Terrible Minds

Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge this week—OK, almost two years ago—is called “Spin The Wheel”.

I used a random number generator to come up with 10, 7, 2 for items within three specified categories hes set out.

Subgenre: Southern gothic. Setting: On the surface of a comet. Must feature: Magical foodstuff.

So yes, if I were to do Wendigs Flash Fiction challenge this weekI would have to _generate 1000 words of Southern gothic, set on the surface of a comet. AND featuring magical foodstuff_.


Who is that guy?

My historical novel (second of a three-part series) involves a first person narrator/protagonist named Jack Clark, who in 1801 travels to Tripoli at the behest of Thomas Jefferson. There he finds himself caught up in the beginning of America’s first foreign war.

It’s relatively easy to keep Jack’s voice consistent because he’s the character doing most of the talking, either to the reader or to others in the stories. But what about them, those other major and minor characters? How do I keep them consistent, and individual as well?

Putting myself into their heads, is one way to put it. And I do it one character at a time. That is, after I’ve got a first draft — whether it’s just a scene or chapter, or the entire book — I read through for each character, one at character at a time.

During these readings I ask: Does she repeat herself? If so, is that one of her character traits, or is it lazy writing? Does he speak in a consistent manner? If not, is it story context driving the differences, or is it just more lazy writing?

There’s, more of course, but if you find yourself thinking, ‘this character is a different person,’ you’ve discovered something that would distract your readers, even if they weren’t sure why. Armed with that knowledge you can fix the problem, and your narrative will flow better.

Loud room, quiet room

I’ve been rethinking something that Haley Whitehall tweeted to me a couple of weeks ago. I had told her that I couldn’t have music going while I was writing. “I can’t bear to have a quiet room”, she replied.

I didn’t give it much thought. But her next words–“I just tune it out most of the time”–reminded me that that is exactly what I do when I’m ‘out’ writing in a coffee house, or (yes) doing that #pubwrite thing: I tune it out.

The tuning out allows me–forces me?–to concentrate on writing in a way that doesn’t work in a quiet home. Here, I have laundry, dishes, prepping dinner. To say nothing of the cats.

So I’m going to give it a try. I’ll start with some Gotan Project, or maybe the Modern Mandolin Quartet, and see what happens. Bonus: It will keep the cats at bay.

That radio script …

Ages ago I began working on a three-novel series set in seafaring America between 1777 and 1814.  Progress was a bit slow until I decided to transform an early part of it into a radio script for the audio group I work with.

I’d hoped that I could clarify the unfinished novel by working out some story difficulties in the radio format, but I’ve had to make a vast number of changes to accommodate the medium, hardly any of which suit the novel itself.  And it’s more of a picaresque thing now, as the hero doesn’t have much opportunity to chart his own course.

As to the script version, I’ve divided it into five half-hour segments.  At first I fretted about the break points, but by a stroke of good luck all but one of them concludes at a natural cliff-hanger.