Friday, July 29, 2016

Steering The Craft: Two

Section two is on punctuation.  The exercise is on writing a confusing, busy scene without it.

I actually did a couple things with this.
1) I actually wrote without punctuation or capitalization. I found this very confusing to do because it was easy to lose track of where I was in the narrative, and when I read back to try and recapture the flow, it was very difficult to read. ee cummings I ain't.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Stone That Sings: Chapter 19

Chapter 19 is Searching for the Hidden

Outlines can be a curse. You know all the major plot points, and sometimes the writing seems to rush headlong toward them without taking the time to really enjoy some of the middle areas.

But that's not at all why I'm excited about the chapter, even if it ends on a cliffhanger.

This chapter had a lot of surprises for me, one of which being the intensifying of the relationships in the Danek/Sri/T'Mar triangle, and the statement Juliette's mother made about "When you find your second, tell me again your first is enough." In fact, the curse was specifically written to foreshadow the plot point in Chapter 19. Especially since in the original outline, the love triangle was actually rather vanilla, which bothered more the closer I got to actually writing it. So I wanted to explain how it started, and how it evolved.

Juliette's relationship with Danek actually started from an obscure reference in a story I was doing for the U.S.S. Oppenheimer collection, and can be seen in The Uwda and the Others. Syvok never seems to get along with Juliette, which stems from something that happened on Vulcan. Which was a short version of Juliette getting involved with a Vulcan male, and her emotions playing havoc with his mind. The punch line to that was to be that nothing was wrong with the man in question, and it would take a visit from him, his wife, and their mother to set him straight as only Vulcans can. This was cute, but as I started writing about these characters, I realized the actual situation should be and would be more complicated -- but it leaves the opportunity for Juliette to even more damage.

But before the damage, we have Juliette becoming dear to both of them, so she is simultaneously the middle and both legs of the triangle, even though realistically, at least at this point, future stories show that Danek and T'Mar are married and happily so. But what that means for Juliette, T'Mar, and Danek is anybody's guess. There is still a chance Juliette is still just in thrall of the bond between T'Mar and Danek.

But this chapter was more than the ever-rotating triangle. Many masks come off in this chapter and a great deal is revealed about the badge, who seeks the badge, and their alliances. It really becomes part spy thriller, part young romance.

Which leads me to the next chapter, and in that one, I'll explain why that chapter is the hardest to write. Really!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Steering The Craft: One

Going into this exercise from Ursula K. Le Guin's Steering the Craft, I was a little dubious. I've been told my prose is a bit ornate, although this criticism is not consistent nor constant. So the idea of working the sound of language did not seem to be an expedient route to clarity and the millions, nay, thousands of millions of dollars waiting for me if I could just find a way to write the next 50 Shades of Gray

I am the type of person, however, that does find awkward wording by reading a paragraph aloud -- or at least under my breath, while I'm on the bus. Perhaps I should read this post aloud more.

So, going in, I was ambivalent, but the exercise itself was a lot of fun, even if only three of the six decided to actually post. That is an advantage of online forums -- one can always catch up. The examples in the book, which I will not share here, gave just a few ways one could play with the sound of language, but they were more than enough to be inspirational. Well, to me, at least.

As a result, I came out of the exercise a net positive and found myself trying to use the exercise as a warm up before I do any work on my stories or novels.

The discussion has been not as strong as I thought, with one basic dissertation on why they didn't like the book or the exercise, but at least they gave it a shot in the examples, and it was a fun example to read, and the perspective was helpful.

Not an auspicious start, becalmed at the beginning, but the ship moves on.

The Mutinous Crew

Someone on Scribophile mentioned Ursula K. Le Guin's Steering The Craft book on writing, and how they wanted to start a group around it, posting and reading each others' exercises and talking about the various discussion points.

Wow, a writing website that wanted to talk about writing -- after I had started to think that Scribophile was really more for the 'part time' writer who just wanted to snub their nose at fan fiction and talk about the latest HBO series. Thankfully, it's not only that.

So, I managed to find an older edition on Amazon.  But, even with six people, there isn't a lot of thought around the discussion pieces -- especially when the person who was "I'll join" added the caveat, "But I won't participate." This should strike me as surprising, but it does not. They wanted to provide support in some small fashion.

I must admit, my first concern was giving access to the book without someone having to buy it. I'm careful not to post directly from the book and made the group private. And with that, the group The Mutinous Crew started off.

This is my first attempt to engage in something like this, running or otherwise, over forums. We'll see how it goes. I'll put up a post for each exercise, meta and otherwise. I'm sure there will be some good things and some not so good things. I don't intend on holding back or sugar coating in my writing here. This is purportedly a professional writing site, so if there are shipwrecks, I suspect they will be as spectacular as they are rare. But I think Sayre's law will hold -- the fights will be vicious because the stakes are so small.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Stone That Sings, Chapter 18

Network, Cipher, and Light

As I approach the end of the novel, my drafts get draftier, and I find myself having to fix a lot more, which only shows what a mad rush it was to get to the end of the story.
This chapter was a challenge because it wasn't about major plot points, but more about putting things in motion, developing relationships, and solving the little mysteries to get to the big ones. I guess in story terms it is the minor victory before things go completely awry.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Stone That Sings, Chapter 17


The one thing I don't have in my outline is chapter titles. I chose 'Connection' if only because that seemed to be what was going on, but I realized that the title is quite ironic.
 I wanted to hit:
  • More information about the Raptor Badge and those involved
  • Juliette's meddling in the relationship between T'Mar and Danek
  • More information about what happened with the sehlat
  • Danek's growing interest in Juliette
  • Juliette increased distrust, yet continued reliance on P'Nem
There're a couple of threads on Scribophile about love triangles. I hate them because they become what people write when they don't have a story. Still, its hard to have a story about three young people and not have relationships defined, and if there is any ambiguity, you have the possibility of a triangle. But how can I avoid making yet another crappy love triangle?

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Stone That Sings, Chapter 16

Just an Injured Bird

Did I say that Chapter 15 was the chapter that I was dying to get to? Well, I liked. Chapter 16 was the one I really wanted to get to but was also the one I was dreading. It's less happy and more of a turning point and brings back the sehlat sub-plot with a vengeance.

I'd been dreading the chapter because it forced me to come face to face with the criticism I'd been handing out to multiple authors on Scribophile about injuries and combat -- which was to point out that many beginning writers depict combat and injury far too clinically -- even when the combatant is a non-com like Juliette. The other element I wanted to bring in is a sense of denial and the random tangle of thoughts that seems to accompany shock.

So this chapter is confusing because much of it is set around a traumatic injury. Does it work? I don't know. I'll let the feedback decide.

There are other pieces to this chapter. P'Nem breaks her almost perfect Vulcan veneer just a little, and the level of frustration with the entire situation reaches an all-time high. It also made sense to have Juliette confront Surot -- especially since he's more or less the moral compass of the monastery, but even he is involved in Juliette's situation to some level.  His position might seem confusing; I'm hoping that his position will make sense if not before, but the end of the novel.