Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What I read: Dec 2009

I might as well post this now, because I'm not likely to finish another book tomorrow. I mean, it's a good book I'm reading, but I started it in August, so there's no rush.

"Ghost Story" by Peter Straub. This was recommended on the VP list, I think, or maybe OWW, as a most awesome example of horror. It was fabulous. It has an excellent example of a prologue that is a prologue, and is totally necessary to the story (this has been a very hot topic on both afore-mentioned lists lately -- apparently lots of people don't read prologues). The ending would make little sense without the prologue, and it set up a bunch of characters nicely. There were numerous points-of-view, and I loved the way they all conflicted with each other. People misread other people, misinterpreted them. Stella saw everything. I wish there was more Stella.

"The Pyrates" by George MacDonald Frasier. It was mentioned on some blog I don't frequent, but I have a colleague who occasionally does a rant about how we shouldn't make light of piracy, because pirates are real and evil and not fun, and this book is anathema to his position. I got it out of the library, and Ed picked it up and read the whole thing, foregoing several WEBGriffin books in the process. Tres strange. This book constantly amazed me. It's a massive sustained send-up of pirate movies. A normal writer can sustain something like this for maybe ten pages. GMF manages to keep it going for over 400, and still adds new cliches and tropes, sustaining the farce right until the end. GMF is truly a master of whatever genre this falls into. And Prtzlprnln is the best name ever. And without pirates, we in North America would probably all be speaking spanish. So take that, pop-culture-pirate-hating colleague.

"Boneshaker" by Cherie Priest. After two books written in the 80's, it was important to read something new. I'd heard a lot about it, and I'm not quite sure what I expected. I didn't like the use of time. There are two characters who separate early on, and are then travelling in the same space. They alternate chapters. One is half a day ahead of the other one, as far as I can guess. I spent a lot of time reminding myself that this has already happened in that person's timeframe, and that threw me out of the story a little bit. I'm not sure the story would have worked if it had been written strictly chronologically, though. The world was really well-built and convincing, and the characters were good, and the line about Briar being 35 years old and not looking a day younger will probably stick with me forever.

"Kitty and the Midnight Hour" by Carrie Vaughn. The writing and plot seemed a bit like that Charlaine Harris stuff I was reading in the summer, like Laurel K. Hamilton but without all the sex. The wolf pack behavior bits were great.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Scenes about food

While editing away on Unicorn yesterday, I had one of those stunning realizations that stems from VP. It starts with a comment that Bear wrote on my manuscript, during a long restaurant scene: "This is not interesting". Um, yeah.

Anyway, my VP roommate Marion read Unicorn, and she commented during the food scene that she was unclear what the story was about. I chewed on that for about a month, and finally realized that the scene was not actually progressing plot or theme, and its relationship to character development was tenuous. I immediately cut large portions of it, even though it made me sad, because those were pretty words.

So this is a Robyn's Rule: Seriously rethink any scene that involves food.

And when I went to AbsoluteWrite, my phone was in the ad. I love my new phone.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dolphins draft 3

Finished going through Dolphin VP story for the third pass. Now it's down to 5156 words. I removed around a thousand! This may be close to its natural length. I think the story shape is there, and right now, I'm to down to smoothing.

Snowgnarok?

Last night commenced for me the holiday party season. We were discussing last year's 24-hour snowpocalypse (or was it snowmageddon?) drive, and whether one can have Snowpocalypse 2009, Snowpocalypse 2010... The concensus was there can only be one snowpocalypse. If you're still alive after it, snowpocalypse it was not.

Which led to the title above. You know, there's no good way to insert the word "snow" into Ragnarokr. Those crazy vikings!

Friday, December 11, 2009

I SO didn't finish rewriting Dolphin last weekend

Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, maybe I did. Maybe I finished a seocnd draft. Certainly, it does seem like I finished changing the POV.

Last night I rewrote the ending again. It's less tragic now, and doesn't end with my POV character drowning. In fact, it ends on a spot of hope. I'd love to get it on OWW by next weekend.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Shockingly, italian sausage and PC Memories of Szechuan don't go that badly together

I have a cleaning-related injury that prevented me from wearing the nanoboots today. I stepped on an unpopped popcorn kernel whilst sweeping the dining room on Saturday, oh the irony. See? Cleaning is dangerous. I shouldn't do it.

Short stories and markets are much in the blogosphere right now, and it's a topic I think about a lot. Must finish Unicorn, and get rid of it. Anyway, I've also been reading Learn to Write with Uncle Jim on Absolute Write (I'm on about page 18 or so, with a long way to go). Uncle Jim says that there's no point revising a short story. As I write, revise, rewrite Unicorn and now Dolphin, I think the stories get better. I got Ed to read Unicorn a few weeks ago, and he thought it was better.

Maybe I should make a tag for LtWwUJ, because there are lots of places where I have a comment, but I can't exactly post it because that's all, you know, seven years ago. There are some people there who make me crazy, anyway.

This frigging Dolphin thing won't get shorter, by the way. Yesterday in trying to fix the ending, it blossomed to 6143 words. Tonight is for deleting, I think. And figuring out how to make my camera work here again.

Monday, December 07, 2009

My superhero name is Miss Interpretation

Every conversation can be turned into "Did you call me fat?" though more often lately it ends with "that's what she said."

Friday I sent a draft of a manual to the team, and today the engineer who makes all the changes and doesn't tell me (or anyone else) about them sent me comments. "I've been looking at your manual. It's wonderful!" I had no idea how to respond. My best guess is he noticed that I'd noticed all the things he'd done to the interface. That was, naturally, followed by four pages of corrections of everything I'd got wrong.

I should send this to the rest of my team at work. They misinterpret each other's writing all the time! We're tech writers, of course, so that's a problem.

Today it snowed about a millimeter, but I was wearing the wrong shoes and I skidded home. But B has snowtires, so the trip to yoga was safe. Now, I guess I should get to the end of this story's second pass. I want it under 5000, but it's crept somehow up to 5800 (last draft was 5400). Not sure how that's happening.

And I got boots in the mail. They fit over my giant calves, and they are purple.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Pre-writing procrastination

But now the floor under the dining room computer is really clean!

And I did a few pages of edits to Dolphin. This weekend, I will finish the activity of changing the POV, add in the bit about the nightmares, and rewrite the ending. And then, I will have written the second draft.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Back to editing

Yeah, it's true, I'm back to working on the VP dolphin story. It's messy. I have so much stuff to work on. I'd like to get this one up on OWW before Christmas, and also get Unicorn in circulation, and write Mary Alice, and finish the first draft of Bezoar...

I should also work on Water Leopard. And type St. Praxis. Maybe in January.