AROW80 Check-In for August 15, 2018

In terms of actual progress, I haven’t written or typed up much of anything on Omegas: Cake Walk in the last couple of weeks but I do have an idea of where I want to go from where I am so that is helpful beyond measure. Now, it’s just a question of sitting down and making myself do the actual work of writing.  So, in other words, I’m still stalled, but I’ve got some traction now so it’s just a question of rocking out of the rut I’m in!

In an effort to distract myself but still feel productive, I’ve been typing up some notes I took from The Evolution of the Costumed Avenger: The 4,000-Year History of the Superhero by Jess Nevins (2017) — and by some notes, I mean an entire single subject notebook’s worth of notes.  The book is very interesting, especially if you’re like me and enjoy over-thinking about things. Nevins looks at the history of superheroes as a genre starting back in 2100 BCE with the Epic of Gilgamesh. He breaks history down into smaller and smaller chunks of time, narrowing his focus on the genre of superheroes.

I read the book because I wanted to create a realistic history for superheroes/powered adventurers in this universe. And it helped and is currently helping because I’m coming up with ideas as I’m typing up my notes.

There’s one small problem with worldbuilding — it’s like eating pistachios or potato chips or whatever your can’t-stop-at-one snack of choice is. Once you get started, you keep finding yourself creating other bits and bobs, some of which are just not useful for the story at hand but that might eventually come in handy. Toward that end, I’m trying to come up with a junk drawer of sorts to keep these ideas close by.  I’m thinking I might end up with yet another Excel spreadsheet (I seriously love using Excel for writing related stuff; it’s super-adaptable and convenient).

And now, back to note taking!

AROW80 Check-In for August 1, 2018

I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned it here before — and I’m too lazy to go back and check to see if I have — so, this theory may be new to everybody or I may be rehashing old news. Either way, here goes:

Omegas: Cake Walk is the longest thing I have ever written and it’s not yet finished. Writing it out by hand took the better part of a year, working steadily in places and going through dry spells here and there, which I kind of expected (though working on the rough draft, I did learn that I am absolutely terrible at estimating how many notebooks a project is going to take).

When I started typing O:CW up, I thought it wouldn’t take overly long to do so since, hey, I did the heavy lifting already! All I need to do is type up the words that are already there, maybe editing here and there but eventually *bam* first draft! Done and dusted, no worries, on to editing!

And at first, yeah, it was easy and the words flew across the screen. Sure, it took longer than I thought it would but I was still getting things done and the Process was Ongoing! W00t!

But as I was going on, I discovered that some/much of what I’d written out by hand didn’t quite work anymore. There were things that needed to be fixed because as written they were just, well, crap. Nonsensical, illogical, didn’t fit with the story idea as it had morphed in my head. Even still, I kept my head down and made the changes and barreled on through. Eastbound and down, loaded up and trucking!

And I noticed, as time went on, that the closer and closer I got to the end of the story, the harder and harder it was to keep going forward. I went from being able to type thousands of words in a session or writing out pages of new stuff to adjust the story, to writing maybe a few hundred words or scribbling out a fraction of a page.  Part of this was due to the fact that my duties at work changed, altering my writing time and part of it was due to the fact that approaching the end of the story was like approaching light speed.

When approaching light speed, your spaceship (or speedster or Nyan-Cat or whatever) will have to expend more to go faster, because as you draw closer to light speed, your spaceship/speedster/Nyan-Cat gets heavier.

Approaching the end of a story, especially a novel-length story, everything you write has to make sense, otherwise your ending won’t make sense. And if your ending doesn’t make sense, you’re in trouble. Because an unsatisfying ending is kind of a deal-breaker for most readers. I mean, I hate sucky, stupid, unsatisfying endings and I’m pretty sure most people do too.

So, I am currently in the process of trying to coax more speed out of my story-telling engines, which is harrrrrd (feel free to read that in the whiniest voice you can imagine, because that’s the way I’m saying it). But, I’m not giving up and I think I get some points for that.

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Other news: I’ve started listening to J.D. Robb’s In Death books.  I’ve started somewhere in the high 30s or something like that because that’s what the library had available when I was looking for audio books.  The first one was (I think) Calculated In Death and it was included in a two-pack of MP3 CDs (which are freaking awesome since you don’t have to change the @#$@ CD!) with Thankless in Death.  And I’m currently listening to Brotherhood in Death, which is a regular CD format so I have to change the CDs every so often but I’m enjoying it.

Note: I looked it up to get the titles right and apparently I started in the mid-40s and have jumped to the early 50s. So…wow.

The books are…okay, by and large. I know I’m missing out on a lot of back story but Robb does a great job of making it so that you don’t really *need* to have read the previous books to be able to get what’s going on.  I mean, all you really need to know is that Eve Dallas is a BAMF cop, her husband Rourke can buy everything and that somebody’s gonna die and it won’t be a pretty death. The books are pretty much what you’d expect from formula fiction.  Are these going to be being discussed by scholars 500 years from now? Probably not — but then, they might because what gets studied in literature is often a case of what survives. The idea that J.D. Robb will eventually be seen in the same kind of literary lights as Shakespeare or Dickens tickles me no end.

I was worried when I started listening to these books that Dallas’s hatred of All Things Girly would get on my nerves but Robb does a good job with it. It helps that Dallas can and will dress up when she has to and that her partner Peabody is shown as being just as BAMF as Dallas, while also enjoying doing “girly-things” like handcrafts (she makes Dallas a scarf in one book), and baking and wearing bright pink cowboy boots and makeup.  Dallas might scoff at her friend’s hobbies but she respects them, none the less.

One of the complaints I have about the book is that Dallas has things a little too easy sometimes. Ok, it’s understandable in any series book that you’re going to have characters developing connections to each other. And I’ve read enough mysteries to know that sometimes logic takes a picnic and we handwave away concerns like conflicts of interest for the convenience of the plot. But I’d think Dallas would get more pushback for using her personal connections as much as she does in her investigations. Especially her connections to Rourke, who is apparently the richest man in the history of ever.

But, that said? None of that is any different or any worse than I’ve seen in other thriller type books. In some cases, it’s handled way better than I’ve seen in other books. Hell, Lee Child’s first Jack Reacher novel hinges on the wild coincidence that Reacher just happens to randomly show up in the small, insignificant town where his brother was recently murdered (Child makes it work).

Long ramble shorter: I like the In Death books. I’m going to listen to a few more. Maybe even read a couple, eventually. If you like fast-paced, hard-driving action thrillers with a decent amount of police procedure and some goofy high-technness, give them a try.  Jump on in!

Happy week, folks, catch you on the flip-flop!

Also: if someone could bring me a Yorkshire Pudding Wrap — preferably with roast beef but I’ll take roast turkey — I would consider you a friend for life.

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