Tim Pratt
SF and Fantasy Writer

Archive for November, 2012

Space Party

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

This will have to be quick, since we’ve got to leave for our kid’s birthday party soon. (He’ll be 5 next week! His party has a rock and roll space carnival theme. His choice. Tricky to execute, but we’ve done our best.)

Saturday was a good writing day, though I was able to work only in little dribs and drabs here and there. It added up to my most productive day yet this month, though, and I’m beginning to ratchet up the tension in the book. I like to set up lots of complications early on and let them ricochet around and/or quietly tick away like time bombs in the background. I’ve got mystery burglars and a love interest and creepy abandoned cabins all working for me now.

Apart from the writing, the main event yesterday was making sugar cookies for the kid’s party. We cut out various space-related shapes (rockets, moons, stars) and then the boy decorated them with icing, in the style of Jackson Pollack. Very fun. He’s a good little sou chef.

Word count (for what it’s worth): For the day: 2794. Total: 6984.

Notable Line(s):  She found Charlie in the breakfast nook clutching a mug of coffee like he would fly off into outer space if he let go.

Sufficiently Advanced

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

Yesterday I managed a couple thousand words on the new novel. (I also cleaned the kitchen, because writing a novel — or rather avoiding writing a novel, or thinking about plot — can be a great way to get housework done.) I finished chapter 2 and got partway into chapter 3, and the characters are starting to take on real definition in my mind (and, I hope, on the page). The shape of the book as a whole is beginning to become clear to me as well.

It feels very comfortable, in a way, like this is the novel I should be writing. (Which isn’t really an indication of anything. I’ve sweated blood over novels and stories that read like light and fluffy confections, and some of my more ambitious pieces have poured out of me like I was just a funnel directing the flow of words. All that really matters is what’s on the page when you’re done. Most readers don’t care how it got there.)

This is the first book I’ve written set in the mountains of North Carolina in many years — most of the action takes place just eight or ten miles outside the town where I went to college. Makes me want to go back and visit — though perhaps not in November, as it’ll be snowing a lot there soon. Even the novel starts in May. My characters might avoid the winter entirely.

Otherwise, life continues pleasantly. I got a couple of beers at Jupiter in the afternoon, and went to the library, and picked up my kid from school. I got him from the afterschool program early, which he normally likes — but this time I picked him up just before they went into the cafeteria for nachos, thus inciting the rage of nacho deprivation. I mollified him with the promise of making “fancy nachos” at home, so after we rode the train back to our place he helped me load up tortilla chips with beans and cheese and bake them, then serve them with dollops of guac and sour cream and so on. (I’m lucky it was grocery shopping day, so all the ingredients were on hand.) Crisis averted, love restored via food, which is as good a method as any.

Word count (for what it’s worth): For the day: 2309. Total: 4190.

Line(s) I Like:

“I don’t think it’s a special effect. I think it’s…”

“Sufficiently advanced technology,” Bekah said.

“I was just going to say ‘magic,’ but whatever makes you happy.”

Hungry Mirror

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

My first day of quasi-NaNoing went well. I successfully avoided writing for most of the morning by doing grocery shopping, messing around online, and debating endlessly about what two of the main characters should be named (I still haven’t entirely settled on names, but I made up placeholders).

Eventually, around mid-day, I vowed to myself that I would not drink the coveted daytime beer until I at least attempted to write something. So I sat down and started tapping away, and managed to get the first chapter done (and just a bit of chapter 2), writing 1880 words altogether.

I then promptly departed for the sunny courtyard of my favorite beerhouse, Jupiter, where I drank first a Moonlight Bony Fingers and then a Lagunitas Brown Shugga, imparting a rather lovely buzz to the remainder of my afternoon.

Ideally, the way this fast-novel-writing thing works is, I write 6 or 8 pages a day, and then think a lot about what I’m going to write the next day, so that when the time comes, I don’t spend a lot of time staring blankly at the page with no idea how to proceed.

As day 2 dawns, we’ll see how well that works out.

Word count (for what it’s worth): 1881

Notable line(s): Charlie was eaten by the mirror about forty minutes later.

A Month of Grace

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

It’s National Novel Writing Month, and since I was going to start work on a new book this month anyway, I figured I might as well do it NaNoWriMo style (though I haven’t officially signed up) — at least, I think it’ll be fun to post daily updates on my progress. I used to take part in “novel dares” a decade ago, when writers would challenge one another to hammer out a rough draft in 30 days, posting progress on our “online journals,” and it was often fun.

(Progress. Right. So far this morning: Uh, I’ve thought about the main character’s name. But it’s not even 9 am yet. Consider this an introductory post.)

The novel is tentatively titled Heirs of Grace, and is about a woman just out of college who inherits a house and a sprawling bit of land in the mountains of North Carolina from a distant relative she never knew she had. When she goes to check out the property, she soon learns all sorts of strange things about her biological family, and herself. (I make it sound like a family drama. It’s a contemporary fantasy with lots of odd magic. Said distant relative was a sorcerer, and left a lot of dangerous bits of magic lying around, and there are other people who want some of the things my main character inherited.)

I’ve been thinking about this book, off and on, for years, and I’m glad I finally have a couple of months to work on it. I’m writing this one entirely on spec, for my own amusement, and it’s also an interesting change to have no deadline or editorial expectations.

Wish me luck — and good luck to everyone else embarking on National Writing Lots In Hopes of Having Something Somewhat Novel-Shaped, Albeit Probably Incomplete, by the End of the Month.