Friday, July 3, 2009

Writing - the short story process

Today's goal was to finish a short story for sending You Know Where. I'm about halfway through. It's interesting because all the pitfalls seem to be coming up faster. The talking heads, the meandering plot, unimaginative characterization... you get the idea. Usually I find these things on the next pass. In this short form, they stop me cold. Or is it that I recognize them sooner and don't want to have to overwrite only to slash whole chunks out later? I'm in a time crunch here.

So what do I do when I'm stuck? It's a question I've asked several authors in interviews.

My brainstorming buddy wasn't online today, so all those questions I would have asked him, I had to ask myself. I actually opened a word document and poked and prodded at my prose with things like, "How do I tell this story without TELLING it?" I answered, "Start with a murder." I also came up with some cool SF tech to introduce during one of those talking heads scenes that will let me keep the scene.

Yes, I asked myself questions, yelled at myself and told myself to quit being dialog heavy. And answered myself. All on the same word document that I saved as Notes for IA story. Didn't you know that writers are crazy? But it worked. Then I had to work on the story arc and realized that what I really had was a detective story with SF trappings. I don't read a lot of detective stuff and I don't want it to be canned. So now I'm trying to figure out how to have the protag solve the mystery without it looking inevitable, expected and linear.

I also wasted time on FaceBook. Of course, I can't say time spent on FB is all a waste. I did build my network. Now if only some of them would buy my book. :)

I want to finish writing what will be a blog post for Redwood Writers next week, so I switched gears and worked on lists for that for a while.

But there was progress on the short story. I now have more cool tech, a full background and motivation for the bad guy (or girl, in this case) and it starts with a murder, which I've already written. Hopefully I'll finish the first draft before the weekend is out.

What else? I received more new books in the mail. The Immortality Factor by Ben Bova and a Japanese SF translated into English. So more reading. I've learned to go back to my old practice of reading books in tandem. Reading Valis and The Book from the Sky was brutal. But now I'm reading a book by Philip K. Dick's widow, Tessa and another book about Deborah in the bible at the same time. Those will be vastly different. I think it will make it go faster. Up next is The Unincorporated Man by the Kollin brothers. Then Immortality Factor.

Once I have this story out of my hair, I can get more reading done. I still have a story that needs a great deal of reworking. Maybe next weekend I'll do rewrites of both - in tandem. No, that would be REALLY crazy.

Look for another author interview next Friday. I'll let you know who on Tuesday.

vote it up!

1 comment:

Ed Beecher said...

According to Elizabeth Gilbert, the problem is that your "daemon" just happens to be lame today : )

Here is the link, about a 20 min talk, from TED talks.