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Archive for January, 2012

Progress Report, in which I have good news and bad news

Another 4500 words on Apocalypse Pictures Presents brings Magic Meter to here:

The good news is that I’ve closed out Act Two.  The bad news is–wouldya believe it–I’ve hit another wall.  Yes, even now, this close to the end.  And as of this writing, I have no idea how to get past it.

There are two main plot threads.  I know how one of them wraps up, so that’s not a problem.  As for the other one . . . well, I have all the pieces in place, the good guys and the bad guys set up for a head-on collision, with the protagonist facing an agonizing choice, and I’m pretty sure I know which way he’ll go.  The rest should write itself . . . but it ain’t happening.  I tried putting in a call to the muse, but she’s apparently wintering in Belize, or some such.  I keep getting her goddamn “out of office” message.  Which means I’m on my own here.

I’m baffled and more than a little frustrated.  Every novel is different, each one presents its own unique set of challenges.  And for this one, it’s the ending.  It’s in there somewhere, I just know it is.  But I doubt I’ll find it tonight.  My brain’s fogged in with fatigue.

So:  A good night’s sleep (one hopes), and then a visit to the proverbial drawing board.  In the meantime, your snippet:

Catherine hadn’t been stepped foot outside the walls since they’d been erected–over two years.  Her house in the Hills afforded a majestic view, of course, and she’d seen plenty of news footage and surveillance video taken by the Animates, but the sheer physical fact of the ruins, the enormity of the devastation, felt distinctly unreal.  Her mind refused to process it.  She couldn’t shake the sense that she’d walked onto a movie set, maybe one of the productions she had backed while at Fox.

Except that big-budget disaster flicks had not exactly been her forte.  As Wendell had once said, she’d been too busy chasing Oscars.

And the hard truth was that the Hills were the movie set these days.  The inaccessible fantasy land.  The ruins of Hollywood were the reality.

No updates for Write Club.

And so to bed.

Progress Report, in which I impart the wisdom of experience

Another 4K of Apocalypse Pictures Presents is (ahem) in the books.  Magic Meter is magic:

Missed the weekly goal by 1K, but you know, I’ve had worse weeks.  Meanwhile, I’m just about done with Act Two, and will be moving into a pretty short Act Three.  This tells me I’ll have some structural issues to deal with in the rewrite, but for now, I’m just trying to finish the damned thing.

You might think that I’d be charging headlong toward the ending.  Yeah, not so much.  I’ve reached that point in the process.  You know one I mean:  it’s all become drudgery, and pointless, and utter crap.

And yet, past experience has taught me that for all I know, I’m writing some of my most brilliant stuff here.

Either that, or it really is all crap.  Past experience has taught me that, too.

Here’s a snippet, so that you may decide for yourself:

As sunset neared, uproar reigned in the Hills.

Gil had wondered how he, Florence, and Jazmine would get back to Catherine’s place.  He needn’t have worried.  The brush fires had sparked an evacuation of the affected areas to the south and east, as was evidenced by the steady stream of residents they came upon making their way westward, carrying their belongings.  Berkowitz’s men worked to keep them moving, barking orders, coordinating foot and vehicular traffic.  Every time they neared another pack of evacuees, Gil, Florence, and Jazmine would hang back, waiting for them to pass.  If the group looked large enough, they would change their route, winding through backyards and deserted side streets.  But the evacuees were noisy and disorganized enough that they were easily avoided.

A burnt smell hung in the air.  By dusk, what had once been several distinct plumes to the east had merged into a great smoke cloud that towered over the Hills.  Haze made the setting sun into a fuzzy, brilliant orange blur, as if the entire western horizon had also caught fire.  He couldn’t help thinking that a panoramic shot of the landscape, panning from the sunset to the fires would look great in the movie.

No updates for Write Club.

Onward.

Progress Report, in which I find it hard to believe

Ground out another 5K on Apocalypse Pictures Presents.  Magic Meter tells the tale:

Last week was yet another tough slog in a long series of tough slogs, but it got a little bit easier toward Sunday.  It occurs to me that out of the many obstacles that stand in the way of a completed novel–family and work obligations, time with friends, unplanned schedule disruptions, good old fashioned laziness–the worst of them all, at least for me, is lack of belief.  Whenever I start a new chapter or scene, especially if I’m introducing a new setting, I have to work awfully hard just to get myself to believe what I’m doing.  If I can’t see the setting in sufficient detail, or if I’m not sure what a character’s going to do in a certain situation, I find myself kind of blocked.  Once I have a good handle on where I’m going, though, the writing moves with surprising and even pleasant ease.  These are the times when I actually enjoy the work, when I can disappear into the story, my fingers fly on the keys, and I start losing track of time.  I’ve believed myself into it.

Those moments of belief have been mighty scarce in this draft–maybe because I’d started too soon, without adequate preparation.

I know several writers who will skim past those troublesome details, saving them for the rewrite so as not to lose momentum.  I suppose I could try that, but it just feels too much like cheating to me.  Besides, there might be something important in those skimmed bits, something absolutely crucial to the scene.  I won’t know unless I look.

I dunno.  Maybe it wouldn’t kill me to outline a little.  Something to keep in mind when I consider my ever-evolving process.  Remind me I said that when I start talking about my next novel, would ya?  Thanks.

Your snippet for the week:

She focused on Eddie’s hate-filled face.  He stared back at her, defiant to the end, making no attempt to beg for his life, to plead for mercy.  Making it easy for her.  “Oh, just do it, bitch.”

Susan held her breath.  The trembling in her hands intensified, becoming so bad that if she fired now, she would likely miss, even at point-blank range.  The harder she tried to steady herself, the worse the shaking became.

Santiago edged closer, keeping his weapon trained on Eddie.  “Susan, what’s wrong?”

“Why me?” she said.

“What?”

“Why does it have to be me?”

“Because you’re the best shot out of all of us,” Terry said.  “Come on, Susan.  Finish it, so we can get out of here.”

“Yeah.”  Her gaze locked on Eddie’s.  She had no love for the man at all, not the faintest scintilla of compassion for him, no matter what he might have been through.  And still she hesitated.  “The best shot.  That’s me.  But what if I don’t want to be?”

Write Club update:  A personalized rejection from Redstone, with some nice comments.  Response time, a little over 60 days.

I’m out.