Tag Archives: partners in crime

All about me and my wonderful writing partner.

Revision complete!

Last night, I finished the One Pass Revision.  It was a great feeling to have plowed through the entire manuscript and made it better, closer to my vision of the story.  My writing partner, C, asked if it hurt to cut parts of it.  I told her that yeah — at first, it did hurt.  All those words.  All the lovely descriptions, the great dialogue, the emotions.  But early on I recalled that Holly Lisle said that a scene must move the story forward, contain conflict, characters we care about.  So…held against that, a great many scenes made it to the chopping block.  I had a lot of extraneous stuff.  I had put it in there as I went, thinking it might be good, but no.  Some of it had to go.  And with that knowledge, I’d freed myself to do what needed to be done.

My final answer?  Exhilarating.  It felt wonderful.  It felt good to be making the book tighter, better, closer to publishable.  I’m completely jazzed about this.  I haven’t been this excited in a really long time.

So today I’m taking off from Pirouette.  I might just catch up on stuff I’d neglected, or work on Hereafter.  Or, quite possibly, not write at all.  I finished a day early, and could use a day off.  It’s been intense, and I need to recharge the batteries.

So what’s the next step?  Reading through the manuscript, double checking my decisions on scenes, expanding where its needed, condensing if it needs it.  I have a few major, global changes I need to implement before I do the type in.  Alot of things occurred to me late in the process.  Like, for an example, towards the end I missed something very important to the overall story.  It needs to be in there.  Not going to say what, as it’s a spoiler and I don’t want to spoil anyone who might want to read it, or read it on the shelves (optimism, optimism!).  😉  So I have to figure out how that’s going to work and also where and when these things should be added.  Shouldn’t be too difficult once I make some decisions.

Just did some quick math.  The first draft was 399,915 words (!).  Iiieeeeee.  Yeah, I’m verbose.  I ended up cutting alot, and rewriting it from scratch.  That came in at 192,000 words.  Still too long, but about half as long, give or take.  I don’t have a new tally on what I rewrote in revision yet, but if you add the final counts of both drafts together, you get…  591,915 words.  *faints*  Half a million.  Four years.  That’s alot of work.  But I believe in the story, now more than ever, and I will see it to completion and hopefully publication.

So I’m one step closer to making my dream a reality.  It’s been an exhilerating experience so far.

Revision day…or not.

Today I was supposed to start the Pirouette Rewrite One-Pass Revision, but I’ve decided to wait until I move and get settled.  I don’t want to lug around a 500+ manuscript.  And, more importantly, I’m just not ready yet.  The story is simmering in my head, but I’ve been focusing on Survivor, and that’s helped me get the needed distance from it.  I want to feel ready to rip it to shreds.  I’ve already made a list of what needs to be changed, so I have that as a guideline.

I’ve been told different things about distance — 1 month, 6 mos, more than that, even.  I’m not sure I can wait that long.  Pirouette will call to me.  I’m sure it will, when it’s good and ready.  I’m not writing to the market (I hear that’s not a good thing) but I would like there to be a market for it when I start the agent rounds.  But I’m also not going to push it.  I don’t want to send it in when it’s clearly not ready for agent perusal.

Can we just fast forward to the end of the Revision and call it done? 

Just kidding.  This will be an interesting experience, being my first real revision.

Survivor is just moving along.  Things have changed a bit, but for the better, I think.  I think I have a shot of getting it done within the next few months (!).  If I work my butt off, that is.  Timeline-wise, we’re just before the climax of the book.  So it’s almost there.  Pantser me, I meandered a bit, but I’m not off course…just taking a detour.

I could wrap it up within the next few days, but that would take away from the power of the story.  There’s a very specific thing that needs to happen to set the MC in a new, healthy direction.  I’m moving towards that.

I also have another idea percolating.  My awesome writing partner emailed it to me.. It’s for Silouette Nocturne Bites, 15k novellas.  Paranormal.  That’s about 40 pages.  And it would be a challenge to write something tighter.  Ideas….one of them is basing it off of a really cool song (by guess who?  Queensryche!) and another is a serial tracker thing.  Yet another is vampires underground.  Don’t know how I’ll choose.  But there’s no deadline, so I’m just going to let this one simmer away.

That’s about it.  No Revision, working hard on Survivor, got some new things to flog the muse with.

Plotbunnies, Inc.

My writing partner and I were brainstorming a new book idea, and I thought I would talk about my brainstorming process in the hopes that maybe someone out there would find it useful in some manner.

There are a few things I regularly use for plot ideas:

1) Conversations.  Any and all.  Often, it will be a nondescript, non-writerly type of convo, but something said will spark an idea.  For instance, recently a friend of the beloved’s parents was talking about live TB germs still hanging around someplace.  Scary huh?  So then I wondered what would happen if someone came into contact with them, and then others came in contact with him, and so on.   It’s still fermenting, but the wick has been lit.  😀 

2) News.  Not usually the local news, either, although occasionally I’ll find something intriguing.  Nope, I’m talking about world news and the Peculiar Postings on MSN.  A plot element from What Lies Beneath came from a story about a boy who’d drowned.  Sometimes health or science news also gets the gears going, too.

3) Science.  On Thursday I discovered Discover Magazine.  Found some very interesting information on the sleep cycle (which is always interesting, after having almost been diagnosed with narcolepsy), minimally-conscious states (not a vegatative and not a coma –a cross between the two), and some intriguing news on memories (another passion of mine — memory in some way or another always creeps into my books).  Just from persuing the headlines and reading articles that looked interesting.  I should have been a scientist, I swear.

4) Dreams.  I have very vivid, very unusual dreams that I can usually remember in graphic detail.  It could be that I’ve trained myself to ponder things unconsciously, or maybe it’s my meds (a certain medication is known for inducing vivid dreams and nightmares).  I have at least 3 plotbunnies connected to dreams, and other plot elements that came from a dream.  If you find you can’t remember your dreams, tell yourself as you’re drifting off that you will remember.  Be prepared to jot down anything upon wakening.  Dreams tend to dissolve the more awake you become.  I try to latch on to something and more or less “memorize” it before it vanishes.  Those few minutes upon waking are the most critical.

Another thing I do is ponder any issues I’m having with a novel as I’m drifting off, which insures that I will dream about it.  Recently, a tiny part of a dream spawned the sequel idea for Pirouette.

5) Juxaposing two or more very different ideas.  I purposely look for strange or contradictory ideas to combine for novels.  I take what I mine from other sources and work it out in my mind, asking myself “what if?” questions.  The entire concept of Requiem in Blue was built this way: combining cyborgs, underwater, and mind control.  Same with What Lies Beneath — empathy, insanity, and dolphins.

6) Other books.  Books inspire me.  I don’t ever copy; rather, I twist and bend the core idea (sometimes juxaposing stuff as above) to come up with my own spin on it.  This I disocvered from Holly Lisle’s workshop: How to Steal Ideas Ethically (or some such.  Can’t remember the exact title).  Requiem in Blue was originally one of these.  I read Starfish by Peter Watts and fell in love.  What I liked the best was the underwater millieu and how the people were modified to live in deep sea.  I took that, and ran with it.  If you hadn’t known this ahead of time, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell: the plot, combined with the mind control, is completely and entirely different, as are the circumstances as to why these people are living deep in the sea.  The only resemblance to Starfish now is the core idea that sparked it. 

Same thing with Holly Lisle’s Talyn.  If you haven’t read it, go read it NOW.  It is awesome, thrilling, terrifying, and beautiful all at once.  Well, the idea of enemies joining together (and a few other things too — don’t want to spoil it) intrigued me.   What Lies Beneath has elements similar to that, in the romance end of it.  But the similarity ends right there.

7) Song lyrics.  Now, I have what I call “movie images” appear in my head as I’m listening to music, pretty much without any conscious control.  I’ve always done this, even as a kid, and it helps me brainstorm and get new ideas.  But some lyrics will actually inspire plots as well as the imagery.  Queensryche’s “Suite Sister Mary” became the template upon which I plotted (ok, semi-plotted) Requiem in Blue.  “Silent Lucidity,” also by Queensryche,  inspired a VR plotbunny very recently.  A song by the band Creed inspired an alternate reality romance plotbunny I’ve had for gosh, years.  Queensyche’s “The Hands” inspired parts of Requiem in Blue (it’s also the protagonist’s theme song).  It’s really amazing what cool things happen with music.

I also use music to help me write.  Oftentimes if I’m stuck, I’ll just close my eyes and let it do its work.  Usually, it’s enough to get me moving again, and that’s what counts.

8) Real-life events.  There are a few novels that started out purely as semi-autobiographical, as a way to make sense of something that had happened to me.  Usually, they grow beyond that, and take another form, but that’s how some of them start.  One such novel, “Transparent Eyes,” started out as a way to get back at someone (fictionally)  who’d hurt me.  TE grew beyond that, and is now Footsteps of Ghosts.  The original elements are completely gone, and it’s a story in its own right.

Take caution when plucking things from your own life — there’s always the chance of lawsuits.  Granted, the law can be a bit ambigious, but it’s always good to hide any real-life stuff behind a good fictional situation. 

Another old plotbunny is a multi-generational family story that I’ve been meaning to write, to help cope with some of my own personal issues.  It’ll be fantasy or sci-fi, most likely.

And, Dagmar, another plotbunny, came from my grandparents’ love story.  War romance, Irish heritage.  The rest is completely different, but that was the inspiration.

Once I get the kernel of the idea, I let it perculate.  I have a good memory so that’s not hard, even with multiple ideas (although I have been writing them down as of late).  I always ask myself “what if?” questions, and try to tighten the screws on the poor characters.  Torture, that’s the name of the game.  I’m evil, LOL.

Sometimes I use Tarot cards, using them to answer those “what if?” questions.  I’ve come up with some awesome ideas that way.

So now you know my process.  It works very well for me.  And it’s basically just being aware of things, and always looking at different perspectives.  The belief that anything can result in a story idea helps.  😉  And perhaps that’s why I have so many…..because I see them everywhere.  I don’t think I will ever run out of ideas.

Hopefully this helped you in some way!