Closing In

Posted: November 15th, 2015 under Craft, Life beyond writing, Revisions, the writing life.
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At this stage of revision, I always wish I had another two weeks.  Or a month.    There’s always one…more…problem bit to untangle, that I think would benefit from more time to analyze and think about.  And then another, in the next section.  However, things are progressing appropriately.  The holes are filling in,  the once-blurry places are sharpening into focus, and though I’m dealing with some decisions made earlier that I might make differently now, they’re working out with some fierce hammering and welding.   (Clever ideas.  Clever ideas are the ones that seem so shiny! and smart!  at the time, and that flow easily in first draft and then…toward the end…reveal themselves to be more clever than good.  For instance, the…mumble-mumph.  How do you mumble-mumble and mumph-mumph so as to have a crisis *here* that requires characters to appear to have a random emergency giving you-the-writer the opportunity to lay the hook for the string that will later be pulled, so when something (errummph?) is revealed, the reader will feel a connection–yes, there was a foreshadowing but things were so hectic I missed it–and thus the revelation is not a deus ex machina.   Though of course all this backstage work IS the writer being the deus ex machina.)  

In some situations, this is easy, because the situation offers a multitude of possibilities, the writer is familiar with them in the story-setting, and readers will find at least 60% of them familiar enough to pass without concern.  Life is complicated; connections don’t always show at once but can be seen in hindsight.   In others, as in the one I set myself in this book, the possibilities are not endless to start with, and the writer may not be familiar with all the possibilities that exist in that story-setting, and thus it comes down to one or two or three, which is not really enough.   Enter the Clever Idea Generator in the writer’s mind.     The CIG needs to be reality-checked often, but that takes time and writers (including me) fall in love with their clever ideas.   At least half of the clever ideas continue to sound really good for more chapters than they should, until in revision the writer returns to the roots of the story, the underlying deep logic.   The CIG isn’t connected to the deep logic…if you want to generate clever ideas, you have to turn on your CIG and not criticize it while it’s running.   Pink elephants?  Sure.   Ostriches doing ballet?   That’d be cool.    In our field, in particular, clever ideas are golden.   But not all of them.

This is complicated by the other LifeStuff going on.  As always.   The roof is still only partially finished.    A large, dying,  dangerous tree is supposed to be removed by a professional crew this week–maybe tomorrow (when it’s supposed to rain) and maybe later in the week (when the roofer is supposed to come back and furniture is supposed to be delivered.)   Furniture delivery may arrived on its designated day any time between 9 am and 10 pm, although I’m supposed to be given a 3 hour window during which I must be on-site there, instead of tucked in front of my computer here.    Having the imagination I do, I can easily image tree-removal crew, roofers, and furniture delivery overlapping, not in a good way.   And then the next week is Thanksgiving with the big dinner to do.  I’m very glad I’ve been doing a big Thanksgiving dinner for decades but it’s still hours of work that means hours not spent at the computer.




  • Comment by Iphinome — November 15, 2015 @ 11:12 pm


    Wait? You need logical reason for those six anthropomorphic mongeese to jump out and attack with glowing green tomahawks? There go all those words. NaNoWriMo is ruined!

    Was that funny? I’ve been having trouble with the funny. Do I need to put another dollar in the jar?

    *Grumbles about the Knights who say Ni not needing to justify their topiary desires.*

  • Comment by Celina — November 16, 2015 @ 5:06 am


    But some ideas are just so cooooool! Anyways, its going to be fun reading about Vatta again. I “read” the audioplay and I thought that was pretty neat with the soundeffects and actors.

    What do you guys do for thanksgiving? We don’t celebrate that in Sweden, so I’m a little curious about it. I have a vauge idea that celebrating christmas in Sweden and Thanksgiving in the USA is kind of the same thing? Big family renuion, lots of good food and hopefully no drama.

  • Comment by elizabeth — November 16, 2015 @ 8:11 am


    Iphinome: I had already got rid of the glowing green tomahawks. The mongooses, though–they’re SO much fun. I hope I don’t have to cut them, the dragonfly quartet singing barbershop, the giant ground sloth, or the pickle trees. (No dollar in the jar needed.)

    Celina: Thanksgiving for us is food and friends and avoiding family we didn’t want to be with (or being alone, for those who are) by being with each other. Because a big gathering can be more fun than a little one, at this point ours is a combination of singles and small families who get along well.

    No (er…manageable minimal) drama. Drama doesn’t get invited back next year, because avoiding drama is why another couple and we started this tradition over 40 years ago. Given the intelligent and creative people who come, there’s plenty of good talk about a variety of topics without the excess drama. This year we have four new people–a friend, her mother, her adult son, and another friend–along with most of the usual crowd.

    The cooking is epic. I do the basics–turkey and ham and half the vegetable dishes and one or two of the desserts; other people bring food as well, so there’s a variety and more than plenty. A week from now I’ll have all the food in the house, some of it already prepped. Already some of the ingredients are up to “starting point” level.

  • Comment by Annabel Smyth — November 16, 2015 @ 12:07 pm


    It must be awful at this stage of a book! I suppose one is never 100% pleased with it….

  • Comment by Celina — November 17, 2015 @ 7:12 am


    Thank you for your kind answer! Epic cooking sounds awesome… There can never be too much food *chuckles*.

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