Project #46: In 1759 Voltaire published Candide

Started a new thing; 1759 words last night. It’s currently called, not very creatively, Project #46.

Nope, I have no idea where this one will go. This one wasn’t even planned. Right now it’s just raw wordage. I’m assuming 50k for fun, rather than having a definite place to go.

1759 / 50000

Starting line:

Jillna wondered if she should claim to be the daughter of an ambassador, or perhaps the niece of a company executive.

Second to last paragraph, which is not what you think it is:

Chasra laughed. “This is too rich. You are such a farce. Just a word of advice—you better like eating humble pie, ’cause you’re gonna get ripped to pieces here.” Even Fern laughed, but a polite and small laugh into her hand.

Will it go anywhere? Who knows? This could be described as “Mike and Psmith meets I, Robot,” and though that’s rather inaccurate it gets the basic idea across. Going somewhere is optional right now.

Some minor writing quarter-mile marks:

  • This is actually the first time I’m writing with a female protagonist, and currently a mostly female main cast (with a more balanced set of minor and walk-on characters).
  • This is the first scene I’ve ever written where more than two characters take an active role in a conversation. It’s about to become four. The best part is that they all sound different.
  • More of the characterization is carried through dialogue and, in the case of the POV, thoughts. Almost every time I come across something I recognize as a “tell” rather than “show”, I shift it to conversation or drop it entirely.
  • The point of view character actually has a personality and history from page one. It helps that I’m planning on multiple POV characters.
  • My narrator I’ve made as invisible as possible and not such a pill. Interesting narrators are probably not my style unless they’re first person. This might be a problem with this project.
  • I’ve killed the urge to write about Death and Destruction and Emo and settled on embedding personality quirks, faults, and fears into my characters rather as a nebulous infective atmosphere, because I’m not good at nebulous infective atmosphere. Unless you want to read the equivalent of Evanescence on downers.
  • I’m writing humor. This may turn out badly. But at least the narrator isn’t trying to exude humor; the humor is currently involved in conversation and/or character thoughts. And right now the situation has gone slightly bizarre and needs no tells to indicate its bizarreness, because it all comes from the characters and their quirks/fears/faults and, in one case, bizarreness.

I have Nick Mamatas to thank for the dialogue, POV, narrator, and most of the rest, by the way. I have every expectation that I would still have been far less clueless without his critique on another piece of mine. Which points out to me the importance of workshops like Clarion and Viable Paradise, where critiques from pro writers are available.

I try not to care when starting a writing project. I don’t know why when I end up caring anyways. Right now, this is a small break from bigger rewrites I have in mind. I have learned my lesson: where I am at the state of my knowledge, serials that are not largely pre-written, for a high percent value of “largely,” are bad ideas.

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2 thoughts on “Project #46: In 1759 Voltaire published Candide

  1. Your first two milestones are also issues for me: writing female characters and getting more than two people in one room at the same time. The most comfortable situation is, of course, male POV plus female secondary character because that means I can use “he” and “she” indefinitely!

  2. ‘Tis funny; I don’t think I would have noticed for a while without direct intervention. Such things haven’t been mentioned—or at least I don’t remember them—in the various writing books I have.

    I was especially amused when Nick pointed out that Warren Ellis’ Crooked Little Vein suffered from the same problems—the second character in the partnership kept falling asleep so that the first character could have a conversation!

    I found it odd, and looked back at things like Transmetropolitan. There are very few 2+ character dialogues—Spider interviewed, confronted, and monologued quite well, so I never felt anything was missing.

    And this is why I’m spending a lot more time reading across the better written genre and mainstream books. When a writer discusses how he or she is trying to better their writing, his/her weaknesses, and the new challenges their going for in the next book—as opposed to settling on their laurels—I now know that this is a person I should pay attention to.

    This includes Gene Wolfe, Neil Gaiman, Elizabeth Bear, John Scalzi, Jo Walton, Jeff VanderMeer, and so on and so forth. Some of the reasons why I began to stalk research deeply into the various writers nominated for the Hugo Awards (and probably others soon) is that I wanted to find the people to read.

    Perhaps I should start doing huge bookmarking posts or something. I’ve managed to eke out valuable treasures from blogs that may talk about a lot of daily life, but every so often delve into something deeper.

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