Monthly Archives: March 2015

Muddling through everything (writing process)

I’ve hit the 45k word mark on Netwalk’s Children and am well and truly in the infamous “muddle in the middle.” Even with the extensive plotting and prewriting prep, I’m writing pages and pages which feel like overwriting, blathering, and flailing around trying to find the right words. It’s a temptation to go back and rewrite, but discipline and experience tell me no, it’s time to keep pushing on through. By now I realize that this muddle to some extent is a necessary tactic, because I have expository information which needs to get transmitted at some point, and it’s only after the whole book is written that I’ll be able to prune it in an effective manner, extend it into actual scenes, take scenes out, and so on.

Having the outline, the scene tracker, and the scribbled notes helps, though. Because of the moving and life upheaval which is Immanent. Any. Day. Now, I engaged in the extensive plotting practice. It’s more elaborate than anything else I’ve done, and it’s a learning process.

So here’s what I’ve learned about doing the more detailed planning in advance so far:

Lesson # 1. Ambush plot developments still happen. But it’s easier to integrate them into the story flow with a means of tracking scenes and plot developments, especially if you can go back to notes to find exactly when foreshadowing breadcrumbs need to be inserted.

Lesson #2. The actual writing is where you find the holes in your prewriting/plotting. It’s all well and good to say in your outline that “Bess will do x, y, and z,” until you actually write that scene and discover that “y” doesn’t fit with the character interactions within that scene.

Lesson #3. Prewriting/plotting helps you the writer focus on the deeper elements of your story. I’m finding more brainspace to think about how my characters interact with daily elements in their world because I’m not worried about where they are going/what they are doing.

Lesson #4. All that said, prewriting/plotting doesn’t get rid of the need for rewrites and editing. It just provides a means for me to move past the tough parts and notice what I’ll have to go back and rewrite, while not stewing about “what do I do next?” I think it will prove to be a better tool for faster editing and rewriting, which is a very good thing.

Basically, I’m operating from the point of view of getting the words down fast, and focusing on book completion rather than perfection the first time through. Doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about what I’m writing, because I do. While my current daily goal is 1500-3000 words a day, I’m not blithely dashing those words off in an hour or two (except for the coffeeshop morning write with a friend, and that writing is usually scripted/choreographed).

It’s an interesting process. We’ll see what happens in revisions. I’ve completely dropped one icky subplot because the characters didn’t like it (whew, that was a tough one to contemplate creating). A second major subplot is on its way out the door because I really don’t need it for character development across the series arc and I can see where continuing with it will only lead me down the wrong story trails. I’ve gone off the charted path in some arcs because, well, it just works better.

It’s an adventure, for sure.

Comments Off on Muddling through everything (writing process)

Filed under Netwalk's Children

Netwalk’s Children: Story Mutations continue

Okay. I’m nearly a quarter of the way through the book; almost done with Page One of a six page matrix outline, and…I’m already veering from the outline. Hugely. Massively. Need to recalibrate things variation.

TL:DR–it’s turning into a family relationship novel. Futuristic family relationship novel with space, fun electronic gadgets, pew-pew moments (oh come on, I even have a pew-pew-pew sound effect in the first few paragraphs, I DARE the Sad Puppies to read it when it comes out!), true. A delicious mashup of two genres I like without some of the stupid stuff that makes my head hurt in both genres (ie, Look Boys, the Girls Are In Charge Here, Don’t Be Idiots).

It’s a good variation, really, because it’s taking some rather dubious threads and breathing them into a reality that is better than the original. This book was always going to be about the transition from one generation to the next one in storytelling focus for the Netwalk Sequence. But to be honest, it’s now clear to me that I hadn’t thought very much about what that really means–and that’s what is fueling the story changes.

Point One: the character of Andrew is changing immensely. He was a bad guy in Netwalk, starts to soften in Netwalker Uprising, and now–is at the point where he and Melanie collaborate against their mother in Netwalk’s Children. I assure you, he was not going to unbend this much in my original conception. He was going to quite happily go out being the bad guy who absolutely hates his sister’s guts up until he dies, just like their uncle did to their mother. Only he was to die for a good reason–okay, then, I guess that happens to his son Richard, with an ill-fated name (no, not gonna tell you why until Netwalking Space).

Yeah, well, Andrew’s pissed off, alienated death not happening now. Why? I gave them kids. A daughter for Melanie, a son and daughter for Andrew. Then I put them into danger, the same danger. From their grandmother, who means oh so well but is being manipulated by a malignant entity, the Gizmo. Melanie’s better set up to defend the kids than Andrew, so of course they’re going to cooperate to protect their kids, especially once they realize that the Gizmo is driving the game. But they have limitations as well. The kids have to come up with something.

Point Two: I’ve dispensed with the clunky use of two devices to access digital/virtual world. In both Netwalk and Netwalker Uprising, I had Dialogue as the primary wireless implant chip and Netwalk for those planning to upload at death/managing the dead personas known as Netwalkers. Now it’s all Netwalk, and the upload is not a given. Fifteen years difference, so yeah, tech has changed. Bess is reviewing the old Netwalk 3 chip development process as part of her training and there’s a Netwalk 5 in prototype.

Point Three: I’ve already thrown in ONE WHOLE NEW PLOT THREAD, OUCH which involves Sneaky Doings That Will Make Everything Worse. Hey, the story needed it. And Richard’s being stupid ends up revealing what the Stupid Sneaky Doings were, though maybe that doesn’t stop them. The fallout from that action is in the next book.

And so on.

Mind you, I don’t regret creating the matrix and I think it has really helped with the development of this story. What I’m discovering is that the use of this planning technique seems to help me get through the fleshing out of some smaller threads that needed more development in first draft rather than leaving this sort of integration into a second draft rewrite. My hope is that this leads to a tighter first draft. I’m already finding it useful for getting my head back into the story during packing, painting, and traveling. April will really put this system to the test.

And. With most of the scenes plotted out, I’m discovering this leaves me free to think more about characters, interactions, and story development.

It’s going to be very interesting to see what this story looks like when I’m done with it.

Comments Off on Netwalk’s Children: Story Mutations continue

Filed under Netwalk's Children

Proof that even careful planning doesn’t constrain a novel…

So I created this lovely six page matrix to track the actions of my characters. I thought I had every possible ramification and consideration under control.

Yeah. Right. I just hit 20k words today.

They’re just getting sneakier about introducing whole new plot threads.

Here, just to tease you and out of context, is a snippet from the 3000-some words I wrote today.


“Montcrief, is this true?” Diana demanded. “Zoë, has he filed Contract on Melanie and Andrew?”

“See it for yourself,” Andrew spat out, flipping a hologlobe cube onto the floor in front of them. The hologlobe shimmered open, and a short clip of Troubadour Security confronting Do It Right Security at the first entrance to the compound played.

“We demand entrance to Do It Right under Contract,” the lead Troubadour Security said.

“Entrance disallowed.” The lead Security bristled. “No Contract filing has been released to us.”

“This is a Concealed Filing.”

“No it’s not.” Sarah identified this Security by voice as Angela Garcia, Melanie’s Head of Security. “Or if it is, it’s highly illegal.”

Is that Nik Morley leading the DIR troop? Sarah studied the clip closer. She could have sworn Morley stood behind Melanie–he was the authorized Courts Security representative from Do It Right. But the leader–no, the Second behind him–moved like Morley. Not Morley, though. Too short, shoulders slightly thinner. She couldn’t see faces through the helmets of course, and ventured a small datastring to see if she could tease an ID out of the clip.

Chaos erupted in the vid, ending with the Troubadour Security team under restraint. Several bodies lay strewn around the entrance, but Sarah noticed they were moving slowly. Stun, not kill, thank God. Montcrief. You idiot.

<Holy Mother of God he did do it,> William speeched. <Idiot. Fool.>

She agreed with William. <Montcrief should know better.>

“Then I demand–“ Diana began.

“Mother. Stop.” Melanie raised her left hand again. “We’re the ones offended against.”

“We demand full sanctions for unauthorized Contract actions,” Andrew said. His voice dropped lower, full of menace. “Or has the Executive Council declared war on Do It Right? Because if it has, then I tell you, I will consider any action you take against Do It Right to be an action against Stephens Reclamation as well.”

Go, kids, go, Sarah thought.

Comments Off on Proof that even careful planning doesn’t constrain a novel…

Filed under Netwalk's Children