I expected the second book in the Fifth World series to be long published by now, but instead of banging out the chapters, I’ve been ill. Influenza, Lyme disease, norovirus. It has not been a good three months.
I’ve been imagining lately sort of a Wizard of Oz scenario, where I’ve been slowly, so slowly, making my way along a dark and twisted path, with overgrown leafless branches and creatures murmuring in the darkness. Sometimes feeling my way along because I can’t see and the path is littered with…I don’t know what, but it’s easy to trip over. And now, ta-daa, there’s some light coming through, and I can stand up and walk faster, and…are you tired of this metaphor yet? I am too.
Anyway, just wanted to say that I hope to be back to work very soon. David de la Motte is chasing after someone and I haven’t decided yet whether he should be allowed to catch her. The labrim of France are being stricken by a terrible disease. And Roxanne is hanging on by a thread.
I am in the middle of throwing a tantrum. At least inside my head. I want to throw plates but my children are downstairs and I’m not sure plate-hurling is showing a great example.
But maybe it is. Deep frustration needs an outlet that won’t hurt anybody, yes? Only plates.
What’s making me so nuts is that I’m now 30,000 words into Undressed, and I’m realizing that something is really not working. Namely, I have too many characters, too much complication, and I’m not going to be able to pull it off as I’ve conceived it so far. So I’ve spent the morning erasing one of the main characters; well, not disappearing him completely, but turning him into a bit player. The book is better for it. But I needed the tantrum anyway.
It’s such a strange thing, this writing of characters. I’m a dedicated pantser–I don’t write outlines, character descriptions, nothing really. I just think of a situation or a phrase or a setting, and start writing. Before too long, the characters seem like real people to me and they direct their own action and write their own dialogue. I know, that sounds all woo-woo and unicorny, but that’s really how it happens. The character I demoted this morning? He never really came alive, even though he had a specific and useful purpose in the story, plus he was really cute. Sorry, dear boy.
Probably a bajillion bloggers around the world are all saying what I’m saying: where has the time gone? All of sudden, Christmas is looming and I’ve barely done anything. I just shoved my moldy Jack O’ Lantern in the bushes last week. I’m horribly, anxiously behind. How about you?
But I have started a new writing system, and although it is still brand spankin’ new, I am going to claim success. What I’m doing is writing 2,000 words a day with one day off a week, and only doing non-writing work tasks in the afternoon, after my brain has turned to mashed potatoes. Speed-writing is a totally new world for me; I used to be agonizingly painstaking. Put the comma in. Take it out. Put it back. Etc. And what I’m finding now that I have no time for that is that my writing has actually improved.
Plus I actually finish things.
I’m 60 pages into the second book of my vampire series (newly named Fifth World). I’m thinking of calling it Undressed, although I could be talked out of it.
So far, people are much, much worse behaved than in Unbitten. They make the characters in Unbitten look like a bunch of Pollyannas running around picking apples for their teachers. Bad behavior is so much fun to write. And to read, n’est-ce pas?
She went for a walk after dinner, like she always did. She was not about to let that man turn her into a scared little bunny.
You could call Jo a lot of things, but “bunny”? No. “Bunny” was so far down the list as not to be on it at all.
Please, did he really think she would fall for that line about being a vampire?
The night was the coldest so far. The wind was up and she wished she’d worn a hat–her hair was blowing all over the place and her ears were freezing. It was making such a racket, not quite howling but occasionally screeching, that Jo did not hear the crunching of the gravel, the footsteps on the path behind her. She was so busy telling herself how brave she was, that she failed to be scared at a moment when fear would have served her very well.
Sometimes bunnies have it right.
I was about to make an analogy between finally publishing a book and childbirth, but then I realized that the two things are not at all the same. For one thing, when you’re nine months pregnant, even though it feels as though you will be carrying that immense weight around into eternity, your sane self realizes that yes, that baby is going to be born one way or another, and it’s going to be soon.
With a book? Eh, this fiddling and tweaking stage could indeed go on forever. When I find yet another typo in text that four sets of eyes have gone over closely, I wonder if I’ll ever feel ready to click that “publish” button.
But click it I will. I had wanted to finish by Halloween, but that day is here, and while I have my red-lined cape and fangs ready for the evening (although I need to make a quick run for a pumpkin and candy!)–Unbitten is not quite ready.
Get out the forceps! This weekend, without fail!
I spent all day taking out paragraphs and then pages, trying to make the book fit the Rules of Romance.
I am not really any good at all at following rules. So I put the paragraphs and pages all back. I’ve decided to have more faith in the book that is two-thirds done, and more faith in readers. The story has developed its own path, and I’m going to follow it.
Any romance readers want to comment about The Rules, I would love to hear your thoughts.
You want characters you can care about, an involving story, an ending that’s satisfying, and perhaps a little tingle now and then, when the couple gets together? I’ve got that. So tell me, what else are you looking for?