author’s note: catching up
Posted by jeanne
shit has been happening this week, so i took a break from my work. and now i’m edging back into it. we have a houseguest who, tho charming, takes up a great deal of time, and what little opportunity i have to work is instead frittered away on facebook or reading the various newsfeeds. and i’m not getting enough sleep.
i haven’t been posting much, even tho i’ve been working steadily, 6 or 8 hours a day, sometimes at night. i peruse the newsfeeds. using a google page full of widgets, i read 50 or more feeds from all sorts of sites, from reuters, nyt, the guardian and the times of india, with fox news for fair and balanced reporting, to science daily and space news. and then my facebook feed has tons of news, much of it passed by friends, some from pages i’ve liked, ranging from alternet to gizmodo to inhabitat and lifehacker.
a vital part of the work at this stage is combing the newsfeeds for relevant research material. terms i search for are quantum, consciousness, gaming, psychological, political, spiritual, historical et cetera things. i do this for several hours thruout the day, finding interesting sounding titles, clicking on the links and setting the articles aside to read later. when i have a good mess of tabs open i stop clicking on links and open up my research document. then i copy and past anything that’s relevant onto the end of the document (i’ll be posting some random research soon), capture the url for reference in case i’ve missed something, and save my document after every addition because the program is unstable and crashes at random.
once i’ve gone thru the newspapers with my scissors and tacked the clippings to my bulletin board, i go thru and sort them by character, opening up my main or secondary character documents, and cutting and pasting the relevant bits in the back.
for information concerning the plot, there’re 3 documents worth of storyline, the 3 acts, which are the same number of chapters (i think, still, at this stage). based on 7 of course, the major theme of the book (not the story but the book, if that makes sense to you). 42 chapters, 6×7, 3 acts, 16 chapters per act. all very orderly. and i didn’t plan it that way. it just came that way. everything i thought up or researched came out in 7s, until the chapter structure was built. and it continues to be 7. which is really cool. rarely do things announce themselves to me with such insistence.
such things fit into this scheme of 7s: illustration style, videogame level, version of reality, special quantum power, quantum discipline, quantum lesson, midway rides and physics, carneytown job and physics, quantum abilities in the cloud level, the game’s antarctic ring, human age, basic skill, type of religion. that’s 13, so there’s maybe one missing from the list. i’m sure it’ll occur to me.
a few weeks ago i made a chapter list, just the number and keywords, and put a copy of this list in every character’s document, and since then i’ve been separating out all the notes i’ve taken and character sketches i’ve written into their proper chapters. i started with the girl and organized everything, then moved to the boy, and each one took a couple of days. kurt, fairy, snake. then i did the secondary characters, who i call the plucky band – random, everyplayer, also known as =p, and (i apologize in advance) c3ll3r!, which you can read as ‘cellery’. they are people who play the videogame and get caught up in the storyline. they introduced themselves to me as i was working out the broad plot structure, and i’ve been finding out so much about them, often by complete accident. and there are other characters, tertiary sort of characters. c3ll3r!’s family, for example, and =p’s boss. i actually have no idea what random does when he’s not playing the game, but i will by the time i sit down to write it.
i had some difficulty dealing with the document for THEM. them is not only the shadowy hands of oppression, but also the media, the overall culture, and c3ll3r!’s family, especially the dad. as i said, i had some difficulty organizing this document, because they do the most horrible things to peaceloving quantum types, and i really don’t enjoy dealing with realworld oppression and what’s going on around the world right now, because inequity and iniquity make me mad.
my solution to this was to work on both the plucky band and the thems at the same time. so i would copy from my research document, and paste at the end of the relevant side’s document, then go figure out which character that particular trait or act belonged to. there were many lists of character-developing stages in this part. i would come across a reference about abusive people, and would trim it down to its essentials and use it for any of the thems, and thereby built up a bunch of character-developing stages for my characters. in effect i’m looking at the same kinds of behaviors as seen in individuals and in cultures and in organizations. they all look similar but some things stick out more than others to illustrate the type.
with every new article i abstracted the essence from to stick in my research document, my story got more rich, more detailed. it began to make more sense. even in places where i distributed traits at random (like a long list of disinformation tactics, or a long list of abusive traits) thru the chapters, once i’d distributed a bunch more things into the chapter structure, i began to find that it made sense to have these random traits here because some character could easily progress from the traits of the last chapter and thru those of the one to come. these random collections of character traits and experiences fleshed themselves out into real, plausible characters, and in some cases, the apparently random trait explained parts of the character’s temperament in a way i would never have expected, answering questions i had about how the development was going to work.
all very synchronous. these last few months have contained loads more confirmations that i should continue with what i’m doing. vehement objection by my daughter, for one thing. but other things, from outside, long in the works, also say i’m on the right track, the hunger games, for instance. and all sorts of scientific studies and discoveries are all being announced just as i’m getting to that particular chapter’s difficulties. things like that.
but then again, shit happens.