan Whalen Turner's ridiculously-amazing-but-I-can't-really-tell-you-much-about-them-for-fear-of-spoiling-the-awesome Attolia series, A Conspiracy of Kings, was released.

Too bad none of the Borders or Barnes & Nobles in the greater Phoenix area seemed to notice. >:(

Oh glorious A Conspiracy of Kings. What lies between your pages? Will I ever know???

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Oregon Trail!

A few pics from the Oregon trip, highlights including a trip to Mount Hood, the coast, and—of course—Powell's Books. :-) Your regularly scheduled novelistic blogging will resume shortly. :-)

Oh my gosh! Snow!

My faithful traveling buddy!!

Gorgeous mountainy-cloudy view through the car window

SUCH a gorgeous vista—and sooooo cold!

We found a whale after all! :-)

Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach

Shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day!

Apparently huge weird mushrooms make me deathly pale.

The Oregon coast from Indian Beach

So beautiful!

A weeeeee bit windblown!

I've got some serious reading to do!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Portland Ho!

So the sis and I are headed to Portland for the week to catch some rain, go to the awesomest bookstore in the history of ever, and drive up to the coast to see the ocean crashing in magnificent fashion against the gorgeous jagged coastline. We wanted to go whale-watching, too, but apparently whales don't come out until April. :-)

Anyways. I got about 500 words written on On Journeys Bound the other day, and I've been noodling on revisions for Seer (and honestly can't wait to get started on them), but that's about it on the writing front. I figure I deserve a break. :-) If all goes according to plan, I'm gonna tackle Seer Draft #2 at the beginning of April. I've decided I need multi-colored pens/hi-lighters to assist me in this endeavor, so I'm going shopping for those when I get back (any excuse to buy school supplies is a good excuse in my book).

Started reading Incarceron and really like it so far. Can't wait to see where it's all going!

Also: A Conspiracy of Kings comes out ONE WEEK FROM TUESDAY!!!!!!!! I am SO ridiculously excited about that. You don't even know.

And that is, as they say, that.

See you on the other side!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

That's a Wrap!

It's official!! The first draft of Seer is DONE!!!!!!!!!! 70,018 words, 26 completed chapters, and 157 not-quite-double-spaced-to-save-paper pages! You can tell by all the superfluous exclamation points that I'm EXCITED!!!! :-) :-) :-)

I also sorta don't know what to do with myself now. All the wisdom of the ages says to put it in a drawer for at least a week before I dive into revisions. Sad. But true.

At any rate, as a variation on the weekly stats, I give you:

Things I Learned While Writing This Novel
  1. Apparently it is possible for me to tell a story in under 100,000 words. :-)
  2. It's okay and sometimes necessary to change your outline on the fly.
  3. I am definitely not above bribery-by-chocolate.
  4. World-building as you go is an adventure, but it works out okay in the end. I think.
  5. Random things inserted at the beginning to add flavor to the narrative might turn out to be important later on.
  6. I have a very poor grasp on the actual floor plan of my building-where-everything-happens. Stairs and rooms and hallways pop up in rather odd places.
  7. Stories tend to develop their own sense of internal logic. This is pretty awesome. Run with it.
  8. I can't remember physical descriptions of minor characters.
  9. I'm really good at making up history for my world and then being inconsistent with the details.
  10. All important conversations happen in hallways.
  11. I am so addicted to Facebook that I will check it during my writing time, even if I happen to be in the middle of the climax.
  12. I like to sit by a window when I'm writing, so I can stare out of it in proper daydreamer fashion if I happen to get stuck.
  13. I'm convinced my main characters have medical problems. Their hearts and stomachs do pretty strange things when they're happy/scared/sad/excited/experiencing any kind of emotion at all. They might should get that checked out.
  14. My mind is a strange, strange place. But I guess I knew that already. :-)

**does the excited dance of first draft done-ness**

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

60K and Beyond!

Yikes, I can't believe it's March. When did that happen? Wasn't yesterday Christmas 2008? I'm pretty sure it was. Weird. I never got around to buying a 2010 calendar, so I'm using last year's. As long as I don't look at the days it's not too confusing. :-)

So, noveling. It's coming along, more-or-less. I kinda wish it was over, but if I don't stop procrastinating I'll never get it done. I'm soooooo close now! Just gotta get my female MC to figure out how to save my male MC, and Robert's your father's brother (I already know, but she doesn't. It's very frustrating. True love conquers all, and so on. :-)).

Anyhoo, in lieu of anything more interesting to report, I give you this week's STATS:

Word Count: 60,881
Chapters Completed: 22/26
Number of Times Author has Stopped Action to Reveal Pertinent Backstory: 3 (ugh, I KNOW)
Number of Old People Being Disturbingly, Nay, Disgustingly Kissy-Face in Scooters: 2
Number of Times Author has Eaten Ice Cream This Week: 0 (very, very sad)
Number of Episodes Author is Behind on in LOST: 3

Yep, I think that about covers it. :-)