Yep, That Critique Response Is Coming Right Up. But First . . .

So I’m behind. The plan is to get the critique response up on Sunday. There were a lot of comments–you guys do good work–and I’m still sifting through everything.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on a lot of different aspects of the book because as one thing shifts, it shifts the thing next to it, and it becomes like a giant box of gears, turning in all directions. And one of the directions it went in was toward the collages. In the beginning, still under the influence of Lucifer, I used Tom Ellis, the star of that show, as my placeholder for Nick. That wasn’t right–no shade to Mr. Ellis who is very good on the show–because that wasn’t my story and it definitely wasn’t my kind of hero. That collage looked like this:
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A Word About Curio

One of my worst habits is taking notes on graph paper (I like graph paper) and then losing the paper. Or making so many changes that the whole thing becomes meaningless. And as the words mount up, so does the paper. Then back in the computer I’m making sticky notes to myself, and long pages of notes that are just words that I never look at again.

This is not efficient. Curio is efficient. Continue reading

Zo's First Story Retcon Collage

So I haven’t put any more words on paper, but I’ve figured out the major problem with the first story/chapter which was two-fold:
1. Zo wasn’t doing anything except trying to escape with the kids. I need a protagonist with a goal. And now I know how to do that in this story/chapter/whatever.
2. The mood was so grim, and I didn’t know how to lighten it because, hello, somebody’s trying to kill her. So I collaged with the elements I knew were in there, searching for period illustrations for the people, and by George, I think I’ve got it. All the people illustrations are Leyendecker except for one Mucha and one Coleman:
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The Monday Street Collage: More Progress

Since I posted the beginning of the collage, I thought you might like to see the progress. Actually, I thought, “I need a blog post and I have a picture of the collage,” but seeing the progress is also a factor. Again, this is just visual note-taking to keep me in the book; nothing here is set in stone, it can all change, but the stuff that happens in my brain while I’m doing this is so valuable that I don’t care how much stuff I rip off and move around or how messy it is. Not an artwork, a visual notebook. And here’s where I am now . . . Continue reading

The Birth of a Collage

So Saturday night, I’ve been thinking about the story, and I feel the need to collage. I need to see the church and the tavern and the street, I need to get the tone and mood of the story down. It’s slippery. I want a fun world but not a farce. I want darkness but not dystopia and dread. I need a visual. So I take a nap and dream about building this collage and when I wake up, I haul all my boxes and bags that should be labeled “Wood Crap” out and start going through them. At 6AM, I have the major part of the collage built, just need the base and the back board and a lot of spray paint. I go to bed, get a solid six house of sleep, get up and make the base (a lousy job, but it’s collage not part of my house, so no worries) and the backing board (I love the way the first coat of spray paint mottles on wood, just like a night sky) and then put it all together, badly because I’m thinking about the story, not about what I’m building. By Sunday at five, I have the base structure of the collage built. After this, it’s paint and paper and found objects stuck on as I tell the story to myself and write it down, an ongoing visual notebook. It’ll take months to finish this and the story, but for right now, I have the start of my collage and the start of my book. Here’s the step by step version. Please ignore the mess that is my house and front walk. Thank you.

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Collaging Character

We’re talking about collage this week in the McD class, and one of the hardest things to get across is that collage is not illustration. While it’s perfectly fine to google for specific things in your story, what you’re really looking for is the look and feel of the narrative, and nowhere is that more important than in the characters.

It’s tempting to just pick one face to represent your character and leave it at that, but I’ve found that it’s too limiting, especially if you’re using an actor in a particular role. At that point, you’re really just using somebody else’s character, so I’ve found it’s easier to visualize my people if I choose multiple faces to represent them. For example, here’s Tennyson from “Cold Hearts:” Continue reading

The Three-Goddesses Chat: Book Collages

This is the sixth in a series of Three Goddess Chats, brought to you by Krissie (aka Anne Stuart and Kristina Douglas), Lucy (Lucy March aka Lani Diane Rich), and Jenny (Jenny Crusie), who meet in a chat-room called ThreeGoddesses to talk about everything. Most writers have discovery methods, techniques they use to brainstorm their stories and keep them in the world of the book. The Three Goddesses favor soundtracks and collage, and today’s topic is collage. (Click on the images to see them full size.)

Jenny: Collage is basically cutting and pasting your notes for the book in picture form. It’s a way to get past words, which we’re already using a lot of to write the book, and go to images and objects that evoke the tone and spirit of the book, the same way soundtracks do. In fact, collages with soundtracks can be lifesavers for novelists. Continue reading

Alison Does Great Collage

About a million years ago (okay, probably about four or five years ago), I taught at a beach retreat and met Alison, a terrific writer who wanted to be a better writer. Toward the end of the retreat, I did a collage workshop and Alison caught fire and did something amazing. Then after the retreat, she did something even more amazing: she turned collaging into notetaking, plotting, and real art, which she showed me when I met her again at a local RWA meeting. I said, “Send me those so I can put some of this up on Argh,” and she did. Except she sent it to me at the exact moment I was changing from an old laptop to a new laptop and I missed a couple of e-mails when I changed over. Fast forward three years later and I’m finally cleaning off the old laptop because my now three-year-old newer one is having battery troubles, and there’s Alison’s e-mail with a jpg of her note cards and one of her collage pages. Look at this (click on the images to make them larger):
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