The Writing Week In Review

The short version:  

  • Synopsis — good
  • Jarvis — good
The longer version:
Jarvis is everything I’d hoped for functionally when I got my full sized laptop, and everything I’d hoped for portably when I got my Alphasmart Neo.  It’s as if my two best writing tools got together and had a lovechild.


Since Jarvis is less wide than my lap, I do not need a generous seat space on public transit to be able to write.  I’ve had the normal crowded spaces with fellow commuters becoming intimate with my personal space, and there is still room to comfortably type on Jarvis.  His small screen is an asset, because even fully opened he only reaches to my knees; the next seat forward does not hamper.


All of that aside, this week was frought with spiritual peril and I would not normally have been writing.  But.  Last winter the esteemed Lisa had me learn about storyboarding, which turned into a synopsis of sorts.  Not a synopsis that was suitable to send to an agent or editor, but a bare-bones list of blocking sentences.  ”Jessica hugs Joel.  Jessica steals Joel’s soul.  Gordon is scared and appalled.”


When one’s mind is not present fully, beginning by cutting and pasting the blocking notes into the manuscript makes it easy to write.  Each sentence expands, the next sentence expands more, and then there is momentum and writing happens.


Almost 11,000 words this week, and it isn’t lunchtime yet.  I am well pleased.

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

New Toy

I went to the Romance Writer’s Workshop, and became learned in the ways of storyboards. Fiddling with the storyboard let me know what was wrong with my novel. Good.Industriously making post-its and moving them around did not fix the problems, though. I concluded two things; the storyboard only permitted me access to the whole novel at night, at home, when I was pooped, and that I needed to murder a huge number of my darlings — but couldn’t tell which ones had to go. Shannon suggested last week that I tell her the story, which I did in brief, maybe a dozen sentences. “Which parts have to be there for the story you want?” First and last plot points. Which meant all the others had targets on their heads. Way to go, Shannon. That was a strangely liberating outlook. I changed from “something has to go” to “it will be interesting to see if anything stays.” I looked at the storyboard with loathing, and switched to tinytinytiny post-its and a notebook — portable storyboard. I was still not moving with anything approaching speed. It’s easy to move the story elements around this way, but still takes attention. Changing the writing on the notes takes time. And the sticky wears out. Then, Lisa, on whom be praise, suggested I look into Consistency. It won’t do much for me, I think, but that company also produces Flying Logic. My world shook. Yesterday I had a beginning and an end, and some very nice GMC notes. I put them into entities in Flying Logic and started making lines … which demonstrated when I had multiple scenes in the same scene; corrected that … which showed holes; corrected that … which revealed why my major plot points weren’t working; figured out what they had to be … which showed new scenes that had to be there … and where the tension had to build … and then discovered that I could customize the boxes in the program, changed them to match my post-it notes so I could see where I had too much of one element clustered …. I spent three hours of a train ride yesterday steadily creating a plot that works. I did not have a cat exploding kind of day. I had something better. I had a “knew my work and did it well” kind of day. It felt terrific. I could blow up cats for the rest of my life and not be professionally published, not make a living of it. But if I can, when I have no idea how to do what I’m doing, identify my work and do it well, then all I need to do is persist. Exploding cats are a perk of the job, not a requirement of the job.

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry


I’ve been, since the romance writer’s workshop, working on a storyboard of my novel so that I can rewrite with some sort of a clue. At first I thought my slow movement was stalling, was self-sabotage, was a sign of alien possession — I didn’t know why it was going so slowly, nor why I was becoming more despair-ridden with each work session.

Tonight I was too tired to work on it, too bleah to care — so I did anyway. Good for me.

And I discovered something. Let’s say that there are two main storylines. A is the action line, B is the romance line. The book, originally, went:


Okay, so a little bit of shuffling would fix that, but it was too simple, too short. It needed something more than a walk-through of the plot, so I added conflict; I is the investigative storyline, P is the deep soul seeking storyline. The complete first draft of this novel went:


The I’s and P’s couldn’t be shuffled into other parts of the book because the first line led to the I and P line, and the I/P line leads to the third line — and is violently ended before the third line starts. The upshot is, I have two stories; one I start and then dump, then tell another. I complete the second one, then go back to the first long after any sense of continuity is gone.

Well. No wonder there’s been some problems with the rewrite. And it would explain what I noted a few weeks ago, that my major plot points seemed to belong to different books. They do. They are. Two novellas, one nested in the other.

Good grief. When I complete this book, I will be able to write ANYTHING.

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

Oh, wretched.

My first draft of Self Sacrifice had some problems, the most major of which is that it wasn’t a story. It was fragments of several stories, but no amount of retrofitting was going to put them together, as the characters were fundamentally different in Part B than they were in Part A. Sometimes the laws of the world changed. So I backed off, and determined to start fresh, from a storyboard and then a blank-page rewrite.

I have been fighting with organizing my storyboard. The storyboard is SUPPOSED to make things clear, easily modular, contained. All I had was a huge mess of post-it notes on cardboard.

Okay, that mindset usually means I’m trying to solve too many problems at one time. I tried to limit myself to part of the book, then a smaller part. Then I decided to collect the post-its together that were obviously related, make them tidy, and hold to one side those that I wasn’t certain of.

When I was done I discovered, underneath it all, the bare outline of my first draft.

Well, that explains why I couldn’t fix the storyboard.

So. Tonight I will remove all but the very beginning and very ending post-its, and then meticulously add in points that I know must occur to get from the one to the other. Then I will add in the points between the points. Slowly. Carefully. And with no care for things that I have written and therefore “know” have happened in the book.

Good, I guess, to know what I am doing. Still, I am ridden with ennui.

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry