Friday, May 04, 2007

Coffee Break 16

When in doubt have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand...
Raymond Chandler

There's sawdust everywhere. Not the metaphorical sort, the result of chipping and honing away at my second draft. No, this is the real fluffy blond wood pieces, the result of chipping and honing away at floorboards. I'm not honing. But I am looking forward to it being over, as building work AND working from home don't really go together.

On the plus side, I've now had my notes from both editor and agent and they're a) not at all radical, b) very specific, and c) have really made me re-examine some slightly 'convenient' plot points. And having brainstormed them, I feel the plotting will be much better - much more believable, in fact - in this new version.

I admit I felt quite anxious about two pivotal plot points, because I was thinking if I couldn't come up with a more credible twist in the first draft, why would it be different now? And though editorial comment is an essential part of the process, you do feel protective of your ideas. I guess the closest would be having a new, radical haircut that you love, but you're slightly unsure about, and a good friend saying: I do love it, but I think it'd be even better if you changed the colour/changed that side parting into a fringe. That'd make it perfect.

And of course, part of you is grateful for their honesty, but part of you feels incredibly nervous about the colour and the fringe, because you really did think this was the best look you could achieve - and here your friend is asking you to go further and it's nerve-wracking. There's a real feeling of jeopardy if you get it wrong...that you'll damage things and it'll take ages to put it back as it was (or for the fringe to grow out).

I think I've extended that metaphor quite far enough. Anyway, I brainstormed and I found a way of changing the plot, subtly, to increase the tension and our understanding of the character. I'm about a third of the way through doing that now and I have a good feeling about it. It also gives me confidence for future books: I've always been more of a character over plot author and yet this is nifty and neat. I had another lovely phone call yesterday about the new book from someone really senior at the publisher's and generally everyone seems to be very excited about the novel.

The novel I started on this Race! So thank-you guys...

So how is everyone else getting on? Are there parts of your plot, or your characters' motivations, that you secretly know aren't quite as they should be?

Incidentally, as you may recall, Lucy and I had arranged some books from Lucy's publisher as a prize for the race-winner. I feel a bit bad about taking those given that I was one of the founder racers. Am happy to award these to the next person in line - would that be Zinnia or Liz? What do you think?

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Blogger liz fenwick said...

Kate, I loved your description about the changes being like a hair cut. I am sitting looking at the book I just finished and I am feeling lost. The reader said it was definately better than the last. My characters were stronger- in fact one was the over all winner - not the one I intended. She wants me to think about making the book into a YA novel told exclusively through this characters eyes. I am not totally adverse to this but I do have reservations. One, I never thought of writing YA and don't see the next book on the horizon being YA. I still love my orignal idea but according to the reader I would have a hell of a lot of work to balance it out and make it so.......feeling quite low really yet I am enjoying reading the script myself.......

My vote goes for Zinna btw.

8:01 am  
Blogger Kevin said...

It's great to get these insights into how the writing process works.(Also the remodeling, since installing wood floors will be a project in our house this summer. I'm particularly concerned because my wife Valerie keeps researching products that help the inexperienced homeowner do it himself.) I'm glad to see you've found a way to bring a new level to your work. I am always afraid of losing the originality or vitality through over polishing -- mostly because in my early years I took "all writing is rewriting" to be my religion and spent needless weeks grinding my stories into interchangeable grammar exercises. I'd missed the part about rewriting with a *purpose.*

My day job is a shambles. Our agency bills government agencies for funding, which means it's all paperwork. We just failed a major audit and I'm at the end of our second week of ten-hour days as we try to get everything 100% for the re-audit. My writing has suffered in that I'm only churning out about 1000 words a day. I had to ask for an extension on my deadline -- something I have never done before. Very disturbing. But while writing is my future, the day job is paying the mortgage, so I'm putting my energy where it needs to go for my family.

I'm up at 3AM my time writing because 3-6AM is now my official writing period. I'm so dead at the end of the day, I can't type, much less write, so I need to get 5-6 hours sleep to recharge. Now it's 3-6 write, 6-7 get ready for day, 7:30-6 work, 6-9 family/life in general, 9-3 sleep. Gets old fast.

Want to thank Zinnia for taking the time to read "Wolf Hunters" -- with absolutely no prior knowledge of the MechWarrior IP universe -- and taking the time to send me some comments on her experience.

I'll type at y'all next week.

8:12 am  
Blogger Jen said...

I agree with Liz, the haircut analogy is a good 'un. It's quite hard taking on board others' suggestions when we slave to feverishly over the WIP. Lovely bf has been telling me for months to use just one 1st person POV but I was stubbornly resisted it.

I spent most of last week re-writing bits in differing versions and have realised that the sod is right. Now that I've decided, though, the story is moving along of its own accord which I like. One of my characters has come out with some corking lines too.

You know when you hear a fab line on TV or whatever and can't wait to use it yourself? Well, I have lines that I want to steal from my characters now. How cool is that?!?!!??

9:17 am  
Blogger leatherdykeuk said...

Jen said ...I have lines that I want to steal from my characters now. How cool is that?!?!!??

I can understand this one. There are some catchphrases from my characters that have become common parlance amongst my family and beta-reader friends.

I'm close to finishing novel#2 and will soon get back to the novel I began at the start of the race.

9:55 am  
Blogger Kevin said...

Oh, and part of my thanks was suposed to be a vote for Zinnia on the prize. Doing her work while taking the time to read mine is, I think, above and beyond.

10:25 am  
Blogger Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Really interesting post - I've been thinking about this in terms of my own novel, and I expect my readers will say that some aspects need strengthening (plot and character). I'll be interested to find out whether their views coincide with mine. And I do think their feedback is likely to help, as your editor's and agent's has. (Poor Liz - sorry you're feeling lost with yours...)

And my vote is that Liz should be declared the winner. This is not a sympathy vote, it's because the race was supposed to be for first-drafters and I was a sneaky cheeky second drafter.

Kevin - you're welcome.

Kate - you're next!

11:41 am  
Blogger JJ said...

Sorry to rush, but we're leaving any minute now to go to Kanchanaburi (Bridge over the River Kwai place). I hope everyone is well and all the best for next week.


12:25 pm  
Blogger Lucy Diamond said...

I still think you should have the prize, Kate - you did win the race. But if you feel strongly that you don't want to accept, then my vote goes for Liz, for writing a first draft at such an incredible speed.

Really pleased you've sorted your plot niggles, Kate - and I loved the haircut analogy too, knew just what you meant.

I'm up to 56,000 words now but I've just thrown in my biggest dramatic action point and am worried it's too soon, so am in a bit of a quandary re structure. However, I think I'm just going to plough and see it how comes out, rather than changing it all now.

Have a lovely long weekend one and all


1:36 pm  
Blogger Jane Henry said...

Was going great guns till today, but am on a go slow today (apart from my run home from school, which I did in amazing - for me - 17 mins. This makes for a 9.5 minute mile, as one who normally manages 11.5 min miles it is something of an achievement.)

As usual I digress.

Lucy I know exactly what you mean about getting a plot bit in earlier then intended. I've done that twice now in the current wip.
And in Pastures New my hero and heroine kissed not once but TWICE without so much a by your leave, and way before they were meant to. It was the first time I understood how they take on a life of their own.

Kate, great analogy about the haircut. I found being edited a fascinating process. I can usually see where the weak points are, but often can't come up with a solution on my own. But having that chat regenerates me and I find I can sort it out - well sometimes!

I think Zinnia and Liz both deserve to win...

Oh that's not very helpful is it...

btw as you were so keen to have a Dr Who Wed em Bed Em or Dead Em, I will probably be putting one up on my blog this space.

I might have to have more then one as we have so many characters to choose from...

love Janex

2:19 pm  
Blogger sheepish said...

Rather a long way from making changes yet but I have finally made some progress this week.
After a dry spell of several weeks I did some research for a half finished chapter and suddenly several things dropped into place and I got an idea for another chapter. So feeling more optimistic this week. I don't know how many words I've added because I haven't typed it up yet but at least I have some more words on the page.

Can you divide the prize or is it one book I wasn't sure. Or draw a name out of a hat.

Have a good weekend eveyone.

4:52 pm  
Blogger Nichola said...

I'm rather taken with that photo of Bob the builder!

6:06 pm  
Blogger B.E. Sanderson said...

I'm brain dead today. I haven't been writing this week, but trying to finish the editing I was supposed to be done with last weekend. I'm close, so maybe I'll get it done and write all weekend. I empathize with the other edit-ers out there. :big hugs:

I think it's a great accomplishment for both Liz and Zinnia, but I'm going to have to lean toward Liz - for the first draft completion. (It was the stated goal at the beginning of this, after all.) Sorry Zinnia.

Keep up the good work everyone!

6:45 pm  
Blogger hesitant scribe said...

Late again! Oh dear, end of semester and all that.

Hair cut analogy is good - I keep shaving it all off though, so need to let it grow out a bit before I restyle it again!

I think I have new people to add so will endeavour to get around to that today while listening to Russell Brand on listen again thingy...

Kate - saw your name in the paper and now can't find it... think it was the Guardian and was all good stuff. Marvellous stuff.

zinnia or liz? It was first to finish the first draft so liz - sorry zinnia :(

Prize for last still going? To be awarded sometime in 2010?!!!

Happy writing everyone.

p.s. Hope my supervisor ain't reading this! Of course I'll make my deadline. Honest guv!

11:39 am  
Blogger A. Writer said...

Sorry I'm a bit late here. I've been having a few problems recently and writing is the last thing I've wanted to do.

Feeling a bit low about it all to be honest. I worry that my writing skills aren't good enough. Got the good ideas but do I make the best use of them??? ARGH!

Anyway, it's nice to read how everyone else is getting on. :)

4:25 pm  
Blogger ChrisH said...

I read about this blog in WN yesterday and it's very timely for me. I'm waiting for news on novel#1 and trying to work on novel#2 - trouble is I'm so worried about novel#1 that working on #2 is agonisingly slow!

9:46 am  

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