Gallop Aloud

Hello, dear Readers. I’ve been visibly neglecting the blog for a while–I hit a burnout stage with the Friday Writing posts, and after my personal life fell apart in flaming fragments, well, the time and inclination was seriously lacking. I had very little energy, and what I had I had to spend on deadlines. (Speaking of deadlines, you can find an announcement about Bannon & Clare here.)

But things are a little better now. I was out at 7AM with Miss B., ran a respectable three miles in just a few minutes over a half-hour. Running outside is very different than slogging away on the treadmill–harder on the knees and lower back, certainly, and I wouldn’t be running outside if I didn’t have the dog. The companionship and protection factor is not inconsiderable at all.

While I ran, I was putting together the Ride of the New Guard, which is to say, a particular piece in the book I’m working on now where I want the rhythm of a gallop to come through the words. It’s going to require some specific music, and some breathing, and some reading things out loud to get it right.

I am always amazed by people who say they don’t read their dialogue aloud to check for rhythm. Often, problems with dialogue or the “scan” of a piece can be fixed by looking for rhythm and breathbreaks–those places where one runs out of air and naturally take a breath. Reading is most often a silent personal activity, but the flow and ebb of speech is still the most natural framework for a story. Emphasis and stress, the upward inflection of a question, the cadence of education or dialect, all these things are a richness just begging to be used, as well as a forensic tool. Often, when you can tell a sentence isn’t right, saying it aloud will show you where the catch is. (Diagramming the sentence sometimes works too, but only in a small number of cases. YMMV, of course.)

Reading your work aloud to yourself (I add the “to yourself” because reading aloud to others is a special sort of hell for me personally, one I avoid whenever possible) also helps with immediacy–feeling it in your own corpus, and therefore being able to bring it to a Reader.

So, while running this morning, I was thinking of the cadence of a gallop, and how to bring that through. Which will mean a lot of muttering as I stare at my screen today, fingers tapping, and my body remembering what it was like to ride a horse. Of course I’ll look crazy, but that’s beside the point. Crazy’s pretty relative if it pays the bills.

Or so I keep telling myself.

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Nuts Or Amnesiac, You Decide

Neat stuff–I’ll be participating in tomorrow’s TorChat!

Also, Chicks Kick Butt, featuring an Eleni and Tarquin story, Monsters, is now out. I love Monsters–I very much wanted to tell a vampire-hunting story from a vampire’s point of view, and Tarquin has been knocking around in several unfinished stories for a very long time. He and Leonidas are great characters, Eleni surprised me as a protagonist, and I very much like Wolf. Maybe I’ll get to go back to them someday.

In other news, still going full-bore on the alt-Renaissance-France story I can’t really say anything about. Keeping it under-hat is pretty much killing me, but there it is. Anyway, I came to a fresh realization yesterday about how much writing freaks me right the f!ck out.

It was another instance of a secondary character, one I didn’t much care for, suddenly becoming incredibly useful and necessary to the story. I’ve learned to obey that little tingle that tells me just wait, this is important, leave it in. Sometimes I don’t even notice, I’m in that creative fugue state and when I look back over the wordage, I flat-out have no memory of writing it or inserting some detail that turns out to be incredibly important later. This is particularly eerie when I’ve reached an impasse and have backed up to take a look at the bigger structure of the story–and I find, half-buried in the sand, a priceless artifact I had no idea even existed.

I can’t figure out which weirds me more: obeying the internal tingle that tells me a minor character or detail will be important later, or having absolutely no memory of writing something that turns out to be critical to the later parts of the story.

Of course, I could just be losing my mind or amnesiac. That’s always a possibility.

Oh well. Back to the word mines…

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The Best Fugue

There’s an interview with me and a giveaway over at My Bookish Ways; there’s also my Top Five Methods To Determine You’re A Zombie plus a giveaway of a one-of-a-kind Jill Kismet-inspired necklace over at CJ Redwine’s place. (The necklace, made by Tasha Falene especially for this giveaway, is so awesome, and it’s strictly a one-off. I wish I could enter to win it.) I think I’m going to be part of a Tor chat on Twitter sometime in the near future too, stay tuned for details.

In the category of Other Cool Internet Things, there’s Flavorwire’s How To Drink Like Your Favourite Authors and information about a stunning movie based on Diaghilev and Nijinksky. Which makes me wish I still had a VHS machine AND a copy of it. *sigh*

I spent pretty much all of yesterday in a fugue state, the story pouring out of my head and onto the screen. It’s weird to surface from a wholly different universe and find out that an hour has passed since you last shifted your weight of (seemingly) blinked. Of all the varied states of consciousness, that one has to be in my top five. It’s so bloody satisfying; it scratches some deep internal itch nothing else does.

Anyway, I am nervous and twitchy this morning. A good hard three-mile outside run with Miss B worked out some of the fidgets, but nothing will cure the rest but sinking into the story again. This is what I live for, really.

So it’s an espresso shooter followed by 500-Mile Chai (hell of a boilermaker, right?), my sword loose in its sheath and my eyes on the horizon.

Come on, story. Let’s tango.

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Balance, Bulk, and Visible

Nothing much to report. I’ve got a nobleman on the floor with an assassin and a knife, both of them outside a Queen’s door, and I’ve got to figure out what the assassin wants out of this. So that’s going to take some digging through my music library and finding his story. Of course the assassin’s got a story, and I’ve got to find it before I know what he really wants out of all this. Possibly it’s just expediency, but still, I need to know.

This is something I don’t talk about often. What a reader sees is only the tip of the iceberg. There is a massive bulk underneath that lifts it up into the visible. That bulk is what I know of the characters, their motivations, their world, their needs. The bulk is necessary, the labyrinth must be plumbed. It that huge mountain of ice and rock underneath that gives the visible its shape and depth, its internal consistency. Writing is often striking the balance between looking at that bulk and shaping the contours of the visible. Shaving little bits off here, tweaking what lies underneath so that the visible takes the shape one needs.

There’s so much more going into a book than what you see on the page. Sometimes I with the technology was available to invite the reader even further in, to give the full sensory experience I get, the sheer visceral pleasure of living in that alternate universe. Words carry the experience to you, but sometimes the limitations of the medium are so bloody frustrating. That’s why there’s a craft and an art to it, I guess.

Anyway, that’s where I am. Stuck in the heart of an iceberg, chipping away. Shivering and wiping my nose, numb fingers on the chisel…and a huge, stupid grin on my face.

See you in a bit.

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Critical Mass, The Growing Book

The current book has taken a screaming left turn into dark territory. This surprises me every time it happens. I will think I know a book, I will think I have it all planned out, either in my head or on paper (I have recently, under protest, started outlining. But that’s another blog post.) or what-have-you, and then all of a sudden…this.

The book starts behaving organically, like it is its own creature. The critical mass point is reached and as it coalesces, suddenly the book is a living thing and I am no longer solely creator but also midwife. It’s a funny thing, to have one’s brain taken over in such a manner. Even funnier to admit to it in public, despite the risk of the nice men with the white coats being called.

Anyway, the book just decided that the handwavey holes I had in the outline are of course places for thus-and-such to happen, even though I had no idea thus-and-such would fit neatly into the hole. Almost as if made for it. It’s faintly creepy, you know–my job is just to show up, and the Muse drops these custom-made pegs into these very specific holes. The fairy dust happens reliably when I do what I’m supposed to–sit down, shut up, and write.

Who’d’a’thunkit?

For extra fun and games today, here’s Chuck Wendig’s Six Signs It’s High Time To Give Up Writing.

Enjoy.

*dives back in*

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