Friday, August 18, 2006

Figuring It Out

Go see Sara's discussion on voice. She covered it much more coherently and completely than I did.

Yesterday I decided to take a blog vacation day. This was a good thing, since I was still feeling all petulant and weird about writing. Even though I'm supposed to be taking a "writing break" I have not stopped worrying about it. I try to read THE ILLUMINATOR to relax, and all I think is "oooh, why don't my characters do THAT?" Or "that description was much better than mine of the same thing" or "I really should consider the opening differently". Kreek had to slap me to get me to stop.

She also helped me in another way--as my good writer friends so often do--by making me face up to something I knew already, but didn't want to admit. I've been holding back an eentsy bit sometimes in my writing. It's there in the first 30 pages or so of TMT, and it's been there in the first bits of Book 2 that I've been working on. This is part of why progress was so slow. I wrote the first scene all out, quickly, and then I just started crawling along, picking my steps very carefully. Because I so want this book to be RIGHT, you see. I want it to be all that I didn't quite manage with TMT, or that I wanted to do better. But the problem is that I don't know what's right for Book 2 yet--I don't even know the characters! And this is the bloody First Draft. I need to let go, be free to write down whatever the hell I want and let it sit there for a while, instead of panicking over each word choice. That's what I was doing. I was sifting and sifting and sifting through what I had, then inching forward, instead of letting the imagination go.

Next revelation? I might just have to do this one in chunks, because I don't know that I can write Isabella-at-11 as well until I know Isabella-at-30. Plus there are some oh-so-good scenes I already have in my head a little, and if I go in order it will be months before I can write them.

So there. New approach: kitchen sink (thanks, Vic). No restraints. Write it ALL in, no matter how stupid it sounds to me at first. Then I can also go back and slash it. I haven't really had to do that before; it might be interesting.

Medieval Word of the Day: lime-twig: A twig smeared with birdlime for catching birds.


Lorraine said...

This is why I never read books in the same genres I write in when I'm taking a forced break. It's just too easy for them to spark stuff in my own work.

I'll be curiouos to know what you think of The Illuminator. I read the first 80 pages and was really enjoying it, then something began niggling at me and I began to fear the writer was going to a place I didn't want to go. So I jumped ahead to the end to see if I wanted to invest another 400 plus pages of reading time in it. And that's all I say for now, not wanting to spoil anything for you.

Also, I HIGHLY applaud your decision to write unrestrained first drafts AND write out of order. I always write out of order and usually begin with whatever is most vividly in my head at the time. Usually it's vivid for a reason, then once I get it down the scene often tells me pretty clearly what needs to come before it and what needs to come after it, so I'm all for writing out of sequence!

Lori Benton said...

Lorraine, I did the _exact_ same thing with The Illuminator that you did. Got that niggling feeling and....

Susan, I'll be interested, too, in what you think of The Illuminator, if you finish it. Would you consider posting about it here? Or would even a brief discussion be too spoiler filled?

Hey, from another chunk writer... give it a try! You just might like it. *s*


Susan Adrian said...


I don't mind the occasional spark back to my book, actually. Gets me thinking in a different direction sometimes, and it never comes even close to a plagiarizing bend, just sparks.

I'm not sure what to think about THE ILLUMINATOR. I was all crazy to get it, but then I didn't want to read it when I was feverishly finishing TMT. So my husband read it instead (in desperate need of a book--he NEVER reads historicals) and he read it all the way through. About a month ago I picked it up, read the first chapter, put it down, and could have never picked it up again--it just did nothing for me. This time I started there at Chapter 2, and I was much more interested. Still, though, I don't really care what happens to any of them, and the Illuminator himself is bugging me. I think she's done some things really well, but...

Anyway, I'm only on page 62. I'll see if I get any ideas when I come to 80. {g}

And thanks for the encouragement! I've never been against chunk writing, but TMT didn't come to me that way, and that's been my only experience outside short stories. We'll see how I do with the unrestrained. I fully intend to launch myself into it that way and see what comes.

Susan Adrian said...


You too, huh? Did you finish ILLUMINATOR?

As to whether we can discuss it? You bet! It's my blog, I make the rules. Thank God. {g} I'd just put up a SPOILER statement, and voila.

Maybe I can read some this weekend, since I'm still on enforced "vacation"!

Anonymous said...


First of all. . .YEAH!!! Go for it! {beam}

Next, I'm pretty sure it was the body slam that finally got your attention.

And finally, the bill's in the mail.{s}

Lub and kisses,

Vicki Pettersson said...

I'm so pleased if I said anything helpful. And while I have your attention might I add I think you're often much too hard on yourself. Take it from someone who knows. {wg}

Lori Benton said...


I did precisely what Lorraine did. I read until the niggling dread got too much to take, skipped to the end, saw what I had suspected, and returned the book to the library. I'll reserve further comment for now, though, except to say I like her writing tremendously. I was very excited about "discovering" her, but I'm just as disappointed now. I'll be cautious about her books in future.

So hurry up and finish, if you can bear it!

Oh, I ought to mention I initially found the book in audio version, and the reader was quite good. That may have helped me get into it quickly. But when I began to suspect where it was headed, I went to the library and got the print version, so I could skip ahead and read the end. *s*


Julie K said...


Glad to hear Kreek had your back and got you pointed in the direction of the kitchen-sink writing method! Just go, fly away with this story! I know you can do it!

Julie K

Susan Adrian said...

Kreek: Thanks again! You're right, it was the body slam. You should see the bruises. And I'd send you chocolate, but you {gasp} don't like it!

Vic: Nuh-uh, am not. {g} Hope the rewrites are going well!

Lori: Hmmm, I'm on page 100 or so, and I have several niggling ideas, but I'm still not sure what y'all mean. Will have to read on.

Julie: Thanks, girl! Feeling better already. {s}