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Writing Update

It's been a while since I did a simple, old-fashioned writing update. (Look, I even resurrected the ol' word meter!)

I'm about a third of the way through the rewrite of The Mermaid's Madness. Some days have been more frustrating than others. One challenge I ran into today deals with the fact that I'm going into all three princess' points of view for this book, instead of limiting myself to Danielle. That means I'm in Snow's head when she's casting spells ... which means I need to figure out exactly how the magic of this world works.

Part of my problem is that I've already decided magic works differently for different races ... even for different individuals. For example, witches cast magical spells, whereas fairies are magical. So today's writing had a big old infodump about magical energy, which will probably have to be cut and woven into the story a bit earlier. It's always a bit of a paradox, trying to nail down the rules for magic. There have to be rules, and there has to be a cost. At the same time, even as I'm trying to work out a logical, scientific system, another part of my brain keeps reminding me that magic can defy both science and logic. The exact same steps repeated in exactly the same way don't have to produce the exact same results.

I've also been reading up on the history of sailing and sailing ships again. I'm finally starting to get a better grasp of how the ships work and the various parts and who does what. I'm in no way an expert, but I know more than I did a year ago. The biggest problem is that I do my writing at work, and my research texts are at home. At some point, I'm going to need to sit down with the books and go through a lot of my sailing scenes to add the appropriate level of detail and accuracy.

And now, because I haven't done it in ages, have a snippet.

---

"Close your eyes," said Morveren.

"Why?"

The mermaid splashed her again. "Do you want to learn this spell or not?"

Grudgingly, Snow closed her eyes. "Now what?"

"Now you listen to my song."

Snow waited. The waves broke against the hull. The deckhands joked about a card game gone awry. Pulleys squeaked as the crew adjusted one of the sails near the bow. "You're not singing."

"You're not listening," Morveren countered. "You're too tense. You're like a child who believes she can shit pearls if she pushes hard enough."

Snow opened one eye. "Undine can do that?"

"My older brothers told me some cruel stories. Shut up and listen."

Comments

( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
cat_mcdougall
Mar. 26th, 2008 05:36 pm (UTC)
I, actually, put a bit of thought into magic once. What I came up with resembles mathematical theory of some sort. Now, this didn't take into account the 'magical beings' but I've found it has helped me quite a bit when writing magic.
jimhines
Mar. 26th, 2008 05:38 pm (UTC)
There are a lot of ways to do it, and a wide range from scientific to chaotic. I think the important part is to figure out what your system is, figure out the implications of that system, and then stick with it.

Because Snow wasn't a PoV character in the first book, I got to gloss over those bits more. No more, alas :-)
melissajm
Mar. 26th, 2008 09:38 pm (UTC)
I wrote one book where magic was a branch of Physics. Of course, I never took physics, but it made for some fun Handwavium.
jtglover
Mar. 26th, 2008 05:52 pm (UTC)
Do you have any books on sailing you especially like? I've been working on something lately that's involved my spending an exorbitant amount of time with Wikipedia, sailing sites, etc., for data that might conveniently be found between two covers.
jimhines
Mar. 26th, 2008 05:57 pm (UTC)
This is the one I've been using. It was overwhelming at first, but there's a lot of good info there, with more detail than I've found online.
jtglover
Mar. 26th, 2008 06:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks a bunch!
mela_lyn
Mar. 26th, 2008 06:02 pm (UTC)
BWAHAHAHA!!! I think I might steal that instead of using 'making coal'. Very nice.
jimhines
Mar. 26th, 2008 06:17 pm (UTC)
Hey - no stealing my scatological pearls!
mela_lyn
Mar. 26th, 2008 06:31 pm (UTC)
Heehee... I promise to give you credit... ask the other authors I'm friends with. I will pimp you til you can no longer stand. Heck, already do!

How are you feeling these days, anyway? ;)
jimhines
Mar. 26th, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC)
A moment of seriousity. Can I ask where you're planning to use this?

How am I feeling? Still busy, though the worst of the book craziness is over. Still sleepy, thanks to a 1:30 am nightmare from the 3-year-old. (He woke up screaming bloody murder. That'll jolt some adrenaline through your veins, let me tell you.) Aside from that, just hoping desperately that the cough I've been fighting doesn't blossom into a full-blown cold for Ad Astra this weekend...
mela_lyn
Mar. 26th, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
:) I was teasing you, silly... heehee...

And if I did use it, it would be in joking with my friends about someone who is a tightass. I used to say 'they could turn coal into diamonds' but I think a nice 'they could dirt shit into pearls' is much more eloquent. :p
jimhines
Mar. 26th, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks -- paranoia strikes at the oddest times, you know?
mela_lyn
Mar. 26th, 2008 06:58 pm (UTC)
I understand... I have ideas I'm afraid to post about b/c the one random one I did, I get an email 'Just so you know, I started writing something like that but no one knows but I want you to know I'm not copying after you.'

*headdesk*
unwoman
Mar. 26th, 2008 06:08 pm (UTC)
OMG, I am excited about this Mermaid book. If you want my opinion on anything, I can be certainly discreet and possibly helpful, if you wanted to send me any passages or anything. I'm not a self-declared expert on mermaids but I feel I represent a certain portion of your intended audience, and I would keep your manuscript secret & safe. un@unmediated.net.
jimhines
Mar. 26th, 2008 06:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It's going to be a while before the draft is ready to be seen, and looking at my deadlines, I don't even know if I'll have time to run it by any beta readers before I have to turn it in to my editor. (Which scares me!) But I appreciate the offer, and the excitement :-)
unwoman
Mar. 26th, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC)
Well, I'd be happy to read it at any time, I could even read it in parallel with your editor and keep my peanut gallery comments to a bare minimum. :)
sylvia_rachel
Mar. 26th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC)
There have to be rules, and there has to be a cost.

Too true. And sometimes the rules turn out not to be the ones you expected.

I'm struggling with infodump (with a side of "As you know, Bob") in the WiP, too. Note to self: the number of consecutive words that can safely be spent on two characters talking to each other in a coffee shop, even if they are talking about something really interesting like how come one of them never told the other one she was a sorcerer*, is really quite small.

Your mermaid's line about pearls is hysterical XD

* No, not a sorceress. These are people who wouldn't call a female actor an actress -- they're certainly not going to call themselves sorceresses.
jimhines
Mar. 26th, 2008 06:19 pm (UTC)
I've got half a chapter that ends with the characters saying, "We've spent how many freaking pages just talking about this crap? Can we PLEASE get out of here and DO SOMETHING now?"

I'm, er, planning to fix that in the final revisions.
sylvia_rachel
Mar. 26th, 2008 07:08 pm (UTC)
::laughs butt off::
p_sunshine
Mar. 26th, 2008 06:44 pm (UTC)
Oh, the mermaid book looks like fun! I can't wait until this comes out. =)
jimhines
Mar. 26th, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC)
One princess book at a time :-) First we need to get Stepsister into the stores.

I'm glad this sounds like fun, though! Of course, I'm not going to post snippets of all the scenes that have been kicking my butt for the past months...
arielstarshadow
Mar. 26th, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC)
Cornish name FTW!
jimhines
Mar. 26th, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
::Blink:: Morveren is a Cornish name?

Forget that. It's been so long since I started this book that I forgot where I found that name from...

Edited at 2008-03-26 06:50 pm (UTC)
arielstarshadow
Mar. 26th, 2008 07:17 pm (UTC)
I love it - very appropriate, too. I'm a name freak, so I always love it when authors make those connections.
johnlevitt
Mar. 26th, 2008 07:23 pm (UTC)
What is this "rewrite" thing of which you speak?

I think readers sometimes obsess a little too much about magical aspects being totally consistent in every conceivable situation. I mean, we don't even understand the natural world completely. But you won't be cut much slack.

As to sailing ships, the master (and commander) of accurate detail about sailing ships was Patrick O'Brian, who never so much as set foot on a sailing ship until the very end of his life.

Research works.
jimhines
Mar. 26th, 2008 07:53 pm (UTC)
Heh ... I know people who can write a publishable first draft. I envy these people, and throw paperclips at them when they pass by.

I read one Patrick O'Brien book as a part of my research. Lots of detail, but not really my style, so it was hard to get through. But I knew people would yell at me until I'd read at least one :-)
aulus_poliutos
Mar. 26th, 2008 07:52 pm (UTC)
Argh, don't get me started on magic systems.

I've this S&S Alternate History Fantasy thingie I'm working on besides the historical fiction, and while it's fun to get along without the limitations given by historical facts and interpretations of sources, I'll have to get a grip on that damn magic. I know it's object bound because the three most important and most dangerous objects are three magic stones from the past (yes, Atlantis does get in there, lol) but I need some more magic that's somehow connected to the stones but can run wild and/or been misused by the bad guys. It's still a bit on the vague side, but there's at least one magic sword (or maybe it's magic because of a stone in its hilt) and a shapeshifter who sneaked in and now needs his shapeshifting connected to object-bound magic. Well, the latter will at least be a new take on the whole shapeshifter/were-something thing. ;)
jimhines
Mar. 26th, 2008 09:31 pm (UTC)
And right about now is when someone usually wanders by, talking about how fantasy is so easy to write because you don't have to do any research and you can just make everything up...

Still, I've found that the more we struggle with this sort of thing, the better the end result. Good luck with it!
aulus_poliutos
Mar. 26th, 2008 10:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Same to you. :)

I think good Fantasy does require research (and if only to make the use of weapons look realistic and have castle defenses that actually keep an enemy out, or a monetary system gives a plausible reason why the hero's dad lost everything to a sneaky banker), and worldbuilding reuqires more thought than I had imagined at first. But the one advantage is that you don't have to deal with facts that get in the way of the plot.

It's one of the reasons I prefer to write hist fict set in times with less documentary evidence, like the Romans in Germania and Britiannia, than fe. about the War of the Roses or Waterloo.
talithakalago
Mar. 26th, 2008 09:24 pm (UTC)
That's some brilliant dialogue right there!
jimhines
Mar. 26th, 2008 09:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you :-)

Most of the story still needs some spicing up, but I was happy with this particular bit.
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )

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