February 15th, 2012


Dangerous Research

I spent yesterday rewriting a scene. For a mad moment, I considered starting from scratch, but then I decided I didn't need to do that. The main thing I needed to do was cut about two pages worth of an incident in the scene that really didn't add anything to it. I finally had to admit to myself that this scene was only there because I'd read a whole book to research it and I wanted something to show for all that work. Not that I read a whole book just to research a single scene. It was the first "reference" book I read when I started researching this project, back when I just had a vague sense of the setting and the concept but didn't know any details, didn't know who my characters would be and didn't know the plot. I was just reading things that seemed to sort of fit to provide enough input to figure out a plot, characters, etc. and to make the world come to life for me. I didn't end up using that information the way I thought I would, but this part of the scene was my way of shoehorning something from it in. I don't know how many drafts of the book I've gone through without once thinking, "Why is this here?" I did finally think that yesterday, and since I didn't want to cut it because I'd read a whole book to get that scene, I made a list of reasons why the book needed it -- and I couldn't think of one other than "it's kind of cool, I guess," and it's only really cool in my head because I know what I'm hinting at. I don't think anyone else would find it cool. Maybe it will live again in a "deleted scenes" page on my web site.

This book is sort of steampunk -- if you've been at conventions the past couple of years and have heard my readings, this is that book -- and the real danger of researching this is that the clothes, whether real Victorian or steampunked Victorian, are just so very pretty. I'll find myself looking up what outfit a character might be wearing so I can describe it, and I'll get sidetracked by all the things it would be cool to have. It also doesn't help that I'm currently in the throes of Downton Abbey mania and love the clothes for that, which are getting close enough to modern that they wouldn't be too costumey for everyday wear. In fact, I can put together several rather "Downton" ensembles from things already in my closet. I still can't quite figure out how they do the hair, though. I should be able to do those hairstyles because mine is even longer than what we've seen when these characters have their hair loose. I just need to find a good, illustrated guide to those hairstyles.

And, no, I don't know when/if this book will be published. I'm revising it to target a particular market. I get great responses when I do readings from it, but I don't know if that's because I do full-on dramatic interpretations, complete with singing, that are different from the typical author reading at a convention or if it's because the book is really that good. These days, though, I don't know if avid potential reader interest means editors will also like it. I get a sense of a huge gap between what people want to read and what publishers want to publish.

But, oh, if it sells and I have income again, there are a few things I so need to buy. They might even count as a business expense, since they'd be for promoting the book and about the only places I could wear them would be at conventions or booksignings.

Speaking of conventions, I'll be at ConDFW this weekend (possibly wearing something Downton-inspired, especially if I can figure out the hair). I don't have a lot of panels, but I may be reading the scene I revised yesterday in my Saturday-evening reading session.