The Wedding and the Dark Tower

Tuesday was a success. I finished chapter 13 and went to the library. Apparently the Salem Library either has no hardback copies of ‘The Gunslinger’, or they’re all checked out. Either way, I went home with this beauty.

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And I am bewitched.

It’s an odd book, to be sure. It’s this jilted, and stilted view into the world of the Dark Tower series. Nothing really makes sense yet, although I’m gathering the pieces in the hopes that it will all come together.

I have a feeling that this is literally just the foundation for the rest of the series. It’s laying groundwork for all that’s to come, but it’s not making it easy on me.

I’ve talked about learning curves here before. I used to think that ‘The Way of Kings’ had a steep learning curve. Yeah… That was gradual compared to this.

I’ve always considered Stephen King as a dialogue/language powerhouse. His books all have this blunt, hard-nosed edge, and yet they flow and can even be beautiful.

But in ‘The Gunslinger’ he’s outdone himself. The characters speak in this dialect that you can tell has it’s basis in English, but the words…. they’re hard to follow. And there are no explanations. You figure it out purely from context. And yet, the actual language of the exposition can be lofty, and I’ve had to google a word or two, which is rare for me.

The world-building is sparse, and done almost exclusively through character, but it works because the world itself is sparse.

I’m excited to see where this ends up, and how the rest of the series progresses.

Anyway, Tuesday was good. I’d planned on Wednesday following suit, but I received a text that derailed that plan.

Trevor’s mom works for a textbook company. They rent and sell textbooks to students all over the country. When those textbooks are sold back or returned, it’s amazing what people will send with them. All kinds of books that they just don’t want anymore.

And so, her boss finds the good ones, whether by content or condition, and stacks them in his office. He sells them all for a dollar a piece, and then the company matches it and donates it to a local food shelter. It’s a pretty cool thing.

Anyway, she put in her notice, and this was my last chance to raid the office, armed with my tip money. So, I left the computer in the car and headed over.

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For $7 this is what I came away with. Minus ‘The Gunslinger’.

And so I’m here before work today, trying to make up for the sacrificed time. But, wedding stuff has absorbed a lot of my time. The invitations we ordered were delivered yesterday, so I’ve been messaging the masses for their addresses, and then writing them all down once and for all.

Then I looked into a friend’s registry because she’s getting married exactly a month before us. And then emailed the photographer about our Engagement photography session next weekend. Then I emailed a potential caterer back.

My to-do list seems to be growing instead of shrinking.

Pay off and pick up wedding bands, as well as have my engagement rings cleaned this weekend. Pick up some more registry cards and then mail ALL invitations by Monday. Dress fitting this coming Wednesday. Manicure next weekend before the photo shoot. Photo shoot itself. Then I need to write and mail Thank You cards from the Bridal Shower.

Oh, and we’re moving on the 20th!

So, I’m sitting here writing this in hopes of warming up my brain to bust out Chapter 14 before 2:30. Probably not gonna happen. But, I’ll get a good chunk done.

I hope.

 

BZ

Adapting and Taking the Plunge

It’s noon and I’m just getting started. Two weeks ago that would have been normal. A refreshing and languishing start to my day. Let the juices sort of work up to a simmer, until come three I’d be writing at a full boil.

But, that’s not my method anymore.

Today I opened. So, alarm goes off at 3:20a, I dress and brush my teeth a la zombie, and I go to work. I was supposed to be off at 9a today, but due to scheduling shenanigans I ended up staying until 11. Then I emailed a potential caterer and took a survey for the guy who runs Write About Dragons.

And here I am.

It’s harder this way. There’s no ramp up, and after an 8 hour day that started before the sun rose, it’s even harder to convince myself to sit at work for an additional 3-5 hours and pump out chapters.

But, I’m here. And I’m sure as hell going to try.

I wrote just over 1,000 words yesterday which was surprising. It came easier than expected and I liked it. So, I’m hoping today will be more of the same and I can finish the chapter.

If I do I have a reward in mind.

Since all my books are packed away in cardboard, I’m going to visit the library today. I want to take a moment here to talk about how awesome the Salem Library is. It’s huge! And full of every kind of book you could imagine. It puts the Chandler Library to shame. Anyway, I decided that I’m going to start reading Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower.’ It’s something I’ve been wanting to read for ages, but have talked myself out of because it’s such an undertaking.

I did the same thing with The Way of Kings. We all saw how much I regretted that.

So, that’s the plan. Write. Read. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I think blog posts might be a bit on the sparse side for a while, at least until I get used to this new schedule. It’s just so hard to get my brain functioning, even with the caffeine.

Anyway, I’ll be back tomorrow blogland. Maybe you could suggest something you want to read about? Since my brain seems short on subject matter. Let me know in the comments.

Catch ya later,

BZ

Things to Consider

I’ve been incredibly silent this last week. I haven’t written here, nor anywhere else. I haven’t read ‘Vessels’ again, as I’d planned. I haven’t done anything.

Except read ‘Words of Radiance’.

The whopping 1,088 page hardback beast of a book has absorbed my every waking moment since Friday night. I’ve lived in Roshar these past few days, my moments away from the book blurry. Almost a haze. I can’t remember driving to work, my shifts are just a thin memory, lifeless. All my living has been in fiction for the past six days.

And last night I finished the book.

As I consider it now, I’m sad. I wasn’t ready to leave. I need to know more about Kaladin and The Kholins. These characters that have come to mean so much to me. And this world. This magnificent creation that is so completely alive. A real place. Sanderson’s words have me wanting to curse by the Almighty and his Storms.

But, I’m waking up. Slowly but surely a functioning member of my life again.

I want to talk a moment about the book signing Friday night. Apparently Portland always treats Brandon well. There were nearly 200 people at this book signing, a new record.

Let me start by saying that Brandon himself was everything I could have hoped for. Even though I knew he would be, my insecure side had bubbled up all sorts of doubts. What if he’d had a bad day? If he was tired? What if his lectures are more scripted, will he barely talk?

You have to remember that this is my writing GOD. The man that inspired me, not to write, but to write what I wanted to read. Sanderson helped me realize, in the midst of my college education, that writing Sci-Fi/Fantasy doesn’t have to be “slumming it”. This is the man that I have been reading with an intense fervor for over five years. I’ve been studying his work, and doing my best to imitate it.

By the time I stood in line my stomach was in knots and my palms were sweating.

But, let’s go back to the start.

I hadn’t bought my copy of Words of Radiance yet, so I only brought two books with me; my hardback copy of ‘Alloy of Law’, and the book that started it all, my paperback copy of ‘Mistborn’.

Now, my copy of ‘Mistborn’ has been read by me twice, and lent out to a few of my most trusted friends, and their moms. I have toted that book with me everywhere, tucked under my arm, stuffed in a backpack, tossed on the front seat of the car. EVERYWHERE.

And it shows.

Somewhere along the years, the book lost its crisp Barnes & Noble fragrance, leaving that wonderful, musty-sweet smell of pages well worn. It is one of the most revered books I own.

So, I picked up a copy of ‘Words of Radiance’, as well as a copy of Brandon’s novella ‘The Emperor’s Soul’, which I’m starting today.

And then we waited. We sat, Trevor reading a Game Informer, my self people watching and flipping through ‘Words of Radiance’ intermittently. I want to say that the kinds of people, at least in the Portland area, that show up to Sanderson signings, are a little weird. Now, I’m a self-professed nerd, and proud of it, but these people… Well, they take it to a whole different level. Guys with great big bushy beards, and flowing ponytails, with pewter Dragons pinned to the lapel of their black dickies work shirts. Or the more straight-laced know it all, with shaggy hair and cargo shorts.

For a solid two hours I watched Dragon Pin and Straight-Lace argue over the poetic prose of Patrick Rothfuss, among other facets of fantasy fandom. They were consistently trying to out-nerd the other. At one point Trevor leaned over and asked if I knew what they were talking about, but I’ve never read Rothfuss, so, I didn’t.

But, when one of them couldn’t remember Jim Butcher’s other series, the one that wasn’t the Dresden Files, and I mumbled, “The Furies of Calderon”, Trevor turned to me with wide eyes. “You ARE one of them,” he accused.

And we laughed.

Anyway, Brandon finally appeared, and the huge crowd clapped and cheered. Brandon spoke about a story he wrote when he was 15, about Dalinar Kholin and his battle to decide not to steal the throne from his newly crowned nephew. It was one of the first stories Brandon ever wrote. That was 1990. In 2003 ‘The Way of Kings’ was published. He refers to ‘The Stormlight Archive’, the ten book series including ‘The Way of Kings’ and ‘Words of Radiance’ as the story of his heart.

And as he spoke, I couldn’t keep the smile from my face. This was him. This was the man that I’d come to know from watching hours of lectures. He was energetic, earnest, genuine, and so incredibly passionate about his characters and his world. They are as alive to him as Val and Whit are to me, and probably even more so.

After his talk about The Stormlight Archive, he read a short story to us. It had absolutely nothing to do with ‘Words of Radiance’, and it was a rough  draft. It was good, but even as he read I could tell where cleaning up needed to happen. As he spoke I could hear the lines, and I could imagine how they would actually sound once the piece was published.

And this gave me such incredible hope. Brandon’s rough drafts are like mine. Not bad, by any means, but normal. The brilliance, the clear descriptions and powerful moments, they’re all there, but they need fleshed out, and made stronger through editing.

And, sitting there, surrounded by nerds to the nth degree, Trevor’s comforting hand on my thigh, it hit me.

I can do this. I can write, and I can write well.

Since that night, though I’d been taken hostage by Sanderson’s fiction, I’ve felt a craving. A gnawing in my gut, that demands that I edit ‘Vessels’, a command to keep writing chapters.

It’s as close to breathing Stormlight as I can imagine. As Brandon spoke I inhaled deep the wisdom and inspiration, and I felt alive. A coursing energy has been rushing through me, building. Waiting. For the first time ever, I really want to write full time. This event made me realize that this is what I want to do. I want to write fiction for a living.

Not on the side. Not when I have the time. I want to devote my life to writing stories.

But, I still have to work a normal day job. I can’t afford to truly write full time.

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As we approached Sanderson’s signing table, I was nearly shaking. My blood hummed along my veins, and sweat clammed up my hands. My books were set on his table, and he looked at me.

“Hi,” I said with a small wave. And stepped sheepishly forward. He chuckled. HE CHUCKLED! My overwhelming anxiety made him laugh! I should have felt a little indignation, but all I felt was a glowing pride; I amused him! Trevor spoke up from behind me, mentioning the lectures, and how he’d enjoyed overhearing them.

“Oh,” Sanderson said, looking to me. “Awesome.”

Trevor is brilliant, and had very subtly just told my idol that I am a writer. I’m not sure if I was breathing, and I’m sure my face was a deep maroon.

“Do you have any questions for me?” He asked. Dear lord, I’m supposed to have a question ready?

“No,” I said. I went on to stammer some nonsense about how I loved everything he wrote, and would be patient for whatever came next. He looked at me, amusement dancing just behind his glasses, handed me my books, and thanked me for coming.

And then we walked away.

My knees shook. My blood pounded in my ears, and I was starting to hyperventilate. As soon as we were out of earshot I turned to Trevor. “I did it!” I crowed. “I talked to him, and didn’t make a complete fool of myself!” Trevor laughed, his hand on my hip, as I looked to the cover page of ‘Mistborn’. It was the only book I’d requested my name in, and I wanted to see his horrible handwriting there.

I stopped dead at the doorway out of the bookstore.
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I didn’t ask him to write that. Just my name. For those who don’t know, “I am hope” are the last words of one of the main characters of ‘Mistborn’. The last words of my favorite character.

Now, I know he probably does that to everyone’s copy of Mistborn. But, I’m going to let myself imagine that he did that to mine because he could tell that my battered, tattered copy had been treated with reverence and adoration for five years. That it would really mean something to me.

And, in case you manage to find this, it really did. It meant so very much.

Now, I have a lot to think about. I’ve been trying to get promoted at work, but now I’m not so sure it’s what I want. My priorities have shifted. I think. I want to spend some time really thinking it over, and deciding what would be best. Where I want to spend the most energy. I love my job the way it is, and it allows me to spend a good amount of time writing.

Things to consider.

Also, next time I go to a signing, I have a question ready. “Before you could write full time, what was your writing schedule like?”

The goal is to get there. I want to sign books to avid fans. To create shining moments in people’s lives, both with my fiction, and by acknowledging their fandom.

Plus, I still have that life goal of mine; to be on the New York Times Bestseller list.

Yes… A lot of things to consider.

I’ll be around blogland.

BZ

March Madness, the Fiction Edition

So, I had a realization last night. It’s March! In fact, it’s March 3rd. If you think back, my plan was to give myself space away from ‘Vessels’ before I started editing. The novel wrapped up in late September, and now it’s March. March was the plan. Begin editing in March.

And I’m already three days behind!

So, tomorrow I happen to have the day off, so I will buy a printer and all my printing needs, and start printing out the rough draft. Tomorrow is Printing Day!

I’m nervous, and excited! Editing my first novel begins this week!

And you know what else is this week?

Brandon Sanderson’s sequel to The Way Of Kings launches tomorrow! And, he’s going to be in Beaverton doing a book signing! And who’s got the night off?

This chick!

I’m finally going to meet him! And even though he won’t remember me, or know me, it really means a lot. I participated in Write About Dragons, I’ve read almost all of his books. This is my writing Idol, even though I don’t think I want to write epic fantasy. So, to finally get to go see him, and get my hands on the next book in the Stormlight Archive is extremely exciting for me!

But, back to ‘Vessels’. For my own mental organization, what do I need to dive into the editing process?

  • Printer, since you can’t really print a hardcopy without one.
  • And all the things necessary with that, i.e. paper and ink.
  • A big ass binder. If I haven’t detailed it before, I keep my drafts in binders, that way everything is well organized and in one place.
  • Red pens, and probably some purple pens, because why not?

And so tomorrow will be a print-a-palooza. I may not have time to begin editing tomorrow, but I will be able to read the novel from beginning to end. Hopefully.

And for the foreseeable future that binder will be my constant companion. A chapter a week is the goal, and if I have to edit a page or two on my lunch breaks in order to meet that goal, so be it.

On top of editing, I plan to maintain my progress on ‘Cards’. The coming months are going to be a bit intense. Editing one manuscript, writing another, planning a wedding, maintaining two blogs, and working full time doesn’t leave me much time for a social life.

But, I’ve never been too keen on being social anyway. A beer at my favorite brewery with Trevor, and anyone else who shows up has always been good enough for me.

Hopefully this summer we can take some day trips out to the beach or up to Portland on Sundays. I think I’m going to need the one day a week that I don’t think about writing, or work.

So, on the docket today:

  • Finish this post.
  • Post over at The Disney Honeymoon Challenge.
  • Work on chapter 5 of ‘Cards’.
  • Work at Sbux until 11pm.

Tomorrow the real work begins. Wish me luck!

 

BZ

Week 7 Summary

The Purple Pen made a comeback this week! Ok, not quite. It’s not the same purple pen, but it is A purple pen I stole from Planet Fitness. It’s my reward for actually going to the gym. Purple pens and tanning.

Thing is, I’ve only got the one purple pen, and I’m pretty pale.

Anyway, this week we focused on Viewpoint and Tense. It sounds pretty dull, I know, but it really wasn’t, and it is insanely important.

Brandon is back! And so are the giant posts! So we kick off lecture talking about Revising, Especially When You Don’t Want To.

The first note reads, “Experiment to find out what my ‘voice’ really is, AKA what genre am I really?”

What Brandon means here is that there are some genres that you will just naturally fit. For instance, he started writing Sci-Fi and more experimental things, but finally discovered that Epic Fantasy was what he was REALLY good at. It doesn’t mean you can’t write the other stuff, but it’s really helpful to know what you naturally gravitate to.

I don’t think for a minute that I am a natural Epic Fantasy writer. Especially since my draft probably won’t meet the 50k word mark. But, I’m just starting out. I still need to experiment to really discover what it is I should write.

Brandon goes on to mention that he absolutely hates revision. Hates it with the caps lock on. But, he admits that it is absolutely necessary. He says that he does a few solid revisions, which seems about true.

Viewpoint & Tense Overview and Its Importance

So, Brandon tells us that there are two main viewpoints:
First Person
     Third Person Limited

There’s also two other viewpoints, but they are far more uncommon:
Third Person Omniscient 
     Second Person

And then there are three tenses:
Past
     Present
     Future
He goes on to mention that future is super freaky and hard to write. He recommends leaving that one be.

Choosing Between Third & First Person

First Person:

  • Fewer viewpoints
  • 1 interesting voice
  •  can be unreliable
  • a sense of lack of urgency
  • cheat on info dumps

Third Person:

  • perspective jumps
  • reliable
  • cheat on voice
  • grand

Then there’s a random side note that Horror is extremely character driven. Not sure what the context was there, but it seems true enough.

Also, another note, that Viewpoints can be blended, meaning there can be first and third person in one story. I’m hard pressed to find examples of that, but it sounds fun!

How Not to Break Viewpoint

So, what we mean by “breaking viewpoint” is when you’re in a scene and it’s through a specific character’s lens, and then you randomly shift into another character’s lens in that scene. I can think of a couple of examples from ‘Vessels’ where this happens. For example:

Val picked at the worn seam of her gloves, fighting back tears. She heard Ethan heave a sigh beside her.

“I’m sorry,” he said softly. “I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

“It’s not for me.”

“What then?”

Val stood suddenly, leaning over the edge to look down at the deck.

“Val?”

“It’s for you,” she said, wiping one stray tear from her cheek. She climbed the railing, to balance on the balls of her feet in a crouch.

“Val?” 

“That you honestly think so poorly of yourself, when all I see is good.” Her dark brown eyes met his, and the sadness in them hurt him deeper than he expected. She held his gaze for a moment, and then pushed off the railing.

“Val!” Ethan shouted, reaching toward her, but he was too late. He watched in shock as the small girl plummeted toward the deck. She flipped once gracefully, pant legs flapping, and landed two walkways down.

The scene starts through Val’s lens, but by the end it’s definitely through Ethan’s. That’s something I’ll be fixing come revision time. And really, it’s not a hard fix, so don’t fret when this happens in your drafts.

So, how do you keep yourself from doing this in the first place? Try and keep your descriptions in viewpoint, use character specific jargon. Val would use totally different words to describe something than Ethan. Keep that in mind when you’re working on a scene. And, if you need to include thoughts, you can always put them in italics.

DISCLAIMER: Some people really cannot stand the whole ‘thoughts in italics’ thing. I’ve never thought much about it. My novel writing teacher was against it, but Sanderson does it, and it works well for him. But, if you’re going to put thoughts in italics, other words that aren’t thoughts cannot be put in italics for pretty much any reason. Be consistent. And be prepared, if you go down the italics road, that people may hate you for it. My jury is out on this one.

Then there’s a weird little note: Stay in the car —> Don’t be a camera offstage.
This was an example from Sanderson’s lecture. If your character is driving a car, and the car flies off the cliff, don’t suddenly describe the car rolling as if we’re outside of it. Describe it in relation to being INSIDE the car. Head smashing against the head rest, etc. It has way more impact on the reader that way, and really maintains viewpoint.

Concreteness, Immediacy & Precision in Prose

This was a bit of review for me. Patrick, that is Patrick Michael Finn, was a stickler on this one, and for good reasons. This segment talks about making your prose efficient, engaging, and if you’re really good, beautiful.

Concrete:

  • Evokes a sense (sight, smell, touch, etc.,)
  • tangible

Immediate:

  • Active
  • Cutting out fluff

Precise:

  • Fewer words
  • The right words

Then, circled just off to the left, in its own world, is the word Beauty. Brandon says that he doesn’t have much of this in his writing. I think he’s a little modest. But, it’s also not the same kind of beauty as a lot of literary fiction. Brandon says he follows Orwell in this matter, that he wants his writing to be as a window. Crisp, clear, almost as if you’re not reading at all. And he definitely accomplishes that.

Revising for Concreteness, Immediacy & Precision

The first note made me happy. Making things more concrete adds words. I need to add words, so I need more concreteness in my novel. Awesome. I can do that.

Also, you want to avoid abstractions. Abstractions are things like feelings. Vague things that we all know, but that don’t really evoke anything tangible. If you say someone is angry, that doesn’t give the reader anything to visualize or connect with, but if you show the character slamming their fist into a wall, that gives their anger life, and it give the reader a mental image and something to relate to.

Then Brandon brings up something pretty cool.

Excuse my crappy drawing...
Excuse my crappy drawing…


This is the Pyramid of Abstraction. Basically, the bottom is your foundation. You build a foundation by using concrete, immediate, and precise words. As the story progresses, if you’ve done a good job building your foundation, you can use abstractions. You use concrete words to EARN abstractions. I thought this was an interesting and concise explanation of the process. It’s really parallel to Sanderson’s Law, that the better your readers understand said magic, the more satisfying an ending solved with said magic can be.

That was some intense paraphrasing. Go back to previous posts, or google it to read the real Law.

Get rid of abstractions to make room for concrete imagery. This is true. I know it. But, I already have room. What do I do then?

Also, this is precision at work, try and find the one word that does everything. This allows every sentence to create a scene, build character, and move along the plot. And it’s really hard to do.

Then, there’s a tiny little freakout note:
Sanderson cuts 15% of his first draft… And he did for The Way of Kings! WHAT?! That is insane!

Then there’s a note about dialogue tags. Whoever said, ‘said is dead,’ was a big, fat liar. And their pants are subsequently on fire. Sanderson, and every other teacher I’ve had, says to avoid words like ‘replied’, ‘admitted’, ‘muttered’, etc. And I am really bad at this. I hate using ‘said’. It’s boring. And repetitive. But, they are right when they say that the other dialogue tags detract from the dialogue itself. If you write good dialogue, you don’t need the rest. The reader will know that the character muttered it, even if you don’t expressly tell them.

Another thing to go back and fix… a lot of them.

And lastly, as you’re editing, as yourself this:
“Do I need this sentence?”

 

Holy crap! Thanks for reading this far. I hope you find it to be of help. Looking back, I probably could have split this into individual posts. Sorry.

Chapter 17 is begging to be finished. I’ll leave you guys to chew over this monster of a post.

Thanks,

BZ

Routine Interruptions

This week has been weird.

It started on Tuesday. Trevor and I played tennis, which is a rarity in and of itself. When I say played tennis, what I actually mean is Trevor attempted to teach me tennis basics, which is made even more complicated in that I am left handed and he is not. But, it was a ton of fun. My abs and sides ached for days afterward, and I got a nice tan too! Apparently I need to go outdoors more.

So, naturally, we followed up all this physical activity with beer. Beer and margaritas. A lot of beer and margaritas. Which was then followed up with an aching head and a tumultuous stomach. Tuesday was our day to party, Wednesday was our day to recover. I spent most of the day groaning on the couch watching Trevor play Dead Rising 2.

And then I worked at 7:30am both Thursday and Friday. Puke. Between sheer lack of sleep and two incredibly busy days at the Bux, I really haven’t done any writing. I’m used to closing. Wake up at 11am, take my time getting ready, pack up the Mac and sit in the lobby for a solid three hours and some sort of fictional magic is sure to take place. But, when you’re up until 1 and then back up at 6:30 you suddenly feel no urge to stay passed 3:45 to clack away on the laptop.

And so I haven’t.

In fact, until about 20 minutes ago, I hadn’t even watched this week’s lecture! Don’t worry, I won’t be summarizing here. That’ll come Sunday, just as it should.

Instead, I just wanted to say that, even though I’ve been a bad writer this week, it’s been killing me. My lip, which had almost healed completely has since been plucked into a painful callous, hinting at the pent up energy just waiting to find its way to the page. It’s gross, I know. Sorry. In the shower the other day, I couldn’t remember if I’d conditioned my hair because my mind had runaway with scenarios that Val is going to face. But, I didn’t write, because I was just too tired.

Which is a sad excuse. That doesn’t make it any less true.

Anyway, the lecture has been watched, and the notes taken. Tomorrow chapter 16 will come to an end. And hopefully I’ll get about half of chapter 17 down. That’d be nice. For the first time since I first started writing the book everything seems clear. I can see exactly where scenes are headed and what is coming up next. I know how characters are going to behave and react to the things I’m about to put them through, and I’m so incredibly excited to put this book to bed.

It’s not that I’m sick of it. I’m not. But, it’s like reading the climax of a book. You hurry through it because it’s so good. That’s how I feel about writing the climax.

Also, there are other works waiting impatiently. The horror story, which I’ve been trying to write since 2010 and the sci-fi comedy that has eluded me for even longer. They’re both great ideas, but remember, ideas are cheap. They’re also both a little experimental. The horror piece toys with viewpoint and reliability, and ultimately leaves you wondering at the end. The sci-fi… it wants to be told in three parts. I think. I’m not sure. It’s been so long, and I’ve grown so much as a writer, that I might just scrap the entire thing except for the concept, characters and opening line. That’s how rough it is. There’s something in there that won’t give up, but it isn’t working in its current format.

I plan on reading Stephen King’s short fiction while writing the horror piece. It will help me with pacing and tone, plus I just really want to read King’s short stories, they’re amazing! Then, once that is done, I’ll pick up Douglas Adams again. I’ve read the entire Hitchhiker’s “Trilogy”, but it was a very long time ago, before I’d ever considered writing for a living. There’s something to be learned there, I’m sure,

Right now, in the wake of The Way of Kings, I am reading Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself, lent to me by a friend. So far I’m not really sure what to think of it. I like it. But it is entirely different than what I’ve been reading the last five years or so. It’s funny. Really funny. So I’m taking notes on that department. But, I’m not a big fan of the language. It’s rough, and kind of distracting. And very British. Which is usually a good thing for me. When I say rough, I’m not talking about cursing or anything like that. I mean that the sentence structures and word choice are hard for me to read. But, I think it actually works for the stories being told. I like all the characters so far. They’re extremely interesting. And I like some way more than I thought I would, and others far less. My expectations are constantly thwarted by this book, which is refreshing. Plus, I can see that the three characters are all intertwined, I just don’t know how yet, and that’s why I keep reading.

At least they better all be intertwined!

Anywho. Just wanted to bounce in, let you know that I’m still here. I’m still writing. See you Sunday, Blogland.

 

BZ

The Heart of the World

Today’s been good. I wrote almost a thousand words, though it doesn’t actually count for my word count.

See, in my novel, the main character finds a sort of journal and it helps her figure out how to achieve her goals in the story.

Problem was, I didn’t know what the book said. And so, I didn’t know how to solve the problems!

So today I sat down and penned out this journal. It actually went in a totally different and WAY better direction than I originally imagined.

I’m super excited by it! It really brings some elements of the story together that I didn’t even realize were going to be anything more than small details!

Anyway, I’m feeling really pumped by this new development. I’m about to eat lunch, then if I have time, will start on chapter 16.

I feel like the cloudiness that I mentioned yesterday has blown clear, and the end is now in sight!

I’m going to finish my first novel in the coming weeks!

YES!

Also, I finished the Way of Kings last night. Basically, I’m dumbfounded and so excited to see where this series goes. Now I just have to wait until March for the next installment…

BZ

Just Checking In

Just wanted to chat at the blog community for a minute.

I just finished watching this week’s lecture, another guest, but this one was really good. I’ll tell you more on Sunday.

I have 64 pages left in the Way of Kings and it is killing me. It’s so good that I don’t want to put it down, but I’m terrified of finishing it. I’ve been reading it since April. My companion on my lunch breaks. What will I do without it?

I don’t want to think about it.

The novel’s sitting just under 34,000 words, and chapter 15 is almost done. The end is near, and still really cloudy. I won’t figure it out until it’s upon me I think… Scary stuff.

Also, Pumpkin Spice just arrived at my store. Sorry, Partner Samples only. But, my Pumpkin Spice Chai was delicious this morning.

So, Pumpkin Spice Chai, Peanut Butter Crunch Cliff bar, and Audioslave pumping on a cloudy day… Who’s ready to write a novel?

This girl!

 

BZ

An Update and Week 4 Summary

Chapter 14 put up a good fight. But today I won. Short, at just 2,027 words, but I met my goal and got out of the little rut my story was in.

I know what the problem was. In this segment Val has no choice but to be reactive. Meaning there’s not a whole lot that she is actually doing. She is watching things happen and responding to them.

It’s really hard to be interested in that, both writing and reading. I know it will get changed a bit in rewrite, but at least I’m through it, and things can start happening again!

Also, say goodbye to Ethan, at least for now. He won’t be having his own POV for the remainder of the book. At least as far as I know. Characters have a way of surprising me.

So, the novel currently sits at 32,111 words. Still feeling incredible about this! Especially since the original outline said chapter 14 was almost the end. Now it’s feeling more like the middle. I’m on track for a book well over 50,000 words and it feels great!

So, now that you’re all up to speed, let’s move on to Week 4!

This week we had a guest lecturer because Brandon had to tour for book signings and yadda yadda. Also this week, my purple pen died. This week’s notes are a nice, boring black.

Our guest lecturer was Howard Tayler (sorry if I spelled his name wrong). And the subject was humor. Tayler currently makes a living writing a sci-fi web comic called ‘Schlock Mercenary’. Interesting.

I had a really hard time with this lecture. It felt really long, but I didn’t take many notes. A short page and a half with a lot of white space. I don’t know if it was his lecture structure, the content, or my own lack of focus, but I just wasn’t super interested in this week’s lecture.

My fiance was, and has brought it up at least twice this week to me. But, Trevor is extremely interested in comedy. He loves stand-up, and likes to write and read funny stuff. So, even as he was playing Skyrim, Trevor took mental notes of my Write About Dragons lecture. Talk about supportive!

Ok, we started by talking about Subverting Expectations in Humor. Brandon already talked a little about subverting expectations in your magic and endings. But only a little. Basically, you want to have the reader think they know what’s going to happen, and then turn it on its head. Brandon is really freaking good at this in his endings.

Tayler said that this is actually the key to all humor. It’s the unexpected twist that elicits  a physical response. This actually works in horror too. Apparently comedy and horror are just opposite sides of a coin. Also, my typing is complete crap today. Sorry if errors make it through to the published version, my brain is apparently fried.

Tayler also said that you want to set up a scenario that allows the reader/listener to tell themselves a funnier joke than you could tell them. This also connects to the previously mentioned idea that you want the reader to be able to figure things out.

And then the notes thin out.

I wrote Establish Context… with absolutely no context. Irony.

Then I wrote Character Humor, followed by Ringworld by Larry Niven, followed by Puppeteers. Since I’ve never read Ringworld, this means very little to me, other than it has good character humor. It was a little bizarre, because a friend and coworker of mine, TWolfe, had recommended Larry Niven’s ‘The Draco Tavern’ to me just last week.

Ok, then I wrote Build Interesting Characters. God, these notes are vague. I jotted down that humor interrupts defense mechanisms.

Comic Drop- a point @ which somebody’s status changes.
I remember the example used here, and it was really good. The Big Bang Theory vs. Community. The Comic Drop in Big Bang is always on the nerd. AKA, the joke is almost always on the nerd. Whereas, in Community the nerds make the jokes. This directly reflects the viewership of both shows.

Then I wrote Surprising yet Inevitable, which makes me think of Firefly. You want the events in both your novel and your humor to be surprising, but in hindsight to have been the only way to go down.

Then I wrote down Terry Pratchett and Thomas Covenant. One’s an author, the other a character. I googled it.

Humor is a tension breaker.

Brevity is the soul of wit. This one made me think of The Way of Kings. There is a character, whom I love very much, named Wit. So far his purpose is to make fun of people. He’s hilarious and extremely quick. And he’s always joking. And then Brandon did something brilliant. He used Wit to convey a very serious message to one of the main characters. What this did, and I remember thinking this even as I read it, was make the message that much more serious. If another character, who isn’t as funny and carefree seeming as Wit told Dalinar that winds are changing and to take care in the coming weeks, it wouldn’t have hit either Dalinar or myself so strongly. But because it was from Wit, both the reader and the character are riveted. And then Wit vanishes, with no explanation. My brain relates this as a way to use humor as a juxtaposition. Or something like that…

Anyway, that’s where my notes end. Which is why I decided to supplement this week’s lecture by purchasing ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King.

I spent most of yesterday’s writing time reading instead. Not a good thing, but better than playing a video game or sleeping. I’ve highlighted much of the book so far, and surprisingly it really fits with this week’s lecture. King is a funny dude. And he does it quite naturally. He has a powerful voice, and the things he says are witty, and brazen. I love it. He really makes it feel as if he is talking to me. That we’re sitting together at my Starbucks, and we’re having a conversation about writing.

I haven’t finished it yet, so I won’t talk about it too much here. I plan on spending a lot of time with it tomorrow, hopefully finishing it. If I have time, I’ll post a summary then. But, I might need time to gather the topics I want to touch on, because there’s a lot inside this one book. And I still want to start chapter 15 tomorrow. And then, of course, there’s work. Ever present. Paying the bills so I can spend my every free moment in a world of my creation.

That’s a nod to Willy Wonka, in case you didn’t catch it.

On a totally separate note, I think I’m stressing about something. Even Trevor pointed it out. I’ve been picking at my lip. It’s this horrible nervous habit. Instead of biting my nails, which I do when I’m bored, I pick at a nonexistent spot on my lip, until it chaps. Sorry for the details, but it’s something I do. Also, I’m not eating as much. Not a conscious decision, just something I’ve noticed.

But, I’ve been writing almost nonstop. Or at least thinking about writing, or reading about writing, or workshopping other people’s writing.

Anyway, not sure what’s going on. I don’t think it’s anything worth worrying about, but I thought I’d mention it, because I think it’s tied to my writing. Weird.

 

BZ

Reflections on Sanderson

Hey All,

I finished the Mistborn Trilogy the other day. Though I knew where the ending was headed, it still had a strong effect. I mourned the death of characters I’d spent nearly a month getting to know. I mourned the end a series that taught me so much.

The first time I read the series I’d only just started writing myself. So I read with different eyes. I only saw characters and plots as they related to the enjoyment of the story. But this time, I truly saw the magic and prowess Sanderson possesses.

With new eyes and an expanded mind I read Mistborn. And I saw a world expertly crafted. Believable and concrete. Dying. I met characters, each of them with their own complexities. Even characters who ultimately would die, or prove to not really affect the end of the story, were round and dynamic. And characters that seemed to be introduced as after thoughts unfolded over the course of three books to be heroes and favorites.

The plot, so much less a mystery to me this time around, was still incredibly captivating. I waited, anxious, for scenes I remembered, and ones that my untrained mind had forgotten. My mind now was working overtime to both enjoy the story for what it is, and to simultaneously tear it apart. I had to learn how to craft a world and convey information without seeming to “info dump” which Sanderson does beautifully.

And so the series ended.

With minimal pause, to absorb the ending and allow my mind to think, I moved on to a side novel set in the same world, The Alloy of Law. This novel is much different than the other Mistborn novels. Where the Trilogy was dense and almost hard to read, Alloy flows with a straightforward simplicity. Characters come to life immediately, and conversations are much more informal. Overall, a much more welcoming novel. The reader doesn’t have to work as hard to understand the world, or the magic, though both are more complex after 300 years.

It’s also only about 350 pages. Half the size of any of the Mistborn books.

And so I finished it in less than a day. I appreciate this novel because it’s much more like what I want to write. Reading the Mistborn books, or any of Sanderson’s larger works, is daunting. I can’t imagine writing such complex and long stories. But Alloy of Law is ideal. It sets a standard.

Now I’m reading Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. It’s a staggering 1,252 pages. Apparently the manuscript was over 400,000 words. It’s insane, mind-boggling, and completely terrifying.

I can’t wait!

 

Much love,

BZ