In Brief

I've written a series of four lesbian detective novels, unimaginatively called, "The Detective Series." They are available for your purchasing pleasure on amazon.com in paperback and Kindle versions and on bn.com for Nook. In addition, I like sunsets, single malt scotch, and some other thing that starts with the letter S. This blog gets updated once a week or so and usually has something to do with my experiences as a writer.

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Thursday
May262011

Standing on the precipice

I'm smack dab in the middle of a four book series, but this weekend, I'm going to start book #3 and put myself over the hump.

Most writers can relate to what I'm feeling right now. The book you will begin writing will never be as perfect as it is now. No matter your own pre-writing process - "total, detailed, multi-paged outline" to "fly by the seat of your pants" and everything in between - you've solved all the foreseeable problems, and while you might not know exactly how you'll be getting from point A to point Z, you'll get there and OH MY GOD IT'S GOING TO BE GREAT!

Even if you've completed a manuscript before, and therefore you know that all of the above is TOTAL BULLSHIT, it's still a fun time. Because maybe, just maybe, this time it's going to be different. This time, everything will go smoothly. No stupid, fucking character is going to get out of line and mess shit up. Or, perhaps even worse, no character will become so lame and boring (yet somehow you've hinged your story on him/her) that the whole manuscript will fall apart because you keep falling asleep while writing it or even thinking about it. No, no. Not this time. This time it's definitely going to be different.

It won't be.

The journey an author goes through when writing a novel is rather predictable. Case in point, a little over a year ago, Kristan Hoffman sent me this "novel chart." (You can click on it to enlarge if you so desire.)

 

 I just wrote book #2 this past winter, so I can still clearly remember my "dark night of the soul" with that one. You never do come all the way back from it, as the chart clearly shows. Well, you don't come all the way back from it until you start the next book. And let me tell you, book #3? It's the greatest idea I've EVER had.

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Reader Comments (10)

HEE. I will forever love that chart (although, to be clear, I didn't originate it).

Right now I'm somewhere between This Is Going To Take Some Work and Hey I Can At Least Finish This Sucker -- hopefully MUCH closer to the latter than the former, although if we're going by word count, I'm coming up on Dark Night of the Soul. UGH. I hope not. Because I THINK I already passed it...

May 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristan

Hey there! Found you through Tamara Paulin's site, and I wanted to express my utter adoration for that chart. It's so... painfully... accurate... *sets as background*

Oh, also, I thought I'd mention that I deeply enjoy reading your posts. Because you're hilarious.

...just so you know.

May 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRiley Redgate

Kristan For me, the dark night of the soul happened pretty much about 2/3rds of the way through, like it's indicated on the chart. I think it's a common spot for many writers because that's often where the "turning point" of the story happens, which is obviously crucial, and I guess many writers (like me) doubt themselves and their story there. That being said, I hope you have already made it through the dark night of the soul, and things just keep getting better from here on out. :)

Riley, Hey, thanks a lot! That chart is a gem, isn't it?
Just so you know, I clicked over to your blog, and I wanted to leave a comment, but for some reason, I have an issue with blogger (I guess it's my computer or something?) where I can only leave comments on blogger blogs if they are set up to go to a blogger comment page, like this blog does: http://www.weheartya.com/ (since you're a YA writer, you might like that blog anyway :) ). I'm not saying you should change your comment situation, but I'm just letting you know that I would leave a comment if I could!

May 27, 2011 | Registered CommenterSonje Jones

One nice thing about switching to short stories (at least for the moment) from novels is that the dark night isn't quite as dark, in my experience. I'm sort of there with my current story. There are two characters who have to get together for the plot to progress, and it's proving tricky without relying on coincidence, which I hate to do. I'll find a way (had an idea this morning, in fact...), but I really try to make these sorts of things realistic.

The progression is the same as with novels, in my experience, but jut a bit flattened out. The highs not so high (there is nothing like the feeling of finishing a novel) and the lows not as low.

May 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Lee Collins

I very rarely write short stories, but when I do, they tend to be quite short and I almost always write them all in one sitting. Also, my short stories tend to take place over a very short period of time, storywise. For instance, I wrote a short story last year that was basically a conversation between an aunt and her niece and the story took place over perhaps 15-30 minutes. So I don't really have a dark night of the soul with them, probably because A) I'm not writing them long enough and B) I'm writing a moment so I'm not really orchestrating that much (like figuring out how to get two characters together). But I can see how longer short stories with more "things" happening in them could lead to a compressed version of the novel chart and even an overcast afternoon of the soul. :)

May 27, 2011 | Registered CommenterSonje Jones

*Teehee* My chart is like that, only with more ups and downs.

> Down: Eyeballs hurt from looking at short, boring sentences, like, "He looks down at his hands." Scintillating. What kind of spectacular award-winning novel has a sentence so pedestrian? I am no Hemingway! Flogs self with yoga strap.

> Up: Characters suddenly have terrible restaurant manners and disturb fictional waiters. Fun!

> Down: A couple of pages read like the wind. A couple. Out of two hundred.

p.s. Sonje, I just read your author page and busted a gut over your iconic typewriter and scotch photo!

May 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTamaraPaulin

Sonje: Oh, yes, really short stories. I wrote one, once:
http://utownwriting.com/2007/stories/practical-gifts-a-short-story/

Other than that, they're the longer kind, where there's a mystery and so on. I didn't have an dark night (or even a dark snack) with the short one.

"overcast afternoon of the soul" makes me think of the Douglas Adams book, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. :-)

Tamara:
"He looks down at his hands."

Um. I have a lot of sentences like that.

Terrible restaurant manners, though, I've got that, too. I had a character pull a revolver on a waiter because he told her there was no cheese for her cheeseburger. That fictional waiter was disturbed, I would say.

May 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Lee Collins

"Dark night of the soul" *Wheeze* Love it.

May 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterM.

Tamara, The more ups part sound good. The more downs part sounds sad. Although I do have to say that Hemingway would definitely write a sentence like, "He looks down at his hands." In fact, I have no doubt that he did. He was the master of the short, simple sentence.

Anthony, I like the "Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul" better than the "overcast afternoon of the soul." Douglas Adams wins! I read your short story, by the way. One of mine is a bit like that. Ambiguous LOL.

M., That's definitely the best part. :)

May 27, 2011 | Registered CommenterSonje Jones

That story was kind of a one-time thing. I wrote it for a friend who was cutting herself. She had never told anybody about this, but I figured it out. I used the story to express my concern but to let her know that we didn't have to talk about it if she wasn't comfortable.

I think that's why I wasn't able to write another short story until I had the idea of writing mysteries. It was a unique situation that made the first one possible.

May 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Lee Collins

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