I’ve been working without my reading glasses lately, and strangely enough I seem to be doing better. I have kind of weird eyesight in that I’m not entirely near or farsighted, but lately it feels like my sight is getting better for some reason. I often wear glasses when driving or when reading, but I’m finding it harder to read with them than without them. Especially when I’m reading text on my phone.
Yeah, I’m not sure either.
Anyway, I’ve chosen not to wear my reading glasses during Day Job hours or during writing, just as an ongoing experiment to see how my eyesight truly is. I know there are certain things that get me dry-eyed (staring at a screen for hours, natch) and angles that give me issues (looking hard to my left, my eyes go slightly out of skew and I see double — but not to the hard right!), and I’ve been making sure I don’t ignore these issues.
Having decent vision is right up there alongside decent hearing for me. I read and write about as much as I listen to music, and I do both FAR more than the usual person. (I also do all the driving in this household, so I’d rather not drive like Mr Magoo, thankyewverymuch.) I try not to overdo it, and if I do feel like I’m overdoing it, I’ll make sure I take some time to give the ol’ eyes and ears a rest for a bit.
This brought to you by a writer who needs to remind himself to keep to healthy habits more often!
During a Worldcon panel the other weekend, someone had asked one of the panelists about detail in your prose; when do you need more, and when do you have too much? It’s a very good question indeed, because it’s one of the biggest mistakes a beginning writer often makes.
I should know, because I’ve gone through both extremes. Back in my school days, my writing lacked so much exposition that it read more like a shooting script than a novel. A few years and a handful of trunked projects later, I finally got the hang of balancing exposition with the action and dialogue. However, I soon slid to the opposite end of the spectrum: my prose was far too verbose. It took a few more years before I finally found and stuck with a happy medium.
How do I handle keeping a fine balance between prose and exposition in my writing? Good question, because half the time I’m going by instinct. I suppose all writers have their own balance they’re comfortable with, and mine is achieved by being aware of my pacing. It all goes back to my equating novel writing to songwriting: I go with what sounds right to me musically.
When I’m writing a scene, I’ll know ahead of time whether or not this is going to contain a lot of action and detail (fast beats, layered production, a high-powered chorus, and perhaps a middle eight to provide a quick breather before moving on again), if it’s going to be a highly emotional scene (slower pace, minimal production with detailed focus on the melody, a memorable chorus, and a solo to pull at the heart strings), or if it’s just going to be a connecting scene (short, sweet, and to the point, and the barest hint of a motif borrowed from a previous piece).
With this in mind, I’ll know when I need to fill out the scene with exposition or detail, or when it needs the barest of touches. A connecting scene will be tedious and drag on if I decide to put an infodump there, but it’ll make much more sense if I spread it out over the course of an action scene. Perhaps as a character slowly coming to the realization that the cousin was the murderer after all, and that all the pieces suddenly fall in to place and giving him even more reason to keep chasing this now-familiar shadowy figure in the alleyway.
Most of this is instinct to me now, because of my decades of listening, studying and memorizing different pieces of music. I write the scene according to the pace and the emotion I’m looking for. This is my particular style of writing so it may not work for everyone, but it certainly works great for me, and hasn’t steered me wrong yet. I even use it now and again when I’m writing these blog entries; even if it’s only a quick five hundred words, it’s still worth it for me to make the flow and style enjoyable to you, my readers.
I can’t tell you exactly what works for you as a writer, but I think keeping all this in mind might give you an idea of providing your own answer to that question: when do you need more information in your prose, and when do you have too much? Listen to the pace you’ve set, and let it provide the clues for you.
I won’t go into detail, but it’s one of those times where Best Laid Plans are thwarted by no other reason than Unexpected Events. And this time out I have a few personal issues that have popped up that are causing stress and frustration. All I can do is deal with them, and balance them alongside these same Best Laid Plans.
It can be incredibly frustrating when this happens when you’re a writer. You don’t want to ignore the personal issues going on, but you’d rather not put your livelihood on hold, especially when you’ve worked so hard over the years to make them happen.
The most you can do is soldier on somehow, same as if your Best Laid Plans were thwarted by the Day Job, or whatever has come your way. For me, the most I can do is continue to find the time to push through these projects the best I can, despite it all.
Note to Worldcon newcomers who typed in the URL from my freebie cards: Hi there, and thanks for your interest! I talk about writing a lot on this here blog, so if you have any questions on that sort of thing, by all means feel free to ask.
Note to self: even with the best of intentions, heading out to a major convention fifty-plus miles away the day after a ten-hour flight back from London isn’t the best of ideas, no matter how you slice it. We have been moving almost nonstop in one way or another for the last sixteen days. Lesson learned.
We’d decided to take Sunday and Monday off from everything and just relax and catch up on what needs catching up, that way we’re somewhat conscious and rested come Tuesday when it’s back to the Day Job. We’ve been on vacation for almost the entire month, having flown out of SFO on the 4th and joining the working world again tomorrow. It’s only two weeks and an extra day, but it feels so much longer than that.
While I didn’t get any new words done on any projects at 750Words, I did do a hell of a lot of reading of both In My Blue World and the Apartment Complex story (as you see from the previous fly-by posts). I focused most of my attention on the former since it’s first in the release queue, and worked my way up to about the first third of the novel. I’ll keep this up until the run is complete and then jump in on the Big Honking Revision Process.
Which brings me to the following: I’ve noticed that my revision process has definitely changed over the past five or so years. I’ve taught myself newer and quicker techniques, discarded my bad habit of flailing the story into shape, and paid a lot more attention to the details. I’m sure I still have a long way to go, but I’m definitely getting there.
That said, I’ll be back to normal on Friday with more writing insights — I gave myself some time to think about new and different subjects to blog about here, and I hope you’ll enjoy the entries when I post them!
Despite having just come home via a ten-hour flight from London, we’ll be making our way down to San Jose for Worldcon 76! I’m not on any panels this time out, but I’ll be saying hi to all my writer friends. If you see me, say hi! 🙂
I’m still going through In My Blue World and making notes on what needs fixing. There are two MAJOR fixes to be made: one, that I need to change the POV to omniscient 3rd person, and two, that a number of sequences need to be pasted together. It’ll be a big undertaking that I won’t be able to start for another week or so, which of course is making me twitchy.
On the plus side, the story itself is solid — it’s tight and there aren’t that many holes and continuity issues I need to fix. It’s only the prose (and the first chapter or so) that needs cleaning up. And the cover is already done! I’m still aiming for an October/November release at this time. *crosses fingers*
So…what about the Apartment Complex story? Good question. I’ll still be working on that when I can and take my time, as I purposely haven’t assigned a drop date for it. [There is also the cover art issue, but that’s another post entirely.].
My blogging schedule may be all kinds of screwy the next few weeks, as we’ll be:
Heading out to the UK for a week and a half, starting tomorrow. We’ll be visiting many friends, shopping at numerous stores, enjoying the free museums, and ogling the royal palaces. And taking loads of pictures. I may make the occasional short fly-by post just to keep things updated, but since we’ll be in a completely different time zone, don’t be surprised if they pop up at strange times.
Heading to Worldcon 76 down in San Jose as soon as we get back. I’m still looking forward to meeting up with many writer friends and chatting meeting even more for the first time. I may not be on any panels, but I’ll still be networking and having a lot of fun.
I’ll be honest, I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to get much writing done. I’ll most likely be doing revision work for In My Blue World and doing a read-what-I-have-so-far of the Apartment Complex story.
But I’m not complaining…we’ve been looking forward to this vacation for quite some time! I’m looking forward to just having fun and seeing all the fun things!
We’ll be back to normal hopefully by the 20th or so! Thanks for your patience!