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Showing posts from May, 2011

Inner vs Outer Life

After concentrating very hard on the LodeStar Series for over a fortnight, I've got a week of Landcare and social events coming up. Knowing that, I let myself get distracted even in times I could spend an hour here and there.

So I ended up spending my usual writing period this morning on something totally different. Such as cogitating on what I could say if I joined the Twittering community.

With a bit of figuring, dividing (4 letters and 1 space equals 5 keystrokes as the average size of words) into 140 keystrokes, came up with the personal formula of about 28 words or less.

Then I wondered what I would want to say.

And I wondered what isn't being said by hundreds of other people already.

Then I wondered how I could keep it going. Daily tweets! How long would I last. And coming to the conclusion that I'd have to start writing tweets well before I start tweeting. Like have a good swag, more than a hundred, written out to be going on with.

This as a result of my experience…

Plot + Narrative = Story

It took me the longest time to work my way through the above three elements and come up with an understanding I can work with. The formula is my shorthand for that understanding.

Story is the knife edge at the top of a dune. Narrative is the particles of sand, the molecules of water if your story is a fast mover. Plot is the power moving it all along. Wind usually. The drag of the Earth's turning on the ocean. Or the Moon.

I read an excellent article yesterday, Against Story by Nick Mamatas on Book Life, discussing the propensity of readers who are addicted to plot. How a lot of people want 'a good story' and mean by that the same old same plot. The build-up, the problems, the crisis and the post-coital aftermath.

Where would the wave, the dune, the story be without their narrative? Just the wind roiling in eternal storms, probably. No place for life. All show and no spell. Even movies need their narratives. Look at Pandora, the amount of narrative that enriches Avatar.

Th…

Pantser Plotting

Streamlining the second half of the Srese-Kerr-plot was a four-stage operation that began with my realisation that I was giving a secondary character, Youk, some of the most powerful scenes.

Mark that I didn’t want to kill him off altogether. I may want to retrieve him one day as he’s a strong enough character to carry a plot on his own.
The first stage was going through the second part of the work-in-progress and cutting his scenes, and being left with a morass of stuff, the only word for it, that didn’t hang together anywhere.
Yes, I’d let myself get seriously off track. But one good thing, I realised that I am after all a seat-of-my-pants plotter, or was when I wrote this the first time. Not that I didn’t edit it at the time. I just didn’t know enough to do a structural edit.
For stage two I wrote out a rough new chapter-and-scenes list with page numbers referring to whatever I had ever written about this section (including notes on serviettes and things), filing the pages in orde…

Names in the Lodestar Universe

Among the SkinGifters, female children that are to be kept are named their family name, such as Kira. When the girl became a mother, she was renamed KiraMah. Her mother at the same time would've become a Sister and be named KiraSister. Boy's names were derived from their mother's names. Kira's baby boy was called Kiral. Kira's brother was called Kip.

While they were babies and little children, Srese and Sard Kerr of the Cave habitat, were called by pet names such as sweetling and honeybear. As soon as they can read they can choose their personal names from the Name Book. Srese and Sard chose their twin names for their colours. Srese for the colour Cerise, and Sard for the colour of the semi precious stone, Sardonyx, a yellow. The twins before them were Ferd and Federica.

Kes for Kestrel was the name chosen for him by his parents. The six families of the herders/ traders/ hunters -- to keep the upper hand, they keep themselves differently mysterious for each of the …

Pain Scale, for Writers

A pain scale used by a writer can structurally be the same as one used as an aid of understanding between a patient and a doctor. The following is one I down loaded from mcvitamins.com, though there are probably more descriptive ones available, that are better for medical use.
Pain Scale designed byAndrea Mankoski, ©1995,  

0 - Pain free1 - Very minor annoyance - occasional minor twinges.
2 - Minor annoyance - occasional strong twinges.
3 - Annoying enough to be distracting.
4 - Can be ignored if you are really involved in your work, but still distracting.
5 - Can't be ignored for more than 30 minutes.
6 - Can't be ignored for any length of time, but you can still go to work and participate in social activities.
7 - Makes it difficult to concentrate, interferes with sleep You can still function with effort.
8 - Physical activity severely limited. You can read and converse with effort. Nausea and dizziness set in as factors of pain.
9 - Unable to speak. Crying out or moaning unc…

A Pain Scale

Last week I was regretfully interrupted by Blogger's troubles and lost that post. Should be a lesson to me, I suspect. Probably I should first type the blog entry in Word and cut and paste it into the blog. How many bloggers do that, I wonder? One of these days I'll work out how many linkages there are nowadays in the chain that is the online blog-reading experience.

Here goes, trying to retrieve what I said.

We've all read thrillers where the authors don't allow their protagonists either to feel or express the pain of their many and varied breakages. Or we read something so fantastical the characters don't have any nerves with which to feel.

Yet we can all relate to pain. Cut your finger off chopping veges and you feel pain. Slam a car door on your hand and you feel pain. Break a leg and you know how it goes.

Why this now, you ask? Am I planning to dish out murder and mayhem soon? That too. But I had just visited one of my elderly ladies and realised again the eff…

Letting Go

Rewriting often involves letting go big chunks of material. Part II of what is now the Lodestar Series was one of the first sections I wrote, many years ago.

Srese in the meantime has grown older, from a young teen to older teen. As well as the facts that she has more experience, is more her own person and hopefully a bit wiser, she now has a mission and the attitude to achieve it.

Meaning any scene that doesn't support those character traits is being let go. Last week I was having great trouble with chapters 2 and 3, trying to convince both Srese and myself of her new status as go-getting hero girl. And not getting anywhere until I honed in on a particular scene.

She was in it by herself. With no antagonist to bounce off to build up her strength. No dialogue to carry the story on. Just her solitary thinking and experiencing. Dangerous territory for her writer (me) in this point in her, that is, my development.

The point of the scene was to establish the geography of the inside of…

The Border between Sleep and Waking

Alarm clocks are not conducive to getting ideas from that time/space. Or even lying awake waiting for the alarm to ring.

But you lie there still half asleep and you think, funny how I've never had linguine but plenty of spaghetti.

Next you get an image of a bird pulling a grub from the bark of a tree.

Think of the light bulb that needs changing.

Cold rain today. I'll twirl my rainbow umbrella to make it go away.

The horses at the wedding were restless, nervy, their coal black heads near the carriage were like a scene of impending doom. At the least a disaster.

Zebe will have to die. The image of the alien taking her as it jumps into the sea, is too good. It runs along the bottom of the sea like a ghostly white orang utan. Probably it doesn't realise she can't breathe under water.

You see how the border gets wider and becomes thinking about a story plot in a completely different series, most of it to be written sometime in the future. Zebe is the MC's partner, And h…