The only good writing is rewriting. Or so they say. Astute observers will realize that this means that all good writing is rewriting, which does not mean that all rewriting is good writing. But at least it has a chance.
As you may have gathered, I finished that story I’ve been chipping away with for way too many weeks. As you may have also gathered, it still needs work. I find myself wanting to poke it with a long stick, which is my general reaction to many things I’m unsure about. But however I may feel about it, it’s definitely something to work with, so all in all I’d say it’s a win.
As you may have gathered from the fact that a post didn’t go with me shouting my victory from the rooftops, I didn’t manage to finish the current Tanner and Miranda story this past weekend. That would be the bad news. The good news would be that I did almost double it in size, and I like where it’s going, particularly for a first run-through for this particular story, and I shouldn’t have any trouble actually finishing it this weekend, giving me a clear horizon to start on the rest of the stories going into the whole novel and hopefully keeping me on the path to finishing the darn thing this year, so definitely keep an eye out for more posted snippets.
Also! I was going through some old stories this past week and found one that I’d been proud of back in the day and was, wonder of wonders, still happy with now. It’s definitely not what I normally tend to write (read: sci-fi and/or fantasy), but I like it. I like it enough to post it here, so check back in this Wednesday for an actual piece of fiction!
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.
As any writer will tell you, we all find certain things easier to write than others. For me, I usually prefer to write fancy, flowery descriptions than action scenes, mostly because I find the former way easier than the latter. At the same time, I can only write so many descriptions before I get really, really bored. And, I suspect, anyone reading it feels the same way. Mostly because fancy descriptions aren’t great at moving a plot forward. And if the plot doesn’t move, it’s not much of a story*.
All of this is to say, I’ve hit that point in my current Tanner and Miranda story where I have to make something happen, and, as it always does, I’m getting caught in a slog. Because writing action and adventure scenes, while fun and ultimately the most rewarding when they work out, requires me to have a lot more figured out than just a description. It’s a bit like the difference between a still frame and a short film segment; there’s a whole lot of still frames that go into making just a few seconds of movie, and because I’ve practiced basic descriptions a lot more than I have action sequences, all the extra thought work I have to do to get the action scene to make sense and be clear to the audience is hard.
Which basically just means that I should practice more!
* There are, of course, exceptions. But that’s not what this post is about.
It’s kinda funny, but after averaging well over a thousand words a day in November, having just over seven hundred words doesn’t seem like it would be such a big deal. But it feels like it– and I think it is. Because while the first draft (though maybe that’s a… generous term for the manuscript I currently have) is a decent start, this second draft is already shaping up decently, and I’m really excited. I don’t know that I’ll finish it by the end of the month like I’d hoped (I’ll still try, Dad! I promise!) but it’s definitely got forward momentum, and right now that’s enough.
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!
It’s weird not having to write a minimum of 1667 words a day. Weird, a little liberating, and definitely a little sad, as it always is. As usual, I didn’t come out with a complete draft, per se, but I do have a whole lot to work with. And that, frankly, is kinda the entire reason I do NaNo in the first place.
Well, that and getting back into a solid, constant writing habit, and that happened too! So really, very little to complain about.
I’ve spent a lot of this week working on structuring the whole novel, and I think I’m making some good headway, so look forward to continued bits and pieces as I work on it and get closer to a complete draft.
Thanks everyone for reading the snippets I posted last month! I hope those of you who participated in NaNo had it go well for you as well! May your words always keep coming.
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.