Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Back Into The Swing of Things

The recent deluge of snow over Lancaster has pretty much forced me to stay at home.  After a while, you run out of interesting things to watch on television (although thank God for the Olympics; at least it's something) and the internet starts to get stale.  I don't have any new books to read, my editing desk is clear and until the yard loses a foot and a half of snow we can't get the rest of our things moved into our new house.  So, the combination of all these elements (and a nasty case of bronchitis/pneumonia) have culminated in a huge spate of productivity over the last few weeks and my works in progress are reaping the benefits.

I've been delving fiercely into the final book of the Vampire Covenants trilogy, churning out about twenty six thousand words in the last couple of days and a pretty darn gripping battle scene if I do say so myself.  I may have been channeling Victor Hugo, because the thought of vampires battling on the flying buttresses of Notre Dame on Bastille Day has kept me glued to the laptop for hours at a time.  Supplementing the writing, of course, is all of the research that accompanies writing about such an important place and time.  When I was little and my French mother took us to Paris, I remember how enthralled I was by Notre Dame--the architecture, the crypts, the stained glass that was centuries older than my country--all of it made a lasting impression on the ten-year-old kid I was at the time.  That impression has been helpful as I wrote my way through that scene, but it also led to a lot of questions: what is the roof made of? (lead tiles) Were the gargoyles already there? (there were medieval gargoyles, but some of the ones there now are replacements from a nineteenth century renovation) Is this what Notre Dame looked like on July 14, 1789? (No, not really--most notably the spire is different, also added during the nineteeth century renovation)

All these little details add up.  And while I remember Notre Dame very well, I did not remember that the big building in front of it (the Hotel-Dieu) is a massive medieval charity hospital and at the time my story takes place was still in ruins, having burned down a few years before and not rebuilt yet. Occasionally, I'll get distracted and read on past the information I need, which is good.  Knowledge is never wasted.  And then, having pulled up as many photographs of Notre Dame, the roof, the gargoyle and the architectural details of the building, I throw my characters down onto the streets of Paris on the more momentous night of French history and hope they come to life.

It's a crap shoot. I'd be willing to bet that out of the 26k I've written for this climactic scene, less than half will survive in the final draft.  I'm a huge overwriter, no ifs, ands or buts about it.  But hopefully, when my readers dive into that scene, they'll feel like they are actually there--and THAT is when all this hard work really pays off.

At any rate, this blog post has deviated from what I originally intended to talk about.  Many of my blog posts do. I meant to tell you I was back in the swing of things and cranking out words quite nicely.  But, just as my research on Notre Dame diverted my writing, it's also kidnapped and run away with this blog post.

Which, I guess, just goes to show that I really am back into my writing zone.  I'm off now to get through the rest of this scene at Notre Dame and then all the way back through time to an era when Achilles' parents were falling in love and the Trojan War was barely a blip on the mythological radar.

Oh. And it's snowing again. Lovely.