For this, my 200th post, I have a very important announcement to make: I chickened out. I finished the one-pass rewrite of the Chapter formerly known as 13 of Meet the Larssons today (on the train). Attentive readers may recall that I said that finishing the rewrite of Chapter 13 (as it used to be called, before I cut the first several chapters) would be difficult because my main character was going to have a date, he was going to take a lady in whom he is romantically interested and go out for a fancy dinner. This would be a difficult scene for me to write because the Green Eyed Siren and I have children, and while we occasionally go out for parties and other social obligations, I cannot remember the last time we simply went out to dinner.
I know that you’re thinking that I must have tremendous creative powers to write this kind of scene with so little recent experience on which to base it. Unfortunately, my creative powers provied just slightly less tremendous than needed. However, it occurred to me as I wrote the scene immediately before the date scene that it would be better for the plot — and for my MC, who was feeling a little too good about himself — if the lady in question were to cancel dinner. Not permanently, and not out of any ill will toward my MC, but dinner is definitely off.
I had discovered a way out. I may have the female lead cancel dinner three or four more times during this rewrite, because it’s more useful to the plot and it saves me from having to figure out what the hell they’d talk about over the bread sticks.
So I’m a big chicken. There you go. But Chapter not-13 is so totally done done donnity done, so I don’t care. Up next: Chapter soon-to-be-something-other-than 14!
So last night I put a bullet in Chapter 13. There will still be a chapter number 13, of course; something has to come after 12, and before 14, but it won’t be this one. I think that of the 15 pages in the original chapter, I’ll keep maybe 5, heavily edited.
There are three points in the book that require a complete rewrite because of the changes to the story arc that I have mapped out; this chapter is the first of these points. Once I finish the rewrite of this chapter, I’ll move more quickly for a while. I hope. I’m up to page 142 as of last night, and only that far because I gave up and brought pages on the train with me.
Here’s what the manuscript looks like these days:
Meet the Larssons manuscript, Jan. 15, 2009
The problem with doing so much rewriting is that I’m not sure it’s any better than what I wrote originally.
I went to a support discussion group for novelists on Monday night, which was very interesting. It’s the fourth meeting of the group, so I was sort of coming in the middle. I had the feeling everyone else had been an English major, which I emphatically was not, so I hadn’t read most of the books that came up in discussion. It didn’t matter, though, and I mouthed off as blithely as I did when I hadn’t done the reading for classes in college. It was fun to talk about writing with other writers live, face-to-face. Not that there’s anything wrong with you people out here on the intertubes, it’s just that most of you are figments of my imagination. The group meets once a month, and I’m already looking forward to the next meeting.
That’s it for today. I just wanted to document that I continue to plug away. I endure, which is more than anyone will be able to say about this ^(*&^*# novel.
I’m typing this out a bit at a time while we’re decorating the new, artificial Christmas tree. I’ve got a pumpkin spice soy latte from the Starbucks around the corner, and we’re listening to The Cinnamon Bear, a children’s Christmas serial from the days of old time radio. We listen to The Cinnamon Bear every year, usually one episode a day, but this year we kept forgetting to hunt down the CDs so now we’re catching up on two weeks of episodes all at once, thrilling to the adventures of Judy and Jimmy as they search through Maybeland with Paddy O’Cinnamon, the Crazy-Quilt Dragon and their friends as they try to recover the silver star for the top of their Christmas tree. “Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without the silver star,” as Judy always says. (One caveat: I linked to a set of the CDs on Amazon, but it isn’t the same set we have, which isn’t available anymore, so I can’t vouch for the sound quality.)
Junior pointed out that in real life, it really is Christmas, because we have our silver star for the top of our tree. What do you put on the top of yours, if you have one?
How many miles did you — oh, never mind: Yeah, I skipped the run altogether today. Junior is sick (still? again? who knows?), and was a lot needier than last Sunday morning. Also, we went to two holiday parties last night, which were great fun and left me a wee bit tuckered out. I did get a couple of 4+ mile runs in during the week and Unfocused Girl and I went to taekwondo yesterday for the first time in three weeks, so I haven’t been a complete lump.
What’s been playing on the iPod? Among my regular podcast subscriptions, J.C. Hutchins has a cool series of video podcasts about a mysterious silver case and a sinister videogame release; Mur Lafferty released episode #106 of I Should Be Writing (“Don’t Panic!”); and Escape Pod has pushed out several episodes of flash fiction from its Flash Fiction Contest (the winner: “Mission to Dover,” by Gideon Fostick). Each of these podcasts is available through the link to the podcaster’s site and through iTunes. Last week I posted about Writing Excuses, which I found from the recommendation of another blogger (unfortunately, I’ve forgotten who — it was a blog I came across during some semi-random surfing). That same blogger also pointed me to The Kissy Bits, a podcast from 2005-2006 about writing romance. The host, Kiki, is an aspiring chick-lit author. I don’t know who her intended audience is for the podcast, but in the episodes I’ve listened to (#8 through the final episode, #17, which are all available on iTunes; all episodes, including #1-#7, appear to be available on her blog), she has done a nice job explaining to those of us who don’t read romance novels the different character archetypes, plot skeletons, and given solid advice on writing the “kissy bits.” I plan to listen to the first seven episodes this week. In one of the blog comments, Kiki says she may come back with more episodes in 2009 — I hope she does. As always, I appreciate any recommendations (and if you make a recommendation in the comments, I won’t lose it).
How’s the writing going? Not badly at all. The One-Pass Revision of Meet the Larssons is going slowly but well. I’m through page 105, and I just finished what used to be Chapter 10 and is now Chapter 3. I’m still doing at least as much rewriting as editing, but I now have several pages in my “done” pile that have just a few minor edits instead of looking like I broke open a fountain pen on top of them.
Actually, just two, but still. Here they are:
The outlining for Project Hometown is going well, too — up to 6,125 words as of Friday evening. I hope to finish all of the minor character synopses this week, and then move on to the expanded plot synopsis.
As I mentioned before, the Mrs. and I went to two parties last night: one given by neighbors, the other given by friends we know through my office. At the party given by our neighbors, my wife ran into Mary Osborne, a woman she had met at this neighbor’s house a few months ago; they got to talking, and the Mrs. found out that Mary is also an unpublished novelist, so the Mrs. introduced us — we were on our way out, so we only had a minute to chat, but it was an interesting experience, because since I’ve started writing I haven’t met any other unpublished writers, except for the members of the one crit group meeting I attended. Mary’s got two books finished and her website — which has the first chapter of each available for download — just went live.
What was interesting about the whole experience is that if I had been left to my own devices, there would have been no chance at all that I would have learned that Mary was a novelist. Because I’m not very good at conversations that go past “what do you do?” If you’ve got a day job and write fiction at night, or early in the morning, or whatever, you’ve got to be really confident in your writing (or really disenchanted with your day job) to say “I write novels” or “I write science fiction” or “I write chick-lit” in response to that question. Maybe Mary does. I don’t. Someday I will, but not yet.
One more thing: Saint Lucia Day was great. The cinnamon rolls were very tasty (and we had to change our sheets because of all the crumbs), the coffee was delicious, and Unfocused Girl was very cute in her Lucia gown and battery-powered candle-bedecked crown. Here’s a picture to prove it:
Then we sat around watching the Swedish chef on Youtube. Here’s a sample:
because I’m starting to HATE Test Tube Beneficiary. I’ve been through it twice since Saturday morning, marking my changes using Pen and Paper v. 1.0. I’ll type them in tonight, then print off a clean copy for Mrs. Unfocused to review. If at all possible, I want to get TTB out the door by next Monday; otherwise, there’s a very real possibility that I’ll feed it to the shredder.
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