Thursday, September 19, 2013
The Story So Far
Here we are, more than halfway through September. I should be more than halfway through my novel for Harlequin Nocturne. Yeah. Let’s emphasize “should.” I believe I’ve mentioned here and elsewhere what a slow writer I am. I’m around 25,000 words in at this point. Only 60,000 to go! If I just knew which words they were, things would go a lot more easily.
Since I can count on several hundred “ands,” “thes,” “hes,” “shes,” and “buts” (not to mention “butts,” since this is a romance), that knocks at least 1500 off the final tally. That’s still quite a bit, but now I feel better about it.
There is some good news. I’m getting ideas for scenes and I sort of know which way the plot is headed. I already know my ending; I had that before I started, which is always helpful. Now I just have to get from Point A through that long, dreary morass of Point B to the finish line at Point C. Good thing we’ve got a rainy weekend coming up.
In the interests of writing (of course), I took last Sunday off for a trip to Gettysburg, and research. That’s the upside of setting a book or a story in your home town or somewhere close to it: research is easy and you get to take road trips. I’ve set stories in Philadelphia for the same reason. I found the restaurant my heroine works in and the bookstore her close friend works in. They’re right up the street from each other, just like in my plot. Damn, I’m good. I cruised around the battlefield and re-acquainted myself with the location of the Irish Brigade monument. Good thing; my memory was faulty and the scene I’d written was almost totally wrong. Visiting the site gave me several new ideas. Now when I do the second draft it’ll sound more authentic and I won’t get angry letters from Civil War buffs telling me how badly I effed up. I can use ghosts and demons and things like that in a book to my heart’s content, but put a monument in the wrong spot in a national park and people get bent out of shape. Readers are a strange breed of cat.
(Quick aside: if you’re near southcentral Pennsylvania around Halloween and have a hankering to take an after-dark ghost tour, Gettysburg’s your town. Every third shop on Steinwehr Avenue was offering some kind of ghost tour. It was like t-shirt shops on a Jersey Shore boardwalk. I even passed a store that sells ghost-hunting equipment. I should have gone in. Who knows, that by itself might have provided fodder for a future story.)
Of course, there’s also a downside to research: you have to utilize it to make your story sound real. Like I said, I found a couple locations that’ll stand in for businesses in the book, and took notes on a real site that figures in a fight scene. Stupid me, I jumped the gun and wrote those scenes already. Now I’ll have to rewrite them based on what I learned on Sunday. More work for me. However, the new scenes will reek of reality, and will probably take more words. I just cut down on my word count again! Every little bit helps.
Only four chapters in, I’ve already decided to change names. Solara, if you’re reading this, you were right. I already recognized the problem. I’ve got a main character named Travis and a secondary character named Tyler. Unfortunately they’re friends and have a lot of scenes together. Even I started getting confused. Today’s writing tip: unless you’re writing a ménage involving a gang of randy brothers, try to give your characters names that start with different letters. (Nobody cares about names in a ménage.) Once again I got lucky: the secondary character’s name was Tyler Owens. Now it’s Owen Tyler. I call him by his first name. Problem solved. I’m going to start giving all my characters switchable names so this never happens again.
None of this is helping to get the draft finished, but I’ve got a cure for that too: the submission window for the contest opens on Monday, September 23. I have my first chapter, and it shouldn’t take me long to come up with the 100-word blurb. That’s all they require at this point. As soon as I send in my entry, I’ll be obligated to finish the book. If I don’t, they’ll pick me as a semifinalist and I’ll be up the creek. My luck seems to run that way.
Can I do it? Can I get the first draft done in time to do the badly-needed second draft? Will I have something publishable finished by the time they start calling for fulls? Will I get blindsided by another idea and get sidetracked into writing something else? Tune in again next week! Same write time, same write channel.
PS: If you're smarter than I am and already have a book finished, here's the contest site again: www.soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com. Good luck!