Works In Progress

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Three Times Better

One of my characters has been named Brooke Adams - a name with two problems. First, there seems to be a prejudice out there against characters named Brooke, and I don't need anything more going against my manuscript other than the fact that I wrote it. Second, Mrs. Tony Shalhoub is named Brooke Adams, and as some unpleasant things happen to my character I would hate for them to take it personally or for things to be prophetic. Tech Sgt. Chen has been through enough.

So Brooke Adams meet Barbara Adams.

No irrational prejudice.

No lawsuits from the Shalhoubs.

Plus - the third good thing about the switch - I can now use the legendary zombie movie line "They're coming to get you, Barbara" at some point in the story.

Yay. Yay. Yay.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Ferndale 2Night

It dawned on me over the weekend that I was using my memories of Ferndale, Calif., as my guide for Graphite. I downloaded a couple maps ( 1   2 ) and the street layout doesn't work (a simple grid makes things easy), but it's good to know where the church and graveyard came from.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Walk Like a Zombie, Talk Like a Zombie

I'm down to the final four sections of my manuscript, and I've encountered my first instance of zombie point-of-view. Let's just say I didn't nail it in my first draft. Not that I was trying to, but still ... nowhere close.

I'm thinking the zombies can't have the same objective narrative style as the other characters.

"The zombie pushed open the door. Encountering an obstacle, it pushed harder, leveraging the door open with its body. The cheap hollow-core door began to crack. One more push. The door broke in two. The zombie was in."

That's not an actual excerpt, but it's indicative of the problem. Do zombies use words like "encountering," "obstacle," "leveraging"? Can they distinguish between hollow-core wood and steel fire doors? If so, can they articulate the difference? Do they use complex sentences with multiple subordinate clauses? Not any that I've known.

So now I need a style that's primitive, feral even. Simple words. Simple sentence structure. Perhaps fragmented stream-of-consciousness -- once I figure out what passes for zombie consciousness.

Should be fun.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Let's Do The Time Warp Again ... For The First Time

I'm almost done with my first pass edit through my manuscript and two things have become painfully apparent.

The first is one that I've known all along: too much dialogue, not enough stage direction/interior monologue. Now, not all of the dialogue needs to stay -- probably half of it can go -- which means there will be less need for stage direction, which in and of itself doesn't add a whole lot to the book, but it may make the reading experience more enjoyable if the passages of dialogue are broken up a bit (sort of like this sentence could have been broken up a little bit).

The other thing has nagged me off and on, but as I'm nearing the end it's becoming obvious that the story is spread over too much time. It opens on Tuesday afternoon and ends sometime Saturday morning. That's simply too much time for anyone to spend in Graphite, Oregon, that doesn't have to be there (and until Revival makes it onto a college syllabus, no one is required to be there).

So the idea I'm toying with is to cut about 18 hours from the book. Instead of opening at 3p on Tuesday, it'll open at 9a on Wednesday. All the ancillary events (the girl dying and being brought back to life, the graveyard clean-up, etc.) will pretty much stick to the same schedule -- I really don't want to shift the Sheriff again. Graham's interview schedule, however, will be considerably compressed (and any interviews that are unnecessary can more easily be cut) and the pace ought to pick up as well.

When I get done with the first pass, I'll take a week or so off to rework the timeline, draw a city map, figure out the obvious cuts, etc.

It shouldn't be all that difficult. After all, It's just a jump to the left. And then a step to the right. Put your hands on your hips ... and so on.

Then comes the actual rewrite. Less easy, but if things flow better it ought to be a lot of fun, although I'll miss being driven insane by the pelvic thrusts. Oh well....

(Here are the lyrics to The Time Warp from Rocky Horror Picture Show in case you've missed the pertinent pop-culture references in the above entry.)

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Soundtrack Snippets

One of the things I've always liked about Stephen King's writing is that on major section-break pages he lists 1-3 snippets of song lyrics that have something to do with the action coming up in the next section. I know other authors do it, but I encountered it first with SK, so he gets the credit (another author who makes good use of introductory quotes is Chris Well in Forgiving Solomon Long).

Since its inception, Revival was always going to have a snip from The Call on the separator page for the final section:
"Preacher cried out, 'Hell's been raised!'
The preacher cried out, 'Hell's been raised!' "

--Oklahoma (The Call)

I'm looking at a snip from Simon & Garfunkel to open Day 1:
"I can gather all the news I need on the weather report."

--The Only Living Boy in New York (S&G)

And for either the Day 2 (Maya dies and comes back to life) or Day 3 (Hymnsing):
There are rumors about the bank account,
Affairs and double dealings
But faith sneaks up like a mischievous child,
And you find yourself believing
I could be deceived, but I believe
That I just got a healing from

(don't know what's really there inside of her)
Revival queen, Evangeline
(does a miracle occur somehow in spite of her?)

--Evangeline (Daniel Amos)

Possibly just the chorus on the Evangeline quote, who knows?

That's where I'm at right now. I still need five or so more, but it's early yet.

Don't Say the "Zed Word"

Well, I've watched my zombie living-dead movies and learned a couple things. First, as I've indicated twice in this post, the Z-word is out. Second, for as much as is made of the living-dead thriving on fresh brains, both films went with the ultra-gory throat and torso gut shots over the skull-cracking, goo-chewing route.

Both of these revelations are fine by me.

Technically, what I have in Revival are reanimated corpses, which is in keeping with its HP Lovecraft/"Herbert West" origins. Nobody's eating anybody. Killing for sport, on the other hand....

I liked seeing the fast-moving creatures in the Dawn of the Dead remake. Mine don't move that fast, but they're still fairly fast. If you're sufficiently motivated and have room to move you could get away from one on foot, but if you get yourself cornered or get a side-cramp all bets are off.

Finally, with the Z-word being out, I can have a nice dialogue exchange about that fact to break tension at some point.