Monday, March 23, 2009

"Update" (no better way to title this post)

This picture is not part of the original post -- I just stole it. (My mom's been hit by a smooth criminal)

First off, I want to thank everybody for their outpouring of sympathy on that last post. Pepper was a sweet dog, the Veenie-Babies miss her terribly, and I truly appreciate your compassion and understanding. This blog is supposed to be about my family as much as it is about my writing, but for the most part, I often end up focusing on the writing. I guess what I'm trying to say is: it's really nice to have my writer friends are lifting us up in this non-writing-related matter.

And so... life goes on.

I suppose we could talk about writing fer a spell.

A couple posts ago, I mentioned how my agent suggested I "develop other projects" while we wait for news on our submissions. At first, I had this really quirky idea for a futuristic, dark, 'Little Mermaid' adaptation, but whenever I described it to somebody, thier eyes would glaze over and they'd give me this phony half-smile -- "That sounds... interesting."

So that particular plot is now interred in my extensive idea graveyard.

Instead, I've returned to what is perhaps one of my most original, creative, and marketable ideas ever. I actually wrote 173 pages of a first draft about two years ago, but then had to scrap it because of serious flaws with pacing, plot progression, and a disturbing lack of character development. Somehow the thing was moving way too quickly, but getting nowhere. Dead leaves in a strong wind. Anybody ever have a problem like that? If so, I'd sure like to hear how you dealt with it.

(Boredom alert -- technical babbling to follow)

My plan so far has been to de-constuct the plot in a spreadsheet. I'm hoping to get a good view of the bare skeleton, in order to decide where scenes need to be added, cut, or moved around. I'm done with that step, and now I'm re-writing the central plot, and hoping to superimpose the new skeleton over the old. Then I can start cutting and moving and adding according to a more impartial and intelligent plan. Does that sound too clinical? Too organized? A part of me just wants to keep busy while I wait for good news from my agent, but the artist in me is sort of disgusted by that attitude.

"It's an awesome story idea, Ray, it deserves your best effort."

"Don't lecture me, Ray... jeez... I hate when you get all artsy and snobby."

"Sorry, man -- want to grab a sandwich?"


Carrie Harris said...

I'm sorry I missed the last post; hope you and the Veenie Babies are holding up okay.

And good luck with the new book. Man, you are TOO organized, and that's all I've got to say about that.

Madison said...

I hope Mr. Ellenberg finds you a great publisher! Can't wait to see the book on the shelf! :D

Debra Lynn Shelton said...

Ray, Rock on with your revisions. You love being all clinically and organized-ish, so why not do it that way? Really, is there any other way you COULD do it? I admire your organization skills, believe me. My woo-woo artist approach gets confusing at times. Maybe you could do a little blog class for the rest of us less-organized types...? (Pretty please with sugar on top!)

Anonymous said...

Ray, your advice on organizing was invaluable, and some books just need that. I was thinking about this the other day. I think sci-fi and fantasy in particular need to be planned out in detail because otherwise you're going to write yourself into some weird corner where the only thing that will save you is the appearance of a god-like alien race replete with snicker bars and the exact antivirus program that your main character needed. That is so cliche.

Plan away! Is this the follow-up to Solhades, or an entirely new book?

Kelly Polark said...

Not that I know much about organization, I say go for it! Hope you get some good news soon about your manuscript!

Tracey said...

Sounds like something my husband would do! ha ha

Keri Mikulski said...

You are super organized.. Best of luck with your new project. Don't you hate the waiting game.. Urgh. :)

Unknown said...

I won't even pretend to understand half of what you just said.

K. M. Walton said...

That tires me just reading it. You go with your organized self.

VeeFlower said...

Rock on wit yo bad favorite blog entry is still the Headless Horseman bit, but I do find all this other stuff interesting.

Ray Veen said...

Carrie - Thanks, we're all still getting used to it. As you can tell, I cope by outlining.

Madison - Yes Ma'am, I hope so too.

Debra - You call your writing style the "Woo Woo Approach"? I'm not saying that's weird, but, that's weird.

Denise - I totally agree with you on the need for outlines in speculative fiction (obviously). Brave new worlds require lots of planning. (This book pre-dates Solhades AND Fiersom's Brood, although it was never finished).

Kelly - Funny, I would've picked you for an organizer. Guess you never know.

Tracey - So your husband likes to make his work take three times longer by organizing the crap out of it?

Keri - I AM learning to hate the waiting game. Even the rejections make me feel like I'm at least making progress.

Paul - I was speaking in code in order to hide my more potent writing secrets.

KM - If that tired you out, I'm glad I didn't really elaborate.

Vee - Want me to continue to make video blog posts? Cuz I'd do that for my mommy.

Anita said...

"serious flaws with pacing, plot progression, and a disturbing lack of character development. Somehow the thing was moving way too quickly, but getting nowhere"

I had a romantic relationship like that once.

Do whatever works for you...I like the fact you're getting organized before seriously hitting the keyboard...and don't give up hope on your other could get the call any day.

Bryan B. said...

I'm just wondering if you came up with the "dead leaves in the wind" image yourself...because, talk about being literary.


Sorry about your dog, man.

shortensweet said...

I don't want to talk about pepper..let's move on. stuff about your writing...

Frank Baron said...

I took a 3-hour personality test once. (I mention the length in order to bestow a little extra legitimacy to the frickin' thing. I got paid $25 for taking it though, and the money came in handy.)

Among its many findings is that I rank in the 4th percentile of the population when it comes to organizational abilities -- meaning 96% of the population is more organized than I am.

Someday, if you don't mind, I'd like to touch the hem of your garment.

Condolences on your pooch. I know how it hurts.

Danielle said...


I wish I could put my stories into spreadsheets... I think they might actually get finished that way.

Good luck reworking it!

Ray Veen said...

Anita - Thanks for the encouragement. I actually feel pretty good about the possibility of Fiersom's Brood getting picked up. And then I wonder why I'm wasting time working on another project, and then I remember that it's because a knowledgeable publishing industry professional advised me to.

Bryan - "Dead leaves in a STRONG wind". Sheesh... get it right. It's probably the best metaphor I've ever come up with.

Shorty - Seriously, I'm trying not to talk about Pepper. I find myself almost calling her every time I go out to the garage to smoke, and I can't open my patio slider without picturing her ramming into the screen every time she was in a hurry to get out.

Frank - I'm actually surprised. Your writing has such a well-balanced feel, that I'd have figured you for a total outline junkie.

Danielle - I actually loathe resorting to spreadsheets. But when it comes to solving a basic structural problem, you've got to have a good blueprint to work with.

Jewel Allen said...

You should try that mermaid story again someday. Sounds intriguing from a clinical man's point of view.

Vikki said...

You're going to deconstruct the plot in a spreadsheet? Wow, you are a total geek, V.

Ehem...I mean...go on with your bad self! Rock that spreadsheet, you party animal!

Anonymous said...

Wait, wait, wait, wait. You're going to put a story in a spreadsheet? Isn't that like shipping raw plutonium with those little foam peanuts? Or a horse trying to make love to a squirrel? Or trying to package your humor in a list of ridiculous metaphors?

Ray Veen said...

Pink - I thought it was a neat idea. But nobody else 'got' it. Thanks for the vote of confidence, though.

Vivi - I am a geek. And a spazz. And somehow still a party animal. Surely you can't relate to that in any way.

Blackbird - Excel makes for nimble table-ing. Having said that, I think your metaphors are rich and colorful and cool, like paint spilled in Superman ice cream.