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Writing Progress: Week Ending May 12, 2012

May 15, 2012

I was rather expecting the week to go this way:

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words
  • First Draft Wordcount: 0 words

Grand Total: 0 words

As I said last week, this week was somewhat less hectic/chaotic/jam-packed with Home Project Phase II.  But the “somewhat less” part translated entirely into “Dear Wife and I trying to relax” and get over the sense of exhaustion that had built up over the prior two weeks.  Plus, Home Project Phase II had not gone away entirely.  It was simply less all-consuming.

In the “Dear Wife and I try to relax” department, we finished up Season II of Downton Abbey.  I now have a working theory on Downton Abbey: it is a Soap Opera for people who like to feel smart.  Since that latter category includes both my Wife and I, it appeals to us.  But it is still a Soap Opera.  Witness one particular plot point of Season II: a character whom we have never met but who was presumed dead from the outset of the first episode makes a return, complete with a case of Amnesia.  But in keeping with the “for people who like to feel smart” some doubt is sown as to the authenticity of this character’s story.  But the whole plotline is straight Soap Opera.  Mark my words, this character (“Patrick”, or possibly “Peter”) will be seen again in Season 3.  Unrelated to that specific issue but on the subject of Downton Abbey more generally, I have decided that Maggie Smith‘s character, the Dowager Countess (i.e. Professor McGonagall) is definitely my favorite character.  She has such a wit and such a mouth – and she can get away with saying so many cheeky and witty things precisely because she is the Dowager Countess.  She adds a lot to the show, to be sure.

And that’s basically all I have to talk about today, on account of I didn’t do any writing this past week.  I dearly, dearly hope that I put an end to this writing slump in the coming week.  I’m starting to feel disconnected from myself and my writing, and I don’t think I can go much longer without creating some fiction.

So, how was your week?

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. May 15, 2012 12:37 pm

    My week was busy, and I think they’ll continue to be until the end of June, when dance season is over. It’s demanding most of my mental and physical energy outside of work right now. I did finally finish that short story though, and submitted it. Now I’ve got a bunch of minor writing related stuff to take care of, that doesn’t involve writing. Hrm I should get back into blogging too.

    • May 16, 2012 12:53 pm

      Dance season, eh? Well, extra activities like that do keep one busy, don’t they? What kind of dance?

  2. May 15, 2012 1:31 pm

    Ugh, my week hasn’t been any better…lol.

    I’m like in organizer/spectator mode or something when it comes to my story–just sifting through stuff I’ve written and making notes, organizing notes…effectively avoiding the rest of what I have to edit. I hate when I get this way. (Usually this happens when I’ve come to a particular scene or chapter I know is gonna need a lot of work. Guess it’s just a mental thing.)

    Even aside from the story, it’s been hard getting back into the swing of things since my accident. Not sure why. :/ I just hope it passes soon…

    • May 16, 2012 12:58 pm

      Yeah, I think a traumatic event like that will leave you shaken up for a while. I wager the best thing is to just relax a little and get your bearings back, and not to sweat it on things like writing/editing, etc.

  3. May 15, 2012 3:04 pm

    All roads lead to Gosofrd Park!

    Okay, I’ll explain that. I have not seen Downton Abbey, though I’m sure I’ll sample it on DVD at some point, but if you like it I would recommend Gosford Park (one of my favorite movies ever, also written by Julian Fellowes, set in a similar milieu — though somewhat later — and also featuring Maggie Smith as a Countess).

    The coincidence is that I’ve been thinking a lot about Gosford Park this week, because it’s very much a model for what I’m doing with my story right now. I’m in the middle of writing a scene where there are about three converations going on at once. One is obvious (a detective questioning a suspect), one is hinted at (but an attentive reader will get it — I hope), and one will only become clear in retrospect.

    There is a lot of that in Gosford Park. There are scenes in there which will break your heart, but only when you watch the movie a second time.

    • May 16, 2012 1:08 pm

      Hmm. Well, I’ve mentioned it now to Dear Wife. We’ll have to see about checking it out – especially if we can pull it up on Netflix. ;)

  4. May 15, 2012 3:04 pm

    I finished Part One of my mega-revision project, only to come to the painful realization that I’ve got to knock out some of the characters. According to my first reader, they weren’t adding enough to the story to justify the brain space required to remember their parts in the unwieldy cast. It hurts to cut them (I can be such a softie when it comes to characters), but after much kicking and screaming (not quite literally), I’ve determined to do what needs doing.
    The easiest cuts have been made already; now I’ve got to deal with the chapters that will need major rearranging around the new vacancies. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get that finished today. …Which means I should probably stop dawdling online…

    • May 15, 2012 10:19 pm

      Danielle: The characters you don’t need, you can kill them off and then have a detective come in and try to figure out which of the other characters was responsible.

      (Well, that’s what I would do :-) )

      Seriously, I got exactly the same feedback on my WIP. At least the betas agreed on which ones have to go.

      • May 15, 2012 11:12 pm

        Might convolute my plot a bit, but hey, could be worth it for a thrilling whodunit! …No, too late now, I worked hard and actually got it revised without any lovely murders today. Oh well; win some, lose some.

      • May 16, 2012 1:24 pm

        Heh. If you don’t mind changing the genre… ;) Hmm. A murder mystery in a secondary fantasy world. I’m sure it’s been done… but… has it?

      • May 16, 2012 11:20 pm

        I’ve never seen it, but who knows? I read a series of acience fiction mysteries once. I don’t remember details, but they were nothing special. The problem is — and this would also be true of fantasy-mystery hybrids — that mysteries depend on the reader knowing what is possible and what isn’t. Which can be tricky in F/SF. Not impossible, but tricky.

      • May 17, 2012 8:26 am

        That’s a very good point. With a typical mystery, set in the real world or something transparently analagous to the real world, your reader is already oriented to the possible and the mystery flows naturally from that. To make this work in fantasy, you wouldn’t be able to lead off with your mystery – you’d have to spend some time orienting the reader to the world itself. And that by itself has got to be interesting, too, or the reader won’t keep reading to the point where the mystery begins. I imagine you’ve also got to have a fairly “hard magic” setting – that is, a fantasy setting with a magic system that is circumscribed and well-defined with rigid limits. If you had a softer fantasy setting with nebulous limits, mixing that with mystery I think will get you something that begins to approximate Lovecraft-style horror instead of something that is more a hybrid of fantasy and mystery. Interesting line of thinking; thanks for sparking some thoughts.

      • May 17, 2012 2:13 pm

        I really *would* like to write a murder mystery, someday. Sherlock Holmes was one of my childhood heroes, and my mom and I have enjoyed sharing many of Agatha Christie’s novels/short stories/films based on them together. I’ve already got a couple of protagonists in mind: The cool young detective and his eccentric aunt. Now I just need, y’know, a plot; suspects and clues and red herrings, oh my! One of these days…

    • May 16, 2012 1:16 pm

      Well, keep at it. I definitely empathize: I find cutting to be the hardest thing to do in writing. I rarely cut. (Most often, I find that the best way for me to fix plot inconsistencies is that I’ll have to add to the story, or make large revisions to the story, but rarely cutting from the story.) I can’t say I’ve ever had too many characters.

    • May 17, 2012 1:52 pm

      I learned this through experience. U-town (my second novel) established U-town (the place), including a few magical realist elements, but I quickly realized that those elements had to be excluded from the mystery stories. There is one character who pops up a couple of times in the mysteries, and one alert beta reader commented that I don’t describe her. There’s reason for that. :-)

  5. May 15, 2012 10:15 pm

    If you didn’t write at least you did watch Downton Abbey. I LOVE that show as well. I agree with you, it is a soap opera. There are times when I feel the plot points come far too quickly to have as much of a satisfying resolve as they should, but I don’t quibble the point. They are funded and coming onboard with another season. Delightful!

    I’ve been busy writing this week. Blog posts, revising author interviews, reviewing stories and putting in a solid amount of words into a new chapter of my novel. I’ve had story issues at this point of the plot that have bothered me and stopped by writing process. I’ve changed my outline and tossed out a few things and now the story is coming along again.

    Anyway, just keep at it. Don’t let a momentary lapse get to you. Just get out a few words at time and before you know it, you’ll be golden.

    • May 16, 2012 1:23 pm

      I can see your point about the plot points coming too quickly to properly resolve. Like in the “Patrick/Peter” storyline I mentioned it was like “bam, he’s gone!” And I felt like we’d barely gotten over Edith’s finding romance (and losing it) on the farm when it happened. I think it’s a function of the format: (a) very short seasons and (b) rapidly shifting forward in time sometimes skipping like a whole year (or at least it feels like it) between episodes. As for my writing, I’ll be back on the horse soon, I’m sure of that. (In fact, I’m already somewhat back on the horse, did a small amount of writing earlier this week.)

      • May 16, 2012 1:41 pm

        The speed at which the plot points come may be related to your original comment that it’s basically a soap opera, which is a form designed to arrive in daily doses (originally a quarter hour on the radio, then later a half hour or an hour on TV). Dark Shadows was like that when they tried to remake it as a prime time soap in the 1990s. Sometimes it seemed to be too fast and too slow at the same time.

      • May 16, 2012 3:40 pm

        Sometimes I want to take the writers by the shoulder’s and shake them. Tell them to slow down! However, I do love the show and I’m grateful it has found it audience and will be returning for more seasons. :)

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