I enjoyed writing No Stone Unturned, but I thought it was a wow neat idea and not a run of the mill junk thing, not just a rushed make-work book, but a real literarily viable idea.
I got the whole thing thought out in my head before I began, but I kept thinking the bad guys would talk to me like the good guys did, so I'd know why they did it. In all my other books, the characters whipped the plot around like crazy as I wrote, outline to the wind. Generally, their ideas were far more entertaining than what I'd dreamed up beforehand.
But I was starting to get worried. I knew exactly what I needed to do with the rest of the book as far as the 19 kidnapped captives were concerned, but I got over 30,000 words into the required 50,000 word count to qualify as a NANO winner, and STILL HAD NO iDEA WHY THEY WERE TAKEN...
So, I posted on the boards, and got several answers, all predictable and not a bit twisty. I wanted twist...
So I gave each of the "normal" scenarios to the characters to guess as what was going on, but those ideas didn't fit all the facts as written... I could have gone back and re-read, adding and subtracting, to make them fit whichever one I chose, but I was loathe to do it. (Not go back -- I was basically writing the dialog on the first pass; adding character tells, physical actions, correcting any out and out goofs in capitalization, spelling, punctuation, on the second pass; repairing rough, unclear wordings any time inspiration struck, and making one final pass over adding sound words and beefing up the descriptions, stressing sound words and how to tell what you are hearing, how to interpret sounds in the context of a totally dark room... We have a real dearth of words to describe what we're hearing, and a plethora of them for sight.)
Then the lightening hit.
What a gas! It was as if I'd known it all the time! When I went back through the thing, there were all kinds of byplay and little tidbits of fact that POINTED RIGHT TO IT.
I WAS FLOORED. I've never had that happen before. And the idea I came up with is so crazy, there's no way it was lurking in the back of my mind all along.
I'm up to chapter 4 editing, and just realized that I have NO conflict anywhere in the story... I guess my writing process is now up to FIVE required drafts... each doing one thing at a time, after that initial burst of creativity and falling in love with the idea, the wording of certain sections, the personalities of the characters, especially the villains.
I made my characters too nicey-nice. Nineteen people were locked together in a large space for 18 days, and NOBODY had a fight. I have to go back and get some fisticuffs in there, and probably a few verbal sparing matches, as well.
I so dislike conflict personally, which, allowed to play through, can be sort of tough on plot lines, LOL!
Somehow, my recluse that was in the outline never made it into the character personality profiles, either...
My story prep stuff had job, age, height, some personal interests, but not anywhere near enough. I didn't realize I was going to write physiognomically sensitive sections, musical interests, etc. into the plot in integral fashion.
*******************from No Stone Unturned, Chapter 4 Aftermath
An outraged screech is followed by a thunder of thumps and thuds, culminating in the unmistakable sound of a body hitting the floor.
“What’s that noise? Who’s fighting? Lights or no lights, we’re not going to degenerate into rival street gang mentality! I’m treating this as if it were my classroom! Civility and common courtesy will prevail, even if I have to crack a few heads together first to get us all there,” sputters Arabelle angrily.
“I’m sorry,” Samantha says weakly. “When he tried to cop a serious grope, I went to hit him in the groin but took out his kneecap instead. To add insult to injury, all the poor guy had been attempting to do was collect my empty soup bowl.”
A contrite and sincere sounding apology from Samantha? Bet that’s a first for that termagant, as tough and hardened as she generally comes off, thinks Arabelle.
After a pregnant pause, Arabelle’s no nonsense voice inquires, “Who’d you lay out?”
“Eric,” groaned a pain-filled voice from the floor. “I was just heading to the bathroom to use the facilities. I figured with everyone down and stationary, I could risk a clear path to walk over erect instead of rolling around on the floor like an infant. I think I’m an unsuspecting victim of her erotic fant… nightmare.”
“And thus, no imaginary good deed goes unpunished,” supplies Kurt solemnly.
Following the process my writing seems to be taking in this book, the only description not done in dialogue, the first sentence starting with "Eric", now has a much longer bit following it to explain it, LOL! Ridiculous. I think I'll out the first generation of corrections in red, to track the writing process for later reference. I feel that I want to think about the thought process this work is taking.
My eighty-six year old mother is indirectly responsible for the substitution of termagant for a perfect, but gritty street word description of Samantha. She objected to the novel's first paragraph use of a common term for passing gas in the narrator's voice.
Last updated 12/2/10 - changed comes off generally to the smoother sounding generally comes off;
added data under the quote, explicating my writing process for this novel, which is slightly different from others I've done.