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Occupation: Girl

Please close the door and switch on the fun without fail.

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And now, dinner
THREE DAYS IN A ROW! Amazing. So. Let us have some linkspam.

The real explanation for that long delay in George R.R. Martin's next book? 

I wanted to lead with this link because it seems very plausible--the long and short of the hypothesis being, maybe George R.R. Martin didn't plan where he was going as he wrote, and so now he has no idea how to wrap things up--but also because it's the exact opposite of the way I write. Not that I am terribly important. I just like discussing the writing process, because it's not the writing process; it's whichever procedural thingamawhats work for you.

Lately, as previously mentioned, I've had some ideas simmering in my head--a good bit of world-building, a number of characters, a voice I think I could write fairly easily in--and I'm sitting here with a possible opportunity to do something with it. Sometimes I think in terms of one-off novels, but... rarely. I tend to come up with series ideas, because I come up with characters I like and then I want to do lots of things with them, whereas I suspect single novels tend to be more about an idea or a specific theme. I mean, not that stand-alone novels don't have great characters, but that the idea was what wanted most strongly to be told. I have an idea for a single novel--probably about 2/3 drafted, actually--where I really like the characters, but... I'm not sure I want to tell any other stories about them. It's very based in this riff on an older legend; what most attracts me is an idea, a concept. I know what the final scene will be, and I love the idea of that scene, and it feels like the completion of the idea to me.

Which brings me around to what I was actually trying to get around to, which is that I'm a big-picture person. Again, the point here is not so much to share with you the ~*magical inner workings*~ of how any one person writes; it's to point out that different things work for different people. And what seems to work for me is that I start daydreaming about a character, or a situation, or a place, and those daydreams ramble on until they start to kind of take shape. And once I have enough--usually a good enough idea of the characters to know what they might want to do--I start trying to reach out for the end of the story. Like, literally, the final page of the book(s). I can actually tell you what the last two lines of this new series are going to be: it's a first person narrative, and the heroine is going to sign her name, and what she signs--well. It's not going to be the same name she would sign at the beginning of the story, let's put it that way. And the series is about how she gets from the first page to the name that she signs at the end. And I know that if she has this problem over here, and this aspiration over here, those things are going to need to be resolved--happily or not--by the end of the series, but not entirely before the end, you know? Frodo is not going to throw the Ring into Mount Doom halfway through the Two Towers section, you know? So I tend to sit down and think, what does this character want to accomplish--or, as one of my professors used to say, "What is the so what of the story?" Why are you telling it? So I decide that, and I start mapping out vague points of what we might want to do to get to that last page. The example I always use is that it's like planning a trip--I know that I want to go to Venice, but I don't quite know how I'm going to get there yet. Oh! Obviously planes are going to be involved! Or perhaps boats, if you have a lot of time on your hands. So tickets must be bought. That's the kind of logical progression I'm talking about. If you have a romance, do you want to have a meet-cute, or a long-term friendship, or people getting swept off their feet, or months of pining, or misunderstandings, or sassy banter, or sudden realizations, or what? How do these things usually play out? Okay, now which parts of "how it usually plays out" do you want to keep and which ones do you want to change up, which tropes would you like to subvert, to keep people on their toes? And then maybe you get to that part when you're writing and you write it differently anyway on the spur of the moment, because that's what you and/or your characters feel.

And this is where people show up and go, "You know, you are really robbing yourself of the spontaneity of discovering things," or "But if you're just going to change it anyway when you do discover things, why did you bother planning it?" But that's how I think. It's fun to me--energizing. (And I actually do leave myself a lot of room to explore--my outlines always have a lot of holes in them--and I don't map out tropes as rigidly as my examples would suggest.) I just have to suppress the urge to go find someone and blurt it all out at once, is all.

And other people like to take unplanned road trips, you know? They like to get on the road with no idea of where they're going and just drive--have an adventure. At the same time, it's hard to know when you're done, when you do that. And when you feel done--that's when you turn around and go, "Well... crap. We still have to get back home." Any process has pitfalls, and you have to deal with them no matter what you end up cobbling together for yourself.

I don't know. I kind of feel like an idiot now. Apparently this Zoloft decrease has made me more prone than usual to shooting my mouth off and then feeling stupid about it afterwards. My point is, if it does work for you, then it's a good process. "Process" isn't a monolithic thing that you can do "wrong" if you didn't learn to do it "right," which a lot of people seem to get anxious about. So.


Rooney Mara to Play Lisbeth in David Fincher's 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.' (Older stories: Robin Wright to Join Daniel Craig in Fincher's 'Dragon Tattoo'?; Stellan Skarsgård in Talks for Dragon Tattoo.)

Nine New Looks at 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I.' (Bellatrix's hair is large and in charge there. Damn.)

Universal Planning 'Lord of the Rings' Theme Park Next?

Lucas Didn't Kill Han Solo Because of the 'Star Wars' Toys; ‘Star Wars’ fan Jon Stewart talks about having his own Stormtrooper action figure.

EXCL: James Cameron Talks At the Mountains of Madness.

Spotted: Kristen Stewart Filming 'On The Road.' (From a while back: Amy Adams and Viggo Mortensen Get On the Road.)

Rose Byrne in Talks for X-Men 's Dr. Moira MacTaggert; Kevin Bacon's 'X-Men: First Class' Role 'Will Surprise You,' Says Matthew Vaughn; 'X-Men: First Class' Adds Oliver Platt As The Man In Black.

Related: No 'Avon Man' For Hugh Jackman.

Reese Witherspoon to play Peggy Lee in biopic?; Reese Witherspoon Caught Between Paul Rudd And Owen Wilson In This 'How Do You Know' Trailer.

'Next Three Days' Trailer: Russell Crowe, Jailbreaker.

Cillian Murphy Cast in 'I'm.mortal' with Timberlake & Seyfried. 

And finally: Aguilera's 'Burlesque' Trailer Feels Like 'Showgirls Jr.'; Buzz Break: The Burlesque Poster is Nine, Minus Eight. 

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For some reason, I'm incredibly glad right now that I'm not a George R.R. Martin fan...

There is hope @_@ And an HBO show coming next year!

that top link is really interesting...I make comics, and I have this problem where I have a lot of characters I like, and I have little ideas of the kinds of things they would do, but I find myself mainly thinking about how I would like them to interact. Which means that then I struggle to find interesting larger plotlines/main ideas (though I get there eventually) As a result, I'm trying to find a way to make things come easier.

Anyway, what I mean is, I think it's interesting the different ways people work on making stories.

This is me (mostly). I like developing characters more than plotting and so that's what I do.

Like, right now I'm writing a book, and the thing of it is, the entire plot is driven by the psychological needs/wants/problems of the characters and what happens when they interact.

Thankfully there's a bit of a physical catalyst to make some of said issues more obvious or I feel like I'd just be writing about people doing laundry and making mac and cheese and not getting around to quitting their jobs for HUNDREDS OF PAGES.

NO JAMES CAMERON NOT 3D WHY GOD WHY. At least I hope Cameron honors his word and lets del Toro loose to interpret "At the Mountains of Madness" as he sees fit. I mean, maybe they'll also make a non-3D version, and I can go see that one.

But, as someone pointed out when they announced the Nyarlathotep-as-kawaii-teen-heroine anime series, Lovecraft's gotta be up to like 5 million RPM by now, anyway.

I'm still not entirely sold on 3D, but I'll see At the Mountains of Madness the second it comes out. I refuse to believe it won't.

Your icon looks vaguely familiar. What's it from?

Wow. Bella's hair is gigantic! Its like at least 3 times bigger than her actual head.

*Is also still annoyed over Narcissa's hair. Because I will never get over that*

Also, Harry lets Hedwig go before departing the Dursleys?

There wont be any hedwig death?

I...I dont know how I feel about this.

Bellatrix's hair is large and in charge there. Damn.

Well, she's obviously using Bumpits(tm). . . .

(relurks. . .)

Or Mount Everest. Either way....

Personally, I like the (lack of) plot structure in ASOIAF. These characters are supposed to be living in a chaotic period, much like the English during the Wars of the Roses. If the plot were more conventionally structured, the turbulence would feel too contrived.

Please don't feel like an idiot for talking about how you write. It's fascinating. Would it be weird if I said it was a very considerate process?

I recently started re-reading the A Song of Ice and Fire series, less than a year after I read all four books in less than two months. I think the points made in the io9 article are spot on. The further into the story you get, the more and more it expands, and the importance you placed on certain characters has to be reevaluated. It keeps you on your toes, but there's also a definite sense that George R.R. Martin was as surprised by some of what he created as you (the reader) are. It's exhilarating, but also frustrating. I get the feeling that as frustrating as it might be for me to get to the end of the fourth book, dying to know what happens, it has to be a gazillion times worse for Martin.

Personally, this is my favorite theory as to why ADWD is late:

by chacusha!

LMAO! I don't think that's the reason why A Dance With Dragons isn't in my hands right now, but it's still hilarious. BECAUSE R+L DOES EQUAL J!

What's up with Hermione's hands all bloody in one pic, and completely spotless in another version of the same picture?

And that poster of Hogwarts burning is fantastic.

I read that they cleaned the blood off digitally for the trailer. Apparently that much blood wasn't allowed for a trailer shown to all ages? I think.

Have you read any of the ASOIAF books? Just wondering.

Also, apart from Bellatrix' hair full of secrets and Narcissa's fail!wig, that scene looks exactly like it did in my head.

I love reading you talking about writing so, so much. I'm currently 22 thousand words into something and have reached the dreaded Second Act Problems with a magical twist--I started riffing on Act 3 for fun and then KEPT riffing on act 3 and now that chunk has grown like crazy and Act 1 is still stuck in that horrible limbo where I can't figure out an interesting way to get from point a to point b, and if I'm bored, no way is the rest going to be interesting.

Cleo, how do YOU kick the ass of Act 2 Blues?

1) Not very well.

2) My method--since I work out of order--is "write the good stuff first." Write out the most interesting things first, all the scene ideas that really seize you. Yeah, you'll probably have to tweak or rewrite them if the rest of the story changes along the way, but it's better than sitting there banging your head against the wall. And the interesting thing is, sometimes, when you write the good stuff first... you realize that that's all you really need. You can write in a little bit of connective tissue, but... that was really all you needed in the first place.

Of course, it kind of sounds like you do that too, and... that's where you got stuck, trying to think of The Good Stuff for the middle. In that vein, is there any way to cut out the "middle"? I mean, I don't know what the storyline is here, so this may not even be possible, but can Giant Act 3 become the middle and the end? I mean, they ("they") say that a lot of the time, people need to chop off the beginning of their story and start with the part that's actually interesting, often in medias res. Is it possible that Act 3 is the real story, and Act 1 was just how you warmed up for it? I mean, without actually having any idea if that's even possible--it may not be--that would be my suggestion, in terms of looking at it in a different light.

No 'Avon Man' For Hugh Jackman.


(Seriously, I'd rather he went back to the Cleopatra rock musical. The number of awful projects this man chooses...)

Oliver Platt! I really think that is just awesome.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO poor me George R. R. Martin! It's got to suck to be writing an awesome series that tons of people love reading, and then realize that you are stuck. And I do love hearing about your writing process, Cleo.

Also, obviously HP7 has been brewing for awhile now, but those stills just got me suuuuper excited about it. How am I ever going to wait? Even though I want to wait forever, because after that last one they will be over?

I love your writing-related posts and would be happy to read 'em whenever the rambling urge strikes - just so's you know. Also:

It's very based in this riff on an older legend; what most attracts me is an idea, a concept. I know what the final scene will be, and I love the idea of that scene, and it feels like the completion of the idea to me.

Well, that's what Robin McKinley (one of my favorite authors [which reminds me, have you read Sunshine yet? {wow, dissertating has clearly not helped my tendencies toward parenthetical statements}]) has done for a bunch of her books...and it seems to have worked out pretty well for her!