Writer at Heart

Despite my assertion that I would get to bed early after a day of being exhausted for no good reason (except lack of sleep, I suppose), I’m still at my computer, twiddling with my “story.” Well, my most recent long and unfinished story, anyway. The one I worked on for NaNoWriMo 2005, I believe it was.

I’ve been listening to my backlogged episodes of I Should Be Writing, and have (unfortunately) started getting the writing bug again. I say this is unfortunate because I have a list of other creative and quasi-creative projects that are much higher on the priority list than fiction-writing. So, in lieu of getting wrapped up in my world of love-struck vampires (I really should read up and see how effing cheesy my premise is, compared to other valid plots within the genre), I went technical and decided to reformat the 16,000 words I have into standard manuscript format.

The last time I had touched my story was November 2, 2006 at 10:46pm. I’m sure I’d edited the wiki since then — jeez, maybe not. Only a few days later. Guess I really haven’t worked on this in quite a while. At any rate, going through and adding a pound sign in all the scene breaks allowed me to skim through the story and see things that jumped out either as ridiculous or as needing more detail.

My start of a manuscript was 35 pages before reformatting. Now, double-spaced in Courier font with one-inch margins, it’s 75 pages. I’m so used to seeing computer-generated type that looking at a layout that simulates the typewritten page seems odd and blocky.

Once I finish my laundry list of job-hunting-related and other website responsibilities, I have a good part of my story in my head, ready to go. I just need to type it out. And make it sound right. (Aye, there’s the rub.) I have my offline wiki “story bible” underway (thankfully — there’s a lot I can forget in a year), and I really, REALLY want to finish this story.

Remember, this is my second attempt at a potential novel or novella. My first “real” attempt at novel-length fiction is a good premise, but I’m afraid it’s going to need a complete rewrite, and I’m not even halfway through it yet, and I haven’t touched it in… *checks file* …wow. Almost three years. Main setting/plot points to that one: Matrix-esque Arthur-C-Clarkian headgear for direct information transfer, mobsters infiltrating the police, virtual crime and violence, a subplot of racism vs. cultural pride, and the requisite love interest. The trouble with that one is the setting, really. And all the crazy subplots. I want it to be something I would enjoy reading, but I don’t know how it all fits together yet. I want to jump into the future and read it and be entranced by the story, instead of having to figure out the story myself. You know?

One other thing I wanted to write here before I go crash out without making my lunch: I was listening to the Motivation to Move podcast the other day, and Scott Smith rattled off a quick but fascinating list of questions to ask yourself about a situation or decision you may be having trouble resolving. I thought these questions would also be great writing questions to determine character motivations and plot possibilities:

  1. What would happen if I did?
  2. What would happen if I didn’t?
  3. What wouldn’t happen if I did?
  4. What wouldn’t happen if I didn’t?

Seems bizarre and circular to just look at the questions, but think about what they really mean. You could use these for plot points, for character decisions, for all kinds of writing-related issues. Just wanted to throw those out there, so I’d remember them later.

And with that, my readers, I am going to sleep.

P.S. – Is it bad form to ask your First Reader to read your work-in-progress? I feel like I want feedback on where the story is going before it gets there, so I can rein it back and take it elsewhere if it’s getting dumb and cliché.