Weekend! Time to catch up on all the things that I don’t get a chance to do during the week. Something I have been making time for during the week is the Storywonk Daily Podcast. Running between eight and thirteen minutes each, Alastair Stephens and Lani Diane Rich put up a new podcast every Monday through Friday about a different aspect of writing and a little bit of entomology fun. This week they’ve been talking about critique groups, beta readers and feedback.
I generally listen while I’m getting ready in the morning, a nice little way to do something writing related even as I’m heading off to the day job. Check it out; I think you’ll find it work your time.
“Anyone can dabble, but once you’ve made that commitment, your blood has that particular thing in it, and it’s very hard for people to stop you.” — Bill Cosby
It might be hard for other people to stop you, but surprisingly easily for us to stop ourselves. I’ve got a short story which should have been finished Monday. It’s finally going to be finished today. Why? Because I let other things get in the way. But once it’s gone, I can get back to the business of my current project that I want to get into submission early in 2011. Yes, it’s another NaNo I’m not doing according to the rules, but the writing is the important things. And I’m learning some things about my patterns and the roadblocks I put up in front of myself — and what stimulus I need to keep me writing.
I knew the lesson this year was going to be about self-discovery; that became clear to me at the end of September when I read Elizabeth Boyle’s post about “the plan” over on Romance University. The plan is how she tracks her writing and while it’s not an exact fit for me (what technique ever is?), there were a number of things to take away from it, such as the fact I over estimate how much I can get done in a set amount of time. I remember the time I wrote, edited and submitted a 7,200 word story in the course of twenty-four hours — but I then forget I didn’t write for a week. I take on new projects that I figure won’t take very long, which then take much longer (glares at story that needs to be finished).
I’m the one who needs to say no, who needs to learn when I’m overloading my plate, because the only one who’s stopping me is myself.
No, I’m not going to look at the date of my last post; it will only depress me. Suffice to say, life has been busy with the rent-paying job. However, I have managed to discover a few things along the way:
1) I cannot resist the lure of new yarn, especially since I’ve discovered lace knitting. I now need more storage space.
2) The shiny new project? Not so shiny. I started working through my “whys” and discovered a great big pothole that probably would have derailed me about seventy-five pages in. Not insurmountable, but it’s a bit on the back burner until I get a chance to figure things out — which won’t be for a while.
3) My other contemporary romantic comedy is moving forward finally, and the characters are starting to “speak” to me. This is a good sign.
4) The historical I’ve been editing very much wants to become a romantic comedy. There’s a problem; the way it’s originally plotted, we know that two of the characters we’ve seen on stage throughout the book (not the hero or heroine or the secondary leads) are going to be executed at the end. One doesn’t worry me so much, but the other came out as a tragic figure beginning to end, a bit mentally unbalanced and subject to the demons inside him and the political agenda of those around him (including his mother). Not the way to end a book that I’m hoping the reader will have been laughing through. That means I need to make some major changes.
That book was written several years ago, and it was only recently that I picked up the hard copy and decided to give it another look. I was trying to be “dark” and “edgy.” One thing I’ve learned since then; I ain’t dark and edgy. I can give you an intense situation. I can torture my characters with the best of ‘em and send them crawling over broken glass — but they’re going to do it with a laugh. Not jokes, but humor born out of people and their reaction to the situation around them. Ever see the show Coupling? Written by Steve Moffat (yes, the same one who’s currently writing Doctor Who), it’s a comedy about the relationship of men and women as they do the mating dance. The show is both funny and painful, but there aren’t the usual sitcom jokes. Instead, it’s how the characters react to one another. For example, Sally asks Patrick (whom she doesn’t want to admit she fancies because a) he’ll sleep with any beautiful woman that comes along and b) he’s a Tory) what he calls people he goes out with but doesn’t try to sleep with. In all innocence, not being condescending or snide, Patrick replies, “Men.”
I’ve met guys like that and you probably have too. It’s not all men or even a majority, but it’s funny because we know there is truth in the words and it’s true to his character. That’s the type of characters I like writing and that’s not conducive to a story ending in a rebellion and executions. So, the story is going to have to shift a few years previously which will allow me to keep pretty much all of my characters and while things aren’t going to end well for some folk, it’s a setback, not a final end.
I love writing, right? Just asking because at moments like this, I need reminding.
Goals for today:
1) Gym again. More run/walk.
2) Having proudly stated that I don’t want to let the one sentence story summary hold me back, I need to open a blank file and start on the “whys?” for at least one of these projects.
I keep running into folks who say, “You need to start with a sentence — preferably 25 words or less — that sums up your book.” Unless I’m going to write, “Boy meets girl, stuff happens, they live happily ever after,” I don’t think that’s going to work for me.
The idea is brilliant; you boil your story down to its essential elements and communicate that to the listener, who will hopefully be intrigued enough to ask for a full/buy the book. It is absolutely something a writer needs to do as they send their precious work out into the cold, cruel world. My argument isn’t with that. My argument is about when the writer needs to do that.