When you’re writing a scene where characters discuss the plan — no matter if it’s how to pull off the heist or how to save the ship, or where the killer might strike next — there’s always a danger of going into character overload. By that I mean you create a scene with so many characters that the reader (and maybe you , the writer) can’t keep everyone straight.
If you’re working with established characters in a TV show, it’s different. The original Star Trek had briefing room conferences all the time, but because these moments were usually with the series regulars, knowing who they were wasn’t much of an issue. If you were to write a briefing room scene on a whole new starship, though, think about all the shorthand you couldn’t do. Who’s that guy, and what’s his specialty? How do I introduce this woman’s important tactical information without having to go into pages of detail about who she is? These kinds of writing challenges used to drive me crazy.
I just read a virtual blizzard of Richard Stark Parker novels, and while they’re pretty far away from the “save the ship” briefing room scenes I grew up watching, they serve as models in many ways for the crafting of a good conference.
It’s been one of THOSE days. This morning as I was getting the kids ready for school I had a nice little writing post composed in my head, but then I discovered we had no Internet service. Before that got resolved, my wife discovered she’d left her work calendar at home with a bunch of important papers, so I ran that in to her.
Then, because we MAY need passports for the kids in the coming year I looked in the appropriate place for their birth certificates and found that they were gone!
A frantic search ensued which involved much mess that will now have to be cleaned up. In the end, though, the birth certificates were right where they were supposed to be and I’d actually been LOOKING at them earlier. They are so different from mine, issued in the late ’60s, that for some reason I didn’t recognize them for what they were and assumed I’d done something stupid and put them in the wrong place.
In the old days, assuming that I’d not put something back where it belonged was always the most logical conclusion, but I’ve gotten more organized now and need to remember to step back before I naturally accept blame and run off to put out a fire.
Anyway, it’s after 1o and I still need to feed the horses, so there’ll be no fascinating site update today, because as soon as I get back in from the windswept snowscape that is currently our yard, I need to write some prose. All is well, no one here at Jones central is hurt or in any danger. We’ve got it good. A little smoother sailing would have been nice, but I’ll just move forward.
It’s been a hectic few days here, although the kids certainly enjoyed multiple days cancelled (or delayed) by snow. It looks like there’s at least one more. On the plus side, that’s meant more time to spend with them, AND we finally got the gas fireplace replaced. The thing dated from the construction of the house in the early ’70s and for safety reasons we’d been advised to stop using it altogether. As cold as our living room can be in the winter, the new gas burners are an absolute necessity. (And the new logs and fire look a LOT more realistic than the old ones.)
In the evenings lately I’ve been playing Battle Academy (for Mac, PC, or iPad), which enables me to command divisions of armor and infantry against various WWII Axis powers. So far I’m quite enjoying the game, although I do wish there were more short scenarios. That’s probably more of a feature than a bug for most people, but I don’t have that much spare time. To this newbie war game player, the interface and graphics seem pretty swell.
There have been so many interruptions for the last week that writing slowed to a crawl, but I hope to get in some good work today and finally finish patching part 2 back together following a minor POV change. Then I’ll set it aside and get back to fleshing out some of the other, simpler parts of the book.
And later this week I’ll get back to discussing some more hard writing lessons I’ve learned.
The fourth of four parts of my short story, “Bells for the Dead,” is now live over at the Paizo site. You can find the whole thing by clicking here, which means it’s about time for me to take the character description sheet of the story’s main character live, which I’ll be doing tomorrow.
Right now I’m hard at work tinkering with the most problematic section of my new monster-sized fantasy novel. All the other parts seem to be clicking along nicely, and this one is ALMOST there. I’m getting to be able to trust my instincts with this stuff. These days when I feel something isn’t quite working I FINALLLY have enough experience that I can twist and turn it a bit to figure out why. Usually, as with here, it stemmed from not being enough in a character’s head.
I’ve either been very busy doing family things or very busy relaxing for the last few days, so I’ve made no time for updates even though I’ve got a couple of writing technique posts I want to draft. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how good “conference room” style scenes are written in part because I’ve been reading a lot over the last few days, and I happened to see a lot of good conferences.
For now, though, I must get back to writing fiction, because I have a December deadline I need to hit. I did want to mention this, though. With everyone here in the states (well, nearly everyone) busy with Thanksgiving stuff last week, I forgot to mention that part three of four of my new Paizo Pathfinder story went live last week. You can find it here.
More in a day or two.
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