swan_tower: (*writing)

I haven’t been posting much about my progress on the fourth Memoir. (Which does have a title now, but as with Voyage of the Basilisk, I’m going to hold off on announcing it until the preceding book is released. I want people’s attention on that one, not the one that won’t be out until 2016.)

It’s a bit hard to talk about this book, because of the weird way publishing timescales work. I read reviews of The Tropic of Serpents and marvel at people who say things like [spoiler] — and then I remember that those people haven’t even read Voyage yet, let alone the one I’m presently writing. Of course the relevance of [spoiler] is not yet clear. Of course [spoiler] hasn’t developed very much yet. I’m not actually pointing at any one thing with those brackets; I could list several to fill in the blanks. I’m almost four-fifths of the way through the series. Everybody else is barely two-fifths done. What the story looks like from my perspective is wildly different from what all the rest of you see.

I had a plot epiphany the other night that is so freaking perfect, I honestly can’t believe it took me this long to come up with it. Like, how was this not part of the pitch I sent to Tor back in 2011? How was I such an idiot that I did not see this needed to be part of the story until just now? I really have no idea. Seriously, you all are going to read this book and assume I’ve been planning [x] from the start. I will smile mysteriously and try to pretend that’s true, so you don’t all know how blind I really was.

On Twitter the other night I joked that sometimes when I’m writing these books, I think about what the sensible thing to do would be . . . and then I have Isabella do the opposite. It’s funny because it’s true, to an extent. The key is mood: back when I was drafting A Natural History of Dragons, I had to keep prodding myself not to fall into Onyx Court mode. Forget subtle political maneuvering; this series needs crazy shit, yo. So the bit of plot I’m presently wrapping up right now had a moment where Isabella could have gone the cautious and sensible route, informing somebody of a suspected problem and mobilizing various resources to deal with it. But that would have created a story where she sits on her hands and then gets a report from other people that the issue has been dealt with. That? is not pulp adventure. So instead I came up with a reason for her not to tell that person what was going on — a solid enough reason, I hope, to at least pass muster for the genre — and then there were hijinks involving her tailing Person A who is tailing Person B and at the end of it all there’s an abortive brawl. Much better.

I’m also going at this in weird order. I was floundering around in the middle of the book, with Isabella out in the field doing one stage of her research — but I didn’t really know how long I should spend on that bit, and I wasn’t sure where the whole thing was going anyway (this was pre-epiphany), until finally I decided I should skip ahead and write the bit referenced in the above paragraph, since at least I knew what I was doing with that. I think I’m going to keep on from there, writing some — who knows; maybe all — of the last third of the book; then, once I have a chunk of that in place, I’ll be able to back up and know what ought to go in the middle, to set up the end. This is weird for me, y’all. I don’t write this way, out of order. Except that maybe right now I do.

Hey: whatever gets the book done.

Speaking of which, I’m about at the . . . halfwayish point sorta but not really? I have about half of the word-count, but since a chunk of that is from way later in the book, I’m not mentally at the halfway point of the story. More like the two-thirds point, possibly a bit later. But it’s starting to look like a book rather than a short story that got way out of control. And in another few days I’ll get to write the emotional resolution to one of the conflicts, which will make it a lot easier to go back and figure out the rise and fall of the stuff leading up to that. (I hope. Remember, I’m new to this method.)

Darling du jour:

“There’s a bit of difference between swimming in shark-infested water because you’re trying to retrieve something from the bottom, and staying in just because you’re already there and haven’t been eaten yet.”

“We are still trying to retrieve something from the bottom. All that has changed is whether anybody on shore cares whether we — oh, hang the metaphor.”

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (*writing)

Got started again on Chains and Memory last night. I wasn’t sure I’d recovered enough brain yet (between jet lag and the anaesthesia, I’ve been half-zombified for days; I spent most of Saturday alternating half-hour naps with an hour or so of wakefulness), but I decided to put my butt in the chair and see what happened. What happened was 1K of words, so I got to pat myself on the back for that and declare that I am officially Back to Work.

Of course, one day of writing does not actually Back to Work make. It’s a nice start, though, and it was actually rather pleasant to feel like I’m starting to recover. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have another 1K to crank out . . .

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (*writing)

Eight days left on the Chains and Memory Kickstarter! We’re just $285 from a short story. Less than that, even, if I count the people who have donated via Paypal — which is a thing I should mention here, I suppose. If you cannot or do not wish to contribute via either Amazon or Facebook (and I can totally understand that decision), then I am more than willing to accept donations by other routes, and will include you in the appropriate reward level when I send things out to backers. Ping me here or by email and we can work out the details.

I’ve been working steadily on Chains and Memory for a little while now, so as to be sure I can finish it by October 4th, and it’s proceeding apace. There’s been some two-steps-foward, one-step-back shenanigans as I figure out how to launch the various strands of the plot, but I’m experimenting with Scrivener for this novel, and I think it may assist with tracking that stuff. Regardless, I am definitely on schedule for finishing the draft by the fifteenth anniversary of Lies and Prophecy.

Anyway, we’re headed into the final push. Do spread the word wherever you can, and let’s see if this thing goes to 11!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Default)

Over the weekend, the Chains and Memory Kickstarter reached its first stretch goal. This means that every backer, current or yet to come, will also be receiving the next best thing to me sharing the novel soundtrack itself: a discussion of the “score” I made for Lies and Prophecy, with links to the songs where possible.

I’m looking forward to putting that together. The first song on the list is basically the reason I make novel soundtracks at all: I listened to it a bunch while writing the first draft of the novel, which caused it to become associated with the story in my mind, and then I leveraged that to help me get in the mood for writing, which led to me making playlists for books and so onward to the actual, formal score-type-thing. I love having the story in musical form; it adds another layer to how I perceive the characters and events. And now I can share that with other people!

Now, of course, it’s on to Stretch Goal #2: Short Story. The most likely prospect is that I’ll write about Henry Welton during First Manifestation — the days when half the planet suddenly had psychic powers and no idea how to control them. It’s possible something else will suggest itself while I’m drafting Chains and Memory, though. Speaking of which: I’ve started work on it, and am now a little more than 7K in, counting some material that got written beforehand. That puts me on track to finish it before October 4th, with time off for being in Okinawa and having ankle surgery, with a bit of a cushion to spare. Fingers crossed that things continue to go well.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Default)

Oh god, book. You’re going to run long, aren’t you?

Of course you’re going to run long. We’re at eighty thousand words, and Isabella has only just reached Lahaui. There’s still [spoiler] to recognize, [spoiler] to steal (again), [more spoilers] to find, and then [great big spoiler] before we can have our denoument. I don’t think I’m going to manage that in the next ten thousand words.

. . . bugger.

Has any author anywhere in the world ever written a series that got shorter as it went along? (Probably.) But the natural tendency of series seems to be to acquire a few thousand extra words here, a few thousand there, as you get more accustomed to the characters and the setting and find more interesting (and complex) (and wordy) things to do with them.

Oh well. I suppose I should just be glad this isn’t In Ashes Lie, running thirty thousand words over my original estimate. NEVER. AGAIN.

131 more words to go tonight, and then I can stop. Because three 3K days in a row is fun! >_<

(Actually, it kind of is. But only because I’m filling those 3K wodges with pulp-tastic adventurey goodness.)

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (victorian)
Pssssh. That was only 2,908 words of writing. I feel like I should write something else before I go to bed; I was expecting to do so much more.

What I wrote was the climax, not the ending: this isn't a complete draft yet. It probably won't be for a couple of days; I have this Thing about finishing novels, where the last thing I write has to be the final scene (in this case, the epilogue), and what precedes it can't have any holes in. There are definitely some holes in what I have at present, at least some of which I'll have to fill before I can let myself write the epilogue -- though some will probably get classed as revision-level problems, to be dealt with later. But right now, I have 133,951 words of book, and it is Very Nearly Done.

No, brain, you don't have to write something else before you can go to bed tonight. Enjoy your victory, and get some sleep.
swan_tower: (victorian)
Long-time readers of this blog know that many of my metaphors for writing are related to textiles: weaving, or embroidery, or whatever. Well, the end of this book is presently the narrative equivalent of the test garments I sometimes sew, where I trace the pattern out on the cheapest muslin I can buy and baste the pieces together, then rip them apart and cut them down or stick in extra pieces of fabric and then sew the results back together again, and the whole thing ends up covered in Sharpie ink as I mark where things need to be changed or fitted together or whatever.

The comforting point to this metaphor is, doing that helps me figure out how to go about sewing the real fabric together, so I do a better job the second time around. So I'm telling myself that this "muslin draft" I've got going here is okay, because in the revision I will take all those Sharpie marks and translate them into a much better draft. Cyma's train station scene will go away; Eliza will have that ability I just decided tonight that she needs; I'll figure out what the hell to do with [spoiler] plot thread that has, at present, completely fallen out of the story. But before I can do any of that, I need to nail down the central points of this ending, and then reverse-engineer them to figure out how they should be set up. So, ragged Sharpie-covered draft it is.

At least tonight was fun writing. Tomorrow, I think we'll have a seance, and then it's onward to the Giant Ridiculous Climax!

Word count: 131,042. I might as well go ahead and give this book the trophy for Longest Onyx Court Novel now; I know it will win in the end.
LBR quota: A bit of (hopefully) ringing rhetoric, courtesy of one Eliza O'Malley!
Authorial sadism: Sorry, Cerenel. Of the people in that scene, you were the best mouthpiece for the elitist point of view. At least I gave you a good reason for it.
swan_tower: (victorian)
Oh, that's why I couldn't figure out how to end the scene last night.

Because it wasn't time to end it yet; we needed about eight hundred more words of Eliza having that epiphany I thought was going to happen later. And now it's clear which of the next several bits of story needs to happen first, before we move along to the others. So if you'll pardon me, I'll get back to the book.
swan_tower: (victorian)
Okay, it's painfully obvious I had no idea how to end the scene when I finally got to it, but right now that doesn't matter. I have, at last, written the scene that's been in my head since before I started writing this book: since I pitched the proposal to Tor, at least. And probably earlier than that. If I had to guess, I'd say 2008, but it might be as far back as 2007.

Eliza ended up getting pov on it, which meant she got to do something unexpectedly cool. And Dead Rick got what he wanted, and now all the characters have to do is save the world.

In about the next ten thousand words, theoretically.

Shyeah right. This is so totally going to run long.

swan_tower: (love blood and rhetoric)
I keep going backwards and forwards in this book, mucking around with crap in earlier scenes, then slapping words onto the end, and that's why I've netted more than 2K today, not counting the words replacing the ones I cut. I think I FINALLY have a working version of Hodge's Academy scene, which will be a bloody miracle if it's true. And the thing in there is paying off on the back end with the new scene I added tonight. We're getting into the Thrilling Climax now -- if I can just wrangle all the parties into position.

Three weeks to deadline, and some heavy lifting to do before then. I'm very excited about what I've got here, but I really need a mallet to beat this damned book into behaving itself.

Oh, and if you know anything about dynamite, please do comment on the previous post.

Word count: 122,086
LBR quota: Blood. And Dead Rick loves me for it.
Authorial sadism: Aside from the Horrible Thing I Can't Tell You About . . . Dead Rick not getting the specific blood he wants. (Not yet.)
swan_tower: (love blood and rhetoric)
What did I do to celebrate Book Day?

I wrote 2,312 words of a scene I've been looking forward to since <checks e-mail records> June 25th.

See, Dead Rick? I promised it would end eventually. And now you get to RIP PEOPLE'S THROATS OUT.

Don't say I never gave you anything nice.
swan_tower: (victorian)
Various things slowed the forward progress, but I finally have crossed the 100K mark on the Victorian book last night. Huzzah!

For those who missed it over the weekend, I'm doing another Onyx Court secret history auction for [livejournal.com profile] help_pakistan. Bidding has begun; you have until Saturday to make your own.


Aug. 2nd, 2010 01:07 am
swan_tower: (love blood and rhetoric)
After a few days' break, I'm back on the horse. And how; in addition to 1,142 words to kick off Part Three, I backtracked to add a couple of necessary scenes to Part One. 1,874 to cover one, and 942 to start the other, for a total of 3,958 today.

Why so much? Because I wanted to hit 90K, dammit. So I did.

The additions are important. For something so central to this book, the Underground really hadn't appeared onstage properly, so one of the additions is basically Cyma Rides the Train; the other gets the Academy onstage faster and more clearly, which will help with the Part Three scenes I'm about to write that feature it. As for Part Three itself, I waffle between trying to figure out how I'm going to fill all forty-five thousand words, and panicking that there's no way I can get everything necessary into a mere forty-five thousand words -- which is a pretty good sign that we're about to leave the Middle and move into the End. Once that happens, I doubt I'll have trouble meeting my daily quota.

Word count: 90,001. (Yes, I hit my goal and stopped. At least I finished the sentence.)
LBR quota: When your protagonists are kinda trying to kill each other, it's blood.
Authorial sadism: Aside from making Cyma ride the train? Making Dead Rick be too vulnerable to hide it.
swan_tower: (victorian)
If I didn't have a very full day planned for tomorrow, I would totally stay up and see if I can knock off the final scene of this part. As it stands, I'll have to call it a night after only 4,441 words.

Favorite line: "So that's where the fucking naga went." Surprise naga for the win!

(Do me a favor and forget about the naga by the time the book comes out next year. Otherwise it won't be a surprise.)

Edited to add: Eh, screw it. Sleep is for the weak. And this way I'll get to kick back properly tomorrow night.

Edit 2: 5,731, and that's Part Two in the bag. I'll probably have to fix the end of that scene -- it went a bit woppy-jawed after I decided to postpone the Giant Screaming Match until the beginning of Part Three -- but whatever. I'm putting this thing, and myself, to bed.

P.S. -- 86,040 words of book.


Jul. 26th, 2010 12:12 am
swan_tower: (love blood and rhetoric)
The 80K landmark used to mean more to me. It still means "real book" in a way lower numbers don't; it's hard to sell an adult book that's less than eighty thousand words long. But it used to mean I was well over halfway done with the novel, maybe seventy or eighty percent of the way there.

And then I started writing Onyx Court books. <sigh>

On the bright side, I'm close enough to the end of Part Two that I can taste it. Barring disaster, I'll be done by the end of the month (which is the goal); I may even finish in the next day or two, if I decide to marathon my way through Eliza and Dead Rick's big climactic scenes. (And that will mostly be determined by how quickly I figure out how to wrangle my plot-pieces together in an exciting fashion.)

Word count: 80, 309
LBR quota: Rhetoric, maybe? That's what usually covers faerie science, and Dead Rick is actually flexing his teeny-tiny scholar muscle.
Authorial sadism: Neither Dead Rick, nor Eliza, nor Tom, will ever know that the pieces briefly came together there on Cheapside. (Several months too late for Eliza.)


Jul. 18th, 2010 01:22 am
swan_tower: (love blood and rhetoric)
Bit by bit, the landmarks pass.

If I can just figure out what's happening in Dead Rick's next three scenes or so, I'll be set for the rest of this Part. Then I can maybe kick my pace up a bit and try to finish before the end of the month, giving me a few days to plot strategy for Part Three before I dive into it. That would be nice. This whole "days off" thing is still weird, but I like to do it when I can.

. . . dang it. I had figured out something for Hodge's scene, and now I've forgotten it.

Oh well. If it was a good idea, it'll come back.

Word count: 70,092
LBR quota: Love, maybe? Whatever covers figuring out that doing something constructive can help tide you over until that revenge thing happens.
Authorial sadism: Hodge can't get no respect. <g>
swan_tower: (love blood and rhetoric)
Thanks to some revision work that added non-trivial numbers of words to the manuscript, I'm at 60K already. This is satisfying, as I'll be leaving for a friend's wedding on Thursday, and intend to take a break from the book while I'm gone.

I've been doing this a lot, and it's weird. Used to be, when I wrote a novel, it was a thousand words a day come hell or high water, and I gave myself enormous guilt trips over every day I missed. But I built in extra safety time to my schedule this year, so I've been doing a lot of alternating between down time and bursts of high activity. Hey, if it works, it's good, and in this case I really think I should give myself the time off.

Since I'm going to be on a cruise to the Bahamas. ^_^

Anyway, one more day of work tomorrow; need to figure out if the next Dead Rick scene should really be what I currently have planned, or if it's one of those things I'll probably end up ripping out a few weeks from now, in which case I'll push forward with Eliza or Cyma while I give Dead Rick more thought. I need another 20-25K by the end of the month, which will require some 1500-word days to pull off. As long I know where I'm going, though, it's entirely doable.

Word count: 60,006
LBR quota: not nearly as much blood as Dead Rick was expecting. Which should tell him something -- but he's not good enough at intrigue to sort that tangle out.
Authorial sadism: sorry, Galen. Apparently I didn't spend enough time torturing you in your own book.
swan_tower: (love blood and rhetoric)
Remember back at the beginning of May, when I was stuck on the 15K treadmill? I had to replace some of Eliza's scenes, so I would put in a full day's work of writing, then paste it into place and discover my wordcount had essentially not changed.

Second verse, same as the first, a little bit louder, a little bit worse.

Dead Rick also needed a lot of scene replacements. (This is apparently my New Method of novel-writing. I want my Old Method back.) I could't really afford to stop dead on forward progress, so my plan lately has been to hit the book from both ends, writing substitute material for him, while also adding new material for Eliza. But for a while there every scene I swapped in turned out to be a few hundred words shorter than what had been there before, so despite doing a thousand or eleven hundred or twelve hundred words of forward progress, my total wordcount was only inching along. Yesterday I wrote three thousand words for a gain of about five hundred. It's felt a lot like running up the down escalator: a hell of effort for slower-than-average progress.

Which is why it feels like such a victory that I finally have fifty thousand words of book. And I'm almost done with the replacements; just one more thing needs swapping out, and then there's one new scene I'm going to write for Part One. Okay, I just lied through my teeth: I still have to go back and redo that pair of scenes for Eliza, that I've been meaning to do ever since I got back from London. But I've got those clear enough in my head that I've been able to write her side of Part Two just fine without having backtracked first, so there's less pressure there. (As opposed to Dead Rick, whose plot had gone so badly astray that I'm only just now starting to see what he'll be doing in Part Two.)

I'm just hoping I don't have to keep doing this scene-replacement thing, because man, as writing processes go, this one kind of sucks. But as long as it turns out a good book in the end, I'll live.

Word count: 50,640
LBR quota: Tonight's Dead Rick work was mostly blood. Louisa got some love, though.
Authorial sadism: The Goodemeades are good at subtly applying guilt trips.
swan_tower: (love blood and rhetoric)
I didn't write while in London, nor did I revise. The first was expected, but the second wasn't; unfortunately, the cold drained me of too much energy to be useful on that front.

So I haven't technically written since May 27th, which is a remarkably long break for me while noveling. I think it was a good idea, though. The latest iteration of my much-revised timetable for this book focuses not on words per day, but on larger units than that: the book is in three parts, I have six months to write it, therefore I need to write one part every two months. I can technically take off as many days as I like, so long as I complete Part Two by the end of July. Since it's supposed to be about forty-five thousand words, and there are sixty-one days in June and July, that's eminently doable, even with a long break.

Mind you, I also need to revise. And Part One, as mentioned in my last status update, needs a lot of work, especially on the Dead Rick side. The good news is that one of my semi-sleepless nights in London brought with it an outline for something like 75% of Eliza's PII scenes, so I can cruise along writing those while I figure out where I went wrong with Dead Rick, and where I'm going next. It might be a little <sarcasm>fun-tastic</sarcasm> from here to the end of June, while I pull double-duty on revision and writing, but I think I'll survive.

Anyway, 1393 words today, because I wanted to clear the 40K mark I should have hit back in May. I'd revise a bit, too, but Jet Lag Brain utterly scotched my attempts to think about Dead Rick earlier, so I think I'll take what I've got and get to bed. Time enough for the rest of it tomorrow.

Word count: 40, 026
LBR quota: Blood; Mrs. Kittering's on the warpath.
Authorial sadism: Sorry, Ann. I have to make good on the claim that servants in that house get treated like shit.
swan_tower: (love blood and rhetoric)
Well, that was unexpected.

Approximately two minutes before I started typing on tonight's work, I decided the scene in question was going to be about a disturbance in the Onyx Hall. (Prior to that, I had no freaking clue what I was going to write.) Now I have 2,071 new words, and I'm going to say Part One is done.

It isn't really done. For starters, Dead Rick needs another scene before the one I just wrote -- only I'm not sure what it is, which is how I ended up writing this one instead -- and even once I take care of that, Part One will still be running a few thousand words short of what I intended. But the reason we're in this position is that I'm pretty sure I need to replace a few of Eliza's scenes (AGAIN), and I'm hoping that will help me figure out just where I've gone wrong with Dead Rick's plotline, and (more importantly) what I need to do to fix it.

So why say Part One is finished? Because the goal was to be done with it before I left for London, and then to poke at revising it while I'm away, so that I come back (theoretically) bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to start Part Two. And this weekend is going to be moderately busy on several fronts. So making this declaration allows me to say, okay; for the next three days I should do what revision I can, but I don't have to make progress toward the end of Part One, because I'm already there. If I spend tomorrow afternoon replacing an Eliza scene, that does not in any way set me back from my goal. And if I need to spend more time chewing on Dead Rick's problems before I find their solution, that's okay, because that's "revision work" -- even if I'm adding an entirely new scene to the story.

In other words, it's semantics. But it gets the job done.

Word count: 38,372
LBR quota: Dead Rick stepped on somebody who was trampled by a crowd, so it's definitely blood.
Authorial sadism: This is what you get for being the one decent guy in the Goblin Market, hon.


swan_tower: (Default)

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