Saturday, April 16, 2011

Character Quiz

With my broken finger I am doing the slowest rewrite I've ever done. The only good thing about it is I get to really think over a scene as I try to change it. I get to really get into the character's heads.

So I thought up a little character quiz:

Your main character looks into their love interest's eyes (which hopefully have dilated pupils) and lean in to take their first kiss...

1)What did your Main Character eat since they last brushed their teeth? (they would know this and run through the days events hoping it was nothing too offensive.)
2)What does the Love Interest's perfume smell like?
3)How about her hair, does the shampoo compliment it?
4)Who has the warmer body temperature?
5)How is each controlling their breathing, are they taking quick breaths through their nostrils or deep breaths through their mouths, hoping not to seem like they are panting?

Not that all this information needs to make it into the book, but these are the things that would run through the Main Character's mind and the Adrenalin and Serotonin that are released would make them remember every detail.

These are just a few things I've thought of the MC would be thinking at that time, it's a little hard for me to remember as its been over 23 years since I've had a first kiss with someone.

Besides the things I just mentioned and the obvious, what other things might go through the MC's mind?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Writing Wednesday: Clarity

It will be another two weeks before I can type at anywhere near my normal speed so I've been reading about writing. So I will share a couple of nuggets that I've run across:

Issac Asimov:
"I made up my mind long ago to follow one cardinal rule in all my writing: to be clear. I have given up all thought of writing poetically or symbolically or experimentally, or in any of the other modes that might (if I were good enough) get me a Pulitzer prize. I would write merely clearly and in this way establish a warm relationship between myself and my readers, and the professional critics: Well, they can do whatever they wish."

This is much like my idea for my writing that it is always “The story must come first”. All the other stuff is great, but if the story isn't clear to the reader then it is no longer a story.

Robert Heinlein interrupted by Robert J. Sawyer:

"Rule Three: You Must Refrain From Rewriting, Except to Editorial Order
This is the one that got Heinlein in trouble with creative-writing teachers. Perhaps a more appropriate wording would have been, "Don't tinker endlessly with your story." You can spend forever modifying, revising, and polishing. There's an old saying that stories are never finished, only abandoned — learn to abandon yours.
If you find your current revisions amount to restoring the work to the way it was at an earlier stage, then it's time to push the baby out of the nest.
And although many beginners don't believe it, Heinlein is right: if your story is close to publishable, editors will tell you what you have to do to make it salable. Some small-press magazines do this at length, but you'll also get advice from Analog, Asimov's, and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction."

I really can't say enough about all the feedback that I got from “Ray Gun Revival” before they published my first story, that advice was invaluable.

As far as learning to abandon as opposed to finishing a story this is also invaluable. Learning when to leave it alone and stop tinkering with it is a tough thing. In rewriting you hit the point of diminishing returns quickly.

And finally a word on the end objective of writing:
"And how is clarity to be achieved? Mainly by taking trouble and by writing to serve people rather than to impress them."
F. L. Lucas

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

First Full read of my latest novel

I've been working on my novel MIND THIEF for way too long, oddly enough I hadn't really read it until this weekend. That sounds strange but that's the way I decided to do it, very few edits until the first draft was done.

A lot of the problems I thought it had it either didn't or they were a lot more minor than I thought. That's a good thing.

But I ran into a problem that I wasn't expecting. In reading it I am really getting into the characters, and am slightly annoyed when the plot pulls me away from them. Part of this is because the transitions are still rough, it is hard to transition from one scene to the next before you've written that scene. But it is a little perplexing.

The second part is I started the first chapter at the event that triggers all the shadow figures to come after our poor protagonist, the logical place as it is a technological thriller. Unfortunately that event is him meeting our heroine and experiencing love at first sight, which he thinks is lust. That is the classic starting place for a romance.

Unfortunately, at this point there isn't much I can do as I know I am way to close the work to view it objectively. I'll have to clean up the transitions and throw some more action verbs into the plot parts to see if I spent too much time drooling over my characters and not enough time tightening the action, then have some beta readers tell me if the problem is me or the book.

I've really never encountered this problem as I tend to think of myself as more of an idea writer than a character writer. I just thought the idea was on such a grand scale it would need powerful characters to fill it out, I wasn't expecting the characters to overpower the pretty powerful plot.

I was wondering if anyone else has had this problem of a one element of their book overpowering what they thought was the main element, and what if anything you did about it?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Book Review: Zombies Don't Query

This is my first non-fiction review, but it is sure to be of interest to anyone who wants to become a writer.
Title: Zombies Don't Query (Tips for Writing and Publishing YA)
Author: Rusty Fischer.
Cost: Free

The only problem I have with this book is it has one too many words in the sub-title. “Tips for Writing and Publishing” would be more descriptive. Yes, his focus was on how he wrote and got his YA book, ZOMBIES DON'T CRY published, but the advice is great for anyone writing in any genre.

One reason this book is a must have and a bargain at twice the price, is Fischer has had a number of non-fiction books that he either wrote or ghost-wrote so he made all his huge newbie mistakes in that field, switching to fiction he got to experiment with what he had learned and streamlined the process.

The other reason is he doesn't take himself or his process too seriously so as I read it I was thinking more of how I could apply his advice to what I am doing, rather than the impression that most books on writing give which is “You must do this”!

Most (but not all) of his advise is stuff that you will learn if you take a year of two to stalk, I mean, read agents blogs. If you have been doing this it is nice to have all that information in one place. If you haven't been stalking agents this book is a great way to get up to speed with what the rest of their stalkers are chatting about in the comment sections of their blogs.

Some of the advise is stuff no agent will admit on their blogs but we know is true. Agents forget to note in their submission guidelines that they will be out for a few days, when they get back they have 10,000 queries and give each 2 seconds to grab them or they send a form letter, same with days they have the flu or a blinding headache. It sucks if your query hits them on that day, but that's life.

As you can tell I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to everyone who wants to become a writer. If you are already published it would be worth your time to look it over as well.

I also recommend checking out his blog ZOMBIES DON'T BLOG