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Preparing for January

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A (Possibly overlarge) shot of my writing tracker board, currently set up for January.

The brightly colored tabs on the left are a reverse word tracker- I rip off and crush them when I defeat them. The middle bit is a standard calender with daily goals written in. The last one is a visual tracker with goals as hollow bars. Word count achieved is a line graph superimposed on top of the bar graph.

The empty space below them is where I put ‘Fast Facts’- Things like secondary character names, the name of that one Chinese place, whatever I may need on a moment’s notice but don’t want to have to dig back through to find. This zone usually turns into a Post-It shellacked monstrosity during long projects.

I confess to being a little in love with the data collection and assessment part of writing. And everything else, really. I’ll make a graph of anything.

I Have Not Abandoned Thee, Word Hoarder.

But the government did steal my ability to update, as they are prone to doing. I’m back now, though, and will be for the foreseeable future.

Which means it’s time for the writing to happen.

 

Now, those of you who can do math have probably figured out that Nano and I didn’t get our juicy bits together and make a word baby. Frankly, I’ve been word free for an awkwardly long time. That’s going to change. (I mean it this time. Shut up, asshole in the front row.)

Achievement Unlocked – Goes The Dynamite

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Dynamite

So there I was, grinding away to get the R2 – We’re Gonna Need Guns achievement, and all of the sudden ding! The entire first chapter has been deleted. Why? Because it is boring, sports fans. Literally nothing happens. Mouse sits on the couch for 1500 words. Alone in the house. Staring at the walls in near catatonia. NOTHING HAPPENS.

(No, I did not really delete the chapter. Never delete anything. But it has been reassigned to a folder labeled ‘KillRoom’.)

So, your Auntie Gwen had a thought. And, I assure you, it’s a well thought out thought. I also assure you, I am not overly intoxicated at such an early hour. By which I mean, ‘m rully, rully drunk, maaaaaaahn. An’ it’s like, lunchtime.

Anyway. On topic.

So, I was ponderating the whole, acievement unlocked thing. And, also, the Camp Nanowrimo thing. (You can see more here, but the short explanation is that Chris Baty has attacked April and July. Apparently November isn’t enough for him, greedy bastard.) So, since some scheduling hoopla means I will be available for April, I was thinking about mishmashing those thoughts. So, here’s the deal- You, gentle readers, I am asking for suggestions.

Sure, wordcounts. But what else? What other achievements do you unlock when you write? Or for wrimos in particular? Genre specific? Would you be interested in making this literary journey (Sober or otherwise) with me? Leave Comments. Please? Don’t leave me on my inebriated lonesome.

 

Achievement Unlocked!

R1-GetRidOfToby

gwen.simon has unlocked R1- Get Rid of Toby!

Lessons From the Editrix

Pip (@big_black_bird) was pestering me to post about my editing methods, because they are apparently mysterious and awe-inspiring. Personally, I think Pip just edits like she cooks- throw everything into the pot, boil, and serve. But if it will shut her up, I’ll illustrate the process.

 

Lesson The First: Be A Bitch

Your novel doesn’t want to be edited. And it is going to cry and squeal and plead for you to put down the red pen and untie it. It will tell you it is fine the way it is, you’re a genius, you don’t need to edit. Your prose is incendiary, your characters are dazzling, your setting is believable and the plot is tight as a- Well, let’s not go there.

Your story will give you every excuse not to edit it. You will be lured with the exotic promise of new stories waiting in the wings. You will be distracted by fantasies of Donald Duck’s money swimming pool. You will need to build barricades to keep back the hoards of fans sure to descend upon you at any moment. You’ll sit by the phone waiting for publishers to call and tell you you’re on Billboard’s Top 40. You’ll want to sit around in your underwear eating choco-pops out of a mixing bowl watching Power Rangers because you wrote a book, dammit!

You know better. Get out your riding crop and the D-Luxe Ball gag and do the job right. Because like every gimp, this book need to be whipped into shape.

 

Lesson the Second: Dirty Little Pig Boy!

Attack your novel like it belongs to someone else. Trust nothing. Rip it to shreds. Keep going until it cries. Dismantle it down to the components you made it out of- Protagonist, antagonist, vital plot points, sub plots, alien sex toys, steel plate bustier. Every individual part of your novel is a different tool that you will need to use- combine threshers, fist dildos, matchsticks. Separate the wheat from the chaff, and the dirty little pig boys from the posturing frat boys. Give that naughty novel the beating it deserves.

This is not the time to show mercy. Put on your sternest face, and crack your whip frequently. Don’t let up.

 

Lesson the Third: Never Neglect The Knots

Whether it’s your intricate plot or a complex shibari pose, pay close attention to what ties things together. Don’t forget a character in the middle, or create one from ether with nothing to support them. Don’t have the killer bee hive tumble from the heavens into the hero’s hands. If you’re going to have the whole ending based on an ancient prophesy, mention it before book seven. I would even suggest it belongs in the first book.

This is the part where you have to be prepared to cut things loose when they don’t work out. Be careful when cutting the gimp loose- he’s more fragile than your book.

 

Lesson the Fourth: Spit Shine the Latex

Now that you have the big things worked out, it’s time to clean up the little things. Grammar, spelling, dialog, punctuation, pacing, tone, theme, imagery, voice, and anything else that you can think of, they need you to go back after yourself and check their posture. Make sure that tray on their head doesn’t wobble while they go down the stairs. This bit generally has more ‘Please sir, may I have another?’ than the others. Don’t worry. Just keep your back straight and your frown imperious. As tedious as it seems, it will be worth it when you have the little bastard serving you tea in a frilly maid outfit. I mean published.

 

Lesson the Fifth: Gimps Juggle – You Don’t.

Your novel should be able to balance multiple plots, an entourage of characters, a handful of spiked dildos, and a poodle. You should be focusing on the whip. (And not catching your heels on the rug.) Do one thing at a time, and do it very well. When you are done, move on. You are the boss bitch, and things happen when and where and how you say. No arguments. No distractions. Keep your focus on what needs to be happening right now.

 

If you want to share a thought, feel free to leave a comment. If you’re looking for help, shine the Editrix signal. If you want someone to whip you into shape, I know some people.

Z-Day: Looking Back to Look Forward

Unwashed hoards of the Internet, I have returned from the ink mines with a message!

Z-Day Part II is about halfway through the first draft (Hint: Moar zombies) and the time has come both to cast my eyes back to the beginning of this intrepid enterprise. Thusly, I have come to a glorious revelation, brought to me by the red eyed gods of late night editing.

When you get to the end, the beginning is confusing and shitty. From the beginning, the ending is confusing and shitty.

I blame this on two things. First, the middle is mushy and doughy, like a third grader with a candy bar sticking out of his flapping mouth hole. Second, the ending was written almost a year after the beginning. The message had gotten lost by the way side. Parts are good. Parts are bad. Parts are repetitive. None of the parts connect very well with the other parts. There are things worth saving, and things that must be cannibalized to make better things.

There are issues. Toby, for instance: he’s not a character, he’s furniture. Like the raven from OotS, he is often forgotten for long periods of time, only appearing when it’s convenient. ‘Oh, right, there’s also a baby.’ Removing him means a significant rewrite. But making him important enough to keep would be an epic level pain in the ass.

And Pinkie! The Director’s cut makes her so much cooler than she gets to be in the ‘official release’! She’s bitchin’ fun to write, and her perspective adds a whole dimension completely unexplored. But none of her material can be conveniently added. It’s just me and Pip shootin’ the shit.

Jon and Mouse’s little heart to heart has been rewritten three times, and still doesn’t say what I want it to. And when you hook it to the intro of Part II, there is no flow, even though it’s only a few minute gap. It’s a total disconnect.

Enough bitching. Get your gimp masks ready, baby, and make way for the Editrix.