The Seeing of the Scene

If by now you haven’t caught on, I write.  It’s not my day job–I have one of those where I go into an office and do things and stuff and come home at the end of the day–but it’s one I’ve been doing for a while; just about four years come this September.  It is my dream to do this full time, but unless I get the damn books out there for people to read, that will never happen.

If you’ve followed me from the start, you’ll also notice that my writing style has changed considerably.  There is a different flow to it these days, far more than when I published my first stories two and three years back.  The way I write has changed a great deal, too:  probably because I spend so much time now waltzing through these new worlds which now have become old worlds due to my having lived in them for right around two years now–three years if you count the times I’d think all this over while driving back and forth to Indianapolis during the summer of 2012.

Lately, however, the writing has turned into . . . well, I have become heavily involved in a task known as “getting it right.”  Particularly with this new story, getting each scene started has become a complete pain finding the right words, the right setting, the right mood.  Example One is below.  This is the start of the newest scene in my current novel.

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

The evening had reached the point where the coven tower lights would flash three times to indicate the lights were going out in a minute, but on the second floor of Cernunnos Coven there wasn’t a need for lights out, for the lights had been out for nearly an hour while the students used alternate light sources as they relaxed in comfort in the open space outside their rooms.

Penny, Alex, and Jairo had gathered pillows from the ground floor storage and set them out in a circle. Penny and Alex used various spells and enchantments arrange a few of the pillows so they could lay back against them, while Jario prepared local snacks and cool drinks in the small kitchen in the lower level.

While the C Levels were busy, the B Levels did their part to make for a relaxing evening.

Since they’d need light, Annie created several small spheres of cold fire and levitated them overhead. Kerry took musical suggestions from everyone, set them up on his tablet, then set it against the wall between the entrances to the bathrooms, then crafted a spell so the speakers would project the sound around them, making it seem as if they were surrounded by music.

In the blue light of cold fire the five B and C Levels sat listening to music, snacking on tequeños and golfeados while drinking merengadas, and enjoying their company.

 

That’s just two hundred and thirty-five words–and that took me forever to write.  Or close to forty minutes, if my internal guessing is correct.  Now, I will admit to about five minutes of research looking up snacks and beverages from Venezuela, which constitutes the last line of the excerpt, but the rest of it was all me sitting in front of the laptop trying to figure out what I want to say.  Particularly that first paragraph:  that little gem probably took a good fifteen minutes of my life to figure out.

"Lights?  Lighting?  Should they just grab a student from another coven and use them as a bonfire?"

“Lights? Lighting? Should they just grab a student from another coven and use them as a bonfire?”

Don’t ask Annie about that last; she’s got a couple of students in mind.

It’s been like that since starting this novel.  Getting the scene started usually takes a bit of work, but once it’s going, it’s off and running.  Tonight might not be that case, since I’ve got a butt-load of things to do when I get home, but then again, since most of that revolves around laundry, I can write while waiting for things to get clean.  At least try and get it finished before Touch of Evil comes on tonight, because that’s one of those movies I don’t like to miss.

There’s nothing wrong with getting it right up front.  I know most people who have cut their teeth on NaNoWriMo say, “Write first, then edit later.”  To paraphrase Col. Tom Parker, “That’s good enough for you, but what about me?”  Not that I haven’t worked on a major edit:  I did it last year about this time on the Parts One and Two of A For Advanced.  But I like to avoid that if possible, because . . . well, just because.  Really, too:  I’m laying out the scenes in a far different way than the last novel.  The kids are back on familiar ground, so there’s no need for a lot of oohing and aahing.  They know the drill, just like when they boarded the plane, and there isn’t much of a need to get back into that–save for the moments like the one above, where my kids are truly in The Pond and becoming part of the student body.

I’ve noticed this popping up more and more.  Some of it is likely due to distractions around me, and the mind is looking to focus on something else instead of the task at hand.  Writers need to write, but they also need stimulation, and I’ve tried to put that into my life so I don’t keep turning back to a cycle of work, eat, write, sleep again.  That way leads to burn out, and I’ve fought with that for too long now.  I give into burn out now, and it’s going to be a while before I recover from that.

And there is so much story ahead to tell . . .

The Great Gates of Kiev

First off I have to say:  the WordPress make over is a bit strange, slipping into some Art Deco style black and white craziness that, for some, has been a bit off-putting.  But I am used to the strange and unusual, so I’m not nearly as bothered by this as some.  I’ve been in the software trade for some time, so change is both expected and dreaded.  In the end, I’ve had worse things happen, so move along.

Now that Welcome to the Fishbowl is something of a reality, I’ve started the task of bringing it together.  The world is so-so there–and by that I mean I have a majority of the basics down, it’s the little things that remain that will bring things into sharp clarity.  Yesterday I show the hospital wing from the main hall of my school, and after the post went up I spent some more time putting things together.  By the afternoon I’d arrived at the following conclusions:  one, because I was moving my story from a universe that wasn’t really of my making (yes, these things happen), and into my own private universe, there were things that were never in the building that I was now needing to add–like, say, an office for the head of school security, and a place from which to monitor everything.  And two . . . this damn place is huge.

Let us gander upon what I have so far.  As you can see, I’ve maybe half Main Hall 518the second floor in place, and I’ve started putting in the library, which is going to be beyond that wall in the back of the building.  From the doors in the lower right hand corner, to the wall all the way towards the top, the building is one hundred and sixty meters long.  If you don’t do metric, that’s about five hundred and twenty-five feet.  To put that into some kind of perspective, I could fit this building inside Indiana’s own Lucas Oil Stadium, which is about two hundred and seventy meters long by my careful Google Map measuring.  Except my Great Hall will never seat sixty thousand people, nor require a tax on food so millionaire owners can keep the lights on.  It’s a world all unto itself.

My characters are developing as well.  The story has a huge cast, though maybe a half-dozen of them will get any sort of face time.  Still, when I think about the characters that do have a spoken part, and who end up becoming important to the main characters–I’m looking at over a dozen.  Easy.

Where do I get names?  Scrivener has a name generator that allows you to randomly generate first and last names based upon gender, nationality, and even letters of the alphabet, so when you need the name of a German woman whose last name starts with an E, no problems.  Then once you see something you like, move the name to your short list and copy it off for later use.

Or do as I did this morning.  I needed the names of three people who are part of the Foundation, and whom play a part in the story.  In the process of setting up their cards in Scrivener, I came up with Mr. Mayhew, Ms. Rutherford, and Mr. Gabriel.  If you know me, you know where those names came from.

The gates of the story are ahead, and I’m approaching slowly.  Won’t be long before I enter the city proper.

Or the school for that matter.

Entanglement

The difference in a day or two does wonders for a person.  Because?  Well, sit tight, ’cause I’m going to tell you.

After yesterday’s post my mind was in, what I felt, the right place.  It’s been lovely here in the nether-lands of Chicago, and the windows are open, the sun is shinning, the breeze is lovely, and I got to call the cops on some smart ass kids who think when they tell you, “Go ahead, call the cops,” you won’t act upon their request.  Threat + Internet lookup + mobile phone = cops telling you to drag your crap out of the street, punk.

But that’s beside the point . . . I was writing again yesterday.  Yes, it came slowly, in fifty to one hundred word bursts.  Something I never realized until now, but finding the right words to describe emotions and sensation related to sex is hard work–it’s hard!  It’s one of the things that helps bring my writing to a crawl, because I don’t want to go back over my stuff later and rewrite everything.  I try to get it all right the first time.  Arthur Hailey, the author of Hotel and Airport, used to write five hundred words in an eight hour day, but that was his first, second, final, and polished draft, because he’d go over and over what he wrote until he got it right.  I don’t claim to be him, but I do enjoy getting it as right as possible before I start editing.

I kept at it, though, and by the time I’d reached my just over nine hundred word limit before heading to bed, I had a pretty good scene going.  So good that I’ll finish it up today and make sure I get started on the penultimate section today.  I stopped just short of the border of Novella, so I’ll get my passport ready and head on into the country today.

But something else happened.  Something . . . well, not wonderful, but it made me feel good.

My current Work in Progress, Fantasies in Harmonie, was going to be a Camp NaNo story.  The tale is actually taking place during Camp NaNo July, and I’d taken the idea of writing in virtual cabins into real life, and having a group of lady writers getting together for a week of pajama time fun as only writers can have fun.  Obviously that didn’t happen, because here it is the end of the first week in June, and I’m close to closing this particular cabin.  My intention, therefore, was to pass on the Camp this year.  I’ve never done one, and I figured I’d save my time and energy for the Big One in November.

That was before I ran into someone I know and love–

I was hanging out on Facebook yesterday, and I spied a message from a friend–one who pretty much got me crazy on writing.  She was the one who helped me edit Kuntilanak, she was the one who more or less talked me into doing my first NaNo, which produced Her Demonic Majesty . . . we’re talkin’ Trusty Editortm.  And her message:  “I’m doing Camp NaNo, wish me luck!”

Hold on there.  You’re going to camp and you’re going without . . . me?  I felt great for her, but at the same time my mind is flashing on sitting around in our shorts and take tops tapping away at our computers, and when the night comes we’re going over plot points while doing each other’s nails with mood polish.  (That exists:  I looked.  RESEARCH!)

Since I figured she need to hang out with at least one loser, I went and did it–I signed up for Camp.

What am I going to write?  I have no freakin’ idea.  Maybe I’m polish Couples Dance and get it ready for publication, because camp is looser and you can do that sort of thing.  Or maybe I’ll write something original.  Or maybe I’ll break into the cabin next to ours and do something naughty.

I don’t know.  I’ve never been to camp in my life.

I hear you’re suppose to have a good time . . .

Starting the Engines

Oh, look:  I did a racing call-out.  Well, we are on the cusp of Memorial Day weekend, and some have already started that sucker up.  A few people were out of my office yesterday, and today I’m expecting about half of them to be starting a four-day weekend.

Not me.  I’ll be “working”–uh, sure–today, then about 4:30 PM, local time, I’ll be on the interstate doing the Indiana 150 with hundreds of idiots looking to get out of town.  Or maybe not.  Maybe the roads will be nice today because so many people will have gotten the jump on things, and all I’ll need to do is watch for cops.  And keep my towel close by.

I used to watch a lot of auto racing, because I used to follow the sport closely, going back to the late 1960’s.  Memorial Day Sunday used to be a big deal for me.  I’d get up early to check on the status of whatever F1 race was scheduled (usually the Monaco Grand Prix, like this weekend), then I’d watch the Indianapolis 500, and after that was over, I’d check on the Coca-Cola 600.  Lots of time spent watching cars drive around on a circuit, you betcha.

These days I don’t have the interest.  Part of it was realizing I had more fun with my computer simulation games, driving around fast, racing other players or AIs, and hoping I didn’t wear out my tires too quickly.  Part of it was realizing that, for the longest times in races, just like in most sports, nothing is actually happening.  Just ’round and ’round and ’round, with an occasional wreck to keep you awake.

Anymore, where I have some free time, I’m writing.  Or editing.  Or doing research.  Or a combination of the three.  I can follow a race on the Internet while I’m working on the computer, so I don’t need to be in from of the TV watching spots going fast, and hearing commentators droning on about nothing.  That’s my gig these days.  One day I hope to make it the gig, but for now it’s more the thing I’m trying to do while I’m paying the bills doing something else.

I have a few goals for this weekend.  Query letter:  check.  It’s getting done this weekend, for sure.  No, really.  I’ve been sitting around with a thumb up my butt for too long, and it’s time to get with it.  So, tomorrow–research, editing, writing . . . sending.  You’ll see.

Either Saturday or Sunday, I believe I’ll start Diners at the Memory’s End.  It’s gestated long enough, and my Scrivener cork board is looking at me, going, “What?  You made me, so aren’t you going to do anything with me?”  Pesky cork boards.  They can nag you more than your significant other at times.  But since that board is up and ready to go–and since I’m very close to finishing the final edit on Her Demonic Majesty, I should go for it.

And Sunday . . . I might just start up another story.  About?  I already stated in one blog post an idea I had for a story, and I think I’ll look at that on the Big Cork Board.  If nothing else, it’ll get the mind going, maybe get some other ideas going.

Eleven hours to go before I’m on the road and heading home.  Can’t wait to get out of here.

Just remember:  Don’t Panic, and keep your towel close.  You never know what’s coming your way.

Least of all today.