Tag Archives: denouement

Back to normal???

Otto woke me up before six a.m. this morning. I took my time feeding them, fiddled around with social media, then headed for the writing cabin.

I was very close to the big boss battle and wanted to get into that.

This one is called The Viral Blues and was intended to be the second story for Lizzie and the hat. It kind of spun out of control and became a lot more than that.

I had all these characters wasting away, trying to draw unemployment, so I decided to put them back to work. This means there are a team of main characters.

My first obstacle involved section breaks for point of view changes. I’m not a fan of this, but imagine two cars full of heroes chasing one car full of bad guy. They’re all doing heroic things, and I need to change POV from car to car. I worked on this for a long time, but had to add a couple of section breaks to pull it off.

One of the things to keep in mind here is that everyone was someone’s favorite. If they come into this book, they deserve a starring moment for their favorite character. Honestly, this was a fun challenge and I think I met it.

Things are rough around the edges, but I finished the story today. I need to do some serious work on it before I send it to critique members, and it may be a couple of weeks before I can do that.

An interesting new challenge presented itself today. I’m on record (probably over at Story Empire) saying I like brief endings. I’ve used terms like “drop the mike and walk offstage,” and “happy for now,” to describe my opinions. This book wouldn’t let me do that.

With that many lead characters, the denouement took longer than I planned. Everyone needed to get something out of the deal now that their adventure is over. Some could be dealt with quickly, but some needed more attention. Then Lizzie and the hat had a bit of drama over their payment, but I like how it worked out.

Then it occurred to me that I was at one of those pivotal points. I have a marketing idea that is either pure genius, or about as idiotic as anything I’ve ever tried. I’m adding my back of the book material, but instead of blurbs I’m noting which stories the various characters appeared in.

My hope is that if someone just met Clovis, for example, they might want to check out The Playground.

Then… I decided to do something I never do. There is going to be an epilogue. There is one loose end that I really don’t have to tie up, but decided to do it anyway. I have a solid idea for it, and I promise it will be fun. I’m selling it to myself like it’s one of those ending scenes after one of the Marvel movies.

I just started writing the epilogue, when I got interrupted.

Lisa Burton

“Hey! I’m home.”

“Back here. How was your adventure?”

“Honestly, it was rugged. Why do you insist upon breaking me in all my stories?”

“That’s what heroes go through. As powerful as you are, you have your own Kryptonite. Readers need to know that about you.”

“I survived, despite your best effort.”

“I’m so happy. I have some great ideas for your posters, but I didn’t expect you home so soon.”

She hugged me, then sat on the edge of the desk. “Well, someone decided not to write me into the epilogue, so I got an early start.”

“You had plenty of moments, and they couldn’t have accomplished this without you. I decided maybe it was up to someone else to clean up the loose ends.”

“It is good to be home. How’s Bunny doing?”

“He’s huge and fat as ever. I’m sure he missed you, but it’s hard to tell with rodents.”

“I’m going upstairs to see him.”

“I don’t blame you. I think I’m done for the day anyway. I’ll have to finish the epilogue later.”

***

That is the saga of my day. Summer is going to be a period of editing, getting artwork together, preparing blog tour posts, and loose ends. (Hopefully reading) For those keeping score, I never tracked word count today, but it feels like about 4500 words.

Back to the grindstone tomorrow.

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It’s a book!

Voyage of the Lanternfish is a book. Okay, officially it’s a draft, but spot me some of the emotion of finishing the damned thing for a day.

I could have easily finished yesterday. I was on a roll, but my wife got home from work, and with two more days off I wasn’t worried.

Some of you like to keep score, so it’s at 105, 503 words. This will likely go down in my editing phase. That makes for about 1500 words before I called my parents this morning.

My cool new monster did his job, and the pirates freed him to terrorize a small village somewhere. I think his abilities are pretty cool, and hope my readers will too.

In typical fantasy fashion, the girl is rescued, the enemy is smited smitten, and the ship is sailing over the horizon.

I also managed to shave the girl’s head because of lice, and embarrassed the captain a bit in front of his men.

Now it needs to rest. It goes in the fermenter for at least two weeks while I regroup and work on other things. Then I can start those editing passes. I’m sure the Raven of Doubt is already circling over the writing cabin in anticipation.

I dropped a couple of scenes, because I believe in short denouements. One involved the discovery of a sea battle gone wrong, and another involved a chipped tooth from blowing a conch shell horn. That was a minor character, and he hasn’t earned the page time.

I assembled an upcoming Lisa Burton Radio interview, then got it scheduled. I followed that up by writing a shtick for another one and got it sent to the author. Lisa still needs guests, so if you’re interested drop me a line. I’m working into September right now.

I think I’m done today. I’m up tomorrow at Story Empire, and may write a companion piece to that post over here tomorrow night. If I do, I’ll link to SE from here.

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It’s a conundrum, or two

I’m back in my room now. There was another junior thunderstorm, but it was right overhead. Some of you asked for photos, and I couldn’t get them. It shook the windows, but didn’t have the staying power of yesterday’s storm.

I also bought some ski-lodge quality slippers for my wife and daughter. Today is Old What’s Her Face’s birthday, and we exchanged texts and spoke on the phone. Seems to happen every year that work sends me out of town on her birthday. She already bought her own present, and the slippers are just for fun.

I had to attend a midday event, and wound up with some time to myself this afternoon. I have to go to a banquet this evening, but a couple of hours in between were well spent time.

The Hat is a finished draft. It came in at 25,500 words. My intent was to publish it as a novella, but my personal idea of a novella is 30K. Word count numbers seem to be pretty fluid. Am I worrying about something that doesn’t really matter?

There is a lot going on in this story. I demonstrated Lizzie’s symbiosis with the hat by having them play the upright bass together. He has all of the skills, but none of the arms and fingers. This is how they fight evil, by working together.

I’m a bit worried about the denouement part of the book. I have a lot of loose ends to tie up, and currently, I’ve done it using my bass clef section breaks. I have the aftermath of the big fight, the replacement (and upgrading) of musical instruments, the demonstration that complex characters will go forward together. That last part means as musicians and as fighters of evil.

I don’t like long denouements. I once beta read for an author who spent a quarter of the book defining a happy-ever-after for her characters. This included naming grandchildren that hadn’t been born to children that hadn’t been conceived in the main story.

I know I’m not that bad, but I still worry. If I eliminate some things that are dear to me, I could probably turn this into a dynamite short story. I want a novella and those parts are important to me.

If I turn each necessary bit of closure into an entire chapter, that will help with word count, but it will also push me toward the long denouement I’m trying to avoid.

Any suggestions?

I’m fairly sure either my critique group, or a couple of decent beta readers can help me out, but I’m not ready for betas yet. I have several passes to make before I can share it with betas.

Okay, I know someone is going to ask. Here are the slippers. I think those dingle balls are going to be Frankie bait though. They should be cozy on our new floor.

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Sometimes I get lucky

My wife’s new schedule sucks, but it plays into my plans on occasion. I also call my parents every Sunday, but they’re on vacation right now. I started my day, like always. Dogs got fed, social media got surfed, other apps that drive news to me got browsed.

Then I read the last two chapters I wrote on The Hat. I’m at the phase where plants and payoffs have to get installed and not just the loose storyboarding I do. This led to deleting nearly a thousand words. Some of this has to do with the fact that Lizzie’s Mini Cooper doesn’t have a trunk, it has a tailgate. Oops.

The dogs were in sleep mode for some reason. They’re crazy right now, but I’ve learned to strike when the iron is hot. I replaced everything I deleted with better words, then added more. Days like this make me wish I kept a better count, but it looks like I wrote about 5000 new words total. The story is a handful of words under 20K right now.

Lizzie came away from the disaster with a partial victory. Any subsequent attempts won’t go so easily. She had a crisis of faith during the disaster event, and there was a bit of soul searching. We also learned about some new abilities the hat has, and they’re kind of scary.

I need to go back again and make specific parts of the aftermath more personal for Lizzie. It involves little things, but will make some of it more real. My next move will be to go back through and flesh a lot of things out. In fact I may start from the first page and do this. I like to move forward with confidence, and doing these things helps me move forward. It may sound like one step forward and two steps back, but I’m about ten thousand words ahead of where I thought I’d be right now.

Lizzie did a bit of shopping therapy after moving where the bad guys went. In a way, it’s revealing the confidence she will need to get through the next phase. She’s looking like a more legitimate superhero now. She also has a new fatalistic attitude that could be just what’s needed… or actually fatal if things don’t work out.

I engaged in an extensive text thread with my daughter, and fashion consultant. I needed to make sure Lizzie’s new outfit made sense. She read what I had and said it sounds great.

I’m setting myself up for something odd too. This story will require a longer denouement than others I’ve written. After the main story ends, I want about three things to happen to sew up loose ends. I’ve always believed that was a bad thing. I’m worried about it, but maybe I’ll gain clarity by the time I get there. This has to do with it being a buddy story. They each need their bit of something, but they need something together too.

I want to try something fun in this book, but I’ll be damned if I can figure it out. When I do a story break, I center three asterisks (***) and jump the story ahead. Easy peasy right? This time, I would like to do three bass clefs. I can’t find a keystroke to include a bass clef to save my life. I even looked for emoji’s, and can’t find a bass clef. There are some treble clefs, and plenty of musical notes. Why no bass clef? I thought for sure Times New Roman would have one, it has all kinds of symbols.

Do any of you know how to tell a word processor to make a bass clef? Maybe I could use clip art and squeeze down to size.

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Not missing this chance

I went to the writing cabin this morning. The storm broke, but there was mud on the tires of the gyrocopter. When I went through the basement, I made sure to leave my boots in the box Bento left for that purpose.

Lisa* met me at the top of the stairs. She was dressed in a canvas duster, and a white wife-beater tee shirt. “Ready to get some work done today?”

“Absolutely. Looks like you're ready for some Clovis dialog.”

We worked on smart assed remarks, threats, and compromises. Whenever something sounded right, I added it to my Playground manuscript.

Lisa ran to the paranormal office and pulled on a lab coat.

“Gina isn't wearing a lab coat in this scene.”

“I know, but it makes me feel more doctorly. Send me your dialog and let's give it a try.”

I sent her what I had, and we tested it out. I adjusted back and forth. “That looks about right. Try it with that voice thing you do.”

Lisa spoke the words using a female voice, and a male voice. When she finished she looked up. “Well? Is it what you hoped for?”

I leaned back at my desk. “Yeah. It sounds like them, and it fits well. Now all I need is some closure, and they're finished.”

“I'll bring some coffee. Do you want me to change into my Chloe outfit now?”

“No. I can't write Chloe today. It takes a different mindset. I'll finish with Clovis and Gina, and give them some closure.

I typed away, delivered some rewards, (such as they are) and closed out two of my main characters. Their part of this story is finished. Chloe will represent the end of the threat to the victims everywhere, but her story will finish another day. At that point The Playground will be a complete first draft.

It looks like I'm going to come in at about 70K words. I would have preferred 80K, but in today's market that isn't bad at all.

This is a different kind of book. There are three seperate stories that alternate to tell the reader a complete story. Only two of the characters ever meet, but it provides some cool moments.

I'm feeling like I need a treat. It's too early for beer. Maybe a trip to the Boise Co-Op for some shortbread, devon cream, apricot jam, and tea. My characters got some rewards, maybe I deserve one too.

I may tackle Chloe's swan song tomorrow, but it depends on what the family has going on.

Tell me about your endeavors. Do you treat yourself for accomplishments? Do you create false accomplishments so you can have a treat? Is anyone else finishing a manuscript?

* Lisa Burton is the main charater in Wild Concept. She is a robot, and since her story ended she helps me around the writing cabin these days.

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I don’t believe in Happily Ever After

I love fairy tale structure in stories. I first caught on to the idea from an author named Alexandra Sokoloff. She goes into it in some detail in her book Screenwriting Tricks for Authors. Her breakdown of The Godfather as a fairy tale is wonderful. Here is a taste of it from one of her old blog posts: here. You have to read her book to get the full gist of it all. It’s a good book, if you’re interested.

There’s one part of a fairy tale that I don’t agree with, and that’s when they all lived happily ever after. I get that it’s supposed to be a reward at the end of a story, but it feels shallow to me. I’m sure it had more impact 500 years ago when security was a much bigger deal to us. Palaces are safe and warm (in a fairy tale). Most of the rest of the world had to worry about being jumped by a tiger when you stepped outside for your morning piss.

In real life, HEA doesn’t exist. We accomplish something and it leads to the next problem. Sometimes it causes the next problem. We struggle for years to build a better mousetrap, and eureka! The new problem is how to market it, and when we’ve done that, maybe the evil Victor mousetrap people come along and set up roadblocks. (No offense intended. Love ya Victor.)

My point is that life goes on, and that means struggles. I’m not saying Snow White’s first daughter looked a lot like Dopey, but damn. Have you seen her ears? Maybe Princess Jasmine developed a gambling problem and their lives changed in ten years.

I try to write satisfying and logical endings to my stories. Sometimes I even hint at future problems setting themselves up. I don’t do this for the purpose of selling sequels. I want to illustrate that life goes on. Sure, I write science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal stories, but I want your suspension of disbelief to happen for the right reasons. I don’t want to go to the well too often.

There is a risk of not sewing up loose plot threads, and it’s a fine line. The truth of the matter is that evil is never truly defeated. They hunted Nazis for decades after WWII.

For me, I don’t mind a hot new relationship at the end of a story. I don’t even mind a palace on the hill. I just don’t like the idea that nothing bad ever happened again – ever.

I like to mix and match story structures. I love using the number three, mentor characters, predictions, and other fairy tale items. I just don’t buy that they all lived happily ever after.

What do the readers and writers out there have to say? I’d love to hear from you on this.

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