Archive for January, 2010

As I’ve mentioned more than a few times, I’m a pantser. Stories tend to fall together in random pieces for me, and I work them out like a mosaic. I’ve never successfully created a story out of a linear plan. So having to create an outline for possible revisions of Ugly and the Beast, well, it involves a lot more writing than you might expect from an outline. Basically, in order to figure out what happens next in this outline, I have to write it. Not a full-blown draft, but rough sketches, snatches of conversation, a few images. Something to help my brain understand what’s happening.

Today’s Teaser is a product of this process. How I produce two sentences in an outline looks like this:


When we come up over the hill, I seen why all the folks down by the river said we oughtta steer clear of the place. It was fucked up. Like where a tornado comes in and flattens a whole town. Or like them pictures you see of when we nuked the Japs. There wasn’t not one building still standing didn’t look like it hadn’t been shot up, blowed up, or stomped on by Godzilla.


The whole city was that way, big as Dallas by my guess. Miles and miles of jacked up shit, as far as I could see looking down from that hill. Maybe there wasn’t no dragon, but whatever had happened was some kinda serious bad. And whatever it was hadn’t happened real recent either. There was grass growing in the streets and trees coming up outta buildings. I could see how in maybe another twenty years, it’d be fields and woods with bricks poking out of it.

The whole way, as we come down what’d been a big highway, Shona cried and left this trail of sparks behind her. I didn’t care much except as we got further into the city, I could tell people lived there, and I wasn’t crazy about folks seeing her sparks. Nobody come out to talk to us or nothing, but there was little gardens and what looked like rain barrels and tools. The people was either hiding from whatever had did that to the city, or they didn’t wanna be around a filthy fecking crosser like me.

The crying was getting to me so I grabbed Shona’s arm and gave her a shake.

“What the fuck’s your problem?”

“I–I destroyed this. All this,” she said. Leaned into me like she didn’t mind me holding onto her arm.

“Yeah, you and what army?”

“I and my sisters.”

“Your sisters must pack some heavy fire power then, ’cause you wouldn’t hardly kill a mosquito if it was biting you.”

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With great opportunities come big headaches.  After many months with no real movement on the submission front, my hard-working agent has hooked me up with Cool Editor at Big Name Publisher. It’s not a sale, and perhaps never will be, hence the pseudonymous references, but it’s an opportunity.

The Cool Editor loves Axyl. Who doesn’t? Well, plenty of editors didn’t fall in love with him, but Cool Editor, being cooler than most, did. Problem: she didn’t exactly fall in love with the story.

So I’m in revisions. I have some rough notes from Editor and Agent, and a pile of random ideas of my own. From that, I am supposed to be building an outline of the proposed revisions. I am, always have been, and likely always will be, an inveterate pantser. I don’t outline. I’m not sure if I’m capable of outlining in the strictest sense.

Oh, I can write an outline, but the problem is, I have to write the story first. So in essence, I’m doing a rough draft of the revisions, from which I will then craft an outline, which may or may not be exactly what Ms. Cool Editor is looking for.

The real obstacle, though, has been taking a story that’s already written, one I’d pretty much seen as “done,” and re-writing it. Not just editing it, but having to say, “You know, what, that’s not what really happened. Here’s what really happened.” Because that’s how my brain works. After a story is written, it becomes True in my head. My brain is in revolt over the notion that X, Y, and Z are no longer facts within the story. I must crush out the old Truth and supplant it with a new one. What Axyl does in Chapter 20 is irrelevant if Chapter 20 is deleted. It won’t change how he sees the world in Chapter 30, because it never happened.

This is hard. It feels like trying to write a novel on the wings of gnats, one word per wing, two words per gnat. After using a very fine marker to ink the words on, I set the gnat free to swarm with his mates and thus my new story grows.

First step: catch a gnat.

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