Mammon and Max are fun characters for me because they’re amoral (not because they’re demons, but because they’re just made that way) and not particularly venal. Mammon hangs out with those who should be stepped on like bugs, but he really only needs slapped down every now and then, or at least have somebody pull him to one side and say, “If you do that, that would be stupid,” to be a fun if occasionally treacherous person to know.
Enter Max. Continue reading
Part of the discovery process for me is finding images that evoke character. They don’t have to look like the character although that’s always helpful, but the pictures I use as placeholders have to capture the attitude and personality of that character. When I thought about the Demon Island Historical Society, I thought of this Grant Wood painting:
How’s by all of you? We’re having a blizzard here. The power went out for two hours, but I was already in bed typing, so I just put Mona and Milton under the blankets with me–Veronica has issues and so does not burrow–and we stayed fairly cosy. It was wonderful when the lights came back on, though, along with the heat. I love electricity. And now back to work.
Which is figuring out Nick’s body issues. Continue reading
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:
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
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
The first time I wrote Button’s scene, I wrote it in Nita’s PoV. But Button has a big role to play in this book, and I need her PoV, plus Nita’s PoV was just more drunk Nita learning things. The second time I wrote Button’s scene, I wrote it in her PoV, but it was a just-get-it-down-on-paper version. That’s the one some of you read. This is the third rewrite of Button’s scene, trying to add some layers to her characterization. It’s not gonna be the last rewrite, either. There’s a lot more to Button that I already know about and I’m going to learn a lot more as I move through the book. This is why I always laugh when somebody asks seriously, “How many drafts do you do?” “Oh, two, three thousand . . .” * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Continue reading
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
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:
As some of you may remember, there’s a bar in the book called Hell Bar. Because I am not creative. No, because the guy who owns the bar is not creative. He lives on Demon Island, Demon Island gets a lot of tourists, he designed a t-shirt thirty years ago and made sure the only place you could buy them was his bar. They were pretty awful, plus his bar is in the bad part of the bad part of town, so he doesn’t get many tourists. All of which means that anybody who has a Hell Bar t-shirt has been to Hell Bar. A CLUE. Especially because it keeps turning up on bodies, demons, etc.
So last night, I designed a Bad T-shirt: