rhienelleth: (Mercy Kincade)

Recent feedback from a beta reader has, as the subject line suggests, given rise to an epiphany about my writing, and my characters, and I think I've just realized something that has plagued me for two books.

My MC, my POV character.  I believe, as I said to another beta reader in working through this epiphany this afternoon, that I'm using Mercy too much as what I call "the author's telescope", or lense, and not enough as herself, with her own identity, thoughts and feelings.  Too much: "Look here, see this situation, and these interesting people?"  Not enough of what Mercy feels, or thinks about it.  

Thinking back, I'm pretty sure I did the same thing in Dark Vision, with Elysia.  But not, I think, in the more recent novella, Veritas.  Also, there are places in this draft of Nemesis where the problem does not exist.  The prologue, for example.  Chapters from Reaper's POV, for another.  It's really in Mercy's POV that the problem makes itself really known.

So, the good news: I can fix it, especially now that I'm actually aware of it.

The not-so-good news: lots of rewriting looms ahead of me.

Sometimes I feel like I will never be done.  At the same time, I see how this will make things better.  I actually think this, more than anything else, is what the agent was talking about when she gave me feedback on the old draft.  When she had trouble connecting to Mercy.  I've had this doubt in the back of my mind for awhile, that the rewrite hasn't really fixed enough.  I think this is why.  I think I was going about it from the wrong direction.  

It is by turns depressing, daunting, but also exciting, to contemplate another rewrite. I really think this is it.  The major problem, more than any other, that needed and continues to need addressing.  

You know what's really funny?  I used to read about other authors rewriting entire books, and shake my head at the very idea.  And those authors who rewrote the same book multiple times?  CRAZY.  

I guess that tells me where I'm at now, as opposed to back then.  :D
rhienelleth: (cats at play)
Okay, LJ.  I need a good name for an alien feline-esque species of intelligent hunters who may-or-may-not be empathic, and may-or-may-not be able to either phase through walls, or teleport.

They are slightly larger than the average house cat, and range in color from coppery-red, to silvery-blue, with darker rosettes. 

"Flynx" pretty much the perfect name if ever I heard one, was suggested by a beta, but bears an unfortunate resemblance to "Flinx" a character in a SF series by Alan Dean Foster, which I have never read, but apparently my universe already bears one other unfortunate similarity to his.  His entire series is based in a Commonwealth, the very term I have used to describe my own galaxy spanning body of government.  *le sigh*

So, one similarity can pass, but two?  No.

I'm keeping Commonwealth.  But flynx has to go.  Suggestions?
rhienelleth: (Mercy Kincade)
Yes, research is very important for the writer. At the same time, one has to be careful not to let it kill the story.

I'm writing SF, but not hard SF, which requires a particular level of scientific accuracy. I'm writing space opera, which is more romantic adventure, and while I won't say if doesn't need any of that accuracy, it's just enough to springboard into suspension of disbelief, not enough to explain every nuance of the universe with actual, you know, science. :)

Why am I posting this? Because today, in a fit of "how will I make this new thing I'm doing fit into my book's universe", I made the mistake of doing some additional research into psychic phenomena. Instead of finding that springboard I needed to fit this new thing in, I instead found all these articles about how telepathy and telekinesis are not technically possible according to all the laws of physics we currently understand. And forgetting briefly that I'm writing a fun, totally fictional adventure story set in space, I got depressed and thought "wait, what if down the road, someone asks me to explain the science behind my telepathic space pirates? OMG, what will I do??"

No, Rhien. Just no. Down that road lies despair and fits of keyboard bashing frustration, and possibly giving up on something that is too awesome for you to just give up on.

Remember Star Wars? Remember how awesome and cool the Jedi were, and how you never asked what made a Jedi sensitive to the Force? No, you just accepted that some people were special, and went forward from there.

And then came the prequels, and this thing called midi-chlorians, and you were disgusted when you heard this for the first time, because it took the magic of the Jedi and made it this mundane thing with an explanation that you didn't care about, that in fact, tried to break your acceptance of and love for the universe.

So, in conclusion, Rhien, your pirates are just telepathic. THE END. (And telekinetic. And some other stuff.) They just are. No laws of physics need apply.

M'kay? Moving on now.


Nov. 19th, 2009 02:42 pm
rhienelleth: (Mercy Kincade)
Thank. God.

I am past that stupid block the book was giving me. The problem, as is so often the case, was not what I thought.

But now, the words, they flow.

I give you a celebratory snippet.

~snippet~ )
rhienelleth: (Mercy Kincade)
I am well over half way, and things are moving really quickly now for the rewrite. I'm finally to a place where some things can stay...but most scenes still have to be rewritten, regardless of that.

For example, I posted this snippet of the original draft, way back when.

And in the rewrite, it's the same...but not.  You know, in case you were curious about things like that.


Sep. 17th, 2009 03:42 pm
rhienelleth: (Reaper)
Well, the rewrite goes fairly well:

Look at that! 1/3 of the way done!

Have a snippet to celebrate: )


Sep. 3rd, 2009 04:29 pm
rhienelleth: (Default)
Well, with the goal to finish the Nemesis rewrite by the end of the month, so I can then move on the Veritas expansion/rewrite, and from there to the Dark Vision rewrite, i have no time to dilly dally!

Progress for the day:

Total rewrite progress:

SO CLOSE to being one quarter done! Ah, well, tomorrow will close that gap for sure.

Also, now that I'm revising old material as well as wholesale rewriting, I've noticed that my writing as a whole has changed significantly since I finished draft 1. On the one hand - yay, better writer! On the other, more rewriting.
rhienelleth: (Default)
Now that the novella's out of the way, and I've had a day or two to recover from the insane schedule I maintained to finish it, it's back to Nemesis revisions.

Right before I started to novella, I finished the first "section" I'd had as a goal on Nemesis - namely, the first five chapters, which had required a total and complete rewrite. 17,000 words in total.

(Ironically, the novella was 25,000 words, and took me only two weeks to complete. Those five chapters? Took a couple three months. But I had a lot of deciding what i wanted to change going on, and then research to back up the changes I decided on.)

But, now that they're done, the total wordcount for the new first five chapters is 1,000 more than the old. That really surprised me. I feel like the rewrite tightens that beginning and makes a lot of things more immediate, by quite a bit, so I was expecting less words, not more. It certainly removes a boatload of extraneous material.

So where did all the new words come from? Well, I spend a lot more time on Reaper and Mercy's relationship - not that they really have one, yet, but they spend more time in each other's company. There are two whole chapters from Reaper's POV that weren't there before. Also, the old exposition prologue is gone, and in its place is a new, much more relavant prologue with characters that show up very soon, now. It's longer than the old prologue by...about 1,000 words. Funny, that.

Where the rewrite stands right now:

Let's see if this starts moving faster, now that I'm actually revising/rewriting, vs. just wholesale rewriting.


Aug. 6th, 2009 10:17 pm
rhienelleth: (Default)
Well, I'm sitting decent at 16K.  Only 9K in the next three days, then Monday for revisions and the synopsis.  So far, beta response approves of my working title.

We almost have a novella in two weeks!

Today's snippet du jour:

~Snip~ )
rhienelleth: (Mercy Kincade)
Thank god for beta readers who are smarter than me! Or at least catch things I should have thought about. :)

*back to writing*


Jun. 9th, 2009 11:25 am
rhienelleth: (Default)
Wow, I've reached 10K on the Nemesis rewrite!

There were times I thought that would never happen. I'm sooooooo happy with how this is going! I'm hoping to be done with the major part of the rewrite by Friday. You know, the first five chapters. From there, it should be more editing/tweaking/revision, less wholesale rewrite. Although the epiphany I had last week about the universe as a whole will require more work than it would have pre-epiphany.

A line doesn't really count as much of a snippet, but here it is anyway:

She stood rooted to the spot, her head throbbing painfully, and every muscle in her body tense as the other telepath touched her mind with his, and put his hands on her.

There was something very proprietary in the way his fingers closed around her arms. She didn’t like that much.
rhienelleth: (Reaper)
The rewrite continues apace. I had to backtrack a little today and rework the, hmm, direction of the scene I was doing. I was writing it from a POV I haven't used much before, so I guess a learning curve was to be expected. (Reaper is very clear about what works for him, and what doesn't.)

In any case, if you count the backtrack, I wrote just under 2000 words today, and finished another chapter. Whoo-Hoo!

For the rewrite:

And broader revision:
rhienelleth: (Reaper)
So, I finished the chapter one rewrite yesterday. FINALLY. Good God, that was the most painful writing experience of my life, I'm pretty sure. Me + beginnings = angst and pain!

However. It has since received beta approval, and now the next chapter is flowing beautifully. Reaper is finally getting to tell some of this from his side, which is something I realized I was too afraid to do in draft one. Switching POVs has never been a problem for me. Dark Vision was told from both Elysia and Parr's POVs, for example. But Reaper is a different sort of character. Especially at the beginning of Nemesis, when he hasn't really formed a connection with Mercy. He's a borderline sociopath, and those don't make for characters readers can connect to easily, or so I believed. Part of me was afraid they'd go *HORROR* how can Mercy be attracted to this guy?? Sure, he's hot, but he's also a cold killer!


Yeah, so thinks the woman who has long running and deep love for characters like Michael of La Femme Nikita and Sark (who, admittedly, is more feeling than Michael) of Alias.

I know, I know. The stupid, it hurts.

So, Reaper gets a viewpoint, as well as a couple of others. Cannon, for example. I'm liking it so far. :D

Ooooh, word count meter!


Although it's looking more like it's going to be rewrite:

Just with (hopefully) less wholesale rewriting of the last three quarters.


May. 27th, 2009 11:07 am
rhienelleth: (Dem)
For all of you published, or publishing knowledgeable folks on my f-list (or not). I could ask Samhain directly, but I thought I'd start here.

A lot of books started off as short stories - Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, for example - before being published as novels. I'm just talking about a short story set in the same universe as Nemesis, using some of the side characters. But say the best happens, and it gets published. What does that mean for the unpublished Nemesis, if anything? I've got some plans for Nemesis, and an agent who wants to see the revised version, and I don't want to throw any wrenches into that.

(Note: current frontrunner for a novella is Dem, although Asha and Nikolai are close seconds (aka, Mercy's parents.)

ETA: A close perusal of Samhain's FAQ lent this gem:

5.3. If I contract the first book of a series with Samhain, do I have to give you first refusal on subsequent books in the series?

No. Samhain contracts one book at a time. We hope you’ll love working with us enough to send us all your other books, but we want you to be free to make that decision for yourself.

Seems promising!
rhienelleth: (Cannon)
Okay, so I've been struggling along with the rewrite, and while I gnash my teeth and complain a lot, I'm actually pleased with what I'm producing. Even if it is much slower going than the first draft was. *rolls eyes*

But I'm reading my f-list this morning, and I see that one of my favorite authors, [livejournal.com profile] ilona_andrews, has a new e-novella coming out from Samhain Publishing. While sad it isn't about Kate and Curran, I will read anything Ilona writes, so I promptly go to check out the price and release date. And while I'm there, the writer part of my brain is thinking. Things like "I keep hearing about this Samhain Publishing." Hmmm. Let's click on 'Submissions'. So I do. And see that they're having open submissions for a space opera anthology until August.

I read what they're looking for, and I swear, for just a second my stomach hurt. ("I’m looking for fast-paced, action-adventure space opera romances. Don’t know what space opera is? Think Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica or my personal favorite, Firefly/Serenity.") <-Emphasis mine.

You guys. I could do this! I gave up writing shorter works some time ago, when all my short stories kept being the first chapters of novels. But I've been thinking about shorter works again lately. If I can write fic, I can write short stories and novellas. And wouldn't it be fun to explore some aspects of these universes I'm writing books in that I don't get to explore in the books? AND this is for a novella: 25,000-30,000 words.

So. Telepathic space pirates. The trick is, it has to end with at least a "happily for now" on the romance angle. My telepathic space pirates are a mercurial, volatile lot, who don't always know what happy is until it bites them on the ass, and sometimes not even then. The question is, what do I write about? Not Mercy, clearly. She's all tangled up in three books either written, or being written, or planned to be written. But there are SO MANY other possibilities. I could go back in the pirates' history and write a short story about almost anyone - Doc and his wife, for example. She might be dead in the current timeline, but they were happy once. (Oh, wait - you guys didn't know he was married at one time, did you?) Raisa and her Consorts. Okay, so they all died, too, but she made it pretty clear in her conversation with Mercy that she loved her Consorts. (I'm sensing a theme here. Hmmm.) Or, I could write about the Queen of Evil (I'm stealing that term from you [livejournal.com profile] kistha) Lilith, aka Mercy's grandmother, the last Queen the pirates had (also now dead. And kind of evil.) OR, I could write about Mercy's parents. (Also now dead. But they totally loved each other, and at least they died together!)


See my problem? Well, I don't have to reveal that the characters with their happily-for-now are doomed, right?

I could also write about a side character in the current timeline, like Atrea. But that gets a little more problematic, when it parallels events I'm currently writing about in Nemesis.

This might be why my reaction to "I can totally do this!" was a hurt stomach.

So. Beta readers, what sort of novella would YOU like to read from Mercy's universe? I could, I suppose, make up entirely new characters (actually, I have a whole ship full off somewhere else I haven't even tapped yet.) I have too many ideas right now. Help me focus! I would really like to do this.
rhienelleth: (drug)
With the rewrite of Nemesis actually *gasp* going well, not only do wordcount posts return, but so do snippets!

This target number is subject to change, should I decide to go crazy and rewrite the whole book, rather than the first six or so chapters. Also, I could end up doing a word count meter for the whole book's actual rewrite process, once I complete these first 17,000 words.

And, to celebrate the day's week's progress, a snippet:

~ Snippet ~ )
rhienelleth: (Mercy Kincade)

Writer folks on my f-list, I have a question to pose you. I feel like I am beating my head against a wall with this rewrite. Like, the new prologue (which is WAY DIFFERENT from the old one, as in, doesn't even remotely resemble it) is great, and I'm thrilled to pieces with it. BUT then we have chapter one....which is not knocking my socks off. Every damn word is like pulling teeth, and USUALLY when a scene isn't working, that means I'm coming at it from the wrong directions. Maybe it needs a POV shift (not applicable here), or maybe it needs a new character added, or the character it's focused on isn't happy with whatever I'm having them say or do, so I should change it.

Now, sometimes with beginnings, if it isn't working that means you're starting it in the wrong place. Maybe that's happening here, I am not sure. So I'm going to explain what I'm doing and why behind a cut, more to write it out for my own benefit and getting it all straight in my head than anything else, but if you want to read it and offer input, I certainly won't mind. But my actual question for all you writers is this: do beginnings plague you, or are they easy? Why? How do you approach them? That opening scene is so vitally important, and yet I invariably find myself liking all of the other stuff that comes later so much better.

I struggled so much with this rewrite, I ended up stealing the old opening line I had, and then making everything different after that. It's not like it sucks, but it doesn't make me smile the way the prologue does, you know?

More information than you probably wanted to know about Mercy and Nemesis and why the stuff in the beginning needs to be there. Warning: a little on the rambly side. )
rhienelleth: (Default)
I get really frustrated, naming stuff. I am not good at it. If a book title occurs to me easily, for example, I'm really, really lucky. Nemesis was like that. However, if it doesn't, I'm totally screwed. I will have a heck of a time coming up with something good. Dark Vision (a title i am still not entirely satisfied with) was like that.

The same holds true for naming things in books. For example, the dropship/gunship I've added to Nemesis. I cannot come up with a name to save my freaking life. Everything else is based in mythology - the Titans are the fighters, the capital ships mostly have names stemming from mythology, partly because it makes it easier to come up with names, and partly because I fell in love with calling the fighters Titans - it seemed fitting, the sort of thing that comes across as just arrogant enough, you know? The whole point of naming a ship meant for killing other ships something like that is to inspire fear, right?

The dropship has a different purpose: troop and/or equipment deployment, combat search and rescue, etc - think the helicopters of Vietnam. I remember in We Were Soldiers, they equated the helicopters with the horses the cavalry used to ride into battle. But that doesn't feel quite right, either.

I cannot come up with a name. *sigh* Right now, I'm using a placeholder, because not having a name was holding up the actual writing.

Any suggestions?


Mar. 21st, 2009 11:58 am
rhienelleth: (Mercy Kincade)
My first reader(s) of beta readers has responded to the new opening to Nemesis, but has also advised me to find someone who has never read the first draft of the book to give it a read/response, as she knows too much about the happenings in the book to say what works and what doesn't for a cold audience.  Which is important.

So.  This is my request for a volunteer willing to read roughly 2K of newly minted first draft-ness.  Anyone?  I would offer cookies, but the best I can do virtually is this:

rhienelleth: (Cannon)
2,000 words today.  On a beginning I never imagined, from a POV I had definitely not anticipated.  It's the most successful writing day I've had since I began the rewrite.  Or trying to do the rewrite.

I am encouraged.

*looks at icon*  Hi, baby.  Good to see you again. :D


rhienelleth: (Default)

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