I’ve spent my writing time this week trying to figure out how to harness Murphy’s Law for the next Tanner and Miranda story. It’s been so much fun, and and has mostly involved me writing lists for the plot with what should happen on one side and what actually happens on the other. I’ve also been cackling the entire time, which has drawn a few strange looks and worried glances, but oh well. At the risk of drawing even more worried glances, it’s been a rewarding process, and I’m excited to see the result of this embrace of absurdity.
This last week was… less than productive when it came to getting writing done, which was a little disheartening. That being said, I’ve had a chance to work on the overall structure, and while it’ll probably change again ten more times (at least!) I’m fairly happy with it at the moment. I plan to have ten chapters/stories in the completed novel, of which I have a rough draft of one, a good draft of a second, various bits and pieces of a few others, and at least a summary of everything else.
So! While I don’t have a new snippet for you all, I do have a table of contents. Take a look! It goes without saying that any and all of the titles could change, but for the time being, they fit well enough and along with all the notes I have scribbled for them in Scrivener, I know more or less where I want them to go.
1- The First Job
2- The Delivery Job
3- The Easy Job
4- The Track-down Job
5- The Ethan Lindsay Job
6- The Snatch-back Job
7- The Pro-bono Job
8- The Personal Job
9- The Rescue Job
10- The Dalton Job
PS: It finally happened. I missed a Friday update, and this is going up on Saturday morning. I’m backdating it so that it shows up where I want it to in the archives, but I definitely missed it. Alas.
With any luck, I’ll have a draft of a new chapter/short story completed for the Tanner and Miranda Chronicles by the end of the weekend. It’s currently sitting at about two thousand words, and the rest of it is at least roughly outlined. In the meantime, enjoy a snippet from right before our heroes manage to get themselves into all sorts of trouble. As they tend to do.
They’d chosen a good place to stop us. There might not have been anything understated about the method they’d chosen, but that wasn’t to say it wasn’t effective. The barrier crossed the entirety of the road, and with a cliff wall on one side and a steep dropoff on the other, we didn’t have a lot of options.
We could try diplomacy, of course. That was Tanner’s first choice, even if I hoped he was just using it to slow down the inevitable escalation. I’d have been more worried if he’d pulled his hand away from his rifle.
“Is there something we can do to help you folks?”
“You could drop Miss Loesan there off with us. I think we might even be able to move this thing off the road for you before we get started on our conversation with her.” The leader gave an ugly sort of sneer. “Think you could work with that? Looks like you’ve got cargo you’re moving, and it would be a shame if it never made it to where it’s supposed to go.”
That line might have worked on a different freelancer. Probably would have, actually; we were outnumbered two to one, and they were the ones with better cover. But it was the sort of thing that just made Tanner mad. Our chances of getting out without a scuffle dwindled before my eyes, and I started calculating how many shots I could get off before we’d have to make a run for it. I didn’t care for the odds.
“I think we both know that’s not going to happen,” said Tanner. “You got a better suggestion?”
Now he was definitely stalling, and I had seconds to come up with a better plan.
It’s not happening quickly, but I think the Tanner and Miranda stories are slowly coalescing into something with the vague form of a novel. There’s still a long way to go, but I’ve got decent outlines for almost all the stories I want to include in the “collection” masquerading as a full-length book, and that’s a great feeling. Now I just have to turn those outlines into a real story, and we’ll be good to go!
For today, here’s a snippet I wrote this week that I was particularly happy with. Enjoy!
“‘Adventure. Lots of it.’ Those were your exact words.”
I sat on the back of the rented hovermule, kicking my feet in the air and gnawing on the hard protein bar I’d grabbed as a sorry sort of breakfast. Off to the east, the sun rose up above the Badlands, casting long shadows and painting the planet a dusty yellow for miles around.
From his spot next to me Tanner grinned. “That sounds like something I’d say.”
“I feel so lied to.”
“We got attacked by the local wildlife within forty-eight hours of your arrival,” said Tanner, still grinning. “What more do you want?”
“So much,” I said. “So very much.”
This month has seen a bit more behind-the-scenes work with the structuring of the Tanner and Miranda stories… which makes it feel like I’m not getting as much done as I was last month–which is true, all things considered, but also okay. But, if I do it right, it’ll also make it a whole lot easier to get the whole thing out there and ready to be edited into a worthwhile second draft and beyond. So, while I work on that, enjoy the first paragraph of one of the stories that is currently getting figured out.
It was never a good sign when our room started looking more like an infirmary than just a place to sleep and keep our things. Despite appearances– the crutches leaned against the wall, the bandaging implements tossed on the table and over the back of the chair, the bottle of pain-killers on the nightstand– we did know what we were doing. We’d just had a hard run of it lately between me still being new to the planet and a bit of genuinely bad luck. What we really needed was something easy. A nice, simple job to get us back on our feet. Something that involved a little pay and even less getting shot at, and the more boring the better.
After the mayhem of NaNo, it’s sometimes (read: usually) easy for the slower pace that takes over in December to feel distressingly unproductive. And certainly, when it comes to word output and time committed to writing, the last three weeks have seen a definite drop-off. Yet, while I might be loathe to admit it at times, that’s not always a bad thing.
For one thing, having the time to guiltlessly devote to friendships, everyday chores, and all the other things that make up day-to-day life, while being good in and of itself, is also the sort of thing that can help improve one’s writing. They say to write what you know, and if you have a good working knowledge of the way life seems to tick, that’s going to show in your writing.
But the slower pace means I have time to start the restructuring and editing process. Which is terrifying. And a lot of work. And weird, because for the first time in my life, I’m writing out of order. I recently got my hands on Scrivener for the first time, and now I understand what all the hype is about. Consider me sold. Being able to drag chapters and scenes around and divide them up into more thought sized chunks is already invaluable. And it makes it so much easier to write what’s coming to mind right at the moment without worrying about how I’ll move it to where it belongs later. I think it’s going to help speed up the entire editing/rewriting process in the long run, which is good because my dad has sent another bag of chocolate covered espresso beans with the understanding that I finish a revised draft sometime in the near future– preferably the end of January. With the espresso beans, it just might happen!
Another NaNo has come and gone. And while I’m looking forward to relax a little from the marathon, I’m mostly excited because it looks like this might have actually given me the jumpstart I was hoping for to get me writing a lot and regularly once again. It’s a lovely feeling.
I’m also inordinately proud of myself for blowing my previous NaNo wordcount record out of the water. My final count for the month is just over 75k words, which means that I completed 150% of the official NaNoWriMo goal. Tanner and Miranda are nothing if not fun to write. As always, it’s all incredibly rough and unpolished, not to mentioned only barely structured at best, but it’s a whole lot of grist for the editing mill, and I’m so excited to get to working on it.
So, here’s a last (for NaNoWriMo 2018) snippet of the adventures of a couple of siblings who don’t know how to stay out of trouble. Thanks for reading!
There were two bandits in the doorway. There might be more in the ship behind them, but we couldn’t see them, and we couldn’t hear more than the two we could see. Decent enough odds to make us think that they were the only ones there right at the moment. Well. Some people might think they were good odds. If it was the difference between surviving and not surviving this mission, it might be more ideal to wait until we had a better idea of what was going on, but as they say, time is of the essence, and this was about as good as it was probably going to get. And right now, the door was unlocked. And open.
Tanner and I exchanged a look, took deep breaths, and charged.
Now, these two were probably entirely deserving of whatever justice we might mete out on them during this whole crazy backwards heist. But there was more at stake than just their just deserts, and frankly, unless it was blatant self defense, I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about killing anyone and getting that on my conscience. Self defense is one thing. Going in, guns blazing, is entirely another. And while it’s got its time and its place, and I’ve done it before, I didn’t have to right now and I was absolutely fine with that.
So instead, we charged straight forward, fired several shots into the hull above their heads, then broke off to the sides and didn’t let ourselves run in a straight enough line to let them get a bead on us. Frankly, it probably shouldn’t have worked. I mean, it really, really shouldn’t have worked. And yet, it did. The two guards panicked and ducked and fired off a couple of crazy shots into the air above our heads. They missed us entirely and wasted a couple of moments that were more than enough for us to cover the ground between us and them.
And we tackled them. Shoulders down, wrapping our arms around their waists, driving them to the ground. Tanner took the one of the left, I took the one on the right who stood a little further back. Just one of the benefits of being smaller. You can sneak through spaces that wouldn’t be big enough for a lot of people. And it doesn’t meant that you’re not strong enough to go after anyone. As evidenced by the fact that the fellow I tackled went down, and went down hard, despite having about fifty pounds and half a foot on me.
Thank God for the element of surprise and a low center of gravity.
I don’t know quite where I’m going with this. But I think it’s going to be fun.
This was my kind of job. The kind that had gotten me into this field in the first place. Both literally, in the sense that Tanner and I were currently crouched in a sage-brush filled field a little way outside of Dalton, and also in the sense you thought I was talking about first. It was the kind rife with adventure and mayhem, and, just as importantly, it was the kind that promised a healthy payout at the end of it.
We just had to finish the job and get back to the client in one piece. Easier said than done, of course, but that’s where the fun comes in.
The whole point in my moving out to the absolute end of nowhere that is Verdant is the fact that instead of doing this notoriously dangerous freelancing job solo, I’d get to do it with Tanner watching my back. And I’d be able to watch his. And in the process, both of our life expectancies would jump straight through the roof. Simple.
Of course, when you’re a freelancer, you don’t exactly have the luxury of being super picky about the jobs you take. Well. Not always. And even if you’d like to be picky, there’s always that pesky fact of paying the rent and buying food that reminds you that downtime itself is a luxury, and one that most of us can’t afford all that often. And sometimes, the only jobs available are the ones that only call for one freelancer. And try as you might, they have no interest in hiring the two of you, even at a discount rate. Cheapskates.
As you might have guessed, this would be exactly how Tanner and I found ourselves working different jobs at opposite ends of the colony just a few months after my arrival. Both of them were simple. Well. Were supposed to be simple, but you know as well as anyone else by now how that usually goes. Still, even while keeping in mind that these jobs would inevitably go sideways, one half-way competent freelancer should be able to handle either of them, and I like to think that Tanner and I are more than halfway competent. So while the whole thing was annoying, we took it. It wasn’t like it was the first time either of us had worked alone, of course.
I found my job first. Or I should say, my job found me first.
By this time, Tanner and I were both decently well established throughout the colony. We had reputations. Good ones, for the most part, and our names were starting to come up regularly when folks started looking for “reliable” and “affordable”.All in all, not a bad place to be. Plus, even though we usually worked side by side, we’d managed to set up separate reputations for ourselves as well. You had a sticky situation that required careful wording and a deft touch? Get Tanner. Got a situation where someone was being stubborn and a couple of heads might need knocking? Tanner would probably manage it, but everyone knew I had a certain flair for it, and you’d get results fast. Tanner’s methods tended to keep him on the right side of the Marshals better than mine did, but even mine usually didn’t land me in that much hot water. Because by the time someone was asking for me by name, the heads that needed bashing were probably so far on the wrong side of the law that they’d probably getit coming to them one way or another. And I didn’t leave a trail of bodies.
“It could be gold,” I said. The sun was high above us, and far too hot for comfort. Our only solace was the fact that the boys’ tracks were particularly easy to follow at the moment, almost as if they’d stopped trying to hide where they were going. That was our theory on why the tracks were so weird for our first couple of days on the trail. It didn’t make any sense if you were looking at it like it was a couple of treasure hunters actively looking for new treasure. But if you assumed they’d already found something and were trying to make it look like they hadn’t, it got closer. It wasn’t perfect, but nothing is, and if you wanted to assume that they didn’t necessarily know how to lay a misleading trail, everything matched up pretty close.
Hence my assessment that they had found a whole vein of pretty, yellow metal.
Tanner snorted. “Gold?”
I nodded. “Gold. It could happen.”
“Have they even discovered gold on this planet?”
I shrugged. “Don’t know. Probably?” What can I say. I’m many things, but a geologist is absolutely not one of them. It all looks like rocks to me, with the only variations that I can usually pick out being substantial changes in color.
“Yeah. Sure. And gold is pretty, but it’s not that good for much these days. Diamonds, on the other hand. Those are useful. Expensive, too. I could see how one of the underworld bosses might try to kill someone to make sure he got to keep them all for himself.”
“Could be a particularly large one,” I said. “A fabled diamond, larger than any ever found on earth. A previous treasure hunter caught a glimpse of it but had to leave before he could grab it. The story’s gotten around, these two actually found it, and your underworld boss found out that they knew.” I paused and thought about it for a moment. “That could be it.”
“You started it.”