28000 / 80000 words. 35% done!

Metafictional progress: Figured out what the Old Woman’s arc should look like, which is good, since it needed to start, like, two chapters ago. Found out a better way to do spell-checking. That might seem like small potatoes to some of you, but remember that I do my writing in Vim and LaTeX, which means that I have great power at the expense of occasional inconvenience. Spell-checking used to be one of those inconveniences. Sent out a new query for the last novel.

Fictional progress: Brought the Barbarian Warlord into the city. Had the Heroine go out and shoot some arrows at the invaders, which got her into a spot of trouble. Rescued by One-Eye in time for a quick getaway. The Old Woman fell into despair over her apparent uselessness (see above comments about arc), but the Heroine came by to rescue her, too.

Choice Morsel o’ the Time Period:

She listened to the water swirl around the oars. If it spoke to her, it seemed only to say Not yet, not yet, not yet.

Fifty years I’ve waited, she said back. If you won’t let me die, will you tell me why I’m here?

And the water answered not yet, not yet, not yet.

It’s been a while since I got any agenty love. Even of the “not what we’re looking for” type–which, admittedly, is only “love” if you take a very expansive definition of the term.

Although I don’t often comment on them, I really love the novel-progress updates that I get over at San’s and Cherie Priest’s blogs. Monkey see, monkey do:

The Sacred Mute is churning along nicely. My progress is not as quick or as consistent as I would like, but it’s greater than zero, which is the important thing. This is what it looks like:

24750 / 80000 words. 31% done!

Metafictional progress: Reworked the first six chapters to include the new Plucky Heroine. Kept the original protag as a minor character, then decided he should just die. Retroactively killed him. Fixed some niggling technical problems that made it hard for me to build my manuscript. (I am a geek: I write my novel in LaTeX using Vim.)

Fictional progress: Brought the Plucky Heroine into a (literally) smoke-filled room to talk to powerful people. Introduced her to a man with one of his eyes plucked out. Barbarian Warlord got into a fight with his wife. The Heroine’s city fortified itself, but the Barbarian Warlord proved to be smarter than he looks and found another way.

Tender Morsel of the Time Period:

The furs shifted a little and the light fell on the acã’s face. He was a man of tremendous age. His hair was thinned to white, airy wisps that clung to the fringes of his scalp. Creased jowls hung over his jaws, and his lip drooped, letting a strand of spittle dribble out. His brows were heavy and drooped over her eyes. Reze couldn’t tell if he looked at her, or if he saw at all.

First, a big public thanks to Sän and Eva, who helped me wring the horrible parts out of my synopsis.

Second, I really need to pass forward this page of synopsis advice that I got from Sän. I recommend that you read it and study it. Then click on every single link and study the more in-depth advice given therein. They’re all worth it. Even the one with the horrible background music.

CS Inman (aka Sän) has a surprisingly good synopsis up to read. Basically everyone, everywhere, hates writing their novel synopsis, so I’m automatically impressed by anyone that manages to write a synopses that’s entertaining and informative.

This even applies to the victims participants in Joshua Palmatier’s synopsis day. Now the synopses listed here were “successful” synopses, meaning that they were for novels that eventually sold. But even so, I found most of them dull, incomprehensible, or overly long. Probably the easiest one to read was Mike Brotherton’s synopsis of Star Dragon. That one suffered from the opposite problem: it was fast-paced and easy to follow, but the writing style itself felt amateurish. (I have no idea if that applies to the book itself, which I haven’t read.)

Reading all those pro synopses made me think that maybe the synopsis was free to be long and boring, which was good because my synopsis was long and boring. It was 2500 words of dull. It was a plodding, interminable death-march through a dozen names and a series of irrelevant places.

When I set out to pare it down this week, the first pass got it down to 1250 words and something of a respectable hook.Sän and Eva have both helped me further pare it down and spruce it up, so the final draft will be under 1,000 words, and hopefully will actually help sell the novel.

I’ve started up the novel that was giving me so much trouble, again. And I did what I originally said I wasn’t going to do: I’m starting from the top, and rewriting all of the chapters that have the new POV. This is, fortunately, less that I was originally afraid of, since most of the stuff that’s in the other POV will still work, though there’s some things to be moved around.

I don’t know, though. There’s a lot of cut-and-past, and a lot of scenes being rewritten with the same dialogue but different characters. I suspect that it’s turning out a mess, though that’s what first drafts are for, nu-i asa?

My WIP is in trouble, and it’s all because of my protagonist.

The story, as originally conceived, alternates POV between the two main characters. I’ve written about 20K words with those two characters, and while it was going pretty well, I was having some trouble with one of my protags. He seemed to be kind of a non-entity. I had no clear idea of his personality, and my attempts to give him some character were awkward and forced. (This is the same problem that I had with the beginning of my finished novel, but fortunately I got to kill that character off and find a new one about 1/3 of the way through the book.) This was making it hard to write, particularly the chapters where he was the only one onscreen.

Then a thirteen-year-old girl dropped out of the rafters and tried to kill my other, non-problematic protag. This was completely unexpected. It was also much more interesting. A young girl who takes on full-grown men that are trying to massacre her family? Now that is a character I could write. After a bit of hesitation, I began plotting out how I would weave the story around her, and leave my original protag mostly out of it.

I’ve decided that’s what I’m going to do, but I am still flummoxed by what to do with the 20K words that already exist. My rule when writing a novel is “no rewriting until the first draft is done”–otherwise the first draft will never get done, as I’ll be constantly tinkering with the first ten chapters or so. But I think I may have to tinker with the draft anyway, since I don’t think I can write any further without knowing what happened to my new protag so far.

I’ve never been a 13-year-old girl, so it might be hard to write her. And if my protag is a teenager, does that mean my work is YA?