Friday, 17 February 2012

Little token of affection from the London Tube

I bet London's transport network is a field day for epidemiologists (sp?) worldwide. The kind of nasty you can pick up because your neighbour coughs his or her lung out over your shoulder is impressive. Now, I do have the typical Taurus (I've been told) constitution; very hard to kill, generally, but my weak area is the whole breathing apparatus plus sinuses. I went to work first day with really bad sinuses, then they cleared up over a few days, and then my boss's boss fell ill. Then my boss. Over two weeks, it's been closing in, and I've done my level best to fight it off. Everybody's coughing and sneezing - same on the tube, bus, train.

It was only a matter of time. And the problem in my job is that I have to be sharp enough to catch a missing "bn" for "billion" in a financial edit (it does make a difference when editors mess up). What I edit every day requires me to be 100% sharp. Even 80% would do it (as long as I'm not the last pair of eyes on the edit). Today, I'm down to 50%, which means enough coherence to read a bit and go to the supermarket to acquire some soup (and remember to take the change). And write a quick blog update. But otherwise I'm woozy and headachy and surrounded by used paper tissues. It's a sorry sight.

To add insult to injury, the slice of vegetable quiche I found in the shop tastes like cardboard. Which is probably more my fault than its maker's; taste buds are on holiday while my brain's dribbling out of my ears. So I'll stick to mainlining hot tea, coffee, orange juice and cough syrup. Sounds like a balanced diet to me.

Yesterday, the rest of the plot for my space opera came together - which, as usual, led to a discussion with my partner. Now, bless him, he's patient and supportive, but he's incredibly focused on plot, and unless it's an awesome plot, he's all "bleh" about it. Anything. Books, films, and definitely my (or his own) writing. The gods were having a laugh, teaming me up with a 100% plot person. So, after some digging on his part, I told him the plot for the space opera novella I'm working on. And then we had a bit of a shouting match over the ending. He wants me to end it where my very specific ideas have run out (very much the dark moment in the story, where things look really bad). Whereas I do like to get characters out alive and halfway happy. I do think the main character kinda deserves it, too.

So there's the argument between a plot-driven reader and a character-driven author. The author wants to reward the characters for a "good effort" and all their struggles by showing them a way out after the big "oh shit" moment. The plot-driven reader can't care less about the characters and is totally focused on the twist ending - up to the point where he really only wants the twist and no real "afterglow".

I'm not yet sure how to resolve the issue. When I tell him that I don't actually *have* a clear ending, I get "yes, you do! You told me the twist, and every word after just weakens the impact! You'll ruin a perfectly good story" as a response. No use telling him that I'm still 10-15k away from the ending, and books change as I go along, with pieces falling into place before me like in a jump-and-run arcade game (anybody still play those?).

I honestly don't know; my brain's too mushy to work out a solution to that issue right away. In the end, I'll have to trust Mister Muse to put the missing pieces into place. It's not like I can sell a gay sci-fi story to the mainstream, regardless how kick-ass the twist is. If fantasy readers are unready for gay characters, then mainstream sci-fi is probably the last bastion of the "clenchies" as I like to call the "YIKES, GAY CHARACTERS!" homophobic fanboys out there.

On a side-note - the friend whose book I was proofing/helping to edit when I wrote the last few updates has landed a Big Name agent with it, so if anybody kept their fingers crossed for my friend, thank you. The goods vibes helped. :)


  1. Blogger ate my comment. It was a long one.

    To summarize: Sorry you're sick. Get better! Yay for Mat. Plot over everything in sci-fi. :D

    Heh. As if you didn't know I'd say that.

  2. Just a short note to say..

    Feel better soon!

    Character driven reader here. But either way, I always trust your muse to do it up right, whatever right ends up being.

    And more with the feel better soon.


  3. Feel better soon. Just read Dark soul 4 and already pre-ordered 5. I hope that you make Franco happy though. Sorry but i believe Silvio and Gianbattista belong together. I could feel Gianbattistas strong love for Silvio. He just needed him to experience life and when you love someone so much you let them go and if it was true love they come back. Ofcourse I feel sorry for Donata but i just want Franco and Stefano to end up together. I am rooting for him. Cross my fingers. My best characters in the series are Gianbattista and Franco.

  4. Kate - I tend to write blogger comments in WORD and copy them over. I've lost so many long comments that I've resorted to that. Also - as a reader, you're the litmus test. If I can keep you entertained, I know I get the "plot people".

    Amara - Thanks, I'm mostly all right again. :) I think we have very similar tastes when it comes to stories.

    Anon - Thanks for commenting. I've beaten the London crud! There's much I want to do with Franco. He is the heart of my failed juvenile novel (failed as in: didn't get published and wasn't very good, either), and I have a whole plotline for him, I'll just need to build a world for him, because I really don't want to misrepresent the place in Africa where I set it originally in my ignorance. So, yes, I know what happens, but I need a "where" for the plot to make any sense.

    Also - yep, Silvio and Battista make a really good couple - I totally feel them, but there are also huge issues. Still, I really want to explore the early phase of their relationship, but younger man/older mentor is one of those things that keeps hitting all my own buttons. There's some intense and hot BDSM to be written.

    And, I was actually surprised how much chemistry Franco and Stefano had; I needed Franco for plot reasons (and to show some more stuff that had gone before), but I really enjoyed how Stefano and Franco struck sparks off each other. (There you go, again two alphas - I tend to come back to those).

    I'm hoping you'll enjoy the ending. :)