Writing Life #12: Mutually Exclusive

As has been the case for the past while, my main focus right now is on I Hunt Killers, which currently lives at the intersection of “Ready?” and “Hmm.” I have a very solid draft finished and the ending is, in my opinion, dead-bang perfect. But I’m still not sure about the early parts of the story, so in the next few days, I’m going to go through the whole thing again and see how strongly I feel about it. And then it’s going to go to my beta readers.

Even though I wrote a long series of Writing Advice blogs, I don’t think I ever talked very much about beta readers. Which is a shame because they’re very important to me. I know that not every writer uses beta readers — some just type “The End” and send the manuscript off to the editor. I can’t do that.

You see, by this point in the process, I’ve lived with the book long enough that it inhabits a strangely dichotomous position in what I call my “brain.” The book simultaneously sucks and is brilliant. I know the two are mutually exclusive, but right now that’s how I feel about it, and I get to this point with every book I’ve written. (With the exception of the second Archvillain, which I felt completely confident about from beginning to end. God, I would kill to feel that way about every book I write!)

Anyway, since I’m so close to the book and keep shifting quantum states (hey, physics metaphor!), I can’t rely on my own sense of the story. So, my beta readers give me a fresh perspective, looking at the story and telling me if it falls in the “sucks” or “brilliant” category. Or if, as is more likely, it falls in the “Not bad, but maybe this stuff over here needs work” category.

Here’s another weird problem I’m having, and I’m sort of curious as to whether or not other authors have this problem: Chapter length. In I Hunt Killers, I’ve got some really short chapters and then a few that are really long. Now, I know that there aren’t any rules when it comes to chapter length (unless your last name is Patterson…), but it just feels strange to have such a difference in chapter length. At the end of the day, I’ll probably leave things as they are, but right now I’m unhealthily obsessed with it. And it doesn’t help that Scrivener easily lets you scan chapter length, right down to precise word count.

So, what else is on my plate these days? Well, in the next week or so, after Killers goes to the betas, I’ll be diving back into The Book That Will Kill Me. I’ll be printing it out — all 191,000 words — for the first time. And, yes, I have plenty of paper:


Lots of paper



In case you’re having trouble reading the box, that’s a case of 5,000 sheets of paper. Recycled, thankyouverymuch, because I care.

Between those two projects, that’s already a lot of work, but I have some more stuff going on. Of course, the graphic novel continues apace. My writing is done, but I still look at each page as Colleen produces it, and right now she is on fire, cranking out page after page. Almost every day brings me cool artwork, either a new page layout or a new, more complete version of a page. Right now, I’m sort of obsessed with the latest version of page 101. It’s a splash page and it looks really cool, and I can’t wait until you guys get to see it. (Hmmm… Now that I think of it, though, what I’m calling page 101 will probably be page 102 when the book is published — we’re adding a page somewhere earlier. So look for page 102!)

I’m really itching to show you guys some of the artwork from the graphic novel. I had planned to wait until September, when I’ll have all of the art and can pick from the entire book, but I may not be able to wait that long. Keep your eyes peeled.

Last but not least, there’s a special pet project that’s close to my heart: A movie. A few years ago, I came up with an idea for a movie and casually mentioned it to my brother, who immediately fell in love with it and insisted that we collaborate on it. Since then, we’ve each taken half-hearted stabs at a scene here or there, but since we never agreed on an overall structure, we were spinning our wheels. Real life intruded and while we always promised to work on it, we constantly found ourselves distracted by, y’know, our jobs and stuff.

Well, this past weekend, I sat down and forced myself to write an outline for the damn thing. So now we at least have some sort of overarching blueprint, and I really, truly hope that we can begin writing in earnest in the next month or so. I don’t necessarily think this thing will ever be made, but it’s a fun idea and I just want to have the experience of collaborating with my brother.

That’s all for now. See you again next week!

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