Revision Time!!!!

Revision Angst

I was planning on spending some time with Elliot and the rest of the Children of Midian, polishing it up based on some recent agent advice, and then querying. However, after a long week away from Mythos, I've made the executive decision to return to the Knucklehead City. *snorts*

Knucklehead City, you say? When I began to write Mythos, I had absolutely nothing in mind for a title, so I figured, let's just throw a working title up there on the first page, you know, for chuckles. And the working title was Creatures of Knucklehead City. Or, Creatures for short. It wound up as Mythos much later on.

In any case, I printed the manuscript yesterday - double-spaced, double-sided - loads of recycled paper. And last night, while listening to a combination of fawning over Simon Cowell and numerous performances on American Idol, I started reading. I made it one and a half pages in, before completely re-sequencing the opening paragraphs. So I guess I can say I'm now in revision mode.

Wicked cool. Can't wait till I'm done.


Birth of a Novel, Part 17 - The End

This is the twenty-second and final entry in my Birth of a Novel series of posts, where I talk about the development of my new YA urban fantasy. Yes, twenty-second, even though the post is entitled Part 17.

As when I started writing Mythos, I end the first draft with the little black pug sitting on my lap. Whoops - she just jumped off. Okay, start again...

As when I started writing Mythos, I end the first draft with the little black pug having stepped on my crotch as she leaped off my lap. There. Actually, that's good.In the last few chapters, Zydeco felt the perpetual sting of a paw to the crotch. I will of course not say how I wound up the story. Is it Rocky or Rocky II? Does our hero lose the fight, but prevail nonetheless? Or does he beat the champ? Jeez, this book is nothing like Rocky.

Man, oh, man, was I ever afraid I'd never get to the end of the story. My brain just wouldn't stop coming up with new ways to prolong the action, to figure out more torture for Zydeco and his friends. But I persisted and prevailed like Rocky did against Clubber Lang in Rocky III. *hangs head in shame with yet another Rocky reference*

As I closed in on the end, on resolving the conflict, I couldn't decide if I would have a follow up chapter where you see life returning to a semblance of normalcy a week later, or if I would go for the epilogue and show life a year later. However, when I got past resolving the key conflict(s), it just organically.... ended. I didn't answer every question in its entirety. I think I tied up the loose ends, but didn't provide concrete solutions for everything - and this is what happens to him, and this is what happens to her, and happily ever after, and there will never be another problem again, etc. etc. But life's like that, I think. Ah, well. Technically, there's room for a sequel, but I have no intention of writing one at this point. The story stands on its own.

Now, the whole point of this series of blog posts was to describe the experience of writing the book. I've hopefully articulated some of my moments of exhilaration, frustration, horror, and glee. Occasionally, I shared a snippet of a chapter for everyone to peruse, at least early on. Whether that's drawn any further interest in the book remains to be seen.

My wonderful writer friends in the YA Group on writing.com have provided me helpful critiques all along the way. More are coming and rather than incorporate those critiques as I wrote the first draft, I just filed them away for when I was ready to revise. I've read each and every one of them, and now have to decide what to incorporate.

There have been a couple of common themes, and those will almost certainly get a lot of attention. For one, I realized my author's view of Tameina through Zydeco's eyes hasn't translated well enough to the page. It's a lot more intense than I wrote and I need to fix it. I occasionally suffer from the dreaded writing illness - Well, I know that's how they feel, why doesn't the reader?  It's a chronic thing, but with aggressive treatment, I'm way better now than last year and more so than the year before that.

There's also a list of things I just want to add. I love the judicious use of dreams in fiction, and while draft #1 has none, rest assured the second draft will. The sleepy-time dreams will be foreboding and entail a voice from Zydeco's past.

A couple more days off from Mythos, and then I'm going to read it from start to finish and make lots of notes. I'm not particularly afraid of what I'll find, and that's not because I think it's so awesome. It's all kinds of crap -it's a first draft. No, you see as first draft's go, it's better than any other one I've written to date -- something to do with experience, I think. I hope. I hope I've learned something along the way.

Well, that seems like a pretty good note on which to end the Birth of a Novel chain of posts. And so I will.


Mythos - DONE!!!!!

The most awe-inspiring two words a writer can write.

Mythos is complete.
Birth of a Novel post to follow.


The "Finish Writing the Book" Experience

Let me tell you a little about my "finish writing the book" experience I'm having. I've been writing the closing chapters of Mythos for weeks now. Whereas I allowed my characters to drive much of the earlier part of the book, yours truly has directed events leading up to and through the climax. And it's an odd thing. I see how it ends more and more every day, and my fingers are tap-tap-tapping furiously on the keyboard to get the story there. The more I see, the more prolific the writing becomes. Yep - at the end, I have received "total consciousness", which is nice. Thanks for that riff, Bill Murray.

As the words find their way on screen, the most bizarre ideas come to mind - roads along which I might take my characters, avenues with all sorts of twists and turns, and certainly littered with potholes. As this happens, I envision my characters looking up at me as if I'm in the stratosphere. They dutifully go about whatever business I set before them, but every now and then I catch them shaking their heads. For every unplanned direction I take them, for every shiny new obstacle I place before them, they've got to deal with it, and I need to help them. And in every case, this extends the story. This is why it's taken longer to get to the honest-to-goodness final chapter.

The last ten chapters of Mythos are the "big resolve". All the activity leading up to these chapters was a whole lot of simmering and the occasional bubbling over of conflict. The last ten are the rolling boil, and the foamy water is slopping over the sides of the pot. I knew where I wanted to be ten chapters ago, and with every chapter I wrote, I discovered even more details I needed to cover in the remaining pages. It's been a serious blast and is the sum total reason why I write.
So now, I can finally look myself in the mirror and declare, I am writing the final chapter. Truly. Well, unless I decide to do the epilogue thing. But that's it. Absolutely. There is this one loose end that might prove troublesome, so maybe.... No. It's the end.

Oh, and when it's all done, I'll combe the final three chapters into one last Birth of a Novel post. *sigh* What ever shall I do with my time?


The Robin's Reflection

I came downstairs Saturday to find my wife and daughter staring out a the back window. Rona was waving at my son who preceded me down the stairs. "Get my camera, Scott. Hurry!"

Now, we've had some interesting wildlife saunter through the yard of this house and our last house--black bear, wild turkey, deer, rabbits, a rabbit slaughtering eagle--so I wasn't jumping up and down. "What is it?" I said. "Another deer?"

The ladies of the house gave their heads a vigorous shake as my son returns with a camera. As far as cameras go in my house, on the desk in the office lay three digital cameras. One is very old, has no batteries, and frankly should've been tossed a long time ago. Another one is a relatively cheap spare camera the kids sometimes use, but doesn't actually have a memory card in it, so it too is useless. Then there's my wife's tidy little camera. My fancy shmancy camera is not on the desk because, well, it's mine!

So, which camera does my son bring? The cheapo with no memory card. My wife sees him carrying the wrong camera and while I wore a bemused look, she shooed him away and told him to get the other camera. Mind you, he knows which camera is hers, but quite often teenage boy brains don't function properly. So he disappears into the office again while Rachel is squealing at the back window.

Despite my lack of coffee, I was about ready to demand to know what was out there, but Scott reappeared with another camera. As I said, teenage boy brains are not wired to actually find things in plain sight. He'd brought the very old and very battery-less camera nobody has touched since we moved into this house nearly five years ago, and that was only because we unpacked it.

At this point, Rona is nearly apoplectic with annoyance at his inability to find the right freakin' camera. Let me now cut to the chase. He finally brings the right camera, and I get a look through the window.

There's this big 'ol robin sitting on my Scott's old pitch-back (for practicing baseball pitching) in the yard. Without warning it takes off, heading straight for the me. It bumps into the window, flaps its wings as it bubbles up and down in front of the glass, then zooms off for a moment and lands again on the pitch back. The bugger kept on with this all morning. At one point, I went outside and shooed the thing away because I thought it might bend its beak on the glass and because the noise was getting annoying already.

But of course it came back. And it's been back every day since. Supposedly, this happens all the time - a bird sees another bird, which is just its own reflection and decides it's mating season. I'm told that the same bird might come back every year as well! It looks like I'm going to have to mount a scarecrow outside the window, otherwise we're going to be living with the daily knocking from the robin's reflection.


Birth of a Novel Part 16 - Emotional Climax

This is the twenty-first entry in my Birth of a Novel series of posts, where I talk about the development of my new YA urban fantasy. Yes, twenty-first, even though the post is entitled Part 16.

I think the title of this post is pretty catchy. I'm actually three chapters along, but this is about the first two of them. Mythos is experiencing the big climax right now. And frankly, I should be on to the denouement, but I got a bit sick earlier this week, which rendered me thoroughly useless, disabled, unable to read, much less write. It sucked. Royally. Dude - I can't wish this on anyone.

Once again, I digress. So, yeah, Mythos and climax. This is one long sucker, the first two chapters of which I've decided are really the emotional climax. Zydeco experiences betrayal, which in and of itself is a tough thing for a person living or literary. Things are already pretty bad when he realizes what's happened, and you'd think this is the final "pile on Zydeco" wrestler move.

Not so fast.

As an author, I've learned a few things about the treatment of the characters I've created. You need to treat them not like a parent, but more like an unbalanced deity. I love them to death and take enormous pride in their accomplishments As my mother would say, I "kvell" when good things happen. And then I'll turn around, make their lives incredibly miserable, and rejoice and my evil accomplishment.

Where I'm going with this is that no matter how bad things get for your protagonist, you can always make them worse. A little creativity goes a long way. Think like an evil overlord. You'll do fine.

So, while Zydeco may feel like he's at the bottom of a Chinatown dumpster, it can and will get worse. A LOT worse. But not before I give him some false hope. You see, I am such a bastard, I amaze even me. Now this being a first draft, I'm sure it'll all come across as slightly contrived and Zydeco won't appear as fazed as he ought to. The structure is all there, however. And I think I've got a pretty sweet cliffhanger at the end of the first of these two chapters. My, oh my, I certainly believe it's true.

Now the next two chapters I'm working on -- which bring us to the end of Mythos -- are all about how Zydeco deals with these awful circumstances. Will he fail or will he overcome? Is it Rocky or Rocky II? Only yours truly knows the answer.

To read about the last chapter, journey back to the previous entry.

To see how it all ends, read the final post