writing the beginning of a story (too fast?)

I’ve been working on a new series with a co-writer lately– a somewhat experimental venture at that: a series of novellas telling a too-long, epic, episodic tale of cursed immortals, other worlds, demons, high magic, technology, and everything from dinosaur-riding cowboys to cyborgs and big guns.

Since novellas aren’t really published traditionally, and because this is a project that builds on itself (like seasons of tv episodes instead of a movie), we’re going to put the first novella online for free, then sell each ‘episode’ for e-readers for a dollar each.

So my co-writer and I started the first book. Stopped. Talked about form, composition, motivation. Cleared the board. Started again. Stopped, rearranged everything. In doing this over and over (we’re halfway done with what I think will be the final first draft now), I’ve noticed something about the writing.

I have a lot of groundwork to cover. I only need a few of the characters for now, but I need to hint as to the presence of other important figures that will come in later in the series (we’ve already written about fourteen novels of raw material for this project). I need to hint about three countries’ cultures, introduce the main character, several forms of magic, the tone of an unrequited romance…

And I’ve just noticed that I have a tendency to try to jump into action and skip the foundations of the story I’m writing. I rush beginnings like I rush music, thinking that playing faster will impress more people.

Which leads me to a question: how much time do you get, to lead into the conflict? A paragraph? A page? A chapter? I’ve had ‘hook the reader’ chanted at me so many times that I wonder if I overdo it now. Have we as writers (and readers) really limited ourselves to material of instant, flashy gratification?

And has writing, in response, lost a quality of its traditional graceful entrance?

The author of the book ‘Hooked’, Les Edgerton, seems to think so, but then, Hooked leaves no room for such openings as ‘In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.’ I wonder if Edgerton would have started Tolkien’s masterpiece with Bilbo and the dwarves about to become troll-food.

And if I need to set a character’s routine before I throw a wrench into everything, can I take my time enough to do it right?

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nanowrimo novel 2011


In the Devil’s Shadow

Uriel Collins knows that he is a resurrected man. He knows that he was once a villain by the name of Isaac, though he does not remember anything prior to his violent death. He’s going to Mileston anyway, to seek out whatever remnants of the life he may have inherited from Isaac. It’s so hard, not having a past. Everyone needs to start somewhere.

There are some sins so black that even a monster couldn’t possibly ignore them. When Uriel decides to dig up the crimes of Isaac Collins, both the living and the murdered have plenty they want to say. Some speak in riddles. Some speak with guns.


If you’re doing NaNoWriMo 2011, you can find me here!

Happy writing!

designing a writers’ site– what would you like to see?

So, as I progress through the coding of my web project, I’m left with the knowledge that I’m running out of my original design sketches and HTML. In fact, I’m coding pages’ content in PHP and having nowhere to put the data. Now I’m reduced to making horrible looking bullet lists.

I’ve weighed the ‘chicken or egg’ question of the web development world quite a bit lately, and it seems to me that design has to come before coding. I want to know how a user will need a site to work before I build the guts.

So. I need to figure out a design.

More importantly, what sort of look and feel would you guys picture on a writing site? I don’t want to go glossy-professional. I don’t want to commit to a big theme exactly, since we’re going to look for writers of all genres. There should be easy navigation and lots of space for reading and writing in. And since it’s a critique site, people will be looking at it for long periods of time.

So. How formal/informal? Any sort of style? Very graphical interfaces? Sparse?

Any input, thoughts, or ideas would be awesome!

phew.

So. Stabbing myself in the ankle– not fun.

Less fun: finding out that while I can handle my own blood without a problem, seeing the bits of me under the blood and skin makes me go faint. Fun fun fun. I feel like such a… girl.

Besides that, I found a book at the store the other day– The Seven Basic Plots: why we tell stories. I’ve only gotten through page 40 (out of ~700), but so far it looks like an exceptional read for anyone who’s really interested in literary theory. I’ll be posting my full thoughts here when I finish / throw the book across the room.

Also, I’m kicking my crappy rough draft about. About 1000 words written today, nearly the same number written last night.