I'm not completely happy with some of the writing in "Faerylander." I suspect that I'll have to completely rewrite from scratch at least a couple of chapters.

But for now, I'm just working on getting all the technical details right. Get the right POV, put the chapters in the best possible order, work on the motivations and descriptions of the characters.

When and if all this is in place, what I need this is a good solid voice. A little bit of art.

I have a book, "Deviltree," that I wrote in my first career. It came oh, so close to being published. I won't go through all the details, but it was little bit heartbreaking.

Anyway, in my struggle to answer publisher critiques, I made the book technically good. But when I read it now, I think I took my own voice out of it. (Part of this was letting another--professional--writer have at it. He took out all the quirky stuff.)

But to me, it reads dry now.

So anyway, I'm just struggling to get this book all together--THEN I'll worry about the tone and the mood of it.

Spent most of yesterday on "Faerylander" changing tenses. I moved a couple of chapters starring Cobb and Lillian up, and then changed them to 3rd person and then went back and changed all the Cobb POV's to 3rd person.

So the book is now being told almost completely from the 1st person point of view of Parsons, which should be easier now, because Parsons is in almost every chapter from now on.

I don't know if any of this works. I don't think I'll know for sure until I've set it aside and come back to read it later.

Reading"Deadfall Ridge" again was an interesting experience. Enough time had passed that I could actually read it the way a reader would read it.

I think I've got so much material written at this point that I can have this luxury with every book.

I really need to be patient. The last version of "Deadfall Ridge" was the one I should have presented to the mainstream publisher--the two versions I sent before weren't ready and just by sending two of them, I probably burned my bridges.

Just as well, probably. I think Crossroad Press, who seems to be genuinely supportive, is a much better fit for my writing.

Owning a comic shop, one of the things you learn is that "universes" are complicated. They're extra complicated because every time DC or Marvel tries to "fix" those universe's continuity, they just make them more complex. Things tend to boomerang back to the way they were, with yet another extra layer added on.

Sort of like "Faerylander." The original concept was probably relatively complicated, especially since I probably didn't have it completely clear in my own mind. At the same time, it was relatively shallow.

I've been trying to fix it ever since. And every time I try to "simplify and deepen" it, I think I just make it more complicated.

I finally broke the book in half it was getting so unwieldy, but that created its own set of continuity problems, which I tried to fix by adding new material.

So the whole book is awkward. At the same time, the world building has continued until it's pretty clear in my mind. The weird part is, despite my dislike of rewriting, for this book I seem to be willing to do it again and again.

I like this world, and I like the characters. Each of the 30 versions or so was an incremental improvement in world building and character motivations. Some of the writing is improved, some becomes "over-written" which I then try to fix on the next version.

But the structure has become--as been for some time--awkward.

I know what's going on, but I'm not sure I'm getting that across to the reader.

I keep moving things around, explaining the moves by new transitions, and the book gets even more ungainly. 

It's a gordian knot that I'm unwilling to slice.

"Kill your darlings?" It's all darlings.

I'm up to page 137 out of 215 pages. With only five days left in my original writing period. I'll probably go a few days over. But, spending 20 days on this book still feels like a good thing to have done, even though I may end up setting aside--yet again.

Crossroad Press sent me the PDF of "Deadfall Ridge" to check over.

They're going to offer a paperback version for sale in advance on Amazon and also submit it to Bookbub, which shows some faith on their part.

Really, the book is pretty good. I was a little surprised. This is my first all-out thriller, nothing SF or Fantasy or Horror about it.

Especially reading it in book form. What's interesting is that it was the last draft that came together. I mean, almost by definition the "last" draft is what people see, if done right. But for me, it's always interesting to see how draft one has 80% of what's needed, draft two has 80% of what's needed, but only overlap by 60% and draft three takes the best of both versions and gets 90% of the way, and then some last minute revisions get's it all the way.

Which means most of the advance readers and even editors don't really see the complete version.

This book especially came in strong at the end, and I think it's because I gave it time. Combining the best of the three drafts created the best book.

I guess I've been far enough away from it that I can now read it like a book, and it comes across very well.

It's strange. Every time I almost lose heart, I'm reminded that I'm not all that bad.

I think there is a chance to make "Faerylander" a good book. So I may spend more time on it than I thought.

For one thing, I think there is some better writing in some of the earlier versions--simpler and clearer. I'd like a chance to pick the best writing out of all the different drafts. That would take some time.

I also think I need to make Cobb's journals into 3rd person, so the only 1st person narrator will be Parsons. That should clear away some of the confusion.

I'm thinking I might be able to figure out an action first scene--the aftermath of which, Parsons shows up to pick up a drunk and unconscious Cobb.

Hold the Edgar Allen Poe chapter until after they visit the black elf. "The first of the writers who started him on his quest for the Dark Realms."

Hold the Tolkien chapter until later--or save it until the next book.

All right. Worked all day on the beginning, moving the Edgar Allen Poe chapter from the first and starting the book with a short action scene.

I'm trying to make this reader friendly.

None of this may work. I'm going to finish the rewrite, but I might set it aside yet again.

As Martha said, this has been one long soap opera for the last 7 or 8 years. I can't seem to let it go.

Worked through the technical problems I had the previous day. It's all about keeping Parsons POV as much as possible. The book is still unwieldy, but having a consistent narrator should help.

I'm up to 110 pages, so if I can manage an average of 10 pages a day for the next 9 days, I should be done by mid-month, which was my goal.

There is a lot of bad writing in this book that I'm trying to fix. Lots of good ideas, some good scenes, some real invention. I like the premise and the characters. The plot is too full, with too many things that stall the momentum. This last problem is the one I've always struggled with the most. Putting in suspense when there was very little suspense.

I keep figuring out some basic things, things that would have been nice to have as part of the plot from the start.

Oh well, it's a chunky book, but it's got enough really good things in it that I still want to try to save it. I can't tell at all if it's any good anymore. I lost that perspective around the 10th version or so.

Had a rough time on my rewrite yesterday. Did a few pages but it just didn't feel right. So I broke off and I'll try again today.

Part of it was that I was called into town to unlock the door for Sabrina. Just as well, I probably needed a break anyway. Took the opportunity to visit the Open Book and Big Story, to buy a few books. (I never leave a bookstore without buying at least one book.)

Saw my old friend Jerry Opie at the Sole Shop while I was getting a battery for my ancient Seiko watch. (Woke up this morning with it being an hour off--so I may have to finally get a new one.)

Going to focus on writing again today, at least until dinner time.

Do I dare watch the news? I doubt I'll be able to avoid it.

The main thing, I think, is to continue to be in Parsons head. As long as I can manage that, I think the book will work. It's been a real challenge, but there is always a solution.

Managed another 15 pages in the rewrite, so I'm up to 95, or almost halfway.

It's a difficult thing I'm trying to do, plus--to be frank--some of the early writing just wasn't very good. I was trying too hard. I've been spending half my time just trying to fix that.

Meanwhile, I'm kind of being forced to push Parsons to the forefront, which means really rewriting certain parts of the book. I was hoping I could slip Parsons POV in sideways, but it is actually requiring me to completely rewrite parts. The book will be better for it. And I can spend an entire day to do 15 pages, I can still get it all done in two weeks. 

So I'm going all in on the Parsons POV, which requires completely rewriting the rest of the book, instead of just adding a few transitions here and there. Wrote an entirely new scene that will make the ending of the book go down easier. I'm contemplating another whole scene later that will do the same thing. (Have Cobb pulled into Cthulhu for a few minutes--see his brethren flying toward him.)

The bulk of the material is there, though, so it isn't impossible. If I can manage 10 pages a day, then I'll be on track. Hell, I can write 6 pages a day in original material, so I should be able to do that. 

As you can tell from my blog, I analyze the shit out of things.

I had a friend in high school who told me I was wishy-washy. But that ain't it. I mean, yeah, I change my mind a lot but only because I have a new thought or new information. (OK, so maybe I'm wishy-washy.)

This has served me well at the store. I constantly monitor things, make changes, tinker, try again, change course, go back, change my mind again--because in this process I eventually arrive at the best answer.

Personally, I think the most important attribute of a small business owner is to think for yourself. Absolutely follow your own intuition and reasoning. Yes, pay attention to what others are doing, but be sure that you arrive at your conclusions on your own.

So I do this with my writing too, obviously. But these days, instead of doing it within one book, I'm changing course from book to book.

"Faerylander" is more like the way I used to write. Constantly changing things--it drove Linda crazy when we tried writing "Sometimes a Dragon" together. I ended up screwing up that book so much it's probably never going to see the light of day. Same with "Bloodstone" and "Changelings of Ereland." Both those books were fiddled with until they weren't viable, and meanwhile I wasted way too much time on them.

This is why I've had a hard and fast rule this time around. Finish the book before making changes.

That one rule has saved my life.

At the store, I constantly disrupted the business model, constantly got myself in trouble, constantly overreached.

But you know what? I think ironically, that kept us in business, because I was constantly scrambling trying to save the business I learned to think for myself. (The biggest problems I had with the store was overexpanding even though my instincts told me that sports cards and comics were exploding way too fast. Yep. After that, I knew better. Great Recession? Saw it a mile away. heh)

I tend to be a loner, and ironically that has made me a little bit immune to group think, which I think is the downfall of so many businesses. Everyone tends to make the same mistakes because everyone is making the same mistakes, if that makes any sense.

Of course, with writing it's not a matter of survival, except in the sense that I want to keep my creative urges intact. I love writing, I'm addicted to writing, and what the fuck happens after I'm finished with a book simply isn't up to me.

So I try to satisfy myself with every effort, and I never quite get it all the way right, and I take what I've learned and apply it to the next book. 

I like what I've written through 80 pages.

Looking ahead, I'm a little more worried. I just have too many disparate elements I'm trying to throw together. This is the basic structural problem that has been there from the beginning.

I've ameliorated this problem somewhat in the first 80 pages by having a consistent viewpoint character.

It's going to be much more difficult from this point on to have Parsons be the POV.

So that is the challenge. Can I find ways without twisting myself into a pretzel of having Parson continued to be the main narrator. The longer I can do this, the more willing the reader will be when the story goes in different directions.

So that's the challenge.

That challenge also makes writing the book more fun.

One thing I learned early in writing is that when I'm stuck, it's often because I don't have the right POV. Sometimes just switching the POV is all a scene needs.

However POV only works if the character is there. So I either have to change the story so that Parsons is somehow present, or explain how is POV is still there. I have him being able to read minds, which is sort of cheap trick, then again, I am talking about Faery here, so it's not that outlandish.

But I don't want to stretch the credulity too far.

So that is the big challenge. I need to take just one chapter at a time and see what I can do. For instance, the next chapter is about Cobb meeting the guy who originally hired him to look into a murder. In this chapter, I insert how the two of them originally met.

So to keep Parsons (who is on a bus going somewhere else) as the POV,  I'm going to include him in the flashback scene, before it goes the present. So it at least keeps Parsons involved to that point. So yeah, I think that will work.

Just have to keep trying to get Parsons voice in there.

Third day of rewrites. Managed to do 13 pages, most of this time spent on the first five pages. I had to take two chapters of material that no longer worked and completely redo them into one chapter. So that wasn't easy.

But--it is more or less the last roadblock to finishing. Now it's just a matter of changing some of the material from 1st to 3rd and other parts from 3rd to 1st POV.

I'm pretty sure the organization is right for the rest of the book--which has always been the hard part. The first third of this book is like a hard, thick kernel that has to go down in order for the rest of the book to happen. So what I've done, in a sense, is tried to lubricate this hard kernel so it's easier to take. (Ouch, that sounds terrible.)

But the hard, dense kernel is kind of what makes the book interesting, so the trick is to keep it and just make it more palatable. Heh.

The rest of the book feels relatively loosey goosey, which is my usual style. So it's more like a normal rewrite, where I set a pace of about 20 pages a day. I'll be done well within the two weeks I gave myself. Then I'll jump right into "Zombielander," the second book in the series, and finish that off in about another two weeks.

Wolflander and Ghostlander will take more work, but I'll tackle them soon. Still undecided whether I want to write a fifth book, Cthuhlulander (for which I have a cool cover.)

I'm pretty stoked that I've managed to save this series, which I've always been extremely fond of.

A story worth the frustrations.

Rearranged chapters of "Faerylander" again, ended up going through another 25 pages, which puts me 67 pages into the story. Or about a third of the way.

I'm pretty committed to this lineup. I'm calling all bids in. This is it, no more messing around.

Basically what I've done is made Parson, who is main character Cobb's sidekick, and made him the narrator of the story. It's been amazingly easy to insert Parsons into chapters where he wasn't, and then to use his mind-reading ability to have him relate chapters he isn't in.

In short, Parsons is the framing device, and as such his main job is to creates smooth transitions between the various parts of the story.

I had a lot of parts in this story that worked well on their own, but didn't flow. That is, putting them end to end simply didn't create any forward momentum. Each was well written and interesting, but didn't connect really well with the chapter before or the chapter after.

Especially the famous writer chapters. The conceit of the book is that Cobb is suspicious that Earth is on the verge of an invasion from the Dark Realms, and he's convinced that authors such as Tolkien, and Robert E. Howard, and H.P. Lovecraft, and Edgar Allen Poe, and others have seen these Dark Realms, so he goes to interview them.

I loved writing these chapters, trying to get the essence of the authors and melding it into my plot.

But every time I inserted one of these chapters into the narrative, it stopped the story cold. And yet, they are too good to leave out.

So Parsons' job as narrator is to smooth the transition between the flow of the story and these informational chapters. It's working well, I think.

This is not going to be as easy a read as many of my books, but I think it will reward the persistent reader more.

I like the density of this book. By rewriting so many times, I've worked out the mechanics down to details that I normally skip. It in some ways is what I always figured writing a book was like, reworking and rewording and rearranging until you have the best possible combination.

Ironically, my storytelling is much more intuitive, as it turned out, and I'm very focused on the pacing and flow and having interesting things happening, and not so much in world building.

So "Faerylander," as frustrating as it has been, has been a valuable experience of what it is like to slave over a book. Again, I'm not convinced this produces a better book in most cases--most likely I'd quit before I got there--but this story had enough continuing interest for me to go through all the frustrations.

Finally, finally, FINALLY: a fix to "Faerylander."

I do believe that I have finally, finally, finally figured out how to "fix" "Faerylander."

This book is some ways my magnum opus. I've written four books in the series, and outlined a fifth book. It's a fully developed world, with characters I like.

But it was the first book I wrote coming back to writing full time. The first draft was weak in all the ways beginning books are--and I compounded the problem by forcing an ending because my main goal at the time to freaking finish. I was pretty sure, after all the false starts I'd had over the years, that if I didn't manage to finish my first big effort, I might not continued writing at all. 

I handed the first draft over to a couple of friends, who were lukewarm in response, including the comment, "All the characters sound like you." Ouch.

Anyway, I went back to this book again and again, until I have 30 versions in my computer--and those are only the versions I kept.

I rewrote the first book in the series so much that I finally split the book in two, using most of the new material for the second book.

Which still left me with the weaker writing in the first book.

I did improve the book, but there were structural problems I just couldn't seem to overcome. Frankly, even this newest draft has some structural problems, but--I do believe I've figured out a new way to tell it that will make the problems less noticeable.

A while back, I figured out that to really make the book work, as well as the other books stronger, and which would really set up a good ongoing series, I needed to have the narrator be the main character's sidekick, a sort of Watson to Holmes.

It seemed impossible. Might as well write a new book.

But the other night, I started asking myself how I could do that. And I was still coming up with ideas at four o'clock in the morning. I woke up the next day and dove in and didn't look up until late that night. I'd transformed the first 40 pages.

It finally feels like the book it should be.


I had to work yesterday, so the momentum was broken, but I'm going back to it today. I'm extracting a strong chapter out of the second book and using it, because I'm pulling out all stops to make this first book work. (I'm not worried about the second book, which has a basic workable structure and more mature writing. I can fill in the part I took out.)

I may still run into some roadblocks. There is a large chunk about halfway through that doesn't nestle comfortably in the flow, but every trick I've tried to break it up or position it somewhere else has only made things more complicated, so the hell with it; I'm just plunking it down there.

Not a perfect book--it was never going to be a perfect book--but a nice readable story, given a little leeway by the reader. Heh.

I'm not sure why I didn't just give up on this book, but there are parts of it I love and I just can't quit it.

I just finished a book. I'm setting it aside for a month to mellow, as is my new procedure.

This is a good time to think about what I'm trying to do.

I can write no end of stories, apparently. And maybe that's what I'll do. I seem to be almost addicted to the process. Life feels a little empty when I'm not writing.

But I'm not sure what I'm accomplishing.

I mean, writing for my own well-being is a worthy goal and in the end maybe all that matters. But there is no way to break through to a wider audience that makes any sense.

I figure if I did all the marketing I could do, the chances of having a good result is maybe 10%. Better than the 0% if I don't do any marketing, but not good enough to spend all the time and effort and social cost.

I've always had the idea that if I wrote a good enough book that word-of-mouth would take off. Well, either I've not written that book, or word-of-mouth isn't going to do the job.

I've had more success than I expected. I've been published (paid) by 10 different publishers in my career. So it's not a fluke.

And if I do say so myself, they are a lot better than I thought I could do when I started.

It has been my decision from the start not to try very hard to break into mainstream publishing, which I think is a snakepit. I was invited in--and sure enough, it didn't go well. Someday I'll tell that story--but I rather thought it was an abusive relationship and who needs that?

I've allowed myself to write what I want when I want. I think this is the right decision. I don't chase the marketplace--in fact, often when I start a book I'm aware it isn't very commercial. I'm also trying to allow myself to experiment.

For instance, this latest book is more about mood and ideas than it is about action. The mood and ideas are hanging on a very lean action plot, which I think is cool. But I'm not sure it works. That's the point--not being sure what works and what doesn't but trying anyway.

So philosophically, I'm not sure what I want to do next.

More practically, I have a series of books that I either didn't quite finish or which need extensive re-writing. So far, as long as there was a new book in the works, I've done that instead. But someday it would be nice to set aside some time to get those other books ready, even if they need to be published under a penname.

But re-writing is actually harder for me than doing a new book, and if these books are weak, the equation has always been--write a new book and try to be better.

But....seeing 10 stories that I liked and which I thought had potential just sitting there is kind of maddening.

I basically want to get drunk, run them through a quick rewrite, and get them out and damn the quality. But...

So anyway, as of this moment I'm probably going to pick up my first book again, Faerylander, and give it one more try. Really try to assert my author's voice, see if I can't make it work.

It's a daunting task.

A lot more daunting than just taking a kernel of an idea and starting a new story.

Eden's Return, done.

So without really meaning to, I've finished another book. This one is more a result of just writing everyday and reaching a conclusion than a goal to write another book, if that makes sense. Just looked for an interesting theme to explore and chipped away at it. It took twice as long as normal and is shorter than usual, but it's a complete story.

Passed 50,000 words on "Eden's Return," which just goes to show that I should never worry about length. By the time I finish the second draft, I'll be beyond 60,000 words, which is fine.

I wanted this story to be shorter.

I have one chapter and the epilogue to go, which I think I can finish today.

There are plenty of concepts to explore here. I don't want the theme to overwhelm the story, but I'd like to add a little depth to it all. Just going to tinker with it, try to find ways to introduce the concepts.

FINISHED: It ended up at 52,400 words. I figure the rewrite will add about 15% as usual, so it may end up close to 70,000 words, which would be great. Anything above 60K would be fine.

Different than what I've done before. I like it, though I think it will need some strong rewriting. I want to delve into philosophy, though I'm not sure how I'm going to do that. That's my intent, at least.

 I'm moving more and more into fantasy and science fiction, rather than horror or thrillers.

Not sure what to do next. I'd intended to rewrite and that's probably what I should do, rather than write another one. But...I never turn down ideas.  

This book has been different. All books are different, but this one has been really different.

The plot is extraordinarily simple. Small squad of soldiers sent into a forbidden zone who then have to try to get out.

Within that simple plot, I had a theme of the Noble Savage, of innocence lost.

Each part of the plot had some philosophical goals. Each of those goals needed to be manifested by mood and dialogue, both inner and outer. In each section, I waited until I was "feeling" it.

It's this last goal which has been incredibly difficult to do.

For instance, by the end of the books I wanted the two main protagonists to fall in love. I've reached that moment where it needs to be manifested, but there is literally no plot to hang it on. As far as the main male character knows, he's the last survivor. She saves him, nurses him to health, they talk a bunch, they fall in love.

How the hell do you do that?

In the past, if I had two characters fall in love it was through the mechanism of plot and I tried to let it develop naturally. But now they are suddenly thrown together and I have to show them falling in love.

I've got four days to write those scenes and make them believable, then onto the climax, which is short and plot oriented and I think rather satisfying.

I figured out another reason this book is different. The penultimate chapters are contemplative, not action oriented, which is the opposite of normal. The last chapter will be action again, but the fact the book slows down and takes a deep breath at the end--that is different.

2nd draft equal in weight to 1st draft.

I hit 46,500 words on "Eden's Return" today with 5 days left in my writing period. I originally estimated that I'd finish up the first draft at 50,000, but I think it may end up closer to 55,000.

It was planned purposely short. The idea this time was to streamline the pace of the story and get it down. I have some philosophical concepts I'd like to play with and I figured the faster the story, the more weight it will hold.

That's the theory, anyway.

Every book is different. I mean, the process of thinking about today's writing, then going on an hour walk, where I stop every half mile or so and do some writing, then going back home and doing whatever embellishing I need to do--that hasn't changed. It's been very effective for me.

But this time I allowed myself more time between sessions. Basically, I'm spending almost 10 weeks for something that would usually take no more than 5 weeks. Mostly because I wanted each section to be natural, without being forced, so I decided I'd wait for inspiration.

I'm purposely leaving a lot for the second draft, whereas I usually try to get as much of the final book as I can in the first draft. In other words, I'm giving equal weight to the second draft. 

I'm focused on the theme of this story more than anything. But the plot and characters need to naturally expose the theme, not be forced into convolutions.

This book has lots of potential if I can figure out how to bring some depth to it. I'm not sure if I have that depth. I've never been particularly subtle. If I have something to say, I just say it. I certainly have always  relied on straightforward storytelling, and this time I'm being a bit more ambiguous.

Because the concepts I'm playing with are by their nature ambiguous.

Really great writing would have the philosophical concepts embodied by the language and actions of the characters.

I don't think I'm quite up to that, but I'm trying.

The lottery and magical thinking.

I just bought a ticket to each of the three ongoing lotteries. I went to one of those "cafes" which specialize in gambling, because it was nearest to my house. There was a guy standing there playing Keno, another lady who was buying fifty dollars worth of scratch-offs.

I bought the two big lottos, and Keno guy said, "What, are you going to skip the million dollar one?"

I laughed and said, "You're right. That would be better anyway. Giving away a billion dollars would be too much trouble."

Earlier, I'd posted on Facebook: "Here's how lazy I am. A billion is too complicated. A million would do just fine."

Of course, I know there is a near zero chance. But I'd always wonder. (What difference a billion makes, I don't know. There are million dollar prizes all the time and they don't entice me. My rational brain knows the odds.)

I'm as susceptible to magical thinking as the next guy. Maybe more so. I think it goes along with the creative imagination.

I read an author once who advised against "daydreaming," contending it was useless. I couldn't disagree more. Daydreaming fueled my early writing. My first book got published, which only reinforced my daydreaming. Of course, the reality played out differently. Not much money or fame came from that book or the next two books, but by then I was fully hooked on the fictional dream.

I kept on daydreaming despite being fully aware that it was nothing more than wishful thinking.

At the age of 32 or so, I dismissed my magical thinking and got serious about my future. I chose to buy Pegasus Books and try to make a living that way, because I saw what a crapshoot writing was. I was convinced that it didn't matter how good the book I wrote was--it was a gamble. Someone early on said to me that success in writing was due to "luck, timing, and who you know."

And after writing for five years, I was pretty much convinced it was true. Plus, I had this nagging suspicion that I was "almost" good enough. I told myself the world didn't need any more books, and that was also true.

Over the next 25 years, I'd get the creative urge once in a while, which was usually banished by some financial crisis or another. Those financial crisis's never stopped.

Anyway, I came back to writing with no intention of going for the brass ring. Oh, I wanted people read me. I hoped they would like what I wrote. But I knew I was going to write because I wanted to write. It was a challenge to myself, one that I've fully enjoyed.

I'm still susceptible to daydreaming, but I don't take it seriously.

Surprise, surprise, I didn't win. 

Well and truly stuck.

I'm stuck at 38,000 words with "Eden's Return."

This is rare for me. It's happened a couple of times before, but in both cases I was aware of the problem and was just trying to figure out a solution. This time I'm not sure what is wrong.

Went on my walk yesterday fully expecting to break through, but managed only about 500 words. By the time I got home I realized that I'd have to throw the whole scene out.

I'm not going to push this. I'm going to try to tease out the proper solution. Give my subconscious time to come up with it.

I was telling Linda I was stuck, and then I said, "I want the story to go like this..."

I detailed the rest of the plot, and she chuckled and said, "I LIKE it!"

So there it is. I've cut the Gordian Knot.

But the problem hasn't been the plot. That I've had pretty firmly in mind. That and the themes. It's the "filler" that I'm having trouble with. All those little details that make up a story. I've always been able to come up with stuff, but right now I'm having trouble visualizing scenes.

So I'm not sure if I'm "unstuck" or not.

I can just push forward with the bare bones of the plot as a placeholder and come back in a month to try to fill in, but I'd prefer to have a nicely fleshed out story to start with.

I'm going to give it a few days to see if the words start flowing.

Form before content.

I think I've know what's slowing me down with "Eden's Return" and why it's so hard to get a handle on it:

I figured out the theme and where I wanted the plot to go and then tried to fill in. That is--I figured out the form before I figured out the content. I know what I want the characters to talk about, but until the last few days I couldn't think of a way to make it seem natural.

So now I've created a couple of new characters (or adapting existing characters, actually) that I will focus on, so that will possibly work. Though the motivations for the discussions may have to be worked out.

I have two themes I want to explore and research more and see if I can't beef up the content of the story a little.

1.) The Noble Savage. This was the original conception and it still holds. I need one of the characters to be an intellectual type, who can expound on the concept.

2.) The Garden of Eden and the loss of innocence. I'm adding a religious character who can spout some Bible verses.

I think I'll probably just riff on the themes--the philosophical content--and write them down, and then figure out which character says them and where. I don't know if this will work. I don't know if it will be lifeless, or will fit into the story. But I think I can probably pull it off. This is more of a crafting of a work with some intellectual ideas, tacked onto a purely action story.

Which I think is a good thing. The purely action story is just having the characters try to survive. The dialogue is basically, "Watch out!'' "Run!" that kind of thing. So it certainly could exist on that level alone and be fine. But I'd like to have some content that deepens the interactions a little more.

So for example--I've killed off more than half the characters, but the two main characters have only interacted up to now in a distant way. I need to draw them closer together. So I'm going back to the chapter I wrote yesterday and putting in a meeting with the two.

Now why is the girl helping them? Gratitude?--I haven't had them do anything for her. Just natural kindness?--well this works better because I make her a pure innocent. Curiosity?--definitely this. Loneliness?--this is probably closest to the mark, so I need to establish that.

But none of this seems quite right--or all of them.

Anyway, what I know is that I like the plot, the theme, and the main characters, which is pretty much the basis for a good book. I can fix the writing, I think.