Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Fast read, immersive read

Gone girl

Snappy chapters and still a deep read.

What’s the best kind of chapter? I’d like some feedback.

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about the virtue of short chapters. It struck me at first as a pretty superficial discussion.

I just finished Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn and thought the (generally) short chapters worked beautifully, and this was not a superficial read. I’m also reading a literary horror novel with very long chapters. Despite my preference for nice, meaty chapters and despite the amazing writing, it’s trying my patience. The author seems to be indulging himself.

I know there’s no golden-clad answer here. Nonetheless, I’m wondering if I’m behind the times. Read More…

What to do while you’re waiting to get published

Recently someone told me that they’re a finalist in a writing competition at a major  conference. They were excited, and I was excited for them. It may not seem to non-writers that this is a very big deal. Most people just want to know if they’ve ever read anything you’ve written or when you story will be made into a movie. (I trust my readers here would never make these comments to a writer!)

The fact is, it’s rather hard to get a publisher these days (unless it’s DIY) so what do you do while you’re waiting for a break?

Well write, of course. But then? I like the idea of entering a writing contest. Read More…

Writing back and forth


Lucca, Italy. I got lost here, once for a bad hour or so. They built these winding streets to confuse an invading army. And tourists!

My “work in progress” is turning out to be a work of “back and forth.” I make some forward progress but I am revising the old stuff in ways that are a bit disconcerting.

The story is planned, even down to 65 scenes that describe the plot progression. But a novel isn’t all plot. Now at about page 100, I find myself coming into key insights about the characters that alter how they have behaved up to this point.

And, in this book, I find myself going back and changing things.

This is a bit odd for me, because normally I would make a note of changes and just plunge on, knowing that a revision later will catch the insights. But nope, I can’t–or won’t–leave the draft that rough. It’s rather maddening to find myself altering the text (and so often!) Really, is this just an excuse not to write the hard stuff, the new pages?

I think all writers have to fight the urge to smooth and deepen the first draft chapters. And a bit of that is probably inevitable. But with this WIP, oh boy. Read More…

Grounding the strange

I’m having a fascinating time moving into the world of the fantasy novel. How lucky we are in SF/F to have such a diverse genre to play in!

In late August, my first fantasy, A Thousand Perfect Things comes out. I thought long and hard about what kind of fantasy to begin with. For awhile I considered a traditional fantasy, but some reason, I find the usual epic fantasy is not a style I relish. (Still, I love it when others pull it off well, like Martin, Erickson, Weeks, Abercrombie.) Nor am I comfortable with softer worlds of hedge-wizards and courtesans. It’s too easy-going, maybe. I like something a bit stranger than that.

I think what I love about fantasy as altered history is that I can create unusual and fun worlds and still have a tether to the familiar. Read More…

The mess of the novel.

Photo on 2012-05-07 at 18.06As I wade into the waters–of my next novel–I am struck once again at how little I know. How do I begin this marathon?  How much information is needed right here? Is this supporting cast sufficient? Is the tension getting on the page, or is it only in my head? Does this new concept fly or falter?

I must confess I do not know. And, mind you, I’m writing my twelfth novel.

It’s not as though I’m unprepared. I have an impressive notebook chock full of planning. I wrote a great synopsis that tells me at least one version of the story really works. I have character sketches and key scenes creating a classic structure. I have a killer title. Read More…