Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Finish Line and Long John Silver

Blatant Monthly Plug: Buy my books, please. How can we make Sharon O’Mara a household name, get her cooking utensils on QVC, and bring out her own line of perfume and handbags if you don’t buy her books? She doesn’t do drugs, date boy-band members, or beat up paparazzi. She does occasionally drink a little more than she should; after all, she is a rock star. (end of blatant plug).

Toulouse 4 Death reached an important milestone on Tuesday night around 11:00, I finished the primary narrative. Just a few thousand words to tidy things up and the draft is done. My hope is there will be double scotches all around Sunday evening.

My Schedule (see earlier blog posts) called for the draft to be finish by September 15 (I have it pinned over my desk, it watches me like an expectant teacher). This will be done. I required that the story be 60,000 words, it will be about 70,000 words when done. I have always wanted a fast paced book that requires me to keep the miscellaneous and irrelevant out. It’s working. Keep to the story and it will tell itself.

The issue of the schedule has been debated. Why force yourself to a time limit? Why the word count? It’ just too inhibiting, let the story tell itself, they say. That’s like allowing your children all the freedom they want so they will grow up independent and happy doing what they want. Phooey. We all need rules and requirements. Discipline, especially as we apply it to our writing, is critical. Move the story forward, push it, drive the reader. Whether you aspire to be a John Grisham or a Jane Erye, the goal (beyond the story) is to keep the reader involved. Boredom is the writer’s fear.

Right now I am retreating to the classics in my own reading (there are so many free or very inexpensive classic books out there for e-readers, it’s shocking and exciting). I just finished Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island, published in 1874 and I’m halfway through Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, published in 1883 (reliving my early childhood I think). Two books, only nine years apart, that show a remarkable breadth of structure and detail (or lack of). Both are very enjoyable reads and I can understand their appeal a hundred and thirty years ago. Both are calls to adventure and mystery (not unlike Ms. J.K. Rowling’s efforts today). One goes into exasperating detail over iron mining and shelter building (it does go on and on a lot, but it is a good adventure), and the other, in Stevenson’s case, is a wonder of jargon and “Pirate Patter.” It’s also a story written with brevity in mind. Some author’s would have written page after page of the voyage from England to Treasure Island on the Hispanola (remember it might have taking two months in the mid-1700s), he dismisses it in half a chapter and in one over-heard discussion. Brilliant! Remember, like cop stories today, pirate adventures must move quickly.

Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest --
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done the rest –
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

I think Sharon O’Mara often hums this to herself.

More later . . . .

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