this is the part where i start making no sense during a conversation

A productive day on the short story today; I finally, after days of false starts, feel like I'm getting somewhere. (Did I mention I think outlining in advance is much more efficient? I did, didn't I? Although, to be fair to my poor beleaguered brain, this story is not entirely without (my kind of) outline. I know the characters, and their motivations, and I know the arc of the story. It just wasn't flowing.)

I've hit the end of the first third, and this is the dangerous time. This is the time when the world-building starts to reinforce itself and remind me I need to actually include it in the story, not just in my head. The characters start doing things which remind me I haven't foreshadowed that particular motivation yet, oops. The plot starts to hang on a few threads I'd meant to set up, honestly, I knew I meant to, I just got sidetracked.

Do you see the danger? This is the point in the story when I want to go back and start revising. And I am not allowed to, on pain of never finishing a story death.

This is the point where I start racing, wanting to get to the end so I can revise, and simultaneously I start toying with the idea of just tweaking this paragraph, just this section, just this whole manuscript so far. Because I hate the idea of the start of the story being broken, and not matching the ending, and what if I do forget the changes I need to incorporate, even though I've just taken the time to write myself a copious note in the margin?1 I've even toyed with the idea of letting myself write two drafts of this story simultaneously, writing the first draft and then, as a reward once I'd hit the day's quota, opening a fresh copy and revising as I go.2

Also, I am really, really tempted to name this story after the lyrics in a Cyndi Lauper song. That would be wrong, wouldn't it? It could also be expensive, which would definitely make it wrong.3

  1. This is not entirely an irrational fear. I've written myself some very strange notes in the margin in my time. I swear I thought they all made sense at the time, but that does not always mean they make sense on the second pass. At least short stories generally have less time between passes, so there's more chance I'll remember. []
  2. Writers really is nuts. Who would think that's a reward? []
  3. But I still wanna. []

6 thoughts on “this is the part where i start making no sense during a conversation

  1. Hah, I say. You think *you* make no sense in a conversation. It's the start of week three at Clarion. There's a lot of gibbering. But it's all good. šŸ™‚ And yes, from my experience so far, I find it's always better to finish the story before the tinkering. The two mental states are almost mutually incompatible.

  2. Clarion! I haven't seen much on the webs about the progress of Clarion this year – naughty child, you aren't blogging it! I hope it's all going well, and as expected, and better than feared and even better than hoped šŸ˜‰

  3. Clearly I'm feeling procastinatory today. šŸ™‚ I've just done my first blog on Clarion over on lj. I took the plunge and decided not to have internets in my room, as that could be fatal. But we have them here in the QUT internet cafe, and there is also air-conditioning here. In short, much much better than hoped, and pretty much as expected simultaneously. Sean Williams has been awesome, and this week we have Margo Lanagan. I'm reading Tender Morsels, and it's rocking my world…

  4. I saw that! I'm just going to go ahead and claim it was my doing, 'kay?

    Sean is the perfect first tutor, really sweet and non-frightening and at the same time totally on the money with all his feedback. Margo is definitely going to rock your world: as you can probably guess from the precision of her writing, she doesn't pull her punches on her feedback, but she's so nice and so damn RIGHT every time about it all. I remember Tess and I both read "Singing My Sister Down" the night before Margo's first day, and it was so good we both dissolved into big puddles of quailing.

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