Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mary Sue and Me -- Our Fate is in the Cards!

I've been trying to get my wip ready to send off for the past three weeks. Well actually, for the past year, but with any energy for 3 weeks.

"Touch of Danger" comes out in May. It's the first volume of my Three Worlds series. Cerridwen bought only it and said, "We'll see" about a series. The second volume is tentatively titled "Star-Crossed," even though a recent online course instructor told me that since this was such a common title I should add a word or two. Unfortunately I can't get my heart around anything more. "Star-Crossed" sums up the predicament so nicely! She's a teleporter on interstellar levels, and she's in love with someone who is just not in her social class but rather miles above her. (Or so she believes.)

So anyway. One of the three online courses I took in February was "Screenwriting," by Alexandra Sokoloff, who is converting us all (as I've half-heartedly tried in the past) to putting scenes on notecards in order to arrange the book in a fast-paced, exciting, and stakes-upping manner.

Now, Three Worlds started off as one gigantor book. An agent (don't recall who) said it was impossible to sell such a large book -- something even idiot I should have known at that ignorant, pre-RWA time in my life -- so I split it up into four books plus 1 stand-alone sequel.

Book 1 was Act 1 of that part of the series (estimated at about 12 volumes) (oh puh-lease, don't groan; it's got 5 major arcs). Act I is the introduction of the hero/heroine and the call to adventure, but it made a very complete, exciting book and apparently Cerridwen agreed with me.

"Star-Crossed" is the "rising action" part of the first arc, where you get introduced to the characters and their situation while assembling a team. The characters have "crossed the threshold" and try to figure out what's happening until they hit the exciting Midpoint, where the situation takes a 180 turn (into the next book).

So it's a bit difficult to format a stand-alone-ish book from this. Book 2 definitely stands on the weakest ground of the bunch.

But the index cards will saaaaaaave me! I have faith in them.

Trouble is, it's just so darned much real WORK to write everything down, especially since I've been so busy paring the final two chapters to get rid of all the absolutely FASCINATING infodumps they contained. I reduced their page count by 3/4 and it reads so much better. (But still, isn't a wedding reception the best time to reflect on the various modes of interstellar fashion, humanoid types, political strategies, and galactic evolution? NOT ANY MORE!!!)

I'm hoping that the cards will also burn off any remaining Mary Sue-isms in the narrative. Since the series began from a dream, it started off as Mary Sue City and in the years of writing the first 5 volumes I've tried to adapt the lead character to the story and vice-versa, pulling her away from any Mary Sue tendencies. Still, they rear their ugly little Mary Sue heads, at least if you take those "Mary Sue tests" that you find on the Internet.

I'm doing my best to make Lina her own self who rules and is ruled by the universe she lives in.

When I get these freaking cards done it'll probably be another 2 weeks before I can hand the book in to my editor. Whew! Then I can get another pack of cards and start figuring out how the heck "Nothing Personal," the book I've been working on for about 2 years now that still remains rather vague in places, holds together. It's teetering on the brink of "aha" and merely needs a little organization and focus.


EilisFlynn said...

Good luck on the next book!

Martin Gray said...

What a fascinating process, I wish I had one tenth of your work ethic.

Is the book being released in the UK? I could get you a review, likely.