Tuesday, December 18, 2012

One column, one chapter, one writing assignment - oh my

NUEVO VALLARTA, Nayarit, Mexico - The draft of The Fracking War continues to be, well, kind of war-like in the writing, though day to day, chapters are piling up but few bodies for a book with the word War in the title.

Slow and steady wins the race and gets the draft of a novel done.

Writing slow, but steady
Today's lifeless body - only the second person killed in 20+ chapters - is that of a high school chemistry teacher shot in an incident with a Bushmaster rifle brought into her high school classroom.

Isn't it amazing how real life and fiction mirror one another?

That chapter and section was written after I had already written a column for the Finger Lakes Times about the Newton, Conn. shootings. I realized (after a trip to the beach to think) that the characters in my book are dealing with all the same issues inside the book as I am outside of the book. Sometimes I think they are outside and I am inside. Or something like that.

Make any sense?

In the meantime, another piece of good writing news arrived this week -  an assignment from an international magazine to write a piece about life in Mexico. It's supposed to chronicle my experience here. This could be interesting.

Back to the school shooting in The Fracking War. A police helicopter just arrived and I don't want to miss the action.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Characters seize the keyboard in drafting of 'The Fracking War'

NUEVO VALLARTA, Nayarit, Mexico - Friday and Monday (yesterday) the characters in my first draft of The Fracking War apparently got tired of waiting for me.

They started moving the story line along so fast I had to shut down Microsoft Word for a few hours while I outlined where I wanted the book to go next.  I was half afraid I might open up the last chapter and find they had added to it!

I retired to a chair on the beach to do some outlining. It was a welcome respite from the dreary winter upstate-New York setting for the book.

The characters hadn't staged a coup by the time  I started writing again. But I could hear their lament: If this book is about a war, where's the freakin' war?

Admittedly, the book is already at 22 chapters (about 15,000 words) and there has been but a single violent death, lots of nasty stuff and some quite classic vandalism. Think: The Monkey Wrench Gang. But there are crusading journalists, evil gas company workers, lots of solid science about why hydrofracking is such a disaster and a dog.

Yes, a dog. It's an old labrador named Belle who showed up this morning with a female environmental specialist/activist from Colorado hired by the newspaper. I didn't say she could bring a dog, but she did.

Novel characters and actors are like that.

All in all, the draft is moving along fine and if I read my outline correctly, it seems that tomorrow the good guys and the bad guys are likely to meet in a serious clash, like matter and anti-matter (with a similar explosion), unless that is happening already while I have been away typing this update.

More next week, with a hot war underway. Maybe.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Death in the afternoon (actually a nap) - after writing all morning

NUEVO VALLARTA, Nayarit, Mexico - The second full week of writing my first draft of The Fracking War ended last week and today started the third with about 10 chapters (more or less) in the bank. Many more to go, then revise, then... I don't want to think about it.

It took the full two weeks to get into the right cadence because even with the time blocked out to write, plot sort of set up, characters developing faster than teenagers, it still has been hard as all hell to write.

Part of it is the tendency to get waaaaay too complicated.

Several scenes take place in an upstate New York diner in a little place called Horseheads. I started going into great detail about this diner, then realized it only existed because the characters needed a place outside of the newspaper office to go talk.

Who gives a flying shit about the decor? That's information way beyond what any reader wants and/or needs.

The good news this past week was that I stumbled onto a rubric to make it easier for me to slam particular kinds of information to the readers without struggling as a novelist.

The main character will be writing a regular newspaper column and, voila, each column will be integral to the story.

His first column, headlined "Three Women, Three Cancers" is one smokin' piece of writing, if I do say so myself.

And I just did.

More next week, unless I become a casualty of The Fracking War and decide to start writing sonnets instead of this novel.