julian_griffith: (Default)
 This began as a comment in [personal profile] unbroken_halo 's journal. She was complaining about being asked to show her characters falling in Insta-Love. She felt that it was more realistic for them to start from a place of lust and only develop their emotional connection and desire for long-term commitment after they'd acted on the physical attraction - that men especially think "yeah, I'd tap that" before any feelings of "omg I want to spend the rest of my life with you" develop, if they ever do.

There's a discussion that could happen about the gendered assumptions there, but this is not that discussion. Leaving that entirely aside, I agreed that physical attraction coming before romantic connection is both plausible and frequent, but romance-as-a-genre isn't necessarily about that - it's about the emotional payoff of the HEA, and sometimes that means making the story about having ALL THE FEELS. And so we kicked it around a little, and here is my comment that I want to share with you:

Oh, and you've got the constraints of a short story! It's definitely harder to move your couple to their HEA without insta-love if you've only got limited space to do it in.

For the one m/m short story I've sold, (ed.: "Lost and Found in the Pacific", coming out from Torquere in September) I didn't start the men at their initial meeting. I introduced them as established BFFs and the story arc went through crisis situation, to reveal of desire/declaration of love, to the consummating sex scene, and wound up with a promise of commitment. I don't think I consciously planned this -- these two were, for all practical purposes, AUs of a fannish OTP of mine and their romance arc has always been friends-to-lovers, so I just set them in their AU and figured out where their friends-to-lovers turning point was in their new life stories, and wrote about that. If I'd been doing it at a longer length, I could have followed them back to their initial meeting, or even to the POV character's story before he met his other half, and I could have extended it beyond their promise through the obstacles they have to overcome before they can settle down and make a life together -- these are TOTALLY novel-length boys, and they want me to write them a detective series AFTER they settle down so that I can keep writing about them without making their relationship the source of all drama and peril. It's like photography, in a way, where the most important part is composition: deciding what to show.

In the novel, the men's relationship arc as a couple, from meeting to what they thought was an end, took up the entire first half of the book -- fourteen chapters. Mildly antagonistic meeting in the first chapter resolving into mutual respect, attraction developing in the second and third chapters (one from each of the men's POVs), chapters four and five pursuing the acquaintance to where they could establish that the attraction was mutual and take it to the bedroom, and then the next nine showing the relationship growing beyond the physical as the emotional connection deepened, even as they knew that they couldn't expect forever, until the point where they always knew they'd had to break it off. That's nearly 40,000 words. The next 40,000 follows Guy #1 with the girl, brings #2 back and creates HIS relationship with the girl, and finally brings them all together.

I don't think you can do an arc like that in a short story, any more than you could take my M/M couple from the short story through their first meeting, to their declaration of love over a year later, and then through about three more years of obstacles until they reach a settled-down HEA in the space of under 20,000 words. Okay, MAYBE in 20,000 words if I compressed it pretty heavily, but it would be uneven. It'd flow a lot better if I started before their meeting and gave them plenty of detail and gave them, oh, 65,000 words to show it all.

First meeting to HEA in a short story? It's GOING to be stylized and artificial.

This is a thing that I did not know until I wrote it down, so I wanted to put it here so I'd remember it.
julian_griffith: (Default)
Project: Unnamed Christmas story
Market: Storm Moon Press, "22 Days of Yule" open anthology call
Deadline: October 15, 2012
Required length:15-20K
Previous wordcount: 7918
New words written today: 1568 that are actual narrative
Present total wordcount: 10048 if you include the outline I put in
Mean things: Rockingham's Grandmama is a right bitch sometimes
Fun things: Rockingham's Grandmama is a right bitch sometimes
Stimulants: The smug glow of responsibility that comes from not neglecting laundry or dishes, and far too much tea
Reason for stopping: Brain's kinda done, and I owe lainathiel a LOT of commentary 

Most people, I am given to understand, write their outline before they write the story.

I have yet to be able to do so.

I know my characters, and I know my setting, and I generally have an idea of what needs to happen in the story as a CONCEPT, but it's certainly not scene-by-scene at that point.

If I try to write an outline at that point, I wind up concluding that I have hopeless writer's block.

What seems to work is if I wind up the characters and put them through their paces on an ordinary day, around when I think the Plot Thing will happen. And I start inching towards it, one painful 20-minute sprint after another. Or 100-word written?kitten! chunks, sometimes. But my current method is just Unfucking My Wordcount in 20/10s.

Usually, at some point when I'm vamping around like that, waiting for the plot to come 'round on the git-tar, as Arlo Guthrie would say, my id will kick in and insist on supplying me with a sex scene. Or two. In rather a lot of detail. And if I don't write it down, I get NOTHING else done.

So then I go back to inching towards the plot, now knowing that there is Plot scheduled between wherever I am then and the Sex Scene. Which is a nice incentive, because I very much want to hook the sex scene into its sequential place in the narrative.

jAnd I keep doing that, and eventually I catch the plot and start reeling it in, and the pace picks up, and all of a sudden I know What Happens Next. For all values of Next. So, when I reach a nice stopping point in my dialogue-and-narrative words for the day, I stick a whole lot of short sentences and sentence fragments in list form after where I stopped. With fully-written sex scenes interrupting them.

And that's my outline.

In the novel, it wasn't just sex scenes that I was hooking in, but Emotionally Dramatic Moments as well. My brain likes writing from the emotional centers outward.

And I didn't get the novel outline all at once like that, either. But I got SECTIONS of it like that, with bits I had to drag out in timed chunks until the Outline thing happened again.

This is a very weird process, I think.

But it gets me Story.
julian_griffith: (Default)
Project: Unnamed Christmas story
Market: Storm Moon Press, "22 Days of Yule" open anthology call
Deadline: October 15, 2012
Required length:15-20K
New words written: 1710
Present total wordcount: 3157
Mean things: Thorne is prone to angstbunnies
Fun things: Rockingham found an excuse to touch him too; added in baby rattle
Stimulants: ALL THE TEA, and avocado in my lunch
Reason for stopping: Wordcount achieved!

I spent far too much time on social media today. I'm trying to develop an order for how to attack them -- I have one window open for my personal accounts, and another one for the pen-name ones, and I want to do Dreamwidth first and then LJ for each of them, because if people are duplicating/crossposting (as I am) I'm trying to give preference to Dreamwidth, in case LJ goes splat, and I think my goal is to do this one first and personal second, and then there's the tumblrs and twitters... anyway, what with one thing and another, I didn't get around to writing until 2PM.

From there I proceeded to do 20/10s all the way through to 6PM and dinner, at which point I had 2500 words.

Two more and I was 15 words shy of 3K, but I wasn't entirely happy with it -- I was in the middle of an infodump, and I wanted to get back to dialogue.

One more and I had broken the infodump into two shorter paragraphs, stuck in a sentence at the beginning of the first one that had some observed physical action, which in its turn gave me a clew (yes, clew, like a string in a labyrinth) to follow out of the mopey reverie that was the infodump and INTO some damn DIALOGUE with OTHER CHARACTERS.

Who just happened to be Marcus and Alexander. And yes, the first paragraph of the infodump was That Story, YET AGAIN, and I'm getting better and better at shrinking it and stripping off all the identifying markers. And the second paragraph was Here Let's Have A Quick Recap Of The Novel's Arc, Because Nobody Will Have Read It. But now we get to have Marcus and Alexander and some secondary lovey-dovey behavior, and I swear I'm tempted to make "little girls get crushes on the dark, aloof, AND DID WE MENTION TOTALLY GAY naval officer with the curly hair and the big brown eyes" a running gag. It only got a throwaway sentence in the novel. Its other appearance isn't publishable. I could totally rework Crushy Little Girl for this one, right?

And I just remembered I only posted in the Monday Pride Thread under my personal name and not this one, so I'm going to do that now.
julian_griffith: (Default)
Project: Unnamed Christmas story
Market: Storm Moon Press, "22 Days of Yule" open anthology call
Deadline: October 15, 2012
Required length:15-20K
New words written: 1012
Present total wordcount: 1503
Mean things: Lady Sybil doesn't much like her (elder) grandchildren
Fun things: Caroline keeps finding socially acceptable ways to touch him
Stimulants: frequent breaks and tea
Reason for stopping: I hit 1500 words!

Today was not a brilliantly inspired writing day. Yesterday I don't think I got ANY writing done: it was all errands, library and Target and a HUGE grocery run and prescriptions at CVS and of COURSE they only had one of the two ready. I was very clever and got the soup set up and simmering before we left, so when we got back two hours later all I had to do was boil up the pasta that went in it, and dinner was ready. Although I discovered that if I turn the heat lower than usual, past a certain point the carrots won't soften much, even with a longer cooking time.

So anyway today I knew I needed to make words, though the story feels slow getting off its feet. So, after I got a reasonable number of chores done -- dishes, my one load of laundry, and a bit of kitchen cleanup - I sat down to a day of writing 20/10s.

I'm bracketing proper names like crazy. I can sort them out later. And I only ran into one research diversion -- I needed to look up what things babies would be doing at 11-12 weeks. [livejournal.com profile] eglantine_br , I want you to know that I'm stealing Percy Shelley's baby rattle with the bells. I have to go back tomorrow and put in Thorne waving it for Stephen, and picking it up and putting it back in his hand and stuff, while Lady Sybil is going on about her Pennington grandchildren and how ill-behaved they are.

I never managed to get over 200 words in a single 20-minute block, but I did get pretty consistently between 150 and 200, and I made words. If I can do 1500 per day, I'll likely finish it with enough time for rewrites before the deadline. [livejournal.com profile] jestana has said that her sister, who hasn't read the novel, is willing to look it over, which is important because I need to know if it makes sense on its own, and that's one thing [personal profile] mswyrr won't be as able to do.

I didn't realize how much I'd missed working with [personal profile] mswyrr ! She knows my characters and their backgrounds and where I'm going with the story, and can tell me whether my words are bringing the important stuff out without being either too opaque or too obvious. And when I'm writing in tiny chunks like that, the story always feels AGONIZINGLY slow to me -- I mean, the wedding scene in the novel took four or five hours to write, and it felt while I was writing it as if I were attending the reception in real time, or, worse, sitting through that much unedited wedding video, and today was a lot like that. And when it feels like that, I have NO sense of the pacing as a reader might experience it. She tells me whether it's okay, and that alone is a godsend.

So. Goal tomorrow, 1500 words or more. And I will not try to figure out the difference between a facebook account and a facebook public figure page until I'm DONE with this thing. Meanwhile I have a tumblr (juliangriffith.tumblr.com) and a twitter (JulianxGriffith) and I've set up another Gmail account. Please DO feel free to add me there! I'm trying to keep the tumblr focused on Things Of Historical Interest Relevant To The Novel and not all dedicated to fangirling -- although Downton Abbey fan-stuff has crept in. But Hornblower fan-stuff other than photo reblogs, the bulk of the Doctor Who fan-stuff, and all of the actor-crushy fanstuff I'm trying to keep on punkrockmuffinatrix, so I don't look like a total dweeb.

I didn't get out of my pajamas today -- but my kitchen floor is clean and my laundry is done. I'm calling that a win.

julian_griffith: (Default)
Project: Unnamed Christmas story
Market: Storm Moon Press, "22 Days of Yule" open anthology call
Deadline: October 15, 2012
Required length:15-20K
New words written: 320
Present total wordcount: 320
Mean things: the cook won't let Thorne help in the kitchen
Fun things: ginger biscuits
Stimulants: my usual morning coffee and sippy cup sports bottle of iced tea
Reason for stopping: stomachache

I started the Christmas story! I only worked on it for a total of 40 minutes today; I did one set of household chores in the morning, did two 20/10s of writing, ate lunch, and then the plan was to do another chore and then more writing before it was time to cook dinner, but I only got through one 20/10 on the chore (putting away the enormous pile of clothes on my bedroom chair) before my stomach let me know that work was OVER for the day, unless I wanted to work through a haze of pain.

Eventually I decided to move from the sofa upstairs to my bed. The half-finished pile of clothes mocked me, so I spent another twenty minutes on it and got it finished. Then I lay down with a heated rice sock on my stomach.

Still in bed. Thank goodness for laptops.

I'm guessing it might be the naproxen I took for cramps. I'd been using the OTC dose before, and getting only marginal results, but no stomach upset. This month I used the prescription stuff. I took it with food, the way you're supposed to, but I guess a bowl of Cheerios wasn't enough to cushion it.

I'm starting to feel a little hungry. I'm thinking rice porridge. Yeah, it's that unpleasant.

But I did start the story!

julian_griffith: (Default)
Project: Napoleonic Era Arthurian Romance With A Happy Ending
Deadline: Labor Day-ish
New words written: since my last update? 4733
Present total word count: 59479
Mean things: A friend aggrieved on another's behalf; a school friend unhappy in her marriage
Fun things: Drunken little brother. Grandmama delivering an acid set-down to a jerkface brother-in-law. Girlish gossip. Winter jasmine.
Stimulants: Iced coffee this morning; Naughty Nurse ale last night.

I have not been in the throes of inspiration, but I have been getting things done. I've been doing the trick with the timer again, 20 or 30 minutes writing, a ten-minute break, and back to writing again. I did that ALL DAY today, from roughly noon until nine or ten at night. That carried me through the entire wedding scene, and all the way to the bride preparing for bed, with her best friend brushing her hair and bearing her company.

Yesterday (or was it two days ago?) I knocked out the scene where the viscount's friend berates him for the effect his marriage will have on the lieutenant. That was another one for the timer, mostly because it was so emotionally loaded.

My beta continues to be awesome. When I said "I have NO IDEA how much wedding needs to get shown between the Aggrieved conversation" (which takes place two days prior to the wedding) "and the wedding night" (which I wrote months ago) "help?"

So she said "well, you know who's AT the wedding, right? Figure out what they all have to say, and then winnow it down to what's relevant to the plot?"

Readers, I dumped a BULLETED LIST on her, of all Rabbit's Friends And Relations, and their opinions on the marriage, and she helped me zero in on the greedy brother-in-law whose kid is liable to be knocked out of line as the heir (as soon as our heroine has a boy, which is in no way a given at the time of the wedding), and the bride's best friend's marriage, and then everything kind of fell into place. It gave the acid-tongued grandmama another chance to show off, and the other relatives to be benevolent, and the aggrieved friend did the gentlemanly thing and gave a very nice toast, though he had refused to be best man (although I never worked that detail in; if I can get it there in editing, I will, but otherwise it can stay as it is).

The thirteen-year-old brother who got drunk by draining his glass on all the toasts just sort of happened while I was writing today. He didn't disgrace himself -- his mother noticed and cut him off before anything dreadful could happen. But, oh lord, I've SEEN that kid so many times at weddings (and bar mitzvahs) with open bars. I may have been that kid once or twice, because my great-aunts were a TERRIBLE influence, for which I am forever grateful -- seriously, if you're going to get foolishly drunk at a young age, one's doting great-aunties are much safer company than teenage boys, and then after that you've got some idea what your tolerance is. And, back when I were a lass, the alcohol control training for caterers was a lot looser, and the general rule seemed to be, if you were wearing a cocktail dress and heels, they'd serve you. :) So, in the late Georgian era, I'm sure the rules were even looser!

Except for a paragraph or two to establish the POV shift, I am now caught up through the wedding night. I am REALLY getting close to the end!
julian_griffith: (Default)
Project: Napoleonic Era Arthurian Romance With A Happy Ending
Deadline: Labor Day-ish
New words written: since my last update? 1186
Present total word count: 54317
Mean things: Sympathy just makes it harder
Fun things: Honest to God plays performed at Drury Lane in the time frame, though I fudged one by a month
Stimulants: Green tea, iced; white tea, iced

302 words of Lieutenant Lancelot reacting to the news of Viscount Arthur's impending marriage; 884 words of Miss Guinevere's letter to a school friend, explaining how the viscount has shown her particular attention, and how she thinks a proposal might be in the offing.

I spent an AWFUL lot of time with the calendars for 1804-1805 today. I swear this all started back in the early chapters with needing to know when Easter fell in 1802, and wanting accurate days of the week to head letters. Now it's taken on a life of its own, and I've been doing things like borrowing incidents from the Brest blockade in the given time frame (interestingly, the Wikipedia article on the HMS Pickle is a good resource for that). Today, I wanted to date Guinevere's letter, so I had to sort out when the proposal would have happened, which meant I really needed to know when the wedding was, and then I figured while I was at it, I'd better sort out the heir's birthdate and christening because the christening has to be enough after Trafalgar to let Lancelot get back to England. And then [profile] txanne pointed out that there are restrictions on christening dates in the Anglican calendar, so I had to push it and the birthdate back three weeks to get it out of Advent.

I also knew that, before the invention of the weekend, there was no particular reason for a wedding to be on Saturday, so I decided to look up whether there were any superstitions about lucky days of the week for weddings, like the Monday's Child rhyme about birthdays. (I know that there's an Orthodox Jewish custom about Tuesdays because that's the day of Creation where "And God said it was good" appears twice in the description, where the other days it only appears once.)

Naturally, there was one. There are superstitious rhymes for everything, I think.

Monday for wealth
Tuesday for health
Wednesday the best day of all
Thursday for losses
Friday for crosses
Saturday for no luck at all

and also for months:

Married when the year is new, he'll be loving, kind and true.
When February birds do mate, You wed nor dread your fate.
If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you'll know.
Marry in April when you can, Joy for Maiden and for Man.
Marry in the month of May, and you'll surely rue the day.
Marry when June roses grow, over land and sea you'll go.
Those who in July do wed, must labour for their daily bred.
Whoever wed in August be, many a change is sure to see
Marry in September's shrine, your living will be rich and fine.
If in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry.
If you wed in bleak November, only joys will come, remember.
When December snows fall fast, marry and true love will last.

So the viscount and his bride will be married on Wednesday, November 7, 1804.
julian_griffith: (Default)
Deadline: Labor Day-ish
New words written: since my last update? 1074
Present total word count: 53153
Fun things: Sharpe shout-out, nameless but clear for those in the know
Stimulants: White tea, iced, with fresh lemon


Was not fun to write.

Yes, I have known forever that this letter was part of the story. It's a crucial turning point. Hell, the CHARACTERS have known for two years that it would happen someday... but someday is now.

I even had to pick a new adjective for the close, because the "affectionate" in "your affectionate friend" was being a polite euphemism for "with benefits."

I went with "unfailing."

I couldn't bring myself to write the recipient's reactions tonight. Emotional overload.

I've applied ice cream and I'm half expecting my beta to reply with a weeping .gif attached to her notes.
julian_griffith: (Default)
Project: If Jane Austen Had Written Guinevere She Would Have Had Some Sense In Her Head
Deadline: Labor Day-ish
New words written: since my last update? 1017
Present total word count: 52222
Mean things: She has to ride sidesaddle
Fun things: She gets to jump a hedgerow anyway
Stimulants: I forgot to eat dinner

First half of the riding scene done. No bracketing for transitions or research this time; letting the dialogue and action carry it. I hope the readers like horses? Also, the viscount hasn't said much in this half of the scene, although he's been complimentary.

Next half, he gets to do more talking, because they're going to talk about the war. Also next half, I get to figure out what was in the picnic hamper that the little sister was so excited about. Peach tartlets, maybe?

I meant to set the timer for 30-on, 10-off, but didn't hit the start button, and by the time I figured that out, I was on a roll, so I went with it. About two hours of writing time, with a short break to prepare carrot sticks.

Not too bad, I think.
julian_griffith: (Default)
Project: Like Jane Austen, Only Slashy
Deadline: Labor Day-ish
New words written: since my last update? 1635
Present total word count: 51235
Fun things: OMG MY FAMILY IS EMBARRASSING ME, especially pesky little brother
Stimulants: 800mg ibuprofen

I got distracted from the linear progression by wanting to write the angsty Lancelot/Guinevere first kiss, but I only got it down in rough outline form.

Then the heat wave melted my brain.

It doesn't help that, when it's hot, I don't want to eat, and then my blood sugar gets low, and then my brain goes into shutdown mode.

Today, with the temperature only in the 80s instead of the 90s, I added a timer widget to my home page, and wrote in 30-minute stretches, with 10-minute breaks, and cranked out about 1300 words, transforming the outline of Arthur Meets Guinevere's Parents into an actual scene with dialogue. There are cluttery bits all over it like [composer, composition] for what the younger sister is playing at the pianoforte, and other things that could have eaten a whole 30-minute block just in research to get two words, but it's a decent first draft of the scene, anyway. My beta liked it. She also noticed the father reminding her of Mr. Bennett, which... yeah, busted. He doesn't have quite the adorable dry snark of Mr. Bennett, but the combination of concern and abstraction is there, and the calm contrast to his fairly bossy wife, who is not the shrieking harpy Mrs. Bennett is, though! No fits of nerves, no ditzy comments about how she used to love a red coat... she's very sensible and practical and she is VERY sure she is Right About Everything, which makes her annoying even when she IS right.

Tomorrow I may really, truly, actually get to the Sidesaddle Scene.
julian_griffith: (Default)
Project: Like Jane Austen, Only Slashy
Deadline: Labor Day-ish
New words written: since my last update? ~3K
Present total word count: 49600
Mean things: A mama who lectures and a father who teases
Fun things: Sisterly chat, with skin care remedies
Stimulants: I played the Withnail and I drinking game, albeit with sips of wine that added up only to one large glass, and the tipsiness is only wearing off now

It is much easier to develop characters through dialogue if you keep in mind that they are probably not only children.

The progression of the sisterly chat goes like this: hair styles->skin care->what Hannah Glasse would call "household economy" and a restaurant chef would call "cross-utilization"->marriage prospects->estimated land speed of gossip->marriage prospects again->the economic realities of a London Season->concluding thoughts on marriage.

Next up, when Rockingham arrives: the design of a riding habit, a little brother's ambitions, and the fortunes of war.

And that's STILL before they go riding.

And it'll kick me over the magic 50K!

In other news, it is still eminently possible for me to spend three hours looking into the duties of servants and reconstructing how many a middle-sized household might have had in order to get HALF A SENTENCE about who's laying the breakfast table. It hinged on whether they had a footman along with the butler, because if they didn't, it was a housemaid. I sorted out that they did have a footman but he was kind of a utility/floater manservant, because the household didn't have a giant staff. Thank you, [profile] fidelioscabinet!
julian_griffith: (Default)
Project: Age of Sail Arthurian Angsty Romance Novel
Deadline: Labor Day-ish
New words written: since my last update? About 10K
Present total word count: 46246
Mean things: First appearance of The Girl
Fun things: First appearance of The Girl
Stimulants: I bought myself a thermal carafe and now I am drinking ALL THE TEA

I believe I have churned my way out of the Dreaded Middle of the Book!

I was pretty stuck for about a week, there. Part of it was that I thought I needed two more letters before I hit the dinner scene, when it turned out I only needed one.

But I made it through that, and then the dinner scene was fun to write -- [personal profile] eternaleponine reminded me that we'd decided that Alexander had acquired a puppy. Having a large Newfoundland puppy get dog hair on milord's fine white breeches and slobber on his handsome red coat is good for breaking the ice! And I did in fact work in that dick joke.

After the dinner scene, an abbreviated sex scene in which I got to indulge my interest in Men Playing With Each Other's Long Hair. *guh* And a waking-up scene in which 175 words were inspired by one especially lovely animated gif.

Then it was time to split the lovers up again. Not much fun. But more letters. And then another reunion, because of a fortunate assignment for harbour defense, in which I FINALLY joined the narrative-so-far up to the Petit Point Scene that I wrote back in MARCH. And then another separation when war was declared and our lieutenant was sent to join the Brest blockade.

Then more letters. Which I hope are not too dull a way of getting the military information across. And a chance for the secondary couple to see each other again, briefly, framed by a letter. And finally... a letter framing the first appearance of The Girl.

In which I got to write one of those classic Austen/Heyer ballroom sequences. With reflections on the pitfalls faced by a gentleman who knows he's a catch, and the NON-Darcy approach to forestalling gossip. And in which I got to join up the narrative to the very first flirtatious exchange I wrote down for the viscount and the girl!

By "framing," I mean I start the opening of the letter, and then shift to the letter-writer's thoughts, which proceeds to fade into a playing-out of the scene he's thinking about; at the end of that scene, fade back to the closing of the letter. I like it, and my beta thinks it works.

The next scene? Will be the first one I write from The Girl's POV. In which I hope to make the reader like her, rather than resenting her for the (temporary) effect she's going to have on the m/m romance. And in which I get to show off a little about sidesaddles, because she and the viscount are going riding.

I don't know if I'm working on that tonight, or tomorrow. But I'm definitely looking forward to it.
julian_griffith: (Default)
Project: Age of Sail Arthurian Angsty Romance Novel
Deadline: Labor Day-ish (see below)
New words written: something like 3K since last I checked, but a chunk may be useless
Present total word count: 36506
Mean things: delayed reunion
Fun things: gambling for marzipan
Stimulants: coffee when I remember to drink it

Finished fleshing out the Return of Lazarus scene, if I can call it that; wrote two of the four letters for the epistolary interlude that will precede our boys' next meeting.

It is remarkably hard to write a letter in a character’s voice when that character’s education stopped at age 12 and was only a village school to begin with.

He’s learned to speak like a gentleman, but I seriously doubt he knows how to use a semicolon.

I refuse to introduce deliberate errors into his writing — again, he speaks correctly, if plainly (this is not a man who makes much use of the subjunctive, for instance), and screwing things up with comma splices would only distract the reader. I leave that to authors who wish to produce a comic effect with their characters — Georgette Heyer did some wonderful things with awkwardly-punctuated, randomly-capitalized letters from ditzy characters, for instance — and eschew it here.

Sadly, it seems to have the effect of making him sound more distant than he’s actually feeling as he writes.

I hope the viscount will be able to interpret it.

Also tried to write a chunk of a scene slightly ahead of where I am, with the lieutenant putting to sea once more (serving with his good friend the captain), and musing on their separation from their companions, because a friend was looking for stuff involving those two characters (so she'd be able to stop thinking about their voices and concentrate on a different thing she was writing), but I am not at all sure it came out right.

Next up after the epistolary interlude is a four-person dinner scene, which I roughed out AGES ago when [personal profile] eternaleponine and I were entertaining ourselves via text message. There's a fair amount about class differences encoded by clothing that sneaks in there, including the gap between those who had their portraits painted as children and those who'd never have dreamt of such a thing. I have also had the double-entendre dick joke that reveals the viscount's and the lieutenant's relationship to the other two planned for MONTHS. Dick jokes: your guide to quality literature. Shakespeare's full of them! Not to mention my possibly favorite passage in O'Brian, about the shining brass cannons on the Indiaman. "They do it voluntary-like: pooja, pooja, they say. They say their prayers to it, poor devils, because it reminds them of -- I hardly like to say what it reminds them of."

As usual, find myself poking the internet a great deal to feed the writing -- coaching roads and inns again (hello, A29!), and the garrison at Fort George on Guernsey, which led me to discover a small beach that the soldiers had been permitted to use, which is at the base of a cliff below the fort, and the fact that it's currently inaccessible because the path collapsed. THAT finally sparked a thing I could use in the viscount's letter, now that he's back with his regiment.

Also feeling very proud of myself because I managed to slip in a very casual biblical reference in my lieutenant's letter. I have to remind myself that religion was likely a far more present factor in these characters' lives than it ever was in my own. My English teachers were always pointing out that 19th-century writers would have been very familiar with the Bible and it would have greatly influenced their language, much more than any other literary source. And this biblical reference -- about a rain of frogs -- was also a little, sneaky bit of humour, because while the lieutenant SEEMS stern and serious, he's got a quiet talent for snark that often passes unnoticed. The rain of frogs was a thing he suggested as serious enough to make his mother late in producing a dinner.

This is definitely the Dreaded Middle of the Book, btw. And I suspect I've already written all the detailed sex scenes required -- there is a place where another one could go, but I don't think it would advance character or relationship development to show it in play-by-play detail, and I'd be better served to give it a descriptive gloss and focus on intimate conversation instead. So I'll just keep plugging through, trying to keep the story going, and not have it stall before I hit the build to the final arc.

Maybe I'll even send in a man with a gun.

Unlikely, but you never know.

ETA: Oh right. About that Labor Day deadline. A friend of mine has a project car she's been working on, irregularly, for possibly a year now. She thinks she'll have it rolling by July and streetworthy by Labor Day. I told her about the novel and how I thought I might be about halfway through, and maybe I could finish by then as well. She said, "Race you?" I said sure.
julian_griffith: (Default)
Project: One Of These Days I'll Think Of A Title Romance Novel
Deadline: haven't got one
New words written: 317 from where I left off
Present total word count: 31945
Reason for stopping: past my bedtime
Mean things: nothing really new since yesterday
Fun things: more bossy, motherly fussing
Stimulants: crab rangoon

Today was at least as much about editing as it was about extending the scene, although I did get them to OUT THE DOOR again. But I had to bring the lieutenant back in from a little before where I left off last night, so he could have trouble not laughing at his mother fussing at the viscount, and then I noticed a discontinuity about the lieutenant's sea-chest still being on the coach that was waiting at the inn so I had to fiddle with that, plus, I spent over two hours a) looking for my firewire cable and b) putting everything back in the cupboard after I'd pulled it all out to look for the firewire cable.

Like this:

Which I managed to turn into this:

So, not so much writing.

More words tomorrow.
julian_griffith: (Default)
Project: From Stately Home To Thatched Cottage Romance Novel
Deadline: haven't got one
New words written: 1651
Present total word count: 31524
Reason for stopping: time to take my meds, and I think I know where this scene is going tomorrow
Mean things: scalding tea
Fun things: stain removal
Stimulants: Newman's Own dark chocolate peppermint cups

In which we finally meet the lieutenant's Ma.

She was rather more flustered at having a lord turn up on her doorstep than I'd thought she would be. She was incredibly wary. And even though the viscount was being very courteous and trying to set her at ease, it wasn't working. And I felt like she had no personality.

So [personal profile] mswyrr said "what if somebody spills something?" She had a scene from Mad Men in mind, something about a milkshake. I have not seen enough Mad Men to have seen that episode, but I could see where it was going.

A lord with his britches off, sitting in his drawers and stockings, while the widow cottager expertly gets the tea stain out of the wool, is a far less intimidating figure.

I actually googled "stain removal black tea wool" to write the scene.

And I got to geek out like a boss because I know damn well what's in a cottage kitchen. House museum volunteering!

But AUGH, it was slow going today.
julian_griffith: (Default)
Project: Age of Sail Has The Best Clothing Romance Novel
Deadline: haven't got one
New words written: ~1K, it's a little hard for me to tell where in the scene the new words started today
Present total word count: 29884 (and I seriously considered trying to push forward just a little to break 30K)
Reason for stopping: brains are pudding, and the scene's at a pause-point, with a conversation needing to cut to narrative again for the next bit of travel
Mean things: coffee deprivation
Fun things: the lieutenant does a nice deadpan snark; also, hair-combing
Stimulants: way too much tumblr

Definitely closing in on the lieutenant's Ma. I got them out of bed, dressed, breakfasted, and on the road, relented and let them find coffee at the first stop to change horses, and further indulged them with currant buns to fortify the lieutenant and give him the courage to ask the viscount to meet HIS mother, as he's met the viscount's. Ah, class anxieties, you drive the internal conflict SO WELL.

I now have a laptop, thanks to [profile] fadethecat, so I don't have to compete with my teenager for computer use any more. Kid can have the desktop for homework/tumblr, and I can have the laptop for writing/tumblr. Bonus, I get to sit on the sofa, and I can bring this upstairs to bed!

Also had a nice conversation with [personal profile] mswyrr who helped me tease out just why the lieutenant was having a harder time admitting to himself just HOW strong an affection he and the viscount have developed for each other in just a few days (albeit with several weeks of speculative buildup). The viscount is aware of it and comfortable with it, although he doesn't say much about it; the lieutenant is a lot more ambivalent. Not that he doesn't feel the same; he's just so wary of it. [personal profile] mswyrr helped me get at the factors behind that more explicitly than I could alone. it helps.

The lieutenant's ma is next. I wish I could find a media source for rural accents where they weren't freaking COMIC RELIEF.
julian_griffith: (Default)
Project: Even The B-Plot Has A Romance Romance Novel
Deadline: haven't got one
New words written: 1907
Present total word count: 28923
Reason for stopping: past my bedtime
Mean things: delaying the reunion, prize-agents who take the money and run
Fun things: well, I amused myself renaming the landlady
Stimulants: No dinner
Words Word don't know: I'm giving up on this. There's hardly any point in a historical novel. Fantasy novels use much weirder words.

Still no lieutenant's Ma. However, the two scenes I got today occur shortly AFTER that one, and are the first appearances of secondary characters who got mentioned back in the first chapter. First, one grieving boyfriend who can't yet be told everything's all right; then, one young Lazarus who is none too pleased to hear that he has to wait three more days to see his grieving boyfriend and put things right, or else risk spoiling all the careful work that allowed his resurrection.

Young Lazarus has the fierce temper one would expect of a redhead of Scottish ancestry, London upbringing notwithstanding. The lieutenant, who was at sea before young Lazarus was born, will brook no nonsense from him. Fun for me, if not for them.

It's all dialogue, almost, because that's what happens during data entry: I hear voices. Conversations. I suppose if I'm trying NOT to sound mad I should just call it dialogue.

Had to skip lunch because I HAD TO WRITE IT DOWN, so I wouldn't lose it. That took care of the Grieving Boyfriend conversation, at least. Young Lazarus had to stay in my head until I got home... and then I had to eat something, and then I needed a nap, because the grieving boyfriend had kind of worn me out with the grief. He's had me in literal tears before, so this was a slight improvement, I guess.

But I got the words down, and even though they are very rough draft, they are a SHAPE to build on.

So I'm glad.
julian_griffith: (Default)
Project: someday this romance novel is going to need a name
Deadline: haven't got one
New words written: 2455
Present total word count: 27016
Reason for stopping: end of scene and should go to the grocery store
Mean things: hip sockets aren't supposed to DO that
Stimulants: apparently carbonated hormones
Words Word don't know: dammit, do NOT correct "all right" to "alright," EVER, unless I am writing about a certain song/album by the Who

I am facing the prospect of having reached the Dreaded Middle of the Book. This is probably why my brain keeps insisting on writing things from the second half. Yesterday and today went like this:

Muse: You're gonna write the wedding night scene.
Me: Really? Shouldn't we actually sort out the lieutenant's Ma and getting the boys to Portsmouth? That really does have to happen, you know.
Muse: Whatever. It'll happen. But I've got the wedding night ALL WORKED OUT.
Me: Yeah, and? I've known what it has to get across for ages. Pretty much a given.
Muse: But I've got DETAILS.
Me: ...you certainly do.
Muse: Write the wedding night, or not only will I make it impossible to write any other scene, I'm gonna make it impossible for you to remember to eat lunch. Or dinner. We'll see who blinks first.
Me: Okay, okay, I'm writing.
Muse: *is extraordinarily vivid*
Me: *writes*
Muse: There, isn't that better? Just look at that wordcount! And that may be the last of the narratively necessary sex scenes in the book. Now I can let you get on with other things.
Me: All right. How about working on the way the boys deal with a lack of coffee?
Muse: Don't push your luck.

And now I need to see about the grocery store, and dishes, and maybe a late lunch. Or an early dinner. I kinda want to grab a sandwich from Subway. I feel like I deserve it.
julian_griffith: (Default)
Project: Unconventional Unintentionally Arthurian Romance Novel
Deadline: haven't got one
New words written: 2315 (some of these are notes)
Present total word count: 24572
Reason for stopping: bedtime
Mean things: Alexander being disapproving
Fun things: Phoebe is made of awesome
Stimulants: data entry, Coca-Cola
Words Word don't know: nothing worth mentioning

I continue to write stuff that goes in the second half. Apparently doing mindless data entry makes the characters have involved conversations in my head. Ones that I can't write down as they occur because the IRS is very serious about security, and we can't have pen or paper at our workstations. I can only scribble things down during breaks.

Today I had a really entertaining conversation in which Caroline was introduced to Phoebe Craddock, the actress. I was glad to hear it, because I could tell it actually served a purpose in the narrative, and it let me bring Phoebe in in person. Because I love her and she is made of awesome and it would have been a shame to know she existed and not have been able to use her.

The other thing was a conversation between Alexander and Rockingham that I think might actually be the final scene. It's a bit fragmentary, as I couldn't write it all down when I heard it and some of it evaporated, but I think I got enough to serve as a draft, and I can fix it up and make it smooth later. Alexander, being in a really tight exclusive pair bond, has some trouble understanding a three-way relationship -- at first he sees it conventionally, as breaking vows, and he totally disapproves of William for partaking in it. Alexander and Rockingham are really good at pushing each other's buttons, although the part I got down started in the middle of the button-pushing, with Rockingham giving Alexander a bitchy answer to I don't know exactly what criticism. Anyway, Rockingham manages to explain it in a way Alexander finds sympathetic, and their friendship is renewed. In the process, he explains how the Happily-For-Now will work, so it makes a good ending scene. No good last line as yet, but that'll come. As a draft, I like it.

Thorne's Ma is still vague. I'll get there. Right now I'm glad to have words.
julian_griffith: (Default)
Project: Unconventional Unintentionally Arthurian Romance Novel
Deadline: haven't got one
New words written: 2060
Present total word count: 22297
Reason for stopping: nearly end of scene, and look how late it is - the lieutenant is nearly as exhausted as I am
Mean things: Rich people have relatively little privacy
Fun things: Connecting doors, and silly biology tricks of lactation
Stimulants: menstrual painkillers
Words Word don't know: It's quibbling over my grammar

Today, my brain insisted that we were NOT writing the next linear bit; the lieutenant's Ma would just have to wait, because it was time to write the blissful, emotionally loaded endgame. I did it in dribs and drabs while poking at Tumblr, because I kept having to pause from all the emotions. This one shifted POV at the beginning and the end of the chapter, where I have otherwise confined it to chapter breaks; the first and last bits belonged to the lieutenant, but the bulk of it was through the heroine's eyes. It was the first chunk I'd done from the heroine's POV. It's slightly embarrassing to admit how much of it came from a treasured memory of mine, but the conventional wisdom is "write what you know," after all, isn't it?

I hope that now this part is written down, I'll be able to get back to morning at the inn and the lieutenant's Ma. I have a hundred or so words of getting-dressed in my paper notebook. Haven't transcribed them.

Now I'm for sleep.

August 2013

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