In today’s Journal
* The Origin Story Wrapped
* No More Stupid Streak Challenge
* Too Necessary for “Of Interest”
* Of Interest
The Origin Story Wrapped
Every novel writes differently. Yawn, stretch. How many times have I said that? I keep waiting for them to run out of new ways to write and start repeating. Hasn’t happened yet.
As far as I can remember, I’ve never written any story of any length before in which I wrote the ending long before the entire story was laid out. I did that with this one.
A few days ago (Writing Day 7, so about 20,000 words in), I wrote a sentence, then physically flinched back away from the screen and all but jerked my fingers away from the keyboard. I frowned. “Wow. That’s the end of the story.”
But there was a problem. The story wasn’t long enough to be even a short novel yet.
That really isn’t a problem but it was a little jarring for me. From the beginning, I had expected this one—the origin story for the Santa Fe subseries—to be a novel. I actually expected it to be around 50,000 words. Most of my Crowley novels are in that range.
Of course, I allow stories to be whatever length they need to be. It isn’t up to me or even the characters. It’s up to the story. I’ve never varied in that.
But I felt like something was missing, or maybe like something wasn’t whole. (Calm down, this isn’t my critical mind, as you’ll see later.) I admit I hoped that somewhere along the way, a character or two had failed to show up or that they had omitted some scenes they should have included.
Fortunately, I’ve encountered that a few times before, so I knew exactly what to do. I opened the folder for my previous Wes Crowley Gap novel (Carmen Morales) and read over the reverse outline.
Sure enough, I spotted a couple of characters who had figured significantly in that novel and a couple of situations that no doubt would have carried over into the current story. The characters just hadn’t bothered to show up to tell me about them yet.
In the stories I report, we don’t do outlines or preplanning or rehearsals. Everything’s live. (See The Fiction Writer Is an Action Correspondent.)
Having identified the characters and having refreshed my memory as to the situations in which they were involved, I returned to the current story and just started reading for pleasure.
Of course, I turned those into cycling sessions by allowing my fingers to rest on the keyboard as I read and allowing the characters (any characters) to touch the story as I read through it. The result was two consecutive 2000+ word days (Writing Days 8 and 9).
But get this: what came through my fingers on those days had nothing to do with the characters and situations from the previous novel.
Both days I was simply reading, and both days the current characters were touching the current story, adding things that, as their recorder, I had inadvertently left out. Almost 4800 words worth of things I had inadvertently left out.
Then two days ago, on Writing Day 10, I wrote two new chapters one of those older characters finally provided.
It was no surprise to me that both of those chapters were incredibly relevant to the current (and future) stories, as will be the chapters I will write today. Because that’s what happens when you trust your characters.
On Day 11 the same thing happened and the story moved forward again. And yesterday, on Writing Day 12, I did only the final cycling session and the story wrapped as a short novel at 26,306 words. I wrote and later cut 6680 publishable words.
Then I ran a spell check and sent the little monster off to my first reader. Good to have it off my desk. Today or tomorrowI’ll be onto something else.
No More Stupid Streak Challenge
Only a few days ago, I decided I wanted to write a minimum of 2000 words per day of fiction.
Yeah, that ain’t gonna happen. For one thing, honestly, streaks don’t do much for me anymore.
Hard to psych myself into doing something ’cause I’m In Here, y’know? I’m privy to what I’m trying to finagle myself into doing. Kind’a takes away the mystery. Besides, between the Journal and/or my fiction, I write almost every day, and most days I write at least a few thousand words.
I’ve probably written more words in this stupid Journal this year (204390 words) than most fiction writers have written in fiction. And my own fiction numbers at this point surpass even that (231,388) although my fiction only surpassed my nonfiction sometime last month.
So to paraphrase the banditos in Blazing Saddles, “I don’t need no stinkin’ challenges.” (grin)
I’ve needed them in the past, though. If you’re currently attempting a challenge, good luck with it.
Too Necessary for “Of Interest”
In Writer Unboxed today there’s an article titled “The Eighth Element” by literary agent Donald Maas. You can read it at https://writerunboxed.com/2022/12/07/the-eighth-element/, and I recommend you do.
Why? Because as they so often do, he upholds writing into the dark even as he believes he’s talking against it.
In the article, Maas, who no doubt advises every writer to revise, seek critical input, rewrite, etc. talks about “the eighth element,” something he can more easily define by saying what it isn’t: “It’s not safe. It’s not careful.”
To which I reply, Yes, I know. That’s precisely why I advise writers to “Dare to be bad” (Nina Kiriki Hoffman), “Write into the dark” (Dean Wesley Smith), and “Trust your characters to tell the story that they, not you, are living.” (That would be me.)
Talk with you again soon.
See “German Coup Arrests” at https://apnews.com/article/europe-germany-constitutions-d7e67cfefbd1f33e2909f9c2fe1a3d3d. Story ideas abound.
See “The Forever Witness” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/the-forever-witness/. Story ideas.
See “Top holiday toys from the year you were born” at https://stacker.com/retrospective/top-holiday-toys-year-you-were-born.
See “3D map showing the world in a new way” at https://www.weforum.org/videos/this-3d-map-is-showing-us-the-world-in-a-new-way.
See “You Could Spend the Night in Hobbiton” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/you-could-spend-the-night-in-hobbiton/.
The Journal…………………………………… 1010 words
Writing of Santa Fe: A New Era (novel)
Day 1…… 3877 words. Total words to date…… 3877
Day 2…… 3460 words. Total words to date…… 7337
Day 3…… 2011 words. Total words to date…… 9348
Day 4…… 1050 words. Total words to date…… 10398
Day 5…… 3673 words. Total words to date…… 14071
Day 6…… 2501 words. Total words to date…… 16572
Day 7…… 4046 words. Total words to date…… 20618
Day 8…… 2273 words. Total words to date…… 22891
Day 9…… 2614 words. Total words to date…… 25505
Day 10… 3778 words. Total words to date…… 29283
Day 11… 2672 words. Total words to date…… 31955
Day 12… 1031 words. Total words to date……32986 (done)
Total fiction words for December……… 16414
Total fiction words for the year………… 231388
Total nonfiction words for December… 7320
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 205400
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 436788
Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 4
Calendar Year 2022 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2022 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 70
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
Disclaimer: In this blog I have shared my experiences, good and bad, as a prolific professional fiction writer. Because It Makes Sense, I trust my characters to tell the story that they, not I, are living. This greatly increases my productivity and provides the fastest possible ascension along the learning curve of Craft because I get a great deal more practice at actually writing.