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With a Life of Their Own - Fruit of the Vine — LiveJournal
Here There Be Goblins

calendula_witch
Date: 2011-01-05 22:13
Subject: With a Life of Their Own
Security: Public
Location:Witchnest Manor
Mood:contemplativecontemplative
Tags:friends, hobgoblin, process, reading
I was writing an email to klwilliams a little bit ago about (among other things) today's writing, describing how one of my main characters was just not behaving. So, sorry Karen, if you're reading this, you have to read the same thing twice. :-)

The outline calls for this character to get angry at another major character at this point. He's done some crappy things, disappointed her, let her down; she should be angry. In fact she needs to be angry and kick him out, so he can go and [blah blah more plot follows]. So, I start the scene; he shows up, acts sheepish; I try to write her being angry... She won't get angry. She's confused, she's hurt, she asks questions... she's just not getting mad. Everything he's saying is pushing her in a different direction.

Well... everything he's saying is true to his character. And how she's reacting is true to hers. She's a sweetheart, a pushover; she's the character who takes care of everyone and cleans up all the messes. But dammit! She can't do this! If he doesn't go and [etc etc], then the whole ending falls apart.

Finally, I stopped and listened to them. They know who they are; they know what they're doing. I thought about it a bit, and finally figured out that they can go on as they are, I can adjust the outline; he can leave anyway and do the things the book needs, and the reason he now leaves is going to make even more sense, I think. 

You don't know the characters when you write the outline. I mean, you sort of do; you invent them, after all. But they're a paragraph from your imagination at that point. Now they are 400 pages of action and thoughts and crappy decisions and love and drama and *living*. They are alive and real, and they don't like being pushed around any better than the rest of us do.

________________

In other news: I love my friends, and I love reading my friends' books. I'm so lucky that my friends write such fantastic books.

But... sometimes, perhaps, I should give more thought to the order in which I read books. I just finished maryrobinette's truly delightful and riveting Shades of Milk and Honey, whereupon I dove right into Mira Grant's (aka seanan_mcguire)'s fascinating, razor-sharp Feed. The horrible screeching sound you hear is the gears grinding in my brain, as I adjust to the nearly-annihilatingly-total change in tone, setting, and subject matter. :-)

Five chapters in; I think I'm okay now. But, wow.
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Coffee Shop Whore
User: skidspoppe
Date: 2011-01-06 09:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I had a character in a screenplay once who was created for the simple purpose of dying in a gruesome way in order to create sympathy for another character (in this case, her granddaughter). Problem was, she wouldn't die. Every time I tried to write the death scene, she fought back, hard. But since she had no other purpose in the story, eventually I had to let her go and rewrote the script without her.
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calendula_witch: First Book
User: calendula_witch
Date: 2011-01-06 17:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:First Book
People who don't write think we're crazy when we say stuff like this. But, I swear to god, it's true, and it happens to all of us. If we're lucky. ;-)
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brimaresh: Think in Ink
User: brimaresh
Date: 2011-01-06 10:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Think in Ink
If you're saying you haven't read Feed, I'm going to be terribly frightened for you. It's the book that inspired me to stop goofing around and get my ass in gear, writing-wise, and the book that bumped Stephen King off the top of my would most like to meet list.

Seanan McGuire is my inspiration to stop saying "some day I'll be like Stephen King" and to just say "y'know what? This year, I'm going to be like me, and I'm going to be awesome."

I hope you have good luck with your novel, and that you'll deviate from your outlines when you need to. (Pff, outlines, yeah, right, who needs those in your first draft? Everything and the kitchen sink, and maybe a little body glitter while you're at it, I say!)

Hey, what ever happened to that Hippie Commune book of yours? I want it on book shelves so -I- can read it.

PS Have you thought about doing Write 1, Sub 1? ...yeah, this is getting lengthy for a comment, isn't it? Sorry about that!
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calendula_witch: First Book
User: calendula_witch
Date: 2011-01-06 17:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:First Book
Hi, lengthy commentator! ;-) No problem.

No, I hadn't read Feed before...I'm horribly behind on all my reading, really truly. My TBR shelves and piles are embarrassing. I have read the first two Toby books, at least! Seanan is made of awesome. She's a sweetheart, too.

As for the commune book? (Eel River) Well...I queried agents and small publishers fairly extensively and got some strong bites, but ultimately no go. So I set it aside for a while, but I've actually queried a new market with it recently; waiting to hear back on that. I'd love to get it published. It's my favorite trunk novel. I think it's got a lot going for it...I love the tone and the voice I found for it. I don't usually write that way.
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brimaresh
User: brimaresh
Date: 2011-01-06 17:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That's what I get for writing comments ridiculously late at night, I suppose -- rambling and silliness on my part. Sorry about that!

I have mad you've met Seanan envy. Also mad you live where there are other writers who write non-Alaskan, non-romance stuff envy. The Seattle area sounds like the writer's corner of the USA, and though you're not there exactly, you're close at least.

Eel River -- I'm going to have to remember the title for a million years from now when your book is obtainable (since, y'know, everything in publishing takes am million years, apparently). Clearly what you must do is hook your agent/editor on another novel, and then after it's all published and about, lure them into Eel River novel territory. Easy as pie (...which can be pretty darn complicated, unless it's really not very good pie, which is easy enough). It worked for my friend, who is getting a book published that she wrote ages ago, but couldn't find a publisher for until after her other books were doing well, so it might work for you. ON the other hand, that requires having other books. In good shape. And mad luck. And other things that I can't even begin to imagine, like a bitchin' query letter and a style that pops.

In a more serious vein, because it's early and apparently veins are fun early, I think hearing you talk about that book was the first time I heard anyone in real life talk about a horror novel without apologizing or dismissing it, in a serious fashion, with honest intent, to try and publish a horror novel, instead of just mock it and/or dismiss it as something of a lesser noveling format.

If you didn't notice, Alaskans tend to write about... Alaska. We tend to be egotistical and silly that way, ne? Also, nature. They can't help it. It's literally all around us. An imposing force of imposing imposeyness.

This comment is once again far too long, so I'm going to stop.

Clearly the solution is to comment with a higher rate of frequency, and more coherent brevity, instead of lengthily once or twice a season.
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calendula_witch: Shasta
User: calendula_witch
Date: 2011-01-07 03:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Shasta
Yes, the PNW is a veritable nest of awesomeness when it comes to genre writers...San Francisco had a lot of ...literary... writers. Which, I mean, that's all well and good; and the Bay Area does have folks like Seanan, but...yeah, the density here is amazing.

I agree: I'll get in with something else (Hobgoblin maybe????), and then say, You know, I've got this lovely little hippie horror novel.... ;-)

And yeah, I did notice that, when I was in Alaska: all Alaska, all the time. Which, I agree, Alaska is astonishing--I've never been anywhere like it and I can't wait to go back--but...you kind of have to see it for yourself, I think. Writing about it, all well and good, but....I know what you mean.
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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2011-01-06 11:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Characters will often provide better ideas than the ones you began with, if you let them. (Gracielis falling in love with Thiercelin? Not in the script at all -- it was supposed to be Miraude. But the character knew.)
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calendula_witch: First Book
User: calendula_witch
Date: 2011-01-06 17:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:First Book
Yes, they do! (And of course that's who Gracielis should have fallen in love with! It wouldn't make sense any other way...)
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
calendula_witch: First Book
User: calendula_witch
Date: 2011-01-07 03:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:First Book
They do know, they totally do. If you've been writing the book long enough so that their personalities have developed, then, absolutely.
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