Visual Stuff

When I wrote with Bob, he used to make me walk the terrain. We’d go to wherever the book was set and talk the story through while we walked around. The one I remember best was in the Carolinas, a big white house on a river, because I was saying things like, “Okay the gazebo for the wedding is over here, and there’ll be furniture on the front porch, maybe a swing, for that scene when the bridge goes in . . .” and Bob was saying things like “The bad guys will dock here and the scuba divers will attack the wedding from here . . .” (No, there was no scuba attack; Bob had a learning curve in writing romantic comedy, aka, nobody we like dies.). I dutifully tramped around after him through the Southern low country for Agnes and we spent one memorable October evening at an amusement park in Pennsylvania where people had chain saws for Wild Ride, but I finally had to admit that it was all worth it because he was right: walking the terrain helps a lot. (This may be why I do so many scenes in diners. I can sit the terrain.)

My version of walking the terrain is collage. Continue reading

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Lily 2

NOTE: The discovery draft in the middle of this post has been revised as the comments came in. Therefore some of the comments won’t make sense any more because I’ve changed the part they commented on. All of the comments made sense in the beginning.

A word about discovery drafts:

A discovery draft is just getting words down on paper. In my case, it’s usually to see what the Girls are up to, so my first discovery drafts are dreadful, rambling things. Hey, you want to see how the sausage is made, you’re gonna see some ugly stuff. In this case, I tried to get into this story all weekend, and it just wasn’t there. The stuff that really caught me? The manuscript illustration, the diner, and Cheryl. I needed a best friend, or at least a friend for Lily, and of course, the love interest who could no longer be named later. Finally this morning, I googled for Norse names again and found one that seemed like it might work (might not), and then because I was dying to, I googled for “manuscript illumination dragon.” And I ended up with the stuff below. Missing is any kind of decent description (I suck at description) of people or place, and any sense of change. That’ll come as I know more, although I already know Lily is thin and sharp and redheaded and nervous, and Fin is big (Viking) and blunt and blond and calm. And none of that is on the page. Discovery draft. First step in the process. Oh, and this is boring. That’s okay, too. If I ever get to a rewrite, it’ll perk up. Continue reading

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Surprise Lily 1

Welcome to the Argh Novel Project, a multi-week exploration of fiction and the process by which . . . okay, it’s just us playing around but that’s good, too. We’re starting with the Surprise Lily first scene because that’s what most of the comments said, although I did some very light editing (took out some unnecessary words and omitted all the “smells bad” stuff because you people kept insisting on historical accuracy). There’s a page under Work In Progress in the blog menu above that I’ll try to keep updated so that all the stuff from this is one place, but that’s about as much organization as I’m capable of. New stuff goes up on Monday, we talk in the comments all week, on Friday I try to synthesize and you can comment on that, I write on Saturday and Sunday, and on Monday we start all over again. Lather, rinse, repeat. If this gets boring or it doesn’t work, we’ll do something else. No rules (some guidelines, no Should, no worries. Argh People, start your engines:

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The Argh Novel: Here’s the Plan

So the plan is to brainstorm Surprise Lily (overwhelming preference) and then I’ll write whatever comes out of our brainstorming that week, and then we do it all over again until we get tired and wander off. Brainstorming should be as free form as possible, but we are gonna need some guidelines here.

First a schedule. I’m thinking I put up the new stuff on Mondays, we talk about it all week (we’ll have Working Wednesday and Good Book Thursday in there, too), we do some synthesizing on Friday, inspired by that I write over the weekend, and then we start all over. So Monday is the product of the previous week, and Friday is pulling all the talk from the week together so I have some RMoaGs* to work with.

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Pulling My Train of Thought

I’ve been reading your comments on the Lily opening, and I’ve realized that you’ve put a lot more thought into this story than I have, probably because I’m not going to write it. But it made me think about how I got to that scene, because the last thing I needed to do was start a new book. Of course, part of it was just a way to avoid cleaning the house and working on Nita, there’s always that. But after that, it pretty much went like this:

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Today in Overthinking: Identity and the Jar in Tennessee

One of my favorite poems is Wallace Stevens’ “Anecdote of the Jar.” I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately for several reasons, and it’s just occurred to me that it might be a great metaphor for teaching the impact of identity in characterization. It’s such a slippery concept, and I’ve never thought I was particularly good at getting it across, but then I recently went back to the poem for the reasons and thought, “Oh, it’s right there.” So let’s try this again (waving to McDaniel students).

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New Month, New Book, New Proposal, Argh

Because I must get a proposal done before Nita is finished, I have started on a new book. Yeah, I’m not thrilled about that either; I love the book but balancing two narratives in my head is not a good idea, especially since one is overworked and the other is nascent, but here we are. At least it’ll make a nice change for you all since I’ll be bitching about Alice (aka Haunting Alice) instead of Nita (aka The Devil in Nita Dodd).

So what’s a proposal you ask, and how am I making one for Alice? (You have to ask because I need a blog post.).

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Questionables: The Index

Every now and then, I throw open the comments to writing questions, and then take the next month or so to answer them all at length.  Below is a sorted list of all the answers up to July 1, 2019.  You can also search for “Questionable” since all the titles begin with that, and all the posts are tagged that.   There’s some repetition of questions in there–we’ve been doing this a long time and there’s been no organization so people couldn’t check to see what had been asked–but all the answers are there.  Organized.  Easier to find.  Progress.

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