Sep 17

Snippets

Posted: under Contents, Craft, Editing, Progress, Revisions, snippet, the writing life.
Tags: , , ,  September 17th, 2022

Time for some snippets, yeah?

This one will not be in the final book….it is the original start of the book:

Camwyn had no memories of his childhood, only those begun in a dark cave, when he woke from grievous injuries.  He knew of his past only what he’d been told by Dragon.

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This was followed by pages of past-history stuff and landscape descriptions that (aside from describing  a gorgeous view of the Vale of Valdaire and a good opening shot for the movie, maybe)  have nothing to do with the story because he’s never there again.   Also, there’s no tension.  People who’ve read the Paladin’s Legacy group know who Cam is, what his injuries were, and that he’s lost his memory.  People who haven’t will be thinking ‘How many pages of infodump before I have a reason to care about this character?”

Worse, the next person being shown is thinking about how disappointed he is that on his last trip over the mountains, there’s fog and he can’t see his favorite view.   Interior monologue with nothing happening but the fog lifting and a horse whinnying.  Ho-hum, ho-hum, the starting point is dumb…and then it goes into pages more of trivia that’s interesting to ME, because I was working back into this invented world, checking that Fenis Kavarthin & Sons were still in the building they’d been in that previous book, that this and that were in the right place and the right kinds of interactions were going on. Fine, for a book on the economics of merchant-run late-medieval cities, but this is supposed to be a story.

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So now we have the result of a complete mental reset:  When the problem is a static passage, nothing really going on, AND it’s in the POV of a known character who’s a protagonist…don’t whittle away at it hoping for something better.  Take a big leap.

The blade lay lightly, but dangerously, on his neck, just under the side of his jaw.  “You haven’t paid your bill,” said the voice in the dark.

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The next sentence tells you who “he” is…Ilantides Balentos.   Those who’ve read the short story “Mercenary’s Honor”  may have a vague memory of an Ilanz Balentos who was Aesil M’dierra’s uncle and the reason she became a merc commander.   Ilanz in that story is a middle-aged merc commander who helps a village win independence from its greedy neighbor city, and when that city hires a much younger Aliam Halveric to attack, and Aliam sends out his squires to a recon mission, Ilanz meets Kieri Phelan for the first time.   Between then and now is a story of the young Aesil M’dierra and how she met Aliam and Kieri in dire circumstances–unfinished, still.  Maybe now I can write it.  Ilanz left his company (and some money) to M’dierra when he died.

This isn’t Ilanz; this is Ilanz’s much younger relative (and thus, more distantly, M’dierra’s relative.)  You don’t yet know who the other person, the voice in the dark,  is (and won’t, thanks to, ummm, errr, mmph, and mumble-mumble-writers-keep-secrets.)   But you know, every one of you, that you do not want that voice in the dark in YOUR bedroom, and you already suspect Ilantides may have a shady side.   You also want to know if the guy gets his throat cut and what happens next.

Does this 13 page segment connect to anything else in the book?  Yes, it does.  It foreshadows events already written some chapters later (and thus was easy to think of and write) that make other connections…and so on.   So when mmmrff happens, readers (the more astute ones) will be thinking “It’s those Balentoses!” while at the same time wondering if fffnnf can possibly make it out and can vlkksr get there in time.

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But remember the entire first chapter had problems of insufficient forward motion and insufficient tension.  Yet certain precursor things had to happen before other things could.  A had to meet B.  B had to not meet C.   D had to misjudge a situation.  And so on.  So what should come after that 13 pages that makes it clear the initial engine is putting tension on the same overall plot, getting the whole thing rolling?   Who gets the next POV slot, and why, and what do they do with it?

To keep the tension on, the next logical POV will be either the other conspirator or…another potential victim. The other conspirator has no further appearance in this book, as who he is, at least.  Readers are free to think he took part in a certain nefarious deed, or to think he was in another part of the same organization.  Doesn’t matter.  Another potential victim is already in the book, several chapters ahead, and was going to be in chapter 1 anyway, but from a different angle.  Well, then…make the next POV that of that potential victim’s POV and take a first look at Protagonist through that potential victim’s eyes…and at Balentos through that victim’s eyes as well.    Another big leap.

So the next POV is Aesil M’dierra’s but not in an exciting moment, though exciting moments are referenced, and a Significant Moment occurs in that POV segment when she walks into The Golden Fish and sees an obvious newcomer.

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She noticed a striking young man at the front window table, richly dressed in yellow and black over mail and–her experienced eye recognized the way the cloth laid over it–breast and back plate.

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Other necessary nubbins have been dispensed in this POV section before this moment, relating to the matters her cousins have kept bubbling on the legal stove, adding to the tension of *that* plotline, but this is where another and major plotline’s rubber hits the road.  The naive reader (the one who hasn’t read the previous volumes) doesn’t know who he is, and even the experienced reader–though perhaps guessing correctly–isn’t sure either.  The last black and yellow colors shown so prominently down here were–as far as readers know–on Siniava, the Honeycat.  Who IS this fellow?  Why hasn’t he doffed his heavy-weight armor, or taken the coif off his head?  M’dierra (experienced readers will know) knows every merc commander in Valdaire…this isn’t one of them.  So who and what is he, and what is he up to?   That’s revealed in their conversation, or the part of their conversation that’s shown, so the main direction of that plotline seems to be clear and straightforward.  The book is going to visit a place none of the previous books have shown, but that’s been mentioned a few times.

Another POV section is coming, which introduces two well-known characters from previous books but in different roles, and foreshadows (obscurely) a major road-block in the major plotline that’s just been shown, though the actual roadblock isn’t at all clear.  One of those two is the second, co-equal protagonist.  And Dragon, who, though a plot-mover, isn’t a protagonist, and gives readers the chance to question Dragon’s good will, sanity and, um, “wisdom.”   If humans have holes in their logic, and gaps in their knowledge, how is it possible for a creature of such length of age and vast experience and desire for all to be wiser…to be so blind to certain things?  Why isn’t Dragon the perfect deus ex machina, instead of…well…fallible?  Or are the humans just misunderstanding the nature of the beast, so to speak?

But that would be telling, not showing, says the mischievous writer, running off to work on other chapters.

 

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Mar 04

Whirlwinds

Posted: under Revisions, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  March 4th, 2016

(Mirrored from Universes blog)

Working on the rewrite of Cold Welcome.  On Monday, I sent Editor the latest draft of the new ending, and in light of Editor’s comments worked on it some more, then started in on front-to-back run (actually crawl!) through combining her original letter, the marked up manuscript line edits,  and the changes that would be required by the new ending.   This also involved having two versions of the first chapters on the monitor at once, the letter, a stack of reference printouts, and the marked ms beside me on the desk. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nov 15

Closing In

Posted: under Craft, Life beyond writing, Revisions, the writing life.
Tags: , , ,  November 15th, 2015

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.)   Read the rest of this entry »

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Nov 02

Just to Complicate Things

Posted: under Life beyond writing, Revisions.
Tags: , ,  November 2nd, 2015

Roofing Begins

Yes, those are roofers tearing off shingles at the house my mother owned when she died.  Our son lived there awhile and stays there on weekends, as do guests.  It’s where we have parties, too, as it has  more room than our house.   It will soon have a metal roof, which should last longer, given that we have hail storms and branches that fall on the roof and squirrels who think getting through roofs is a lot of fun.

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Oct 11

Annals of Revision, 2015

Posted: under Revisions.
Tags:  October 11th, 2015

So…when did I forget about active verbs, huh?  Not completely forget but forget enough to find myself in a thicket of “was carried, was done, was this and was that.”   Oh, and pluperfect constructions where they weren’t needed.    Also temporal glitches.   It helps to keep things in order, except when you intend to have them scrambled, right?  Right.  FIRST they did this, then because that happened they did this other thing, the results of which caused yet another action.

This doesn’t mean I’m down to the fine-combing, really, it’s just that some things stick out and I deal with them then, even if it’s not strictly by my protocol.

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Jul 11

Sailing, Sailing…

Posted: under Crown of Renewal, Life beyond writing, Revisions, the writing life.
Tags: , , , , ,  July 11th, 2013

This will be the last post for awhile because a) deadlines and b) medical stuff–appointments, tests, all that, all taking time out of the writing day.    So I decided to hint at some things coming up in Crown of Renewal, along with the background research that went into them.   I hope this will tide you over for a couple of weeks, while I finish the revisions and the shorter work due for an anthology. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul 03

Online Appearance: Orbit blog (Plus Revision News)

Posted: under Life beyond writing, Revisions, the writing life.
Tags: , , ,  July 3rd, 2013

I have a blog post up at Orbit UK.   It relates to some things we’ve talked about on this blog.  I wrote it awhile back, and it’s only now moved to the front of the queue, but it’s apropos to the first chapter of the next book, in spades.

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Jun 25

Revisions, Revisions

Posted: under Crown of Renewal, Revisions, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  June 25th, 2013

Editor’s revision letter has now joined Agent’s revision comments and I am vanishing into the depths of Crown to work on the first level of revision, the deep structural, or foundation…and then the connection between that and the top level (some rooms, as mentioned before, are being added to the whole)…and then the top or finish level.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Jun 20

First Week Out

Posted: under Good News, Limits of Power, Reader Help, Revisions, the writing life.
Tags: , , ,  June 20th, 2013

The first week out is the week that determines (nearly always) whether a book will reach “bestseller” status.     It’s the week that agents watch over,  checking BookScan numbers regularly, checking rankings any place they can find one and making their own calculations of raw numbers v. other books’ raw numbers.   In the first week,  LIMITS sold a few fewer hardcovers than ECHOES, and a few more e-books, to wind up with a modest increase of total hardcover/ebook sales in the US market.   So thank you, all of you who wanted to and were able to buy a copy  in the first week.    Thanks for talking about the books, and introducing others to them.   You’re the ones who keep a writer in bread & butter (and dark chocolate.  Can’t forget the dark chocolate.)    Read the rest of this entry »

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May 24

Nitpicking

Posted: under Crown of Renewal, Revisions, the writing life.
Tags: ,  May 24th, 2013

So today, the nitpicking round it is ongoing, and it’s…always interesting.   Nitpicking has various uses.  One of them can be shortening a book that’s too long (too long defined by publishing economics.)   I think I’ve posted before about some of the shortening strategies.   But this book isn’t too long, so nitpicking is aimed at other goals.   Tyops of course, like that one right there.   Not just letter reversals and misspelled words, but words mistakenly typed in place of others.  “Heard” for “herd.”    “Policed” for “pleased.”  (Don’t ask how I did that one…I don’t know.   Brain burp.  It wasn’t in this book.)   Anything that sticks out as awkward, bothersome, annoying, confusing.   For instance:

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