Monthly Archives: March 2009

crack in the narrative

dsc_37062A crack in the narrative–that’s how Annie Dilliard explains a sudden stop in the flow of writing a novel. I’ve been tottling along, riding this really fast-paced plot of the fourth novel, cementing in details and sweeping away the extranious, when I realized Friday the flow had stopped. I got off track in the plot, putting too much focus on a part of the story that helped build the story world (my fictional stand-in for Fouquet versus Louis). Now, because of my man in the iron mask and all the excitement that generates, the other has become really, really secondary. 

In plain language, that means cutting scenes, writing new scenes, and rearranging existing scenes. It means tearing up the road I’d been cruising along because all of a sudden it stops being smooth to read. I take the reader down a side path. 

At least I know it. It’s just so interesting how stories take on a life of their own, and how a writer, thinking there are certain things that “should/must” go in, can be so wrong. That’s the magic of writing, that life that comes into a story both in character and plot. My job is to keep the story alive, pulsing strongly so that the reader can ride the wave all the way to the end. It’s to get out of my own way. I have be ruthless with months of work. Why did I write them in the first place, if I was just going to cut them later? 

It seems to be the only way to get here, where I am in the novel now, with a vigorous story in my hands. What fun to have made all these characters in the history books come alive.

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ruby slippers

 

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Mom met me at the door in the red sandals we’d ordered over the internet. I love my shoes, she said. I smiled. Of all the things I miss about her encroaching disease, I miss the absence of her black belt shopper. On my feet were red workout shoes, seen when I was looking for something else, and bought because I wanted the shoe, not the color. The minute I had strapped them on, I’d felt like dancing. For years, I’ve pretty much confined myself to black or brown shoes as more practical. But I feel like being a smarty pants with these shoes on. I kept staring at my feet, the way kids do when they have on shoes they really like. Mom did the same thing. We were the red shoe girls.

Cardinal, cherry, claret, blood, crimson, strawberry, wine, blush, rose, carmine, carnelian, flame, scarlet, poppy, ruby……all the shadings the come near to expressing the happiness a color can bring.

blah blah

 

This won’t be a long post. I’m a little nuts. I’ve done nearly nothing all week but finish up the web site I finally, finally, years late, put together through the Author’s Guild. I’m cross-eyed with writing copy and primitive html and finding photos. Does any of it matter, I wonder? dsc_0186

I’ve been advised how I need to go visit other blogs and somehow get myself on them. Does Ms. Huffington have time for me? Does a writer who has to make her living have time for all of this stuff? I finally joined Facebook and am already behind saying ok to friends. This all feels like something I’m going to have to really consider. How much is useful, as far as allowing a more web savvy, techno person, which is anybody under 45, to find me as an author? How much is a way to waste time? A time suck as Doonesbury so aptly put it in talking about Twitter? I feel like I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole.

title trauma

king2The novel is shaping up nicely. I’m about half-way through the polish, and there are times when it reads as smooth as glass. That means a reader likely won’t be able to put it down. I’m worried about the beginning however. I’d had a number of readers, and a friend who reads two-character novels, complain that I introduced too many people in the first chapter of Dark Angels.

That comment amazed me. Number 1, I thought it was great fun to meet the rowdy, raucous mix that was Charles II’s court and that was Alice’s mileau. Number 2, there is no test to take after reading a first chapter. I will reintroduce the important characters I need to make the story, and you’ll get familiar with them as the story unfolds. Anyway, this is mulling around in the back of my mind as I polish (which means cut, smooth out, delete, write new things that make the reading slick) because I do believe people are reading differently, with less patience, and the inherent problem with an historical novel is that a writer has to set up the background so the reader understands the world he or she is entering, and that can’t be done in a quick paragraph or two. Or at least I can’t do it.

Anyway, at first I thought I would call the novel French Kiss, a play on its having a hugely important figure in French history as the main character, and the idea of that kind of kiss, and the idea of kiss off. But then I decided guys wouldn’t read a novel called that. So I’m been going with King. Straightforward, a strong word. I’m also toying with The King’s Son and The Sun King. I’m letting it stew as I worry about too many characters in the beginning and cut and paste and write and rewrite my way to an ending to this chapter of my writing life, a fourth novel.

There will be another chapter once it goes to my agent. But that’s another story.

doing it wrong?

bambooAm I doing it all wrong? This blog, I mean. I went to a workshop this weekend about the internet and social media, which, in case you didn’t know, is what this is. Build a community was among the advice given, give people a reason to respond.

I guess I saw this blog more as a glimpse into the process of my life, from which my writing comes, my everyday life as I grope for some sense of meaning to any part of my week. I must think on this more. Am I too philosophical? Does anybody really care what I think? Did I need to be more informative?

There is so much I know about history, about women in history, about writing.What do you think?