Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Breaking the wall

I finally managed to shatter the blockage. I won't call it writer's block, because I knew what I wanted to write, I just also knew it was going to be boring and suck horrific balls.

However, I broke out the good old fashioned way... a notebook and a pen. I wrote six full handwritten pages last night, a decent start on a very good action scene. If I can get past this chapter, I'll be into the climax, and it'll be time to kick ass and take names.

In other knews, I've also rediscovered an old tale I wrote god knows when... "Hacker Dragon". It's a sci-fantasy kind of thing, something vaguely reminiscent of the old RPG Shadowrun. I REALLY want to work on it, but I'm determined to finish Nightblade first. So I've decided that I'll hurry up and do that so I can work on the second. I may try writing on Nightblade first, and use the second story as a carrot to work hard.

Sorry for the long time since the last post. I've been so caught up with schoolwork and trying to get past this block that I haven't wanted to waste time with "can't update, nothing's changed" posts here. :)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Dictionary (Thesaurus?): Impossible

Just found a great writing challenge, from A Paperback Writer

Let's play Dictionary: Impossible.

Writers, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take out your dictionary and flip through it, then stop on any page at random. Write down the first word you see. Repeat until you have a list of ten words.


Level 1: Create at least three novel titles using only the words on your list (a, an, the, and other simple words can be added for style.) You have five minutes to complete this level.

Borough Cemetery
An Underproof Cocktail
The Nag
Excessive Nonage
Steamroller Subculture

Level 2: Create a story premise for the titles you've created from your list. If you get caught on this level, PBW will disavow any knowledge of you.

Borough Cemetery: Citizens of a fortified medieval city discover the victims of a strange plague won't stay in their graves.

An Underproof Cocktail: Farmer Bubba's miracle cherries were supposed to soak up the alcohol from the youngsters' drinks, not turn the teens into killer zombies.

The Nag: She knew he loved her; all he needed was a little half-hourly reminder to show it.

Excessive Nonage: How many times could one demi-goddess cheerleader turn sweet sixteen?

Steamroller Subculture: Homeboy heavy equipment operators battle a demon road crew paving the way to hell.

Level 3: Write an opening line for the title/story premises you've created. Should you decide to continue on with the mission, you have exactly thirty minutes to complete this level.

Borough Cemetery

The Baron would have blamed it all on the gravediggers, but theirs were the first bodies left in pieces outside the city's gates.

An Underproof Cocktail

Seein' pictures of that college fella usin' clay teabags to soak up poison outta bad drinkin' water were what gave me the original idear.

The Nag

She'd left him her phone number, written on his bathroom mirror in red lipstick along with a kiss-print and CALL ME LATER.

Excessive Nonage

"Diana Hunter made the squad?" Heather, who had not, turned purple under her crystal rose blush. "She only moved to town like two minutes ago."

Steamroller Subculture

Bodeen climbed down from the barricade truck and walked over to inspect the surveyor's mangled, bloodstained tripod. "Somebody let Julio back up the dozer again?"

Level 4: Write the story to go with one of your opening lines, premises and titles. You may take as much time as you need, but remember that any idea may self-destruct in as little as ten seconds.

Level 5: Write the stories to go with all of them, and you win Dictionary: Impossible.

Now, since I don't actually have a dictionary, I'll use my Roget's Pocket Thesaurus. It's not quite the same, but should be an adequate substitute.

My words:

  1. laggardly
  2. forward
  3. regard
  4. analysis
  5. defiant
  6. loyal
  7. striking
  8. concerning
  9. profitable
  10. trivial
Level 1

Laggardly Defiant
Striking Regard
Profitable Analysis

Level 2

Laggardly Defiant - A young heiress is quick to anger, but slow to forgive. When it comes time to stand up for her rights, she finally errs on the side of caution... and loses her family's estate as a result!

Striking Regard - A vain man is the idol of an entire country. One woman, above all others, wishes to make him her mate, regardless of his cooperation in the matter.

Profitable Analysis - A statistical analyst gets an entirely new job, serving as a pollster in a microscopic magical kingdom in his own back yard.

Level 3

Laggardly Defiant - My mother always told me that I needed to stop being so easily offended or I'd regret it; that's why I decided to hold my tongue when Baron Von Stuberhauser called me a flaming harlot.

Striking Regard - Jase never really wanted to settle down, preferring not to be tied to one woman, so his reaction to Bonnie's marriage proposal was understandbly vehement.

Profitable Analysis - "What have you been smoking, Abacus?" Marley exclaimed, his bright green eyes wide with alarm.

Level 4 - forthcoming

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Scenes repeating...

It's amazing how reworking one scene can completely change the feel of it, and the characters reactions become more personal and intense.

In the first draft, there are two court scenes; one is the crucial scene where Nightblade learns that her former fiance is involved in an assassination attempt. The second is in her fiance's court, where a serial murderer is brought to justice, and is discovered to be a minion of the main villain.

Well, I decided that one court scene was quite enough. A second was boring. So, I decided to make the action more immediate. Instead of the trial after the arrest, I moved things back to when he is captured, and the body is still fresh. This makes Nightblade's violent reaction make more sense, and the ensuing action scene isn't a rehash of the first court action scene. Instead of an open court, like before, it takes place in a cramped jail. More opportunity for character injury.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is take a step back, and ask yourself what this particular scene really adds. I've probably a lost a good 10,000 words in the first round of edit, but the story is much stronger for it.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Technical failure

Technology failed me today. I was happily pounding away on Chapter 5, when my laptop died, abruptly.

I searched for the source, and realized I had a pillow sitting on top of my power supply, and it overheated. I'm hoping and praying that it didn't destroy the AC adapter completely, nor destroy my progress.

I'm a stickler for backups, so if I do lose work, it'll only be about a chapter's worth (I generally backup up to disk every two chapters or so.

Ah, the hazards of working on an ancient IBM thinkpad.

EDIT: Good news! It was just a simple overheat. After some fiddling, we got it back. Then the floppy drive jammed, inciting another panic attack, but that was just a random broken bit of laptop that had gotten ramming in there at an odd angle.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Red pen is fun!

Well, many changes have been made to the novel. The main character isn't Shadowhawk, anymore. I've renamed her Nightblade. Still hokey, but at least it's not associated with a gay comic book character!

I'm up to chapter 6 in the red pen revisions, and chapter 4 in the actual rewriting. It's still not where I'd like it to be, but it's improving. The main problem I'm having is I can't get away from "and". In my effort to keep my narrative flowing (no staccato stops with too-short stops) my sentences have taken on a cumbersome rhythm with too many ands. Usually, the sentence is structured something like this:

"The character did this, and then turned around to to that."

It's not feeling natural, but I can't quite figure out an alternative.

Hmm. Methinks I might post an excerpt to Forward Motion for some good, heavy critique.