Friday, December 2, 2016

The purgatory between books. Such a strange feeling, not to be writing.

So the sooner I start again, the sooner I'm out of purgatory.

The task of making "Lucifer's Forge" realistic--or at least, plausible--has been intimidating. But I like the characters and the plot, and I especially like the premise (wildfire fighers versus terrorists.)  It's not like that premise won't remain topical.

I just need to have faith that it will all come together.

This is the first test of my new process. I took a full two months away from this book, so hopefully I come back to it with a new perspective. I intend a full rewrite, beginning to end, devoting almost as much time to the rewrite as I did to the first draft.

This is about upping my game.

I think there are three stages  affecting the quality of a book.

Stage 1.) How much time and planning I put into it before I start.
Stage 2.) The actual process of writing.
Stage 3.) The rewrite.

All three stages are affected by how much time I devote to each one.

Stage 1, I still haven't managed to do much about, mainly because my writing tends to be rather impulsive.

For instance,  after He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named was elected, I looked up "All Along the Watchtower by Bob Dylan because it had the right amount of foreboding to it. I posted it on Facebook with the line: "Bob Dylan: Seer."

For some reason, a short story started coming to me based on the song, so I wrote it. Than a second chapter, and before I know it, I'm writing a novella.

Most of my books seem to start with just these kinds of impulses, and I'm not sure I want to change that.

However, I do occasionally mull over a bigger idea, and for those books, I really need to just pull myself up short and spend a week or two writing notes. For instance, the next Virginia Reed book is going to be about murdered Chinese gold miners in Oregon. So, knowing that, I should sit down and think about it.

Stage 2: I'm happy with this. I've adjusted how much time and how many words I spend each day, how I incubate my creativity, how I fit my real life into the process and so on. I tinker with this, but mostly, I think I've found a very productive method.

Stage 3: This is where I think I can have the most effect. I already know that rewriting is always helpful. I already know that taking time to let it sit is helpful.

So I just need to follow through on this.

The trick for me to to find the proper balance between improving the story and ruining the story. By that, I mean I have a tendency to become rather obsessive, rewriting until I've ruined the story for myself.  It doesn't seem to ruin it for others, may even improve it. But I can't ruin my own stories and keep on writing, so that is something I have to watch out for. it time, both for perspective and to make it not drudgery, is really important. I think a fairly light touch on rewriting is what is needed, not going in and throwing out entire portions or changing things around excessively.

Each time I read a story, I find things to change. But if I do it too often, the words tend to lose meaning, the story fades. Above all, I want to avoid that.

So Stage 3 is a work in progress.

1 comment:

Dave Cline said...

Murdered Chinese gold workers in Oregon...?

Circa 1850's?

I'm familiar with the mining of gold in the Sierras during that time. Powerful monitors that washed the hillsides down into crude sluices. I've dredged gold in the California Sierras, and driven and camped all over that terrain. But there's tons of info on the subject now online too.


Resubmitted version 2.0 of Blue Across the Sea to my acquisition editor. We'll see how red bleeds the page. Version 1.0's editor lashings horrified all who witnessed it; gore covered pages, my desktop ran pink for weeks.