I’m working, I’m getting things done and the whole manuscript is coming together nicely, but often the page count just sits there, seemingly idle, even while great progress is being made – I work from note files, pulling bits from a selection of them into one working file where the next section is prepared, woven, polished and then finally transferred across to the main file, the manuscript itself.
Sometimes there is a lot ready to go in and I will work for a time just feeding stuff through, giving visible growth to the project at hand. As my working files deplete, gaps start to show in them, meaning I can see upcoming areas that need work, and which characters need more to do or say. That also means I will switch back to working in those files in preparation for the next large transfer across.
It’s all necessary and it’s all growth, but while I’m working in my note files, the page count for the manuscript stays still.
Due to some great ideas coming through and an assortment of minor breakthroughs in major areas, I’m taking the weekend off to focus on my manuscript.
That means no blogging and no visiting Blogsville.
The problem started when I gave my lead villain royal credentials – it seemed like a good idea at the time – the Chiddran had been introduced, bringing in their own Empire and their own colonizing expansion into space, and they were/are currently engaged in war with the aggressive Khekarians, who have possession of most of the galaxy and want the rest of it.
Great, I thought. A bit of depth, a sense of history, basically background stuff. Then I wanted to use it. I wanted to plug my story more deeply into that, somehow. As the governing hierarchy for the Khekarian Empire is a vast system of royals, from major to minor, I figured making my lead villain an exiled royal would give him a suitable cause and reason to do dastardly things.
To push him right to the edge of acceptance, if not outside of it, I made him a bastard as well. Yes, in both senses of the word.
And now I’m going to bring sex into the equation.
Some writers don’t like it, some don’t mind it, some enjoy it and others absolutely adore it – I’m one of those who adore it, whenever and however it happens – Yes, I’m back to talking about when characters take over and surprise you.
I’ve worked out what it is I like so much about characters going their own way.
When characters take off and say their own words or do their own thing, it’s unexpected. Heck, I’ve got one character who tells his own jokes, jokes I have never heard before. They’re bad jokes, and often rude, but they make me laugh and they go into the book for that reason. It’s who he is, that’s his character, and to me he lives and breathes.
Interestingly (and I’ve never told you this before), Jim was supposed to be a Bad Guy in the Good Guy group. He was supposed to really dislike Jackie, but he wouldn’t go that way one iota. He secretly adores her and respects her, and most of his verbal challenges (fun stuff) is directed her way.
Writers learn a lot on their journeys. Sure, they learn interesting snippets of fact, a few how-to things, certainly how to communicate – They might even pick up some practical skills, but what I’m talking about today goes much deeper than all of that.
The really important learning writers do is often something that might be completely overlooked. That’s what happened to me. During all my years of writing, I’ve done a lot of researching, a lot of reading and a lot of hands-on stuff so I could understand areas I did not already understand, and write about them. But I didn’t see what I was also doing. My focus was always outside myself and on what I next needed to grasp.
I continued to focus on everything else for a great many years. The first version of my first book was completed and rejected several times. More polishing and finally rewrites were also rejected. A major rewrite was undertaken, changing some fundamentals, which also got knocked back more than once.
Every writer gets reject slips. When I finally started to look into what agents look at and what was going on in the industry itself, I came to realize there are serious problems there. This is not an excuse, you can look into it yourself. When a manuscript is rejected based on the FIRST LINE of the COVER LETTER because agents are too busy to take any more than a cursory glance at anything that crosses their desk, it’s not hard to see there’s a problem. Their solution seems to be the exact opposite of what is needed – they speed up where they should slow down. Writers are not advertising agents, that’s supposed to be the agents’ job, and rejecting a manuscript because the writer doesn’t grab the agent’s interest with the very first sentence of their introduction letter is shoddy to say the least.
It’s frightening to think of the gems that these people are missing and the sheer talent going to waste for it.
Introducing yourself over the phone isn’t any better, by the way. I had an editor tell me once that a caller has five seconds to make an impact, and that’s all. What the heck are you supposed to do with that?
I’m having an enjoyable chat with Writingsprint about crystals in a post of mine from a couple of days ago (links are below), and it has me wondering about the many different ways we revitalize. I like crystals on my desk and different ones by my bed, I find some are vibrant and some are soothing, but I also love the great outdoors and nature, and can find energy in a country drive just looking at sweeping scenes, the earth and the sky – The ocean is another energy-booster for me.
There are many other energizers, too. There’s music, for instance. I love silence and work in a silent house. I also drive in silence. I don’t like television or the radio because both are “uncontrollable” and noisy – but that means when I sit to watch a movie or play some music, I am swept away by the majesty and the strength of sound.
Sometimes the very act of writing can trigger the creative process, even if you have nothing to say at the time and can’t think how to get going – it’s weird, but it works – Try writing a paragraph on something you’re comfortable with, whether it’s part of a scene, a well-known description or some fresh fun dialogue between two or more of your characters about something not important and not related to their story – The reason for it not being important or related is that it removes all stress from the exercise, you’re not trying to create something vital, you’re just trying to get the flow going.
Basically, this gets you physically moving on the task while waiting for your creativity to warm up and get into gear. At times, physical action is easier than mental action. It also gets your mind on the characters or location or story itself, and away from anything outside that realm.
If it works for you as it does for me, by the time you get halfway down the page, something happens. It’s like part of your brain wakes up and thinks, “Heck, I’m supposed to be writing,” and takes over. Words that are more descriptive pop into your mind or you find yourself editing sentences or coming up with better ideas. Point is, suddenly you have something more to say and what you are working on might shape into something else, or you can move onto where you want to be and begin to get some serious writing done.
I mentioned yesterday that I was off to a Psychic Fair and learn what may be seen.
It was interesting. Greg and I had separate readings with different readers (there were eleven to choose from) and both our readers saw very much the same thing. I wanted to ask about my writing career, but got sidetracked with future upheavals to do with moving and retirement, about which we were told independently that contacting a financial advisor would be beneficial, that we would learn of opportunities currently unseen, and that things would work out well.
We’ve never had a financial advisor turn up in a reading before, so coming from two different sources, we’ve decided to take heed 🙂 (Rob! Check your email!).
On the subject of writing, I was told to keep at it and that it was my strength (I know that!) and that there’s a lot of good energy around me (I know that, too). 😀
Nothing today, folks, I’m just letting you know I’m heading out to visit a Psychic Fair.
Haven’t done that for ages!
Okay, maybe I could come up with a better title for today’s post, but – yes – I slept in this morning and am late, so the title will have to stand.
A writers’ group is not a class, of course (although we all learn something), it’s a mutually supportive community, and I’m finding it very refreshing and a lot of fun to attend.
Now, because it’s a later time than I normally post, you will be spared my waffle (oh joy) and I will get straight into it. Last month we were given the word Random and sent off to do something with it. What follows is my effort. I have no doubt that it could use some polishing, but here it is, warts and all, and has nothing whatsoever to do with science fiction.
It’s humor, a short story (written in Australian English, by the way, not the USA variety). 🙂