Brand New Mistakes

First, my good news: VIRTUOSITY sold in France!  It sold at auction in a two-book deal, which means French publishers have more faith in me than any of my French teachers ever had.  I don’t blame you, French teachers—my heart wasn’t in it.  But thanks for trying Madame Innis, Madame Bennett, Mademoiselle White, Madame Hickey, and those three French professors at BYU whose names I can’t remember. Sorry to all for the lousy accent and sub-par language acquisition skills. And a special thank you to BYU prof #2 for being extremely cute and giving me something more interesting to daydream about than -IR verbs.

Moving on.  Every once in a while Dubya says it best:

“Fool me once, shame on—shame on you.  Fool me….  You can’t get fooled again.”

Amen, George.  Amen.

I’m 15 K into book 3 and dead set on not making the same mistakes I made writing the first two books.  Specifically, I AM NOT GOING TO WRITE 80,000 WORDS AND THEN DECIDE TO SET THE WHOLE THING ON FIRE .  Do you hear me, world?  That’s why I used all caps, so that you would.

Here’s the problem: clearly, my brain enjoys working it out that way.  It wants me to write and write and write for several months until I feel like I finally know and love these people, and then realize that the plot I’d worked out doesn’t make sense for them at all.  Then my brain wants me to start again, this time knowing exactly who those characters are and what they are going to become.  And that second attempt works.  Of course it’s still all the blood sweat and tears of a first draft (yes, I consider it another first draft), but it comes together.  And then my brain does a smug little happy dance because it won.

But not this time, little brain.  Not this time.

It’s not an outlining issue.  I’ve outlined.  But once characters are real people, they can’t be forced into a plot that doesn’t match up with their personalities and motivations.  Or they can, and that’s called a crappy book.

My solution: Operation Fool-my-brain-before-it-says-shame-on-you-I-fooled-you-three-times-you-idiot.  Alternate name: Operation Don’t-mess-with-Texas.  Sorry, those don’t make any sense.

It looks like this.

Behold my cork boards from book 2.  It’s not revolutionary, in fact it’s creative writing 101, but it’s crazy how much they helped me.  I made them halfway through my second first draft (again, don’t question the terminology, it helps me sleep at night) of book 2, and once I’d started them I realized how invaluable they were going to be.  For the rest of the draft I was constantly gazing at them, adding little sticky notes with personality quirks and secret fears, possibly even talking to them and making them talk to each other.

The only down side of this method is the lack of street cred I get in my house for ripping up several Seventeen Magazines, spreading the mess around me on the living room floor, and calling it “work.”  Whatever.  I stand by my insanity.

Back to book 3.  I’ve written 15K and I’m in LOVE with it.  But just today I was trying to remember what color eyes one of my characters has when I realized that I haven’t made new cork boards yet!!!  What the crap am I doing?  Do I want to get to 80K and decide it’s bonfire time again?

So tonight after my kids are in bed I will be offline, not answering the phone, not writing, not talking to real people.  I will be cutting up magazines and making post-it notes outlining my characters favorite movies, weird moles, and most embarrassing moments.

Oh, and to celebrate, I’m giving book 3 a working title: DYNAMITE.  So many reasons.  I’ll just have to let you all wonder.

2 thoughts on “Brand New Mistakes

  1. DYNAMITE sounds great but I’m still waiting for a title to Book 2. Have I missed it?
    The cork board idea is really smart–should I be saving magazines for your visit this summer? Maybe quilting and knitting magazines aren’t what you have in mind for Book 3: the DYNAMITE title is what tipped me off.

  2. No, you didn’t miss Book 2 title. It’s going to be called Book 2, I think. Okay, probably not. How about…I know! TWILIGHT. Just kidding.

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