the_gneech: (Writing)

Okay, now the moving is pretty much dealt with (again and hopefully for the last time any time soon) and my AnthroCon prep is about as far as it can go until it comes time to actually put stuff into the car, it’s time to get back into the writing groove.


And, I think, time to come up with something new. I’ve got chunks of Brigid and Greg, I’ve got a giant blorp of Michael Macbeth, but honestly my brain wants a break from those. I want something new and different to think about.


What that is, I’m not sure yet. I periodically consider writing a fairly standard genre fantasy book, i.e. elves and wizards and things, but I would like to find a way to put a fresh spin on the idea so it’s not just “Howard McTolkienface and the Etcetera of Ditto.” I also want whatever it is to be a project I can have fun with. One of the things that I relished about Sky Pirates of Calypsitania was that Verity and Tanya were fun characters to write about, because of the chemistry between them. The fun was a bit hampered by the harrowing circumstances they lived through, of course… those poor gals are going to have some PTSD to deal with in the next book I suspect, assuming there is one.


A new thing would also come without baggage, or at least with different baggage. B&G and Michael Macbeth both suffer a bit from having a “what they should be like” thing I’m trying to stick to… a new project I could just open up and let it be its own thing. A lot of the stuff that’s been bothering me about my older ideas, can inform the direction I go with new ideas right from the start. I can also outline with a view towards writing 100,000 words, instead of coming up with yet another 60,000 word idea and then being stuck for another half a book to tack onto it. 😛


So I think for the next week or so, depending on how long the process takes, I’m going to simply play around with new ideas and brainstorm, figuring out what I want out of a book, what I would enjoy writing, and what I think would suit the market, and find something that covers that part of the venn diagram that intersects all three. As much as I like Sky Pirates, my discussions with professionals on the topic all suggest that it’s going to be a hard sell for a first novel. So I might have to tuck it into a drawer to pull out later once I’m already a name, so to speak.


-The Gneech


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Fictionlet

Apr. 20th, 2016 01:20 pm
the_gneech: (Default)

Greg shook his head. “Everyone talks about how sophisticated continental Europe is, but I don’t see it. I mean, can you imagine if Prince had sung about how ‘She came in through the ausfahrt’?”


“Greg darling,” sniffed Isadora. “Would you do me the great favor of putting a sock in it? I am trying to have a conversation with my daughter.”


-The Gneech


<-- previous B&G


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the_gneech: (Writing)

The tech writing hasn’t entirely gone as planned (although it has had some interesting twists). So instead I’ve ended up redoubling my efforts in the novel writing department. I polished up and submitted Sky Pirates of Calypsitania for publication, and have spent the past week on a second draft of Tend on Mortal Thoughts, my first completed Michael Macbeth novel.


(Speaking of Michael Macbeth, I will probably post “The Unfortunately-Worded Affair of Mister Fox,” an unpublished MM short story, for my Patreon supporters soon. It’s languished too long in development heck waiting for the would-be publisher to move on it.)


Anyhow! As I’ve been chewing on how to make writing pay, I’ve been thinking quite a bit on prolific… ness? Prolificitude? (Bah. There isn’t a good word for “the state of being prolific.” The closest one is “prolificacy,” which is the sort of word that makes me wince and reach for another cup of coffee.) Point is, the writers with the most financially-rewarding careers, are the ones who write and publish a lot.


Well, I’m halfway there: I write a lot. Unfortunately, it tends to come in the form of blog posts or miscellaneous stuff related to my D&D game! But as I’ve truly committed to “writing IS my day job,” this is shifting. James Van Pelt recently posted on the subject of prolificitatiousness, saying, “I feel more professional when I produce stories and submit them at a regular interval. I feel less like a hobbyist. This is not a dig on writers who are not prolific. It is only a comment on how I feel. Everyone’s path up the mountain is their own.” It’s a good article in general and I highly recommend it, but this particular post resonated the most strongly with me.


I have suffered for most of my writing career from a perfectionist streak that has often led to paralysis. Just look at Michael Macbeth: I created the character back in 1995 or so, and have started and discarded at least five novels trying to “get him right” (and being increasingly frustrated that none of them were as good as his inspiration, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency). I recently had a long and frustrated rant on Twitter (later repackaged to my LiveJournal) about problems with the entire concept of a Brigid and Greg novel, and so on.


But the thing is, all of these issues stem from a place of shortage: if I only have one or two books, then those one or two books have to be TEH TOTALLY AWESOME because they’re all I’ve got to show! On the other hand… if I have a lot of books? The qualities of any one book are considerably less self-defining. Yes, Brigid and Greg have a diversity problem… but on the other hand the heroine of Sky Pirates of Calypsitania is a bisexual woman of color. By writing a lot of books, and a lot of different books, I can build a career that hits all the bases, instead of just sitting there fretting about how to “make this book do everything.”


Strange as it sounds, a lot of this was prompted by that crazy ghostwriting gig offer, because when I was looking at that, for the first time I actually thought in terms of “If I was writing 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, how much could I really produce?” Obviously, if I could crank out the “15,000 original, quality words per week” the gig wanted, I’d be set for life, and I sure as heck wouldn’t need to be ghostwriting (although I would probably need a pen-name or two).


But with the Snowflake Method, and with Scrivener, and the various other tools and techniques I’ve been teaching myself, I do think it’s within my power to write a novel every three months or so, which would make four a year. With time and practice, I might be able to go even faster. And that would not exactly be a career to sneeze at, either!


So that’s what I’m gonna do. :)


-The Gneech


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the_gneech: (Writing)
As mentioned elsewhere, I have been concentrating on writing lately. So far my attempts at landing tech writing gigs have been mostly met with generous offers to let me work for exposure, but I'll get through that well enough.

When not working on that, I have been working on my fiction. I've done the last "pre-submission" round of edits on the Airship Pirates novel and marketing it is the next step there, so while that simmers I turned my attention back to the half-completed Brigid and Greg novel that I was working so feverishly on when the house sale bumped it aside. This led to quite a bit of introspection, and a ramble on Twitter which I've cleaned up, edited and elaborated on here:

As much as I love Brigid and Greg, the novel idea has some systemic problems that I’m not sure it can overcome. The core problem with B&G is that they are at heart an affirmation of and succor to a very specific sort of problematic yuppiedom. If you’re inclined to side-eye at Whole Foods and spit “gentrification” like a curse, you’ll have a problem with B&G.

And while my feelings on the matter are mixed at best, I do at least understand where such opinions come from, and am sympathetic. When you're working two jobs just to stay in debt and being called a "taker" by nitwits who don't know how society actually works, seeing a pair of affluent (or at least comfortable) middle class white people be snarky about their non-problems might very well grate.

Another aspect is that the whole gist of B&G’s humor comes basically from them disapproving of (and fleeing) everyone who’s not just like they are. Inkblitzer likened them to Statler and Waldorf, and that’s not a bad analogy. B&G aren’t as toxic, but they are just as insular in their own way. In small doses it can be a “laughing with” look at introversion. But in large doses it starts to look more like xenophobia/classism.

B&G is also very Whitey McWhitebread. NeverNever had the same problem. For somebody banging the diversity drum, I don’t always do a great job. :( The book finally brings in Art as an important character, and retcons Alex as being Chinese, but it’s still hella problematic. (Art, for those unfamiliar, is lifted straight out of my college comic, Whistling In the Dark. He’s a gay black bohemian-type. He has had an oblique mention or two in the Fictionlets, but I don't think he's actually appeared in any of them.)

All of these issues, none of which stand out in any given Fictionlet, become highlighted and magnified when you put them into an extended narrative. What had been "minor gaps" before become a giant pattern stitched together.

The plot I came up with ended up with Art’s disreputable cousin chasing B&G through Brigid’s family reunion with a pack of dogs, who would then be chased off by Brigid's crazy shotgun-toting relatives. It was a funny set piece in my head, but then if you add the race element it suddenly sets off all kinds of red flags. :P

Brigid’s relatives were all based on the sort of people who annoy me IRL; thus having the family reunion trashed by dogs as comeuppance. But then I thought about the church massacre scene in Kingsman, and how sick to my stomach that made me. :-`

It’s like… Brigid and Greg are kinda the same thing, but the difference is degree. A pie in the face is certainly very different from in-your-face graphic violence, but still boils down to "attacking people you don’t like."

But all of B&G is structured this way when I break it down. The core conceit is those two reinforcing their bubble of comfort vs. the world. In that respect, it was quite explicitly modeled on Jeeves & Wooster, which works the same way. But that has a level of removal B&G don’t. J&W is set in an idealized inter-war Britain that never really existed. B&G are in fairly realistic early 21st-century USA. Wodehouse did have a few real-world Take Thats in his stuff, particularly the character of Spode and knocking of A.A. Milne. But he was mostly gentle, non-specific, and very silly. When B&G sneer, they’re sneering at whole classes of real contemporary people.

And realizing that about my own writing, didn’t feel good. :-`

I don’t know if B&G can be retooled into something that actually, y’know, PROMOTES things like diversity and positivity without breaking it. I like the voice of the B&G Fictionlets, and I like B&G as characters. I'd like to turn them into a force for good; but for the moment at least I don't know how. It’s weird that my pulp novel about airship pirates actually tells a story I’m proud of when B&G don’t.

Packbat's Commentary, and the Nature of Farce


A while after my ramble, Packbat (who is on the Beta Reader team), popped up with some comments, which I've transcribed here to preserve them for my own reference later:

Thank you for talking about this so frankly. I love a lot of the B&G Fictionlets, and I'm okay with missing out on a novel.

Which is to say: I don't feel like I'm missing out. I trust your judgment.

(Random: can I make an unsolicited suggestion? Been thinking about what you said a little.)

Like ... it feels to me like most of what B&G detest in their yuppie world concerns entitlement, arrogance, and privilege.

There's parts that aren't - the sacral dimples thing, for example - but Treville? Brigid's coworkers?

I feel it wouldn't take much for B&G to realize much of the idiocy they're disgusted with is hurting less privileged outsiders.

And that they can find a lot of people they'd want to support who never took any Latin classes.

...I dunno. I feel like they could be in a story about figuring out what privileges you have and what you can do with them.


This commentary was timely, as I was at that moment reading up on the nature of farce (which is the closest thing to a single-genre description of B&G) and watching The Art of Love, a comedy film starring Dick Van Dyke and James Garner (written by Carl Reiner) in the mode of Blake Edwards. The movie itself was far less than the sum of its parts, alas, but looking at what didn't work there gave me some food for thought about what does or doesn't work in B&G.

I also found this little gem on my old nemesis the Idiot Ball, on a Christian culture webpage, to my surprise:

“I grow restless,” Ebert said, when the misunderstandings driving a plot “could be ended by words that the screenplay refuses to allow [the characters] to utter.”

This was less of a pitfall in Shakespeare’s day, and even up through Victorian times, when convoluted and capricious mores and manners were understood to prevent those characters from uttering those words. The characters in
Pride and Prejudice were constrained by social norms that no longer hold sway. So for that same plot to work in Bridget Jones’ Diary, the characters have to be constrained by something else — some limitations within themselves. Thus Elizabeth Bennett comes across as a smart, capable person who is prevented from being fully honest — to others or to herself — by the stifling rules, roles and expectations of class, gender and manners that shaped her life and her time. Bridget Jones, facing fewer such external rules, just comes across as neurotic and indecisive.

The essence of a romantic comedy is pretty simple: Introduce two characters who belong together, then contrive to keep them apart for about 90 minutes. Again, this is trickier now than it was in Austen’s or Shakespeare’s time. A lot of contemporary romantic comedies are annoying because the only obstacle they can imagine to keep their heroes apart is a kind of mutual immaturity. That serves the need of the plot, but it makes the couple less likable, which means we don’t care as much when they finally get together in the end.

One solution is to find a contemporary setting that still involves something like the kind of stifling social constraints in a Jane Austen novel. That’s what Ang Lee did with
The Wedding Banquet, which ... is more of a farce than a romantic comedy. The complications and misunderstandings that drive the plot in Lee’s story could all be cleared up with just a few honest words from the protagonists. But they can’t say those words — not because an arbitrary “Idiot Plot” screenplay prevents them, but because the story involves a closeted gay man in New York and a visit from his ultra-traditional Taiwanese parents.


LiteraryDevices.net also provided:

Oscar Wilde’s novel, The Importance of Being Earnest, is one of the best verbal farces. Just like a typical farce that contains basic elements like mockery of upper class, disgraceful physical humor, absurdity and mistaken identities, this novel also contains demonstrates these features of a farce.


What all of this gets at, I think, is that I discovered to my chagrin that Brigid and Greg, rather than Punching Up, were just sort of punching indiscriminately, which included (unfortunately) both punching sideways, and punching down. I also think that shows me the path towards fixing it.

Once more through the outline, old scout.

-The Gneech

Fictionlet

Mar. 23rd, 2016 11:31 pm
the_gneech: (Default)

“Well, young Greg, do you see anything on the menu that suits you?” Isadora asked.


“Quite a bit actually,” Greg said. “The hard part is narrowing it down to a single dish.”


“Ugh,” said Brigid. “There’s not enough chocolate on this menu. I’m going straight for dessert.”


“It’s an Italian restaurant,” said Greg. “Where would you possibly put chocolate besides a caffé mocha?”


“Lots of places!” said Brigid. “I mean really, eggplant parmesan? Fuck that noise. Smothered in chocolate is the only way you’d get me to eat eggplant.”


“You’ve never even had eggplant,” said Isadora.


“And nobody ever serves it smothered in chocolate,” said Brigid. “I detect a pattern.”


“Not everything is enhanced by adding chocolate,” said Greg.


“Oh yes it is,” said Brigid. “There’s nothing on this menu that wouldn’t be better with chocolate. Spaghetti? Better with chocolate. Lasagna? Better with chocolate. Garlic bread? Better with chocolate. Hell, I’d eat wasps if they were covered in chocolate.”


“Is that something you’re often called upon to do?” Greg asked.


“Well, no,” said Brigid. “But if the situation ever comes up, I know my stance on it.”


“At least you’ve got it well thought-out,” Isadora said, and quaffed some more of her wine sample.


“Shakespeare would be proud,” Greg agreed.


“To thine own chocolate, be true,” Brigid said, and began to raid the bowl of after-dinner mints.


-The Gneech


<-- previous B&G


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Fictionlet

Mar. 17th, 2016 05:15 pm
the_gneech: (Jeeves Nazis)

“Ugh, St. Patrick’s Day, what have they done to you?” said Greg, wincing in dismay at the bar they drove past. “When I was a kid St. Patrick’s Day was ‘wear something green or you get pinched.’ When did it turn into ‘virulent idiots getting drunk on green beer’?”


“When I was a kid Halloween was ‘trick or treat,'” said Brigid. “When did it turn into ‘Sexy Axe Murderer’ costumes? Everything’s been screwed up for ages now. I blame the baby boomers.”


“Oh?”


“Yeah. Growing up being told everything was all about them, they believed it, and have just trashed the country and the culture.”


“Hmm,” said Greg. “Well as much as I’d love to use them as a scapegoat, those aren’t baby boomers wearing plastic leprechaun hats and getting blotto we just passed. And it’s certainly not baby boomers in the Sexy Axe Murderer costume. Not any more, at least. You may have an argument for baby boomers having made the mess, but let’s be honest, generation X isn’t exactly cleaning up after them very well.”


“When you grow up in the asylum, you don’t realize that everyone around you is insane,” said Brigid. “Generation X was screwed from the start. All we can do is try to pave the way for the millennials to un-break the world.”


“…says the woman who thinks children should neither be seen nor heard,” said Greg.


“I believe that children are the future,” Brigid said. “And they can have it.”


-The Gneech


<-- previous B&G


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Mar. 15th, 2016 02:43 pm
the_gneech: (Jeeves Strangle)

Brigid stalked the edges of the party, looking like nothing so much as a panther looking for a baby rabbit to gobble down. Finally she spotted the rabbit in question, to wit Greg, who was in the center of a cluster of people, holding them spellbound as he told them some ridiculous anecdote. She instantly made her way to him.


“…and so she pulled out a lighter and said, ‘Lean down here so I can set you on fire,'” Greg was saying, as Brigid elbowed her way through the crowd.


“C’mon,” she said, grabbing his arm. “Let’s go.”


“It’s only 9:30,” Greg said.


“Yeah,” said Brigid, “which means I’ve been here a whole 45 minutes and my oath not to commit murder is wearing thin. Let’s go.”


“Fine, fine,” said Greg, and turned back to the faces eagerly hoping for more snappy stories. “Sorry, all. But She Who Must Be Obeyed speaks, and I’m the one driving the car. Good night!”


Coats retrieved, they slipped out into the night. “I do get tired of you wanting to end every party before it begins,” Greg said. “You realize these binges are my main point of contact with the outside world, right?”


“Sorry,” said Brigid, as he unlocked the door. “Work has been bad. We’ll stay longer next time, I promise.”


“I’ll hold you to that,” said Greg, as they got in the car.


“For all your time spent alone, you know how to work a crowd,” Brigid said as they pulled out into traffic.


“Well that particular crowd was not a particularly discerning bunch,” said Greg. “I’ve learned that the secret to success, is to only hang around people who are easily impressed.”


“Uh huh,” said Brigid.


-The Gneech


<-- previous B&G


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Fictionlet

Aug. 17th, 2015 12:33 pm
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Greg shook his hand in the air. “Guh, you wouldn’t think stirring cookie dough would hurt so much.”


“Worry not!” said Brigid, shoving her finger into the bowl and pulling it out covered in dough and chocolate chips. “Your sacrifice shall not have been in vain!” She greedily gulped down her prize.


“You shouldn’t eat raw cookie dough!” said Greg. “You could get sick from it!”


“No I couldn’t,” said Brigid. “It’s never actually happened to anyone in the history of ever.”


“Of course it has,” said Greg. “There’s the well-known case of Silas Gunderson. In 1874, he was making cookies to comfort himself after having accidentally slashed his arm open on a sewer grate while trying to fend off the diseased rats who chewed off two of the fingers on his left hand. Took one bite of raw cookie dough, and dropped dead on the spot.”


“What?” said Brigid. “That’s stupid. Even if you hadn’t just made that up on the spot, all that would mean was that he died while eating raw cookie dough, not from eating raw cookie dough.”


“Well, yes, but still. Better safe than sorry, don’t you think?”


“No, I so don’t,” said Brigid, scooping out another dollop with a large spoon.


-The Gneech


<-- previous B&G

the_gneech: (Writing)

For the past two weeks, when not sending off job applications, most of my time has been spent writing another novel. I had intended to hold off until November and do it as a NaNoWriMo project, but for whatever reason the book said, “NOAP, you will write me NOW!” and so I have been. As of last night, I hit 20,000-ish words at the end of chapter seven, and I’m taking a “creative recharge and look back at the progress so far break” today before attacking chapter eight.


I have to say, I am very pleased with how the book is coming along, and as far as this story is concerned, it’s about damn time. This story started out as a nugget of my Arclight Adventures comic project, then morphed into my Coventry idea, then emerged as its own thing, then got shelved, then informed the creation of Rough Housing, then got shelved again, and now has finally re-asserted itself with forcefulness that will not be denied. Verity and Tanya want their story to be told, and they want it to be told in the right way, dammit! And when characters yell at me that loudly, well, I’d be a fool not to listen. The book is coming fast, and solid, and fun, but also with a lot more depth and texture to it than I expected. As I tweeted last night, I think this is going to be my best book yet, and this is the one I finally feel is a good candidate for publication.


The revamped Brigid and Greg novel is another good candidate, actually, and I may put that into the NaNoWriMo slot if this book is finished by then. That one would probably have been finished by now if the house sale hadn’t knocked me out of my groove.


A major factor in this level-up of my writing craft has been Scrivener, which has turned building an outline/story structure from a horrendous pain into an absolute joy. For both the B&G book and the new one, I have started with five notecards:



  • Act One: Setup

  • Act Two: Conflict

  • Act Three: Rising Action

  • Act Four: Catastrophe/Falling Action

  • Act Five: Denouement


Drilling down from each of these, I put in 4-6 more notecards with major story beats. On each of the story beat notecards, I then drill down and put 3-5 short scene summaries– not even whole sentences, just things like “Brigid and Isadora argue”. That whole process takes me a few days, and by the time I’m done I have a nice and solid skeleton to start hanging my story on. From there, it’s just writing out each scene as described in the summary, usually in a 500-1,500 word chunk, of which I can write around three on a “normal” working day and more on a really good day. Just looking at the math, you can see what happens: four scenes of 1,000 words each make a 4,000 word chapter; five chapters of 4,000 words each make a 20,000 word act; four acts of 20,000 words, plus a denouement that’s probably one or two chapters tops, make an 80,000-90,000 word novel.


(Of course, nothing ever goes completely to plan. In the current story, in order to twist the emotional knife on a particular scene, I decided to elevate something that was basically speed bump in my outline into a major catastrophe, which in turn made complications that had to be coped with, but which had not been factored into the original plan. Using Scrivener, that was relatively easy to fix, basically by just shoving in some more notecards for new scenes or chapter. Since it’s just shoving little pieces around at the outlining level, it doesn’t feel like major plot surgery.)


Anyway, I think that with this book, I will actually be making the transition from perennial dabbler to true professional novelist. Not just because of the quality of this piece, but because I now feel like I have the tools and the experience to repeat the performance. I can now confidently build a novel-length story, and I know both what I want out of the process and what the process will need out of me to pull it off. And honestly, I think that when I actually finish something my writing is as good as anybody’s out there.


Building an audience, translating these books into earning a living, and all that stuff, is something else I will need to tackle, of course, as is integrating all of this with my desire to keep Suburban Jungle alive. But those are all topics for another day.


-The Gneech

Fictionlet

Apr. 17th, 2015 07:43 pm
the_gneech: (Default)

Unfortunately, as she snuck out of the building, Brigid’s cellphone began vibrating stridently in her bag, which just told her she had a lot more hell to get through before the day was over. Pulling out the phone, she barked into it, “I’m not gonna say four hours until you give me details!”


“Well that’s fine,” said Isadora’s voice on the other end. “I don’t want you to say four hours anyway! Why should I? It’s no skin off my nose.”


“Ugh, sorry Mom,” said Brigid. “I thought you were someone else.”


“Well I’m not,” said Isadora. “What’s more, I don’t intend to ever be.”


“What’s up?” said Brigid, hauling her bag up onto the bus and waving her pass in front of the sensor.


“I’m calling to issue yet another invitation,” said Isadora as Brigid collapsed into a seat. “Your Aunt Edna is hosting a family reunion two weeks hence.”


“Oh, hell no,” said Brigid. “No thanks.”


“What do you mean, ‘no thanks’?”


“I mean Aunt Edna can go hump a pool toy. A team of Navy Seals couldn’t get me to go to that.” A woman sitting across from Brigid turned her head and blinked; Brigid just hunkered down into her seat.


“Brigid!” said Isadora.


“No way,” said Brigid.


“She doesn’t have many years left in her, you know,” said Isadora.


“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” said Brigid.


“Don’t be cruel-hearted!” said Isadora.


“Sorry, sorry,” said Brigid. “I’m just… Mom, I can’t take family right now.”


“You’re supposed to take comfort and joy from your family!” said Isadora. “That’s what they’re for!”


“Then I should have a comforting, joyful family for that,” said Brigid. “Not Disdain McJudgealot and the Fifteen Sneerers.”


“I don’t even know what that means,” said Isadora. “In any case it doesn’t matter. We all have obligations, Brigid, and family is one of them. I understand that you don’t necessarily like them, and that can’t be helped. But you’ll be glad to have them later in life, take it from me!”


Brigid just squeezed her eyes shut. Then, quickly pulling a bit of paper out of her bag, she rapidly crumpled it up in front of the microphone. “Sorry, what’s that mom?” she said. “You’re breaking up. What? WHAT?”


“Don’t you try that crumpled paper trick on me you little–” was as far as Isadora got before Brigid had hung up on her.


-The Gneech


<-- previous B&G

the_gneech: (Default)

Over the past few weeks, as my seemingly-never-ending house sale sits instead of going through, and my life is mostly packed up in boxes, I haven’t been able to work on art and have instead been working on one of my various mothballed novels (and making good progress, I’m very pleased to add). It is the long-theorized and twice-attempted Brigid and Greg novel, which includes several existing Fictionlets finally put into context, as well as the rest of the narrative that actually makes into a (semi-) coherent story.


One of the new things I’ve been trying this time around is that I picked up a copy of Scrivener, which is a nifty hybrid of word processor and project management software for writers. The way it works is by creating a virtual corkboard onto which you “pin notecards,” which can be scenes, sections, notes, whole chapters, whatever suits you. You can shuffle them around, put them into “folders,” however you see fit.


I may have gone a little nuts with it.


I may have gone a little nuts with it.


What I started with really was a list of scenes, some of which were existing Fictionlets, others were simply concepts or story beats I knew had to be hit. For lack of a better framework, I then created folders based on the five-act structure, and started putting scenes into them as made sense. Once I had the big picture worked out, I then drilled down into individual acts and created folders for individual chapters, and from there started writing specific scenes within the chapter folders. At the same time, I’ve been maintaining some other notes in Snowflake, mainly using the scene list and word-count database to get a big picture view of how long each chunk of story is compared to the others around it. It seems that the average scene in this book is about two pages long (~500 words), although a few whoppers are seven pages long (~1,750 words). The average chapter is running around 12 pages (~3,000 words), and I expect to have around 20-25 chapters, which should put me well into the 60,000-75,000 word range I was aiming for.


Considering that even the Michael Macbeth novel I did for NaNoWriMo 2013 just barely squeaked over 50,000, I’m quite pleased with this state of affairs. I keep thinking of the preface to Thank You, Jeeves


“…Writing my stories, I enjoy; it is the thinking them out that is apt to blot the sunshine from my life. You can’t think out plots like mine without getting a suspicion from time to time that something has gone seriously wrong with the brain’s two hemispheres and the broad band of transversely-running fibers known as the corpus callosum. It is my practice to make about 400 pages of notes before starting a novel, and during this process there always comes a moment when I say to myself, “Oh what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!” The odd thing is, that just as I’m feeling I must be getting a proposer and seconder, and put myself up for the looney bin, something always clicks, and after that, all is joy and jollity.”


–P.G. Wodehouse


Given my writing habits, that passage has been of everlasting comfort, to me! And so far, the passage has described my writing attempts very well, to which I say if it’s good enough for Wodehouse, then surely it’s good enough for me!


-The Gneech

Fictionlet

Mar. 19th, 2015 12:05 pm
the_gneech: (Mysterious Beard)

One of the unexpected things I’ve learned over the course of being That Guy at Starbucks, is how much there is to learn about being That Guy at Starbucks. For instance, you discover that there’s a whole shadow-economy of That Guys, many of whom are actually women, making That Guy a terrible moniker but alas the one that has stuck in my head and therefore I shall employ henceforth.


Another thing you discover is that paradoxically, “Dream a Little Dream of Me” becomes the most un-soothing song in the world when blasting too loudly in your ear. In short, there are times when having earphones is absolutely vital. I mean, the whole point of being That Guy at Starbucks is you’re working somewhere that has noise and bustle and activity, in order to get something that feels vaguely like human interaction without any of the attendant unpleasantness of going to an actual job– but when the shady character at the next table over pitches a ponzi scheme to his mark in a voice made to rattle windows, or worst of all, some harried suburban mother brings in her five year old, her toddler, and her infant, and shoves them all at a table in the corner while she goes to grab her triple venti caramel macchiatto before she murders someone, the calm bubble of humanity suddenly becomes a loud and intrusive bubble of humanity designed to keep you from getting anything done. Your choices therefore are to take your chances with the next Starbucks over, or to put on headphones and listen to, well, sound clips recorded inside coffeeshops. Because that’s the most effective background ambience for getting work done.


You also quickly learn the importance of scouting out the power plugs, grabbing the seat by the window in the brief moments when it becomes available, knowing which cashiers actually know what they’re doing and will give your drink to the barista correctly, and by extension which baristas actually give a damn when it comes to making the drinks. A mocha made without the proper amount of syrup is much worse than no mocha at all.


Once you get the hang of these things, however, you come to discover that having offices in every city of the world is worth its weight in gold, and as I mentioned, you can’t beat the rent. The only real downside is terminally slippery insides, but even that can be managed with an occasional lemonade and judicious selection of decaf.


-The Gneech


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Fictionlet

Jul. 2nd, 2014 07:44 am
the_gneech: (Jeeves Unsuitable)
"Oh, I found an answer to that question," Brigid said.

"And good day to you, Captain Out-of-Context," Greg replied. "Which question?"

"You remember a while back, I was wondering what the male equivalent of a 'fag hag' was?"

Greg winced. "I was hoping that had been merely a bad dream."

"Turns out the answer is 'lesbro,'" said Brigid.

"Don't tell me these things," said Greg.

"What's wrong with 'lesbro'?" she demanded. "It's a perfectly good slang term. Way better than 'fag hag.'" Greg merely gave a sort of soft whimper, and Brigid continued, "Typical, tho. The guys get a neutral or even guy-positive term, and the women get abuse."

"Excuse me," said Greg, "but I would very much like to be excused from the rest of this conversation now, please."

-The Gneech

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Fictionlet

May. 15th, 2014 11:34 am
the_gneech: (Writing)

“You can’t trust a thing kids say any more,” said Greg. “A bunch of girls outside just spend fifteen minutes telling me that London Bridge was falling down, falling down, falling down. But I checked the news, there’s nothing about it.”

“Uh huh,” said Brigid.

“Of course they might have just been confused,” he added. “They seemed to have mistaken me for an attractive woman.”

“I hope you realize,” said Brigid, “that this kind of malarkey is why you don’t have any friends except for that cat.”

“Harumph,” said Greg. “Ozymandias and I share a bond of true friendship, and tuna fish.”

“Don’t kid yourself,” said Brigid. “If Ozzie had opposable thumbs, you would be so evicted.”

-The Gneech

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Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.

Fictionlet

May. 15th, 2014 11:34 am
the_gneech: (Writing)

“You can’t trust a thing kids say any more,” said Greg. “A bunch of girls outside just spend fifteen minutes telling me that London Bridge was falling down, falling down, falling down. But I checked the news, there’s nothing about it.”

“Uh huh,” said Brigid.

“Of course they might have just been confused,” he added. “They seemed to have mistaken me for an attractive woman.”

“I hope you realize,” said Brigid, “that this kind of malarkey is why you don’t have any friends except for that cat.”

“Harumph,” said Greg. “Ozymandias and I share a bond of true friendship, and tuna fish.”

“Don’t kid yourself,” said Brigid. “If Ozzie had opposable thumbs, you would be so evicted.”

-The Gneech

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Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.

Fictionlet

Dec. 16th, 2013 09:29 am
the_gneech: (Kero shouting)

“I don’t know why, but I was thinking about Blame It on Rio last night,” said Alex.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” said Greg.

“You were thinking of what?” said Brigid.

Blame It on Rio,” said Alex. “Cheesy rom-com from the ’80s, had Michael Caine and Brooke Shields doing this May-to-September romance–”

“Not Brooke Shields,” said Greg. “It was Demi Moore.”

“Oh, wait, I remember that now,” said Brigid. “You’re thinking of Bo Derek.”

“No,” said Alex, “I’m pretty sure it was Brooke Shields. Anyway, her father and Michael Caine were like best friends, and Michael Caine’s wife was having an affair with Brooke Shields’s father while Michael Caine was having an affair with Brooke Shields.”

“Demi Moore,” said Greg.

“That movie did crazy things to my hormones when I was a kid,” said Alex.

“It certainly didn’t improve your long-term memory,” said Greg.

“Wait, I thought Blame It on Rio was the one where the guy spills Pepsi on his keyboard and suddenly his computer comes to life and starts fixing his love problems,” said Brigid.

“That was Electric Dreams,” said Greg.

“Then what was Woman In Red?”

“You mean who was the Woman in Red?” said Alex.

“Kelly LeBrock,” said Greg.

“Sigourney Weaver,” said Brigid.

“Kim Cattrall!” said Alex.

“Pam Dawber?” said Greg.

“Clara Peller,” said Brigid.

“Shields and Yarnell,” said Alex.

“Joe Isuzu!” said Greg.

“The Dunkin Donuts guy!” said Brigid.

There was a long pause.

“What were we talking about, again?” said Greg.

“Your long term memory’s not the greatest either, it seems,” said Brigid.

-The Gneech

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Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.

Fictionlet

Oct. 18th, 2013 10:51 am
the_gneech: (Default)

When driving a car on such a gorgeous day, there was no recourse but to roll all the windows down and sing at the top of one’s lungs, and Greg did so. “Non te deseram, non fraudabo te! Non infidelem, et non te deserant! Non te calamus, nolo dicere vale! Et ego nolo fallere laedere…”

Brigid, curled up in the far corner of the passenger seat looking vaguely like a long-dead spider, said, “Did you really just rick-roll me in Latin?”

“What’s ‘rick-roll’?” said Greg.

“You know,” said Brigid, “I could yank that wheel and run us into oncoming traffic. It would be easy. EASY! And no jury would ever convict me!”

“How can you be so cranky on a day like this?” said Greg.

-The Gneech

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Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.

Fictionlet

Oct. 14th, 2013 02:04 pm
the_gneech: (NIMH Scariest Icon)

“Halloween, Halloween, the most wonderful time of the year!” Greg said in a happy sing-song as he swooped in with the mail. “Check it out, a retro-style actual paper catalog of Halloween costumes!”

“Wow, there’s a blast from the past,” said Brigid. “Lemme see.”

“I thought you hated Halloween,” said Greg, dropping the catalog into her lap.

“I do,” said Brigid. “I just like catalogs.” She opened it up and started flipping through it. “Ugh. No. Gah! Jeeze, this is awful. This isn’t Halloween at all!”

“Hmm?” said Greg. “What is it?”

“Halloween is supposed to be spooky. This crap is all just stupid! Gory rubber body parts, prop roadkill, yuck. And what’s with these costumes? ‘Sexy nurse.’ ‘Sexy devil girl.’ ‘Sexy vampire girl.’”

Greg sighed. “Ah. Yes, I do hate that.”

“‘Sexy witch,’” Brigid continued. “‘Sexy pirate girl.’ ‘Sexy maid.’ ‘Sexy prison inmate.’ ‘Sexy nun.’”

“Too bad they don’t have ‘sexy celibate monk,’” said Greg.

“Think again, buster,” said Brigid, and showed Greg a page.

“I hate what our culture has become,” Greg replied.

-The Gneech

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Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.

Fictionlet

Oct. 2nd, 2013 03:05 pm
the_gneech: (Jeeves Strangle)

“My next book will be a non-fiction,” Greg said. “I’ve already got a contract and advance on the title alone.”

“Oh really!” said Brigid. “What is it?”

The World Is Going to Hell, and It’s Your Fault: A Bestseller.

“Um,” said Brigid.

“The subtitle is, If You’d Spanked Your Children, Obama Would Not Have Been Elected.”

Brigid just shook her head, finally managing to say, “…Wow. I assume you’ll be releasing this under a pseudonym.”

“Well naturally,” said Greg. “I’m also looking into an older, doughy guy to play me at book signings.”

“Of all the times I’ve wanted to kill you,” Brigid said, “this is the first time it was for the good of humanity.”

-The Gneech

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Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.

Fictionlet

Sep. 6th, 2013 09:46 am
the_gneech: (Jeeves Strangle)

“Exposure is the first step on the road to tolerance,” said Greg. “By spending time with people different from yourself, and getting to understand them, you learn to value who they are and what they believe.”

“Mmhmm…?” said Brigid.

“However, having spent the entire weekend at your family reunion, I have come to the conclusion that yes, you’re right, most of your family is made up of horrible people the world would be a better place without.”

“I told you,” said Brigid.

-The Gneech

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Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.

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