Archive for November Underground

November Underground Rewrite – 01

I was pleasantly surprised by the opening of the novel when I went back to reread it. Sure, link It was sloppy, find but I’d also put some good things in it. It’s a brief vignette focusing on a teenager girl living on a ranch outside of Austin who finds Ludd’s body and some other strange things. She’s a throw away character, shop we won’t see again in the story, but she lets me set a tone that is at once dark and full of the anxious-heady possibilities of the times (and of day, as I write this it is January 20, 2009). I also use her to introduce the year 1970 in a personal (albeit superficial) way – which is what I wanted. I didn’t want to get bogged down to much in setting the time at the beginning more than I had to. The politics, war, technology, will soon become clear through the plot. Finally, the girl who is excited about going to the university and leaving her ranch home which she as backward (behind the times) allows me to use the word “anachronism” in the first few paragraphs of the novel.

I am less pleased with the introduction of junior reporter Franklin. I like the way he stands in the crowd and yet apart from it. All the pieces are there, but the execution needs work and in the end it’s the execution that matters.

The beginning is rough. Every word is worth double, as I need to manage interest and carefully set expectations. I’m hoping that once I get past the beginning the rewrite will go faster.

Will anyone notice if there are no Weekends?

I am reviewing the draft of Rose November now and made some observations. One is that there are no weekends! The story covers the period of 2-3 weeks (with some excursions). In my review I’m in the seventh day with businesses open, salve schools in session, no breaks. For most of the rest of the story this won’t matter because all hell breaks loose and no one is working – Sunday and Monday don’t matter any more.

The main action is set in the fall of ’70, some weeks after the Weather Underground sprung Timothy Leery out of prison and days after Janis Joplin’s death. With the outline I had a pretty good idea of how many days passed, but I knew things would shift a little in writing the draft (the time it took for several of my characters to travel from Austin to San Francisco partly on foot and hitchhiking for instance). Writing the draft I didn’t want to tie myself to exact dates that would slow me down. Now, I need to fix it. I should fix it.

Part of me wonders if I can get away with it. Will anyone count the days? Will anyone notice that my Austin of 1970 is a place of perpetual work without break?

Perhaps it would be better if I had never found out. I could blissfully send out the story without knowing. Later I would have to make up an explanation that it was a parallel Austin with 9 days weeks, and that this was actually important to my story, because it showed the relativity of causality when viewing time from different vantage points.

It’s my world, why not?!

First Draft of November Underground Complete

I’ve completed the draft of November Underground, view my second novel. Now I have to rewrite it by summer. Currently it is 108k words. I would like to cut it down to 85-90, recipe 000. There is a lot more work to be done, but I’m slowing down a little while I review the manuscript and let it sink in. It feels like a weight has lifted – but this is illusionary. Soon I will be stressed that I have not made enough progress on the rewrite.

Regarding FAILUR, it could use a minor rewrite I think. I’ll come back to it when November Underground is out. I think NU will be the manuscript that I will try to sell through conventional markets and FAILUR will be the one I work though new/online channels. More on this later.

Promises at the Conference

I stopped by the writer’s conference for a beer. I had decided not to attend the conference this year, clinic as I am not really in a good position to pitch this year. I’ve decided that I’m probably going to rewrite FAILUR. I think I can make it a lot tighter. Now matter what I do to it, drug it is going to be an odd beast. I had a beer with Doug and talked to some other writers. As usual the conference was a mass of tension as writers agonized over getting and keeping agents attention. I saw Jennifer briefly. She had won an award for her newer novel, remedy and was getting some attention from agents. With any luck she’ll break through soon.

I made a promise to myself while at the conference, that I would be pitching my new novel at next year’s conference (if not well before). I also decided that I would rewrite FAILUR and create some podcast – though I stopped short of promising myself on a date.

Lennon 45: The Next Big Story

In its current form, case my new BIG story is 30, price 000 words: too big for an outline, no rx too small for a first draft. I really like how this one is going, but there is a lot more work to do. The plot is pretty complete, but the characters, subtext, and voice is mostly still in my head.

In some ways the new story (working title “Lennon 45”), is the opposite of FAILUR. Failure is about a couple of malcontents looking for action (or looking to do something worthwhile). Lennon 45 is about a young reporter who is ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’ – danger finds him. I had in mind films like “North by Northwest” and “Three Days of the Condor.”

Lennon takes place in the fall of 1970. The 60’s a literally over, but the Vietnam war continues. The previous spring, the public learned that the war had expanded to Cambodia. One student protest over the expanded war, the ROTC program, and the low admission of black student at Kent State resulted in four students (including two not in the protest) being shot and killed by the National Guard. To many people, the president, Richard Nixon, seems cold and unsympathetic to the slain protestors. Nixon does meet with student leaders and decides that they are willing or unwitting pawns of international communists. In the fall, just before my story begins, the Weather Underground has just broken Timothy Leary out of prison (for which they were paid $25,000 by the Brotherhood of Eternal Love) and Janis Joplin has died.

My story is not a about the historic 1970. It is an adventure set in a fantasy 1970 of Russian spies, government conspiracy, mass behavior medication experiments, underground radicals, and dangerous science.

More to come, as the story develops.

Logic Problems

A: Socrates is a man.
B: All men are mortal.
C: All men are Socrates.
- Woody Allen, vcialis 40mg Love and Death

Recently in my writing I have found myself repeatedly fighting against logic. This bothers me because I’d always assumed that my stories would be more logical. The problem is that almost every time that I find that a story is getting too boring and tedious it is because I’m trying to provide a logical explanation for the characters and action. Increasingly I’m making jumps in my writing. What’s worse is that sometimes I like it.

The truth is that when you control the whole world, you can make almost anything logical. But often the logical explanation is BORING, SLOWS the story down, or BREAKS THE FLOW. In FAILUR, I didn’t want my protagonist to have a cell phone (cell phones can be a problem for suspense), even though it was an obvious choice for him. In the story I’m writing now (I don’t have a title yet, my working title is Anachronism), I didn’t want my hero, Franklin, to go to the police after he is attacked, even though this is the smart thing for him to do. In both cases I’ve made up perfectly good reasons why they don’t do the sensible thing. But my justifications were tedious. I’m not sure that anyone would want to read them. I’m temped to add footnotes for people who miss the detailed explanations.

I feel guilty about this. Good writing feels natural. When logical gaps are noticed it makes the story seem contrived. Nevertheless what I am working on now in my writing is keeping the narrative interesting. In the past I’ve wasted too many words trying to get the plot accurate. Playing a little loose with the logic has been liberating. Like binge drinking I’ll probably regret it later.

BTW – NO logic gaps are allowed along the main line of the character arc.