A handful of story

Some days, I’ve gotten 8000 words of story. Most days, it’s closer to 800. In the middle of construction, it’s more like… 800 in a weekend. But we get there.

In my back yard is a white mulberry tree. Ripe white mulberries look awfully like unripe white mulberries, so much so that my first clue there are ripe berries is noting that some overripe ones are lying on the ground. Like almost all fruit and nut bearing trees, they have cycles of productive years and unproductive ones. Last year, this tree had so many fruits I made a pie and had leftover berries.

This year, I literally found a handful, and almost as many mosquito bites as mulberries. Which wasn’t from a swarm of mosquitoes, it was from the amount of time it took to find that handful and a few persistent little bugs.

I still picked them anyway, and tossed them in a baggie in the freezer. I’ll come back in a few days and search out another handful, fortified this time with bug spray, or a windier day.

The story I’m currently on is like that – I’m not quite pure pantsing as I have to figure out what’s coming up next, and once I have the concept, then work out the steps, and then on the way to take those steps, my characters do something true to themselves I didn’t see coming, and it takes an odd direction or an unexpected amount of chapters to get the action underway, because interpersonal story is happening.

I could go back and try to do a fight, but hey, I’ve been trying to finish this story for 6 years now. If I can move 4, 5 thousand words ahead before my brain jumps tracks over to the other one again, I’ll take it. In a perfect and perfectly unlikely world, I’ll finish this, then quickly finish Glitter & Gold, and find myself with two manuscripts out to betas in quick succession, and from thence to the world.

In the meantime, one of the characters, who is rapidly becoming far more than walk-on character #4, just dared the backbrain. He said, “Yes, and we’re going to survive this. After all, it’s a desert. No rain! Can’t be a proper debacle without rain!”

…with apologies to Les Miserables:

Can you hear the foreshadowing?
Making up things about to come
It is the plotting of the backbrain who will not conform to plan!
When the word of random dude
Tempt the fates and muse again
There is a plan that’ll fall apart
As the story comes!

8 comments

  1. Famous last words as someone started hiking up a slot canyon in [redacted] park: “There’s no storms forecast for this area until this evening. Don’t worry.”

    The ranger I was chatting with said the guy was very, very lucky that he was able to rock scramble just high enough not to get swept away, and then hold himself wedged in the gap until the flood passed.

  2. “and then on the way to take those steps, my characters do something true to themselves I didn’t see coming, and it takes an odd direction or an unexpected amount of chapters to get the action underway, because interpersonal story is happening.”

    Yeah, that’s why I call myself a pantser. I need to get from point A to point B but then the characters do stuff. Or they tell me that no, the road is NOT passable between the military encampment and the town center, even for horses (just realized, I should probably say mules) with carts. And by the way, the wells you needed may not be contaminated, but they’re so full of debris we can’t get any water out. I mean, how do you find that stuff out before you get the first team out there to take a look?

    1. My characters do that, but I’ve negotiated with them to do it in the planning stage rather than waiting until I’ve written the first three chapters of a legal thriller and then informing me that no, we’re going to be doing a fantasy re-write of The Fugitive.

  3. I’m hoping that when I finish with school, I’ll be down to merely 2.5 jobs and not 4.7 and get back to actual writing and not just taking notes for the next story or two.

    Got a story outline for a new story idea, at least done.

  4. “. . . characters do something . . .” this is the sign of a writer who’s created excellent believable characters, right? Otherwise we’re a pack of psychos walking about unsupervised.

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