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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Questionable: How Do You Focus on One Plot When Your Book Has Two?

CarolC asked:
You mentioned you needed to focus more on the Nita and Nick romance plot and less on the Cthulhu plot. Could you expand a little on how you do that? What makes the romance the main plot? My Cthulhu plots tend to take over.

The things that make the romance the main plot are that the major events and turning points are about the romance, the theme is tied to the romance, and the climax is about the romance.   Okay, that sounds obvious, so let’s look at this using Nita as the example because ARGH that’s all I think about these days.

Here are the turning point events:

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Questionables: The Writing Process (HaHaHaHa . . .)

Lakshmi wrote:
How do you come up with ideas for a new book? What is your writing process? Has it changed over the years? Do you have a daily word count? Any advice for beating writers block?  I can’t figure out how to plot or outline my WIP. I’ve read the 3 act structure and even tried beat sheets. It gets confusing.

I don’t come up with ideas, the ideas come up with me.  I will do damn near anything to avoid writing.  It’s hard.  I have to work.  I don’t like it.  But then a character starts talking about an idea that my subconscious glommed onto and I tell myself I’ll just write this one bit of dialogue down and pretty soon I’m up to my ass in demons.   Trust me, I don’t go LOOKING for work.  It’s just that sometimes a story grabs onto my leg and I can’t get it off.

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The Other Discovery Draft I’m Keeping

It’s way too short, it’s missing a lot of information, and it ends abruptly (Discovery Draft!) but this one stays, too, with much rewriting in it’s future.  There’s the scene in the apartment with Lily, then the non-scene with the marriage chat, and then Nita goes to work and this stuff happens.  Can I get some agreement now that marriage chat has to go because nothing happens in it?  Thank you.

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A Discovery Draft I’ll Keep

I feel guilty showing you the marrige discussion scene only to tell you it’s too bad to keep; that seems rude.  So here’s a discovery scene I will be keeping.  I’ll cut the hell out of the first chunk of this, the stuff before Nita gets out of the shower, that’s just me following my nose again, but after that the scene works until the end.  It needs an end.  It’s also going to need tightened, of course, because it sprawls (discovery draft!) but once there are two people with conflict in the scene, it moves story and shows character change, so it’s legit.

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Discovery Draft: Why I Was Researching Las Vegas

Since I opened that can of worms by mentioning Las Vegas, here’s the discovery draft of that scene.  You’ll notice that it’s completely unstructured, starts abruptly, rambles, and then just stops; that’s because it’s a discovery draft.  I know it’s terrible.  I haven’t revised it even once.  This is raw Crusie.  And I may decide to cut the whole thing and write a new breakfast scene (there are a lot of breakfast scenes, six I think) with no proposal, so it’s just a placeholder for now.  But this is what happened while I was writing, and why I researched Las Vegas and then discarded it.  

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Visual Discovery Drafting

Krissie and Toni and I talked about the future and the Monday Street books last weekend, and that sent me back to the VooDooPad wiki we’d set up for the entire world of that series.  I hadn’t been back there for three years, so a lot of it was out of date, including the diagrams.  And since in my story, Cat lives in the church, I went back in and redid the church diagram I’d done to show Toni the layout since her Keely was going to be moving through the different levels, too.   And just like that, I was back in the story and I remembered how important those visuals are to me.

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Drafting: Discovery to Truck


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:

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