The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

note to self re. backstory

ways to tell backstory:

1. narration (just outright tell it)
2. have characters bring it out in dialog
3. in scene, as flashback
3. in scene, but go back and make it part of the regular story in real-time order (no longer a flashback).

How to tell which one? This is a problem because sometimes the past info is presented properly, it's just not in the right place in the story. Maybe look at how clunky it feels? Also look at how much emotional engagement it requires from the reader? How much space does it need--how much story interruption is too much?

Friday, February 27, 2009

No writing of any kind. I did think about a writer friend's WIP yesterday, so that was nice. It's so much easier and relaxing to think about other people's stuff because you're not the one who has to make things work on the page.

Monday, February 23, 2009

This sample/audition is giving me a hard time. I think part of the problem is that it's all plotting in the part I'm working on; it's all setting things up. The tension comes from circumstance, not from people. However, the circumstances should make for good reading. I ought to be able to "craft" my way through it, but for some reason it's tough going. My head won't stay with one main idea to get it hammered home before I move on to the next thing. For example, I think, "Okay, here the reader needs to learn X." So I write it out, and then I go back to make it real, to get into the character's head and figure out what she really might be thinking and noticing, step by step. And then somehow, somewhere in there, I keep losing track of the original "reader needs to learn X." What I end up with after an hour or two is something that is unfocused, does not build, and probably doesn't even tell a story since the reader does not learn X.

I need to get a grip. Maybe the thing to do is spend more time checking up on myself as I work, and not delve into the character's head for lengthy periods.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I have a voice for this sample, but now I'm wondering if I should see about switching it over from third person present to first person present. I'm wondering if I'm more comfortable with third person present because that's what the former GN is in (the swordfighting ms is first person past). I don't want to mess up my feel for my former GN, and I don't want w-f-h to encroach on the private WIP territory in my head.

I'm also wondering if first person present is more along the lines of what they're looking for. I would slit my wrists before I'd let anybody tell me how to approach my own from-the-ground up stuff, but w-f-h is a different compartment. The w-f-h compartment allows compromise. It has different goals; the object is to end up with a piece of writing that fills a preconceived need. In the w-f-h compartment, somebody else sets the parameters. I may push the parameters or bend or break them, and of course I have to figure out my own way to approach them--but I know that I don't have final say over anything. In my own private WIP compartment, I do it my way or I don't do it at all. There is no compromise; all my obligations are to the ms itself, and to the characters.

So anyway, I guess I'll try this out in both voices/styles and see which one seems to read better for this particular need.

Friday, February 20, 2009

No writing of any kind for the past few days. There's not enough time in a day to get everything done; something always has to be set aside or pushed back.

I did have a little blip of a thought re. the MC for the Night Road sequel. I have no idea why that would pop into my head, out of all the things I've got to get done or want to get done. That ms isn't anywhere close to being worked on. It's, like, four or five books down the list. It's not connected to anything I'm working on or hope to work on. Still, it was a nice surprise to have even the thinnest of creative thoughts pop out on its own instead of me trying to pry it out during a specified time slot.

Today I am going to try to work on the w-f-h sample, which should have been finished last week. I'm going to set a goal of having it done by the end of the weekend. Along with a couple of other things.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Slowly proceeding on w-f-h. I have a voice/style I can work with, although I doubt it's what they're looking for.

I may be seeing a pattern; last time I tutored (several years ago) I reached a point where I sort of stopped writing, or only wrote sporadically. Tutoring is not the same as teaching (I don't know how any teachers can also be writers, although I know some are); teaching takes up some of the same parts of your brain and uses some of the same creative energy. Tutoring doesn't involve creating lesson plans, generally. But once again with (part time) tutoring I seem be reaching overload, where the back of my head is not working on writing during downtime. Like, sometimes in the early morning right before and as I'm waking up my mind flits over writing problems. But now it's flitting over numbers. Just numbers, not even anything interesting about them.

And then today I was trying to talk to some writer friends about characterization, and suddenly I looked at what I was doing:

I think part of the trouble I have sometimes is that there are too many variables:

1. the way I perceive my character

2. the way I think I'm presenting him (what I'm showing, what I'm dwelling on)

3. the way I'm really presenting him (things in #2 that I am doing but don't notice, or that are out of balance)

4. the way other people perceive him

Of course, in #4 everybody brings their own baggage along, so they may see the character differently. But when #1 and #4 are not anywhere near being in sync, I guess that means something's wrong in #2 and #3.

I am starting to think of writing in terms of middle school math problems, breaking it down into steps and numbering them and referring to them by number. I don't know if this is necessarily bad, but I'm thinking it's not good.

Monday, February 16, 2009

No writing, no writing, no writing. I think I can feel the well refilling at the back of my mind, but I won't let myself find out till I get this g-d w-f-h thing done. I would have already had it done, if I had been behaving properly, sticking to a serious and professional work ethic. Now I'm refusing to allow work on my own stuff till this is finished and turned in, even though at this moment it is grating on every last raw nerve. I'm actually squirming in my chair rather than forcing myself to face it. I finally pulled the file up, and it is sitting there right now, behind this blog thing on my desktop. I can't see it, but I know it's there, like the slimy ancient bullfrog in the herpetarium at the Fort Worth zoo, the one that's from the Amazon or someplace and looks like a huge gray featureless blob of mud. I'm not kidding, that thing is the size of a deflated watermelon. And just like that lump of a bullfrog, this work will lie in the same position until the end of time, or until somebody moves it. In this case, the only somebody who can move it is me.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

No writing of my own--all w-f-h, tutoring, family stuff. Maybe next week; we'll see.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

No writing of any kind yesterday; today I did a little work on a couple of w-f-h samples.

Friday, February 6, 2009

No writing today, and no thinking about it. Got a rough draft of a sample reading test done, but that's it.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

No writing today, of course. No time to even think about it; I've got to do this sample/audition thingamabob, and then another company sent a reading test for me to do--only I finally opened it, thinking it would be a piece of cake (you know, a reading test?), and lo, they want me to write a sample reading test to certain specs. That's a whole different ball of wax.

Plus, looks like I'm getting another student to tutor, so that makes five. Nope, no time to think about my own stuff.

Not that these other projects aren't mine. It's just that I can't hurl myself into them and wallow around for ages the way I do with my own from-the-ground-up novels. The wallowing is actually most of the fun, and I for one can't wallow properly when the bottom-line reason I'm writing is to win somebody else's approval.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Okay, what I've decided to do is put my own writing on the back burner. Instead of trying to do it every day, I'm going to have to get other stuff done, and then--if I'm not dead on my feet, mentally or otherwise--I'll see if there's any time for my own writing. Play it day by day, no guilt, no stress. I expect to get this audition/sample thing done within two weeks at most, and I expect to be doing some of my own writing during that time. But I'm not going to work all day then feel like I didn't accomplish anything because I didn't get a lot done on my own ms. That's ridiculous.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Did a very little bit of writing today. My time was cut up by various things that had to be dealt with, and I had trouble getting into gear, getting out of gear, getting back into gear. I did make a little progress, but it was neither spectacular nor satisfying, so I'm not feeling it. Tomorrow looks pretty full, and Thursday, too. So, I don't know. I feel like a deer who's been in the headlights ten times a day for so long that I've settled into a semipermanent daze.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Today I worked on getting characters from point A to point B, never my favorite thing to do, but only annoying today because I know how limited my writing time is and will be for at least a short while. With this part, I tried to just skip it and leave it for later, but the places the characters pass by all come up again in the story, and some are important to later action while others are important to backstory and motivation. So I felt unable to move on until I at least got this movement sketched out. Which I did, and now I feel okay about skipping a little ahead to scenes with things happening, with people and dialogue. Except I ran out of time, and had to quit right as I had to decide where to skip to.

I have an opportunity to send a sample/audition for a project that will be very time-consuming, but that will also pay well, so I have to get that done; I'll say within two weeks. But first I need to look at the project description and figure out what questions I have about it, and that will take time and also require some background reading (I've already started that). But I'm betting that I shouldn't discuss this project here, so I will try not to.

I sent the first pages of the new version of the swordfighting ms to a writer friend, who says it does read differently from the old version--of course it is different because the scenes are not the same in any way, but WF says it also has a different feel to it. I was curious as to whether the difference I feel as I write is coming out on paper, and apparently it is.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Yesterday I looked at what I had and jotted a very brief chapter outline, 2-3 words per entry. The first chapter sprawls a bit, but after that, I could see what I need to do, where I'm wandering and need to cut to the chase. Perhaps a key reason I was able to do this is that I am moving toward a decision on the character's part now, rather than an action. The decision is to take action, but the difference between focusing on the choice rather than the action is really helping me this time around. So far, anyway.

Kind of busy here again, but I plan to get some writing in today. It's just that other things will have to be set aside to do it; things which probably shouldn't be set aside. Still, I do plan to write today. Yesterday I ended up pulling pieces from all over the (latest) earlier version and fitting them into a new chapter in this version. It all feels like it's working, or will work once it's revised and cleaned up.

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