Transformative Paraphysics: Summary

This evening I finished the initial chapter-by-chapter synopsis of Transformative Paraphysics. It clocked in at around 6,200 words. The original LFBD synopsis was upwards of 10,000 words, but I think I have a better handle this time on my shorthand, where to expand and where I don’t have to. Much like doing the LFBD synopsis and writing the actual novel, problems seemed to solve themselves as I was writing it, and things happened that all either made thematic sense or suggested ways that they could when actually written.

I’m going to release the synopsis to a few beta readers who are interested, get some feedback, address weaknesses and issues, then drive it to a conclusion. After that, I start actually writing.

Really looking forward to delving back into that particular stream of mind that creates details out of pure nothingness and puts it on a page!

Buy Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog on Amazon.com right now, or get the first half for free right here if you're still on the fence (.epub download to read in iBooks, Google Play Books, etc.)

Writing a Novel: Part 1.5

Way back when I started this blog, I wrote a “Writing a Novel” series of posts. In step 1, you got your concepts, characters and images together. In step 2, you wrote a summary of each chapter. That’s how it worked out for me when writing Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog.

Now that I have my Step 1 materials in place for Transformational Paraphysics, I found that I had a gap before hitting Step 2. I had everything I thought I needed, but as I was planning the pacing of the book I realized that I needed more action in key places. The plot, while interesting, logical, etc., necessarily had a non-action based resolution. Well, there was some, but not enough for a good literary/adventure novel climax. This book is not supposed to be some moving pastorale, so I needed a change. Well, not really a change — I just needed more. The story itself was solid from a character and theme perspective.

I need a B Plot. LFBD did not really have a B Plot. It was a straight-through story. TPOAP has a different pace, and the action isn’t always being driven externally. A lot of it is the team figuring stuff out, which can be a little boring if done wrong. Enter the B Plot. I found something that made sense thematically, spurred off as a logical consequence of the A Plot, and had tie-ins throughout the story.

The problem now was in exactly how to weave the A and B Plots together. It wasn’t necessarily straightforward.

So, I’ve found myself at Writing a Novel: Part 1.5. Before I was able to start the chapter summaries, I needed to make sure that everything worked and that the right pacing was maintained. I try to maintain an even/odd cadence of chapters where we do Action, then Rest, then Action, then Rest, etc. It doesn’t always work that way, and maybe leading up to big Action you have two Rests.

I knew all of the story beats of the A Plot, and all of the beats of the B Plot, so I used one of my favorite organizational tools (Trello) to write each one out as a movable card (check the software to see what I’m talking about). I made two lists, one for each plot line. Then I made three more lists: Act I, Act II, Act III. Then I started putting the cards into the acts and shuffling them around until it all made sense.

As I did this, the great thing happened where opportunities started to present themselves. Like “Oh, if this happens after that, then this person could go _________ and it would be awesome!”

With all of the story beats for both plots nicely interwoven on the Trello board, I was able to start writing up the chapter summaries with confidence.

Buy Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog on Amazon.com right now, or get the first half for free right here if you're still on the fence (.epub download to read in iBooks, Google Play Books, etc.)

New working title for “The Inversion Mechanic”

I stated in my last “Writing Process” post that I didn’t really like The Inversion Mechanic as the title of the next LFBD book for a variety of reasons. I’ve found that I end up with a bunch of impressions in my head, and that they don’t end up with detail until they either come out of my fingers through typing or my mouth through talking. When I’m at this stage in the creative process, typing is too slow and “permanent” for me to really workshop things. I need to talk it out.

I also can’t allow worry or the editing impulse to kick in yet, so I can’t really talk it out with anyone else. Even if I trust them completely and believe they are unbiased, etc., some part of my brain will still be tuning my outputs toward them, and I don’t want that. I need to talk it out with myself.

So, I hitched up the dog and went outside to “walk the grounds.” It’s about 1/8 of a mile to walk the perimeter of my property and with time for wandering and dog-sniffing, it only takes a few minutes. But that was all I needed. As I walked, I talked through the major points of what happens in the book. Similarities emerged among threads that I hadn’t noticed before.

I said a bunch of stuff, trying out how things sounded and how they felt actually coming out of my mouth.

By the time I was done, I’d settled on something. I don’t think it’s perfect, but I like it a lot better than The Inversion Mechanic. It’s more in keeping with the offbeat nature of LFBD. Not sure how it will market, but I like it and for now that’s what is important.

The new working title is:

Transformative Paraphysics and Other Alchemical Phenomena

Buy Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog on Amazon.com right now, or get the first half for free right here if you're still on the fence (.epub download to read in iBooks, Google Play Books, etc.)

Starting a sequel

I’ve been not-working on the sequel to Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog for several months now. I think it was in August that my brain finally started to clear from publishing LFBD in February of 2016, giving it space to start chewing on the themes for the next one.

I had a working title (The Inversion Mechanic), based on some stuff that happens in the book, but I never really liked it. “Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog” is admittedly an odd title, and I didn’t feel that TIM was sufficiently unique. I wanted them to be different, but to match in strangeness.

In trying to take my own writing advice (see Writing a Novel: Part 1) I resolved that I wouldn’t even start plotting until I had the three recommended attributes. I mean, I had some very broad strokes in mind for the plot, but no details. The three things, if you’ll remember, are:

  1. Memorable or interesting character
  2. An idea that sparks the imagination
  3. Some scenes that are awesome/will stick with the reader

I already had #1. Lincoln, Fox and Babd are all interesting. Gwen is back. Some other folks from LFBD are dead, so they’re not coming back. Char plays a much bigger role, and we meet some new people, good and bad.

I’d also already come up with a couple of new things for #2. Big ideas that will be interesting when they are introduced and that will play an increasingly important role as we move through the longer story.

It was #3 that I was sticking on. It was tough. Without detailed ideas about the plot, I was finding it difficult to visualize the arresting moments and cool images. Of course, trying to do it that way was stupid, and doubly stupid because that’s not even how you do that and I know it. It’s easy to forget things.

What I needed to do was to look around me and find things that sparked my imagination outside of the context of my story and characters. That’s the kind of stuff I’ll be able to write about with passion. An image that comes to you after a random train of thought. The thought of “No! That’s not the way to do it!” when watching/reading someone else’s work and they almost land it, but not quite. Stuff like that.

I’ve managed to collect a nice handful since then. So I think I’m ready.

Buy Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog on Amazon.com right now, or get the first half for free right here if you're still on the fence (.epub download to read in iBooks, Google Play Books, etc.)

Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog available on Nook

I didn’t think anyone even had a Nook, let alone actively used it for buying and reading ebooks. I was wrong.

As there have been several requests from Nook owners to get the book this way, I registered with Nook Press and made it happen.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lincoln-fox-and-the-bad-dog-d-roland-hess/1123475427?ean=2940157628406

Buy Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog on Amazon.com right now, or get the first half for free right here if you're still on the fence (.epub download to read in iBooks, Google Play Books, etc.)

And… turds

So, having done everything Just Right for the initial push of the book to Amazon, I did one dumb thing. After applying the copy editor’s edits to the manuscript, I scanned through the entire book to make sure there were no strange formatting problems introduced during editing. What I should have done was asked it to summarize all available spelling errors for me, which would catch, say, instances where the applied copy edit from edit mode failed a bit and duplicated a word. Like the word “do”. In the first chapter.

There were a couple other instances of edit-merge-induced glitches in the manuscript, but they’re fixed now.

Here’s the fun part — if you’re one of the early purchasers of the book and you can find the word “dodo” in chapter one, take a screen shot of it (Kindle Cloud Reader on a Mac or PC should be able to do it, Kindle only — if you’re reading the free preview you can just deal with it!), send it to me at roland@lincolnfoxandthebaddog.com and I’ll give you some kind of prize. That’s a “Thank you” for being both an early adopter of the book and for being fault-tolerant.

Cheers!

Buy Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog on Amazon.com right now, or get the first half for free right here if you're still on the fence (.epub download to read in iBooks, Google Play Books, etc.)

Beta readers!

The book currently sits at around 103,000 words, and is in the hands of beta readers. I’ve finished my logic pass (which you can read about in a future writing process post), and am doing some revision passes for character consistency and thematics.

If you’re interested in being a beta reader and have some experience in literary analysis (i.e. you’re the “one who won’t shut up” at Book Club), hit me up via the About page.

Buy Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog on Amazon.com right now, or get the first half for free right here if you're still on the fence (.epub download to read in iBooks, Google Play Books, etc.)