The blog for The Solitaire Rose Experience. Yes, the blog revolution is utterly and completely over. However, I haven't figured that out yet, so I'll be listing articles, ideas, links, and other internet debris. Now, you can join in! And be mocked mercilessly!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

NaNoWriMo day...what day is it?

I am at 46276 and am calling it quits for the night. I haven't blogged a whole hell of a lot, mostly because my time has been limited for the past bunch of days. And I've used it to keep adding to the novel. By this point, the story has pretty much taken over, so any discussion of structure, using the three act system and the rest is all out the window.

I can even point to the exact PLACE the novel took a life of its own, which tends to happen when I do any noveling on a first draft. I go into it with plans, sometimes very elaborate, sometimes I just know a lot of the major set pieces and the ending...and then things happen. The characters have been rolling around in my head so much that I get to places and just write what they would do. Then, I write how they would react to the situation they are in and see where that leads me. I remember the second zombie novel I did for NaNo COMPLETELY shifted when the characters did something stupid, one got injured and another died who I wasn't planning on dying.

Normally, that would be an “oh, fine, I can work with this” moment, but it was in the beginning of the second not only did it completely change the plot I had, but I had to top it for the END of the second act when “everything lays in ruins”.

So, now that I can't use it AT ALL, the mystery novel's second act was going to end with Our Hero waking up and finding out he'd pissed off the wrong guy by waking up to the news that his detective agency was raided during the night. Why? They were given information that it was an elaborate cover for laundering drug money. The next thing would be him seeing all the police coming to his front door with guns drawn. The third act would be him trying to stay a step ahead of the police while figuring out who could have done such a horrible thing and what it has to do with the drug overdose death of his old friend.

Instead...well, at the beginning of chapter six, he'd woken up tied to a bed in the house of the antagonist and is about to have some Very Bad Things done to him.

All because instead of following the thread I thought would lead me to Act Three, the character decided to go interrogate someone and stir up a hornet's next that backfired on him. And I DIDN'T PLOT THAT!! I just was writing and said, “Well, knowing what he knows, he would go talk to this person.”

And chaos ensued.

I also have to get done with the 50K tomorrow...I work on Sunday and have been invited to a bonfire that I want to attend, and then I work Monday and will probably need that day for job hunting and the like. So, tomorrow (which I have off) will be spent racing toward the 50K mark before I have to take off for the evening. The novel won't be DONE by then, and unlike other NaNo novels that I didn't get done (despite the 50K words), I'll keep writing as if it IS NaNoWriMo until it's done. So probably another week or furious writing.

In my non-noveling life, I have been working at the's basically brain dead monkey work, but today between people wanting popcorn (and then telling me they saw on the news how bad it is for them) and restocking, I wrote the next six or so strips for World Wide News (my webstrip. You ARE checking it out every Tuesday and Thursday, right? The addy is here: but you already know it, have bookmarked it and subscribed to the RSS feed. RIGHT??!!??) The structure of that is that I will write a story arc, and then there will be about 4 – 7 “current event” gag strips before the next arc starts...and Dan (the talented artist who has decided to bring the strip to life) said I need to get him those strips here soon, since the first arc is finishing up.

They came pretty easily, and I'm HOPING to get the Weekly News Update as well as my website up and running again by the end of the year, since I had a lot of fun writing news based gags.

That's enough for tonight, right?

Off to bed with me!

Monday, November 16, 2009

State of the Nanowrimo Day 16


OK, so I am caught up. Last week wasn't a good one for writing (or blogging, to be honest). I didn't get the job I interviewed for, which put me into a funk since I thought I nailed it in the interview. The part-time job gave me hours where I couldn't really get going in the morning before I went in, and was too wiped by the time I got home. So, I didn't get much writing done, and didn't spend a lot of time thinking about the novel either.

Over the weekend, I got back on track, as I had enough time to myself to get my gears going and the words flowing. By Sunday, I was back at writing and tonight I just sat down when I got home, and after I did some internet reading to get ready, I just started in. I also spent a LOT of today thinking about the novel, and in my mind, I'm jumping ahead to the ending.

It's odd how I keep doing that, when I try to just think about the next scene I need to write, knowing that things change along the way. I have notes on what the antagonist is doing while I write about what the protagonist sees...which is the challenge of first person narration. It's good for the kind of detective fiction I like to read (and write apparently), but it limits the story to ONLY what the protagonist observes and knows.

I got to use one of the GREAT “wrasslin” stories I had heard in the novel today...back in the 80's, there was a tag team called “The Rock and Roll Express” who were LOVED by the fans. They were probably the hottest thing not connected to Hulk Hogan, and they had a LOT of imitators, including “The Midnight Rockers” or “The Rockers”, Shawn Micheals and Marty Janetty. Anyway, one of the things they would do to get the crowd to go nuts for them was when one of them was in the ring and the bad guy had them in a hold, they would pick out one person in the crowd, usually a woman, and mouth the words “help me” to them...

Which would make the crowd go crazy wanting them to get out of the hold and exact revenge.

I LOVE that story because it shows how the people who work in the business and are successful know exactly how to manipulate the audience to get the reaction they want.

And it's going to play a part in the story later when we aren't sure WHO is telling the turth, and who's being manipulative of both the main character...and the reader.

Yeah, I'm offering up some massive misdirection

So, the novel is back on track, I have tomorrow off and only work from 9 pm to Midnight on Thursday, so I can see myself being ahead in a major way by the weekend.

Still, I keep jumping to the end of the novel, and right now I feel it can go one of three ways. In all three of them, Our Hero gets to see his world collapse around him...the options are if I give him a ray of hope or not.

And how is YOUR November going?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Nanowrimo day 6 - 8


I'm still ahead, but I didn't write Friday, and only wrote a little more than the 1667 daily goal for Saturday and Sunday. Friday was just too busy a day, what with working most of the morning and afternoon, and then getting home in time to go to the gym, eat a sandwich and no next to nothing before going to bed early for an early work day Saturday.

Saturday, I got off of work early, and it was BEAUTIFUL I did what I could to enjoy it. That's right, I stayed inside, worked on getting things off of the Tivo, went to the gym and then came home and wrote. Sunday I spent a bit more time actually WATCHING things I had on the Tivo, then took my son and roommate to see “The Men Who Stare At Goats” before getting my words in. The movie was fun for me, mostly because it WASN'T written in the three act structure that everything seems to be constructed in.

Oh, it probably was, and if I sat down with it for a while, I could probably break it down into that structure, but it wasn't SCREAMING that structure like, say, “Whip It” which is almost a primer on how to put together a three act structure.

And for those of you who don't know the three act structure, here's a quick layout of it:

Act One:

-Introduce characters and setting
-Inciting incident

This is usually shown in movies as a dad rushing around for breakfast, kissing the kids and having the wife remind him of something as he rushes out the door. Once he gets outside, SOMETHING happens. Aliens invade, the car blows up, his wife starts shooting at ninjas...and there you go, Act One is done.

Act Two:

-Complications ensue
-Adversaries are in motion
-Ends with the destruction of the plans of the protagonist

This is usually shown in movies with the hero putting together his team, finding out what they are doing, seeing how big their plan is, and then they try to take him out, nearly succeeding...this is also when the wife/buddy/cop with three days until retirement is killed to add drama.

Act Three:

-Protagonist finds the solution to his problem in the rubble of his destroyed plans.
-Protagonist makes a profound change, learns a lesson or the gun in the beginning of act one is used to kill the antagonist.

Am I following it? Yes, but that's because I'm writing genre fiction set in a setting unfamiliar to the reader. I'm also using the Noir/Crime novel storytelling style which has some tropes of their own, and while I'm not subverting them, I am hoping that I am constructing things in such a way that when they show up, they feel fresh.

Also, with the crime/detective novel, the reader is putting together a puzzle that you've constructed, so if you are doing it well, you can keep a step ahead of them in the construction of the story. It's also why character and setting are so important. You aren't writing something so brand new that you have the freshness of the fact you use the format and tropes because the rules help the reader along.

In the crime novels I've liked, a lot of the reason to read them is character, setting and what the writer can do within the genre. I LOVE the Travis McGee novels because of the characters, setting and writing. The plots are pretty much standard boilerplate, but I don't care, it's a clothesline to hang the writing and ideas on.

Personal stuff? Well, I had a job interview on Thursday that I think went well. I am back to the job hunt tomorrow morning when I wake up (was just too tired and burned out on it to do it over the weekend). I am regaining my sense of calm now that I now WHY I have been losing it over the last couple of months, and actually feel a bit better about being myself than I have in a while.

So, novel status? Still ahead of schedule, and I'm actually wondering if I can beat my previous record of reaching 50000 words in 25 days...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

NaNoWriMo Day 5


Yep, still ahead, and to be honest, I could have written a lot longer today, but decided to stop so that I could get a few things done before going to work.

I had a job interview today. I think it went well, but then don't I always? They said nice things, and asked a lot of questions, I tried to seem eager, intelligent and dutiful, so we'll see where it goes.

When I got home, I wanted to just go back to bed and get some more sleep, but instead I puttered on the internet and then firing up the word processor. I thought I'd written a lot more when I did my word count, because I'd finished up the second chapter and wrote a sequence I was quite proud of:

We stood there for a moment, not uncomfortably. We didn't need to fill the silence with a lot of words. We had known each other since she'd started coming around with Eddie, and like I said, Eddie was lucky to have found her. He was also a bastard for keeping her in the dark so long about what he did. What is it with us where we feel we need to keep things from the people in our lives? Are we scared they will see through all of our pretty bullshit and when they do, they'll quietly tell us that they were mistaken and take their leave of us? Will it confirm all of our dead of night thoughts that we're a secret fraud and we have them fooled by the dazzle, the lights, the promos and the big loud noises we make?

“I won't be gone that long again,” I said, and meant it.

I started the third chapter with a sequence that at first glance seems like it doesn't belong, but I decided to add it for two reasons:

1)I want to show my protagonist's character. WHY does he do this job? Why is he a PI? What is his motivation?
2)Why is his girlfriend part of the story? Reading the Travis McGee novels makes me really want to make the female characters in my writing seem as complex as the lead character just so they don't become the “adoring girl friend who echoes the hero” that the women in the McGee books seem to be. Now, I can tell that MacDonald is trying to make them more than that...and I've only read a few of the early books, but they really stand out to me. I also want to show more of their relationship so that it has a deeper resonance when it is peril.

Good writing day overall.

I also spent time today thinking about motivation and character. I read a column by Dennis O'Neil, former comic book editor and writer who has some really great stories under his belt as well as a few clunkers. I also have to admit that I didn't like his editorial take on Batman, and while there were good stories under his editorial tenure, it always felt like they were despite his vision of the character than because of it.

He wrote that when you create a character, you need to write out their motivations:

*What does my character always want?
*Who or what does he love?
*What is he afraid of?
*Why does he involve himself in extreme situations?

Do I sit down and write these things out when I start a novel?


Let me repeat that, I do not do this sort of thing.

Partly because when I sit down to write, a lot of the characters are wholly created PEOPLE in my head, and I turn myself over to their voice. Lightning (yeah, most of the time he's referred to like that because in pro wrasslin, people call each other by their ring names, even away from the ring. His name is Dan, but the only people who call him that aren't in the wrasslin' world) has a different voice than his girlfriend Katy, who has a different voice than Mikey who brought in the case and so on. I KNOW them, same I as I know my friend Joe and how different he is from my friends Scott or Dan.

Partly because when I write a first draft, I'm letting the story take over. I've written a few times here about when I do NaNo how the story takes over and there are times I don't know what will happen next. Well, to be honest, I've been doing NaNo so long that all of my writing is like that now. I have sketched out the webstrip for the first two years, and while I are aiming for gags....there are things that I've written that have surprised me. And to me, that's the fun of writing.

For this novel, I know the plot, and I know what happened to set everything up, but how the plot is revealed and how the characters interact and interplay is all new to me.

So, now that I've written Lightning for a while I can answer those questions, even though I couldn't do it before I started:

*What does my character always want?

He wants to take care of his friends. He's gotten away from it and lost that part of him, but when you learn Professional Wrestling, you learn that your main job to make sure the other guy doesn't get hurt. You take care of your partner. This is what drives him, taking care of his partner, be it Katy, a client who is down on their luck or one of the people who used to be in the business with. THAT is why he took the case and it's why he'll keep digging until the bitter end.

*Who or what does he love?

Katy, his brothers in the business and his self image of being a good guy, which has taken a terrible beating as he works divorce cases, disability scams and the like.

*What is he afraid of?

That's he's becoming a guy who lives to win, even when winning means it ruins someone's life. He's scared of being the guy who gets the picture of the wife in a hotel with a man and forgets that now the kids will be dealing with divorced parents.

*Why does he involve himself in extreme situations?

He doesn't, but he will in this case because he was asked to by a friend. Once he's in, he can't walk away. He has to see it through to the end or he's let them down...and he's already let them down by losing touch and walking away from the business.

I'll be honest, though, I didn't know all that stuff before I started writing. I know what the characters NEED to do to move the plot forward, but I don't know WHY until I spend some time with them, listen to them talk and walk around with them in my mind.

I doubt other people write that way, but it's the only way I know how.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

NaNoWriMo Day 3


Thats right, I'm way ahead, which is good because I KNOW I won't have time to write tomorrow (work in the morning, gaming at night) and Thursday MAY be a non-writing day, as I'm playing phone tag with someone who called today to set up a job interview. So, all the positive thoughts you are willing to give, I will gladly accept.

The writing today was background on the wrestling business, a nice little scene with a character based on an internet friend (Hi Sorcha!) and adding some stuff to the earlier parts of the story that I felt needed a bit of fleshing out. I spent a lot of my “deep in thought about the novel” time dealing with motivations. I know why the main character is involved in THIS case, but I had to flesh out in my mind why he turned to being a PI after his wrestling career ended. I could just do a data dump...but being a devotee of “show don't tell”, I'm going to have him talk about it a bit, but also add a scene showing why he's passionate about the job. I've already had him talk a lot about the parts of the job he doesn't like, divorce cases, cheating spouses and the like, but I'm going to SHOW why he still does it and hope it's a strong enough scene to let the reader know.


It's a lot like when I worked at the group home. I'd come home and bitch about it, but the little successes were the reason I stayed at it. The kid who got up and went to school without us having to deal with their drama vortex because he'd finally decided to try something positive. The kid whose parents told me how they had seen a big change since being placed. That sort of thing. Much like my protagonist, I didn't talk about it much because it seems like bragging and my time in Minnesota has made it near impossible to brag about things.

I also want to work a lot of “mirror images” duality into the story. Professional Wrestling seems to me to be very closely associated with stage magic. Both are skills learned in secret, have their own wall behind which ONLY the performers go and are based upon lying to the audience. No, he doesn't REALLY saw a woman in half and no, they really don't want to beat each other up, but they make it look like they do...but I have a lot of characters who can function as “what if” scenarios for other characters, and I want to build that up as I go.

Still, 2324 words today, and I could have written longer, but decided I'd go to bed at a decent time.

NaNo status? Ahead of schedule and still excited about the novel. So there.

NaNoWriMo Day 2


That's right, today I wrote about 1771 words. I fiddled a bit with what I'd written so far, added a few descriptors and such, and then wrote a scene that I like a lot, even though it's a data dump. As I thought about it tonight at work, I'm going to be taking the lead character back through his wrestling career, starting with trainers, moving on to the tiny independent federations, maybe one of the bigger independents and then finally to the big show that is set up in basketball areas. I didn't know that going in, but it's pretty clear that that's the structure I need to work on for the first half of the second act.

Oh, and I'm in the second act. I feel a bit bad about it, but I've succumbed to the modern storytelling trope of starting the book at the end of the first act (right on the inciting incident) and then waiting until later in the story to fill people in more on how things all get set up. I also decided tonight that one of the characters is going to be a bit of a “mirror image” of the protagonist, almost exactly the same if only things had happened differently.

I'm also reading one of the early Travis McGee novels by John D MacDonald, and there are so many sections that just SING to me. GREAT writing that evokes such a sense of mood and place, and while it doesn't move the story forward at all, it builds the character and the world so much that I don't mind. Since it's from 1966 there are also some really embarrassing sections (the way women are written can be incredibly patronizing, and whenever there's a black character, it's usually a servant and is referred to as a Negro) that I hope fade as we get further into the 60's and 70's. They really stickout like a sore thumb because they just don't fit the rest of the writing....but then, I can read books from the 30's and 40's and accept the way minorities and women were treated because that's just how it was handled in pop fiction those days.

Too deep a subject to get into here, but suffice it to say that while I find “Ebony” embarrassing every time I read a Will Eisner “Spirit” story, it's not something that makes me dismiss the work as trash. YMMV.

Back to my adventure in writing this month.

I didn't write like a steamroller today because I had job hunting stuff to do, take care of my weekly unemployment logging, check the 10 sites I'm using for the job hunt, following up on some e-mails and feeling bad I didn't get to all of them and some housekeeping stuff. So, my writing today was interrupted more than a few times, and a couple of times I checked my word count and said, “I thought I wrote MORE than that.”

I was done with it all by noon, though, and was pretty much intellectually done for the day. I watched a documentary on LINK (yeah, I'm still ultra-liberal) played a quest in Fable and read “Pale Gray For Guilt” before going in to work where I used my spare time to think about what I'm writing and how to make it better.

Came home to an e-mail from my bestest (and by far most gorgeous) friend. She doesn't write often, so it's always a treat when she sits down and pounds out an e-mail. I'd asked if she wanted to read through the novel as I do it, and give me notes. Some of the people on Facebook have been asking about the Zombie novels, so I'm gonna be sending them out later this week for the same reason:

I want people to tell me what I'm doing wrong so that I can write as well as I would like to.

Writing is very much performed all alone, and when you don't get feedback, you think you are either brilliant (as you are writing) or worthless (two months later when you read it and all you see are the screw ups). So, I wrote back, asking for honest feedback and hoping I'll get it.

I'm liking blogging about the writing end of things. Partly because it's uppermost in my mind, and partly because blogging about my life just seems so static: I woke up, I looked for work, I went to my part time job, I came home and no one responded to my resume. This way I actually feel like I am doing something.

Finally, one job I am applying for says they only accept faxes and not email. WTF? Faxes? Do I really want to work in the early 90's?

Monday, November 02, 2009

NaNoWriMo 2009

I'm doing NaNo again after a year off, and I think my novel this year is just going to be pulpy fun. I'm writing a Private Eye story where the PI used to be a professional wrestler. The inciting incident is that one of the people he used to work with comes into his office and wants him to look into the overdose death of one of the performers.

I'm already having trouble with the fact that I know so much of the terminology of the business, but need to explain it to the I have a decent gimmick that I think works, but I'll probably toss it out with the first edit. It's actually a pretty commercial plot and story so I'll be working on the edit and and “novel pitch” through December so that I can start sending it out early next year. I'm also going to spend more of my “working at the minimum wage theater job” time editing the first zombie novel, as a lot of people who have read it REALLY like it.

I tend to stumble when it comes to putting together packages to try and get my work published. I mean, I had a few short stories published in small magazines here and there through the years, but when it some to novels....well, I suck at getting them to a publisher. I'll write more about that as the month goes on, because it's r4eally weighing heavily on my mind...and while I probably have a couple of connections I could get help from, I tend to just...not.

Oh, and just so you know, self-publishing a novel is NOT one of my options. I refuse to have my prose be part of a vanity press. Weirdly, I have no problem with this being done with comics (like when the webstrip has enough strips to be formatted into a book). Maybe it's because Dave Sim made self-publishing comics seem more legitimate than going through a publisher, and maybe it's because most self-published novels are self-indulgent bullshit.

One of the people who works at the movie theater found out that I do stuff like this and said that at one of the other local theaters in the chain has a worker who had a novel that gets relentlessly negative reviews on Amazon. I don't know who it is, but oddly enough, that just spurs me on to try to get published.

Oh, the novel itself? Going quite well. Already at around 6700 words, and the first chapter is done. It's a PI novel, so I can write it in first person, throw in a lot of observational stuff (like the Travis McGee novels I am plowing through at a frightening rate) and keep things hidden from the reader until they NEED to be revealed. It also makes the construction of the novel a bit harder, as I can ONLY reference what the narrator knows or observes.

I've also been writing notes for how to do some more thematic things when I go through and do the rewrite. Just the little things that I notice in the better crime novels I read...I want it to be more than just “story story story”, and get back to that mindset I was in for the first two zombie novels that ended up having a lot of cool little emotional moments that were heightened by little tricks that were almost subliminal. It's hard to describe without giving things away, but it's all in how characters relate to each other, and using some subtle things that will point to when characters are lying that won't be apparent until the three big reveals.

I'm also going to be blogging more. Partly because I want to start pushing my writing again (yeah, getting the webstrip started was a pretty big deal to me) and partly because I feel that I am keeping WAY too much of myself closed off from people.

And besides, doesn't the world need another blogger clogging up the internets?