Book Done Yet? Nope.

Still trying to figure out how to fix the beginning.
Still figuring out the antagonist’s big plan.
Still trying to get the yard work done and the dogs to the vet and the laundry . . . never mind.

And now back to the WiP.

Person of Interest: “Asylum” and “YHWH” and the Shape of Story

The last two episodes that make up the fourth season finale of Person of Interest, “Asylum” (Andy Callahan & Denise The) and “YHWH” (Dan Dietz and Greg Plageman), are another crisis point, which brings up the problem of the long running series: How much worse can things get without the turning point of the season finale being just one more horrible thing that happens to people we love? Continue reading

Book Done Yet?: First Sentence Submission

My mentor for my MFA, Lee K. Abbott, was a terrific teacher. Half of what I babble about in here, Lee taught me. Sittin’ and thinkin’? That’s pure Lee. And now as I’m ripping apart the beginning of Nita again, I’m thinking of something else he used to torture us with: The One Sentence Submission.

“Suppose,” he’d say, “that you could only send the first sentence of your story to an editor. And if he or she liked it, then you could send the second sentence . . .” Continue reading

The Case for Sittin’ and Thinkin’: No for Me, Yes for Krissie

It’s not easy being my friend.

Krissie wrote me about the book she’s finishing today [details redacted to prevent spoilers on the next Anne Stuart novel):

“So okay, I’ve shut up my internal editor but a raven named Crusie is sitting on my shoulder and saying “nevermore” and “no flashback” and cawing in my ear, so I figure I better confess my sins (not changing them, just confessing). Continue reading

Book Done Yet?: The Unbearable Slowness of Set-Ups

Putting up all of these WiPs has given me a good look at a common problem in first drafts: the terrible slowness of setting up the world. It’s a conundrum: I have to hit the ground running with the plot but I have to establish the ground on where the plot is happening, not just the geography but the population. And although I have the first act to do that completely (roughly the first third of the novel) before I have to stop introducing new things and just start powering through the action, I really need to do some things in the first two chapters (roughly 10%), some things in the first chapter (roughly 5%) and some things on the first page (roughly first 200 words). It’s almost impossible to do that well in a first draft, which is why every first draft I’ve ever written has needed to be cut back. A lot. Usually by about ten percent, sometimes by as much 25%.

That means that the first page has to establish the mood, tone, world, and–most important of all-protagonist. The reader comes in looking for somebody to root for, and I don’t want to make her wait. I’ve never gone back and looked at all the openings of my books, but I’m betting the later ones all start with the heroine heading into some kind of conflict. Why conflict? Because two of the best ways to show character are action and what other characters think of my character.

So I have . . .
Continue reading

Person of Interest: If/Then/Else: Point of View as Meaning

POI_0411_Option_833333_Chance_of_Failure

My love for “The Devil’s Share” as great emotional storytelling will probably never be surpassed, but “If/Then/Else” gets my vote for the most mind-boggling forty-five minutes of scripted TV I’ve ever seen. And it’s all because of point of view, the wonkiest of writing techniques.

Point of view is a pain in the ass to navigate because it’s always a win/lose choice: Continue reading

Person of Interest: Wingman: Multi-Thread Plotting

One of the major problems of this season is that it’s so damn complex. Finch has to be a professor and deal with students, Shaw is still selling perfume and driving the getaway car for thieves, Reese is buried under paperwork while trying to save people, and only the Machine knows what Root is doing. And then there are the numbers . . .

“Nautilus:” Samaritan is recruiting, luring a brilliant young mathmetician into danger to dismantle a Blackwater analog that’s in competition with Samaritan. Finch tries to save her, but in the end, it’s Samaritan who rescues Claire and enlists her on its side. This is not good.

POI-4x03.11

Which brings us to “Wingman.” Continue reading