Monday, August 31, 2009
So, here's my list, and no, they're not all books either. This is just a way to touch upon the idea of executing brilliantly . . .
Idea: Someone dies, goes to Heaven, and then is sent back to occupy somebody else's body. Yeah, familiar idea. Drop Dead Diva on Lifetime executes this idea brilliantly in a new and fresh way. I just happened to catch the show one day and fell in love with the concept. Basically, a 24 year old blonde model dies and her soul is plunked into the body of a 32 year old very chunky woman with dark hair. Talk about culture shock. Still, this concept could have come across as hokey. Instead, the writers are doing a brilliant job as this 24 year old skinny blonde model is forced to see life through different eyes. Check it out if you get a chance.
Idea: stranded on a desert island and must survive against nature and overwhelming odds. Let's see - Swiss Family Robinson, Robinson Carusoe, Castaway, and Lost. Each execution of brilliance stands out on its own. The idea has been done before, countless time, but each execution is a bit different that intrigues the viewer/reader.
Idea: a reinterpretation of the Greek mythology. Okay, we have Clash of the Titans (good movie), the syndicated series Hercules with Kevin Sorbo, and then Marie Phillips wrote gods behaving badly. OMG, loved the book. She took an interesting premise and developed it into a quirky, wonderful novel.
Idea: a little girl skipping through the woods on the way to grandma's house, the big bad wolf, a princess kept in a high tower by a witch, a woman with an evil stepmother and sisters. Yeah, you got it, fairy tale concepts. A brilliant execution of this idea, combining characters from many fairy tales, was the Broadway musical Into the Woods. Great play, available on DVD, and with Bernadette Peters to boot. Can life get much better than that? I don't think so! Oh, and then there was the animated Happily Never After with the voices of Sigourney Weaver and Sarah Michelle Geller. Basically, Cinderella's wicked stepmother gets control of fairy tale land and starts to make sure that all the stories end happily never after. Very cute movie with a unique twist, shall we say brilliant execution, on an idea that's been done before.
Now, there are tons, tons more examples I could put out there, but I'm not going to. Instead, I'm asking for your input. Yes, you, dear readers. What are some ideas you think were executed brilliantly?
Friday, August 28, 2009
Okay, go click on the links, read the posts, and then hurry back here to immerse yourself in my brilliance! Yes, I'm a bit snarky as I'm writing this post. It happens from time to time.
The whole thing about originality is . . .that it doesn't exist any longer. What? OMG, has he been hitting the margaritas already? No! But at 7:30 PM Central Time tonight, all bets are off!
We all know (or should) that every single idea out there has been done before. It is not the idea that matters, but the execution of the idea in a brilliant fashion that matters.
Now, after reading Lady Glamis' post about stones I posed the following question:
If there are no longer original ideas, then aren't the ideas from our touchstones just copies of earlier ideas that generate from the earliest beginnings of ideas?
Lady Glamis' response:
I believe they are, in a sense, but I also firmly believe that everything we internalize and write from our heart is truly our own. Nobody else could write it that way. Nobody else has our voice. To me, it all feels like a pearl getting bigger and bigger inside the shell - we are all growing and learning from each other.
So, even though there are no original ideas any longer, there is the ability to reshape those original ideas into brilliant ideas from our own perspective.
My second question was: Art - whether paintings, pictures, books, sculpture, whatever - is meant to evoke an emotional response. Isn't creativity an emotional response? Isn't the forming of an idea, and making it brilliant in our own right, just part of the creative process?
And, being the generous person that I am, I answered my own question . . . If that theory is correct, then every book we read, every piece of art, every poem, song, whatever, are all touchstones . . . well, at least in my little world!
The world around me, is my inspiration, whether it's a lone man on the dance floor dancing like nobody is watching, or the words of a poem that light the fire of inspiration in my brain and cause me to grab the pen and paper and begin scribbling out ideas, or the sight of a lone deer wandering through the developed backyards of society where once there were only trees, or any number of things.
The limits to our originality, our shaping of an idea into something brilliant, are, in my opinion, infinite.
Oh, a few other things . . .
. . . I haven't forgotten about the rest of the followers and posting your names and blogs. It's very time consuming, and I just haven't had the greatest amount of time available lately. I haven't forgotten and you will get your moment of glory on this blog. : )
. . .Revision in Progress is going well, and I'm nearing the end of the manuscript and getting closer to my word count. I have a feeling I'll have to make another pass through the entire manuscript to really narrow down the count. Ah, the joys, the joys, the joys of eliminating words!
Have a great Friday (and weekend)!!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
So, you know the drill, hop on over there, read the post, and then come back here.
Okay, since you've read the post (you better have, because otherwise nothing I'm writing here is going to make the least bit of sense) . . .
Question: do you let your instinct, intuition, guide you when you're writing?
If you answered heck, yeah! then there's no need to keep reading this post. If you went huh?, then you might want to keep reading.
I've learned to trust my instinct when writing. Heck, I've learned to trust my instinct in life. The few times I've ignored my instinct bad, very bad, things have happened.
So, I'm writing along, word after word, sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph, watch those pesky adverbs, chapter after chapter, and then - suddenly (sorry, couldn't resist) - BAM! I hit the wall. My fingers freeze over the keyboard and my brain, well, my brain is at a standstill. There's not a single synapse synapsing, oh, except for the one sending this message: crap, now where was I going with this chapter. I recover from this moment and begin typing again . . . slower, slower, slower still, even more slowly (creep, creep, creep), and then the fingers are hovering above the keyboard again and my brow is furrowed in intent concentration.
The Void. Writer's Block. Dramatic Overwhelm. Okay, if you don't know what dramatic overwhelm means, then you've obviously not read the post I insisted you read.
Okay, maybe it's not exactly the dramatic overwhelm Lady Glamis talked about, but the very ideal made me start thinking about instinct and how, in trusting my instinct, I'm better able to write.
I think every writer experiences dramatic overwhelm at some point.
I also think we (or at least some of us) subconsciously recognize the moment we enter into the realm of overwhelm.
When I get stuck in my writing, when a chapter is just not working, I step away for a day and then come back with fresh eyes. In most instances, I erase what I wrote the day before and begin anew. I think I recognized that something wasn't working, so my instincts made me stop.
I also think the deeper we dive, the better our writing will become. I know when I've written strictly from my heart, no thought of audience or what people might think, I've written some of the best stuff I can possible write. It is when I write while considering what others might think that my writing becomes sluggish and, possibly, it is that moment when I enter the realm of overwhelm.
Yes, I know, we need to consider our audience. I just think when we pay too much attention to what other's think, then we begin to lose something of ourselves.
There will come a point when we must consider our audience. It's when we have an agent, an editor, and a publisher willing to take a chance on our brilliance. It is then, when the agent and/or editor says . . . well, you need to change this, this, that, this, that, this, oh, and could you eliminate entirely Chapter 22. Yes, we'll fight for our writing, our beliefs, and everything else, but I would like to hope that I, at that point in time, would be able to recognize that perhaps the changes I'm being asked to make are because I became mired in Dramatic Overwhelm.
In the end, or perhaps the beginning, we (I) must rely on our (my) instinct to guide us (me) past the moments of overwhelm and onto the brilliance we (I) am capable of achieving.
For some, it will be an extensive outlining process. For some, there will be index cards strewn throughout their offices. For some, there will be haphazard notes here, there, and everywhere (this is possibly me, but I'm not telling for sure). We all write as we write, and we write how we are comfortable, and, most important of all, we should let our instincts guide us.
When you hit the wall, the Void, the moment of writer's block, step back, close your eyes, and listen closely to your instinct. It is there, deep inside you, where you will find the path that particularl story needs to take.
So, dear readers, now the initial question falls back to you . . .do you let your instinct, intuition, guide you when you're writing?
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
The question asked of Jessica was . . . the idea – the spin – was something new and different, and putting it out there for contests would leave it open to idea stealing.
Her response . . . an idea is not copyrightable, so yes, someone could steal your idea, but what really matters in the end is the execution.
Another thing that stood out for me . . .
If your idea is brilliant, but you aren’t able to execute it as brilliantly, it’s not brilliant.
Her challenge to the readers of her blog . . . is for them to actually define “idea” when it comes to your book.
The main point that stuck in my mind is . . .
I think you need to focus on making the execution of your idea more brilliant than anyone else could ever make their execution.
I mean, whoever thought of taking their idea and making it brilliant. Ha!
We all know, or at least we should, that there are a finite number of ideas out in Storytelling Land. Ideas aren't in endless supply. The execution of ideas (I love, love, love that phrase) are in endless supply.
So, you see, I have this idea for a book about a group of friends . . . Well, there are tons of books out there about a group of friends. The idea isn't original. The way I wrote the story is, at least in my opinion, original. I took my initial idea and expanded on it, again, and again, until I created something similar to The Friday Night Knitting Club (a group of friends gathering together, supporting each other, and loving each other, etc.), but different because it doesn't involve knitting, it doesn't involve women friends of various ages, and doesn't deal with . . . well, I'm not going to give away the end. You can just pick up the book by Kate Jacobs and find out what happens for yourself.
The point is, I took the idea challenge (way before I knew about it, I must have been having a psychic moment) and crafted my own unique take on an idea that's been done before, and before, and before, and before, and . . . will be done after, and after, and after, and . . .
We, as writers, must take our ideas, shape them, hone them, polish them, and make them stand out from the generic idea into a brilliant idea that takes into account the premise of the idea and adds depth of character, setting, situations, conflict, drama, and a bit of unpredictability!
p.s. you better have checked out the blog post.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Well, that lovely thought started the brain cells (without any coffee) working. I thought: what are the dynamics of that group. What brought those three together? What's the connection between them?
Now, Davin wrote a post at The Literary Lab on Monday about Character First Impressions. It kind of freaked me out since I was pretty much thinking along similar lines about the characters. In the end, what the characters do has to make sense, and the connection between them should make sense as well.
Question: What is the connection between your characters?
Question: What are the dynamics that brought the characters together?
Question: Does it make sense that the characters are friends?
I hang out with a varied group of people, but there are little connections between us, just as their are disparities between us. We have a sort of symbiotic relationship, ying/yang and all that jazz. For the most part though, I know the connection between us.
Now, back to the three men sitting outside of Starbucks: one very overweight, one kind of quirky but skinny, and one just sort of there and also skinny. The one just kind of there pretty much blended into the background. Mr. Quirky with his hat on was talking animatedly. Mr. Overweight was nodding his head and smiling, but really not saying much. The dynamics of the group were, at least in my one minute impression like this . . . Mr. Quirky is the leader of the group, Mr. Just There is a part of a group, but seems outside of the group, and Mr. Overweight is just grateful to be considered part of the group.
Okay, those are surface impressions only and I could be totally wrong with my observations. Then again, I could be totally right.
When I was in high school, all the football jocks hung together, and all the cheerleaders hung together. You could place money on the fact that the cheerleaders would date the football jocks. You could also understand why they hung out together. Like attracts like. I can guarantee you that the cheerleaders didn't hang out with the overweight girls in high school. It just didn't happen. The braniacs from high school didn't hang out with the football jocks either. Like attracts like.
So, does it make sense that your characters are hanging out together? Are there similarities between them (like attracts like) that would draw them together? Is one character the leader? Does one character sort of fade into the background? Does one character always, always, always agree with what the leader says, and never dares to voice a differing opinion? If you were to see three of your characters having coffee at Starbucks, would you think gee, why are those three together or would you think well, it makes sense that their hanging together?
If you responded with the first answer, you may need to look back at the beginnings of your characters and tweak it just a bit. If it doesn't make sense, if you're going huh, then there's an issue!
Well, that's it for this lovely Monday . . . oh, but the post won't post until Tuesday!!!
Monday, August 24, 2009
The questions, in order of appearance . . .
1) Are my characters DOING something?
2) Is there a CONFLICT?
3) If I'm 90 years old and sitting on the porch with my partner (insert designation of choice here), will I say: "I am so glad I wrote THAT novel."?
4) Why does your character want to tell this story?
So, for fun, let me ask and answer these questions for my novel currently in revision stage.
- Are my characters DOING something? Yes. Definitely. They're living their lives, interacting with each other, and desperately trying to make the right choices that will bring them happiness and resolve . . .
- Is there a CONFLICT? Well, yes, there is, which is how I'd finish the sentence I left dangling with those pretty little ellipses . . . and resolve the conflicts in their lives. Each character has a conflict they are dealing with and trying to resolve. The choices aren't simple, and the repercussions, for some of the characters, are far reaching.
- If I'm 90 years old and sitting on the porch with my partner, will I say: "I am so glad I wrote THAT novel."? Yes. I love, love, love this project. It was written from my heart. It was written solely for me with little thought giving to any outside influences - OMG, what if my mother reads this? Is there an audience? There is, btw. Will the contents of this novel cause the downfall of society? Will this story make an impact on people? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So, yes, I am glad I wrote THAT novel.
- Why does your character want to tell this story? Because it is a story that needs to be told. Life isn't, no matter what the eternal optimists in the world might say, a proverbial bed of roses. Roses have thorns, people, and every now and then, no matter how careful we are, we get pricked by one of those thorns. Let me tell you, it hurts, it stings, and sometimes it bleeds . . . and yet we survive. So, the travails of an unraveling relationship, the indecision of a man as he exists in a bad relationship and is unable to find the courage to seek something better, the aftermath of a violent attack, and the realization that even the most meaningless relationships, ironically, have meaning after all, are why my characters want to tell this story.
Now, go check out the other blogs, and then start asking yourselves these same questions!
Friday, August 21, 2009
Okay, there's a neat contest going on over here.
This is Maggie Stiefvater's - author of Lament and the soon to be released Ballad. Go over to her blog to check out the rules of the contest and to learn more about the author. Yes, this is a shameless plug for her book on the off chance that I might win the contest and get either an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of Ballad or the actual copy of the book once it is released. I'm all about contests, don't ya know! That was me doing a poor imitation of an Irish accent. I do that sometimes, just for the heck of it!
I don't publicly Follow all the people that Follow my blog, though I do check out their blogs just to see what they're up to. Yes, you're being watched. Be afraid, be very afraid. I lurk in the shadows, reading away, and plotting the eventual downfall of the Universe. Oh, wait, sorry, I stepped into character for a moment and got carried away. It happens sometimes.
So, in homage to my followers, I'm doing a post that will link to each and every one of their blogs. OMG, what am I doing? There's not that much time in a day, and the ball is tonight, I have nothing to wear, and my wicked stepmother just asked me to clean out the 200 fireplaces she recently had installed in the house . . . Ooops, fell into a fairy tale for a moment there. Hate it when that happens.
Now, the fantastic list of my followers blogs . . .
Kim Smith - Kimisphere
Carol Ann Strange - A Writer's Journey
Anna C. Morrison - Anna the Author
KM - Prophetic Pictures
Shelli - Market My Words
Michelle - Slushbusters
Elizabeth Mahlou - Mahlou Musings
Quillfeather - W. M. Morrell (Quillfeather Blog)
Hilabeans - Hilary Heskett Shapiro, Writer
H. L. Dyer - H.L. Dyer's Blog - Trying to do the Write Thing
Ali - doesn't have a blog, but she follows.
Time is Running Away - Time is Running Away
Brandon Bell - Nithska: specific writer
Megan Rebekah - Megan Rebekah Blogs
B. J. Anderson - B. J. Anderson - Hope Springs Eternal
Tansy - doesn't have a blog, but she follows.
T. Anne - White Platonic Dreams
Nelson Issangya - Tafica Safaris - Adventure Begins Here
Glynis - New Scribbles from Glynis Smy
Tricia J. O'Brien - Talespinning
Rebecca - Sometimes Special Nonesense
Mandy - The Keyboard
Suzanne - The Wednesday Chronicles
Beth - Writing It Out
Marybeth - Marybeth Smith - Aspiring Novelist
Penny: Sugar Spun Dreams - Penny Lane
Abby Annis - Evolution of my Neuroses and other writerly things . . .
Angie Ledbetter - Gumbo Writer
Kathleen O'Keeffe - Words, Etc.
Justus M. Bowman - Across the Multiverse
Liz B. - Pseudable Bliss
Barb - Finding My Voice
Alex Moore - Adventures in Writing
Fossilhuntress - doesn't have a blog, but she follows.
Elizabeth McKenzie - Hey, I'm Trying to Write Here
Okay, that's about half of them! I'll do another post later to list the rest of them. If you get a chance, check out some of these blogs. There's an amazing wealth of information out there. Take advantage of it!
Also, I haven't listed the blogs I Follow on a regular basis. Some of them can be found on the sidebar to the right, and others . . . well, I'll get around to putting a list together of those blogs as well. There is only so much time in a day people, and I do have my virtual farm on Facebook to tend, oh, and because Marybeth and Elana and my sister-in-law keeping beating my score on Bejeweled Blitz I have to keep playing, then there's Typing Maniac, and my new favorite Brain Buddies. BTW - nobody has come close to beating my Typing Maniac score, nor Brain Buddies! Ha!
Thursday, August 20, 2009
So, my blogging and Facebook friend Elana has nominated me for not one, but two awards, oh, three if you count the Kreativ award. Wow, three awards in one day. I'm going to need some new hats!
So, the awards Elana awarded are . . .
Kreativ - because "Since I received this award seven times, I'm going to go all wonky on you and nominate whoever I want for the Kreativ Blogger award. These are some of the best bloggers out there."
Silver Shoe of Sincerity - He deserves the sparkly shoe for his awesome, well-thought out comments and witty snark. Do witty and snark mean the same thing? *shrugs* I like it.
Personally, I don't get where Elana is coming up with the fact that I'm snarky. : )
Literary Blogger - How about those 27 people up there? Yeah, let's go with them. Heck, let's throw all reason out the door (I'm the captain of the newly formed Blog Police Patrol. Hey! The BPP! You down with BPP? Yeah, you know me! Ahem.), and say that if your name or blog appears anywhere in this post, you get the Literary Blogger Award. Congrats! You guys know that I read blogs like I breathe air, so I really do nominate you all. The world would be a sad, dark place without blogs.
Now, what's an award without a neat picture . . . well, you know how much Blogger just loves to mess up my formatting when I attempt to add pictures. So, I'm not going to do it, no way, no how, but I will post them on the sidebar of my blog so you can see the beautiful - you like me, you really, really like me - awards.
Now, I must get on with the nominating process myself.
Elana, you know you rock! You're also running out on space on your mantel. So, the awards are going back to you, and to . . .
Kreativ - Authoress at Miss Snark's First Victim ~ Why? Because she does so much for the aspiring writers out there with her Secret Agent Contests, her First 250 Word Critiques, her First 1,000 Words, Query Critiques, and everything else.
Silver Shoe of Sincerity - Tess atTess Hilmo
Literary Blogger- Lady Glamis at The Innocent Flower
Okay, there are a ton of more great blogs out there highly deserving of the awards as well. So many choices, and far too little time . . . or space. So, check out the links on my blog to these other sights, and check out Elana's Wicked Awesome Blog because I follow most of these, and will probably start following the rest. This is an excellent source of information. Also, check out the blogs the people I nominated follow as well. The blogsphere is a source of great information, and these bloggers pretty much know what blogs you should read to enhance your writerly abilities.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Revisions are going well. They're going even better thanks to these handy tips from Rachelle Gardner's post about tightening your manuscript which I blogged about here earlier in the week. Boy, if only I'd had this information sooner.
At this point, I'm on Chapter Eighteen (out of 23), and still have a freak-load of words still to edit out of the manuscript. Big. Dramatic. SIGH! Well, at least I have a really good guideline of where to go next with the revisions. You might also want to check out this post from The Literary Lab by the other Scott (Bailey). It's all about overwritten prose. The comments were great and very lengthy. The thing is, sometimes less is more. A short, concise sentence can sometimes get the point across better than an overly written long sentence.
As I've gone through the revision process, I have begun to delete or reconstruct some of my overly written prose. Yes, I'm guilty. I acknowledge that every now and then, I overwrite. Hey, it happens. I'm a work in progress, ya know, and hopefully, I'll always be a work in progress.
So, on this RiP Wednesday, I still have about 20,000 to 30,000 words to eliminate to get my manuscript into an acceptable word count area. BIG! DRAMATIC! SIGH! PART! DEUX!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
There appears to be a great debate in the literary world regarding backstory, that can be summed up with one simple question: How much backstory is too much backstory?
Now, the inspiration for this post came Rachelle Gardner's post about tightening up your manuscript as well as a few other blogs that I've read recently. One of the items on Rachelle's list was unnecessary backstory. I mean, we've probably all done it at one time - throw in a ton of backstory because we think, no, because we BELIEVE it is necessary. We BELIEVE the reader needs to know every endless detail about our characters life . . . before they get into the meat of our brilliant stories!
Yes, I've been guilty of the too much backstory thingy. In fact, I could create a great prequel to a book or two based on the huge amounts of backstory I have created . . . at times.
Backstory is great . . . in small doses. I guess what I'm trying to say is . . . don't overwhelm your reader with a ton of backstory.
I normally intersperse backstory into the first few chapters. You see, when I meet someone for the first time, I don't know everything about him/her. I learn that information over time. I think, at least for me, backstory should be learned over time as well. Give your readers enough info to get a general idea of your character, and let them learn the rest as the story progresses.
Now, some out there in the blogsphere are going to disagree with me. More power to them. Writing is a process and we all do it in our own unique way. The blogsphere is a teaching tool for aspiring writers. We all talk about how we write. And, hopefully, we all learn a bit from following the gazillion blogs we follow, whether here on Blogger, on Networked Blogs, or wherever. I firmly believe that we should never stop learning. We might not all write in the same way, but that doesn't mean we can't learn from how others write as well. Trust me, I've learned a ton by following the blogs I follow.
So, I leave you with these questions . . .
How much backstory is too much backstory?
Do you overwhelm your readers with backstory or slip in a bit here, there, and everywhere?
If you overwhelm? Why?
If you intersperse? Why?
Monday, August 17, 2009
Rachelle Gardner had a great post about tightening up your manuscript. Go check it out. She provides some great advice that should really help me, and everybody else when it comes to that dreadful moment in time when words need to be eliminated from a manuscript.
As any reader of this blog knows, I've been slowly working through my manuscript eliminating words here, there, and everywhere. It's a slow process. I'm truly amazed at how much excess crap . . . I mean words . . . I had in my manuscript.
Now, were the words totally unnecessary? Well, no, but, removing them hasn't hurt the integrity of the manuscript. In fact, removing them has tightened the manuscript and made it a bit more streamlined.
So, check out Rachelle's post and start streamlining your manuscript.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
I've linked this blog using Networked Blogs, and Elana has done the same, as has Marybeth - note, the links are to their regular blogs. I follow their blogs, and a few others as well through my Facebook page. Why? Well, it makes things just a bit simpler for me. I'm all about simplifying my life.
If you're a Facebook user, you can do this as well. Just click on the link above and click +Add Blog and it will walk you through the process. It then gives you the option to invite friends. Also, say you're a friend of Elana's, it will show you all the Networked Blogs she follows and you can easily follow those as well . . . which is how I added quite a few blogs to my list. SIGH. More. Blogs. To. Follow!
Oh, since I just discovered this . . . in order to have your blog post to your Facebook page, after you've added your blog to Networked Blogs, you need to go to the Networked Blog home page, click on your blog, then profile, then look to the right for 'feed settings', click on that, and it will give you three options - auto, manual, and don't (as in publish). There's also a link which you have to click first to allow authorization. Once done, save, and then your posts will appear on Facebook!
Hope everyone is having a great weekend.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
WRITE! I don’t know where the urge comes from, why I’m doing this, or why, in some ways, it defines me as a person. It (writing) is just something I do.
I love to write, to delve into the depths of my imagination, to touch upon, chaos, depravity, humor, anger, pain, and redemption . . . as well as a ton of other things as well.
I like to wrap fiction around fact, and intersperse fact into my fiction.
I’ve created kings and queens with the magic of my mind. My characters have saved damsels in distress, slain dragons, wielded magic swords, and traveled to places deep within my imagination. I’ve created characters who have suffered pain and humiliation, made wrong choices in life, and somehow found redemption in the end. I’ve created characters who cannot be redeemed, no matter the desire of their creator.
I’ve killed off a character or two for the sake of drama.
My characters have discovered horrible secrets that forever changed their lives.
A man with a gun plays a pivotal role in one manuscript.
A woman betrayed plays a role in two manuscripts.
Margaritas play a role here, there, and everywhere.
There’s this drag queen – quite voluptuous, plump really, well, overly plump – who likes to wear sparkly dresses that are so tight, if a sequin were to suddenly fly off, there’s a good chance someone standing nearby might lose an eye. Oh, and she’s actually a fairy godmother, low on the totem of fairy godmothers, who has a battered wand and a faux rhinestone tiara. She may or may not be a figment of a character’s stressed out imagination.
There are three queens, two human, and one dragon, who will change the fate of a world.
The gods are not dead, they are just sleeping soundly as they await the change of Ages when once again they will rise to power . . . though the power will not be what they once held.
There is a desolate valley . . .
You see, the images come into my mind, often without prompting, and I put pen to paper (or rather fingers to keyboard) and let my imagination run free. I don’t stop it from running, I don’t rein it in, I just let it go and do what it wants to do, explore whatever realms it wants to explore, and hope, beyond hope, that my Muses are always with me.
Question: Why do you write?
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Marybeth posted a book review on her blog (and her Facebook page) of Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code. As a reader of this book, I made the following comment . . .
Read the book . . . good premise, good story, bad plotting. I mean, seriously, 1/3 through the book and I could actually predict what was going to happen to the MC. Picture it - MC in dire situation, MC miraculously escapes dire situation, MC in dire situation, MC miraculously escapes dire situation, MC in dire situation, MC miraculously escapes dire situation . . . that was the entirety of the book. Every single time the MC was in a dire situation . . . he miraculously escaped the dire situation. Other than that one little qualm, I did like the book.
Marybeth's response . . .
LOL...you must be better at predicting than I am. Maybe you are a writer or something??? ;)
My response . . .
Maybe. Seriously, by the middle of the book I always knew that every time the MC was in danger he would escape from danger . . . oh, and always just before the police arrived also! : )
Her response . . .
LOL...very true...but isn't that true for all books? :D
My response . . .
To an extent yes. Take Lord of the Rings - the nine companions didn't always escape the danger unharmed. Gandalf was lost in Moria. Boromir was killed. Merry and Pippin were captured by Orcs. Yes, they were rescued, but not miraculously, and not unscathed. I think that's what I didn't like about the DaVinci code - the miraculously, unscathed ... escapes. : ) Since I always knew the MC would escape, there was a dramatic loss of tension. Tension is important, and without it, well, what's the point of reading? : )
Her response . . .
I can totally see that. I guess all the lingering mysteries kept me going. I wanted the questions answered so I wasn't too worried about how they escaped. LOL I HATE unanswered questions!
My response . . .
I agree that the mystery was great . . . and that's why I kept reading. I wanted, like you, the answer to all the questions. I just think the lack of tension diminished the impact of the book. : )
As you can see, her little book review prompted quite the conversation . . . and this blog post. I think, as writers, we need to avoid the predictability demonstrated in The DaVinci Code because, at least in my opinion, it lessens the dramatic impact of the book. I mean, I got to the point where I would skip through the dire situations. There wasn't any dramatic tension because I knew the MC would always, always, always miraculously escape from the situation.
I don't want predictability in what I am reading. I don't want to get bored because the main character is constantly in a dire situation in which he/she is going to miraculously escape. Yeah, I know, he/she is the main character and all that jazz. As I pointed out in my comments, you can have bad things happen to your characters. They can be captured by Orcs, bitten by a giant spider, fall into an abyss with a Barlog, and tons of other stuff. That is all part of dramatic story-telling . . . as is the survival of the characters. The fact is, Tolkien had the uncanny ability of leaving his readers hanging by a thread. OMG, he killed off Gandalf! OMG, what's going to happen to Merry and Pippin? OMG, Frodo is dead! The tension was incredible, as was the relief when they survived . . . though not unscathed, and not without a deeper appreciation of life.
Tension is one of the keys to drama. If there isn't any tension, if the character miraculously - time and time and time and time again - escapes from a dire situation, why would I want to keep reading? What's the point? Boredom sets in at some point.
Now, thankfully, The DaVinci Code had a great premise/mystery, so I kept reading. If the premise/mystery hadn't been great . . . well, I probably wouldn't have finished reading the book.
So, dear readers, don't let your books become too predictable. Don't let your readers suddenly become members of the psychic friend's network and know what is going to happen every time your characters are in a dire situation. Surprise your readers (and possible yourself). Have the mighty wizard fall into an abyss with a Barlog. Have two adorable hobbits, best of friends, captured by Orcs and face a horrible ordeal. Have the ring bearer stung by a giant spider. Have a stalwart companion slain by Orcs defending the hobbits and trying to redeem his moment of insanity!
I'm just saying . . .
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Her questions (and my answer in italics) were . . .
1) Why am I writing?
I write because I love to write. Yeah, there are aspects I don't love that much, but overall, it's an incredible journey that I absolutely enjoy.
2) How long do I want to do this, even if I never get any credit or money from my work?
As long as I can.
3) How much rejection can I take?
Bring it on!! I have faith in myself and my abilities.
4) How much time do I want to spend on my goals, versus with my family, friends, and pillow?
As much time as I can. Life is about balance, whether it's a career as a lawyer, doctor, writer, garbage collector, or whatever. Careers take people away from their friends and family. We just have to balance our lives so that we hold onto our dreams, and our friends and family as well.
5) What do I want to achieve Big Picture?
I'm not sure. Would I love to be so successful to be able to write full time? Well, yeah, kind of, but not really. You see, I'm not an everyday writer. I write when I write, and when I don't, I don't. It's just what works for me.
6) Will I be satisfied when I get there?
Probably not. I mean, are humans ever truly satisfied? Don't we have a burning desire to succeed again and again and again . . .
7) Am I satisfied if I never get there?
Yes! I love to write. I write for me first, and the world second. I write to explore the depths of my imagination, the chaos of my mind, and the depravity that - sometimes - lurks just beneath the surface.
8) What steps do I have to take to achieve that Big Picture thing?
Write, write, write, write, write, follow blogs, write, write, write, follow more blogs, write, write, write . . .hone my craft to the ultimate pinnacle of near perfection, write, write, write!
9) Which one needs to be achieved first?
Well, writing of course. The best thing a writer can do is write, write, write. Learn the craft.
10) What is my support system?
In no particular order . . . Frank, Jon, and Suzi! Frank is there for me, day after day, in this crazy journey of writing and life. Ditto for Jon and Suzi. These three people are some of the kindred (woo-hoo Anne of Green Gables) spirits who have entered my life, and are the most important ones, in my life. Without them . . . well, I can't imagine my life without these three.
11) How will I feel if I never achieve this?
I'm not sure. I mean, I'm not part of the Psychic Friends Network. I don't know how I'll feel if I never achieve this. I mean, I love to write. Enough Written!
12) Is it worth trying anyway?
YES! YES! YES!
So, go check out Rebecca's post and answer these same questions yourself. Post them on your blog and let your followers know just a bit more about you!
Have a great day.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Well, dear readers, that's no excuse. By the end of the movie, I realize that the ending is (yup, you guessed it) contrived. The ending totally doesn't make sense, thus this post.
I think the writers of the movie should have read Lady Glamis' posts about outlining, here, here, and here! Dang, that's a lot of outling! There were also three separate posts, thus the three hyperlinks. Whew!
Seriously, the ending was totally contrived just to give the characters a happy ending.
DON'T DO IT! Don't contrive your ending just to have happily ever after, or because you just think everything should end up in a neat little package. Life isn't a neat little package. The endings of our stories shouldn't be a neat little package either. If they are, I'm afraid they might (though not in all instances) come across as contrived.
Now, in this movie, all of a sudden, two characters fell in love with each other. It's not like there was a bunch of stuff leading up to this undying love the characters suddenly had for each other. I mean, it was LMN movie, so I knew it was coming, but seriously, people, not in such a contrived fashion that just didn't make sense . . . at least not to me.
There should have been more. There wasn't. So, hop over to Lady Glamis' blog The Innocent Flower and read her posts about outlining. Then, go to the ending of whatever manuscript you're working on and read the end.
Ask yourself these questions ~
Does this ending really make sense?
Are the characters acting in the way I wrote them to act?
Does the ending feel forced and/or contrived?
Am I taking the easy road out with this ending? Are all the characters gloriously happy and living happily ever after (except for Cinderella's stepsisters, who had their eyes pecked out by a flock of ravenous birds - hey, is that where Mr. Hitchcock came up with the idea??)?
Does it make sense that Character A and Character B suddenly declare their love and jump into bed together?
Does it make sense that Character A (strong, independent woman, raising a child on her own, never committed to any man) is suddenly wearing Character B's shirt after their spontaneous moment of doing the big nasty?
I'm sure there are more questions you could ask yourself. I'm sure there are more questions the writers of this movie should have asked themselves. Yeah, I know, LMN, two hour time limit, and all that jazz. That is not a good excuse. What happened at the end of the movie was totally out of character for the . . .well . . . uh . . . characters!
I mean, no dates between the characters, no romantic dinners, no nothing, and suddenly they're declaring their undying love for one another!!! Then, they're hopping into bed. Then, they're committing themselves to life . . . all in less than 24 hours. Yes, less than 24 hours. I mean, I'm all about true love, but this was even a stretch for me.
I think had the writers outlined a bit better, filled in the plot holes, the ending could have been as good as the beginning. Instead, I was left feeling gipped out of a good ending. Kind of like what happened after I read The Memory Keeper's Daughter. Let me tell you, the book ending sucked and didn't make sense. Now, when Lifetime adapted the book to a movie, the ending was changed to one that wasn't contrived and made perfect sense.
So, don't let your ending become contrived. Make sure it makes sense!!
Mini RiP Update - I've reached the halfway point in the revision process. I still have a ton of words to go. Chapter Thirteen (the start of Part II) will be a bit more difficult because of my splitting the book in my temporary moment of insanity and thinking I should market the books as two separate books, versus my instinct of marketing it as one book. : )
Friday, August 7, 2009
I was wrong.
There is something worse than the query letter . . . and it has a name: the dreaded synopsis. Yes, dreaded!! OMG, and I thought the query was rough! Oh, silly, silly readers, the query is a piece of cake - Coconut, if you please - compared to the dreaded synopsis. Ya know, for whatever reason, those words seem to echo in my mind . . . over and over and over (Madonna anyone) again.
The dreaded synopsis has its own special place in literary hell. I'm just saying . . .
But, like Sophia Petrillo before me, I digress. Go here and read Amy Allgeyer Cook's wonderful post about the dreaded synopsis and get some tips on how to write your own.
Now, since I'm a kind and gentle soul of unenviable generosity, I'm going to give you the skinny, the scoop, the 411, right here and now . . .
The main questions your synopsis should answer are . . .
What is the main character's goal?
What is the crisis at the beginning?
What keeps your protagonist from achieving their goals?
What's the climax?
What's the ending?
Now, Amy didn't just pull these questions out of thin air, a magic hat, or her . . . she found them in an article that she references here. Go on, click on over, read the whole post, and check out the rest of her blog. No, I don't know her, haven't ever met her, and am not getting paid to direct you to her blog. It's just my overwhelming generosity pouring forth like Niagra Falls. Yes, I can be that generous . . . at times.
I took Amy's advice and began my work on the dreaded synopsis. I opened up a new Word Document, typed out each question, and began to answer them. It's absolutely amazing that I'm still sane. The questions really, really, really help.
And, to demonstrate the ease . . .
What is the main character's goal?
To protect the secret his mother and aunt have covered up for 32 years.
What is the crisis at the beginning?
The discovery of his mother and aunt's dreadful secret, and the implications of its revealment.
What keeps your protagonist from achieving their goal?
The close proximity of those who would be hurt the most by the secret being revealed.
What's the climax?
A man and a gun, and the ultimate realization that he cannot, no matter how much he wants, protect those he loves the most in this life.
What's the ending?
An acceptance that no matter the lies told so long ago, no matter the secret, life goes on.
Okay, that's purposely overly simplified just to show a basic example of the the dreaded synopsis process.
So, my thanks to Amy, and to the author of the article she referenced, and to all aspiring writers who have bravely swam in the shark infested waters of the dreaded query . . . and survived.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Sometimes, we just need to step away from the computer, the pen and paper, or the whatever. We need to give our (well, at least mine) frazzled brains a rest. We need to LIVE! Yes, LIVE.
I don't have kids. I do have two cats (Tasmyn and Squeaky), two dogs (Jesse and James, aka the boyz) and a beloved partner (Frank) who worships the quicksand I walk upon. Yes, that's my story, and I'm gonna keep telling it until . . . Anyhow, I have a life beyond writing. There's laundry to do (oh, wait, Frank does the laundry, I guess I can scratch that off my list), dusting, vacuuming (oh, Frank again, scratch off list), litter boxes to scoop, weeding to do, dinner to cook, groceries to buy, bills to pay, blah, blah, and blah, blah, blah!
I can't write 24/7. I'm lucky to find an hour some days. Still, I love to write and wouldn't change this crazy adventure . . . not in a million years, or for a gazillion dollars. Writing is in my blood. It's what I do!
I've learned not to let life get me down when I can't write. Sometimes, I play Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook. Sometimes, I go to Farmtown (also on Facebook) and spend time plotting and planning my growing farm. I make checkerboard patterns out of my crops. I put up stone fences, hedges, trees and flowers. I move my farmhouse from place to place. Sometimes, I take time for myself to read, or maybe just sit outside with the boyz. I shouldn't feel guilty about doing these things.
I normally don't. Then again, I was raised Catholic, so guilt is an inherent part of my nature. Still, I know that, every now and then, I need time away from my writing. I need to sit back and relax, let the old (well, not really old - 40 is the new 30 after all) brain cells relax a bit before I jump back into the chaos of my hyperactive imagination. You see, there's this woman, and 32 years ago she walked out on her husband after finding him doing the big nasty with her sister. Well, you can glimpse just a bit of the depravity lurking in the vastness of my mind.
So, yes, I'll take time away every now and then, but I'll be back. My imagination wouldn't have it any other way.
So, my advice, dear fellow bloggers, is step away from the computer, the pen and paper, or whatever, and enjoy life for just a bit. Set your guilt aside that you're playing Bejeweled Blitz (this means you, Marybeth and Elana . . . oh, and me too) or harvesting virtual crops in Farmtown (me, me, me) or just vegging on the couch doing absolutely nothing. The words are still in your mind, the many characters as well, just waiting for the next moment to leap forth into brilliant life once you sit down to write. Take some time away for you, so your characters and the worlds you create, come out fresh!
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Cream Cheese! WTH, has Scott lost what little he had left of his mind??? No, I just want to let you know that the secret to giving a cat a pill is to encase it in cream cheese. The pill then becomes a delectable little treat that the cat greedily eats up without a clue that they are taking their medicine. Oh, the joys of cream cheese. Somebody needs to do an ode to cream cheese. I'm just saying.
I discovered something about myself over the last few days, thanks of course to Lady Glamis. The devastating news I discovered: I'm a closet outliner. Yes, I outline . . . in a haphazard, chaotic manner, that might send serious outliners to the nearest psychiatric facility. Check out her post and the comments section.
You see, I get an idea for a story, maybe a character or two, and I start writing. I normally know the end of the story, just not all the details from beginning, middle to end. I don't plot out that this is going to happen in Chapter One, that is going to happen in Chapter Four, and big event is going to happen in Chapter Twelve. I just write. Now, before serious outliners throughout the Universe have a collective fit . . . I do jot down notes as I go along. Such as . . .
. . . Character A needs to confront mother about deep, dark family secret that has totally ruined his life.
. . . Character B needs to encounter biological father at cemetery.
. . . dinner party scene.
. . . massive, blowout white trash party scene.
. . . big realization about Character C.
So, I make notes, sometimes I write those scenes out of sequence if inspiration is slapping me on the back of the head, and then just insert them willy-nilly as I see fit.
So, I outline. Please don't shoot me. I don't think I'll ever outline with the tenacity of certain other people (notice I'm not mentioning any names), but in my own chaotic way, I do an outline sort of thingy!
Have a great day.
Monday, August 3, 2009
My question: what happens when the protagonist is also the antagonist? Yes, it happens. In fact, I'm mired knee deep in that dilemma. You see, I don't have a stalwart villain with greased backed hair and beady little rat eyes. No, the face of my villain is . . . the face of my protagonist.
WTH??? Well, you see, the struggles of my main character are firmly internal. There's not an outside (well, technically there is, but not really) force throwing obstacles in my hero's way so he has trouble reaching his happily ever after. There is, basically, only my snarky margarita drinking hero who is struggling with his ideals of right/wrong, good/bad, red shirt/blue shirt, sandals or sneakers, and all the other crap of life.
Yes, life happens around my character, and his friends as well, as they struggle with making the right decision and hoping the repercussions don't totally destroy their lives, or the lives of those they love.
So, how do you, dear readers, fellow bloggers, and aspiring writers, deal with the issue of your protagonist being the antagonist as well? Is it easy? Hard? Does your brain hurt just thinking about it? Well, mine does. I mean, every other project I've worked on there is a clear protagonist and antagonist. It is only this one gem of brilliance where the protag and antag are one and the same. Go figure!!!
On a different note - Tasmyn is currently on pills to help her extremely hyperactive thyroid. In a nutshell, thyroid levels for cats should be between 0.8 and 4.0. A hyperactive thyroid is normally 3.8. Now, Tasmyn is far from normal. She is my cat after all. Her thyroid reading was . . . 21.1. Yes, 21.1. Silly cat! So, she's on pills for now, surgery is also an option, but will be the last resort. She's an old girl. She's also not happy with me forcing pills down her throat twice a day. Oh, the joys, the joys, of giving cats pills. I could write a novel about it. Hmmmm . . .