caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (three katherines of allingdale)

Or weird quantum-mechanical state of chapter, as the case may be.

Further work on the Fairfields arc of Killer-Kate has revealed that it needs to be tautened up by, 'ere we go again, adding another chapter.  I have a fairly strong vision of this already, including the makings of a climactic scene I like a lot.  As a bonus to resolving most of the problems set out in the previous post, it gives me a free chance to bring back the Big Bad plotline to the front of the reader's mind again, without adding yet more fruitless talk and speculation.  Which makes it a pretty rich vision.

What makes it an embarrassingly rich vision is that I have two of it.  There's a pre-Wassail version, provisionally titled Hunt and Holt, and a post-Wassail one I've dubbed The Holt and the Haunt.  The former is slightly more focused on Luke and the mortal opposition, the latter on Katy and the Big Bad.  The dynamics of the surrounding chapters will depend a lot on which one I choose.  Post-Wassail is looking better in several ways.  But I can't choose one for certain, except in the act of deciding how the whole Fairfields arc is going to end up.  Which can't be decided for certain until the whole-book critical review is finished, so that I'll know what I need to plant in the Fields and what I ought to grub up.  Meantime, the chapter exists in a cloud of uncollapsed contradictions, and is going to stay that way for at least the next week or two, as I plug on criticizing the first draft all the way to its end.

Has anybody else had similar experiences?  I seem to have spent quite a lot of time with this book, holding contradictory plot ideas in tension until the stronger one crystallizes into truth.  This is just a blatant case.  It's somewhat mind-bending and occasionally exhausting; and until I'm done I'm not going to know whether it's just inefficient and indecisive, or a necessary part of telling this tale honestly.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
...Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland doesn't half have a lot of political errors, inconsistencies, implausibilities, and handwaves in it.  So I'm still stuck critiquing them, hours a day.  My revision guide documents are getting to be a small book of their own.  On the other hand, the end is slowly coming into sight.  As well it should do, since I've already used up a fifth of my allotted revision time on this alone, and will surely hit a quarter before it's finally done.

Yes, I know I said "biggest single task", but...!  Next time, I think I'm going to do a lot more note-making in parallel with the writing.  Even, or especially, when I know I'm keeping several different options in play.

Onwards and slogwards!

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)

Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 1,300 words, the end of the chapter, and the characters steeled for their run-up to the Big Bad.  The intent of this final scene, and how it sets up the Monster Ultimate Showdown, only showed itself to me two weeks ago.  This is now a lot tenser, and preceded by a lot more bitter in the sweet, than my long-held vision of it allowed.  Here's the price of making the Ultimate Showdown the Monster One after all - yet I think it opens more space for last night's brief access of tenderness and warmth, too.  Yes, I like the way this is going.

Only the final action chapter and an epilogue left, now.  This prospect remains rather dazing to me, after two years of active work, and a previous year with the ideas stewing around a few thousand words of beginning.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 1,050 words.  Kate gives the Duke both barrels.

Not loving this version of the Family Fight scene so far, since it is coming out as something very much like a Great Kate Coredump.  I seem to have this problem with the first drafts of her epic speeches, though several have caught alight some way into the proceedings, and shown me unexpected ways forward.

She's going to be blasting right away for a good few paragraphs yet.  I'll decide which ones I need to blast away in a month or three's time, if my master-plan stays on track.  Probably rewrite most of the rest, too.

For now, I can only follow her into the fire...

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 1,200 words.  Elegant Elder Sister interrupts the diplomatic conference with some actual diplomacy, rising to the desperate occasion with all she has.  That turns out to be a great deal.  I've been afraid for a couple of chapters that she was going all damselly on me - but man and boy, is she not!

The dynamics of a scene with so many bold and brilliant people in it are really difficult to handle: only a few of them can speak or ought to try, but leaving some of these major characters silent at such a moment makes me feel like I'm dealing them dummy hands.  Hero-Father and Flashy Elder Brother are my main concerns here, not for the first time, even though they've already been seriously active in this very chapter.  Another note for the redraft.  There's a hell of a lot of cat-herding to do, here.

Next, I need to wrap up the proposal/counter-proposal sequence.  The real confrontation looms close now.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 830 words.  First fragment of the Young Duke's triadic introductory sequence, before Golden Kate takes over the point of view again for the furnace heart of the chapter.  The Puffin Superior's report of Kate dispels some bum theories, though not a huge fraction of them.

I mean  to get through this chapter as fast as possible, partly because the urge not to write is very strong here, and partly because if I linger on it it's going to rip me up something rotten.  I like most of the people gathered here, in their several ways - while I'm writing them, in large measure I am them - and 'collide' doesn't even begin to describe what they're going to do before the Second Climax is accomplished.


caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
My relationship with Nonny, the underrated Muse of Folksong, is generally a delightful one.  Sometimes she'll return from the slopes of Parnassus in melancholy mood, and breathe over me the breath of Carrie Grey; sometimes she will be ribald, and bring me Kyra from Kazandry; sometimes she will be both, and bring me De Ville's Toast to His Friends.  And other times she will be so completely off the wall, I haven't even any description for the result that is shorter than singing it.  Always, she will break in upon me like a wave where no sea was hitherto apparent, and not cease until I've worked her latest inspiration into safely-recorded words and music.

This is often inconvenient, but almost always worth it.

And then sometimes she will come back totally monstered on bad nectar, and afflict me with I've Got Badgers in Me Nadgers.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)

Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: Reread 4 chapters.  Luke back in Langdale, enchanters well out of their depth, the Duke down at Cottislowe,and Relatively Okay Genius up to plenty.  Just as well I decided to review this arc good and hard before proceeding.  My memory wasn't impressive enough to retain all the things Genius is doing at the same time, with this.

The Garcastle matter has a bit too much of people explaining stuff to each other at present.  The problem isn't As You Know, Bob - the targets don't know, and they do need to have it explained - but the overall effect needs streamlining.  This work should be eased in the redraft by no longer needing to have them explain the stuff to me!

Should be ready to resume writing by about the weekend, at this rate.  I really hope my original plans will still flow naturally from the turns the tale has taken.  Still not sure about that.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)

Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: Re-read of the Rising arc begun this morning - three chapters, from Fairfields to the Dales.  Kate in Clover Clough, Luke in Langdale beneath the scarps of Hareborough.  Now suitably refreshed on what the original plans were, before they went eight ways to blazes.

The story and a late spate of rage-inducing RL news have jointly given me some food for thought, part of which I hope to chew over here presently.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 370 words.  Bonecold Refugee has run out of sleet, and chilled Kate to the marrow.  Kate has risen for their first exchange.  New thing found: that when Kate sees Katy's kind of wisdom in her companion, she instinctively grabs that likeness, and uses it instantly to fight their corner with.  Which leads in nicely to the speech she is, in the story as it's come true, really going to make.

All this brambly scene is apt to be a lot slimmer in the redraft, because it turned out to be so exploratory when I thought its matter already set in stone, and so the text is full of redundancies and false starts.  But through it I struggle to the words that must turn the tale, the words only she can speak.

She knows what Katy is, behind the Good Witchery.  She knows what lords are, behind the iron and tinsel.  She knows, even though she couldn't entirely tell you, why people follow both and fear both.  She, of all people, knows this all first-hand.

Synthesis.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)

Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 830 words.  A desperate ride to a dire evening.  Blood falls with the Sun.  Nothing shows how far the Blancmange Army's morale has sunk, than what they are prepared to take heart from as a famous victory.  But with their folk-hero's blazing daughter to lead them, cunning charms and plans to undo the evil stronghold, and even a minor lord's troop now ready to serve as their steel spearhead, surely nothing in the world can daunt them now?  Right?  Right?

It's a very strange feeling for the Good Knight to sit among peasants on sufferance and mostly in silence, having had to be vouched for as a respectable person by his inferiors.  Both he and even his own tenants have spent most of his life convinced that he's a man with no pretension or condescension about him at all: he now makes the uncomfortable discovery of what that kind of fellowship feels like on the other end of it.  He's too old - and perhaps rather too simple - a dog to learn new tricks from it; and yet, because he is really a humble man at heart, in the long run this will shake him more than living ghosts walking over his threshold, or fairy-tales coming true out of the winter skies. 

He gets no viewpoint in this story, and as far as I know we will not see anything that comes from it.  Though in case I ever do write the tale from his youth, now I know him better than I did before.

Kate's road to the forest-camp, and Luke's very similar route in a previous chapter, are either spatio-temporally incompatible, or I shall have to deploy serious Weather in the redraft.  A day's discrepancy is too much, especially now when every day matters.  I won't correct this yet, because I don't know whether the final plot will require the Short Road or the Long to be the true one.  One of the things I've learned in this telling, and from the long year I was blocked on it, is that I need to leave my first drafts open and deformable as sponges - almost as badly as I need to know when I'm doing it.

Focus Pocus

Mar. 5th, 2011 09:19 am
caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 440 words.  Things are now getting seriously weird in two separate ways.

Structurally, the Lesser Climax - the final showdown with the Bad Baron - is now starting to come into view not sequentially, but detail by detail.  I have one scenelet from the Battle of Carrowglaze, one chapter ahead; and one bit of its aftermath which I only saw coming this last week or so, beginning the chapter after that.  So three chapters now active simultaneously.  I take this as a sign that the tale is truly closing at last, and that this block I'm writing in here is all an essential unity.

As to the writing itself, I'm starting to hit patches like I did towards the end of Katy Elflocks, where there are things going on that can't even be tackled in naturalistic prose.  Battles are raw and fundamentally disenchanted, with magic or without it; but some of that other stuff, eh.

Must write mini-council scene.  Nasty nasty council scenes.  Had to get these good bits down first, though, before I lost my handle on them.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)

Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 690 words.  Bringing Fiery Younger Sister's gruelling scene to boiling point.  FYS is reminding me of one of those cartoon characters who produce massive offensive weapons out of thin air at the drop of a hat.  She can't do that physically, but she can pull out of thin air a way to use anything offensively, because she really Just Does Not Care.

There's a limit to how much of that scene I can stand at once, so I skipped ahead for the rest of my wordage to put in the description of Secondary Villain's stronghold: Castle Carrowglaze, the Green Rock of the Blue Boar.  It's kind of a dump, but the setting ought to be worth something to a discerning buyer.

The Popinjay: 340 words.  Bright Young Thing is a very bad person.  A very good bad person.  This is probably why the family's sparkling cynic is also the only one of them who takes her religion seriously instead of piously and conventionally.  Not that the priests could appreciate that - or that Beauty does now.  Because Bright Young Thing is being a very bad person.

Lob Lazy at the House of Silence - 180 words, skipping ahead to the passage of chorus-like fairy-tale linkage between Second and Third Sons' Quests.  More fun with King Dead and Queen Rotten.  And I think this has given me the glory-and-trumpets linkage to follow Third Son's eventual... achievement.  Kateverse history does crop up in strange guises!

Part of the present productivity boom seems to depend on always having something to write opportunistically when the main line is too difficult or too harrowing to speed.  This hasn't worked before, and I'm thinking it has to do with the obvious failure mode: writing everything up to the difficult bit, until all yarns are tangled at once and choke off together.  But slow slogging progress on what's bogged down, with relief writing to keep the flow free elsewhere, may prosper better.  Slog the key, and play the oil for the lock?

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 1,630 words, and a chapter finished, because I listened to Roger Zelazny's ghost and trusted my demon.  This was not how I'd foreseen this playing out at all.

Also, I am yet again five chapters from the end.  Quite possibly more, since it now turns out that my heroes have problems not only with the Big Bad, but with the Great Good also.  This is apt to make the ending extremely lively, if only I can keep the juggling going for the rest of these infinitely extensible Five Final Chapters.

I see now that this has been brewing ever since I realized what was going to happen with Fiery Younger Sister.

Katy Deathkiller Dreamshredder Elflocks with all the stops out is really scary.  Especially when I'm glimpsing her out the corners of the eyes of a late mediaeval lord...

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)

A massive 180 words since Friday on the Luke Lackland part of Killer-Kate &... - but at least I've got it started off. My trouble here is that I'm so consummately not a soldier, and yet at this point I have to have some real mediaeval irregular warfare going on. Can't skate over it, can't add any more Robin Hood derring-do or magical tricks than I have already, without turning the Langdale Rising into the kind of lies I don't want to write. At least I know what game Luke is playing now.

I'm now five chapters from the end of the yarn, which is exactly where I've been for nearly half the year. But this is five chapters a lot nearer the end than I was in the summer! 

To illustrate my meaning, this was my original chapter outline for Lord of the Rings before the tale grew in the telling:

1. A Long-Expected Party
2. The Shadow of the Past
3. The Wight Stuff
4. A Knife in the Pub
5. Many Meetings
6. "We Cannot Get Out!"
7. Fosterling of Laurelin, Daughter of Ungoliant
8. The Breaking of the Fellowship
9. The Muster of Rohan
10, The Passing of Foromir
11. Helm's Deep and Ugluk's Stand
12. Where the White Moon Dies
13. The Battle of the Cross-Roads
14. Mount Doom
15. Galadriel in Gondor
Epilogue: Mistress Lobelia's Spoons.

But in this tale I am (so to speak) now five chapters away from the end at the Siege of Gondor, rather than five chapters away in Helm's Deep.  Which is quite a lot of progress, really!

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)

Finished Chapter 14 some time ago, and have been chugging through the diplomacy and broke-scabbed sorrows of Ch15, at on average just over 500 words per day.

Currently I and my protagonists are stubbing our toes on what I like to call the Bush Test.  This goes as follows:

If your opponents appear to be stupid and contemptible, and yet your best-laid plans keep ganging agley whilst they keep walking off with all the cheese, consider that they may be at least situationally smarter operators than you are.

A villain I pretty much conceived as a human slime mold is presently demonstrating to me how he got to be an old villain.  The diplomatic sub-plot is turning out more fascinating, in a slightly queasy way, than I expected.  The words flow on, but less and less am I certain as to where they're really heading.  Their final sea I know, but not so well these flood-plains or that delta.

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