Saturday, February 13, 2010

Scribbles, Character Passes, and eBooks

I just scribbled on paper today, so I don't have a word count. In the meantime I'll give you some thoughts.

Passes for Character

You know, it seems like with everything I write, especially the long works, I relearn every lesson I ever learned. One technique I learned is that I don't have to get all characters fully "right" in every draft of a scene. On the first pass, you concentrate on the main thrust of the scene. But especially if you have secondary characters, you may want to do a separate pass for each of them. How are they reacting, what are they doing and thinking?

This comes up in every book, but it especially came up in my previous novel manuscript, Have Gun Will Play. My narrator, Mick, is a friendly guy who does all the talking. His young wife, Casey, has a tendency to lurk, and she would prefer to let her Winchester do the talking. Casey makes herself nearly invisible much of the time, but Mick is always aware of where she is, what she's doing, and has a good guess at how she is reacting.

So I had a heck of a time writing a scene where Mick was sizing up a guy who might be an enemy or might be a client. I finally realized that, even though Casey was a force in the background of the scene, she wasn't interacting with the maybe-badguy. So I had to let her go invisible, and just write the scene between Mick and the guy. Then I went back and wrote through the scene with Casey there - the guy didn't notice her, but Mick did. It really enriched the scene.

So sometimes giving up on getting something right on the first try is the path to getting it really right in the end.

Right now, I have been working on some scenes between Karla and some secondary characters with secrets. Those characters are less developed, and I'm finding, in this case, I have to do two passes for them. First pass is the surface conversation - which I write as if they are not hiding anything (except for those moments when I come up with a perfect telling detail). The next pass will be for the secrets - which lurk behind them, just like Casey.

A Note on eBooks

I just have to say how much I really enjoy the Fictionwise ebook Bookstore. (I don't have an affiliate account, and don't get any kickback for this, I just love them.)

I especially love them since I can read their ebooks on my iPod Touch - but most of their books come in many many formats. (The big publishers may only offer the bestseller types in Secure eReader format, which is available for most computers and lots of handheld devices.) eReader is not as intuitive as it might be, but once you figure it out, it's a great reader. Plus the "multiformat" books come in nearly any format you can think of, including Kindle compatible and ordinary PDF.

They have a lot of content, both small press and reprints, and the latest bestsellers. Right now my Touch contains Richard Prather, Stieg Larsson, and also many issues of Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen mystery magazines. As well as Futures Mysterious Anthology, where I have been published. I also have a number of my favorite lesser known authors who were out of print, but are now available on Fictionwise. (Lora Roberts' Liz Sullivan mysteries, for instance.)

They often have a sale where if you pay full price for an NYT best seller, they will give you a 100 percent refund into your cash "micropay" account. Micropay works kind of like Paypal but without fees. If you want to buy a fifty cent short story, you can just click and buy with it. You can buy anything in the store with it. (Just not the sale items, which are a way to get you to put money "on account.")

See you tomorrow with fresh word counts....

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