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N: back to basics

November 11, 2011

After the giddiness of last Saturday’s Autumn Conservation Festival, I started researching frogs and salamanders, to find out how best to add them into my storyline. And then it turns out that amphibians are not social, and they eat each other, and some of them eat their own eggs and/or young. None of that fits with anything I want to write fiction about.

Yesterday I deleted 1000 words about frogs and salamanders. Now I’m just under 8700 words.

So I went back to my human protagonist, and got stuck there as well. Everything I wrote about her, or in her voice, was clearly me talking about issues I’m going through right now. And I don’t want to write fiction about any of that!

I couldn’t figure out how to go forward; I stayed away from the book for several days.

This evening I talked to Spouse about my frustration. He said, for him, the parts of the story dealing with the humans and the laboratory were just “drudgery” standing between him and what he really wanted to read about, which was the life of the bacteria themselves.

And that’s when I realized that all the stuff I was really excited about writing was about the bacteria. About being bacteria. There is definitely a story inside me about “Bob the bacterium” or some other bacteria, and it wants to come out. I don’t know what story it is. I’ll have to write it to find out.

I think I’m back on track.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 12, 2011 09:59

    There was discussion in one of the Narnia threads at Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings about the possibility of Bacteria (capitalized things are sentient) in Narnia. It didn’t go into any detail, at all really, but it made me think of you and your book.

    • November 12, 2011 13:10

      I don’t think I saw that particular comment, and it sounds interesting.

      How is your book going? You’ve written twice the words I have.

      • November 12, 2011 16:39

        I got most of my wordcount by skipping forward to the parts that I had a pretty good feel for, which means that what I’ve already written is a sort of jumbled mess, though I’ve taken some steps towards putting it in order which is important because if I don’t do that then I can’t be entirely sure what’s left to write.

        I skipped ahead because I stalled early, I have since gone back and written in that particular hole, but I’m still trying to sort out what goes where and trying to figure out how to fill in the gaping holes. My biggest worry is that my story is a love story (with rayguns and explosions and an iguana) and I’ve never been on a single date, that’s making me somewhat wary. I may not be the person on earth least qualified to write a love story, but I think I’m close.

        My second biggest worry is that I don’t seem to be very good at handling multiple things at once. If I don’t do that then it’ll feel like four distinct sections: supervillainy – love story – supervillainy – love story, when the supervillainy isn’t ever actually supposed to switch off. My main character doesn’t magically stop being a supervillain when he starts dating, the villainy might slow down as he now has something else he’s doing with his time, but the way it seems now it’s like he met a woman and before he even knew they’d meet more than once he put everything else on hold. That’s not right, he doesn’t even realize they’re dating until they’re already several dates in.

        And since I seem intent to drown you in words, I’m also worried about the fact that female lead has a life of her own but I’m not sure how best to show it since the story is told first person from the male lead’s perspective. He can’t really see what she’s doing when she’s not with him because she’s not with him, so how do I make it clear that there’s more to her life than him? (Especially since the stuff she is doing isn’t the sort of stuff that needs a schedule so she never has call to say, “I can’t do [whatever], I have to [thing I do without you],” the only reason to say that would be if she wasn’t in the mood to [whatever] and if that were the case she’d simply say so.)

        And I think I need to figure out another crime for him to commit in between the ones I have now, and I haven’t figured out how the ending works.

        Also, is it even possible to have a cool scene in which the protagavillain confronts the antagahero while Breakfast at Tiffany’s is blaring over the PA? I have no idea, but that’s what my supervillain protagonist is going to play.

        All of which is to say, it seems to be going well, but whenever I get one thing done I still have giant piles of worry in front of me. Its much easier to focus on the worries than the well. Also, if it were sufficient to write about the story, instead of actually having to write the story, I feel like I’d be much more likely to succeed.

        Good luck with yours. And if my experience has taught me anything so far it’s that a single day can completely change how things are going for you. It’s either that or that Will Wildman is inspiring*. Maybe it taught me two things.

        *If you get stuck I recommend talking to him. It’s helped me.

      • November 12, 2011 17:10

        Wow, you’ve got a lot more going on than I do! A lot of my 8700 words is actually talking about ideas to be covered in the story, but not direct action or dialogue. So I probably do need to talk to Will! Thanks for suggesting it.

  2. November 13, 2011 03:08

    @Chris: Story I once heard.

    Once upon a time, there was a writer who didn’t like writing the parts that were boring to write, so he just went through and wrote all the fun to write parts first, planning to add the boring stuff in later. When he was done, he looked at what he’d written, said oh, and realised his first draft was finished. 🙂

    That is, it’s fine to just write the fun parts, the parts where that words just tumble out of you and to skip around from scene to scene. You may find that when you’re done that, you won’t even need the boring bits and that the work is complete as is — with of course editing still needed for typos and spelling and clarity. You can’t skip /that/ boring part because you do want to polish it up before you start querying agents and all. 🙂

    • November 13, 2011 10:43

      Pthalo, I am inspired by that story! (And I desperately need inspiration.)

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