Invisible People

Keck is puzzled...

Keck is puzzled…

Characters are appearing in scenes like Cheshire cats! (Dave’s Third book is possessed).

Let me set the scene. You will often have heard writers talk about characters having a life of their own. Sometimes, as a writer gets to know a character, the original outline just doesn’t work anymore. Sometimes, writers have a little method actor in them. Sometimes, these things happen. A good character runs off on you.

That sort of thing.

Well, in my book, I’ve got characters riding right beside the viewpoint character that no one ever sees! (It’s like Dan Brown — when people refuse to look at or think about various things in order to create a nice cliff hanger: We see what you do, Mr. Brown!)

Three guys are alone in a vast and haunted forest. After an hour of picking at things I’ve got the scene polished with new, snappier dialogue and everything… when, just as the scene ends, A WHOLE EXTRA CHARACTER CHIMES IN.

I was tempted to have the original characters fall off their horses. “OMG, have you been there the whole time? Have we been talking about you, or anything? Etc..)

Clearly, I need to focus.

(More Coffee needed).

Forest Tournament, Check

Progress Report: Clear to Page 268

Progress Report: Clear to Page 268

All right, just a quick note to say that progress proceeds apace. I’ve got characters over mountains, into an eerie forest tournament, out of jail, through an execution, a tournament and a quick escape.

Oh, and love is back on our hero’s agenda.

Onward and upward!

For Every Thing, Turn, Turn, etc.

Keck considers repetition and style...

Keck considers repetition and style…

We all possess habits of speech. (Impressionists need a few handles to get ahold of).

In writing, a similar set of habits follows us. On the larger scale, favorite tropes and themes reappear. Characters pop up again in different guises. Line by line, you may find favorite turns of phrase, habits of rhythm, tendencies around sentence length and complexity. A writer’s tastes and training leave their fingerprints.

How Much is Too Much?

Most of you will have all heard of “said book-isms.” Teachers take great joy in helping students add variety to their writing by choosing new (and often rather distracting words) to replace “said” as a dialogue tag. Few writers at a professional level bother with such things.

My own writing has plenty of quirks. I like a good image. I like cranky dialogue. I like dark and daunting medieval nonsense.

With these things, I am happy.

Sometimes, however, I worry about the smaller issues. No matter how tense things get, how often can characters be said to whisper? How often can a writer mention which way a character looks or glances. And how many times can a character turn. (This last one may beat me).

My suspicion is that, for the most part, these little things dissolve into the story when the story succeeds. And that the grit of such details only chafes the reader, when the larger story fails.  

(This will be my excuse to stop worrying about the little things — until a proofreader comes for me, you know, with a pool cue). 

Back to revisions…

Page 207: The Strange Effects of Fits & Starts

Keck rewrite reaches page 207

Keck rewrite reaches page 207

Writing in fits and starts has some peculiar side effects.

While scenes will have a deceptive internal consistency, the motives and reactions of characters will often fit poorly with the novel as a whole. That can, of course, create real problems.

It’s been amusing to see how many times I’ve relabelled characters. You get introduction after introduction. (Maybe I’d forgotten who they were myself!)

Onward and upward! 

De-Tangled to 170

Keck 170

Keck manages to reach 170 pages of clean text. (He thinks).

Using a shiny new (borrowed) Surface, I have fought my way through to page 170 of A King in Cobwebs despite.

Although 170 is a nice large-sounding number, there are well over 600 pages in the manuscript and there aren’t actually that many working days left in summer (!).

Worse, there are dark sections of the manuscript still to come. I am bracing myself for an entire multi-chapter sequence where the plot hits peaks of bewildering tedium rarely achieved by a writer of fiction in this (or any other) century.

I made notes.

Wish me luck!


PS: I wonder if I should post a few sample chapters at this stage.

Web Comics on Suvudu

Keck Procrastination Web Cartoon

Your author defeats the powers of procrastination!

I’ve been in talks with to produce a series of web comics, starring the cheerful monsters of my fevered imagination. Cartooning was a childhood dream of mine, so every cartoon I place really makes me smile.

Suvudu has asked for several to get started.

You might end up with a whole stack before the year is out!

100 Pages Edited…

Keck Considers King of Cobwebs

Keck reaches page 100 in revision of King of Cobwebs

After rereading my two books and making copious notes (which was an unusual experience, ask me about it someday), I’m 100 pages into my revision of Dave’s amazing third book: A King in Cobwebs.

Already, the reader gets blood, horses, armor, gods, sorcerers, star-crossed lovers and the living dead. Not bad, eh?

So far, I’m happy with the text, though I wish I’d done twice as much already. There are only so many days of summer left to me….

Hemingway Rewritten: Updating the Theme

Keck Revises Gloomy Theme, Saves Day

Keck Revises Gloomy Theme, Saves Day

We’re freshening things up around here today.

While everyone else is off at ComicCon, I’m working on the next book and fooling around with the computer.

If you ever been here before, you’ll have seen a pretty bold white on black theme for quite a while. Now, the site is running with a theme called Hemingway Rewritten (which might be a little risky for a writer, fate-tempting-wise).

Summertime: Back to Work

With summer back in full force, it’s time to get to work again. As I write this post, I’m rereading the second book in Durand Col’s story and getting set to edit the big third book.

Writing with a full time job (and a school-aged child) is tricky, as you might imagine (especially when your spouse is busier than you are!)

Still, my goal for the summer is to nail down a draft and get the book out to my old cronies. (Get ready cronies!) It’s been a while.

Oh, and to keep up with the field (teaching and writing, actually), I’ve been exploring Twitter, where you can find me at @keckda posting links (and the occasional cartoon).

Ad Astra Winding Down

We had a lovely time in Toronto this weekend. Although I attended as an unbilled babysitter, I had a good laugh with Ed Greenwood and Steven Erickson in my solitary panel appearance.

(Ed Greenwood is a very cheerful lunatic.)

The volunteer crew at Ad Astra made my family and I feel very welcome, and it was fun (kinda) being home for a few days. (No prairie boy thinks of Toronto as home, exactly).