Archive for May, 2016
One of the roads through the Biltmore Estate, behind the main house, in Asheville, NC. Taken December 2010.
What is this place – an ancient school? Library? Holy site? Is it part of a larger city complex or off by itself? What about the culture that would build such a structure…why is the central hall that large? What is the blue glow from the windows – sunlight, or something else?
The lone figure in the middle – is the person arriving, or defending? Assuming the person is a defender, why is the POV person going there? Assuming an arrival, what are they looking for? Why are they there? Are they truly alone, or are there other figures, unseen, deeper inside the building?
Disclaimer: The central piece of this post is being cribbed from a guest post from Matthew Quirk at Shawn Coyne’s Story Grid site (as filtered through Steven Pressfield’s)… I follow both, and saw the link at Pressfield’s first, but there is additional advice in the Story Grid post that is worth reading.
So, on with the cribbing:
Use TK. This is the essential lubricant of the rough first draft. It’s a habit I learned from working as a reporter, but didn’t realize the novel-writing magic of it until I read this advice from Cory Doctorow. TK is an editing mark that means “to come” and is equivalent to leaving a blank or brackets in the text (It’s TK, not TC, because editorial marks are often misspelled intentionally so as not to confuse them with final copy: editors write graf and hed for paragraph and headline).
Can’t figure out a character’s name? “EvilPoliticianTK.” Need to describe the forest? “He looked out over the SpookyForestDescriptionTK.” Need that perfect emotional-physical beat to break up dialogue? “BeatTK.” Just keep writing. TK a whole chapter if you want. Those blanks are not going to make or break anything big picture. Come back for them once you’ve won a few rounds against the existential terror of “Is this whole book going to work or not?” There’s no sense filling in the details on scenes that you’re going to cut.
Disclaimer the Second: I read the same advice from Doctorow, just from his essay collection Context instead.
That second point, actually, is what prompted this post… As my MFA mentors and crit partners can attest, I fully endorse this idea. If the idea is to get the story down, get through a first draft, this can be very useful.
I use it as reminders for flavor ([TK – add more about wound/colors]), or as a scenic placeholder for moments that need to happen, but I haven’t quite figured out how the sequence will play out ([TK – adventures happen in cave until emerging on the other side of the mountain]). Or, if there’s a detail that I’ve already established but don’t remember in the moment? [TK – Guy’s name from chapter One].
That, by the way, is how I use it [TK – (note)]. Yes, it might throw of some word count estimates, but most of the time those notes get replaced with longer passages that any disparity washes out. The brackets help the note stand out more prominently in hardcopy, and the “TK” instances are easy to move through using the “Find” feature.
Believe it or not, there was a time when I had Kid Rock’s Devil Without a Cause, and would spin it pretty regularly…but after the follow-up album didn’t do much for me, I didn’t pick his future releases. But he was changing his sound and his style, which I can appreciate (I consider it a must, to evolve over time…but that’s another soapbox). Point is, he was evolving as an artist, and this is the track that I would say marks the first major leap between “Bawitdaba” and his current sound.
Taken outside of Denver, June 2010. Since it’s Denver, I’m not sure if this would be considered a “mountain” in it’s own right, or classified as something smaller, hence why I’m just calling it “rocks.” We traveled a lot during the visit – Garden of the Gods, Red Rocks, Golden, Colorado Springs, so I’m not sure where, exactly, this was taken (although. that might be a hint of a window reflection in the trees to the right… if that’s the case, this is probably from Garden of the Gods)..
Consider the above. Is it a castle? A church? Perhaps a school? How was it built – was magic involved?
What would it be like for a person arriving for the first time?
What would it be like if the bridges collapsed/were destroyed? Is arrival by water even an option? Look at the small protruding cliff – is it possible to gain access that way? What sort of structure might be underneath all that water?
What would happen if someone wanted to find out? Why would they want to find out? What kind of person would want to find out?
Hard to believe these two have been around for two years, now. Well, actually, it was two years on Sunday, but as anyone with multiple small children knows, reliable computer time can be…scarce.
What’s really interesting is to see just how much they’ve grown and changed in just a year. Their personalities are definitely coming out…and are they different (as their pictures illustrate).
Onward into their third year…