Tag Archives: science fiction

Bringing a Story to Life: The Rhythm of Writing

frtwice

This morning called for a second double shot espresso.

I’m ripping apart a paragraph in Cauldron of the Gods, first in the Dragon Core adventure for the fourth time.

Dragon Core is part of the Metatron’s Universe project.

It’s amazing how many different ways you can arrange a sentence and get the same meaning even as some just sound better than others.

And how many times you can change your mind about what sounds better.

It was while working on this novel that I came to see there is a rhythm to my writing.

It’s been some time since I’ve worked on something totally new.  The Metatron’s Army installments follow one to the next so in many respects it’s like one long novel.

Which is why it’s an Epic.

Soothsayer is connected to Port in a Storm and even though Blue Skye, the next Paranormal Journeys story is separate with new characters, all these novels and others in the queue fall under the P J umbrella.  Cauldron of the Gods– Dragon Core – I’m starting from scratch for the first time in years.

The Ingredients. The concept for Dragon Core, an urban fantasy, took root last fall as I was in the midst of the Metatron’s Army series and pondering what to do with Soothsayer. 

Actually, I was pondering what to do with my writing career.

Intrigued by the concept for this new series I set up a folder and began taking notes and doing research.

As the story has roots in real incidents that took place centuries ago, I quickly saw that research would not only be a big part of the up-front work, it would be a time-consuming part. I needed to factor that in when working out release dates for various projects in the queue.

By the New Year I had all the pieces in place

  • iTunes playlist for the project
  • Photographic images that represent the hero of the story
  • Files containing links to relevant historical data
  • Sample of academic work on relevant subject
  • Solid feel for the story arc that would carry not only Cauldron of the Gods but the follow-on stories in the Dragon Core series

Content I’d done everything I could given I had other priorities – aka other novels to finish and release – I set Cauldron aside and returned to finishing MA and Soothsayer

I trusted that in the ensuing months, as is typical, I would give time to the story while sitting outside observing nature, playing Free Cell and listening to music, or lying awake in the middle of the night.

The Sauce.  I’ve come to see that every book I write has its own pace and style of development.

It had been awhile since I’d worked on something completely new.

Cauldron is spaghetti sauce style.

This means I start at page one and write straight through, getting the main story arc in place, before going back and adding spice – intrigues and subplots – as appropriate.

I coined the spaghetti sauce descriptor  to describe this style of writing early in my career though not every story follows this pattern.

Only the first in the MA series – Advantage– fit that writing style profile.

This style of writing is the most energy intensive because it’s a slower paced style and requires intense focus that can be and often is cyclical.

I alternate rapid free-flowing sessions wherein I’ll get 3 – 6K words in one sitting with methodical and more time-consuming sessions which may yield 2K if I’m lucky.

Another characteristic of this style is the need to go back and reread what I’ve written in the previous session to regain momentum before continuing on.

This style is also cognitively draining relative to the rapid free-flow style that carried most of the Metatron’s Army works.

Free flow is a style where I’m simply the physical go-between for the muse, my fingers typing before I even think what it is I want/need to write.  It’s like being in a trance state, what some refer to as being “in the Zone.”

Understanding the rhythm (or not) has big time repercussions because the variability of the pacing can result in frustration.

It’s been years since I’ve dealt with a spaghetti sauce novel.  I’ve had to repeatedly remind my runaway train of a writing brain to slow down and relax – that it will all come out [right] in the end.

I have no idea at this point when Cauldron of the Gods will be ready for release but I’m enjoying the interesting path it’s taking to get there.

 

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When Art Mimics Life Mimics Art

500_F_203412141_0ZifkTsqTVfi0LzLTiYELkwhzWtrB0r2Done – Or Not?  So, the “first draft” of the Metatron’s Army series is finished but…

There’s a lot more work to be done.

  • Promotion: Book 11 is with the beta reader.
  • Promotion  Cover artwork is more or less finished
  • Promotion: Back of Book  in progress
  • Promotion: Book  Trailer in progress
  • Analysis: Book 12 is in review/re-edit.

To that end:

Something about Book 12 has been bugging me though I hadn’t been able to put my finger on it.

Until today…

Ghost in the Machine?  Normally, once I reopen a Word document I’ve been working on, I get a prompt to the right.  If I click on it, I’m taken to the location I was working on the last time I was in the document.

For Book 12 this was last night.

For whatever reason, the prompt didn’t show up.

I checked to make sure I’d clicked on the correct document. 

I’ve had kind of a – mentally draining past few weeks – with the accompanying lack of sleep – so I was in no mood to play games with the gremlin messin with my novel.

In point of fact, I was – well – upset.

For whatever reason – probably because it’s “my life” I’m dealing with – I was inspired to focus on the exact location the document did open up to.

The opening, where I define Analysis which is the title for Book 12.

As I read through the definition, I couldn’t help but smirk.

Like I said, this is my life we’re talking about.  Paranormal might as well be my middle name.

Analysis:  The study of a game or a position in order to evaluate the quality of the moves and various other aspects of the game or position.

In other words, taking stock, which is exactly where I am in this series and in my career.

You could almost liken it to New Year’s when people evaluate and decide on resolutions.

Though I have no need for resolutions I do need to evaluate in order to see if I’m on track, which means…

Am I on the path?  There is a blessing from hell in wrapping up a series that has been in the making for 35 plus years and in the works for 3.  Once it’s over…where do I go?

I have an idea but before I can move along – I need to finish what’s in front of me.

The finish is close yet there is much work to be done.

I have to make sure I don’t get so distracted laying the foundation for upcoming projects I get off track finishing what is before me.

The list or the heart?  Knowing this milestone was imminent and thinking I was clever, I came up with a list of to-do’s several days ago.

Over a week.

I was enthusiastic and excited and felt so accomplished as I went over the list with various team members.

Well, the joke was on me…

My mind may have been on track but my heart was conflicted.

Just as Shane reflects at the end of Book 10, it was as if someone had thrown a metal implement into the gears and everything came to a grinding halt.

Along with productivity.

I took as much time as I could mentally stand to work on the situation and realized that productivity can be a double-edged sword.  It can mask unresolved problems.

Like driving on a tire that has a nail in it.  You may not realize you’re losing air.

If it wasn’t for a gremlin putting a kink in my software, I might still be driving on that tire, but like a good Samaritan gesturing frantically that I needed to roll down my window so he can tell me I have a low tire, the fact the software refused to perform alerted me to a problem.  I needed to evaluate.

No.  I needed to stop.

This is more than just Am I on track? for the series.  Am I on track for my career?  Am I on track for my goals?

And who or what remaining nails might be impediments?

Let’s just say a few individuals had thrown tacks on the path in front of me; tacks I may not have seen had MS Word not taken me to an alternate location.

After some serious work I concluded that not only am I clearer on things, I now see that I have a couple of new and unexpected … helpers along the path.

People who make my day better.

It isn’t simply acknowledging how the people who do the little things – that are in no way little – help me – it’s realizing what an integral part of the process they have become.

And that’s life – and art – at its finest…