One way to describe the difference between discovery drafts and truck drafts is that discovery drafts are “this happens and then this happens and this happens,” and truck drafts are “and this is what those things mean.” The way to do that isn’t by telling the reader what the stuff means; it’s by putting the action on the page in a way that leads the reader to interpret subconsciously what it means. Structure is one excellent way to communicate meaning. Continue reading
So. The next chunk. It’s boring.
That’s not exactly true, Nita almost gets killed, so that’s good, but there’s still too much chat. (I love dialogue.) And Nick’s stuff is deadly dull. The structure doesn’t help; it’s two scene sequences spliced together which insures that one of those sequences will be annoying because it’ll take people away from the one they liked. So here’s what I need to do: Continue reading
So the first part of Act One is two parallel scenes: Nita vs. Button and Nick vs Vinnie. Or, if you will, two determined drunk people against two determined sober people. In the first scene, Nita wins because she convinces Button it’s important to get out of the car and investigate. In the second scene, Nick wins because he terrorizes Vinnie into giving him information. And both winners want the same thing: To find out what’s going wrong on the island and get the person who ordered Joey’s death. The scenes are parallel, but they’re not identical.
The key to parallel scenes is to make them enough alike that they feel as if they belong together, that they’re part of a whole, but keep them different enough that people don’t feel as though they’re reading the same scene with different people. Then having introduced two powerful (hey, they won) protagonists, it’s time to bring them together while developing the plot. In this case, the plot is complex enough that introducing their relationship is going to take more than one scene. In fact, it’s going to take a scene sequence. Continue reading
The opening scene of any story should be (if I’m writing it, your mileage may differ) the transition from the stable world into the unstable. That doesn’t mean that everything is hunky dory at the beginning of the scene, there can be a lot of trouble, but it’s the usual trouble, nothing new, the protagonist’s world is still working the way he or she expects it to. And then Something Happens that turns the stable world into an unstable one. Continue reading
One of the things that charting an act can do (once you’re at the truck draft stage) is give you the synopsis of the act. Yes, I know synopses usually are for entire stories, but if you think of each act as a story in itself (and I do), then an act synopsis is a huge help because if you can tell yourself in one paragraph the plot of an act, you can hold the shape of that act in your head as you revise. A discovery draft is “this happens, and then this happens, and oh look what just showed up, and then this happens and wait this happened earlier, and . . .” It’s incoherent because it’s not supposed to be coherent, it’s supposed to be creative and free and anything goes.
The truck draft has to be coherent. Continue reading
I woke up this morning with one of those She/He blurbs in my brain. I have no idea, it’s not dreamwork, the last thing I did before I fell asleep was work a crossword. What was interesting about it, as I fought my way awake (very slow waker-upper here), was how it pointed out the weaknesses in the story. It’s not a good blurb, but evidently the Girls weren’t interested in good blurb, they were shrieking at me to fix my protagonist.
Here’s the bad blurb: Continue reading
So I’ve been cutting the hell out of the breakfast scene, and it’s no longer 4400 words. Now it’s 3400. Which means I need to go back in there and hack some more, at least another 600 words, plus I need to add a couple of sentences from the lunch scene. So it’s gonna be awhile. In the meantime, there’s an Easter Egg in the drafts you’ve read so far. In all honesty, I don’t expect anybody to get it because the reference is to a book I published more than a decade ago and it’s really, really obscure. On the other hand, you like puzzles. So there’s a single word in the stuff you’ve read so far that ties this book to some of my other stories.
If nobody gets it by tomorrow night this time, I’ll tell you what the word is. And it’ll still be obscure. When I plant an Easter Egg, I plant it deep.
Yeah, it’s too obscure. I’ll give you the word:
After playing with Nita’s blurb yesterday–and thank you all for your help–I wanted to see how the last pass compared to the pros, so I went back to Saturday and Sunday’s Book Bub e-mails and pulled out the blurbs that had plots that were most like Nita’s. This is not to trash Book Bub’s blurb writing; as we found out yesterday, it’s damn hard to sell a story in fifty words. I just wanted to see what happened when I slotted Nita’s characters, identities, and basic plot into existing blurbs. Here’s what I got:
I am swamped today, but I stopped to read the Book Bub e-mail and remembered that Nita still needed a blurb. This one is awful. Fix it, please.
I’ve been thinking about socks lately because one of my fave online shopping places has new designs in, and I’ve been buying one design I love–“Fight Like A Girl”–for everybody. And at roughly the same time I’ve started sinking into who Nita is.
I know she wears all black because she’s so driven that she doesn’t have time for clothes, and because it absorbs heat, and because it fits her mood most of the time. Also, if everything’s black, it all matches. But I thought she’d have a secret lust for color, and that her big sister would know about it, and she’d buy her something that was wildly colorful that she could keep hidden. My first thought was underwear, but I’d done scenes with Liz and her t-shirts and underwear and it didn’t feel right.
And then I saw the “Fight Like a Girl” socks, and I remembered that when I’d gone in for the eye surgery, the nurse looked at my feet and said, “You win best socks of the week” (different socks, same store), and I thought, “That’s it. Socks.” And then I started searching for the Socks That Nita Would Wear.
They’re fabulous. Continue reading