February 27th, 2009

The time thief and the mess maker

There is a little dude in a stupid-looking hat who skulks around waiting for you to look away from a surface containing a clock. Then he sprints forth, sinks his little vampire teeth into the clock, and sucks out some time. You look up again, and two hours are gone.

And his sister is always sneaking around behind me. The seams in her bulging pockets are unraveling, so messes fall out every time she takes another step. But her real purpose isn't even to leave physical souvenirs--no, she digs in her pockets for the most random ideas, then actually winds up her pudgy little fist and chucks them into the back of my head. They lodge there amongst the hundreds of other things I planned to use my diminishing time for.

Little. Bastards.

(This post brought to you by the panic-inducing realization that I only have sixteen days to finish Noble Quest or I'll go over my year! The last several novels I wrote have been done in one year, and I don't want to break my record, especially when I could have had this mess done months ago if I wasn't so easily distracted.)

My critique group(s) RUINED 1600+ words of my novel, and they haven't even read it!

...But they're awesome and I love them all.

Two hours ago, my story was longer than it is now, but it's about to get longer again, and much, much better.

How this happened in three points:
1. On Sunday, as usual I derided my abilities as a writer, and as usual my friends pulled knives and told me to STFU or else. (Well, not quite like that. But they've been known to have a low tolerance for what I consider a rational assessment of my skill level and what they consider useless self-deprecation.) Their resistance to my point, this time, forced me to explain myself...

I make things easy on my characters, and while I'm aware of it, it's difficult not to slip them treats under the table. I like them too much. I think a mark of truly amazing writers is a willingness to bring real darkness into their work, to take away everything a character has, some of it permanently. You can't gain skills just by doing terrible things to your characters, of course, but the ability to make the reader cry, "Oh, no!" is valuable indeed.

2. I had a logic flaw in Noble Quest (it appeared because this is a rewrite of a significantly different NaNo attempt, sharing a partial skeleton, some characters, and little else). I posed it to some writer friends, who uttered several suggestions, some easy to implement, some difficult, some impossible.
And now for the best one:
3. They, especially kehrli, advised me to force my characters to do the thing I wanted them to do by using ramifications greater than their own possible deaths. And so I solved the logic flaw while convincing myself that maybe I am a hardass after all.

No treats under the table for you guys, NQ cast. Just blood, guilt and desperation. >:)

75742 / 80000 words. 95% done! (which is a lie, since it's going to be longer than I thought)