Dean Forrester had the ultimate life. He had money, he had women, he never paid taxes and most of his days were spent playing golf and drinking for free. He was prepared to live out the rest of his days like this - until one phone call from home ruined it all.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Revelations I

So Paige read it handidly in one sitting (which isn't surprising, since she swallows 300 page novels whole and then wipes her palate clean with a volume of poetry). Some of things we agreed are - it's too short, some of the scenes carry more weight w/ prose or narrative than others (comparing Dean v James against Dean v Joy for instance). Some of the more absurdist portions, like Bull's side business, are perhaps a bit to absurdist. Aside from being short, it's also ... light. Shallow.

But it did get a chuckle from her, so I guess parts of the humor work.

I'm going to let this get cold for me, because right now I don't think I can edit it objectively. I think I want to add more of the world Dean left behind (Chummy, Illumni, etc), more color motifs, slower prose in scenes, but right now I just want to let the smoke settle. I'll probably head back to game modding for a while.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

The Task Ahead

Well, it took me half a night just to make the tabs and spacing not suck. I can't get past the first couple paragraphs without want to beat some sentences with a club. This is aside from the fact that even though Greenscape feels so big, it's really pretty darn tiny.

My next step is to rewrite the tangents and add them back in. Then I want to examine where else the story can splinter for more content. This is going to be a long road.

Friday, November 26, 2004

The phone rang again

Mission accomplished. By adding in some more scenes with Sissy's photography quirks and then some final epilogues involving non-Dean material, Greenscape currently 50,500 words and some change. Tiny by novel standards, weighty by trying to get a lot of stuff done in a month.

I have a full version with better tabbing under the novel folder for people who want to read it.

I'm going to have a beer now.

Shapes of white blur

Dean was dreaming of darkness. He was dreaming he was on the driving range he had just left with Sissy. It was night and he was at the far end of the green, the cheap houses looming behind him. Shapes of white blur would speed past him, but he didn't move.

OK, story is finished. Nano still requires 2,200 more words. I kinda new this would happen as I had more collapsing action than falling action. 2200 is pretty manageable though, especially since I have two or three scenes I'd like to add in.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Odd Taste

"Sissy told me she's a lesbian," Dean accused.

"Well I don't think that's true," Mother said emphatically, "She simply has an odd taste in clothes."

"Gee, momma, thanks," Sissy grinned.

"And she's claustrophobic," Dean continued.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Forresters.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Blue Teddy Bear?

Blue Teddy Bear? How about the mother who may have just found out you've been selling drugs again? Daisies? And you were supposed to see yesterday but are now running about twenty four hours late? Chocolates? Can she eat chocolates right now? Sissy hadn't been terribly specific about what tubes were going where, and Dean didn't really want to imagine the possibilities. What goes with daisies? Do you get your mom roses? Did they have lilies?

43794 words. Much of the leap is thanks to forcing myself back into Dean's head and bring out some prose. These last few scenes have actually felt more like the kind of thing I intended to write than probably 90% of the rest. If I can keep that up, the 50k shouldn't be a problem. Better, it gives me something to go back and critique against with the empty dialogue that fills way too much out right now.

I'm also pretty happy with how the scene with James turned out, even though I really had no idea walking into what would really happen. I think the scenes with Momma Forrester will pad out most of the end, and the prologue is about half a chapter on it's own. Well, maybe. We'll see. Did I mention the prologue comes last?

Monday, November 22, 2004

Very Popular Thing

"It's a very popular thing, yes," She replied, "Wanna cup?"

"What are you doing?"

"Making coffee."

"For your husband to beat me with?"

Whew. 40,078. With some filler in later Chapters, Greenscape enters the last 20% stretch. 10,000 words to go in eight days. One last chapter. Problem is, Thanksgiving. I completely lose Thursday, probably Wed. night and tomorrow night isn't looking so hot either. I more or less know the final scenes of the story and I think there is at least 10,000 left in there if I give myselft time to write them out. Still, if I'm at 45k by the holiday, I'll feel really lucky. This weekend, I imagine, is going to be the make it/break it time.

And I gotta say - to get this tonight I went back and started to look for soft spots. Editing this thing? That's going to take ten times longer than this initial spurt. Scary.

Semantic War

"Yeah, I mean, you've vanished to this mythical green to the north, where apparently you're so happy with pulling around someone else's golf clubs that you've managed to forget everyone you knew."

"I wouldn't say forget."

"I don't think you'll win a semantic war here, buddy."

OK, so 37,221 as of today. That puts it back on track after the predictably unproductive weekend. The corner is laid out for the story to go a little Harlequin for the next couple thousand words so I doubt I'll be writing it during my lunch hour. My pre-Thanksgiving prediction is that the story will be nearly done by the time a cooked bird is on the table, but I'll be about 5,000 words shy. That's just kinda how things are feeling right now. That isn't too bad though, because there are pages and pages of dialogue like the above that is completely devoid of blocking or prose related description, and I as found out the Emma addition to the Joy/Dean conversation, it can really build out the scene a little more. So I think this last stretch is going to be hard, but I think it's going to happen.

If I can get to the next morning with more than 40,000 words I'll probably be OK. Otherwise, it's Filler City.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Invisible Short Person

More laughter from seemingly nowhere and time went skittering off again. Bull's hands were moving in wide arcs with extreme speed, but Dean couldn't quite remember him saying anything until, "So I go in for the pizza while Dean here is standing outside."

"With the sign," said an invisible short person.

OK, so the Big Friday Push ended at 35,410 - right about where I needed it, a little shy of where I wanted it to be, but a good night all the same. Then I ended up playing a lot of San Andreas and drinky way too much whiskey. I still have the faint cologne of Jameson and a headache as I type this. My friend Seth is coming down (or over, as he insists, though I tell them that anything in the Great Lakes vicinity is the Great White North and I just don't care), and I might try to sneak in some words before he gets here.

Did I just type drinky? I need a nap.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Big Friday Push 4

34642 words. Dean just woke up for like, the fifth time in the novel. Course, this time it's not in a bed and not with his shirt.

Big Friday Push 3

33109 words. Dean realizes how late it is. Chapter Five begins with the grocery run.

Big Friday Push 2

32638 words. Bull just finished his second story and Dean is wishing he could figure out what time it is.

Big Friday Push 1

OK, 31864 words. Dean just realized he can't control the drug Bull gave him.

Donkey Years

No excerpt for that phrase yet, a manager here at work used it and I think I must toss it in somehow. Tonight is going to be a big push to try and compensate for the almost certainly unproductive weekend. Just over 31k right now, and the goal for Sunday would be 35,700. That means tonight I should top 35k, probably shoot for 37k. As much as I like Nano, part of me hates being so word focused - but I think it's good exercise. When someone reads something or watches something, they definately take the length and breadth into account for what they expect. And without this challenge, I'd probably never have tried anything over a short story.

In general, Nano has been pretty nifty. Removing the internal editor from a group of people and just letting them go crazy in the effort to write just something is a great idea. I like the almost complete absence of critique and the almost sugary cheerleading choir that takes it's place.

Probably my only peeve is people who seem to need to explain their method of writing really fast as actually avante garde or too post-modern for most people to grasp. That's just annoying. It's one thing to declare that you aren't using basic sentence structure because you're simply trying to get a lot of words out, it's another to announce that sentences are the chains of the working class and evolved languages will no longer need them.

Just saying, is all.

Anyway, tune in tonight if you're home on a Friday and are bored enough to find out how my night went.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Feeling Chummy

I'm waiting on a build here at work, so I should be trying to tack on a couple hundred words to Bull's part of the story, but I can't quite muster it - so I thought I'd blabber about Chummy.

Chummy is a fictional tv show in Greenscape. The idea to satirize sitcoms came from the idea that Dean is leaving his bubble and encountering real culture for the first time. Remember, even though this is third person - it's written with Dean's clear bias. Think of it as a Fox news program. But since I didn't want to just write about Dean's reactions to Chummy, it's supposed to look specifically bizarre, shallow, and yet strangely alluring. That last part is probably not achieved yet, although most of the characters are enamored with it - but I'm not sure the reader can see why. It's hard to inject sitcom humor into dramatic humor, especially when you are trying to write as fast as you can.

For reference, Chummy is one part Ab Fab, one part Seinfeld and one part Fresh Prince. It's about a guy from England, that everyone calls Chummy, coming to America to try help out the dysfunctional family of his now dead comrade. Remember, it's a comedy.

Great Thread Titles

I have to say, pookel's compilation of great thread titles from NaNoWriMo's Realism forum, where people can ask questions about various facts of life to make sure their details are right, is awesome. I've used this forum twice so far, and am happy to say I didn't make the list.

Aberration of Design

The Alpha Kappa Alpha fraternity house resided on the back lot of Samuels University. It was slightly older than the rest of the neighborhood and much larger. It also represented an aberration of design - every other house on the block was some form of square colonial whereas the AKA house was a warped kind of lazy Victorian design which never had the energy to reach gaudy or ornate but was certainly complicated.

OK, so I hit the 30,000 mark last night, mostly through the creative addition of Emma's babbling, some additional commentary on Chummy and Dean's musings on it and some additional dialogue. Bull gets introduced, and he's the vehicle for Dean's next episode, a brief detour of the college life that has to last me until 35,000 at least. I've decided I don't have a wall to worry about, I'm not particularly blocked per se - it's just that when there's this much text in the wake it seems rather weighty to try and bring it all to a close. The urge is to just ... end it. Be done with it. To be honest, though, the biggest problem Greenscape has right now is that it's teeth aren't fully bared. This all still feels like exposition that lacks the overall conflict of Dean's life. Well, I guess that's what December is for.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Entire Pantomime

Emma began to move her hands in the air like they were birds made of only mouths that would swoop and dive and attempt to eat each other but ultimately fail. The entire pantomime seemed to be a ruse to distract Dean from the fact that Emma was still very much keeping an eye on Dean. This was obvious because when she would spy on Dean, the birds would instantly freeze in their positions, and instead of two eyes going unnoticed it seemed that flock was now giving Dean the eye.

And the 29k corner is turned, and I can look at the 30k mark with a 900 word distance. The above is part of some added baby talk, pun intended, to give more life to the conversation between Joy and Dean. OK, OK, it's padding. I confess. But I'm trying to make it adorable padding, difficult to resist and easy to love.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Deep Grey Sea

She was a tiny blue island in a deep grey sea with the not so subtle green skyline of trees behind her. And she was completely entranced in the television.

28,385 or 56% of the 50,000 word goal. Slow and steady. My goal right now is to float enough material that the next minor scene doesn't clock in until 30k and the next major until 35k. If I'm at 40k by the time Dean has another morning, then everything should flow just fine. What that translates to is having the next big conflict start when I hit the computer on Saturday. That seems a mightly long way from today, but we'll see how it goes. The above excerpt is from Dean's reaction to seeing Joy's mom for the first time in 5 years, in Joy's large new house no less. I'm not done with Joy and Dean just yet so it's possible it will stretch out. Still, I feel a plot hole developing, not the kind one writes around but rather the type you have to swim through.

Roots Downwards

Dean knelt down and felt the vegetation that was, as he touched it, working it's roots downwards towards his father's coffin. He tried to think of him as he did the night Sissy arrived. As if he were there, as if he could talk, as if he was actually just standing over them with a glass of whiskey in his hand, disapproving of his lack of saying anything.

Chapter Four is getting deemed "Food & Religion" for now. It's moving at a slow pace and the buffer I wrote in on Sunday is gone now. Tonight I'll have to get at least 1,000 words in and probably should be shooting to close the gap to 30,000 without getting too far in Dean's day. The story now is really going to be Harrison vs. Dean, Round Two. After the funeral, Sissy is going to take a much needed rest from the plotline. If there was ever a play of the story, Sissy would be the role to go after - she gets all the good lines, she usually gets to be right or moral, and she gets to kick her brother in the head. In picaro terms, Sissy is the native guide, though, and it's time to remove that from Dean.

I confess - the last half is going to be hard. Can't get over this. This is why I always wrote short stories in college. You get to jump in with a flourish, make a bunch of connections and then get out. Thankfully Nano pushes you to not worry about it, and just get to the finish line.

Then, months of revision...

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Music Video Gangster

Andrea Smith never liked to be called Andrea. Smith was a boring enough last name that she hated having a normal first name. Despite the occasional taunt that she was trying to sound too much like a music video gangster, she'd always insist on simply being called Dre. Her hair was longer than Dean remember, but at least she hadn't straightened it like she had for months during junior year. She didn't seem fatter or skinnier, although she looked older in some way Dean couldn't pin down. Probably the most noticeable thing about Dre was the very thing that Dean was trying to avoid the most - that she was staring right at him while walking closer.

And so the half way point is hit, and Chapter Four will begin in the morning. I don't even know what it's going to be called yet. Despite hitting the mark, the worry that the story will be over and I'll be like, 10k words shy is pretty real. In terms of plot, I could have Dean see his mother the next day and be on the bus minutes later. The conflict and resolution is really in Dean confronting his lost past, and that lost past catching up to him. So it's this razor's edge of keeping Dean in the midst of this conflict without it seeming too mechanical.

Friday, November 12, 2004

The Beast

From behind them, Jimmy's huge black pickup truck rolled into the parking lot. It was affectionately referred to as The Beast from everyone who knew it well. The Beast could take dents and not really care. The Beast laughed at snow, at speed bumps, at anything in it's way. The Beast struck fear in simple little cars that stood before it. The Beast was a legend. Still, Dean was pretty surprised The Beast was still alive. Even in high school, The Beast was looking pretty grim.

Ah, today - today might not be so good for writing. I've got that tired sort of achy that can settle in at the end of a week. I just want a beer and a shower, and I have a lot of beer in the fridge. Lunch roped me about 500 words or something, keeping my head above water for the daily goal - but this weekend is going to bear down and I'll have to keep up. I'm also feeling the quagmire of being really "in" the story. Beginnings and endings are easy, the middle is the meat.

Going to try and update this blog with excerpts pertaining to the headlines. Why? I don't really know.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

A Mild Concussion

"Why do I have a bag of peas over one eye?"

"Um. I kinda kicked you in the head."

"In the head?"

"In the head."

"Why did you kick me in the head?"

"It was between me and the door? I'm sorry."

"How did we get out?"

"Your head did most of the work. Did I mention I'm sorry?"

Dean started to pull his chest forward to stand, but everything turned into shadows again. "No, no" Sissy insisted, "Joy said you should lay flat. Keep talking stay awake. You probably had a mild concussion."

"You gave me a concussion?" Dean rested his head and the small speckled dots of the living room ceiling came into focus.

"Oh please, you talk like that's the first time."

Worries over pacing and word count seem to be going away. I think I can approach 25k with only dipping into the funeral scene that is coming in the morning and should finish Chapter Three. Three was originally going to be smaller, but the pacing with Dean and Sissy has proved otherwise.

Now that Harrison is starting to crowd back into Dean's life, I've got this great task of making the story still just about Dean and not about the town.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


"You weren't in high school."

"I didn't know I was in high school. I didn't go into a lot of tight places."

"Why not?" Dean turned his head to try look at the door handle he couldn't see.

"I guess because I'm claustrophic, dipshit, now open the damn door."

"Look, it's completely dark in here. You can't even see the walls."

"Doesn't matter."

"How can it not matter? You're afraid of what you can't see?"

Today was a close one. Didn't feel all that hot, late night last night (stayed up to watch scary Iraq footage, not good sleeping material). Long, slow day at work and a lot of time on the road. Not exactly a recipe for wanting to sit down and type any more. Finished yesterday with about a 400 word surplus, and almost ended today with not even getting that extra 1300 in. I think I'm at that point where it's hard not to examine every little detail and worry if everything is going to unfold, or come next Monday the story will either be stuck in a dead end or finished at like, 20,000 words instead of 50k.

Sissy and Dean came through in the end - the dialogue and introspection of Dean's initial homecoming worked out. It's not "good" per se, more like "readable". More importantly, it keeps the pace going without getting too far ahead. I'm stopping at 18,644 - which is just shy of tommorrow's goal, and I'm not even into Dean's first night.

I ended with the pantry scene, which was almost a bit I used instead of the tangents to flush out Dean and Sissy and decided not because it could actually fit into the story. And now that I've stooped to physical comedy - there is no low I'm not willing to reach for.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Exit Strategy

He was considering exit strategies. That was something else his dad had taught him. Always have an exit strategy. It's how the super villians always outwit the super heroes, he would say whenever the Joker would disappear in a puff of smoke or Blofeld would roll away in a large plastic sphere - they always have a valid escape route.

And so Chapter Three will begin. End tonight at 14,100 - a little above the Nano mark but still edging around 1,000 words shy of where'd like to be. I'm thinking this will be a trend. My problem with focusing on a daily word count is losing attention to the overall pacing of the story. Then again, this was why I focused on short stories in college - because it lends more to the start, write, rewrite, rewrite instead of this manic need to continually hit further along the storyline. Good? I dunno, we'll see around Thanksgiving.

Some kind of fool, Dean Forrester

Teddy stopped cleaning a perfectly clean glass and put his hand on the bar, "Dean Forrester - you must take me for some kind of fool. You've been around this club for how many years?"

"Why do people keep asking me that?"

"And how many family members have I met?

"I believe that would be one, as of today."

"And how long did it take for her to storm out of here?"

"I'm not sure I have the means of calculating that."

So Chapter Two is starting to wrap up. I got some lunch time to write and am now about 1,000 shy of the Nano goal but would like get 2 or 3k added tonight. I'm finding having a complete lack of buffer for word deadlines a tad stressfull. I updated the excerpt in my Nano profile as well as the one at the novel site. I'm probably going to have to wait to update the novel site as a framework until after this is over. Time spent coding PHP is time I could be writing. Things are going to get dicey once Chapter Four starts up. Chapter Three is going to be short, just a couple of passages - but it's the transition from Dean's greenscape to his hometown.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Resell value

I'm at just under 11,500 - making me about 200 words under the Nano mark for today. I'm having more problems stringing the Dean and Sissy sections together than I thought, even though I know where things are supposed to be going, edging these sections together without making it seemed forced is a bit difficult.

I'd like to make a shout-out to fellows of the IWU school of writing and admit that Greenscape is, in part, a story about liminal space. Liminal space is a literary concept which basically says you're writing with the lines of transition - that the main character isn't really in one place at one time, but rather two or more places at one time - developmentally speaking. Great Gatsby is a notable novel which makes use of liminal space. Problem with liminal space is that you can find it almost everywhere, leading to many IWU jokes that everything was in liminal space.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Delivery for Livingston

And then the knocking continued. Dean groaned as a voice from the bed groaned, "Who is it?"

Dean blinked at Lori and shrugged. He shuffled through the bedroom doorway, which stood between the safe and the fridge and headed to the door. Chain still locked, he opened it as far as the chain would allow - just about an inch.

"Hello?" He offered drearily.

"Um," said a disembodied female voice sheepily, "Delivery for Livingston?"

Dean rested his head against the door, "You have the wrong house." He started to close the door shut.

"Let me in, Bean."

The door shut and Dean's head rested firmly on it. The word "bean" bounced briefly and finally his eyes shot open with recognition. Without unlocking the chain, Dean pulled the door open tightly.


The single brown eye of his sister poked through the narrow slit the door allowed. "C'mon Dean, this isn't funny. It's cold out here."

Dean released the chain and opened the door widely. There stood his sister, a rainbow colored stocking cap on her head, the same brown jacket she'd had since high school, jeans, boots, gloves and a backpack stuffed beyond normal operating capacity.

I guess the story itself really begins with Chapter Two. Sissy has arrived on the scene, and I'm trying to juggle humor with tension as the siblings face off. I'm to 7,488 - well below where I wanted to be tonight, but not bad considered I started off with an 1,000 word deficit. Oooh, I feel so Republican.

Wordperfect dies tonight

No word processor should save to a temporary file and then delete that file for you. 1,000 words lost last night.


Apparently I uploaded the wrong doc file last night, so I don't have access to my last few pages until I get some time at home. Not that with holidays coming soon I have much time to spend writing various sentences anyway, but I was hoping to get a page in during lunch. I'd like to hit 10,000 today, though that seems monumentally far away. I'm nearing the end of Chapter 1 and it feels a little light to me, so I'm going to need some time to re-read and see if anything can be flushed out more.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Farm Girl Cometh

Put a brief excerpt on the site of a farm girl, Dean's moniker for the drug reps that supply him, arriving at his door for an appointment. Today's been hard to catch up, because of the election and the whole process of realizing this guy has another four years to screw up some more. W00t. Thanks a lot Florida. Ohio. Yeah, you're on watch.

Anywho, topped just over 6,000. It's ahead of the Nano benchmark of about 5,000 for today, but below where I'd like to be. I think Chapter 1 has less than 2,000 words of mileage and then the real fun begins.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

I am Dean's inner thoughts

I'm going to end up slacking the curve today, I can tell. I'm probably about 500 words shy of keeping up the average, but with elections and work there isn't nearly as many bits of downtime to string together into novelization. Today I have fully abused the tight third person I've been using. Here is an example:

Dean strode out to the front of River Mountain Country Club. The front of the club was a mock cabin with halves of logs stuck to the outer wall to give the appearance that the whole building had been constructed overnight by porcelain dwarves that somehow seemed absent from the lawn. Trees had been transplanted in around the front lawn to justify the look although from the main door to the parking lot there lacked a single tree of girth that would have assisted in the fake construction. The illusion of the rugged outdoors was further detracted by the clearly hastily added disabled ramp, mandated by the state when the Club decided to add a new automated dumbwaiter to the second floor, which was made of a shiny form of metal that the porcelain dwarves would never have had access.

Clearly the whole presence of invisible porcelain dwarves that may or may not be responsible for creating a faux log cabin isn't what one would consider to be objective positioning. The last time I used/abused this narrative the main character was crazy. It will be interesting to see if it works on a semi-reliable character. It it does, it should provide the kind of angle on Dean's life I'm looking for. If not, it will waste most of the free time of a month of my life.

EDIT: Upon re-reading that quote, I am quite aware of the atrocious grammar in the last sentence. December is going to be a long month too, I think.

Monday, November 01, 2004

And we're off...

Day one. Word one. Chapter one. I got a little over three thousand words in today. Not a bad start. Course I've always found the start to go a little faster. It's first of the flood gates of little snippets that get flowing out. Generally before the middle turns around I'm wondering why I thought the general story merited more than a few page essay. We'll see.

I've got the work in progress password protected on the site. I just had my first weird doc translation problem - WordPerfect stripped out all the quotation marks on a copy and paste. That's some kind of ill omen.

Anyway, to see the whole novel as it's in progress, contact me for the password key or if you just need snippets, read the latest excerpt in the NaNo profile or just hang around here as I add more on the Greenscape site.