So I have now accumulated enough Nita plot that it’s all over the place. Think putting together Ikea or any multi-part kit: You have all the pieces but they’re all spread out; you know how to put them together, but you keep checking the directions; you’ve counted the connectors and you’re pretty sure you’re short a couple, except you’re doing it all in your mind, which cuts down on losing the screws, but ups the screw-up level. It’s time to take a step back and consider the big picture.
That’s when I tell myself the story. Continue reading
I’m getting company this afternoon (YAY) so I’m cleaning, which in this house means getting a backhoe. The thing about cleaning is, it’s pretty mindless except for the “Why is that in here?” moments and the “I should just get a box of garbage bags and put everything into them” moments. That means that I am now productive while staring into space, which is what I’ve been doing for much of June because Discovery Draft sometimes comes with a side order of “Why would that happens?” (Because the Girls want it to.) And “How could that happen?” And What does that mean? (Who care, write the damn book.)
I blame Satan.
Of course, I blame Nick Giordano, too, but if he’d just known his place, I’d have kept him on once I became Devil. As they say in Hell, he made the trains run on time. (Do you know what other human made the trains run on time? Mussolini. That should give you an idea of Nicolas Giordano.) Continue reading
This will be up until about this time on Wednesday. You have been warned.
Let me know if the link doesn’t work.
So I’m back in Discovery Draft for the rest of the book, and it’s terrible. I look at it and think, “Explanation, chat, more chat, something happens!, explanation, more chat . . .” And here’s the really bad part: no antagonist action. It’s just Nita and Nick trying to sort out the aftermath.
But then, it’s Discovery Draft.
The good thing about having worked through the first act is that I know it’ll be fine. That’ll be four thousand drafts from now, but it will be fine. There’s some comfort in that. Nora said once (paraphrasing here) that she could fix a bad page but she couldn’t fix a blank page. The discovery draft is just the first part of the journey, putting the colors on the page, so I’m settling in to admire all the bright, fun scenery as I wander through my story (there’s a dog!). My mind is actually a fun place to be.
So I’ll get serious later and remember I have antagonists after I’ve written my next twenty pages of Rab explaining to Nita how Hell works.
“Are there four separate but not equal antagonists, or one antagonist and three minions [in The Devil in Nita Dodd]?”
There’s always only one main antagonist in a classic linear story because you can only have one climax with the obligatory scene of the protagonist and the antagonist facing each other in final battle.
But you can have subplots that the protagonist and (in this case) her team* have to clear out of the way to get to the Big Bad. In the best of all possible worlds, you have one main antagonist and a couple of subplots that aren’t life or death, say family or work. In this case, which I do not recommend, I ended up with five different factions fighting for different things:
I’m working on the rest of the book now, back in Discovery Draft, but I’m far enough along that I need to know What Would The Antagonist Do?
I have my antagonists. There are four separate groups working on the island, all chasing four wildly different goals with wildly different motivations and led by wildly different people. Unfortunately, I can only have one Antagonist, Nita’s opposite number, the person who’s the greatest danger, the one who’s manipulating the other sub-antagonists, the person Nita will face in the obligatory scene. And praise the Girls, I figured that out. Now all I have to do is develop character and plot a bunch of turning points. Continue reading
One of the weirdest things I discovered early in my career was that a story I’ve been writing on a screen not only looks completely different on the page, it reads completely different on the page.
That’s why a paper edit is crucial. Continue reading
Chapters are useless. They’re arbitrary divisions in a story that serve no purpose except to give readers a chance to put down the book and never come back. Unlike acts, scene sequences, scenes, beats, and all the other narrative units, chapters actually work against structure and meaning: you have to bend the book to make them work.
But they’re standard, so they stay. And I’m about to print out the first act which means I have to figure out where the chapter headings go so I put in transitions between the @#$%^&* chapters I don’t want in there anyway. Continue reading
I’m working on the assumption here that somebody out there is interested in this wonky stuff. If you’re not, feel free to skip. There’s math in this post.
So the Breakfast Scene at the end of the second mini-act was 3,524 words, and it needed to be a lot less. I don’t like scenes that are over 2500, even transition scenes like this one, so that was my upper limit. I ended up at 2560, so pretty good but still more cuts to come on the paper edit. Here’s how I did it.