One thing that drives the character of all my writing is the combination of the enhanced visual processing of my mind mixed with dyslexia. It is not an uncommon combination, but it does produce a unique set of problems. I think in pictures. I process data pictorially. Writing to me is a very conscious act, akin to writing music. There is a certain “song” to the written word, songs I explore to produce “music” of ever stronger intensity. Like a song, certain words, we call them, Philosophy and Poetry, can leave a lasting impression.
But like a movie, the story first exists as a sequence of pictures or clips. These clips in the movie industry, viewed after each day of shooting are called “dailies.” Dailies give the director (and the actors sometimes) ideas about the direction the movie is headed, how the story initially looks. The script and the looks govern the next round of shooting, trying to reduce waste and make a “good take” happen the first time. Later, editing can assemble these takes into a sequence, then the special effects and postproduction work comes in and hammers it into a stimulating and professionally smoothed experience.
Because I am a visually processing person, my workflow resembles increasingly that of a movie. That produces its own set of problems and advantages. To see the problems, just sit down in front of a movie and try to write down the story you see. On the surface, it will sound rather yucky. There are channels of information in the movie you are not capturing.
Much of the ideas I use either come from Philosophy I have learned, human problems I have studied about in history, or from the movie/television streams I have watched. To get the additional channels of information into the writing, I have found that I almost exclusively must rely on the methods of writing Literary Fiction, combined with illustrations that I have produced. Someone once told me that a book must be a “total experience” not simply a flat read. I have really taken that to heart.
The process of producing the book starts in a similar way to producing the movie: if I am going to produce a pivotal, strong character, I first need all the prosthetics, costume, and makeup in place to try out the character, to find a look that I can reference in my writing. In the case of this Tova chapter, I had to produce an illustration of teen Tova that had all the physical features that were important to her and then give that picture a “presence.” Tova is an unusual mix of endearing person with a subliminal terror that you can’t quite put your finger on. The terror stems from how Tova looks at people. She loves nice people, likes to connect with their mind, but she also connects with their biology. She feels that the very structure of their physical form has generated thoughts that have a certain structural pattern. If she considers changing a person’s mind, she is not just thinking of having a discussion. She is also thinking of changing the person’s body. It’s the sort of thought that makes a person’s meat quiver upon their bones, no matter how much they like Tova.
Once I have the “costumed Tova,” the next step is to lay down the shots or the initial writing of the scene. In Literary Fiction, this writing contains as much of the person’s personality as you can project in the conversation combined with basic body language. This becomes your “daily.” It is useful to push through and get the daily done and then sit back and play back the daily, in my case, read the text aloud with emotion. In the writer’s mind, the writer is perhaps enjoying the banter, mainly because the other channels of information are in the writer’s mind. Those channels will have to be added, but right now, the goal is to see how the remaining scenes will be shot or how in subsequent writing, more of the other channels of information can be laid down. The daily also tells you when you might have to adapt your “shooting” or subsequent writing to get more continuity. At this point, perhaps you can see those secret scenes connecting the scenes you planned to write but implicit in your mind and required for the reader to fully understand and buy into the story. Then you can adjust your “shooting” or writing and see if you are able to get more into the next daily.
After the chapter is done, the next stage in the Literary Fiction writing is the equivalent of special effects. What are the important things that the characters are thinking while they are talking? How do the things the character has experienced in their past tie into each exchange, each verbalized thought?
The final, postproduction stage is putting in the sounds, smells, and sights that are not directly a result of superficial body language or expression. Those seemingly irrelevant things are apart of any live experience, and you want this to be a “live experience” that deeply impacts the reader, leaving an emotional experience that they can’t get rid of. That “deep to the bone” emotional feeling is one of the major features of Literary Fiction.
For the book I am producing, there is a net postproduction that happens for the book. Because I am using a true publishing method to produce the book, not only do I add illustrations, but special internal inks and varnishes combined with backgrounds upon the text to give the book a truly special feel. That treatment requires a significant effort all by itself. The hardware is up to the task, since the hardware I possess could do the special effects for an indie film. The question for me is whether I can drive the hardware to excellence.
I have included a “daily” from the “Who is Tova?” chapter below. In this scene, Tova is eight-years-old, Tyr is her father, and Sashashivalia is her mother.
I’m still writing on the chapter “Who is Tova” and I’ve written about 9,895 words so far. Usually, writing new material consists of three passes. In the first pass, you get as many details as you can down, quirks of speech, behaviors, and strong emotional events. During the second pass, you ask, “What are the characters thinking while this stuff is going on?” and you write down their thoughts. The third pass is where you bring out the people’s emotions. This can be done with body language, how they speak, and by describing the atmospherics of the environment they are in. Right now, I am in the first pass on this chapter. I am fighting the internal confidence battle of thinking people won’t want to read all this stuff versus trying to get a fully satisfying emotional picture of not only where Tova came from but who she is as a person, her emotional rhythm, if you will. At the various stages of her life, you want to see her dominate personality traits present and their development as she develops.
There is a lot to tell about Tova, since I have had a chance to develop and experiment with her character in four other books I have written. The challenge will be to make the reader feel her as a person, something that pulls at their heart but also causes an internal conflict in the reader because the endearing girl is also a butcher in the name of science.
In the following excerpt, Tova is eight years old and she is interacting first with her mother and then her father. Where this is going is that soon, she is going to demonstrate skills that are beyond even a human prodigy. Those skills, combined with the power within her, make her terrifying, especially as she learns a little about her powers. Since those powers are just a part of her—she is not a human plus powers, but a creature whose powers are as natural to her as moving a finger—that means that other people could grow very frightened of her since she or her parents are not frightened by her powers at all. They are just normal.