Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Glimpse Behind the Curtain

In my quest to become a professional writer, I make it a point to write something every day. I aim for pages. On good days I get chapters. Some days the “something” is only a couple of lines. As long as words make it onto paper or screen, I consider the effort a success.

As in every plan, there are glitches. I may find myself between WIPs, or my ideas dead in the water, but I still need to write something. To cover these dry times, I’ve set aside a notebook where I just write freestyle for five or ten or fifteen minutes or however long I feel like it. I usually produce at least half a page, sometimes more if I get rolling.

Whether or not it’s a useable page is something else again.

What do I write? Whatever pours out of me. Sometimes it’s a scene, or a character sketch. Usually it’s dialogue. I love dialogue. I don’t know why I bother with novels because my narrative descriptions are sketchy at best and sucky at worst. I’d rather have people talking. I should be writing screenplays or TV scripts or something.

Even if it’s junk, it does satisfy my self-imposed obligation to write at least something every day. I set that goal back in July of 2006 and haven’t missed a day yet. If I’m really lucky, I turn up a nugget that leads to a story or book. One of these scribbles, about a man who’d been raised by vampires (the scene, in dialogue, had him being interviewed by the local news) sparked my novel Belonging. I have whole notebooks of beginnings, middles, snatches and endings that could someday turn into something.

Most of the time, however, I come up with things like this:

“I hate you!” she blasted. “I wish you were dead.”

“And I’m sick to death of your said bookisms. This is the end of the line.”

“My what?” she quavered.

“Those descriptive words that follow your dialogue. You always roar or blast or spit or shriek or whatever. You never just say anything. It gets damned annoying after, oh, about five minutes.”

“What do you mean?” she demanded.

“There! You just did it again!”

“I’ve no idea what you’re talking about,” she sniffed.

“Oh God, are you kidding me? Nobody can ‘sniff’ a line of dialogue. You can say it with a sniff, but you can’t sniff words. Try it.”

“I hate you!” she cried. “Go away!”

“Only if you say something normally. I want to see if you can. Go on. Say something. Like, ‘The sky is blue.’ No modifiers. Just speak the words.”

She hesitated, took a deep breath, and burst out, “The sky is blue!”

“Nope, sorry, you burst that one.”

“How about if I sing it?” she suggested.

“Only if we’re in a Disney movie. Go on. Try to say something.”

“Um … I have a headache,” she moaned. “No good?”

“Getting better. Try again.”

“Okay. Okay. Uh—oh, this is so hard!” she wailed.

He shook his head. “I swear to God, you grew up in a pulp magazine.”

“You beast! I could just pound your head in!”

“Wait, I think you’ve got it. I think we’re right on the verge here—”

“Really?” she beamed.

“Oops, lost it. And you were so close!”

“Oh, to hell with this,” she scowled. “Let’s just have sex. I know all sorts of good words for that.”

“I’ll bet you do, you little vixen. To the bedroom!”

Yeah, I know. Not exactly Tolstoy. Not even Tolkien. But it made for an acceptable blog. And now that I’ve got this out of the way, I can go ahead and write words that make more sense when you string them together. This is how writers live their lives. I should have gone into accounting.


Savanna Kougar said...

That was great, Pat. I know what you mean about dialogue. When I first started writing, I didn't use that much dialogue... except whole scenes of dialogue played out in my head, especially when I went for a long walk... I should have had a recorder... but then you're not watching out for traffic, for the vicious dog, etc.

Anyway, Murder by Hair Spray started out as mostly dialogue, and then I had to add in the narration [whatever the correct term is?] during edits.

Hey, question for ya? Any recent info on the m/m erotic romance market? Seems like the trend is still going strong.

Pat C. said...

I think my overreliance on dialogue came about because of all the Heinlein "juveniles" I read during my impressionable years. His characters talked a lot, and they talked the way I wanted mine to. There's also the TV influence. TV is dialogue. No need to describe the setting, since you can see it. I tend to forget that when I write.

I haven't written a M/M (or anything else) for a while, so I don't know how the market is these days. Siren doesn't seem to be hurting.

The good news is, my entry for the Harlequin contest now has a plot! It came to me this morning. I just have to write a 85K-word draft in two weeks. I can see already it doesn't have the feel or tone of a Harlequin Nocturne, but too bad. I'm going to enter anyway just to see what happens. At this point, my real target market is Samhain, or any publisher with a sense of humor.

Pat C. said...

"Mad Cow" and "White Fang" are still raking up the views. I have no idea why. People may be googling mad cow disease and our blog comes up. I'll have to test that. As for White Fang, maybe he's just that popular.

Savanna Kougar said...

Makes sense... yeah, TV is images and dialogue... I think the imaging influenced me more, in a way. Never really thought about it.

On m/m just thought maybe there'd been some discussion at the author group you mention from time to time. But, yeah, Siren seems to be doing okay with menage and m/m.

GLAD! You have your plot. Might as well enter, see what happens. I'm pulling for you and Rebecca.

I have no idea WHY your MAD COW and WHITE FANG are going great guns either, since no comments have been left.

Savanna Kougar said...

Here's a sort of guess from the search terms... maybe someone found White Fang because of 'super wolf'... then read your Mad Cow... and the cyber word spread from there???

shapeshifter seductions




nude jailbait


dragon man


erotic love scenes


jailbait nude




super wolf


superman wolf


bigfoot shapeshifter


Pat C. said...

Interesting search terms ... though something tells me people who are looking for "nude jailbait" aren't expecting werewolves.

Savanna Kougar said...

NO... most *likely* they're not... and certainly not the very tame version of 'jailbait' as used in the flash scene I wrote.