Monday, May 12, 2014

A character conference

As some of you know I "won" the NaNoWriMo contest last year. All you need to do is pound out 50,000 words that sort of looks and smells like a novel. I went way over that. During December and January I went back and filled in some holes, and got it to the point I'd let other people read it.

They were very kind, and pointed out all sorts of things I hadn't seen for myself. One of them put her finger squarely on the real problem, in that I hadn't fully sorted out the time frame of the book. The trigger was a father daughter conversation that took place when she was 24 or so, and it was much more plausible to take place about 10 years earlier. Except I hadn't figured that out and that led to other problems.

So I started rewriting. I have a dynamite opening scene where we see Hardisty's bike crash, instead of being told that it was something that happened. I tweaked the father daughter scene, and set the stage for some other stuff. I know that I had to break up what used to be the opening scene.

And there I sat, stirring, and poking a bit. Knowing I need to make another pass going through, but I was kind of stuck. I didn't have as much time to dive in, but I was missing some ideas of what happened during the longer time span of the book. Getting the timeline software really helped sort out ages and event sequences, at least the main ones.

But there's a lot of time to cover now, which gives time for the medical world to get it's shit together and produce the results that got discussed in the first draft. The problem is that this is an interesting bunch of people. Nobody is going to believe that a whole year or more would go by without something interesting happening.

The other day I dreamed about going back to the plant I used to work in. It was to work, I'd been called in. Even though I hadn't been there for years, I was still in a senior role, going and doing the routine. The twist was that there was a social event of some kind happening so there were all kinds of people there. Some that I know in real life. Two of my major characters, Ceridwen and Ronnie showed up socially. Even though they work there, they weren't on shift. I didn't get a chance to talk to them, but no doubt it was them.

That got me to thinking. Maybe I should invite my characters to a conference and ask them about the two books they are in. So tonight I sat outside on a nice evening with some wine and talked to them. There was a bit of a break for some stretching, but in less than 3 hours I pounded out more than 3000 words of conversation between all the characters and me. I learned a few things I hadn't realized. They've given me some great ideas for reorganizing the material. They've promised to chat some more, and pass along any other ideas they figure out.

I expect interesting dreams tonight. I'll be sure to put a notepad and pen beside the bed.


  1. If you give them a voice, they will certainly talk, Keith - glad you had your 'conference' and got some things sorted out! Loved that you did it while sitting outside with a glass of wine! Now, you should be back in control and ready to whip that novel into shape. Good luck!

    FYI - never did get back to yesterday's post to comment, but loved the pics and your backyard will be fabulous when done. A great place to entertain :)

    1. They certainly are a chatty bunch. I think there is more in the pipeline. I'm not likely to be able to run tonight, so I think I'll drop in on them and see what they've been up to. I'll be taking photos of the back yard progress. Once it's done I'll put them up so those who are not likely to be able to see it can get some idea of what's happening. Maybe it will be so nice it will inspire them to visit. :-)

  2. What a great idea, Keith. When/if I ever get back to working on either of my novels, think I'll give it a try. And I agree with Janet, the garden's looking great!

    1. It was fun to do. Just pounded the keyboard, no quotes, erratic punctionation bare minimum of who is talking. More again tonight, I suspect. I hope.


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