Friday, July 25, 2008

My Novel's Journey: Pit stop for a short story


Where did this week go? Somehow, I got it into my head when blogging yesterday that it was Monday! Hope you enjoyed my satire. Here's the update on writing.

Last week, the editor of an anthology I wanted to submit to announced that they had half-filled the book already. I decided to stop working on Live and Let Fly and get the story done. It's another DragonEye, and I've thought about the basic plot and character conflicts a long time, so I figured a day or two and I'd be done.

4:30 am Monday morning, I wrote the last words of "Mishmash." It's a terrific story about when Vern and Grace first met, and both were rough around the edges and didn't realize how much they'd need each other. One scene took two days to write and I finally solved it by giving Vern a bad day and letting him get drunk. Since then, I've been creatively tapped and doing necessary but busy-work. However, I did learn some lessons and make some progress that will help me in Live and Let Fly.

For a long time now, I've been trying to make a timeline of the Faerie/Mundane universes, starting with 0AG (0 ante Gap--when the portal between the two universes opened). However, I could never quite get it--was it 4 years or 5 when this happened? Have Grace and Vern been together 15 years or 20? I had a list of events and their rough order, but nothing that gave me the framework. Until I started writing "Mishmash."

I have a family, good friends of Vern's through church, and they play bit parts in many of the stories. Until now, I've been able to get away with approximate ages and being fuzzy on the number and names of most of the kids. This time, however, they demanded more and bigger roles--comic relief, foil, defender, victim. I had to know their birth order and ages. So I opened up my timeline, pulled out all the stories that mention a Costa Kid and got to work. Soon I had the list of the 12 kids, and their actual ages in each story. And when I applied that to my timeline, everything else fell in place according to the kids.

So the lesson of the day is: if you get stuck on something big, try attacking it from a smaller detail. I couldn't figure out the history of my world until I applied it to the lives of one family. Also, don't be afraid to stop, tackle something else, and go back.

This week, I go back to Live and Let Fly. However, I'll leave you with this scene from "Mishmash."

Fave Phrase:
This is the scene that took 2 days and 3 re-writes. The problem was I had a lot of information to get out, but not a lot of words.

The headlines of the Los Lagos Gazette blazed: Grace Dis-Graced: Faerie Nun Resigns Amid Rumors of Magical Misuse and Mental Instability. The Gazette's new dirt-digger, Kitty McGrue, found out about Grace's little episode with Maria and did her own background checks. Turned out Grace, a mage and elite soldier of the Inquisition, spent six months in a Mundane hospital that, among other things, specialized in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. When McGrue couldn't get a straight answer on the reason for Grace's hospitalization, she decided to approach parents for "their reaction." She got one, all right.

I called Grace, not really sure what I'd say or why I was bothering. I got her answering machine, stammered out an offer to set McGrue afire and her little headline writer, too, and felt stupid when I hung up. Jerry Jr. called, wanting to know if I was buying him tickets. When I said I thought it was too suspicious but couldn't commit to actual evil intent, he yelled that I was mean and unfair and hung up.
I finished the novena without any Insight From On High.

I got to the gas station just as the price of ethanol went up.

Some days, I hate my life.

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