Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Friday, February 23, 2018

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back... Into Improv

Back in September, I said I was giving up on improv, and would use the time to work on my novel instead. Since then, I have indeed made some progress. Namely, I:

  • finally completed the first draft;
  • re-structured my epic list of planned revisions, organizing the edits by chapter, character, and general terms;
  • created a spreadsheet mapping individual character arcs, and the emotions and motivations of each character on a chapter-by-chapter basis;
  • selected a new opening for the first chapter (from among six) after much deliberation;1
  • found a resource to answer many research questions concerning detectives and security firms; and
  • made this list.
So, have I started writing the second draft?, not officially.2

Although the holidays and the Winter Olympics have proved distracting, there has also been another impeding factor.3 You see, in November I took a musical improv class.

I know, I know. Yes, I said I was giving up on improv, but I never said I was giving up on musical improv. (For the uninitiated, that's a different thing entirely.) I figured I'd have a blast over the six weeks (I did), and then take a break until the next musical improv opportunity arose.

Long story short: It turns out musical improv is my gateway drug.

By mid-January, I'd signed up for a normal improv class4 and been recruited into a Marvel-based improv show.5 But this isn't like before; this time around I'll maintain the proper balance. I'll do improv (but not overdo it). I'll write on a regular schedule (but not too regular). And I'll eat lots and lots of ice cream.

Can't go wrong with ice cream.6

Nor can you go wrong with heroes, villains, and someone pretending to be Stan Lee. If you're in CT next Friday (March 2), come see Improvised Marvel!

ink by Kevin O'Toole, color by me
(click to embiggen)

1 Alas, the novel's original first line — At 4:17pm on a Tuesday, Sean Greyson lost his fingers. — did not make the cut. It's a shame, since it led directly to the entire plot as it stands today, but the story is better for it. And it's just the first of many darlings I will be murdering ruthlessly.
2 Not unofficially, either.
3 Two, if you count laziness. (But don't do that. Be lazy, like me, and stop counting altogether.)
4 The horror!
5 The! (I was hoping for a clever one-two punch of horror and something similar but since they're footnotes maybe it should be called a one-two kick and you know what this is only getting worse so let's pretend this footnote never existed.)
6 Well, unless it's Final Jeopardy and the answer is clearly gelato. Besides, everyone knows you need to put that shit in the form of a question.


  1. Now that sounds like a fun show! I guess you just needed that music improv class to set you straight.
    You may not have started on the second draft, but your organization for it has me in awe.

    1. Alex, for most novels (and most authors) this kind of organization would be overkill. But I've got a ton of characters and so many things I need to fix about them, that--okay, yeah, it's still overkill. But it's my overkill.

  2. Thanks for sharing those intricacies of fiction writing. I had not thought so thoroughly about how to prepare for much scrutiny and what might be subject to scrutiny. The internal controls are a little different for non fiction but still are obsessive or at least thorough by nature.

    1. Bob, please note that not all fiction involves such intricacies. Just books where too many characters are doing too many things, written by someone who's too obsessed with details. My next one won't be nearly as much work. (I've learned my lesson; my next one will be much simpler to write.)