Wide Awake but Dreaming

Slip into my thoughts and do watch your step


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Bookin’ it Back Again

Whereas the night before I was adding words to a scene, last night saw a balancing of the books, so to speak.  Second rewritten screen, and this was made somewhat better because silly little things were removed, and I keep someone sitting in the shadows until the last moment.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

Mostly I felt great writing last night.  I’d been thinking about what was needed for the rewrite, and it hit me some time back:  keep the room dim and keep Annie sitting.  Have her in the shadows, but put Kerry there, too, so that they can see each other, but not very well.  Keep her in here chair, watching this strange boy who doesn’t seem to know where his book are.  And keep the name reveal until the last moment, so she stands only to tell her name and hear his.  And then be shocked.  Or her version of shocked, at least.

This would be Annie if it were darker--and she were in a chair--and in shadow--and didn't have . . . oops, this is the future.  Never mind.

This would be Annie if it were darker–and she were in a chair–and in shadow–and didn’t have . . . oops, this is the future in a different library. Never mind.

There were days and days of hesitation, so being able to get into the story, look at what was written, and then just start writing was a marvelous feeling.  It was even better knowing what I was going to write, and when, and just wrote.  Sort of like old times before I was stressed and weirded out by a whole lot of things.

One of the things I’ve been playing with in Scrivener the last couple of nights are snapshots and using a drop-down function in Compile to make it easier to do a chapter at a time.  The snapshot is what your your scene/chapter/document looked like before you started messing with it.  As there were a few things in the Book Store Scene I wanted to use, I needed to ensure I didn’t get cut happy and waste a section before realizing, “Hey, that was important.”  So I snapshotted it, gave it a name, and left it to sit while I did my biz.  Since I’m happy with how the scene turned out, I’ll delete it tonight.

The important thing about the snapshot is being able to “roll it back” into the existing document.  That way, if you totally hose up your scene, you replace your new hot mess with the old, and things are good as new.  Though if old was a hot mess as well, good as new might not be an improvement.

I’m sending off the rewrites to a beta reader, and to do that I’m compiling them into pdfs.  Since I don’t want to play “Click That Scene” to get the right one to compile, I’ve used a drop-down box on the Compile Pop-up to get to the scene in question.  Just roll through your manuscript, find the act/part/chapter/scene, pull that out and click it to select.  Then compile and get your print out.  Easy as pie.

Really, I should have discovered this ages ago.  Guess I was too busy world building.

Really, I should have discovered this ages ago. Guess I was too busy world building.

Tonight that big “To Do” gets tackled.  I know what I’m going to say, because I’ve played that scene out in my head a couple of times.  Or three.  Or maybe a dozen.

It’s all relative when it comes to writing, you know?


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The Ginger Rewrite

There was writing last night.  Not a lot of writing–though if one considers I added five hundred fifty words to a scene, I guess you might consider it a lot.

I finished rewriting the first scene in my current work in progress, the scene where Annie departs for school.  The first part of the scene was good:  it hit all the right notes and set a tone I set out to achieve.  Other than cleaning things up here and there and streamlining a few sentences, it remained the same.

Where I expanded was later, in Annie’s bedroom, where she’s looking over her things one last night–for the next few months, that is; it’s not as if she’s going away forever–and her father comes up to speak with her.  It was a good scene on its own, but as I was told by my beta reader, it was lacking something.  So . . .

Oh, you wanted to see what I was working on?  Well, look below:

Oh, you wanted to see what I was working on? Well, look below:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

“Are you going to miss this?” She turned around and found her father stood in the doorway, watching her. “Do you want us to send you anything from here?”

Annie looked about the room, taking it in, considering her father’s question as she decided not to mention her previous thought. She shook her head slowly. “I think of anything, I’ll send Mama a message.”

Her father nodded. “I am going to miss you.”

“Are you?”

Victor was somewhat taken back by the quickness of Annie’s reply. “Yes, I will.”

“I’ll miss you as well.” The right side of Annie’s mouth twisted upward into the faintest of smiles. “Mama, too. I’ll miss you both.”

A few awkward moments of silence filled the room as Annie and her father gazed at each other without speaking. Victor didn’t know if Annie was being her normal self—quiet and contemplative—or if she were truly upset. It was impossible to get her to admit her feelings at the best of times, and Victor knew better than to press the issue now. The last thing he wanted was to see his daughter off on her great journey with her angry at him. “I do worry about you, you know.”

If there was one thing about her father that was true, Annie was aware that he worried about her. Even during those times when they had little to say, when he was away with his job, he always called home and asked of her well being. He does care—if he could only show it more. “I know, Papa.”

“And you’ll be away on your own, alone, having to do so many things for the first time . . .” His attention was drawn to the bay window. “Meeting so many new people . . .”

It wasn’t difficult for Annie to see where her father’s trailing statement was leading. “That’s true, Papa.” She twisted her head slightly to the right. “But I’ll be careful. You know I will.”

“I know, but . . .” Victor was almost squirming in his need to speak.

Annie decided to relieve her father from his dilemma. “But he’ll be there—yes?”

Victor nodded. “Yes. Your Ginger Boy.”

She’d wondered if this was the real reason for her father coming to her room: perhaps not, but it was enough to bring him upstairs. “There’s nothing to worry about with him, Papa. I’ll be fine.”

Given an opening, Victor was ready to voice his concerns—after a question. “When will I learn his name?” He raised an eyebrow. “Soon?”

“Mama knows his name; if she wanted you to know, she would have told you.”

Victor shook his head as he chuckled. “You women.” He rubbed his chin slowly as he met Annie’s unflinching gaze. “I know almost everything you’ve told your mother: you’ve known him for years and he knows you—”

“Yes, Papa.”

“But you don’t know him, Anelie. You’ll find seeing this boy in your dreams and then out of them are completely different experiences. Which is why—” He breathed deeply before continuing. “I worry.”

Annie had heard these same comments from her mother two weeks earlier—was it possible she’d spoken with her father? She dismissed the idea; the words coming from her father were not her mother’s. “I’ll be fine. I have nothing to fear from him.”

Her father wasn’t quite convinced. “I worry you’ll end up hurt.” He tapped his fingers together. “It is possible.”

She shook her head. “No, it isn’t.”

“Anelie—”

“Nothing bad will happen, Papa.” She almost cracked a smile to put him at ease—almost.

At this point arguing with Annie was going to lead to a confrontation, and that wasn’t what Victor wanted. “All right; I’ll take your word. I know what he means to you.” He chuckled again. “And I know when you’ve made up your mind, I shouldn’t try to get you to change—” He tapped his fingers against his legs. “Particularly where he’s involved.”

Annie did think it a little unusual that her father didn’t push his opinion harder, but his final statement said it all: he knew he wouldn’t change her convictions, and he accepted them. Maybe not fully, but he does. She went over and slowly slid her arms around him. “Thank you, Papa. It means so much that you trust me.”

 

And there he is:  The Ginger Boy.  You’ll learn more about that brat about sixty thousand more words into the novel–or will you?  Actually he’s hiding in plain sight, because one of the things I’ve changed up in these first few chapters is to not hide things.  I tried that and it wasn’t actually working.  While I’m not coming out and saying things–okay, I will come close to that later–if I’m gonna tell the tell, then I’ll tell it.  Tell it in a way that makes sense, but at the same time doesn’t show everything.

Yeah, it makes sense that things will get said by people who aren’t part of the Normal Group.  You have to show a little difference here and there to make the characters come into their own, to allow them to be who they are.

Hence some rewrites–

‘Cause you’re not always going to do it correctly the first time around.


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Chestnut Breakdown

It’s Liz Parker Time around the casa once more.  That can only mean one thing:

I’m writing again.

I say I’m always doing something writing related, but now I’m actually back writing.  Slow, yeah, but I’m back.  Nothing new, either–unless you consider a rewrite of an existing scene that needs some tuning up and something added a rewrite, well, I’ll take it.  I’ve sections of Act One that are in need of rewriting and, in at least two scenes, to be made completely new.  There may be more, but I’m getting to them.  Because it needs getting to, you know.

There is one good thing to come out of all of this:  in deciding to completely redo a scene in Chapter One, something will happen there that will actually tie into a conversation that will happen in–let me look it up–Chapter Thirty-one.  It would be Chapter Thirty-two, but I think I can change the time line just a little, move a couple of scenes from there to Thirty-one, and eliminate a chapter.  Whee!  That means I’ll only have to write forty-two chapters–which, you have to admit, is a lot more geek-lined.

However, getting to that link required thinking about how the story would play out on the other end, and that wasn’t pleasant.  Oh, the planning and whatnot is always a lot of fun–usually.  There are moments when it’s all a pain in the ass to get everything straight in your head, which is why I always make charts and such to help me along.

No, it’s when you have to get into your kid’s heads and understand why they do some of the things they do.

The scene in question brings up the matter of dreams, which in the world I’ve created are usually a lot more than they seem.  Particularly if you’re Annie and Kerry, who seem to have an issue when it comes to a special form of lucid dreaming.  These dreams have special meaning to both kids, and for the first time yesterday I thought them out, even made a few notes, because at some point gotta talk about them.

But it wasn’t those dreams that caused issues in these scenes:  it was remembering another dream alluded to in Kerry’s dream.  It’s something that explains an action he takes in Act One; it explains something that’s been bothering Annie since meeting Kerry.  It’s something that ties in something said in Chapter One–something she’ll say a few more times, as if she’s trying to trigger memories.

In bringing up this new dream, however, it pulled out a few memories and feelings of my own, one of which is particularly painful at the movement.  And in doing so, I had a full-on crying meltdown.

"These imaginary characters of yours are tearing you apart.  Why don't you take up another hobby--like, something without emotional connections?"

“These imaginary characters of yours are tearing you apart. Why don’t you take up another hobby–say, like, something that doesn’t involve emotional connections?”

The upside is I finished the scene, and made notes.  One moment I’m all about to fall to the ground crying, and the next I’m trying to set it down in writing.  I blame the hormones, which probably did play a big part in what happened last night.

But I’m back writing again.  I feel good.

Let see how long this goes.


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Trials and Sombulations

There weren’t any last evening’s activities.  This whole weeks has found me struggling to stay awake after getting home from work, and there was no exception to this rule yesterday.  Work was something of a mind bender, and I even came down with a bit of a headache from all the concentrating needed to figure out why a program wasn’t working.

It’s enough to get you drinking if you wanted to drink . . . and there are plenty of times I want to drink these days.

But I did have the ability to think, however.  I couldn’t really write down what I was thinking, but I thought about thing anyway.  I wanted to go on my character design; I wanted to think about starting to write something I have developed, in my head, for a scene–

I couldn’t.  Not one word.

When those moments come around you begin to wonder “Is this from being tired, or am I ready to pitch this crap into the nearest bin?”  Those thoughts do run through my head a little these days, because that precious ego that I never really had was bruised, and I take a long time healing.  Not always a real long time, but it’s enough to push me into one of those quiet moments where I really want to walk away from things for a while.  Though the last time I did that, it was like ten years before I came back, and I don’t think I have another ten years left in me.

It all comes down to a matter of adaptation.  I need to make this character work, and I’m deconstructing her so I can put her back together.  There are some things I don’t like, or that bother me, about her personality, but that’s part of the character.  You have to work it out and own it, baby.

But in the haze that entered my mind about eight PM last night, I starting having my doubts if I could make it work.  If I could have this happen right.  Those doubty doubts:  I hate them.  You get them if you’re a writer, and when they come they play hell with you.

But then there’s the flip to that doubt.  If I got up and walked away from it all, if I said, “I’ve had enough of this bullshit, I need a break, I think I’ll take the next year off and think about never coming back to my writing,” that wouldn’t set well with a few people.  I can think of at least one person in particular who would react badly to that news, and all hell would break loose . . .

"You're upset because I've stopped writing!"  No, I'm not . . . just look at the flowers, Cassie.  Look at the flowers."

“You’re upset because I’ve stopped writing!  You are!” No, no I’m not . . . just . . . look at the flowers, Cassie. Look at the flowers.”

Okay, maybe not that bad, but there would be a lot of hurt feelings come out of it all.

I know what’s bringing on the tiredness I feel at night; I simply need to work through that.  Once that’s out of the way I can get my mind back on other things–

Like reconstructing the deconstructed.


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No Rest For the Timid

There wasn’t much to get done yesterday.  I was falling asleep at work, I ended up walking home in the cold rain–and my walk is about a kilometer, or three-quarters of a mile–so by the time I arrived I wasn’t in the best of moods, and I was feeling a bit of a chill.  But there were packages waiting for me, and one of them were new jeans and a fleece jacket, and I had to try them on and check things out and get pictures and . . .

And by the time I finished doing all that and chatting with people, nine PM had rolled into town, and the brain wasn’t doing what it should do.  Never to mind.  It did a lot of that stuff earlier during the day, usually between moments when I was working on programs and going to meetings.

It’s how I pass my day when I’m working at my other life.

The other thing I’m into at the moment is mind mapping.  I’ve done this before, and talked about it on a few occasions.  These days I use Scapple–not because I work in Pennsylvania, but because it’s a good product.  Mind mapping is a good thing if you’re trying to work out something and you just don’t know how all the pieces fit together.  This isn’t the same thing as building a time line, though you can take the information here and build up your cause and effect–or your Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey ball of stuff if you’re in that sort of mood.

So I’m trying to rebuild a character, and I’m forty-eight notes of information into the process, and I’m still going.  I’m trying to be honest and saying the things that should be said from the questions being asked.  It’s from this that I’m trying to build the layers of the onion, and every so often it does make me cry–

 

This is your life in notes--I hope mine is more interesting.

This is someone’s life in notes–I hope mine is more interesting.

Why do you cry?  Because I’m not certain that I’m asking the right questions.  If you don’t ask the hard questions, you’re not going to get the good answers.  You’ll get crap.  You know:  garbage in, garbage out.  It’s just like a computer, only this crap is swirling about in your head before you put it on a page.

So I’m doing that.  I played out a couple of scenes in my head yesterday, because between panicky requests to make changes to a program, one needs to put their mind to other, more important things.  Like figuring out when Papa’s gonna ask about a certain boy, because he knows his only child is really off to school to meet this kid.  Or what someone does when they are the first off the elevator and they get strongearmed by their chaperon to take one for The Foundation and do something special.  I also realized yesterday that one of the new scenes I created in Scrivener isn’t needed:  that journey around London can be discussed while having lunch.  No need to tell everyone about it . . .

It’s taking time, but it’s all slowly coming together.

The real treat is when I start writing again.


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My Own Private Scouring

Sometimes you gotta get real and know when you gotta make changes.  There are times when you know something is wrong and you gotta make it right.

This is one of those times.

For most of the weekend my mind has been whirling about with what I need to do for Act One of my work in progress to make it better.  Right now it’s wrong, because one of the main characters is wrong.  There’s no focus on her; it’s all following and smiles, and it’s not the way she should be portrayed.  I’m not in a panic–no, not this time–but I have been thinking and working and even mapping.

Right now I have a Scrapple map set up with forty-five notes on the character, and I’ve got a ways to go.  It’s a going over that I didn’t get into the first time, and the nice thing about Scrapple is where you come up with something you throw down the notes and link it where you want to link it.  My mind maps usually look pretty neat, but that’s because I’m like that when I’m putting my things together.  The neatness gives me focus, and the focus helps me understand.

Besides, I’m good with maps.  Everyone knows that.

There are other things that need doing, however–and one of the nice things about Scrivener is, as a project planer, once you decide on where you want your story to go, you send it off in that direction.  So with that already in mind . . .

Sorry, little scenes, but you just don't go with the flow anymore.  It was nice knowing you.

Sorry, little scenes, but you just don’t go with the flow anymore. It was nice knowing you.

Yes, you throw up that big ‘ol “Delete” sign and pull those suckers out of there.  It’s not that big of a deal:  they were only about twenty-five hundred words, so it’s not like I’m killing off huge chunks.  But it’s the rewrites . . . yeah, I need that.  Why?  Because the first rewrite leads into the first new “To Do”, and the last To Do leads into the the final two rewrites.

That’s where focus changes.  That’s where I can show things a little differently, and bring another character out into the open.  Not just more, but show something else that I was trying to hide from the reader, but realized over the weekend that the something I was trying to hide was already sort of outted right away.  So why hide it?

Besides, the real goods don’t come until the kids get to the U.S. and they’re greeted at Logan International by a bunch of LaRouchies–as I was during my only visit to this airport–warning them of the dangers of the New World Order and how it’s going to force The Mark of the Beast upon them, and that darkness is pretty much gonna fall upon the land if we don’t go back on the gold standard.  Which, come to think of it, would make for a pretty good scene, since The Foundation is seen by some in my world as the New World Order, and having a few LaRouchies square off against a bunch of NWO witches, sorceresses, and spirit summoners might be fun–for a few seconds.

Onward and upward, I say.  The day awaits.


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DNF

I’m something of a motor racing fan.  I used to try and keep up with Formula 1 and NASCAR back in the 1960′s and 70′s, and used to religiously watch racing on television before I realized there were other things I could do with the four or five hours I spent camping out watching people drive around an circles.  These days I generally check the stats on-line and leave it at that.

I used to love my GTR2 game, back when I had my Logictec G25 while with in-line shifter; I downloaded all the tracks and spent a lot of time tearing up the course.  I even finished the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, in the rain, driving 550 laps over the course of a week (you could save the game, which helped), and even did one fuel run in the dark with no headlights.  Never could complete the 24 Hours of Le Mans, though:  I was always blowing an engine right around the twelve hour mark, which tended to suck hard–though not as hard as the time I was running the 24 Hours of Hockenheim and lost the transmission of my Porsche at the twenty-two hour mark.

Good times, let me tell ya.

Not shown:  the time I barrol rolled my Masarati through Eau Rouge/Raidillon.  Who said virtual near-death experieneces can't be fun?

Not shown: the time I barrel-rolled my Lamborghini here through Eau Rouge/Raidillon. Who said virtual near-death experiences can’t be fun?

The expression used in racing to indicate a driver didn’t take the checker flag is “DNF”, otherwise known as Did Not Finish.  Crash out a hundred meters from the finish line on the last lap, and your standing will say DNF.  You didn’t make it, you didn’t end the race the right way, you may have managed some kind of standing, but you are DNF, love.  It’s a rare sort of driver who can crash out as they cross the finish line, have a car that’s not going to run ever again, and still win a race–just as Jeff Burton.

At the movement my current project is in a bit of a flux.  I’m wildly off the mark of what I wanted to do with one of the characters, and I’m back to the drawing board to try and get things amended.  The characterization is part way there, but I’m missing things, and my Points of View are all over the place.  And I realized last night that one bit of information that I gave to my beta reader–that I didn’t want to show too much about The Foundation before all the Normal kids arrived–well, child, I blew that shit right out of the water in the very first chapter, because if the reader is paying attention they’ll know something’s afoot, and it’s not normal.  If I’ve done this in plain sight, then what am I hiding?

Me being me there have been moments when I’ve thought about throwing up my hands and saying, “It was a good run, girl, but you gotta move on.”  Sure, a lot of writers get that way:  they hit a kind of wall, they feel everything is turning to shit, and they wanna bail.

I’m note a lot of writers.

I keep falling back to what Neil Gaiman has said, which in paraphrasing is, “Write.  Write every day.  Finish what you write.”  Sure, I could toss this story in the bin and mark it up to trying to write more than I was ready to write.  Egos do that sometime.  But I can’t, because I have something here.  It’s almost in place, but it needs changes.  And those changes will make it better–that is a fact.

I just gotta work through this.

I know I can.


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Hard Characterizations

There are moments when you’re writing that you wonder if you’re nuts for getting into this business.  You wonder if it’s normal to torture yourself to get out a story.  It’s not unusual to wonder if you’re losing your mind from time to time–or maybe that’s only me.

Last night I was on-line with my beta reader–well, one of them.  And we were talking on and off.  Mostly I was trying to rewrite a scene, and it was slow going, because there are distractions, but there are also things i’m trying to keep in mind as I go along.    And we start talking about the story, but in particular we start speaking of Annie’s part in the story.  Now, I know she know Annie well, because, in many ways, she’s Annie, so when she talks I try to listen.  I don’t always do it very well, but I try.

And what she had to say wasn’t pretty.  It wasn’t pretty because she was telling me I missed the mark on some things, and that she was there more or less as a decoration.  In short, I took someone who is suppose to be a main character and more or less shuffled her off to the background of Secondary Character land.

Did it hurt to hear this?  Yeah.  It hurt a lot.  No one likes being told that something they’ve just worked on for three months is really, totally flawed.  Was it true?

Every word of what she said was.  And I knew it.

She said, “Give your story a real read, not some bullshit read,” and I could, but since I’m so well tied into this story, I can see the goddamn words in my head, and they aren’t saying what I want them to say.  I can reread it all, but I know it’s going to back up everything she said last night.  There were other things said that rang true, and burned pretty hard, but that’s the way real truth hits you.  It’s not something you want to deal with, but if you don’t it’s gonna come back and bite you on the ass

"You rotten bastard of a software program!  How dare you show me what a piece of crap my story has become!"

“You rotten bastard of a software program! How dare you show me what a piece of crap my story has become!”

Another bit of advice I was gives was to create a character sheet for Annie, and to, in her worlds, “be painfully honest” about who she is.  But at the same time, I really need to do the same thing with Kerry, because there were thinks about him when I first started imagining him that didn’t come out as expected.

Like . . . he’s clueless.  Just like me.

You reach a point when you’re putting something together where you have to ask:  am I doing this story the right way because I’m so in love with my awesomeness, or am I doing this right because I want to get it right?  For me, I’ll take Door Number 2 every time.  As a once-famous director said about a movie he was filming, “If you can’t get it right, what’s the point?”  Of course at the time he said that he was knee-deep in cocaine, spending money likes there was no tomorrow to do things like tear down sets and rebuild them because the street just didn’t frame right, and was probably crazier than a shithouse rat throughout the whole experience (I know there are a few of you out there who know the person I’m describing).  But the feeling for creative people is a correct one:  do it right or don’t do it at all.

I got some work ahead of me.

Because I want to get it right.


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Clone Me Maybe

It was warm in the bed this morning and I really didn’t want to crawl out, but I had to because work and this–my blog.  Well, really, more the the blog, because all work is good for is paying the bills.  It’s not like I get any kind of stimulation from it other than the exercise walking to and from the local.

If you were here yesterday you’ll know I had a bit of a meltdown Wednesday night.  If you’re here today, you’ll know things are much better.  These things happen, and this one happened in part to a combination of situations that brought up a bunch of bugaboos in my head.  Yes, that is a technical term, so you can trust me.  Your mind can kill you, and mine has done of good job of trying that for–oh, maybe fifty years now?

The walk to work was refreshing.  The morning was bright and quiet, I didn’t feel bad, I was taking in the fresh air, and I had the song Borderline running in my head.  Why?  Because I’d picked it up after reading something on one of the blogs I follow, and that’s how I role with the earworm.

But this tune got me thinking, and by the time I rolled into work I had a question that needed answering.  So I shot it off to my beta reader and Trusty Editor(tm):  what is the soundtrack of Annie’s life?  What music defines her?  This I had to know, because I was getting my inner Tatiana on–

Allow me to explain.

Though I didn’t pick it up on the first run, I am a big fan of the show Orphan Black.  (And you should be, too, but that’s a different story.)  It’s the story about a lovely lady who discovers she’s really a bunch of lovely ladies, one of a batch of clones born in 1984.  She leans this when one of her clones takes The Big Dive right in front of her, and Sarah, the clone the story revolves around, ends up taking over that woman’s life.  And in the process he discovers she’s also a soccer mom living in the same city, and an American student, and a German rocker, and a crazy Ukrainian bitch who wants to kill everyone, and . . . well, it just goes on and on.

One of the things the main actress, Tatiana Maslany, does to get into the character of the women she’s playing was to create playlists of songs for each character.  So when she’s getting made up for Sarah, she listens to The Clash, Dizzee Rascal, and the Streets; when she’s Helena’s it’s Antony and the Johnsons and Tom Waits; Cosima is Grimes and electro/Diplo music, and Alison is show tunes, Les Miz and West Side Story.  She puts on the music and gets into the grove, and that’s what allows her to play three different people all sitting around wondering what they’re going to do with their lives.

If the three people sitting around getting hammered on wine are all you, do you get wasted that much faster?

If the three people sitting around getting hammered on wine are all you, do you get wasted that much faster?

When I had the chance I role played out a scene between Annie and Kerry, one that I’d written back in November and was told was lacking something–namely, Annie didn’t feel right.  Since I used to role play a lot–and most of that almost meant I was the game mistress–I’m good at doing different characters because I had to be.  So that came into play, and by the time I arrived back at the apartment, I had a good idea about the interaction.

Then the email came, and I had three tunes, and the first one, I was told, was probably the best one to describe Annie meeting Kerry for the first time in person.  (I’ll leave that “in person” dangling here . . .)  So I started rewriting, taking my time, getting things the way I thought they should . . .

And when my editor came on and read the part I’d finished, she was like, “You got it!”  She loved the new action, and the new Annie.

I’ve been tired and under a lot of strain the last few months, and it’s shown in my writing.  A lot of adverbs need to go bye-bye, so they gotta go.  But I need to relearn things, to be more descriptive, to roll back into the role playing, get it out there me.

My characters are different, but they aren’t their own real people.  They are me, and I have to live them.

Otherwise they’ll never have a life of their own.


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The Demons Who Dance

Last night was . . . well, it was different.  It suppose “different” is one way of putting how I was feeling about eleven PM when I was in the middle of a crying jag and I pretty much wandered about the apartment wondering what everything just wasn’t right.

No, not good at all.

I hit a realization yesterday, one that I think everyone who writes hits:  I’m not always writing when I’m at my best, and it has hurt my work.  And . . . Continue reading


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The Dark Witch’s Thoughts

This is a number:  one thousand fifty-three.  That’s how many words went into the new scene last night.  It took a while to get there, but I made it.

The first night wasn’t a much as I liked, though given that I was doing two, maybe three things at the time, I have to admit that typing in a little over six hundred words isn’t a bad accomplishment.  Last night was more of me starting to hit my stride, looking for and finding the groove I needed, and heading off down that path.  It was slow, it was halting, but it was also fun to start getting back into the minds of my kids.

Last night it was mostly Annie’s thoughts.  Watching spells not being done, feeling a bit bored about hers, and thinking about the week before.  Of course her thoughts are mostly about the person sitting to her right, but hey:  young love, right?  Though she probably wouldn’t eat a horse heart for him, but you never know . . .

Let me entertain you with a little excerpt, because I haven’t done that in a while–maybe a week.  I’m getting rusty.  And now that I’m writing, lets show it off.

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

In the last couple of minute, though, Annie watched Kerry growing frustrated with not being able to do the spell, or worse yet, having no control once he started the spindle turning. She saw that most of the time it was wobbling all over the place, which would prevent him from exerting any fine control should Kerry manage to turn his spindle three times.

She reached over and touched his arm. “You might want to stop and rest.”

Kerry seemed far from ready to rest, but Annie’s touch and calm tone were enough to make him slump in his seat. “Yeah. I’m pushing this too hard, and I’m getting all messed up.”

Annie thought of what Kerry was going through in lab as more than “messed up.” “I think you’re trying to hard—” You would know all about that, wouldn’t you? She pushed the errant through from her head. “Sit for a few minutes, clear your mind . . .” She slide her right hand along his arm until she found his hand. “Talk to me.”

There was much Kerry wanted to talk about, but most of it revolved around what she’d just done. “You managed this pretty fast.”

Annie shook her head. “I’d done something like this once before, so I just took that knowledge and applied it here.”

“I’ll bet you could do more.” He nodded in the direction of Annie’s spindle. “You could probably levitate it.”

Annie had never tried levitating something before, but she could understand why Kerry would think she could perform the spell. He knows I’m a witch, that I come from a family of witches, and therefore I’m already magically inclined. He doesn’t understand I’m not that good with simple spells. She decided to be coy with her response, to see if her suspicions were correct. “Why do you think that?”

“’Cause . . .” He looked at her, a broad smile across his face. “I think you can.”

“You have faith I can do this.” Annie patted his hand. “That is not the same as having skill.”

“You have the skill—” Kerry flipped his hand around and pressed his palm into hers. “You’re my Dark Witch; of course you have the skill.”

You’re my Dark Witch. Kerry had taken to calling her that after their stint in Sorcery, and her confession on Sunday that, indeed, she had her own books on the subject, and most of the spells she’d attempted were from that branch of magic.

But where Annie saw a serious discipline that required a tremendous amount of willpower, Kerry saw what she was doing as almost—fun. He’s a Normal, and sorcery and black magic are always very powerful in their fantasy worlds. He doesn’t understand the work one must put into learning this art—or what it can do to a person.

She thought about to last week, and what Professor Lovecraft did to Kerry in front of the rest of the A Level. From his point of view he was shocked bad enough to require a night in the hospital: he never saw this from her point of views, which was seeing someone who knew how everyone else in the class saw the act, while also expecting a possible attack from one of those students. And when Professor Lovecraft returned from dropping Kerry off, she launched right into a short lecture without ever explaining her actions.

Her willpower has to be extraordinary to be able to semi-torture a student in class and never mention the act again—except to me later—or even act as if it were anything other than what she does every day. Until Kerry performs sorcery on someone else, he won’t know what it takes to do that. She wanted to talk to him about this, but didn’t know if now was the time—

And then Kerry starts getting all excited about something, and . . . that’s the end of the scene.  More to commence tonight.

And just like a writer, as I was preparing the above excerpt, I began reading it and . . . I had to change some things.  Just a few.  And add some words–only twenty.

"No, no: it's far too early to have Annie start casting magic missile. She doesn't even play D&D yet."

“No, no: it’s far too early to have Annie start casting magic missile. She doesn’t even play D&D yet.”

That mean the number is now one thousand seventy-three words.

All in a good night and day’s work.


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The Editing Light

First off, no April Fool’s jokes here.  Not today, not ever.  I’ve been on Facebook about five minutes and I’ve already seen about a half dozen–I mean, who saw that shit coming?  But I don’t need a single day to prank you:  I can do that any day of the year.

Not that I would . . .

Act Two started last night.  It wasn’t an auspicious start:  six hundred and thirty-six words were written into the new scene, and at the moment I’m tracking six hundred and sixty-four words total.  Which means if I hadn’t edited one sentence to remove a couple of words, I’d be Number of the Beasting right now, and really, I’d get a screen capture of that just to show off.  Because people think it’s satanic, and who doesn’t like a good satanic joke on 1 April?

What’s I’m not saying yet–because I haven’t gotten that far in the post–is that I wasn’t only writing new stuff, but I was editing old as well.  At the same time.  In the same screen.  Don’t believe me?  Check it out:

Come on--who doesn't write like this?  We all do, right?  Hello?  *tap tap*  Is this thing on?

Come on–who doesn’t write like this? We all do, right? Hello? *tap tap* Is this thing on?

So here I am, new on the left, old on the right, and one of my beta readers in a chat room on the Internet, going over some of the scenes.  When she’s not talking about Act One, I’m tapping away on Act Two, slowly and surely, because I was a bit tired yesterday and I got a new tee shirt and I had to try it on and get pictures, but mostly I haven’t written anything new in a few weeks and you need to work that skill up again.

I know that right after Wednesday’s last comment I’m going to cut to Annie thinking about something magical, and then it’s over to Kerry, and then back to Annie, and then to some loud mouth student who’s gonna accuse Annie of cheatin’, but there’ll be a Japanese student in there yelling “Kuso” because they just can’t get this magic thing workin’ right . . .

When my beta reader–or should I just call her Trusty Editor(tm)?–came back to the chat room, Act One was on.  She found mistakes.  She found things that seemed out of place.  She gave me a couple of suggestions that helped the scene.  She found a stupid adverb that Elmore Leonard would have kicked my ass over.  She found a hilarious passage that made a background character look like they might be part octopus.  And she found something that sort of pissed me off–

Wait, what?

Let me explain.  There was a passage in one of the scenes that she pointed out sort of didn’t seem right because of the way things were set up.  I kept saying it doesn’t matter, it’s not the focus of the scene, be a good little Elsa and let it go.  Actually, I was being a little more bitchy than that, because I’d already been up about seventeen hours and my head was foggy, but what the hell.  There was back and forth there for maybe forty-five minutes, and then we moved on.

By the time I signed off, I said I’d fix it.  By the time I crawled out of bed to write this post, I realized that if you’re gonna tell a tale, then tell the damn thing.  All a very simple line does is change the dynamic of the story–and in retrospection under the light, it can make one of the characters come across a little more mysterious.

See, like Kerry, I can be a bit clueless, and I need a good Annie to kinda whack me now and then to get the ego in check.  If you’re a writer you have an ego–don’t lie!  I see yours hiding behind the television.  But as Harlan Ellison once said, a great editor will show you how to make improvements by asking one simply question, and if you listen to them magic will happen.  At the time I wasn’t listening, because I need things to sink in.

But now I see.  Just a couple of words in the right place, and I can change the whole dynamic of the scene.

She also told me that she loved the fact that I was a woman of my convictions and that I wasn’t afraid to tell he to go to hell to get what I wanted.  I finally told her that good women don’t tear each other down, they empower each other to do better.

And after three years I’m still learning how to be a better writer.

That’s not a joke.

That’s the facts.

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