A rundown of projects in progress and other things.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/11/01 08:00
I need to get busy with some real-life stuff over the coming week, but I wanted to check in and take note of what's brewing at Chez Genji.
Novel The Next is close to the end of its 2nd draft edit run -- around 86%. Most of the major surgery I thought I needed to perform mostly amounted to cutting a scene here or a graf there, and restructuring a couple of things in place rather than scrapping them altogether.
I've noticed, during these edit runs, that it feels like the story tends to hinge more for me on single little moments -- things someone does or doesn't do -- than on larger, sweeping changes. Towards the end, for instance, there's a moment where a supporting character decides whether or not to keep something that's been important to the story, or get rid of it -- essentially, ensure nobody gets it. I've gone back and forth about this decision; right now, the character gets rid of it, in big part because they don't trust anyone, not even themselves, with it.
What needs underscoring, I suppose, is not that it's the "right" decision according to some absolute logic in the story, but that it is that person's decision, that they see it as being entirely consistent and defensible, and that we can see what they see. This may require a pass or two to get right, but it's one of those things worth lingering on until it's addressed 100%.
The ending is also being changed slightly. I chose for part of the ending a setting that was, for lack of a better word, gimmicky. Then I realized the gimmick in question didn't deserve to be confined to just some piece at the end; it deserved to be expanded on and put to use elsewhere. Using it just for that one little moment was passing up a massive opportunity.
Am I happy with the book? For the most part. A lot of the things I'm not happy with are more in the realm of, will other people think I made the right decisions about this or that? There's only so much of that you can get hung up about, though; after a certain point, you just have to put the thing out into the world and cross your fingers. Get it done, let it make its case for itself, learn what you can from that, and move on.
Codename for a project I might work on next year. It's still in the planning phases, but I think I could execute it fairly quickly as a pseudo-NaNo project. November is a bad time for me to take up such a sprint, though, so I'll try to do it another month in the year.
How did I describe this one to a friend? "Godzilla by way of Lifeforce. Or maybe Jodorowsky. A psychedelic Toho monster movie." (Of course he dug it.)
This is the next "big" project I have lined up. The title, and some of the ideas in it, are scavenged from a very old project I had started and then abandoned when I realized I didn't have the chops to pull it off. More like, I didn't even have the chops to pull it together; most of the underlying idea and execution were junk. But here and there in it were some bits worthy of being excised and developed properly, especially now that I'd been around the block enough times to jog with my eyes closed.
This, by the way, is also the project I was hinting at when talking about Justice League. Hammer could very charitably be called a superhero story, but the ultimate aim is to upend some of the presumptions that such stories bring to the table. I know, deconstruction of superheroes has been all the rage over the past couple of decades, but I think there's still a fresh idea or two to be brought to it if I'm observant. Like, even after tearing the idea down again and again, we keep coming back to the idea of a hero, just in new forms we didn't see before. We keep telling ourselves we want to be saved by someone else, even when that's manifestly impossible. Is there a way out of that doctrine of eternal heroic recurrence? Where would it leave us?
On my unease with creating longer works.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/09/04 19:00
Of all the things that have bugged me about Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, one of them is its projected length. The book is, as best I can tell, going to run at least 200,000 words. (230K is my current projected estimate.)
You know why this bothers me? Because one of my very own pet peeves is doorstopper novels that barely seem to be able to justify half or even a third of their length. I suffered through the first cinderblock volume of A Game Of Throning Dragon Crow Swords -- easily the most joyless cultural artifact to achieve anything like mainstream success -- and the idea of having to slog through five (it's now six) more books in that vein suddenly made cleaning the grout in the bathroom seem inordinately absorbing.
Some of this is me saying to myself, "What right do I have to ask people to sit through however many hundred thousand words of my own drivel?" I've already done it once (with Flight Of The Vajra), and I feel downright uneasy asking people to do it all over again.
So I asked some friends what they thought. And wisdom ensued!
On rewriting: "No, no, I can't cut that, it's there for a REASON!"By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/26 19:00
About one-fifth of the way through Draft 2 edits on Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned. Already I've performed some significant surgery -- cut multiple scenes down, telescoped them into each other.
The hardest issue I deal with in such work is the temptation to justify the existence of whatever is already in the manuscript. "No, no, I can't cut that, it's there for a reason." That whole routine. Horribly familiar, isn't it?
On using (and abusing) the rewrite process's "things to do" list.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/08 08:00
Writing wonkery ahead.
Over the weekend I finished putting together the scene map for Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, and slotted into it the "things to do" collected from the notes I'd kept during the first draft process. Some details follow for those not in the know.
On finding my way through the second draft of a story.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/02 08:00
Time to lift the hood on my work habits a little. The second draft process for one of my books -- Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned in particular, which is the one I'm currently rewriting -- works something like this.
Some more detailed thoughts on having finished Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/07/03 21:00
Some more detailed thoughts on having finished Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned.
Finishing the first draft of any book is always a weird experience. You're elated that you got it done; you're exhausted from the work required; you're full of both apprehension and anticipation at having to go back and face your own words again.
I finished Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned draft 1 last evening....By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/07/03 13:00
I finished Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned draft 1 last evening.
Science fiction, rebooted.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind