I know it seems incredible, but this is the way I work: I never decide the events leading up to the ending until the… End.

I have a chapter by chapter outline, but the ending is always pretty vague, and tends to change quite a bit over the months involved in writing a book. I just started Chapter 19 of Wintermoon Ice, which will be the final chapter. Yesterday I put the final plot twist in place. Why wait so long?

Well, the thing about plot twists is, you want them to come out of nowhere. The reader must be surprised and yet, the twist device must sit “naturally” within the arc of the story. A tall order. For me, it is easier to decide at the end, and go back and salt the story with tiny clues. This time I had two ideas in mind. I tried the first, but ran into logistical problems almost immediately. (How to get the body back up the stairs, basically.) Nothing worked. Nothing seemed natural. So taking a Taoist approach, I bagged this twist and went on to the next one.

Now I’m happy! 🙂

Maybe other authors do it the other way round…

What I am listening to: Arie Antiche/Dmitri Hvorostovsky
What I am reading: The Red Cross Girls With Pershing to Victory/Margaret Vandercook

add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

Just back from a weekend visit to the Bay, and we were blessed with nice weather, even though it is the dead of winter here.  We counted eight sea lions on the beach, all young males.  One had a number shaved on its belly, and it looked pretty strange.

Last time we visited, in mid-June, someone had broken the lock off the shed door.  But nothing had been disturbed, even the small generator we keep in there.  Perhaps the thief was only after wood.  Even though the bay is surrounded by forest it is very, very wet, so campers have to bring firewood with them.   Drunk people will often go to extreme lengths to keep a fire going.

This time we replaced the rusty sliding bolt with a brand-new stainless steel one.  I hope it will keep curious people out of the shed.  But really we have been lucky.  Though the house is very isolated we have not had problems with vandalism, only rats.

We walked out to Long Point, which is close to the southernmost point on the South Island.  The wind felt like it came straight from Antarctica!


What I am listening to: Verdi Arias/Dmitri Hvorostovsky

What I am reading: Thuvia, Maid of Mars/ E R Burroughs

add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

I spent some time yesterday editing Ketha’s Daughter, instead of getting started on Book IV, which will be called Beyond the Gyre. I always have trouble with the first chapter of a book, just because it is the beginning of such a huge time investment. Not that I don’t enjoy writing, I do! But editing is something that can be done in little chunks, whereas writing, at least for me, is best accomplished in marathon sessions. Usually six to eight hours a day when doing the first draft. My family gets heartily sick of it, I can tell you.

But all this procrastinating won’t get me anywhere.

I did want to mention one of the best editing tools out there though–the human voice. When I finished Heart of Hythea, and I wanted to find out what people thought of it, I put it out chapter by chapter as a podcast on I tunes. It was a lot of fun to do, and it was downloaded by a few thousand people, some of whom did indeed leave helpful comments.

But the main advantage was that as I was recording the text and listening to the playback I found it was much easier to pick out awkward sentences and find places where the narrative did not flow well. Reading out loud works too, but not as well as listening to playback.

I continue to read my work and record it, but I haven’t done another podcast. Yet.
In case any of you are wondering how I manage to write when there is the chaos of a full household going on all around me, then I will give you the answer–headphones and music. Sometimes classical; right now I am listening to Bedrich Smetana’s String Quartet #1 in E minor. More often I listen to popular music sung in languages other than English. That way it provides a nice background, without me being distracted by words I know, and wanting to sing along. My favorites at the moment are Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Morten Harket.

EdmundMusic however does not prevent me from being distracted by the cat–a large fluffy Maine Coon called Edmund. He keeps stepping on the keyboard and trying to bite me so I had better get him something to eat!