Monday, September 07, 2009

A Change of Venue(s)

What I'm reading: Footprints in the Butter, by Denise Dietz

I hope you enjoyed the pictures from St. Augustine Beach. I had a very relaxing AND productive time. First, the hotel was on the beach, not in the historic or downtown shopping area. Hubby had a meeting about 10 miles down the road, and this was the hotel the government picked. No complaints. I took a walk on the beach in the mornings, (and because the hubster will not permit "birds" as an answer for "What did you see?", the critter in the photo is a willet. I also saw sanderlings and a ruddy turnstone.) and then sequestered myself in the room to work for the rest of the day.

A change of venue can spark creativity. Just looking at the laptop instead of the PC monitor changes one's outlook. Also, because I was using webmail, I didn't have the distraction of alerts when new emails came in. The hotel room came with a lap desk, so I could spread out on the bed and spend the day working on the manuscript.

I immersed myself in the totality of the book. I'd been working off a hard copy printout, and had just about finished before we left town. I'd written 26 chapters, but I realized that I wasn't happy with where things went in Chapter 25. If my intention was to bring the book home in under 90,000 words, I needed to start thinking about the end. My loose "something bad happens" needed to start happening, ans a lot of those scenes and ideas from my 'idea board' weren't going to be needed.

Although I write from Page 1 to The End, I also go back when I figure out how a certain plot point will unfold. I used this getaway time to go back through the manuscript and add the necessary setups, rather than jotting notes to 'fix this later.' Later was now.

Keep Reading...

More than once, I've talked about needing to give characters the right skill sets before they're needed so it doesn't come across as too convenient or contrived. Likewise to plot events. If my hero is going to discover a critical clue at the garage where he takes his car to be repaired, I need a logical way to get him there. True, he could have a breakdown on the road, but that starts to fall into that, 'My, how convenient" category. But what if, much earlier in the book, his admin reminds him that's he's overdue for the routine maintenance on his official work vehicle. Now, the need for him to be at the garage is established, and he can show up when I need him to.

On the flip side, I'd set up that a character always carried a clean, white handkerchief. I had a vague idea that it would come in very handy later on, but as the book progressed, I found I wasn't going to come back to it after all. Those setup paragraphs got cut.

So, all in all, I spent a day dealing with continuity, and another day moving forward. There are still a few spots where I need to decide what happens next, but sometimes, in a mystery, those questions make perfect page-turning scene breaks, especially when you're writing multiple POV scenes. So, Justin gets a text message. What does it say? Is it really from his grandfather, who rarely uses a cell phone? don't know yet -- but I'm sure it'll come to me while I'm writing the next scene from Gordon's point of view.

We're about to head off on a 5 day cruise. Internet, if any, will be sporadic (and expensive). So, although I intend to schedule blog posts, it's unlikely I'll have time to respond to comments. Don't let that stop you, though!

Tomorrow, I've got a special guest, one of my crit partners. What makes him special as far as being a CP goes, is, 1) he's an XY, and 2) he's a computer programmer. So what's he doing critiquing my romance novels? And what's he doing writing fantasy and science fiction? Check in tomorrow to find out. Word has it that he's going to be talking about me, and I'll be at sea, with no way to defend myself.


Debra St. John said...

Continuity gets me sometimes because I tend to write all over the place...if something inspires me I'll skip around in the story. It sure makes the editing process interesting.

Enjoy your cruise...I'm ten shades of jealous green!

Elena said...

That is a touchy decision. How real is real. I've told some fantastic whoopers and have never heard a thing, but one time when I used an actual place I got a nasty letter saying the place never existed and so on.

Years ago I read a mystery that set a lot of action on the "east" side of Chicago. Growing up there I knew there wasn't one and it spoiled the entire book for me. Couldn't get past it.