aamcnamara: (Default)
I was super-productive today (even though I went to a solstice concert in the afternoon--initial research on a project, reading a whole book I have to write an essay on in the next week and a half, reading for class tomorrow, getting ahead (!) on reading my slush), so this evening I got to work more on A Returning Power.

Right now I'm in the beginning of chapter twelve (of 18, so approaching 2/3 done). It's pivotal in a bunch of ways; mostly what I'm noticing right now is how this section intersects with a short story I have in planning stages. I have to make sure everything will match up--I'll probably at least draft the short story before I send A Returning Power out, just to be certain.

In general, this draft of the novel feels like it's taking shape. I can nearly imagine it as a real printed book, which is a) probably a good thing given that I am planning to start querying on it early next year and b) reassuring.

Lots of bits of the previous draft make me wince and go "I'm glad that that didn't go to VP." But the thing about revising is, when you find one of those things, you get to fix it! I am starting to like revising. (I know, I know, now I've jinxed it.)
aamcnamara: (Default)
Four colors of thread later...

Pictorial evidence of outlining process )

Further--

I have been staring at [livejournal.com profile] mrissa's post here for a while today, writing down things about structure, and frowning at them. Right now, my vague description of this novel's structure is that it's a sort of kaleidoscope, although in a different way than [livejournal.com profile] alecaustin was using the term. Another metaphor in my head at the moment is "pick-up sticks"--basically, the themes develop in larger and smaller parts, all over, sometimes parallel and sometimes perpendicular and sometimes counterpoint...

...yeah, who really knows. I need to work through making sure everyone has a motivation for everything they do, though. That's the next task, formidable because of its size.

(Related: I am trying to get into a writing class for next semester. This might be hard, 'cause I very likely will have to submit a writing sample, and I have been working on first- and first-and-a-half-drafts of novels for about the past year with very little short-story progress at all. And first or first and a half drafts of novels are still quite rough, really. I keep wanting to go "But I write better than that, truly! Just wait about two more years and I will have a passable draft of this you can read!")
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33 / 75


Some progress! Nothing too terribly exciting today. At least, nothing as flashy as time-travel or dragons.

---

Today I started working with The Urban Fantasy Novel.

Pictorial proof )

Having spread it out chapter-by-chapter on the floor, I stared at it for a while from my chair and tried to make a list of things to work on... and then went off to eat brunch.

After brunch, and working on A Returning Power, and talking to my family on the phone, and seeing part of Monty Python's Holy Grail with the subtitles for people who don't actually want to see the film (remixed from Shakespeare's Henry IV)... and making dinner, and eating dinner...

...well, I realized that I had to wash all the dishes that had gotten dirty in the process of making dinner. And if I tried to carry them all out and wash them and then bring them back in wet, they might drip all over the novel pages. That would just be sad, and also wrong.

Clearly, therefore, the answer was to take them up--and, as I did, to type up a timeline of all the events in the novel.

Things I have learned by this exercise include that no one in this novel ever eats lunch, that Katie-our-protagonist only attends two classes--one of which is on Thursday one week and Wednesday the next--but studies for a couple more, and that in this 39-chapter novel mostly each day has one or two or three chapters concerning or related to it but one of them has seven. Also, I forgot to print out the last page.

So I would say that was worth it.

Having gotten all the novel up, I went and washed things. And so to bed.

I am rather enjoying this fall break.
aamcnamara: (Default)
27.2 / 70


A bit of progress on the revision, anyway.

(Today: working at the bindery, walked two and a half miles around downtown--renewed my permit, sat at the Open Book center to read and think about writing projects--before busing home; now: tired.)

Banvard's Folly, Paul Collins: 13 essays about people who were famous and now aren't, largely from the 19th century. I think [livejournal.com profile] kelljones mentioned this to me? It was interesting--I'd heard about one or two of them before, possibly because this book raised their fame briefly again. The focus on the 19th century made me contemplate how many books could be written about such figures from other time periods (many, I'm sure).

Overall, though each essay was neat, the main unifying theme I got was "fame and fortune don't last", illustrated by examples ("here are some ways in which fame and fortune don't last"). I would be interested to read something on a similar topic, but focusing on one tight group--say, poets in a a specific decade of the 19th century--and looking at their fame then, how and why they got it (if they did), when they did, if it lasted and how long and theories as to why... this was a bit too scattered for me to take anything large from it, but it was an entertaining read.

Vintage, Steve Berman: I had heard good things about this and eventually figured I ought to check it out. The ensemble cast is as queer as any from a Melissa Scott novel, which is to say quite satisfyingly: the main gay characters, plus some queer secondary characters both female and male (sexuality other than 'homosexual' or 'heterosexual' is never explored too much in depth, but books do not have to try to be all things) and, oh, right, a couple of straight people and a homophobe or so to round it out. Not really a coming out story, either (yay!); it could be read as a coming-into-community story, but I am totally okay with those and I think we need more of them. At some points I didn't buy the progression of the central romance, but oh well.

All in all, this was a satisfying example of the queer YA SF/F subgenre that I lurk with delighted, delicious glee.
aamcnamara: (Default)
24.3 / 70


Other way to work your way out of feeling guilty and bad for taking a trip you had planned far in advance, anyway: figure out that the novel is not as long as you thought it was. Probably it will only be... 60-70k. Closer to 70k, I think. The plot points are falling into place for about a 70k novel, which I had sort of started to notice before. It's YA/MG-ish, so that works as a legitimate length, too.

I am okay with writing shortish novels, but it would be nice to have something longer sometime. We'll see what happens next project, I suppose! In the meantime, thinking that your 70k novel should be 80k long might have been adding to the stress.

Anyway, that means I'll have to keep the pace up pretty well after I get back, but the plan has the good feature that anything else I write today before I leave (or tomorrow after I get back) is gravy.
aamcnamara: (Default)
23.6 / 80


This might have to be all for now.

Last night I stayed up too late reading Fire--less because the text compelled me to finish it than that I started reading it again too late to make clear decisions about What Is Best For Me.

So this morning I was tired, and didn't want to write, and allowed myself to have a break. Breaks are permitted sometimes, I think. After lunch I rallied and wrote this much, and then... dinner grew long? I made muffins (and a muffin-loaf as I ran out of muffin cups)? I am not quite sure what happened to the evening, really.

Anyway, part of the not wanting to write this morning was talking to [livejournal.com profile] haddayr and [livejournal.com profile] naomikritzer yesterday about the Ridiculous Revision Attempt (which was really nice!), and thinking about the whole thing some more, not feeling certain that I'd want to submit this draft even if I got it done in time, et cetera. And if I'm not going to submit this draft, then where is the line between 'practicing discipline' and 'driving oneself wild with self-induced stress and lack of sleep to no good point or purpose'? It is a fine line, I think.

This draft is... better. Far more coherent than the previous draft, at least so far. (Which may have something to do with the compact timeframe, and definitely has to do with my increased ability to tell things like plot and structure.) But while I'd be happy to put my name to it as An Example Of How I Write Second Drafts Of Novels Right Now, I am not so certain I want to put it out there as a Finished Product, a representation of myself... and while the money, and the possible in to the publishing world, would be neat, continuing to work slowly and steadily on my craft might work better.

Which may all be to say: I am headed out of town tomorrow for a day or two, and will not get much writing done, and I am trying to talk myself out of feeling guilty about it. Not going out of town--I've had that plan for a while. The not getting much writing done part. Even though that's a nearly unavoidable consequence.

So. Tomorrow I will pack the rest of the way and then sit down and see how much writing happens, and I will continue to do at least that second step each day--and press myself to go further than I think I can, but not hold myself to any certain etched-in-stone standards--and if I don't decide to submit it at the end (which at the moment I am feeling I may well not) then, um, yay I have a second draft?

Goodnight, anyway.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Ridiculous revision dash:

20.5 / 80


According to my "5k a day!" plan, I am behind. This is because I spent much of yesterday: a) working at the archives (I got to 1903!), b) on buses, and c) hanging out with friends. So I, um, only did 4k yesterday. But I might get a bit further in the rest of today, so.

Updates on a couple of books read:
Issola, Steven Brust: I seem to be really good at picking up weird books to start with. This is definitely not the first Vlad Taltos novel. It's a credit to Brust's skill, however, that I still felt like I got more of what was going on than I sometimes do in other people's first novels of series. (It probably helps that I've read Phoenix Guard.) I will keep trying, though. Maybe someday I will actually pick up the first one.
A Conspiracy of Kings, Megan Whalen Turner: Mostly my reaction is, "Wow, I really need to go back and read The Thief again." These later novels are drawing a whole lot more out of that than I realized was in there; many of the details have fuzzed in my brain. I couldn't decide if I liked the format or not--or rather, in some ways I did and in some ways I didn't. Still, I enjoyed the read (and will likely reread The Thief soonish), and look forward to any more books.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Because apparently no year of my life lately, or draft of this novel, is complete without at least one early-morning writing session before I have to go somewhere:

12.4 / 80

And that's a wrap on Part One, I think--12.4k is a respectable size for it, 15% of 80k. In the Events I Really Need timeline, I have gotten through 8 of 28 bulletpoints, but, well, let's not think about that. (If I made a list of Events I Kind Of Need, it would be much longer. And a lot of the changes I'm making got set up in the first part... so there were many bulletpoints there. So.)

I have to admit, there is something I really like about this sort of hurried-pace writing. Ever since a friend of mine talked me into doing NaNoWriDay (attempting to write 50,000 words in 24 hours) with her as 'preparation' for NaNoWriMo, I've felt pretty good about the whole thing. I know that I can type quickly for hours, and invent things off the top of my head if I don't know what I'm doing.

This exercise, however, does not resemble NaNoWriDay (or even NaNoWriMo) in that I hope to come out of it with a coherent draft. Fortunately, it also doesn't resemble those events in that it's not the first time I have written this novel.

I know who my characters are and what they would do in each particular situation; I know what the setting is; I know the plot and have a notion of the structure, I know when each event should fall. And while I've changed a few things about the setting and more things about the plot (setting change feeding into plot change feeding into actually giving my character a motivation to do a couple of previously-questionable things), a lot of it remains the same, and I have a copy of my first draft lurking just a click away that I am totally free to crib good lines, dialogue, or passages from.

This makes it way easier. I'm still composing on the fly, but on a much smaller scale than when writing a first draft, when I'm creating world, characters, setting, plot, and structure wholesale. And in some ways the deadline makes it easier: it forces me to just write--which means I won't get distracted by things or let it sit for months in the middle of the draft, forgetting names and descriptions, what the colors are that the great House wears or what kind of ring the main character has on his right hand. I just keep typing. (The running 'notes' file helps, too, but, well.)

...like those events aforementioned, though, while the deadline's self-imposed, I also have people willing to, alternately, cheer me on or hit me over the head on iChat and tell me to get back to work ([livejournal.com profile] browniecakemix! [livejournal.com profile] epicrauko! [livejournal.com profile] aliseadae!), as well as a whole host of others supporting me in more passive ways. (Including my mother, whom I keep updating with My Wordcount Right Now and who is very patient with me.) I like these people. I might be able to do this without them, but it would be far harder and much less enjoyable.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Wild rewrite dash:

11.4 / 80


Nothing on The Urban Fantasy Novel, 'cause I also spent six hours doing work at the library today.
aamcnamara: (Default)
The Urban Fantasy Novel, first draft in-progress:

280 / 350


The ridiculous revision dash (by wordcount in thousands), novel I wrote last summer:

6.4 / 80


Other tasks accomplished: made blueberry-strawberry pancakes, baked raspberry muffins, slushed for Ideomancer, read part of Jo Walton's The King's Peace. (Can you tell that one of the things I enjoy most about summer is berries?)

We could call that a day.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Via Gchat:
alena.mcnamara: *maybe just really wants a Big Climactic Magic Duel*
alena.mcnamara: ...is that so wrong?
alise.adae: naw.

I may have a plot for the novel from last summer, by way of discussing thematic elements partially with [livejournal.com profile] aliseadae and partially by rambling on at myself (and [livejournal.com profile] aliseadae) about possible events. At least, it needs fleshing out in several directions, but I have a direction and a general outline and some events and why each of them happens.

I am, per last post, uncertain whether I intend to submit this as a YA-YA novel to Medallion. We'll see where I am in two weeks, I guess. It would be neat to be published, also to get money for something I had written, however I have little interest in being anyone's Token Teenager. So. (edit: Input would be welcome? I waver on this choice.)

(And I still need a more specific outline. And some work on the setting. And figuring out the precise details of this secondary character's backstory... but plot is progress.)
aamcnamara: (Default)
264 / 350


Seventy-five percent! This means I get a new color. *g* (To 260 the day before yesterday, the rest yesterday; I proceed onward apace.)

On the revising-a-novel front, yesterday I took markers to my Glorious Closet Door Of Notecards and color-coded things. (Categories include various themes, settings, and "trains".) Going back to look at the Scrivener files based on my ponderings, I separated Part Four into parts four and five at a pivotal point. The five parts/acts are 15k 20k 15k 13k 16k, respectively, each of which has a general main Thing that happens in it and the beginnings/ends of which sort of make sense. Which is rather respectable, really!

I want to switch current-part-two to be part three, and rearrange some things, and have some plot threads going on at the same time instead of "um and THEN they tried this OTHER thing, and THAT didn't work either!". One of them might even work out so that a secondary character can have an arc! At any rate, it's neat to see how my brain worked things out for me to start with, and there is a framework/skeleton there that, with modifications, might hold up a second draft.

So that's good.

More political cartoons in the archives yesterday. If you had asked me "how's it going?" I would've said "Well, McKinley just died, and we just managed to settle the coal strike..." Of course, these things happened a hundred and eight/nine years ago, but time elides easily there.

Anyway, I've reached the end of November in 1901/1902--it's odd, but earlier in the year there was much more similarity in topics. Then there was the coal strike in 1902, and McKinley died in 1901, and for a while I didn't even need to double-check what year cartoons were from. (Hint: the "oh noes anarchy!" ones were from 1901; the "hey, arbitration kinda works" ones were from 1902.)

Some books read recently )

About six of my reserved books are In Transit to the library right now (including Delany's About Writing, the fourth Attolia book, the sequel to Graceling...) so those should keep me busy for a while when they get here. Yay, libraries.
aamcnamara: (Default)
From yesterday (to 252) and today:

255 / 350


"Woo, I have 250 pages!" means less to me now than "hey, I am getting closer to three-quarters done!". This is good, I think.

Also today, I did Ideomancer things. And made some more notecards about the novel from last year, and then taped them all up onto half of my closet door in some semblance of order (vaguely chronological from top to bottom, with alternate plots/subplots spread horizontally).

I'd been considering laying them out on the floor and then hopping over them all the time, or taping them up on a wall. However, half of my closet door works better than both of those, in that I can push the other half over on top of it and thus hide said attempted outline of the novel when I want to concentrate on other things. This is very handy.
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Liveblogging the novel revision process, because how else am I supposed to document my life for the Internet/distract my brain?

(Also, this being my first attempt to Revise A Novel, I think that there will be some stuff that I run across that I might want to come back to later, revisit or rethink.)

today's adventures )
---

Also! Yesterday I finally read Graceling. I had heard good things about it since it came out, but hadn't gotten around to reading it before. (Volunteering at a library twice a week: there is no excuse for not checking out things you've been meaning to read.) I liked it, for many of the same reasons everyone else did, I think--it was well-written and it subverts several fantasy tropes, which made me happy. But then it seemed to use a couple of other tropes unexamined, which made me slightly less happy. Um. But no book is perfect, so there you go. (I could be more specific, but obviously I didn't get around to reading this until yesterday so I don't want to assume that everyone else has read it already. I'd be up for talking about it, though!) (Okay, all right, spoilers-sort-of in comments. You are warned.)

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