Story vs. Story

My stories duked it out this week.

I hit 32k words on the NaNo project before finally caving in and giving up on it. I still think there’s a fine novel in there waiting to be told, but it takes trial and error to get there. NaNo is great for that, but by the time I reached 32k, I realized I was exhausted and didn’t want to fight with the story anymore. Moreover, I didn’t know how to fix it (a week later, with some distance and clarity, I have an idea of how to approach it on the next try, but that’s another post).

So I took the easy way out and worked on another project, one I’ve toyed with every now and then but never really pursued.

I am liking it.

The decision to stop on a project is a very personal one; every writer will approach it differently. Some will stick it out with the thing they’re working on until the bitter end. I’ve done this before, and it’s just…it’s exhausting. I’ve got other things to do, and didn’t feel like wrangling with a story that wasn’t working. Hence the switch.

I still consider it a win-win situation. I learned something about one WIP and gained a lot of ground on another. Can’t beat that.

As for this new project, it’s been a great deal of fun thus far. Won’t say anything else…

Idea Monsters

As you may know, I’ve been having a little bit of trouble with my NaNo story.

Oh, all right. It’s a snarky, arrogant jackass who thinks it knows everything and thinks very little of harassing me while I’m trying to work on it, telling me I’m doing this or that wrong, and then generally engaging in deviant behavior. I’m pretty sure it’s spray-painting my garage as we speak.

Still, I’m 31,000 words in, which isn’t bad. I’m nowhere near where I wanted to be – I was thinking 35,000 by the weekend, except I wrenched my back and have been damn near immobile since Saturday afternoon – but it’s a respectable number. Hey, it’s the NaNo experience.

Except then Story’s younger brother, whom we’ll call Pipedream, came waltzing in with In n Out. He dropped the cheeseburger on my desk, perched on the edge next to it, and said, “Yo. Write this down.”

Pipedream is bad news. I’m pretty sure he smokes weed and engages in other deviant behavior. But he’s just so tempting. He’s like the bad boy your mother tells you to stay away from. I bet he’s got tattoos and a leather jacket.

He also likes zombies.

Bad, bad news.

Daily Updates

Figured I should try to keep track of what I’m doing somewhere.

Switching to third person was the right choice. 3748 words today, boosting me to just over 27,000 words. I may write a little more before going to bed. Am attempting a sex scene, so of course wine is involved.

Still not sure if I’m just going to stick to one POV protagonist (the heroine) or add others now that those doors have been opened. For now, the heroine is doing most of the talking and I’m okay with that.

In other news, I discovered Starship Troopers 3: Marauder on Netflix. Now, I was generally aware that there had been a Starship Troopers sequel years ago, but I didn’t realize there was a third installment. I checked it out…and oh, Johnny Rico, you have aged very well, but you still can’t act for crap. Casper Van D clearly isn’t trying in this one – at least in the original he made an effort. Here, he’s just like “Behold my rugged good looks!” Which would be fine, if he didn’t have to talk. I think he’d make a great strong, silent type.

I turned it off less than halfway through because the heroine’s ultra-inflated lips bugged the crap out of me. I am not against collagen injections (or whatever she clearly got) if they make you feel better about yourself, but seriously, the damn things took up half her face. No thanks.

Definitely bedtime for me. Cheerio, old chaps.

Intimacy Issues

So my NaNo story pulled another fast one on me.

“Sup, SP?” it said, sauntering up to my desk at an ungodly hour this morning. I always figure Story looks a little bit disreputable – you know, holes in the jeans, a leather jacket, maybe some tattoos peeking out from sleeves. Oh, and he/she hasn’t combed his/her hair. Story is the person your mother warned you to stay away from.

Anyway, Story twirled my desk chair around so I had to look at it. “I know you haven’t had your coffee yet, and you’re really concerned about that project that was due last night, but I thought you should know that I should be written in third-person.”

I squinted up at Story. “You’re a figment of my imagination. Go away.”

“No, dawg, I’m serious. The first-person isn’t working for me. It’s like Anette trying to sing ‘She is My Sin’ in the original key. It’s cute, but sounds too thin. But if she belted it in her lower register, it would be damned sexy and powerful. Do you feel me?”

Story is like that awful person in your life who shows up looking adorable but never brings anything meaningful to your life. Yeah, they might drop by with pizza now and then, but mostly they just make demands of your time and ask for weird favors.

Not this time, I decided. Story had already changed around the dynamic of the novel by deciding it wanted to be a love story. No way did it get to mess with the narration, too.

“I should put on some music,” I said, turning back to the computer.

“Third-person, dawg! Third-person!”

“Can’t you go bother my landlord or something?”

I don’t know why my novel has decided to call me dawg. 

I caved in and wrote a segment in third-person limited, just to see what I could come up with. About half an hour and 1200 words later, I was suitably convinced and wondering why I hadn’t made the switch earlier.

Actually, I don’t really need to wonder. I remember why. I set out writing first-person present tense. Then I broke it into sections (first-person present and first-person past; the latter was the actual narrative, while the former was the narrator talking to strangers years later). It wasn’t sitting quite right with me…couldn’t say why. I liked the intimacy of first-person, the feelings we got as she embarked on her epic journey, but felt the story could stand to be a little larger than the limited viewpoint it offered.

Yes. My novel had intimacy issues.

So now I’m thinking sticking with third-person, and keeping a little bit of first person in the form of journal entries or something like that.

I will say that first-person viewpoints are easier (and more fun) to write when you’ve got a sassy protagonist. Vibeke and her stream of one-liners are fun. Alexis (you might meet her later) is also enjoyable. The protagonist in this story is more serious…I’ll have to go back after all this and check, but I’m pretty sure part of my problem with the story was that I was getting a little bored in her head. And if the writer’s bored, the reader will be bored, and that’s just no good.

Of course, this is going to mean going back and rewriting the 23,000 words I already had…but we knew that would happen anyway. Revision is the better part of valor.


Ah, Love

Love stories. I dig ’em, but I don’t usually try to write them. At least, not on purpose. I’m just not the lovey-dovey type (see: the zombie books)

Except my NaNo has decided it wants to be a love story. It started hinting about this at around 10,000 words. I decided to incorporate more romantic elements. Then, at 18,000 words, the story turned around and stared at me.

“Yo, writer, I’m really happy for you, and Imma let you finish, but I’m kind of a love story. Like, a real love story.”

This is not the sort of thing I ever want to hear. Ever. It’s kind of like being on a date with a gorgeous man who later informs me he just wants my help getting closer to my roommate (yes, this happened).

Love stories don’t usually pop up in my writing, unless specifically planned. Aliens might show up. Zombies, sure (that’s how Grave New World became Grave New World – the zombies showed up as a plot device). If I’m really strapped for ideas, I might send the characters to the lost city of Atlantis.

Weird stuff, yes. Love stories, no. Love is delicate. Love is mysterious. Love is awkward.

“Why?” I asked. “I thought you were going to be a sci-fi actioner. With spaceships and stuff. And space pirates, maybe.”

“I am,” the story replied. “There is all of that. But there’s also a love story. You need to focus on that. Also, your hero’s temporary name sucks, and you need to change that crap ASAP.”

Like I said, I like love stories. Hell, I love them. I love reading them. But writing them makes me a little bit twitchy, so I stick to what I like. Humor. Sci-fi. Zombie splatter.

But now I have this love story that I’m not sure what to do with, and a hero who needs a name change.

Come to think of it, the heroine needs a name change, too. I’ve been calling her by her last name, which is great, but she does need a first name, even if it’s just to have one.

But hey, wordcount! WOOT. I’m actually at 19k right now.

Oh, NaNo. You work in mysterious ways.

Newsflash! When I’m not awkwardly feeling my way through sci-fi love scenes, I’m apparently Official Zombie Correspondent (or something like that) for Pulsify magazine. I discussed the World War Z trailer yesterday. I don’t know if I’ll be writing about things besides zombies yet.

In other news, I actually had too much coffee and am jittery as all hell. My fingers are actually twitching on the keyboard.

Bombs Away

Day two of NaNo has come and gone; day three is still going. How’s everyone doing?

I’m at 8,452 words on this new story. Very happy so far.

Without talking too much about the plot (I seem to jinx myself when I talk about stories I’m working on), this story at this particular time seems to better fit the mood I’m in. GNW3 has been tough to plod through because there’s some…I don’t know, stuff…in my personal life that has not been going so well, and writing wisecracking Vibeke can be tough if I’m not in the right mindset.

This story, slightly darker and more serious, is flowing a lot better.

Will it see the light of day? Who knows. Maybe come 2013…

Notebooking It

I love technology. Love it. Computers, iPods, Internet, smartphones…I want to gather them close and hug them all. I prefer not to imagine actually writing stories without them.

With that said, I still really like taking notes in longhand.

I can’t explain this odd fetish. I have Evernote on my cell and my computers, which, in theory, is all I need…I can take a note about my NaNo project and have instant access when I get to one machine or another. The weak link there is the cell phone; much as I like it, I’m not the most adept at typing on tiny screens, and I always want to take lengthy notes (otherwise I can’t figure out what the hell I meant; shorthand is lost on me)…so it turns into a project.

Hence I still have actual notebooks.

I wanted to get something special for the NaNo project; it’s a story that has been percolating in my little brain for quite some time, and I’ve written down ideas during the year, just trying to get a grasp on what it’s about. I have a regular notebook that I jot things down in on the fly, but I wanted something a little more special for this project, so I headed over to B&N and inspected their notebook selection.

I settled on this little guy. It’s small enough to fit into a purse, and has that aged, “been around” feeling that I like.

No characters yet. I have a general overall arc, and I know what happens, but it’s mostly scenes visualized in my head. Nothing is connected at the moment. I figure I have until November 1 to figure all that stuff out before throwing caution to the wind and running wild.

I still fully expect to type out my NaNo novel, unless I’m stranded somewhere with no computer and have to revert to The Old Ways, but I do like my little notebook.

What are you going to use for NaNo?