It ended, finally

I just said The Freakin’ End to The Awakening, sequel to To Sleep. Holy cow. It’s huge. Absolutely freakin’ huge. As in over 140K words. 141,964 to be exact. My fingers, they are tired.

I really like this book. It is very woo-woo, metaphysical, metaweird. But me likey.

I’m going to let it sit and stew for a while. I need to think about where it ended up and how to get there in fewer words. The MC can’t seem to keep out of the infirmary and I need to decide if that was necessary. Someone once said that every lesbian fiction has to have a shower scene (got that, several), a concussion (actually have two of those), multiple orgasms (yeah, got that too), and a misunderstanding. Ooops, missed that one. There’s a lot of not understanding but no misunderstanding.

Oh, and I made sure I got the Prologue right. Would you believe the submitted version starts off with the Epilogue? Yep, I totally screwed it up. And I didn’t catch it for about 2 weeks into the submission. (insert image of P banging her head on her desk and her niece laughing)

Snippet for the needy:

Prologue
There’s a parable of sorts about these two little boys. One is an optimist, the other is a pessimist. The little boys are shown two stalls in the barn, both stalls full of manure. The pessimist is disgusted but the optimist starts shoveling the manure. “Because underneath all this shit? There has to be a pony!”

Well, we certainly have been through enough shit that there ought to be a pony for all of us. The ‘we’ I mean is me and my friends: Julie, Gin, Chris, Frankie, and Helen. And Mona. Can’t forget her.

and from the first chapter:

“Hey, time to get up.” Julie said. For the fourth time.
“Don’t want to.” I mumbled into my pillow.
“Do you want me to send Frankie in here?”
That did it. I got up. Last time she sent Frankie in with the command to get me up, I got dumped on the floor.

(and yes, I know I got the punctuation wrong in the dialogue. I got them all wrong kinda sorta but not really on purpose. All will be fixed in the edits. I hope.)

It’s Tribbles. That’s what it is.

So I’m trying to finish up the sequel to To Sleep. It’s a good book, in my humble, totally unbiased opinion. When I decided it was getting too big, it was roughly about 120K.

I went through it, really looking at the scenes. Which one belongs, which one doesn’t. I eliminated some characters. I eliminated some scenes. And when I was finished, it was 126K. Yes, it grew.

I then listed all the major events that happen. Then I filled in the events (scenes, really) that lead up to each major event. I am very, very, very visual so seeing the list helped. I trimmed a huge section. My cut file has grown by over 6K words. The book has a better feel so far. I’m on page 264, a little under half way.

But, dammit to heckaroni, the damn thing is getting BIGGER! What the hell? It is now at just under 128K.

I am really hoping that it will start shrinking soon. I didn’t want to do a third book. I may have to, just to make this one light enough to carry.

I wanted some events to happen by now but they aren’t fitting in just yet.

Anyway, just wanted to say I am still writing.

Chasing Tangents

If a scene, character, or even a setting, does nothing to further the story along, then it doesn’t need to be in the book. It is far too easy to get into “developing a character” or “setting the scene” and yet none of it helps the story. Several years ago, I began seeing plot bits as strings. And they had to come together in form the rope that is the novel at some point near or at the end. If a string didn’t tie to that, well, it didn’t need to be there. Tangents can be fun and even educational but if it is a tangent, and not a true plot string, snip it.

In Simple Sarah (the book stuck in perpetual edits since I started in ’04), I killed a character. Not in the ‘had a funeral’ kind of way. I killed her by removing her from the book. I kinda sorta liked the character but it was her horse I liked more. When I realized that, out she went (wow. just realized I wrote that post 3 years ago…).

In The Awakening, I had this family of five. In one version, I had them be all pissy and grumpy and struggling with their new reality. I back tracked a little because this attitude had no basis so I put one in. Didn’t like it. Didn’t know how to end it. So I backed up again and made them all nice and sweet. And that’s when I realized they did nothing to further the story along. There’s enough conflict and tension without them. So, yeah, out they went. One of the characters actually had a good role and I didn’t want to get rid of the role, just the person in it. I spent two days thinking (yeah, smoke was everywhere) and decided who to put there instead. I played a little with that direction and liked it better.

Which is why I am going through the book again but this time, my tangent radar has an upgrade.

I know I’ve said this before, but

I. Hate. Editing.

So I started editing The Awakening because it got to 120K and wasn’t really going anywhere. I stopped writing and backed up to go through and remove/trim several tangents. Which I did.

So why the heckaroni did the novel GROW, rather than SHRINK?

And now I am going through it AGAIN to trim yet another tangent. I like what this one adds to the plot but I agree I do too much dialogue within it. As I go along, I am trying to also narrow down the purpose of the book.

In To Sleep, the reader discovers several things. It ends with the MC and her friends going somewhere to recover and decide what to do next. In The Awakening, they are starting the task of “awakening” others like them. I need to decide if awakening them is the single purpose (besides growth of the characters). If so, then do I need to include the details of that or just the growth of that. And how much does the reader really want to know? Does the reader want to know every single meeting or just the results of the meetings? At the same time, I need to keep the MC grounded. She cannot go from a simple Human to being what amounts to the head of the new nation unless she is strong enough. The reader needs to find this believable. And they can’t find it believable unless I show her growth. And I can’t show her growth without displaying the details.

‘Round and ’round I go until I, like, barf.

And meanwhile, the wee little novel fairies sneak into my computer in the morning (between 8 and 10, to be specific) and add random words so that the word count rises instead of falls. Either that or I’ve been drinkin’ a wee bit too much Buffalo Trace and/or Knob Creek.

120K of Not Much

Well, The Awakening, the sequel to To Sleep, reached 120K today. And while there are a lot of good scenes and a lot of good words, the connection between them all are thin tendrils of ‘kinda sorta’ and ‘where was I going with this?’. I really like this book but it there’s not an underlying continuing purpose underneath it. I guess the theme is flawed maybe or the plot itself.

I kept writing, thinking maybe perhaps it would come together and some point and I’d know what it was that was missing. But it never has. And when I realized I’d hit 120K (120449, to be exact), I finally admitted there was a problem. So I gave up on saying the end in its current format. I was tempted to just keep going, hoping maybe I’d find it, but there reaches a point (like, 120K words) when it’s time to do something.

So, I did a ‘save as…’ on the original file ‘the awakening 1’ then did it again to save as it’s original file name. That way the original mass of words is saved for posterity. And now I edit before I even finished. I’m going to read it and tame the tangents I kept going off on. I already know several plot lines are going to be cut because, frankly, I was wincing as I wrote them. But I followed along, hoping it would lead somewhere.

I considered setting it aside for a while, letting it settle, but I don’t want to lose the MCs voice. This is why I jumped into it even before To Sleep had sold. Written in first person, it is very very important to maintain the same voice of the character.

It is times like this that I admire (and hero worship) those writers who outline first. While it is not my style, I wish it were.

The Fun of Being Me

Remember just a few days ago when I said I needed organization? And how after 20 minutes of work I was already done for the day?

I hurt my left shoulder some how. Could be just coincidence. It could be something is up with my pillow. It could be the arm of my chair is too low. Or it could be the hour or so of sitting in a new chair (demo) while they arranged and tested out and measured. Or it could be the fact my shoulder is attached to me. It is usually the right shoulder that gives me grief so maybe the left got jealous.

I’ve got a towel under my elbow to lift it up a little higher which is helping slightly. I’ve got my way cool split keyboard and I can put left half under my left hand wherever it needs to be. However, I can only type for a few minutes at a time. Just the tension of the forearm and the slight movement of the shoulder starts spasms from the bicep up to the back of my head. It’s too damn hot for the heating pad. And ice is not what it needs. Sometimes I just get tired of all the adaptions and arranging of stuff I gotta do just to exist.

All sorts of other stuff are going on, too. My chair cushion and backrest are well past their expiration date and I’m sure that’s not helping any.

I’m in a bad mood. I’m on the brink of depression. Someone in the neighborhood likes to burn stuff (mostly trash) between 9pm and 11pm nearly every night so the office smells like smoke. The joy just continues.

However I have over 94K written in the next novel.

Writing Organically

Also known as no outline aka going with the flow aka what the heckaroni am I doing?

I am over 86K words into the sequel to To Sleep. And I have no clue where it is going. Usually I know by now. There’s this goal in the distance, I can kinda see it, so I plod along until the clouds clear and there it is. But not with this book. I like the book. I like the beginning. Then somewhere around, oh, 40K, I just start rambling with no real direction.

That means I edit drastically when done. But that’s the price one pays for organic goods. Organic vegetables and fruit are always so ugly, aren’t they? Yet they taste better and are better for you. Thusly, so are my books. (No, don’t eat it!)

Anyway, there’s a general direction the book (tentatively called The Awakening) is going but I’m not at all sure where it will take me. I realized a major plot hole tonight and am thinking my way around it. I may just leave a big {FIX THIS!!} and move on. Perhaps if I discover the end, I’ll know the rest. Right? Maybe?

I think the problem is the details of what the characters are doing. I feel the need to explain every meeting they are having but that makes yet more details I have to keep track of. Then there’s the Humans. They are following along so easily.

Meanwhile, I think I have a character who is trying to get my attention. I’ve never had that happen before. I keep seeing Harri from Butch Girls. She’s in a corner of my brain, tapping her booted foot, arms crossed, wearing a blue muscle tee, well worn blue jeans, short buzz cut hair covered by a denim baseball cap. And she’s scowling. I created this chick so why is she scowling at me? I am considering setting The Awakening aside and drift back to Harri’s book. Harri kinda scares me a little. Not sure I want her loose in my head without supervision.