Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Warm-up exercises

OK. Maggie and Doyle are about to meet.

But I'm 6700 words (of Rough Draft Two) in.
:more headbang:

I have no icons.
You must imagine.

Anyhow . . . That's too many words of warm-up.

I know better than this.

If somebody came to me and said they'd spent six chapters messing around in one head and then the other head, just revealing volumes about the characters,
but still hadn't brought the H&H face to face,
I'd say to scrap it all and start with the moment of meeting.

But -- dang it -- the shape feels right, even if it's not proper Romance genre plotting shape.
This feels like good story.

I will have to be more disciplined.

So . . . I'll write forward till I get some perspective.
When I have another ten chapters of RoughDraft2 under my belt I'll be stronger and wiser and able to cut this 6700 words of warm-up perplucketimity.

6700 / 130000 words. 5% done!

I'm going to plog onward (plog = slog + plot).

You remember the story about the two frogs who fell in the butter churn?

One of them was realistic and wise and knew he was doomed.
He gave up and drowned.

The other one was a fool. He just kept paddling and paddling and eventually he churned up a big pat of butter and climbed on top and floated there, safe and happy, till the milkmaid came in the morning and opened the churn and screamed bloody murder and beat him to death with the butter paddle.

I take comfort in these wise old fables.


  1. OMG- hilarious parable. It does seem like some people can write fast (usually in the light, witty JQ style), and others need to plog along. I'm a plogger myself. Wish I wasn't- along with so many other high maintenance qualities I would happily trade in for fun and easiness and light joy.

    Dramatic Sigh.

    6700 words doesn't seem terrible to me. Not that I would presume to offer advice. But that would be, what, 27 pages? That's not so out of the ordinary or so outrageously horrible that you must now stop torturing your keyboard with this hopeless story.

    I think your writing shows the time and care you put into the process. Your books are rich and layered and meaningful in a way that most romance isn't. Of course your process is going to be rich and layered and fraught with deeper questions as well.

  2. Hi LL --

    I think my process is driving me crazy.
    Or maybe being driven crazy is an inescapable part of the process.

    I remain entirely convinced that every other writer in the sidereal universe writes three times as fast and never throws ANYTHING away.


    That's not the way the fable is usually written, but I find my version more realistic.

  3. LOVED the frog bit!

    As for the 6700 words... I agree with LL; it doesn't seem like that much. Especially considering the complexity of your work.

    I mean, heck, my two don't even see each other until just about that far in, and it's another 2000 words or so before they're actually introduced. Granted, I'm still in rewrites, but...

    And rest assured, MANY other writers would give our eye teeth or other various parts of our anatomy to write like you do! *g*

  4. Anonymous11:21 PM

    Have you seen this weeks New Yorker? There is an article about the two kinds of creators--those that kinda know what they want to do right away (andusually produce their best stuff young) and the "Experimental" type that keep trying and trying until they get it right (and their best stuff comes later.)
    Obviously Jo you are an experimental writer!

  5. I worry about you sometimes.

  6. Hi Jenny --

    I'm going to take comfort that another writer has the same problem with the start of the story, and the same solution. Or, anyway, the same lag in getting the characters together.

    In Tokaido Road, the hero and heroine don't meet for about 300 pages and that is a great book, though not genre Romance, since about everybody dies in the end.
    Still, I will mention Tokaido Road to anyone who gets snarky about 27 pages on lagardliness on my part.

    I remain unconvinced that there are folks out there willing to exchange body parts for this aching indecision I'm wallowing in, which is both unproductive in a literary sense and also not doing the lining of my stomach any good.

    (Did you ever wonder why your stomach has a lining and the rest of your organs don't? I mean, nobody every talks about the lining of their brains, do they? But there are all those meninges doing any amount of lining, when you get right down to it.

    I'm not saying there's a conspiracy or anything. I'm just mentioning)

    thinking about donated body parts floating about, I got this really cool image.

    Y'know, pilgrims to the shrine of Aescapulus, if they got healed, would put up a carved symbol of their illness on the wall of the shrine as an offering. So the walls of the temple of Aescapulus were full of carvings of legs or eyes or ... I dunnoh ... livers maybe.

    So all of these folks offering teeth made me think of that.

    Maybe I can figure out how to use that image someday.

  7. Hi Deb --

    I'll have to zip over and read the article. Maybe it will convince me I am being 'experimentally creative' instead of just dithering and duffing about, which was what I thought I was doing.

    Much comfort in that.

  8. Hi Snout --

    Your worry is fully justified ....