Tag Archives: The Crane Girl

Bring It, Trube!

Dear Mr. Benjamin Trube, Esq., &c:

WHEREAS we are lifelong Friends, and gentlemen of impeccable Learning and unimpeachable moral Character;

WHEREAS were are engaged separately in the selfsame pursuit, namely, the creation of Literature;

WHEREAS we have both advertised our progress on our Web Journals of late, you having completed 13,242 words on the third draft of your novel Surreality, and I having completed 19,378 words on the second draft of my novel The Crane Girl;

WHEREAS we are both lazy Bums who desperately need a kick in the Pants;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we shall pursue a Contest, wherein the first of us to achieve the goal of 80,000 words on his current draft, shall receive a Book of his choosing from Half Price Books, at the expense of the other, cost of said volume not to exceed a reasonable Amount. The winner shall furthermore have bragging rights for a period not to exceed three (3) days.

It might be objected, that I have an unreasonable advantage, possessing a head start. Likewise, it might be objected that our tasks differ; for whereas you are revising a complete draft, I am writing all-new material now (my first draft having comprised only a small portion of the to-be-completed story).

However, these two objections would seem perhaps to cancel each other out, or at least to give neither party a clear advantage; and even if one party were indeed advantaged, the other may surely overcome on account of Will and Determination; and anyway, it is all in the name of Writing.

What say you, sir? Shall we duel?!


Brian D. Buckley

EDIT: Challenge accepted.

Can’t Talk, Writing

I found a sweet new way to revise. I used to copy my old draft to a new file and make changes there. Now I split my screen, put the old draft on the left, and write a new copy on the right, starting with a blank file. Granted, “write a new copy” is just copy & paste for the parts where I’m satisfied with the old version, so functionally it works out to the same thing. But it feels different, and I’m lovin’ it.

The first sentence of my new draft is:

The Lady Rana Serago sat twelve years alone in a deep dungeon.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

Comparisons with your own revision process?

Anyway, leave me a comment and I’ll read it in a few hours. Too busy writing at the moment. 🙂

Crane Girl Progress Update

I was planning to let The Crane Girl simmer in pre-writing for months yet. Character-building, world-building, plot outlining, all had plenty of work left.

But last week, on vacation, I started playing around with the novel’s first sentence in my head.

And first sentences are dangerous. They lead to first paragraphs, and by then the text in your head is long enough that you want to write it down. And once you’ve written your first paragraph, you have to write the second, and…

In the last six days, I’ve written 5,800 words. Six chapters, twenty pages, 5% of the book. And it’s fun. The words come easier than any novel I’ve written before.

I take it as a sign that the characters are stronger in this one. When you have strong characters, you don’t need as much of an outline, because once they’re in the right places they’ll do the right things on their own.

What about the world-building I still need to do? The pre-writing? What if my first draft ends up half-baked because I didn’t prepare enough?

Well, of course it’ll be half-baked. It’s a first draft. You can always do more world-building later. The beauty of writing is that it is pre-writing, if you remember to treat it that way. Chapters are expendable, and the ones you throw away enrich the ones you keep.

Gotta go. Still more writing to do before I leave for work.

Oh, and don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten your Ask Brian Anything questions. I’ll answer them all next week!

I Love It When a Book Comes Together

With all respect, I am not a big fan of Neil Gaiman’s fiction. American Gods and The Graveyard Book both left me flat.

But I could listen to that man talk about writing all day.

Yesterday I stumbled into his Wikiquote page, and it was like coming home. Listen to this:

Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe.

That’s what fiction writing is all about, isn’t it? Reaching inside yourself to show someone else your magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing world.

I spent an hour in a moon-eyed Gaiman-induced haze of writerly warm fuzzies, but I’ll spare you the rambling and cut to the quote that really got me:

The best thing about writing fiction is that moment where the story catches fire and comes to life on the page, and suddenly it all makes sense and you know what it’s about and why you’re doing it and what these people are saying and doing, and you get to feel like both the creator and the audience. Everything is suddenly both obvious and surprising (“but of course that’s why he was doing that, and that means that…”) and it’s magic and wonderful and strange.

This is eloquent and true any day of the week, but it really clobbered me yesterday, because I’d just had that very experience only an hour before.

“The story catches fire” is exactly the right way to say this. You have these characters, this plot, this world, and you’re excited and everything seems good and you don’t even know there’s anything missing. And then for no special reason you happen to say “Well I guess her struggle parallels this other conflict,” and suddenly that little sub-plot you were toying with becomes the story, becomes what the entire book is about, and maybe even what life is about and you get all giggly and useless to anybody else for upwards of ninety minutes.

It’s like turning the key in a Mustang, the difference between admiring its sleek lines in a parking lot and roaring down the freeway. And this is coming from a guy who drives a four-cylinder Honda Accord.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: I’m happy. And I hope you are too. And if you’re not, then dammit, I’m going to try my best to write a book that will take you there.

As for Neil Gaiman, I’m going to read his Sandman series. I may not have fallen in love with some of his other books, but damned if Sandman doesn’t look amazing. And every book is a fresh start – right?

Don’t forget to submit your question for Ask Brian Anything by the end of the week! The questions so far have been top-notch, grade-A material, on account of you guys rock. Keep ’em coming!

The Vorschkraag

The central character in The Crane Girl is called the Vorschkraag.

Note, I said the central character, not the main character. The main character, the hero, the reader surrogate, the Crane Girl herself, is a woman named Rana. But on the island where Rana lives, the Vorschkraag is the center of everything: geographically, politically, spiritually, even (gulp) ontologically.

The V won’t get much screen time. She’ll only appear in a couple chapters at the end of the book. But it’s her book.

I picture the V as a girl, about ten years old, although strictly speaking she’s genderless and immortal and definitely not human. She’s the quintessential demiurge, a spirit who creates for the sheer joy of creating, a lover of everything that’s alive and free. She’s an empress without laws, a sleeper whose dreams are the same as reality. If she’s a goddess, then she’s a goddess like no other: not a mother like Gaia, nor a wife like Hera, nor concerned with sexual chastity like Artemis; an accidental goddess, not interested in obedience or worship, only interested in making a world.

Her eyes are silver-in-silver and glow in the dark.

I keep searching for a picture that sums up the way I think about this character. I’m hunting Google Image Search and DeviantArt, cropping and altering and splicing images together, trying to figure her out. Sometimes she’s five years old and sometimes she’s thirty. Sometimes she’s a queen and sometimes she’s a little kid curled up in a ball. (I’d post the images, but most are copyrighted.)

I don’t know just who she is yet.

But I’m going to find out, and if you’re interested, you can too.

The Next Novel

I’ve started another novel.

I stopped working on the last one, The Counterfeit Emperor, nearly two years ago. That was a difficult decision, but I think it worked out. I spent some time  exploring AI, and recovering from novel-writing burnout.

Well, I’m recovered. Let’s rock and roll.

I’m not picking up Emperor again. First, because I still have a bad taste left over from before. And second, because I think the main character is fundamentally flawed. Going back would mean rewriting almost from scratch, so I might as well start something new – something I’m excited about.

The next novel is called The Crane Girl. Fantasy this time, rather than sci fi, although the lines get blurred in my stories anyway. I’m uber pumped for it, planning to do a lot of things differently.

For one, the hero is going to be strong, active, and (gasp) perhaps even likeable. I’m also doing a lot more research this time around. I’m taking my worldbuilding nice and slow, basing my nations on real historical empires (like the Byzantine Empire) rather than trying to imagine it all from scratch.

And I’m using images a lot more, searching online for photos and paintings that match the way I imagine my characters, locations, etc. This helps me get a good visual sense of what my story looks like. It’s a new technique for me, but I’m loving it. Everything feels so much more…alive.

More details to come. This is a writer’s blog, after all.

And don’t forget, you have till the end of the week to Ask Me Anything. I’ve gotten four great questions already. Keep ’em coming!