A few weeks back I wrote about the story opening I wrote for my application to Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp.Â I’ve been letting that story sort of gel in my head for a while, but I’ve got a writing group meeting coming up, not to mention I could hear from OSC any day.Â Which means it’s time to get it done, hon.
What I’ve got: A page and change.Â A victim, detective, sidekick, murderer, and method of murder.Â Some specific ideas for scenes and clues.
What I need: Virtually all of the text, plus a way of tying together all the ideas in my head.
And so we begin…
1:40 PM: At Atlanta Bread Company to get lunch and get started.Â Mark just informed me I still have the tag on my new jeans.Â Stupid thing covers the whole back pocket and is stitched on.Â Quelle embarrassing!
1: 51 PM: I’ve got my balsamic blue cheese salad and my Cuban.Â Ready to get started.
2:04 PM: One page of utter crap down.Â S’okay.Â I’ll fix it later.
2:11 PM: Lord, this is a hard story to write.Â So difficult to write scenes from the POV of a character who can’t actively participate in them.Â Also, a lot of this story has to do with Harold’s backstory, which means Summary City.Â I’m going to have to find some creative ways of making him active.
2:18 PM: That was a fantastic salad.Â The Cuban was only okay.
2: 31 PM: Synonyms for sick: ailing, bedridden, broken down, confined, debilitated, declining, defective, delicate, etc.Â Going with debilitated.
2: 47 PM: Three pages down.Â I’m feeling a lot more confident about this story, which means (perhaps unintuitively) that I’m moving a lot more slowly and carefully.Â The first couple of pages of something are always rushed for me, always marked by the fear that I just can’t do it.Â I’m starting to move past that now, which means it’s time to slow down and take the story seriously.
3:00 PM: Taking a break to read Nathan Bransford’s blog.Â I’m very interested in this Agent for A Day experiment he’s doing.Â Yesterday he posted queries from five authors and allowed people to vote on which manuscript they’d request.Â Today he’s posting the first 30 pages of each ms; time to see if my instincts are on.
3:09 PM: Well, I’m pretty busy today, so I only read a few grafs of each entry on Nathan’s blog.Â That was enough to surprise me.Â Shoreline, my second choice from yesterday’s queries, was easily my favorite today.Â I thought it started off fantastic.Â Meanwhile my favorite from yesterday kind of didn’t completely sell me today.Â So, yeah.Â Obvious, I guess: pages matter.Â Huge props to the authors who submitted their work for public consumption in this way.
3:36 PM: Moved on to Borders.Â Hung my backpack low off one shoulder on the way in to minimize the number of people who saw this stupid tag stitched to my butt.Â Snagged a comfy chair near the window.
3:44 PM: Having a slightly hard time sinking back into my work after that pause.Â I keep wanting to surf the web purposelessly.Â Fortunately I have a good outline for the next scene or two, so I can lean on that to get me kickstarted again.
4:00 PM: Writing several paragraphs about people barfing.Â I know, I know.Â But it’s crucial!
4:14 PM: Honestly, Word.Â If I typed three asterisks, I want three asterisks.Â You and your Auto Correct feature are not my friends.
4:17 PM: I just realized I have no idea what Harold’s career was.Â Seems maybe it might be relevant to whatever observational skills he can bring to bear on this case.Â Time for a list of ten possibilities.
4:25 PM: So, it turns out Harold was a divorce lawyer.Â Who knew?
4:34 PM: Oops, no, he was a trial lawyer.Â Silly me.
4: 53 PM: Five pages down.Â I am getting the story on the page, which for me is the most crucial, difficult part.Â But I am really not 100% on the quality.Â This one’s gonna need a lotta revision.
5:13 PM: Took a break to troll around YA and New Releases.Â I want approximately fifty million books.
5:20 PM: I need another innocent suspect and a motive to go with her.Â Time for another list of ten.
5:31 PM: Crap.Â I have a list of ten and all of them suck.
5:35 PM: Haha!Â List of twenty for the win!
5:36 PM: Dialogue time.Â I always write the actual dialogue first, then fill in all the surrounding context.Â Only way I know to keep my head in the flow of the conversation.
5: 58 PM: Heading home to make dinner.Â Back around eight-ish?
9:12 PM: Ok, back nine-ish.Â Still working on this dialogue heavy scene, but I’ve got a new idea of how to tackle it.Â I think I can make Harold more active.
9:55 PM: Harold = not a fan of doctors.
9:58 PM: Also Harold = much more verbally clever than I.Â This makes him plenty hard to write.
10:10 PM: Ok, finally.Â I finally feel like I’m sort of hitting a stride with this thing, seven pages in.Â As in, I finally have whole exchanges and paragraphs coming into my head, and they feel solid and they make me smile.Â Everything before this will probably be demoted to a sort of paragraph-by-paragraph outline.
10:27 PM: This story has decidedly too many named characters.
10:45 PM: Kind of dragging now.Â But would like to finish this scene.
10:52 PM: Ok.Â That was a scene I was looking forward to writing.
Done for the night, I think.Â Nine pages, five scenes. I haven’t yet decided whether this liveblogging thing is a powerful motivator or a massive distraction.Â I think I’ll try it at least one more time, though possibly not tomorrow (I have approximately a metric ton of chores I need to get done).Â Either way, my deadline for this story is May 7, which is (a) when my writing group will send out material and (b) when I’ll hear for sure about Boot Camp.Â I’m very excited to see how it will end up.