Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Posts Tagged ‘Kawataro

Stories old and new

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Beware of the kappa, or kawataro!

I’m pleased to announce that Analog Science Fiction and Fact has picked up my novelette “Stonebrood,” which looks like it should appear in print later this year. It’s my first new piece there in some time, and it’s a good one—which might seem like an odd statement for its author to make. In fact, I’ve noticed a Star Trek-style pattern of quality in my recent stories, with decent efforts (“Ernesto,” “The Whale God”) alternating with works that feel maybe a little weaker in retrospect (“The Voices,” “Cryptids”). “Stonebrood,” fortunately, comes on the upswing, and it’s probably the closest thing to a “classic” story of mine I’ve published in quite a while: it’s plotty, dark, and set against the kind of backdrop I like, in this case a coal seam fire raging underground in central Pennsylvania. I hope you all enjoy it.

If there’s one story that feels like the embodiment of what I do best, within my admittedly narrow range, it’s “Kawataro,” which first appeared in Analog in June 2011. As it happens, I’ll be reading from it tonight at an event sponsored by the Chicago Writers Conference, where I’ll be appearing along with Nami Mun, Vu Tran, and my wife Wailin Wong. I chose “Kawataro” in part because of its Asian themes—the reading is timed to coincide with Asian Pacific Heritage Month—and because, frankly, it may be the strongest story I’ve ever written, or at least the one that I tend to revisit the most. I’ve only got ten minutes at the podium, so I won’t be able to get through it all, but I’ve posted the entire story here. If you’ve never read it, please check it out: I went over it the other day, and I’d say it holds up pretty well. (I’ve also described its origins in detail.) And if you’re in Chicago this evening, I’d love to see you there.

Written by nevalalee

May 1, 2015 at 8:44 am

The oblique angle

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Illustration for "The Whale God" by Vincent DiFate

On Friday, I’ll be reading at an event sponsored by the Chicago Writers Conference, titled “A Celebration of Asian-American Writers in Chicago,” with authors Nami Mun, Vu Tran, and Wailin Wong. (If that third name sounds a little familiar, it’s because Wailin and I are married, which marks the first and only time I’ve felt like part of a literary power couple.) The reading is timed to coincide with Asian Pacific Heritage Month, and while I’m pleased to be included, I’ve also found myself reflecting on the role that my background has played, if any, in my work. As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m multiracial—half Chinese, the rest Finnish and Estonian—and my track record of tackling Asian themes in my own writing is a mixed one. Two of my short stories, “Kawataro” and “The Whale God,” address such issues directly, the former in Japan, the latter in Vietnam, but my novels prefer to engage the subject from an angle, using Russia as a canvas for exploring the conflict between eastern and western cultures. In a way, the figure of the Scythian or Khazar is simply a translation of my life story into geographical terms: I’m not from the steppes, but I’m fascinated by places in which that collision has shaped entire civilizations, rather than individual lives.

Really, though, when you look at my writing as a whole, a very small percentage is devoted to themes that can be traced back to issues of identity. And I’ve spent a long time wondering why. Part of it has to do with the nature of being multiracial: you’re left to figure out a lot of important things for yourself, and it’s hard to commit yourself entirely to one side or another. Another element is purely personal: as a writer, I’ve always placed a premium on detachment, and I continue to feel that I do my best work when I can regard it with some objectivity. Autobiographical writing has never held much appeal for me; you end up so close to the material—a danger for any kind of writing whatsoever—that you’re unable to judge it with the coldness that good writing demands. And the rest may just be an accident. What catches your interest as a writer, not to mention what gets published, is largely a matter of chance, and quirks of timing and process yield patterns that may or may not be meaningful. Whenever I end up writing about Asian themes, it’s because the story demands it, not because I set out with such intentions in mind. “Kawataro” was a scientific puzzle I had to solve, and the answer turned out to be in Japan; “The Whale God” took place in Vietnam for similar reasons, although I briefly pursued the idea of setting it in Greenland.

Mind maps for the story "Kawataro"

Yet none of these explanations get at the crucial point, which I can only describe as an intuition—which is visible throughout my work—that the best way to approach any subject of great personal importance is through an indirect route. In The Spooky Art, Norman Mailer makes a similar point, although in a very different context, in talking about writers who lived through September 11:

There must be five hundred young writers in New York who had a day of experience that was incomparable—nothing remotely like that had ever happened before in their lives. And it’s likely that some extraordinary work will come out of it. Hopefully, not all of it about 9/11. If you never write about 9/11 but were in the vicinity that day, you could conceivably, in time to come, describe a battle in a medieval war and provide a real sense of such a lost event. You could do a horror tale or an account of a plague. Or write about the sudden death of a beloved. Or a march of refugees. All kinds of scenes and situations and derive ultimately from 9/11. What won’t always work is to go at it directly. That kind of writing can be exhausted quickly. And the temptation to drive in head-on is, of course, immense—the event was so traumatic to so many.

And while the problem of dealing with one’s background may seem to have little in common with a single day of indescribable trauma, the underlying point is the same. If a writer is a machine for making choices, the most interesting decisions tend to emerge from a transmutation of the underlying material, until the original source becomes unrecognizable. I don’t always identify as an Asian-American writer, or even as a Eurasian one, but the themes that I revisit repeatedly—the idea of the world as a puzzle to be solved, the search for patterns in a mass of data, the extent to which we’re able to be free creators of ourselves—certainly arise from the problems I’ve mulled over in my own life. Most authors tend to define themselves in terms of their own otherness, and if nothing else, the choice to become a writer at all provides enough otherness for a lifetime of stories. The trick, I’ve come to believe, is to treat that sense of difference as an excuse to seek out the untold, the unknown, and the unrepresented wherever we find it, even if it wears a face nothing like our own. On the surface, it may seem that we’re exploring lives that have nothing to do with us. But it’s that oblique angle, or the approach from the unexpected direction, that guarantees that we’ll have been talking about ourselves all along.

Written by nevalalee

April 28, 2015 at 9:26 am

Discovering the “Cryptids,” Part 1

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The author's notes for "Cryptids"

Note: For the next three days, I’ll be discussing the origins of my novelette “Cryptids,” which appears on the cover of the May 2014 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact. The issue should still be available on newsstands, and you can also pick up an online copy here. Needless to say, considerable spoilers follow.

A reader encountering “Cryptids” for the first time, or even just glancing at the cover art, might assume that I set out to write a story about venomous flying dinosaurs—which, granted, is a pretty cool concept, and just the kind of thing you’d expect to grab a writer’s attention. In fact, the dromaeosaurs didn’t enter my mind at all until I’d spent a lot of time speculating about the material that takes up the first half of the plot. It would be an exaggeration to say that the cryptids took both me and my characters by surprise, but the story behind this particular novelette is a useful illustration of how quickly an idea can move in unexpected directions. I’ve noted elsewhere how the urge to write a story often precedes the story itself, on both the largest and the smallest scales. Long before I knew what my first novel would be about, I knew that I wanted to be a writer of some kind: tackling a project of that size is so daunting that it requires a critical mass of existing ambition before most of us can even contemplate it. The same holds true for individual projects. Speaking from my own experience, a writer will sometimes start working on a story because he misses the act of writing itself; because he has some free time available; or because it’s been a while since he last got something published. And once that urge is there, it’s only a matter of finding a promising bit of material to which all those energies can be harnessed.

Looking back at my notes for “Cryptids,” which date back to last May, I see that I was even less certain than usual of what story I would end up writing. In my writer’s journal, there are brief synopses of three possible plots, all of them radically different. “Plot” is actually too generous a term: they’re barely even premises, more like avenues for further exploration. For the sake of the historical record, I’ll give them here, exactly how I jotted them down:

  1. Bug hunt—Pharma company searches for insects in Indonesia—looking to screen plants for possible drug applications
  2. Volcanos—Search for mammoth remains in Alaska coincides with a volcanic eruption
  3. Blindness—Man has vision restored but can’t process images properly—leads to unexpected complications—patterns of migratory birds provide insight

At a glance, none of these story prompts seems much more promising than any other, and it’s only by chance that I ended up going with the first, which changed a great deal in its own right before I was done. I may end up going back to one of the others someday, and if I don’t have any qualms about sharing them here, it’s only because I know that the story you or any other writer would write based on a hint like this would have nothing in common with what I might do with it. (I don’t even think I’d end up with the same story twice if I attacked these ideas under different circumstances.)

The author's notes for "Cryptids"

In the end, I ended up diving deeper into the idea that I called “Bug Hunt,” and in fact, that’s the name under which it originally appeared in my notes. I was inspired by an article I’d read about a real pharmaceutical company, Entomed, which is systematically screening insects from ecosystems across the world in search of potential drug applications. Although this sort of thing gets fuzzy over time, I’m pretty sure I was drawn to this idea because it naturally suggested a clothesline on which I could hang a story: a search for a MacGuffin in the form of a valuable insect, preferably in an interesting and dangerous part of the world, is the kind of versatile structure that I could use to tell any number of stories. It didn’t hurt that years ago, in college, I’d written a long story about ethnobotany in the Amazon rain forest, and I still remembered a lot of the underlying material. Still, this didn’t tell me much about what kind of story this was, who the characters were, or what would happen to them. The problem was to narrow down the range of possibilities, and in most of my own work, the crucial element is setting. A story like “Kawataro” or “The Whale God” could have been set nearly anywhere, and when I worked backward from the pieces I already had to end up in Japan or Vietnam, it locked the rest of the narrative into place.

With “Cryptids,” the premise I had in mind set certain constraints on the setting I could use. Logically, it would need to be a location of high biodiversity, which is where the attention of a drug development company would naturally be drawn, and this generally means an underdeveloped country or region with lots of undescribed species, which from a narrative perspective seemed likely to generate some interesting plot points. Beyond that, however, it could be any number of places. Amazonia was an obvious choice, and I already had a lot of research at my fingertips from my earlier story on the subject, but I didn’t really feel like going that route again. My initial impulse, as my notes indicate, was to set the story in Indonesia, both because it met all of the pragmatic requirements and because I hadn’t often seen it used as a setting in science fiction. I spent some time working up a story with Indonesia in mind, focusing on subjects, like traditional black magic, that I intuitively thought I could use. I uncovered some promising material, and I wouldn’t rule out a fictional visit to Indonesia at some point in the future. At some point, though, I began to feel that I was covering ground that I’d explored elsewhere, particularly in “Kawataro,” and as I continued to dig, I made a discovery that caused me to shift my attention abruptly to Papua New Guinea. How I ended up there, and how I found a particular cryptid waiting for me, will be the subject of tomorrow’s post.

Written by nevalalee

March 24, 2014 at 9:48 am

Is this really science fiction?

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Illustration for "The Whale God" by Vincent DiFate

Like most writers, I take an interest in the responses to my work. Since “The Whale God” was published this month in Analog, it’s been reviewed at a handful of professional or semiprofessional review sites, as well as on a number of blogs written by fans. Most of the reviews have been respectful and positive, but I’ve also seen a familiar theme recur even in the ones that liked the story, and especially in the ones that didn’t: they don’t think “The Whale God” is really science fiction, or if it is, it just barely qualifies. At this point, I’m no longer surprised by the reaction, which I’ve seen for every short story I’ve published in the last few years. I don’t agree with the assessment, but it does give me pause. I’ve said more than once that I try to write stories that other readers will enjoy, but it looks increasingly as if my work doesn’t quite fit with what many Analog subscribers are expecting. And it isn’t because I’m pushing the boundaries of the medium: there are countless other writers whose work is more innovative and challenging than what I happen to write.

First, let’s deal with the question of whether these stories are science fiction at all. In the past, I’ve tried to come up with a definition of science fiction broad enough to encompass my work, but the best is probably the one in Analog’s own guidelines for submission:

Basically, we publish science fiction stories. That is, stories in which some aspect of future science or technology is so integral to the plot that, if that aspect were removed, the story would collapse. Try to picture Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein without the science and you’ll see what I mean. No story!

In most respects, my stories fit comfortably within that rubric, except for one sticking point: the word “future.” All of my stories take place in the present, or in the recent past, and they’re often less about future science than about speculative combinations or consequences of the science we know now. In my story “Kawataro,” for instance, I introduce what seems like a mythical creature in a village of the deaf in Japan, and I then suggest that both the creature and the deafness might have arisen from a previously undiagnosed genetic syndrome. Each piece is real, but combined in a highly speculative way, and the result is pure fiction.

"Kawataro" in Analog Science Fiction and Fact (June 2011)

That’s where the “future” element subtly comes into play: these stories all describe something that hasn’t happened yet, but could, as long as reader is willing to grant a few basic assumptions. The same is true of “The Whale God,” despite its period setting. The psy-ops program I describe never really existed, although it’s in line with similar research that was being done at the time, and although its effects on whales—and humans—are grounded in science, the specifics are entirely speculative. Part of me would like to believe that the result doesn’t seem like science fiction to some readers because the details are convincing, or at least presented with a straight face, which disguises how big of a conceptual jump I’m actually taking. I try to write stories in which the speculative elements shade imperceptibly into the real world, and the division between the two isn’t always clear. This is as much a strategic choice as an artistic one: I’m always concerned that scientifically literate readers will object to my leaps of logic—as many of them did with “The Boneless One”—so I try to disguise the gaps as well as I can. If it works, it’s often because I’ve nudged the odds in my favor, baking the least plausible elements into the premise of the story itself.

And as much as I’d like to write stories that have the look and feel of more traditional science fiction, I’m not sure I can. Science fiction is an incredibly rich field, crammed with talented writers who are better at that kind of story than I could ever be, and I’m happy to stick to my own peculiar niche while leaving the future to others. The few attempts I’ve made at dealing with aliens, for instance, haven’t been all that successful, and whenever I try something more conceptually ambitious, I start to feel a little like the Dean on Community: “Time travel is really hard to write about!” But I know that I can write pretty good stories in my own vein, and a fair number of readers seem to enjoy them. For me, that’s more than enough. I’m writing for others in the only way I know how: by telling stories that have a reasonable hope of living up to my own standards, in as engaging a fashion as I can. The result may look a little strange—or not strange enough—but believe me, they’re better than anything I could cook up if I forced myself to write in a mode that didn’t fit my own tastes and interests. And if readers could tell how speculative these stories really were, I’m not sure they would have gotten published in the first place.

Written by nevalalee

July 11, 2013 at 9:11 am

Inventing “The Whale God,” Part 1

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Notebook page for "The Whale God"

Going back to reread your notes for a story that you’ve since written and published can be a disorienting experience. Once a story is in print, there’s a tendency, even by the author, to see it in a new light: it seems permanent, fixed, inevitable. Over time, you start to forget the long chain of discrete, sometimes arbitrary decisions that shaped the plot along the way, or the fact that it could easily have ended up going in a radically different direction. That’s why it’s worth jotting down a record of your initial thoughts on a potential story, even if you aren’t sure if the project will go anywhere. You’ll probably need to refer to it down the line to remind yourself of why you felt like writing about this idea in the first place, and later on, its record of wrong turns and momentary inspirations can be a rewarding one to revisit. (Incidentally, this is why I always start brainstorming every story on a physical sheet of paper, ideally in a notebook, and I follow Francis Ford Coppola’s advice by writing the date at the top of each page.)

In the case of my novelette “The Whale God,” which ultimately became the cover story for the September 2013 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact, the process of working out the bones of the plot took me into some unexpected places. The germ of the story came, as it often does, from an article in a science magazine—in this case, a piece in Discover on whale beachings and their possible connection to sonar. When I came across it, I was systematically looking for ideas, digging through the large pile of magazines that I’ve accumulated over the years for this specific purpose, and I knew at once that this was a subject that I’d enjoy exploring, which is often the crucial first step. At that point, I didn’t know when or where the story would be set, but I wasn’t bothered by this: as I’ve noted before, for a work of speculative fiction, it’s often best to let the setting arise from the problems that the story itself presents, which allows the result to seem logical and organic.

Notebook page for "The Whale God"

My first thought was that it would be a contemporary story set in some interesting region of the world, preferably one that would allow me to incorporate elements of apparent fantasy or mythology that could then be given a scientific rationale. (To the extent that most of the stories I’ve published have a formula, it’s that they initially present fantastic events, then explain them in reasonably plausible scientific terms, which is basically what the The X-Files does in reverse.) Looking back at my notes, I see that I’d originally thought about setting the story in Greenland, which would certainly make for a fascinating location. Later, I was drawn to the potential of Vietnam, which has a thriving whale cult—and a legacy of tales of hungry ghosts—that I knew I could to put to use. In particular, I was intrigued by the possibility of connecting infrasound, with its link to whale beachings, to ghost sightings, which one line of thinking has attributed to low-frequency vibrations and their effect on the human brain and eye.

As soon as I’d gotten this far, however, I ran into a problem that only occurs after you’ve written a handful of stories. In 2011, Analog had published a novelette of mine called “Kawataro,” which had certain similarities to the plot I’d sketched out: it takes place in an East Asian country, centers on elements of local mythology, and ultimately provides a rational explanation for what initially seems like a supernatural event. I didn’t want to repeat myself too blatantly, so I began to consider and discard various options for what became “The Whale God” based on how closely they recalled my previous work, which is something that I suspect many writers need to do, even if they don’t often talk about it. In the end, I decided that the best way to differentiate the two stories would be to give “The Whale God” a period setting, as I’d done with my story “Ernesto.” Tomorrow, I’ll go into more detail about what this involved, and about how I felt when I realized, rather to my surprise, that I was going to write a story set during the Vietnam War.

This is part one of a three-part post. For the next two installments, please see here and here.

Written by nevalalee

July 1, 2013 at 8:54 am

The anthropic principle of fiction

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The next time someone tells you that one of your stories is implausible, you might want to remind them of how implausible they are. Setting aside the point that life in this galaxy, despite what our rational minds may tell us, seems to be extraordinarily rare, the fact that our universe can sustain life at all is almost beyond belief. If the value of even one of a handful of fundamental constants were even slightly different, there couldn’t be any complex structures, like stars; and if the age of the universe didn’t happen to fall, for the moment, into a certain narrow range, there wouldn’t be any planets. This is the anthropic principle, which states, very broadly, that the current habitable state of the universe is predicated on a series of massive coincidences—but if it weren’t, we wouldn’t be here to observe it. Since we wouldn’t exist otherwise, it’s hard to appreciate how unlikely this really is. The universe’s strangeness is an inseparable precondition of the fact that we’re here to tell stories about it. As a result, we tend to take it for granted.

This also turns out to be a remarkably useful principle for writing fiction. If the reader is going to suspend disbelief, it helps if the plot takes place in a setting—which can be as large as the universe or as small as a single person’s mind—that has been invisibly tuned, from the very first line, to make the story possible. My own story “Ernesto,” which appeared in the March 2012 issue of Analog, provides a convenient illustration. I wanted to write a story—and there are some spoilers ahead—in which people suffering from cancer were cured by going to a holy shrine that exposed them to erysipelas bacteria, with the resulting infection driving the cancer away. Needless to say, this is a fairly farfetched premise that poses a number of storytelling problems: an erysipelas infection would be obvious to any doctor in a modern hospital, and I wanted to save this revelation for the end to preserve the mystery. The solution, I concluded, was to set the story in the past, perhaps during wartime, when doctors were stretched thin. When I decided that the most suitable shrine for my purposes was that of St. John of the Cross, who died of erysipelas and is buried in Segovia in Spain, it seemed clear that the best setting for the story was the Spanish Civil War. And if I was going to do all that, well, obviously my hero had to be Hemingway.

And the funny thing about “Ernesto” is that if I’ve done my job correctly, this line of reasoning shouldn’t be obvious: it should look like I set out to write about Hemingway himself, when in fact the largest elements of the story—character, setting, theme—were actually a consequence, derived retroactively, of what seem like minor details. Ideally, then, when I arrive at my solution, it seems inevitable, an organic result of the story I’ve written, when in fact it was anything but. A similar process is visible in my novelette “Kawataro,” in which I ended up writing a story set in a fishing community of the deaf in modern Japan by reasoning backward from a tiny scientific detail. Like “Ernesto,” “Kawataro” could have been set anywhere (it was originally inspired by an article about deaf Bedouins), but when it comes to preparing the reader for the final twist, some settings are better than others. This leads me to what I see as a very powerful rule for writing this kind of fiction: the largest elements of the story should be determined by its least plausible details. If I’d started with a setting I liked, and then tried to shoehorn in the twist, the reader would object at once. But in this case, by the time the twist arrives, it seems relatively logical, but only because the story has been structured around it.

This is the anthropic principle of fiction. Readers will happily accept almost any premise when it’s introduced in the first few pages, but as the story continues, they’ll grow increasingly skeptical of any plot element that doesn’t seem to follow from that initial set of rules—so you’d better make sure that the world in which the story takes place has been fine-tuned to allow whatever implausibilities you later decide to include. I recently went through this process yet again, while writing a novelette that I hope to submit to Analog soon. It’s set during the Vietnam War, in the days leading up to the Tet Offensive, but only because this seemed like the best setting for the story I wanted to tell, which revolves around a stranded whale. I could have put the whale in California or Greenland—both of which I seriously considered—but because of its whale cult, as well as a few other reasons I won’t mention yet, Vietnam seemed best. The result is a story that is emphatically about Vietnam, with all the thematic weight that implies, but I never would have arrived there if I hadn’t reasoned backward to find the time and place best suited for the surprises I had in mind. Whether or not a story works is another matter. But it’s always best to start it with a bit of intelligent design.

Written by nevalalee

September 26, 2012 at 8:57 am

Writing the detailed outline, part 2

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Yesterday, I spoke about how whenever I start work on a novel or short story, I begin by drafting a detailed outline that often approaches the length of the final manuscript itself. This may sound like a huge “outline,” but it seems marginally less insane when you realize that it’s actually my second or third outline, depending on how you define it. The first outline, at least for a novel, comes in the form of a five- to six-page synopsis to my publisher, in which I briefly summarize what I see as the plot, based on a few weeks of mulling it over. The second outline, which I develop concurrently with the first, is a more detailed breakdown that aims to lay out the action chapter by chapter, at least for the first big section of story. (For reasons that I’ve mentioned before, I try not to outline an entire novel at once, but to save some unanswered questions for later in the process.) And it’s this second outline, which is basically just a list of chapters with a few brief notes, that I need to turn into something more substantial.

And I do it a chapter at a time, usually a chapter a day, for however long it takes. (My novels, incidentally, tend to have between fifty or sixty chapters for a manuscript of 100,000 words.) For City of Exiles, I did two detailed chapter outlines per day, which I’ve since decided is too intense a routine: I could keep it up for one book, but not for much longer, at least not without burning out entirely. A chapter a day is a much more manageable pace, and it also dovetails nicely with how my brain works. In outlining, as in everything else, it’s often best to focus on one thing at a time: one beat, one scene, one chapter, as if the rest of the novel didn’t exist, even if it’s always at the back of your mind. Devoting one day to outlining an entire chapter allows you to give it the attention that it deserves, without worrying about the second chapter that you have scheduled for later that afternoon. And it allows you to ruminate on that one chapter during those moments of daily downtime that are so crucial to the creative process: washing dishes, running errands, taking a walk in the park.

So how does a typical day look? When it begins, I generally have some general notes on the chapter in a text file, an additional set of more detailed research notes on any technical matters that I expect to encounter, and a stack of index cards with miscellaneous ideas. (For more information on the index card system, see here, or Kenneth Atchity’s useful book A Writer’s Time.) I try to review my notes as early as possible, ideally before my morning shower—which is the best thinking time in the world—or, increasingly, at bedtime the night before. And my first goal is to come up with the most basic possible structure for the overall chapter, with David Mamet’s three questions as a guide:

1. What is the scene about?
2. What is the protagonist’s objective?
3. How do we know when we’re done?

These questions are so helpful for guiding my thinking that I include them as a footer in my outline document in Word, along with a fourth question, which I added after reading Mamet’s famous memo to the writers of The Unit: Why now? And my first order of business is to structure the chapter around these questions, in a chunk of narrative that has a beginning, middle, and end. (Later, of course, I may seek to cut the beginning and end of each scene, and jump from middle to middle, but I’ve found that it’s useful to think in these terms at the outline stage.)

Once I have what seems like a workable narrative shape, I begin to flesh it out, putting myself into the scene as much as possible, writing it from one beat to the next, orienting myself with the structure I’ve mentally developed, and thinking whenever I can in terms of actual paragraphs. The result, as you can see in these pictures of the outline for my story “Kawataro,” is a series of sentence fragments, telegraphic, joined with dashes, a series of reminders to jog my memory when I actually start to write. Once I’ve finished a draft of the outline, I break for lunch, take an hour off, and often do a mind map to generate one last round of ideas, after which I polish the entire thing one last time. In the end, I’ll have a comprehensive outline of a single chapter, which I copy and paste into my general outline for the entire book. The next day, I do it again. And if all goes well, weeks or months later, when I start writing the chapter itself, I’ll open the file, look at my outline, and still remember what the hell I was talking about.

Written by nevalalee

February 10, 2012 at 9:29 am

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