Thursday, June 7, 2007

standing in a draft

It all depends how one defines 'complete'. The ever-expanding first draft of The Willow Knot is 91k. The last quarter has many notes-to-self about bits to expand or insert. The story is all there, yes. The narrative isn't, necessarily.
My first drafts of short stories or of chapters (to be posted on workshops, for instance) are fairly clean. I usually tweak and polish while re-reading, so my standard for first draft may be more tight-arse than some. Notes to self have usually been replaced by the relevant text before anyone sees them. This leaving it as is and going off for a month(ish) to research and work on other things isn't what I'm used to. I'll have to see how it works.
Rather presumptuous to talk about 'what I'm used to', when I've completed, oh, one co-written novel thus far. Siege of the Revenants was composed mostly on email, writing and emailing back and forth to each other for about a year, writing scenes as the fancy took us, leaping about in space and time. Then fitting the jigsaw together and noting the missing scenes (sky, sky, sky, reflection of sky, grass, sky). I did the note-taking, but M-- did the first collation and first full draft, so it's doubtful whether I have completed a first draft previously.
Revisions, heck yeah. I like revisions. It's the instinct to tidy rather than clean.

Conventional wisdom is that the second draft is the first draft trimmed by 10%. I know for certain sure this will not be the case. I'll be able to trim, yes, but I'll be adding at least another 5k, and it wouldn't surprise me if the second draft verged on 100k. Unfortunately, there isn't the 10k of angst and explanation that I cut out of Siege, so the third draft reduction is going to take out meat as well as fat. Bones have their own beauty, scraped clean.
My study's ornament, thou shell of death.
Once the bright face of my betrothed lady,
When life and beauty naturally fill'd out
These ragged imperfections
Okay, so Tourneur didn't agree.

In the meantime, I've gotten back to "Climbing Boys", and after that, I hope, to "Elementary Magic" (which needs a new title). I'm reading the Secret Memoirs of Princess Lamballe, and Bohemia in the eighteenth century, by Robert Kerner, by way of research. Both of them have odd prose styles, demanding to be read out loud, which I would, if I weren't slowly recovering from a sore throat.
I've got some lovely books on palace architecture, which I'm not letting myself look at until I've finished "Climbing Boys".

It's very odd to plop into the window seat in the morning and open the short stories folder instead of the novels folder. I've been set on the one storyline since October (with a break for writing "Chimps on a Blimp") and I'm a creature of habit.
Priscilla doesn't mind. She nags me to get into the window seat and make her a lap, so she can wedge herself against the laptop and turn into a purring shedding muff. This the cat that wouldn't go near a lap when she first arrived. But perhaps since I pull a duvet over my legs, she can pretend she's not really on my lap?

Submissions and rejections: Bunged "Spellcheck" off to On Spec, which has to maintain a percentage of Canadian content (yay for restrictive culture laws!) to keep its grant. In a spirit of what the heck, entered Fold in the Glimmer Train Fiction Open, which accepts entries up to 20k wordage. I'll have to check if "Bride" is anywhere presently, because I don't think I've hit Realms of Fantasy with it yet. "Foretold" has come home to me, unwanted by Fantasy Magazine, and I may try it at Weird Tales (received a recent issue of WT from Ferret, so I have an idea what they print).

Just finished reading: You Don't Have to Be Evil to Work Here, But It Helps, by Tom Holt. This is a follow-on from The Portable Door, but could probably be read on its own. Hapless Brit becomes involved with magic, gods, random heroes and bureaucracy, finds frustration, danger and love. I really should post a couple of the contract provisions for selling your soul to the Devil, which are all too plausible. It's a book that requires being read out loud to whoever else is around--not least because they'll be wanting to know what you're giggling at.
All Together Dead, by Charlaine Harris. Both the friend who lent this to me and another friend who was present said that this instalment was disappointing. I'm undecided.
Bad aspects - perhaps I should have expected it from the title, but there are definitely too many characters. Some show up just for the sake of showing up, as if it were a reunion episode on tv. I agree that Harris should bounce her 'continuity girl' rather than mentioning her in the acknowledgements. The first chapters are full of characters introduced with tags and explanations, and several of them don't do anything to justify the introduction. Yes, it can be difficult to enter an established series and not know who everyone is, but there's always the option of providing an annotated character list before the story starts. (I love Bubba as much as the next reader, and it's nice to know that he made it through the New Orleans flood, but he Doesn't Appear In This Story, so don't waste space on him!)
Good aspects - my friends said that nothing happens or changes, and the changes in Sookie's relationships aren't fully established or explored; the focus is more on the big picture of vampiric politics and human retaliation. In that big picture, there are some serious changes, and I'm curious how the vampire hierarchy will shake out in the next book.

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