Kristine Smith


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Kristine Smith

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My Progress

Mon. 10 July

I turned 59 on the 4th. A nice party with friends, very low-key. It’s the next birthday that’s going to give me pause.

The Lilith synopsis proceeds. Writing about my process last week shook a few things loose, including what I think is a good “moment,” a hint to the reader of what’s coming that the POV may not realize is important. The balancing act comes in avoiding revealing so much to the reader that the POV is the only one left who doesn’t know what’s going on. I know there are stories in which that is done, and some are quite good. But I prefer mysteries that keep the POV and the reader guessing.

Unfortunately, when I’ve pondered a story long enough, I wobble a bit with respect to that balance. I’ve erred on both sides, either by setting out too many details and ruining the mystery, or by being too mysterious by half. That’s one reason why content editing and beta reading are vital–sometimes the author is the last person to know that they’ve lost that balance.

 

Sat. 1 July

First off, a snippet. It’s from the end of the draft first chapter of Gideon 3, tentative title Lilith. It may not survive editing etc, but at this point, I like it. It’s a bit spoilery, but I figure by the time any book would come out, it will have been forgotten. So:

Driving one-handed, she pulled out of the driveway and started down the road, dirt billowing behind her, gravel pinging the vehicle’s underside. Steered with her knees and fiddled with the radio until she found a soft ambient channel, something to settle her nerves. But even the waft of strings and gentle piano grated, and after a few minutes she shut it off, concentrated on driving, struggled to ignore her sore neck, her hand, the bundle resting on the seat next to her. It remained quiet, for the most part. But every so often a sound emerged, a screechy scrape like claws across glass.

I am behind on reporting progress. I was out of town last Friday–ALA Conference in Chicago, so I was working–spent the week playing catch-up, and fell asleep on the couch as I worked on this past Friday’s report. Things have settled for the foreseeable future, so I hope to do better for the duration of the write-a-thon.

Now that I have the first chapter of Lilith completed, I need to write a synopsis, three or four single-spaced pages covering the balance of the plot as I currently see it. For someone who eschews outlining and has had to grapple with unraveled plot lines mere days before slamming into hard deadlines, synopsizing a book I haven’t yet written poses a challenge. I have a grasp of the general plot of Lilith as well as the final scene. I just need to bring some order to the mess in the middle, which for a supernatural thriller means developing dire happenings, scary bits, and a strong Minor Big Bad. A solid antagonist.

We already know who the Major Big Bad is. If you’ve read JERICHO, the preceding book, you know. They’re the overarching Evil, the driver who sets things in motion and will likely be mentioned in the cover copy. But Ritual Disclaimers aside, they probably won’t interact with my protagonist directly in this story. They have a spear, the pointy end of which is the direct antagonist, the character whose actions affect my protagonist directly. That antagonist serves as a reflection of the Evil’s world and worldview, showing in action that world’s structure, philosophy, and code. They will do the yeoman’s work of acting and counteracting, hiking through forests and dealing with my protagonist’s allies and their own faults and limitations. They will probably have a POV slot, which for Novel Me are limited in number and probably means tight 3rd person, my default novel POV. 1st person, I reserve for short works.**

Also, my protagonist cannot be a spectator in all this. They’re the pointy end of their very own spear, which means they can’t have plot points simply handed to them by secondary characters. They’re an active protagonist also portrayed in tight 3rd person, which means they need to show their work, make the discoveries, set out the steps of their proof. Play fair with the reader. In a mystery, that means they figure out the reasons to dig further, uncover the clues, and act on that knowledge. They run toward the explosions of their own volition, for reasons that make sense to them.

My synopses used to be disasters, 50-60 double-spaced pages of stream of consciousness plot the vast majority of which never made the first draft. The synopsis I wrote for JERICHO was different, and I am hoping that it’s a sign that Writer Brain has learned a thing or two over the years . Four single-spaced pages, with a plot roadmap that made sense. Yes, there were still surprises, and some editorial pushback on details. Characters flipped on me, including a one-off who decided to hang around for any and all subsequent stories in this universe. But even though parts of this synopsis changed, it still helped me because it proved solid enough to form the foundation of the story. I don’t know if I will ever develop into a writer who writes synopses that are so perfectly tuned that she can follow them to the letter–it may be too late in the game for that. But I know I can construct a decent jumping-off point, and sometimes that’s all you need.

 

**usually. First time for everything, and alternating 1st/3rd has been done before.

About Me

Writing Sample

From Code of Conduct:
Jani hurried out of the alley, slid to a stop, and scurried back into the shelter of a doorway. The desk clerk was talking to an attractive blonde. His new contact from SouthPort Consolidated, Jani assumed. Try as she might, she couldn’t recall seeing that company name on any shipping logs that had passed through her hands.
Jani studied the woman’s neat hair and stylish clothes, both several GateWays removed from the best SouthPort had to offer. She watched as the desk clerk nodded, then pointed in the direction of the alley.
She backed down the passageway, her sore back protesting every stride. When she reached the other end, she looked up and down the street, ducking into the shadows as a passenger skimmer drifted by. She listened, until she heard only faraway street sounds and knew for certain that she was alone. Then she ran.

What I Write

As Kristine Smith, I’ve written the Jani Kilian science fiction series and a few short stories. As Alex Gordon, I’ve written the supernatural thrillers Gideon and Jericho.

 

Website

http://www.kristine-smith.com

Twitter Handle

ksmithsf

Publications

Visit my website for first chapters, outtakes, and other information about my work.

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Write-a-thon Goals

Writing Goals

I have some first chapters and synopses to wrestle into shape, and a Jani Kilian novella to write. Not really concerned about daily word/page counts. I’ll be happy with daily words.

Fundraising Goals

Some of the first science fiction I read were the Clarion student anthologies from the 1970s. Even though I never attended Clarion, the name has always been synonymous with speculative fiction and writer development, and I want to do what I can to help support the workshop and the scholarship program.