Finch in 24 Hours

What an amazing day of writing. Everything I turned my hand to on Finch came out golden. Every last thing. It was one of those days I’ll remember for a long time. My head was so clear I could see an amazing distance, yet also focus in on tiny details. Characters gave me that little extra they needed to. I felt like I was on fire. I went for a hike and seven new great ideas blew the back off of my head. Twenty-four hours from turning it in (except for little copy-edits) and I’m feeling good.

I almost feel like I was typing it on this bad boy:

Finch cleared space on his desk. Brought the typewriter over. One of the best models Hoegbotton had ever made. A hulking twenty-pound monster that reminded Finch just what Ambergris could accomplish back in the day. Hundreds of thousands had been shipped out to cities up and down the River Moth. “Combat-ready” went the slogan, and it wasn’t a joke.

Yee-haw. And huge props to Ann for reading stuff remotely from Amsterdam today and to Tessa Kum, who just about single-handedly helped me re-think one of the characters.

P.S. So happy I’m indulging in the joy of stomping bubble wrap. While listening to The Afghan Whigs’ “Going to Town” turned up loud enough to smash the windows.

Finch Case File 22809A: Discomedusae – Fungal Equivalent Conversion Division

10:00 a.m., roughly year 800 After Silence, old calendar

Discomedusae jellyfish = broachlike golden fungus found in underground gray cap ecosystem.

Tendrils severed and re-attached to upper body. Lower body filled in with muscle type S81 and topped off with thousands of cilia. Reinforced to withstand air pressure. Cell structure radically altered. Feeding mouth modified for intake of parasites and small cave crustaceans as well as plant matter. Reclassified genetically as akin to the compass starfish first converted in Shriek: An Afterword. Placed in holding areas underground, integrated into existing ecosystem. Per standard procedure, information encoded in viral spores replacing prior memories of absence of same among humans and non-humans alike within twenty-mile radius of city center. To a depth of ten miles.

Conversion continues apace. Subject converted in 2.3 nanoseconds. Conversion 99.9% successful. Less than 0.1% discrepancy between prior reality and new reality. Confirmed same with Oversight Division and cc’d to Ethan Bliss.

Next Subject:

Editorial Ass’s Publishing By Omission

UPDATE: Great post here!

I don’t know if most of you have already seen this post at Editorial Ass, but it’s pretty insightful and interesting. The comments thread is also good.

The point is, we want our national literary culture to reflect our country–diverse, complex, and interesting in thousands and millions of ways, not on one very limited way. It’s in everyone’s interest to break down these accidental dumbnesses, and the first step is building awareness that there are problems.

Evil Monkey’s Fail Fail Fail Win Win Win…Push

Evil Monkey:
I love this time of year. The azaleas are blooming bright red, there’s the scent of honeysuckle in the air, and the Internet is all ablaze with flame wars. They say fail, fail, fail. I say, win win win. Stick the knife in.

You suck. You’re sick. You’re a sadist.

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Writing Sex Scenes (and: worst and best sex scenes?)


Might as well resign myself to the fact I’m going to be working on Finch 24-7 and taking little breaks, so I will be touching base here from time to time as warranted…

I’ve been thinking about sex scenes because Finch has two such scenes, both explicit. They’re important because they help define the relationship between two characters.

But the fact is, writing sex scenes is a little like writing about characters having lunch–not inherently dramatic. You could say that this is true of any kind of scene, but sex scenes have an additional danger: they have the potential to throw off the balance of the story or novel because the reader’s interest in and reaction to them is disproportionate to their importance in the context of the narrative.

Whether you’re writing an explicit or more subtle sex scene, you first need to make sure you have a reason for including it. Then it’s best to keep six things in mind:

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Psst. All Writers Are a Little Nuts…and Action Scenes


So here’s a page from Finch, a gun battle in progress. It’s a scene that I knew I’d have to edit and rewrite and be patient with. If you want to do an apocalyptic, gut-wrenching action scene that really sings, you’ve got to be patient. You’ve got to work on it draft after draft, making adjustments.

First, though, if going in no one gives a crap about the characters, who the heck cares that they’re in danger. That’s key. Then you have to think of it in terms of the craziest Hong Kong cinema mixed with your own personal mental unhingement: because you’ve got to imagine being in the middle of that. You’ve got to make some preliminary diagrams of the set-up so you can see it clearly, and then you’ve got to wed that to something visceral.

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What’re You Up To? (Going Dark)

I’m in the final stages of thorough review of Finch–line by line, paragraph by paragraph, scene by scene–with a projected deadline of Tuesday Wednesday to turn in this version to Underland Press. This is where I take the last few scenes I’m not happy with and re-imagine them in longhand and build them back up again, add in a couple new scenes and test them, flense any fat from description and dialogue, examine the openings and endings of scenes to see if they’re air-tight, re-visit character motivations, and, yes, preserve those necessary roughnesses and eccentricities that distinguish something living from something dead.

So there will be no posting here until Wednesday Saturday. And (for real) I will resume the 60 in 60 on Monday. In the meantime, here’s one last Finch snippet. And, please feel free to use the comments thread to let me know what you’ve been up to–projects, links, completing stories, whatever.

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The Egg of Writer-Reader Comprehension

Not sure if I give a fig or not about the book under discussion on Champion’s blog, but I sure thought Brian Francis Slattery’s author Eric Kraft’s diagram was interesting. Somehow it also evoked Dante’s levels of Hell for me. Don’t know why.