Once More, With Feeling (Redux)

by Shelt Garner

Not only am I falling apart, but I continue to feel like I’m spinning my wheels when it comes to the first few chapters of this novel. This is the point in the past, of course, when the whole thing would collapse and I would pretty much lurch forward in the plot so I could at least start writing with some momentum again.

My heroine looks like Corrie Yee in my mind.

But this time, I’m not doing that. I’m going to press forward. I’m pretty sure that I have figured things out with the beginning of this novel. It’s just a matter of being really, really patient and methodical.

I’ve changed so much about characters and relationship when it comes to this novel that that, unto itself, is going to slow me down. But — hopefully — not too much. I am still on track to wrap up this third draft by about April 1st. That will give me a few months so do pre-flight things before I query to agents in the fall of 2024.

I still have no idea what I’m going to “comp” my novel to. In general, the novel could be compared to Gillian Flynn’s “Sharp Objects.” And I’m sure I’m going to make many, many mistakes as part of the querying process. But that’s part of the fun of it all, the thing that gives one a sense of adventure.

Being an aspiring novelist, you are bombarded with a lot of advice, all of it being contradictory. It’s enough to make your head spin. But I’ve come up with my own, personal, set of arbitrary rules that I *try* to follow as well as possible as I write this third draft.

I believe I have a stable first chapter. I believe I’m well on my way to having a stable second chapter. The big issue will be how quickly — or slowly — it takes me to get past just the first few chapters into the core of the first act and then into the second act.

I can’t keep writing and re-writing this portion of the novel forever.

I’m Dreading The Due Diligence Of Literary Agents When I Start to Query This Novel

by Shelt Garner

You know, you take yourself wherever you go. And I’m at a point in my life when I can’t get rid of all the evidence that I’m a drunk crank kook and have been that way my entire life.

My heroine looks like Corrie Yee in my mind as I write her.

My fear is, of course, that in about a year, when I start to query my first novel that I will see agents crawling around this Website doing due diligence on me and obviously being shocked at what a drunk crank I am.

I’ve talked about these fears before, but as I get closer to zooming through the third draft of this novel, I find myself thinking about it yet again. I just don’t know what I’m going to do.

I suppose, in the end, I do nothing.

Slings and arrows and all that. I just have to accept that I may suffer something of a “kook tax” yet again — the liberal white women who I believe make up the vast majority of literary agents may be aghast at what a freaky weirdo I’ve been as I written — and talked — over the years at great length, in vague terms, about what I hope is a six novel project.

Only time will tell, I suppose.

Emerald Fennell, Have I Got A Story For YOU

by Shelt Garner

I’m just being silly, but I find it interesting how people are spooging their pants over Emerald Fennell’s “transgressive” movie Saltburn when I lived a real life story that is just as fucked up (in its own way.)

Emerald Fennell
I have not seen Saltburn, but from what I’ve read of its plot — oh boy. But it *does* remind me of how totally fucked up the story of ROKon Magazine is. There are so many twists and turns — and it’s all so character driven — that there are only two people I can think of who could write and produce a movie that properly conveyed what a fucked up situation all that was: Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Emerald Fennell.

Even though I hate to admit it, the only way to tell the story of ROKon Magazine is to use a framing device like that found in Daisy Jones & The Six. And, really, *I* should be the one to tell the ROKon Magazine story, given how important it is to me and my very specific vision.

The closest I’m coming to doing that at the moment is writing six novels that draw heavily upon my experiences in Seoul, what I know to be true from first hand experience at that point in my life.

I May Have Two Stable Chapters

by Shelt Garner

I think it’s possible that the first two chapters of the third draft of my novel are now stable. I *hope* that this will mean that things will go much, much faster. But one problem I’ve discovered is even though the first two chapters are strong, all the changes I’ve made in those first two chapters are kind of forcing my hand.

In my mind, my heroine looks like Corrie Yee.

I’m going to have to rework huge parts of the rest of the novel to accommodate these improvements. And I had no idea that thinking up a new, better beginning for the novel would require so much work.

But, here I am, months after I hope to start to rewrite the novel in earnest, still somewhat spinning my wheels in the very beginning of the novel. I’ve also added about 30,000 new words to the novel — at least. The hope is, of course, that all these new, spicy scenes I’m working into the plot will turn this novel into a real page turner.

That’s the hope, at least. I know I’ve stumbled upon a really cool story. The question now is, of course, is my writing ability up to the task? And that doesn’t even begin to address my lingering fears about the rise of AI and the so-called “Fourth Turning” happening at some point in late 2024, early 2025.

But, at this point, I just want to finish the third draft sooner rather than later. I’m still shooting for April, 2024. That’s my goal. I just don’t want this to slip any further. I do not want it to be April 2025, I want April 2024.

That will give me time to pivot to the pre-flight work necessary to query in the fall of 2024, just as all hell may be about to break out.

Things Should Now Go Really Fast With The Third Draft of My First Novel

by Shelt Garner

My heroine, in my mind, looks a lot like Corrie Yee.
There are a lot — A LOT — of lingering known unknowns when it comes to the third draft of my novel. But I’m still pretty confident that I should be able to write much, much faster now. I know the general relationships of the characters and so now I have to root around in the specifics as I move forward through the story to write a solid alpha release of the third draft.

I hope to do that by around April 1st. But it’s going to be a real struggle. Sometimes, I feel like my life is falling apart and everything will be thrown up in the air at any moment in a way or ways that I just can’t predict.

I wish some of these people who read this blog on occasion from unexpected, exotic locales had some connection to the Hollywood industrial complex and would be interested in getting the novel published. It’s shaping up to be really good. With my luck, of course, they’ll just steal the idea and I’ll be forced to watch other people have some success from all my hard work.


Things Are Getting A Lot Better With The Third Draft Of My First Novel

by Shelt Garner

My heroine has the general phenotype of Corrie Yee.
I’m giving myself about a day to kind of chill out before throwing myself back into the novel. I do this every once in a while. In the past, when I had more money, I would go to NYC for a little Writer’s Retreat.

Alas, I now live in abject poverty.

Anyway, here are a revised first few scenes of the third draft. I’m well on my way to revising them, but this will give you some sense of where things stand.

Things *Should* Move REALLY FAST Now With The Third Draft Of My Novel

by Shelt Garner

It’s time. I have got to start to push myself when it comes to wrapping up this third draft. I have a fairly stable first two chapters of the third draft, now is time to zoom through the first act. Once I hit the second act, things SHOULD move even faster.

My heroine looks a lot like Corrie Yee in my mind.
I have written and re-written so much of this novel, that once I get the new beginning of the novel done, then, zoom, I hope to wrap up the third draft no later than maybe April. I know full well that if I don’t keep and eye on the calendar, it could be fall 2024 before I finish the third draft and the whole world could be being coming apart at the seams.

Anyway. It’s officially put up or shut up time. I have got to finish this third draft ASAP so I can piviot to the next step in the process – querying.


by Shelt Garner

Now that I have pretty much built the cornerstone of the third draft by having a stable first chapter, I can get down to business. There is the issue of a ‘canon.’ To date, I have kept canon up to date in my mind by simply reading and re-reading what I’ve already written.

Heroine of my first novel looks like Corrie Yee, phenotype wise.
But that has led me to grow very unhappy with what I’ve written and, as such, rewrite everything. This has obviously slowed me down a great deal. But I took a look at the new version of the first chapter today and realized my heart wasn’t in it. This is a good sign — I can now throw myself into finishing the rest of the first act.

And what SHOULD happen once I finish the first act is things go very, very fast. That would put me on track to finishing the third draft of the novel no later than, say, around April 1st. That’s the hope, at least.

President of Hollywood, are you out there in the aether, reading?
Then I would have all summer to figure out how to afford a professional manuscript consultant to look at the novel before I query in in the fall — just as my world — and everyone else’s — is thrown up in the air because of a potential “perfect storm” of the Fourth Turning and a some sort of Petite Singularity.

Or we might actually punt our problems down the road such that I can try to enter the querying process in peace and quiet. If I legitimately thought someone in some way connected to the Hollywood industrial complex was interested in this novel I MIGHT post the stable first chapter of the novel just to give them a taste of what I have.

But I am well aware that by saying that outloud that some asshole will use a proxy to make it SEEM like someone with Hollywood connections was lurking out there in the aether reading this blog.

So, lulz, not going to do that.

But the first chapter is shaping up to be really, really good. I rewrite a lot of it recently because I used AI to give a sense if it was any good and it told me “not enough tension.” So, I reworked it to make the things a bit more tense and give the thing a bit more of a flow.

I am well aware that many, many other people are doing the same damn thing I’m doing and they’re not drunk cranks. I know anyone doing due diligence on me would probably conclude I was too much of a freaky weirdo to give a old drunk crank like me a chance.

Oh well. Slings and arrows and all that.

Idle Rambling

I Just Don’t Know, Folks

by Shelt Garner

The moment I think I have a stable first little bit of this third draft of the novel, everything collapses. So, I dunno. I guess I have a stable first chapter? Maybe? It’s possible? I really like what I’ve come up with, regardless.

Yes, President of Hollywood, I’m working as fast as I can.
I’ve reworked the first scene YET AGAIN, this time so it has more tension in it and is more focused. But the changes I’ve made in the story have now forced me to rewrite everything that comes after it. This. Happens. All. The. Time. I think that’s a sign that my storytelling ability is getting a lot — A LOT — better.

I hope.

Anyway, I continue to fall apart on a physical basis. I have some real concerns about the state of my teeth. I don’t know what I’m going to do about that in the near to middle term. I have a fear things are going to get really, really bumpy, only to sort themselves out in a way I can live with.

It’s just going to suck in the near term. Ugh!

I hope I can sprint between now and Christmas when my next de facto deadline is. Christmas is when some relatives will return who I will feel compelled to show at least the first scene to. They were quite pleased with the last version I showed them, then I asked ChatGPT about what I had written and it said, in effect, “This sucks — no tension.”

So I went back to the drawing board and gave the first scene more focus and more tension. I’ve learned a lot of my problems come from simply having too fucking much going on in a scene. Just by cutting long, meandering scenes into shorter, more focused scenes, I fix a lot of problems.

I have also realized I have to hurry up. I can’t keep screwing around. I have a limited amount of time — I’m NOT going to live forever. I’m already in my 50s and not only may AI make all my hard work moot, the prospect of a significant political crisis in the United States starting in late 2024, early 2025, is a “not great, Bob” type situation.