Tag Archives | novel structure

Five Things on Friday: July 10, 2015

CaptainwithLieutenant

The tub wads, back when they were young, thin, and innocent

This series (we'll see how long it lasts) is my summertime whimsy.   I started it last week, with the inaugural Five Things on Friday post.  Here's this week's obsessions passions:

What I'm Reading.  Just yesterday, I started Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult, who is a New York Times best-selling writer.  I'll be honest, I've tried to read her books before and not been impressed.  But I was intrigued by the subject matter of this one, elephants, and put it on hold at the library.  After a long wait, it finally came.  It's been sitting in a stack for a week or so, and finally I started it.  Have to say, I'm hooked.  

I'm also reading Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, Alexandra Fuller's second terrific Africa memoir.  I liked the first one (Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight) better, I must say.  This one is quite episodic and is mostly based on conversations with her mother, who is quoted heavily throughout, which makes for an odd flow.  But I'm still enjoying it.  

Brief aside: can I just vent for a minute?  Because I consulted the Google for her website to link to, and all she has is a listing of her agent for speaking requests.  I'm sure she's a lovely woman, but honestly, could she not deign to have a website?  (The link I provided above is Wikipedia.) 

What I'm Thinking About.  Structure.  As in, novel structure.  It looms large at the moment for a couple of reasons.  One, because I'm embarking on writing my next novel and so far totally at sea about how the plot is going to come together.  And two, because structure is the topic of my upcoming France retreat.  I swear I've at least glanced at every book and website ever written on the topic.  But if you have a favorite one, please share it.

What I'm Listening To.  This goofy track from Tom Bird.  It is free to download and it supposedly has subliminal messages embedded in it, urging one to write.  In some weird way I don't understand, I swear it works.  Of course, those messages could be convincing me to do something unrelated to writing…excuse me, I must now go dance naked in the park.

What I'm Complaining About.  Besides authors who don't have websites, cats.  Two fat tabbies, to be exact.  My tub wads have taken to doing their business in inappropriate places, like the bathroom and kitchen.  We have no idea why.  Their kitty litter is pristine.  Maybe they are mad about the heat?  If anybody has any suggestions as to what their little feline brains might be thinking, please share.

What I'm Loving.  Qi Gong.  I've started practicing this ancient Chinese form off and on through the years.  Lately I've been doing the Spring Forest Qi Gong from Chunyi Lin and it is amazing. Soothing, energizing, focusing and I swear it is also helping all my stupid aches and pains heal.

What's on your mind this Friday?

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Deconstructing

I'm working on the final (ha!) rewrite of my novel, coming up on part two.  I did a lot of thinking and making notes before I started this rewrite, which included many Great Ideas, and most of that affected part one.  Why?  Because it was character stuff.  I worked on figuring out how characters reacted to each other so that their throughlines were nice and straight and sturdy, not weak and floppy.  I got really clear on character motivation.  And so I breezed right through the rewriting of part one. 

Its a damned good rewrite if I do say so myself.  At one point as I was working on it I thought, this is the rewrite where I actually know what I'm doing, what I'm trying to accomplish.  The previous four (yes, four, which is really not all that many) were more of the take a deep breath and dive in variety, which just speaks once again to the value of writing as a process.  Sometimes you just gotta go with it and trust.

Now I am to part two and the hard work begins.  I didn't take many notes or have many Great Ideas for this one.  Because this is where the set up is long over and the weaving in begins.  I-yi-yi.  I-yi-yi again.  I think everything is there it just needs to be rearranged some. 

Which is where the deconstructing begins.  This morning I took index cards and went through every chapter in question, five of them, and wrote down every scene.   By this I mean every little discreet event of action, ie Emma Jean calls Riley and they argue (which could cover two pages) or Aunt Cleo and Bob arrive from Portland.  I felt I needed to do this because in the dense chapters I couldn't remember what all happened.  Plus they've been rearranged a few times already.

Committing scenes to cards really helped me get in my head what I have and where, exactly, it is.  I've deconstructed part two and committed it to sepearate little pieces, like disassembling a puzzle.  Now my plan is to throw all the cards up in the air and put them in order according to where they land.

Kidding.  My plan is to lay them out on the bed or on the floor (if the Big Scary Beast Pug and the Demon Feline will stay away from them) and play with them, like that old kid's game Memory, where you match two like cards.  Being able to see how the scenes currently flow should give me some good ideas on how to make them flow better.  The truth is, I already got a lot of ideas as to how to do this just in the process of deconstructing.  So I have high hopes for the rest of the process.

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