Saturday, May 27, 2006

Outside in

I just read a great book by Dave Duncan, who is one of my favourite authors. Another in the 'King's Blades' series, Paragon Lost. As with the others, he weaves a rollicking good tale, best read to soundtracks like Three Musketeers, Dragonheart and The Mask of Zorro. One thing that hit me while I was reading it, is that the entire book is written in third person limited point of view, using everyone except the main character! (At least, I don't remember many scenes from the MC's PoV) When I realized this, the writing took on a new level of interesting, in that I was impressed by the way he handled it. You almost wouldn't notice if you weren't looking, but lately I find I try to turn a critical eye to the books I read, if for no other reason that to add to my own knowledge of technique. At any rate, the book was good, and his use of PoV was just cool.

It goes to show, even while writing, keep reading, in and out of your genre. Everything going in will coalesce into that mystical concoction known as your own technique.

As for my own work, I've been letting life and work stand in the way too often. Must work on that. However, I'm still pounding away at my scene-by-scene breakdown, and the story is coming together. I think I'm heading for a bit of muddle in the early middle (say that a few times fast, I dare ya!), but we'll see. Nothing the revision can't smooth over, at least with a thick, red sharpie!

The one advantage to having a love of writing certain things by hand (there's just something about pen to paper, which I've gone on about before), is that you can't run out of power. Taking everything camping was great, save the cold last weekend. We took Friday and Tuesday off (Monday was a holiday here in Ontario) to get a camping getaway. Weather called for 8-16 degrees C all weekend, with a bit of rain. Hah! More like high of 8, with rain every night! Still, the days were nice, we got in some hikes, and kept the fire going when the rain wasn't coming down. That and turned on the heat in the tent trailer for the first time. Cold weekend, I tell you. It's May, so you always expect to have long shirts, short shirts, pants, shorts in any combination, but all three at once was a bit much. Always an adventure, which is why I love camping (car or backcountry, I'll take either).

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Now we're getting somewhere. Once again, I am taking entirely long to post. *sigh* Much ado about the day job and all that. Plus I've been hovering around the next step in my writing, that of breaking down the scenes for the book. Not sure why, probably a mix of fear, uncertainty and a healthy dose of 'where do I start?' So I just started.

Right now I'm thinking one scene per chapter, but that's in the future, once the actual prose takes shape. For now it's just a somewhat arbitrary benchmark. I'm outlining in some detail (i.e. a paragraph or so) for each scene. The key for me is to do a few things:
1) outline the action - make sure it's not too much or too little, that the scene has purpose and moves at the right pace
2) maintain point of view - in the margin for each one, I outright state the PoV character. I even alter the way I outline to ensure I'm thinking from the mind of the right character.
3) establish some flow and get the story down in detail.

Granted, I could probably just jump into the prose and have at it, but I'm not like that. Maybe with more experience, but right now I want to make sure I get the story tight. Make sure I cover all the plots and subplots (or erase/chage them) that I listed in the overall plot breakdown. This way, each layer of the story becomes like building a structure. Start with the design itself. The world, the characters, you have to choose the right plans. Once you have that chosen, each layer gets closer to the actual prose.

The first layer is the basic story. What is going to happen, to who, and why. Kind of like the foundation. The next is the plot outline, where more details are thrown in and the whole thing subject to the 'does this make sense' check. This is the stud walls to hold the building up. After that, the scene-by-scene breakdown, so that I don't leave anything out or let any subplots get warped. This is the structural layer, and the final reality check. All the drywall, electrics and other necessary items. After that, each scene gets layered over with prose. This is like the drywall, paint, tiles, carpet and other tasty stuff.

Enough with the analogies, though. Right now this is the way I feel comfortable, my biggest concern is to get the story right. Even though the chances of my first one selling are grim, that's no excuse for not making it the best possible.

So that's my method right now. If anyone feels like sharing, please, share away in comments.