Monthly Archives: November 2012

What I learned by failing at nanowrimo

Generic-180x180There’s no way I’m going to be able to crank out 15,000 words by midnight so I’m conceding, but am still happy that I tried it and will probably try again next year (if it happens).  The following are few important lessons that the deadline taught me:

ONE

Just because you generally have 3 or 4 hours of free time at work every day does not mean that you’re consistently going to have 3 or 4 hours of free time at work a day.

I know it seems kind of ridiculous that I get paid to be available to test things, but I do and while sometimes there’s not a lot to test or work on, the past month has been atypically busy.  It takes me at least five or ten minutes to settle into a productive writing state of mind and for the past two weeks I’ve only had about that long to write anything.

TWO

Writing at home is a pipe dream, at least for me it is.

First of all: 15 month old baby, Second of all: 250-year-old ridiculously drafty house that didn’t seem as drafty when the welfare of a baby was not part of the equation and Third: There’s just too much to do when you get home when 11-12 hours of your day are consumed with work and commute.

THREE

Writing random shorts stops me from getting bored.

The post previous to this detailed my becoming slightly dissatisfied with the tone of the book. I have since found some interesting ways to correct this, but I probably would have come upon my solutions much sooner had I been feeding this blog with more new material.  Exercising variations in content and style is important for me because I tend to slip into a specific rhythm and voice when I’m not paying attention.

FOUR

Content is important and I’ve been getting annoyed with thin characters lately.

Thin of course meaning not terribly developed as opposed to physically thin, which I tend to make my characters by default because I watch a lot of movies.  I’m quite sure I would have reached 50,000 by now, but unfortunately it wouldn’t be something I would want to read, edit or look at once  I was done.

FIVE

Sprinting to the next major plot point can yield interesting results.

This actually helped me flesh out some of what was lacking in my original idea and I don’t know that I would have come to the same conclusion if I had been writing at my normal pace.

In any case, the book I’m working on is probably going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 200,000 words, so I really wouldnt’ be finishing anything anyway, but I know that this is just justification for laziness and failure so I guess I’ll see what I can get done in the next 7 hours.

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Finding the voice of your novel then becoming annoyed with it

“Novel” may be an overstatement; I prefer “book”, but being as this is partially being done for the novel-writing month nonsense, I’ll stick with that nomenclature.  Getting to 50,000 isn’t the hard part of this, it’s getting to 50,000 words that I would want to read.  Anyone who has read the posts on this blog may note that I like working in confined spaces; confined meaning somewhat minimalist in that I like feel like the placement of every word makes it at least passingly interesting.  I will note that I am not yet able to do this as well as I would like, but think I show improvement every once in a while, which might not be considered actual improvement due to its inconsistency.

Anyway, the stage is set and the path is clear, the tone however, is lacking.  The more than likely problem is that I lack the emotional stuff necessary to connect with the characters that I’m writing, but I’m trying to avoid falling into the Phillip Dick trap of consistent distance, which I find happens naturally if I’m not paying attention.  I’m also quite sure that people who read my last book might deride this as another “trick” book, and it might be, but at least it’s a different trick.  Degenerate Triangle functions as more of a paradoxical logic problem, slightly Lynchian, but not overly so.  The current tone of the new book is slipping into that of the last so things have to change, or I’ll just abandon it for a while, which is exactly what I don’t want to do and why I entered the novel month thing. I definitely think that the site’s suggestion to just crank out words without editing is bad advice though, for me at least.  I find that fixing a bad sections makes the road ahead much easier to traverse.

Note:  This is not me giving up, this is a matter of prioritizing.


Shakespeare Redux

Is there an odor that could contain the scent of rot in this once great estate.  Those dead walk to an fro as industries of war work deep into the night.  It has once come and then again in phantasm fashion.  What of the daughter, her lover, the wife, the uncle, actors, rival, traitorous friends, duels poison death love loss suicide the like of which has been seen before, but once again rises from the ground exhumed bones of the dead.  Where are Rose Crantz and Gilda Stern?  They are dead and fair Hamlet cloaked in inky black iced stares at the defiled mother and lecherous husband of days after the day of the father’s death stands to accuse and kill by undead pledge.  The poison is the play and is apt to act in err as the mother of her lover stabbed without knowledge is dragged through the house of halls.

Thoughts are bloody and nothing worth time, hesitation, betrothed betrayal in watery death he lies unknown to his expatriotess, dropped from the shoulders of men to a changeless sleep of no escape.  A man known well of infinite jest can laugh no more as he who in rapt madness removed his life in a river grave now known and passingly mourned by the young princess Denmark as a sporting duel looms with the sister of the dead and all but one slain will tell the tragic tale.


Message from a little girl

So like Gretchen and I were at the library and I was like OMG! because Kayla walked in the shortest skirt I had ever seen and her mom totally looked like a bag lady in her University of Phoenix sweatshirt, so I was like, “Kayla, is that even a real college?” and Kayla didn’t know, but Gretchen said I shouldn’t judge even though when I showed her a picture of Winston she totally said he was cuter than her puppy, but then I said his name was Doris and that he’s a drug dealing, prostitute cross-dresser and she looked confused.  You’re soooo much prettier than Kayla’s mom.  I told Kayla that she was probably going to grow up and look like her mom and she cried, but then I gave her a waffle wheel and a hug and told her that it would be okay because I would still be her friend when she got ugly and that made her smile.

I love you mom, you’re the best mom ever of all time!

XOXOXOXOX


Unwriter excerpt

Rereading earlier drafts supplies the answer to all of the scene’s problems.  A pack of zombie (feral?) robots obviously breaks through the police lines late in the scene adding the random element that was missing.  Yes, robot butlers seemingly got the boot earlier, but Phillip favors the chaos and fear that would be generated by rusted crazed robots overrunning the SWAT team over uninteresting replicants that simply serve to make Sasha seem nigh invulnerable.

Rescene: Sasha wakes to the sound of movement downstairs.  She puts on her mask and looks over the upstairs railing and sees five members of a SWAT unit quietly searching the house.  Eduardo pretends to be asleep on the couch, but fingers the trigger of a shotgun.  The house is completely surrounded by the police and Flannan tanks mentioned earlier.  Phillip moves to an earlier point in the book and adds that George’s apartment is in a bad neighborhood which adds believability to what’s about to occur.  Sasha hides behind a door as two men in black body armor move quietly up the stairs.

There is some noise from outside.  The infiltrators stop and listen to their earpiece radios.  Gun fire and screaming from street.  One of the cops runs to the front door to tries and close it but is tackled and has a rusted arm repeatedly plunged into his chest.  The other members of the Swat team come to help but are similarly overrun.  Eduardo shoots the robots that have entered the house while Sasha runs to the basement to retrieve the CEO.  Bob blocks the front door as many hands pull him back and forth.

Real-life Sasha has been meeting Phillip after work for drinks almost two nights a week now; giving him levels of anxiety that he didn’t know were possible.  He has successfully dodged having her over to his apartment by repeatedly citing his brother’s lifestyle as the main deterrent, but he knows he can’t avoid the shame of his poverty forever.  Eventually she will want to see where he lives no matter how disgusting he describes Edward’s habits.  Edward, incidentally and unsurprisingly has not yet found a job and offers an unending critique of Phillip’s failure so far to sleep with Sasha.  General lack of experience with intimacy was the most likely reason for Phillip’s clumsy approach.  He had made it to her apartment twice, but both times resulted in only partial nudity and while fun, was somewhat unfulfilling.

On several occasions she had mentioned an ex-boyfriend who she was apparently still friends with; a situation which Phillip found concerning simply because of the English involved.  A boy who is a friend is a boyfriend of sorts and an ex-boyfriend implies that this friend who happened to be a boy was not acceptable in some way and making them an ex-friend who happened to be a boy, added intimacy or not, which should preclude any future friendship of any sort with this person.  Phillip also acknowledged the possibility that he attributed the lack of sex thus far to lingering feelings for this ex and was more than slightly bitter about it.  His name was Vinnie and she described him as a “bad boy” type.  He was apparently an occasional male model with a significant heroin problem which Phillip said sounded really awesome, but actually not at all.


Symmetry

 

Everything in straight lines.  Teeth are straight.  Hair is straight.  Spines are straight.  All things that can be straightened must be straight.  She sat in the corner and thought about the rules while frantically flat ironing the curve out of her last rogue hair.  It was important, very important, the most important straightest, truest thing that had to be.  Feet pointed forward, curves are suggestive.  Knees must touch when standing and lightly touch while walking, any variation is an invitation.  Eyes must be 20/20; less is not what was intended, more skews perception and causes deviance.  Sitting down is sitting down; slouching is the way of the sloth and slow.  Her mother was coming and the room had to be level and straight and right.  She was the only one who was hitherto unstraightened.  The others told her how much better it was after the first time and that they looked forward to it because things just lose balance if nature has its way.

She tightens the screws on her brace and looks at the door as her mother’s footsteps grow louder.


Unwriter excerpt-NaNoWriMo project

 

Because of Bob’s act of bravery he doesn’t require a voice.  This makes things infinitely easier and entertaining because it limits the annoying exposition that goes along with a talking robot; who was more interesting C3PO and the Robot from Lost in Space or R2-D2 and the Iron Giant(sort of talks, but barely), there’s really no comparison; the latter are the embodiment of actions speaking louder than words.  Given that Flannan is the controlling type, he probably wouldn’t want to hear a robot’s thoughts on the orders that it was receiving anyway.  Sasha will probably have some friend who can access Bob’s memory, which will provide her with a more distant and therefore dramatic view of the events up to and including George’s death, all through Bob’s unmoving gaze; his eyes obviously lingering on his dead friend for a few seconds implying some type of emotional attachment.

The silent robot commitment makes him feel pretty good about his progress.  He thinks that the picture of this Sasha person was instrumental in establishing the important thematic tone he just decided on and begins seriously considering attempting contact.  His train of thought is broken by the phone ringing; it’s his brother reporting back on the section of the book he was given.

-You repeat the same words too much.

-What words.

-Articles

-What am I supposed to do about that?

-Take them out, fix it.

-I didn’t ask for a grammar critique.  Did you like the story?

-I’ve never read Asimov, but I think you’re probably stealing from him, Gibson, or Ellison.

-Have you read much Gibson or Ellison?

-No, but this seems to be in the same genre and I can only assume that they’ve already written it and better.

-Did you like it?

-No, but that’s not the point, it’s typical, your sentences are too long too.

-Thanks.  Anything else?

-The robot shouldn’t talk.

-Yeah, I already decided that.

-Okay, well that’s all for now, I’ll let you know if I have any other thoughts.

-Talk to you later.