Monday Muse: Logistics

Greetings to our readers on this, the Monday before Christmas. Lest you believed that we would take a break…ha! Nerdery never takes a break! It is always there, ever-present, surrounding us all…like the Force.

Speaking of the Force. AAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! Still on a high from Star Wars over here. A is literally seeing it as I type this and I cannot wait to talk about it with her. I loved it so much. No Spoilers, guys. I promise. Now, for those of you who didn’t like it, I can understand; I, too, did not think it was a perfect expression of film greatness. What I did think it was was a perfect expression of Star Wars. Flashy, light, comforting, and fun. These movies are a Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers of the 21st century. Did it tread familiar territory? Of course it did. It was re-establishing the world, introducing new viewers, and reminding everyone of what it means to be Star Wars. It was a good beginning tied up in a continuation. Of course, now that it’s done that, I hope they are willing to twist our expectations on end. I won’t be so forgiving next time.

But, anyhow, let’s move on. Today is about logistics.

It may come as a surprise to no one who reads our efforts here that A and I are writing a novel. We talk about it often enough. In fact, as I write this, each of us as only a couple of chapters to finish for our deadline on New Year’s. A has it harder, I admit; she has a couple of key emotional scenes that will rip out her heart and use the blood as ink. I just get to wrap up a key plot line and give the villain his comeuppance. All that’s stopping me from churning them out is the character whose POV it is telling it; he’s a careful man, and so my words must also be careful.

But what has any of this to do with logistics? Only everything. You see, these chapters are a sort-of culmination. All our plots coming together into their ultimate consequences. This is the time to test whether or not everything works. Will the keystone hold up our arch, or will everything come crashing down? Use the same metaphor, only with a linchpin and a wheel. We’re about to find out whether or not our various plots and our beloved characters work. And all of that depends on how well we planned.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that there have been some things we’ve realized needed to change as we were writing. Our inner Americans forgot for a while that Italy is basically the size of one of our mid-sized states and so we needed to figure out why it would take one of our characters so long to travel from one city to another. And that one detail actually snowballed into a lot of different changes, including a villain who is ultimately better than what we originally planned. It also caused us no small amount of annoyance as we figured out what else needed to shift. But, in the end, we were able to do it. And I’m convinced it’s because we did our due diligence. Yes, we made a mistake, but because everything else was so well planned ahead of time, we were able to recover relatively easily.

See, the thing is, writing is a craft. Yes, it is also an art, but it is ultimately a craft. You need to do your due diligence. A good artist is someone who plans; they dig into the nuts and bolts to make sure that their art is sound from the cornerstone to the keystone (keeping that metaphor going). It sometimes means boring days making charts, creating timelines, writing lists upon lists of details you need to remember. For this particular novel, I had to read Romeo and Juliet with a highlighter, pen, and my beloved note cards. (Yes, note cards. People have been trying to get me onto Google Drive for years. Before that, it was Excel or pretty much any other online database system. But my favorite and most formative professor preferred note cards and I will never give that up. Some people want old card catalogs because it’s all cool and hipster; I want one to hold all my research.) There was research on Venice, Verona, Shakespeare in general, and no small amount of making sure I didn’t have characters wearing slops a century too early. A had her own research and systems to help her get everything done (not to mention hilariously aggressive notes written to herself as reminders to write). Actually writing the novel was the last thing we did and, not-so-small-mistakes aside (I’m American–geography isn’t our strong point), it was easy to do because we had everything already planned.

Now, I admit, there are different styles of writing. Some people like to outline the hell out of things, others like to write by the seat of their pants. But, you know what brings them together? Logistics. Because you’ve got to get your stuff together first or your writing will be a damn stinking pile of mess. And no one wants that!

Well, that’s it for me today. I’ll be back on Friday with a Boozy Books something or other. It’s Christmas, but I’ll get it done. Of course, there is every chance whatever book I pick, I’ll be recommending Egg Nog and Mulled Apple Cider. You know, because it’s Christmas. And also because they’re delicious. See you then!

C

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