swan_tower: (Great Fire)
On the bright side, I almost have a complete novel.

6647 words tonight. I'm too sick of sitting at the computer to look up whether that beats the giant marathon I did at the end of MNC. I'm closer to the end than I was then, though; all I still have to write is the epilogue.

And a half-finished scene I glossed over because I'm still not sure what bit of folklore to stick in there. I think we may cut that out for now, and put it back in if I find something appropriate. (Because I have a long-standing habit of insisting that I cannot declare a novel done until it has no holes in it. And I want to write the epilogue last.)

Anyway. Bedtime came and went hours ago. Time for me to do the same.
swan_tower: (Great Fire)
Dammit. I think the line which was a seventeenth-century translation of "blowing up a busload of orphans" has to be cut from the novel. The conversation it was in has been changed by the decision not to kill a particular character, and there just isn't anywhere else it belongs.


ETA: actually, maybe not. Certain aspects of the conversation have to happen, I think. Let's see what we can manage.


Sep. 9th, 2008 12:48 am
swan_tower: (Great Fire)
Three parts revised. Three days' worth of London burned down. One hundred twenty thousand, three hundred and thirty-six words.

I'm nearly done.

Observations: I have lots of great epic battle music. "Holocaust" not only was a word back then, but originally meant a sacrificial offering that has been completely burnt, which is a fabulous thumbs-up to me using it here. I am spoiled by the internets, getting mad at them for not giving me a high-enough-resolution image of Hollar's 1658 plan of St. Paul's Cathedral for me to clearly read where Sir Christopher Hatton's grave monument was. (What do you mean, I have to actually go to the library? And that I can't do so at one a.m.?) I am, however, pleased all over again by history's obliging tendency to drop perfect bits of story in my lap. St. Faith's was right where narrative logic says it ought to be, and I didn't have to go at all out of my way to smash Sir Francis Walsingham's grave.

Destroying things is fun.

(Even if I'm running out of ways to describe stuff burning without just repeating myself over and over and over again.)
swan_tower: (Great Fire)
Over 4K words today (all of the London Go Boom variety), and over 8K of revision. We're nearing the home stretch.

This book feels more raw to me than Midnight Never Come, in a way I find hard to describe. It's not simply that I think I'm being meaner to my characters -- though that's part of it. (I think Irrith is the only viewpoint character I haven't done anything horrible to. I wonder if I can fix that before the end?) Partly it's that I think the politics are less polished; whether it's a genuine difference of time period or a result of the rough edges being worn off the Elizabethan era, the seventeenth century just feels messier, with more sharp corners sticking out. And I'm really going all-out on the explosions, which no doubt contributes in its own way.

Raw. That's the only word I can find for it.

112K of book at present, with two days of Fire yet to be added.
swan_tower: (Great Fire)
I finished revising Part Two last night (in a marathon session made possible by the fact that it's been revised once already), but here's the real landmark:

I've killed a pen.

Yes, dear readers, I have taken so many notes for this novel that they have single-handedly killed a pen. The thing was new when I took it to London. But in the midst of scribbling down some details about how the wells and conduits in the City were running dry in the Fire, I noticed my ink doing the same thing. So we just took a break to walk to the store and buy a new one.

(Because I couldn't just go to the ammo box and pick out another. Why? Because our stuff isn't here yet. But the latest forecast is that it should be arriving tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed.)

I'm just hoping I don't run out of notebook before I'm done. That would be very inconvenient.


Aug. 25th, 2008 07:09 am
swan_tower: (Great Fire)
I am up stupidly late, but I have 2325 words of Fire and -- more importantly -- precisely 100K of book.

There will be no LBR measurements taken here. It's all Fire, all the time, exactly as it should be.


Aug. 24th, 2008 05:58 am
swan_tower: (Great Fire)
Revisions of Part One are done. At least in the broad, chainsaw, "this scene can just die already" sense.

Tomorrow? I start blowing shit up.
swan_tower: (love blood and rhetoric)
I'm sure you've all been dying to know how the novel's going.

The answer to that is complicated. Have I been getting work done? Yes, almost every day. How many words do I have? 96,224 -- which is not so much, given that I was at 86K back on the 7th. But this discrepancy comes about because I'm doing something different from usual.

As I've said before, I'm structuring this book so that it cuts back and forth between long sections skipping forward through the years I'm covering, and days of the Great Fire. So I wrote Part One, then Part Two, and so on, with the intent of going back to write the Fire days once I finished Part Four. This is more or less what I'm doing, but I realized that a) given the massive revision Part One needed and b) the advisability of making sure each part flowed properly into each day, when I got near the end of Part Four, I went back and started revising Part One. I'm 13K+ through that and making good progress; you would have to see it to believe just how much less it's sucking now. (I've lost all perspective as to whether it's good, but it's definitely better.) When I finish that, I'll write the first day, then revise Part Two and write the second day, and so on to the end.

I haven't quite finished Part Four; it needs maybe one or two scenes, which I will have to get done before I write any Fire stuff. (The night I was supposed to tackle those, I just didn't know what I wanted to do with them, so I went back and started revising instead.)

Some of the revision has been polishing; some has been wholesale replacement of scenes. It helps that now I know, as I did not when I wrote this, that I don't have to stay below 110K for the whole book. Antony's got a series of three incredibly short scenes coming up, where I all too obviously am trying to keep my word-count in check, to the detriment of the story. So expansion of existing material is the third leg of this process, and possibly the most important; only a couple of scenes have been chucked out in their entirety.

I've become a moderately better writer over the years, but a substantially better reviser.

swan_tower: (love blood and rhetoric)

Was not supposed to be a 4200-word night.

In fact, I think I even promised [livejournal.com profile] kitsunealyc that it wouldn't be.

But, um, that promise, it got broke real good. There are just bits of story that you cannot stop in the middle of, and this turned out to be one. Not because of explosions -- the usual excuse -- but because I really didn't enjoy going some of the places I had to go, and once there, I'd rather just stay and get it all done with. Suffice to say that we are at the height of the Great Plague, at this point, and I feel obscurely that I owe it to the hundred thousand Londoners who died to do everything in my power to communicate just how horrific that was.

Horrific enough that people committed suicide rather than wait for the plague to finish killing them. Horrific enough that they threw themselves into the mass graves, already wrapped in their winding-sheets, as if they were corpses before they even died.

Imagining that is not exactly fun.

4200 words for seven scenes, most of them deeply unpleasant. It's a good thing tomorrow's scene will be . . . not exactly enjoyable, but a breath of air after this suffocating passage, because otherwise I'd be sorely tempted to take the day off. And then perhaps another, and then moving eats me alive, and the next thing I know I'm behind schedule and out of the novel's headspace.

I'm making good progress, at least.

Word count: 85,888
LBR quota: What do you think?
Authorial sadism: See above.
swan_tower: (love blood and rhetoric)
Jesus Christ on a pogo stick. Tonight's work was supposed to be a particular scene, which would take at least my 1K quota to finish.

2,411 words later, the bloody thing is done at last.

I didn't think I would reach 80K tonight, what with being over 2K away from it. Well, hello, you novel-thing you. We're still a long way from the end, but 80K is traditionally minimum real novel length, so the number still looks a little magical to me. Crossing that line means we're approaching the end. (Even if it's still 50K away -- which I hope it isn't.)

Oh, and that's with having skipped over one bit, because I'm not sure what to put in it. Dear Merlin: no, you cannot be in this book. Please go away.

Word count: 80,277
LBR quota: Blood. And how.
Authorial sadism: The funny thing is, Lune believes that was less mean than the alternative.


Aug. 2nd, 2008 03:51 am
swan_tower: (London)
Historical serendipity strikes again. I chose Antony's ward more or less at random; basically I decided to put him on Lombard Street, which meant either Langbourn or Candlewick, and I chose the former. Turns out -- if I'm correctly translating from a modern map of ward boundaries; King William Street wasn't there back then -- the first City plague death in 1665 was in Antony's ward.

I should double-check this in Stow, but not tonight.
swan_tower: (love blood and rhetoric)
Part III is done. Which is something of a miracle, since it's about 5K longer than my original estimation for the length of each of these sections.

Word count: 72010
LBR tally: Lately, rhetoric is winning.
Authorial sadism: I've slacked off on that for a few scenes, actually. They need some breathing room before the things I've got in store.


So here's how me and deadlines work.

The book is officially due October first. I got started June first. At one thousand words a day -- my standard pace -- I can therefore write 122K by my deadline. I was aiming for a 110K book, so that gives me breathing room, as does the fact that I tend to accumulate overage; 1K/day is a minimum, not an average.

But I knew going in that this summer would involve more non-working days than usual, thanks to everything else in my life. So that margin of safety shrinks. Then I realize the book needs to be longer. How much longer? Don't really know. I'd be surprised if it goes past 130K, but 120K is pretty much a given at this point. Suddenly, that margin of safety? Not so much with the existing.

Ten days before the end of July, I realize I'm about six days ahead of the base schedule. I decide to see if I can't up that to ten by the end of the month -- that is, to close out July with 71K instead of 61K. (Consequence: I work through Conestoga, tapping away on my laptop in my hotel room at night.) And then I decide on this trip to Dallas, and figure that we can do a bit better with that goal; I'll finish Part III by the end of the month.

And so I have done. In the last three days, I've written over six thousand words. But this afternoon's scene was only 402 words, so we'll probably sit down and poke at the beginning of Part IV later tonight.

In a truly delusional world, I would try to do Part IV and then the bits covering the Fire by the end of this month. But that's going to be another 40-50K words, and the middle of August will be shot all to hell, so I won't lock myself into it.

(I won't lock myself into it. But anybody who knows my working habits know that the minute I think of something like that, my subconscious decides I'm going to try for it anyway.)

This is how I do it. Not with carrots dangling in front of me, but a stick behind. I drive myself hard early on because that's better, in my mind, then driving myself at the end; I'd rather push through and have breathing space than find myself in a crunch right before deadline. Who knows what else might crop up to delay me? Who knows how many additional words this book will need in order to be fully itself? If it caps out at 140K, I need to know I'll have enough time for those extra words.

Yes, it is crazy-making. But now doesn't seem like the time to fiddle with my habits. So Part III is done, and we'll write more tonight -- just to be safe.
swan_tower: (Midnight Never Come)
It may look like I've been cherry-picking reviews that speak positively of Midnight Never Come, but the truth is I post everything that makes a substantive comment on the book. (I don't figure you all want to see every post that mentions it in passing; possibly you don't even want to see what I do post.) Anyway, as if to prove that, this roundup is a mixed-to-negative bag -- for some reason I hit a run of less enthusiastic reviews lately.

[livejournal.com profile] occultatio read it right after finishing Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles, which is the fastest way I can think of to make my book suck. I will be the first in line to admit that, by comparison with her, my writing is lightweight. But if I work very hard and eat my vegetables, one day I may grow mighty enough to equal her first novel. (Pardon me while I go cry again over the fact that she was that damn good right out of the gate.)

[livejournal.com profile] meganbmoore liked it in the end, but found the opening overly political and slow-going.

Trinuviel at FantasyBookSpot loved the premise and structure, but the execution just did not come through for her. Despite that, I recommend you go read her review if you like digging past the surface; she clearly knows her way around the Tudor period, and says many intelligent things about my structural choices.

And then a glowing review, to wrap this set up: Lory Hess at the Green Man Review stayed up way past midnight reading it. (And made my day by being the only person so far to make mention of the alchemical allusion at the beginning of Act I. That was a shout-out to my Memento peeps.)


Here's the funny thing about Trinuviel's review, which I'd like to discuss more. As I said, she knows her history, and brings up the motif of doubling in Elizabethan thought, connecting that with my mirroring of Elizabeth and Invidiana.

If I were smart, I'd let you believe I planned that all along. Truth is? I didn't. At the time that I thought up Invidiana, I had no idea that doubling was a thing back then, and I'd never heard of the king's two bodies. I came across it later, certainly -- I don't think I could have done that much research and missed it -- but even then, it never occurred to me to turn around and connect that to the idea already in place.

All the things she says about the way the doubling plays out were most definitely deliberate, but the idea itself was a felicitous accident. Which is something I've wondered about ever since I started writing seriously enough to think about the kinds of things we tend to say in English classes and research papers: how much of what we see in a story is deliberate? This gets into the whole "the author is dead" notion in literary criticism, and I'm on the fence about that. On the one hand, being an anthropologist and a writer myself, I always want to know about the person behind the words, the ways in which the author and the context of creation can shed new light on the story you read. On the other hand, sometimes you can find perfectly legitimate meanings in a text that were created completely by accident. It's why I'm always careful to phrase things as "you can read this out of it" unless I know for a fact that the author put it in there on purpose.

At any rate, her comments are food for thought -- especially since I'm currently trying to decide how seventeenth-century fae, influenced by contemporary mortal ideas, might handle the issue of legal justice. I think we have a tendency to cut our fantasy creations slack, to behave as if absolutism and arbitrary sentencing are somehow more attractive when they're done by a faerie, but this strikes me as a fine time to poke holes in that idea. (Now I just need to figure out how to follow a different model without making it mundane and boring.)
swan_tower: (aaaaaah)
Survived Day 1 of Conestoga despite getting up at 4 a.m. for my flight (having gone to bed after midnight, with only middling success at that whole "sleep" thing). Even managed to get 1099 words tonight.

Yay for Jack pov, at last. Yay for Antony's wife getting to do something important. And if that scene doesn't quite find the right note for resolving a certain problem, well, I can fiddle with it when I have functioning brain cells again.



Jul. 23rd, 2008 04:10 am
swan_tower: (love blood and rhetoric)
2896. Because I am very bad at stopping in the middle of the 'splody. And then another 39 more, because I'm also bad at stopping 37 words short of my next benchmark.

Well, I wanted to hit 60K before Conestoga. I just didn't mean to do it tonight.

Wordcount: 60002
LBR quota: Blood. It goes well with 'splody.
Authorial sadism: Well, I had to come up with a reason they couldn't just solve all their problems that way.

Favorite bits: Yay for crispy moths, conveniently timed changes in the lieutenancy in the Tower of London, curious horses, cameo appearances by Scottish fae, and knowing that particular peep has your back.


Jul. 18th, 2008 09:02 pm
swan_tower: (love blood and rhetoric)
1410 tonight. It's hard to stop at quota when you're about to blow up one of the conventions of faerie fantasy.


Word count: 53,379
LBR tally: Rhetoric, finishing off yesterday's scene, followed by impending blood.
Authorial sadism: Finding your blind spot. Then realizing how long it's been there.
swan_tower: (Great Fire)
Amazon UK has an item listed called Midnight Never Come: And Ashes Lie: Bk. 2, which apparently is 384 pages long and coming out next June.

I would like to know where they buy their crack.


Apropos of that, though -- today my editor gave the go-ahead for this book to be longer than the last one, because I feel like I'm short-changing my own story, trying to cram it in too small of a sack. The pros reading this will have already leapt ahead to the immediate corollary concern, which is what that means for my deadline. Answer? Heck if I know. I intend to still make it.

I'd better, if the book is supposed to be out by June 4th . . . but they'll have to shrink the typeface to get it on 384 pages.


Also, I just spent ten minutes wandering around my house trying to find the reference book I needed. That's the Royal Exchange, that's Pride's Purge, that's Whitehall, that's the wrong book on Westminster . . . . I think one of the next packing stages will be clearing off the bottom shelf of my research bookcase and letting these books just annex it already, because the piles around the house are getting stupid.



Jul. 16th, 2008 11:16 pm
swan_tower: (love blood and rhetoric)
Today I got started working before five, and knocked out about 1400; then, against my better judgment (I know that slow and steady wins the race), I came back for a second sitting. 2,458 today -- and all before midnight! The first overrun was excusable; I mean, I was three paragraphs away from Jack finally making his entrance. I've been looking forward to him all book. But did I really need to write the rest of that scene today? No. (Not to mention it's a stupidly long scene. Though heck if I know how I can trim it. The tree may have to go away. <sad face>)

I am, however, being vindicated in my decision not to work on revising the earlier parts yet. As I suspected, I am getting to know Antony much better in this part, which will benefit me in the revision. Apparently he's one of those guys who accomplishes more the less you give him to work with. Who knew?

Word count: 50521. That landmark is the other reason for the overrun.
LBR tally: 2,458 words of nearly pure rhetoric.
Authorial sadism: You know what happens when you give somebody a young son in Part I? They're all growed up by Part III, is what.
swan_tower: (love blood and rhetoric)
It isn't even 8 p.m., and I've already done my writing for the day. Because I just felt like doing it, instead of reading or whatever.

That's a nice feeling, and not one I've had much of lately.

(Mind you, the desire was born of pure sadism. Last night I started an Antony scene that I've been dying to write, because it's just so mean.)

Word count: 48090
LBR tally: Blood, of the metaphysical kind.
Authorial sadism: I've had enough time to think through the consequences of some of the things I've established in this and the previous book. Much to Antony's detriment.
swan_tower: (love blood and rhetoric)
Sweet gibbering monkeys, I thought Part Two would never end. 2549 tonight, and I've been batting well over a thousand for a week now in an attempt to put paid to this thing before I go to Minneapolis.

Antony's way over on word-count. It's his fault Part Two is over quota. But that's a problem to fix in revision -- somehow.

It came so very very close to "rocks fall, everyone dies" tonight. Or at least one character dying. But dropping the ceiling on him would have raised the question of why all the problems couldn't be taken care of that way, so I had to use another method.

Two dead people in the first part; three in this one. (And one in the Prologue.) Will the number keep going up?

Word count: 45767
LBR tally: Blood. Blood, blood, and more blood.
Authorial sadism: This is one of those "all of it" moments.


swan_tower: (Default)

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