Ramblings and Ruminations

Ever start to work on a story and end up getting bogged down in minutia or obsessed with details that just don’t matter for what you’re writing about?

Every time we work on the Project Brimstone story for more than a few minutes, we get stuck in some detail of math and metaphysics and how many a– Um.  Nope.  Not a good metaphor to use, all things considered.  Sorry.  Anyway, we get stuck trying to describe the exact workings of the thing the title’s “project” is about, and enumerate the myriad possibilities, whether the characters will ever deal with most of them or not.  And come up with an explanation for how those possibilities can exist in the first place, and why they don’t dissolve into a puddle of logic and traditional Newtonian physics… *sigh*

I don’t mean all of this literally.  I’m just frustrated with the frequent derailments of any plan for this story.  It’s a good story, and the setting is fascinating.  I really like the main character.  I really like a couple of the other major characters, too (no surprise — they’re mine), and the plot has the potential to tie the pieces of our uber-story-arc together neatly on the semi-normal-world level.  (*shakes head*  That sounds, to me, just the slightest bit like part of the dedication in someone else’s novel.  Yeah.  Loose threads.  Information overload.  Something trying to tell me somebody.)  Especially since the clone said something a few days ago about having some sort of crossover between Brimstone and Providence when it comes time to wrap up those series.  That’ll be fun, showing that characters who are fairly normal (it’s all relative, trust me) and ordinary can still do important things.  (Wow, I think I just compared a deputy federal marshal to a hobbit.  Ironic, really.)

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The clone has been writing a lot these last few days.  Three thousand words here, eighteen hundred there… Staying up until dawn has the side effect of rearranging one’s wake/sleep cycle, and the clone has been writing during the small hours of each morning since the Solstice.  Mostly one of the (technically) secondary threads for The Madness Engine, with Drake as the viewpoint character.  (You didn’t think he was going to show up in just the one book and then wander off again, did you?  Silly humans…)  Lots of interesting stuff happens — and by interesting, I mean the sorts of horrible things you’d expect in the aftermath of a global war involving really nasty bioweapons.

Cue the electric violin.

No, the other electric violin.

(Please excuse my tendency to make connections between totally unrelated bits of trivia.  My mind, it is like a steel sieve.)

Right before he stumbled off to sleep this morning, the clone told me all about what he’d been writing overnight, and about his plans for upcoming scenes in the WIP.  He tells me these things so I can remember for him; in a couple of weeks, he won’t even remember that we had the conversation, but I’ll be able to tell him what he told me about what the POV character learns during his travels (and why the character is ‘taking the long way’ to reach his destination).  Anyway.  Lots of weird adventure-y stuff.  Important info for readers who want the backstory for “that novel.”  And someone addressing the POV character by his real first name!  (*eep!*)  I have to admit, I was not expecting that.

Of course, I’m sure that he wasn’t/isn’t, either.  The character, I mean.  Although the writer probably wasn’t expecting it until it popped into his brain.  Surprises like this are part of what makes writing fiction so much fun.

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About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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8 Responses to Ramblings and Ruminations

  1. “Surprise, surprise!” That’s why I’m a pantser. But I’ve got to do more … coordinating … this time, because I’ve got 3 POV characters and it’s a historical, so it’s like writing 4 books at once, and then getting them to mesh. Yikes!

    But you keep on having fun, and I’ll join you there, when I can….

    Liked by 1 person

    • As Robert Frost once said, “…No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” I’m not a pure pantser myself, because I do a lot of the “first draft” in my head, but I don’t like to plan everything out in detail, either. All I need to know before I start putting words on the page is where the story begins (and this almost always changes, but unlike many writers, I end up adding to the front of the story rather than removing material), a few key events/scenes throughout, and an approximate idea of the ending. The rest of it, I’ll discover as I write. I admit, though, that this gets complicated as my twin and I “choreograph” (like combat sequences in a movie!) the interconnected plots (and characters) of several stories at once, to make sure they all fit together. Working with both the little details AND the “big picture” — I love it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Every time I’ve ever “planned” something my characters are usually like “Oh, no, we’re going here and doing this.” and I end up like, “But that’s not part of the story!” and they’re all “We ARE the story, screw you!” and then bad things happen and I’m like “I TOLD you!” and they give me the finger. We have an awesome relationship, I swear… *nervous laugh*. But seriously, I think it’s important to have a rough outline, but also be prepared to deviate from that outline because characters are people and people have a mind of their own!
    My point of posting though was because this one time when my characters had to travel dimensions I spent two whole days reading articles about wormholes before realizing sometimes all you need is a little magic and imagination.

    Liked by 1 person

    • But don’t we, as writers, WANT bad things to happen to the characters? For the good of the story, of course…

      I know some authors are scornful of the “my characters write the story, not me” approach to writing fiction, but the thing is, my characters ARE me, so why shouldn’t they have a hand in creating the story? Every one of them is a product of my imagination (Shut up, Geoffrey — this is NOT the time for that kind of joke), and every unexpected plot twist or change in plans is my subconscious giving me a new idea for how the story could go. I’m not turning over control of the writing to some outside force; I’m giving myself permission to try something different.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I totally agree! This one time a song on the radio came on and the band was called Better than Ezra (I have a demon character named Ezra) and the first thing that popped in my head was “Not likely” all super offended like, and it made me laugh! I love that my characters have a say because ultimately it is their story I’m telling so I will tell it as accurately as possible and I want them to be true to themselves and the actions they would take in certain situations. I try to avoid ‘author interference’ as much as possible. I want my characters to be flawed and honest in all their humanity and learn just like we would because that’s what makes them relatable, even if they can manipulate the elements, or have magical powers, or are learning how to ride a bike.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: This time, last year | North of Andover

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