My First WIP is…

2 02 2012

 

… giving me indigestion.

 

I bought Scrivener a few days ago, and was happily putting my NaNoWriMo novel into it. I love the way each part of the story is easily accessible, and how the outline and corkboard views make it easy to see the story’s trajectory. So far so good. I was psyched.

Then I decided to put my first (unfinished) novel in, and uff da. What a mess! What I’ve written covers most of the protag’s life, from just after birth to his 50s in therapy.

 

::excuse me while I die laughing at myself::

 

 

************************

 

 

Ahem. That took a while. Advice from the writing blogosphere: don’t write your character’s therapy. It’s boring to read! (in my defense, I got bored myself and didn’t finish the scene…)

I was a complete pantser when I wrote the Canelli book, with no concern for plotting. I had scenes in my mind, and though many of them turned into true chapters, the chapters don’t fit together. In fact, the character changed as I wrote, becoming a much more complex, darker character. That kind of character development works well in novels, but I’d been writing his story out of chronological order. At 38 (which I wrote in August 2011) he’s a dark character, while at 48 (which I wrote in March 2011) he’s a happy being of light.

I hope to rescue this 96k novel and turn it into something more readable. (Yes, I wrote nearly 100k in this meandering mess.)

My first task: setting up a three to four-act plot. What is the point? Who/what is the antagonist? What does the protag want? What is his passion? What scares him to death, makes him break out in a cold sweat? What would he give everything he has to have in his life?

My second task is like unto the first: deciding what happens in the end, and write it. Is the guy salvageable? Or have his secret compulsions backed him into such a dark place that there is no way out? Will he manage to weasel his way out of XXX?

Can I bust out a series of short stories from this manuscript? Or a bloody TRILOGY? (Duology?) Or a sensible Contemporary Fiction 85k word novel? Or will I finish it at all?

 

That’s a lot of questions to be answered. There’s a bunch of dreck to be deleted, okay stuff to be rewritten, and some awesome wordsmithing in the manuscript. Time to spend some time coming up with a working logline, and plot from there.

The basic formula for a logline (from Anne R. Allen’s linked post above):

When______happens to_____, he/she must_____or face_____.

That’s what I don’t yet have… but I will!





Sexy Excerpt

1 01 2012

My first book is about a man named Steven, who is a sex addict, in addition to being addicted to smoking and alcohol. While most people are familiar with addiction to nicotine and alcohol, sexual addiction is not as commonly understood. It is similar to addiction to gambling, in that it isn’t a traditional substance-based addiction, but rather is an addiction to a behavior. Sexual addiction can be about the thrill of the chase or something along that line, rather than simply about sex, which is true in Steven’s case. From a novelist’s point of view, the nice thing about sexual addiction is that you get to write a lot of sexy scenes! Also, Steven’s addiction is always getting him into trouble, which makes for fun writing. As Chuck Wendig says, it’s fun to torture your main character, and makes for a more interesting story.

This first excerpt is from something that I wrote early on, and it is straightforward telling. I am including it in order to give you a better idea of who Steven is, even though it is unlikely to appear in any finished book at all!

At 6 feet 4 inches tall and 195 pounds, twenty-nine year old Professor Steven Canelli was an impressive hunk of American male, and he knew it. It had taken him some time to completely fill out his frame, but by the time he came to UCLA he was at his full weight. He towered over almost everyone that he met, yet even with all his outward masculinity there was something soft about him. Perhaps it was how he would hold your eyes in conversation, or the gentle way he smiled. He had a way of giving others his undivided attention – when you were talking with him, he gave the impression that there was absolutely nothing in the world more important than whatever you were saying, which in fact was the case. As the youngest of seven children he knew what it was like to be overlooked, and he naturally compensated for that. His receptivity to others was almost feminine, and was a devastating combination with his physical masculinity. Even though he dominated any room that he entered, he had the knack for immediately putting others at ease. Most men found that he was very easy to be around, in spite of the fact that he towered over them, and women? Women were drawn to him like bees to honey… no matter what their intentions were toward him. Older women enjoyed wide-ranging conversations with him, children loved to be carried on his shoulders, teens would flirt with him and fall into giggles in his presence, while young women would compete for his attention. Of course, when they got it they often found it overwhelming.

The book will probably end up being three separate novels, covering Steven’s entire life. Last night I was in the middle of a #wordmongering stint, and ended up writing the below paragraphs, which take place when Steven is about 38 years old. He is happily married at the time, but still goes out to find women to have sex with… such is the nature of sexual addiction.

Be gentle with me here, as the below is a proto-first draft.

Settling in for a long haul, Steven took a drag on his cig, then let the smoke roll lazily out of his mouth. Gyrating bodies were arrayed in front of him, the walls lined with watchers like himself, the atmosphere pulsing with an insistent beat. Stubbing out the smoke and downing the dregs of his third beer, he pushed out onto the dance floor in the general direction of his prey, a pretty 40-something blonde who was dancing with two girlfriends. Lately he was scoring too easily, and he was looking for a new challenge, a new modus operandi, something to up the ante. She looked to be several years older than he, and quite involved with her buddies. His age and looks were in his favor, he knew, as well as his skill on the dance floor, and he allowed himself that advantage. Driving a wedge between her and her friends would be the challenge.

He caught her eye and smiled, and was rewarded with a perky grin. Settling in close to the trio, he closed his eyes, dancing alone as he let the music take him. His heartbeat quickened, matching the music’s tempo, and he let it move him as it would. After some time he opened his eyes to find that the three women had surrounded him, accordingly he adjusted his evening’s goal.

He grinned at each in turn, then gave all his attention to his original target. He moved closer to her, giving her a lascivious glance, noting that her initially startled reaction melted into a languorous smile. He moved in closer and closer, lips slightly pursed, looking down at her… allowing himself a slow visual traverse of her breasts. She blushed.

He backed off and studied the distant ceiling for a bit, watching her friends in his peripheral vision, keeping a drummer’s perfect time as a new tune started, picking up the tempo. He was not surprised when he felt someone dancing up against him, though he pretended to be. One of her friends was the dancer. She was shorter, younger, and plump, but she held his attention with a direct, challenging stare.

Turning all his attention to Plump, Steven pushed back against her in a bid to see her response. She held her ground, rubbing her ample breasts against him, and was rewarded by his body’s response. Just as he decided to move on her, he felt someone wrap her arms around him from behind. In one deft move, he spun and embraced the two women, allowing his hands to wander over their bodies. He looked up, giving the first woman, the most prized one, a long, sweet, beckoning look as his hands continued their explorations. She turned away, but then her friends became his allies, taking hold of her, pulling her into the tight-knit group. Plump steered her in front and pushed her against Steven’s growing hard-on – he smiled down at Blonde, one hand under her chin as the the third woman, a long-haired brunette, guided Blonde’s hand to his crotch. Feeling his hard-on, she jerked her hand away, only to have Steven gently catch and return it, caressing his penis with her hand, his eyes locked on hers. This time she didn’t pull back, so he drew his hand slowly up her front, cupping one breast. His goal achieved, he gave her nipple a brief pinch before turning his attention to Brunette.

He slowly ran his fingers through her smooth hair, drawing the tips to his lips as Blonde continued feeling him up through his jeans. The music had reached a fever pitch, but now the tempo halved as the DJ cued up a slow dance. He gathered all three women in an embrace, and the four swayed together. He reached across to Brunette, kissing her once, then again. Plump was impatient for her turn, so he next bent down to her, kissing her mouth, then her neck, then burying his face to lick between her breasts, tasting salt on her skin. She was convinced, and started to draw him off the dance floor, but he resisted, and fell to his knees before Blonde, wrapping his arms around her hips on the crowded dance floor. He wanted to bury his face in her crotch, but that would have scared her away. Instead, he put his chin against her sex as he gazed up into her eyes. Her cheeks reddened, and she unconsciously wetted her lips. He smiled, managing somehow to keep a look of triumph out of his eyes as he fleetingly kissed her crotch.

Yeah, they all go home together and have an orgiastic romp, but, as usual, he goes home to his wife before midnight, showering off before cuddling with her. He’s a cad, but a delightful one. Poor Leona (his wife)… or is it ‘Poor Steven’? Stay tuned.

Oh, one last thing… Happy New Year! May 2012 be everything wonderful that 2011 wasn’t.








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