So Let’s Talk About the Romantic Moment

It’s Valentine’s Day, which for me is the day that the cinnamon jelly hearts go on sale. Not that I’m allowed to have any, but still, I know they’re out there. It’s also the day I’m doing a romance pass on Nita’s first act. Huh. I just realized that “romance pass” may not be the best term for the rewrite in which I go through and try to remember that I’m setting up a romance-to-come. Which is also probably not a good term to use. Uh, rewrite to foreshadow a future romance? Not as catchy, but then not snicker-worthy, either. Which reminds me, the Snickers in the pink foil wrappers are on sale today, too. Continue reading

Drafting: Discovery to Truck

The process of moving from a discovery draft (which is just writing to see what the story’s about) to a truck draft (which is an early draft that isn’t great but is probably good enough to publish if I get hit by a truck) is mostly about deconstructing a scene by beats to see what the hell is in there, and revising that to what’s supposed to be in there, once I’ve gotten a good overview of the act or entire book. I’ve done about a zillion drafts of the first breakfast scene, but they were all discovery drafts. It’s time to get serious about this sucker. For one thing, this scene over 3900 words and for another, it goes nowhere. it’s an overwritten, wandering, bloviating mess.

Here’s the rewrite analysis:

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Act One: Getting Closer

So this week, I cogitated.

My first act was too long and too wordy. My fourth PoV was introduced too late. The threads of the main plot and the subplots weren’t coherent. The book didn’t know what it wanted to be. So I opened my Nita Curio file and did some mapping.

Story mapping for me (not necessarily for anybody else) is taking the essence of a scene–Protagonist and Goal, Antagonist and Goal, who wins, what plot does it move?–and reducing it down to a Curio card, and then arranging the cards in chronological order in columns that identify the setting. My curio cards look like this: Continue reading

Legends of Tomorrow Binge Watch: Episodes 2-9 & 2-10 : “Legends of the Lost Art’ and “The Legion of Doom” and What the Hell Storytelling

legends-binge-logo-snartless Since this appears to be Go For Broke week here on Argh Craft, it’s a good time to go back to Legends of Tomorrow because in its new insane season, the writers have been consistently saying, “What the hell, let’s do THIS” and just hitting the show out of the SF/comic book show park. This show was once consistently rated the worst of the Arrowverse–Arrow, The Flash, Legends, and this year Supergirl–and now it’s more often than not rated the best. That is entirely due to the writers room stocking a lot of good weed or just deciding that if it feels good, they should write it. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun with Dumb TV. If they bring back Snart, this will be my favorite show. Oh, hell, it’s my favorite show now, but bring back Snart anyway.

Where was I? Right. The pleasures of watching a show (or reading a story) where the writer says, “What the hell, why not?” They are many. Continue reading

Expectation and Reversal: A Video Explanation

We’ve talked about setting up expectations and then reversing them in a way that makes the reader/viewer see things in a different way so they feel engaged and delighted instead of swindled (the infamous Gotcha). I love this video because it’s a great short visual for that concept:

My fave is the lightbulb that lights up instead of breaking; not just a reversal but a delightful surprise.

Originally on Vimeo.

Setting and Placeholders

Sooner or later, I need pictures of my settings. This can be difficult because I’m making stuff up, so I end up doing really sloppy photoshop work. As with all the collages I use, the setting pictures aren’t art work, they’re brainstorming exercises (while I’m working on them) and touchstones (while I’m writing.) The best thing about them is the process: searching for things that feel like the setting (instead of look like the setting), thinking about what the picture needs, the details that my characters would see, the way the environment around it looks . . . all of that helps me get past “It’s a bar on a rainy cobblestone street.”

The book got far enough this week that I really needed the exterior of Hell Bar. Continue reading

Hostile Architecture

For somebody who hates to describe things in her writing, I’m a big fan of setting. I think of setting as another character, as context that changes the conflict in a scene, as barriers and enablers, as a huge carrier of theme, so I keep Pinterest boards of pictures I find that evoke setting in the same way that I keep pictures of people that evoke character. That is, just as I’ll have multiple placeholders for a single character because I’m trying to evoke a mood/personality instead of the way somebody actually looks, I’ll have multiple pictures of different places to represent the same setting because I want to evoke what it feels like to be there.

Which brings us to hostile architecture.

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Six Drafts

Two of my least favorite questions in interviews are “How long does it take you to write a book?” and “How many drafts do you do?” And of course the answers are “As long as it takes” and “As many as I need,” which is no help to anybody. I think the fastest I ever wrote a book was six weeks (Anyone But You). The longest? Well, if I ever finish You Again, that’s already taken me over a decade. I know there are people who do several books a year, books that people love. I assume those people get a head start: they’re natural storytellers, or they’re obsessive about story, or they don’t care about all the stuff that trips me up that has nothing to do with writing a good book. They’re born writers. I was born to crochet and eat chocolate.

But the thing is, it doesn’t matter why those writers can do that. I can’t. There’s no point in gnashing my teeth about it. This is the path I was given as a writer, and just like those speedy writers would not be improved by slowing down, it’s a disaster if I try to speed up. (Really, I’ve tried.) What helps me to accept that is looking at my process (as much as I have a process; that sounds so organized). It goes like this: Continue reading

Logical Supernatural

I’m not sure why it’s so hard to get the protagonist right. After all, she’s the character the story’s built on, she should be the no-brainer in the bunch. But possibly because I’m so closely connected to her–she’s my best friend while I’m writing the book–and because I don’t want to hurt her–throw rocks at that woman, Jenny–or because I’m viewing the plot so closely through her PoV, I have a heck of a time getting any distance on her. Which means that common sense is my friend. That is, I look at what she’s doing and ask myself, “Is this what a normally intelligent person would do in this situation?” Then I look at the pressures of the situation–a normally intelligent person does not rush into a burning building, but my protagonist would to save her dog–and at her character arc and try to go from there.

What I’m trying to figure out now is how long it would take Nita, an intelligent cop, to accept that the supernatural is real. Continue reading