Thursday, December 13, 2012

SHINE on

First off, I know I've been a terrible blogger lately.  There's the normal holiday stuff, work stuff, friends and boyfriend stuff, and other seasonal distractions, so I'm sure this will continue until January, but I am still around, and still hard at work on revisions.  I'm a bit halfway through the manuscript at this point, and it really is turning into a rewrite, hence my slowness and preoccupation.  And once I'm done with that, I'll need to write several new scenes and probably do another round or two of revision to get everything cleaned up, and revise my last book, and outline the next one... There's a lot to do, but it's fun!

Look at this gorgeous cover! 
How could you not want to read this?
Anyway, a book rec for you today:  Shine, an anthology edited by Jetse de Vries.

I've had this one sitting on my shelf for a year or two, and have only recently gotten around to reading it.  It's unusual in that it's an anthology of near-future, optimistic science fiction, and those are both qualities we rarely see in the genres these days.  I love my dystopias and my far-future stuff, but the focus of this book is refreshing, and some of the stories are absolutely gorgeous. 

I also appreciate how multicultural and gender-balanced it is, both in its authorship and the settings and casts of the stories.  There's just so much interesting stuff going on in this book, both within it and in the story of its creation, which happened in large part through Twitter and blogs.  de Vries includes a short introduction to each that provides information on how he found the author and why the story was so appealing to his specific vision for the book.

This book is a must-read, and already I've recommended specific stories to friends and acquaintances based on their recent experiences or interests.  It offers a perspective of the genre that is rare these days for avid science fiction fans.  And because it's so near-future, most of the technologies aren't too far out there, so it could appeal to non-SF fans who like contemporary stories or reading about social issues as well.

I don't think there was a single story I disliked, but the standouts for me were:
  • Summer Ice by Holly Phillips
  • Sustainable Development by Paula R. Stiles
  • The Church of Accelerated Redemption by Gareth L. Powell and Aliette de Bodard
  • The Solnet Ascendancy by Lavie Tidhar
  • At Budokan by Alastair Reynolds
  • Castoff World by Kay Kenyon
  • Paul Kishosha's Children by Ken Edgett

Anyone else read this?  If not, you should!  If so, what were your thoughts?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Finding the humor, I guess

Happy impending holidays, everyone!  Over here it's like revise/prepare/revise/prepare/revise/prepare/revise.  I think that'll actually help keep me on track, though.  When I go to my parents' house for the holidays, it's very hard for me to find a block of time to sit down and write anything new.  There are too many distractions.  But revising!  Revising is much easier.  The words are there, more or less, and they just need to be fixed.  There's less of a chance of losing a great idea mid-chaos because the underlying material is already in place. 

This is part of the reason I've always been a bit baffled by the timing of NaNoWriMo.  November is when things start to pick up!  It seems like it would be a lot more manageable if it were in January or February, in the dead of winter after holiday excitement has slowed down.  That's why for me, November and December are generally NaNoRevMo--it's just more productive? 

Anybody else experience this, or want to give me some insight into why November is the perfect time to write 50,000 words?


Speaking of revisions, every once in a while I'm running across some real gems from my beta.  I'll be very seriously pondering how to write myself out of a dilemma, and bam! find some witty or funny or good-naturedly snarky comment.  Here are a few of my favorites:

In response to a character saying "We weren't born this way.":  "Lady Gaga thinks otherwise."

In response to a very blunt question posed by one character to another: "LOL REALLY? You're just going to ask this question."

In response to one character standing over the bed of another:  "Creeeeeeeper!"
(To be fair, she totally was being a creeper.)

In response to one character telling another "Good job":  "You get a cookie."

In response to a character wondering what could scare some guys who are already pretty scary:  "Who watches the Watchmen?"


These little moments of levity give me life.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Revision updates and Prop 30 outcome

Apologies for missing a post last week.  I dove deep into revisions after starting the rewrite of the Book of Doom, and it completely slipped my mind!  I'm just over 10% through now, and moving a little more quickly than I had anticipated given the scope of my project.  I'm sure that pace will slow a bit when I get to even trickier parts, or when I go back to write a few new scenes to fill in some world-building. 

It's an interesting experience.  Lots of valid criticism, much of which I already anticipated/knew about before giving the book to my beta.  It probably would have been better for both of us if I'd just done a more extensive round of revisions first!  A few instances where that beta read way more between the lines than anyone else ever would, followed by a few where she didn't do so at all.  I don't blame her for any of this because, as I've often said, the book is a confusing mess of abandoned subplots, inconsistent characterization because of little pre-planning, and so on.  The contrast is just amusing sometimes.  It's also a bit surreal to see how much my writing has changed in a year and a half.  I don't think I'd make a lot of the same choices today, no matter how stressed or experimental I was feeling.  My whole method of outlining has changed, too, and I think it's helped me make characters less wishy-washy; I think ahead to plan how they would react to plot events, rather than only planning the events.

Doing this after revising a few short stories is provoking some serious insight into the differences of story structure between short and long form stories, though.  They're nothing too innovative, I'm sure, but I think I'm coming to a better understanding of the short form and how to apply some of the principles of conciseness to novels.  


Anyway!  I don't like to get very political on the Internet, preferring instead to save those types of conversations for personal interactions with people I can trust to be reasonable, even if their opinions differ from mine.  But I will say that I am SO glad Prop. 30 passed in California!  As someone who works in an academic library, I'm very invested in educational issues.  I don't think Prop. 30 will fix everything, obviously.  I don't even know if it will fix enough.  Probably not.  But I do know that all of the schools in this state would be far more screwed next year if it had not passed.  It looked like it was failing early last night, but then support steadily crept upward and I was able to go to bed happy and relieved.  Thank you to everyone who voted to support our schools.

Actually, thank you to everyone who voted.  You did your civic duty. :-)

As trivial as this may sound, I'm also very curious to see what our new flag will look like if Congress approves Puerto Rico's statehood!  We haven't added any states in my lifetime.  It's exciting!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fear?

No, not a Halloween-related post, although I have been into spooky things lately (when my mind hasn't already leaped forward to Christmas)!

It's about the book o' doom I have mentioned several times before, that my beta rightfully ripped apart, the revisions for which I keep delaying.

Here's a mini-timeline of events:
  • Wrote Book o' Doom, did very minor edits (mostly to cut words down and rearrange plot points).  
  • Gave to beta, knowing it was a mess.
  • Wrote Book I Actually Like a Lot.
  • Got Book o' Doom back from beta.
  • Worked on second draft of Book I Actually Like a Lot, then sent to a different beta.
  • Worked on revising short stories, etc., instead of Book o' Doom.

As I run out of other things to revise, I find myself questioning why I keep delaying the Book o' Doom.  It's been great for my short stories and a fruitful exercise, but I recognize that it's also a stalling mechanism.

It's not fear, exactly.  I knew the book was a complete mess before I gave it to my beta, and we often talked about the issues she was noting as she worked on the book, so none of her critiques are going to be complete surprises.  And it was a book where I tried a lot of new things, anyway, so I suspected some of them weren't going to work.

It's not hopelessness.  Both the beta and I feel that the premise, world, some of the characters, and the general plot are good and unique and interesting.  It's just the execution that needs (a lot of) work.  I can assign some of the blame to the high level of stress I was under for those two semesters of school plus a full-time job (but not all of it, because I'd written decent things while stressed before--though I'd never been quite this stressed before and I should really continue learning how to write better under duress, anyway).  Furthermore, I wrote Book I Actually Like a Lot right after, and the first draft for that is noticeably, objectively better.  This assures me that I'm not incapable of decent writing, and that I have improved since writing the Book o' Doom.  Whether it's enough to be published someday remains to be seen, but the fact is that I've improved.

I think I'm merely daunted by the scope of the project.  I remember how tough the first draft was to write, even though I was in love with the idea, and I fear repeating the process even though circumstances in the rest of my life are completely different now.  I know that the process will require more of a rewrite than revisions, and that once I start, it will consume a large portion of my mind for several months.  It's making me a bit reluctant for now, like I'm about to swim over an underwater sinkhole and will get sucked down.

But see, underwater sinkholes don't really suck you in.  They just look darker against the rest of the ocean.  They're still full of life, and there's still light above.  They're not really that scary.

I'm wrapping up one short story (that I Also Actually Like), and then I'm going to dive in to this thing.  I'm sure at times I'll be filled with doubt and wrestle with feelings of inadequacy and lack of talent, but it must be done.  Let's hope my story and I come out better at the end, because I do still like the core of both those things.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Happy National Information Literacy Awareness Month!

I posted about Banned Books Week at the beginning of October, but did you know it's actually the third annual National Information Literacy Awareness Month?  I did!

Information Literacy Supporter Badge
(My state's not on the list of official supporters. :-(  California, let's change that!)

What is information literacy?  Simply put, it's being able to identify a need for information, then knowing how to find, evaluate, and use that information.  It's a passion of mine, not only because I'm a librarian, but because it's so important to be able to navigate the increasing wealth of information that comprises our world.
  • It's important in academia, where students and researchers need to be able to decipher others' work, examine methodologies, conduct their own research, formulate arguments, and communicate with other scholars.  
  • It's important in real life, when we need to locate information on anything from getting a driver's license to understanding political and social happenings taking place in our world.  
  • It's even more key right before the election, when biased information flies at us from all directions and the fate of our country is at stake!  
Competing news sources offer us different interpretations of every event, and with good information literacy skills, we're better equipped to evaluate these sources and decipher the truth.

Oh yeah, it's important to writing, too, especially if you write in a genre that requires a lot of research.  Check out this brief post I wrote last year on conducting library research for your writing, or these great modules from the University of Idaho and the University of California, Irvine to help you understand the overall concept of information literacy.

Questions?  Fire away in the comments, or go thrill your local librarians!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The eluding, captivating short story

I'm currently working on a short story featuring characters and a scenario that have been with me, in very on-and-off fashion, since college. I'm in my late twenties, so college wasn't that long ago, but still I've spent the better part of a decade contemplating this story and trying to make it work.  It's not a frequent obsession.  I only come back to it once every year or so, when a random thought makes me ponder if this would work instead. I must have rewritten the ending about four different ways now, struggling to find something that feels just right, and not like a first chapter.  I don't want to turn this into a novel.  Yet.  I think I could actually write a novel with this set-up and cast, but I also think there could be a lot of value in keeping this particular glimpse into the world in short-story format.

I think I may have finally thought of the solution, which I will write tonight and hope doesn't leave me with an apathetic feeling after.

I don't hold on stubbornly to all my story ideas; I've let many go when I realize they just won't work.  Yet I keep coming back to this one, with its semi-generic post-RPG feeling, and trying to find a way to make it satisfy me.  There's something in me that yearns for a proper conclusion, even if the story languishes on my hard drive for the rest of my life.

Maybe this time will be the right time. You'd think after seven years that I'd be willing to set this aside...


Which of your writing projects have you revisited the most?  Over how long a time?  And when do you know it's just time to give up and move on?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Banned Books Week!

It's one of my favorite weeks of the year:  Banned Books Week!  This year is the thirtieth anniversary of it, and I'm thrilled at how each year it continues to grow and spread.  Banned Books Week is a great tool for fighting censorship, not just because it actively rallies against the practice, but because it provokes a lot of curiosity that often leads to the challenged books being read more widely.  Heck, for this reason, some authors even welcome a good challenge.

I'd urge you all to go out and read something, but really, if you've made it to this blog, you're probably already interested in reading already.  So instead, I'll give you a few links to help you read or speak about something controversial.  It always astounds me how many books are challenged each year, as well as the nature of what is challenged.  Some you would never expect; for example, given how many books are challenged for a religious (or anti-religious) viewpoint, it always surprises me to see the Bible challenged.


Here is a list of the top ten most frequently challenged books per year of the 21st century, as well as one for the most frequently challenged authors.  I never know whether to be disappointed or pleased when a favorite of mine shows up.  (A lot of them do on the list of frequently challenged classics, though.)

Want to participate?  You can check for events at your local library, but this year the American Library Association is also hosting a virtual read-out on its Banned Books Week YouTube channel.  Grab a book, read a passage, add some info on why it was challenged, and upload your own video!  More information on the requirements is available here.

What's your favorite banned book?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Doodads and tidbits: New students, revisions, etc.

Little bit late this week; forgive me!  It's welcome week at the university where I work, so we've all been swamped with fun but time-consuming welcome activities. 

P.S. Making buttons and pins is fun.  If I end up doing this as a promotional thing someday, it'll be solely because I wanted to play with the machine.

A few notes:
  • Sent the second draft for my latest book to my beta!  I do think it represents a great improvement over my last effort, but it'll be interesting to see what feedback and suggestions I get.
  • Had what I hope will be a great idea for a short story I've rewritten about three times but never quite completed to my satisfaction.  This idea would tie together some of the implied backstory with the climax of the present narrative.  Let's hope I can get the execution I desire this time!
  • After that, and any short story ideas I have, I'll begin revisions on the book of doom, i.e. my second-to-latest novel.  It was a total mess and my other beta rightfully ripped it apart.  Still, I expect any confidence I've built with the latest book to be shredded, but hey, that's how one learns.
  • Thinking about creating a Twitter for writing-related thoughts.  I have one for personal stuff, and I dump those thoughts there from time to time, but since there is a lot of personal stuff as well, I have not made it public.  Having a public one would allow me to do more than lurk on other writers' and agents' Twitters as well, as well as express my smaller thoughts more frequently rather than struggle for longer blog posts.  I'm not seeing a downside, now that I think about it more...
How is everyone doing out there?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The minor joys of being a writer

Writing can be stressful.  Crafting good plots, writing sound sentences that are beautiful without being pretentious or purple, revisions:  there are lots of things that can stress a writer out.  But there are also lots of little moments of bliss that come with the territory.

1)  Finding a book that would make a good comp title for one of yours
This is always a challenge for me because I discount books too easily.  I'm not claiming that my books are unique snowflakes and that nobody has written anything similar before.  I can just get nitpicky and think that the similarities are either too general, or that the differences are too great, for me to claim my book will appeal to fans of this other book.  If there are similar plot elements, maybe the other author's worldview is opposite mine.  Maybe the other book is too well-regarded or -known for me to feel comfortable comparing my own, or too old to be a valid comparison for the modern market.  I'm sure a lot of it is just me being weird, and I'm getting better at it, but those instances where you find a book that is decently comparable are always ones of joy.  Plus, this was an early work of a writer I love who's still going strong and with whom I feel a partial affinity and similarity in regard to style, content, and perspective, so that gave me a thrill and a lot of hope.

2)  Daydreams
I try not to get lost in daydreams about "what life would be like if I became a successful author".  I set goals, of  course, but I don't want lofty, unrealistic expectations. Nevertheless, because of my attendance at so many conventions and my participation in literary festivals, I often fantasize about what it'd be like to be one of the authors on a panel.  I think it'd be fun!  (Of course, daydreams can have dark sides, too; I don't like thinking about potential arguments, attacks from the audience, etc.  But at least that keeps my fantasy from becoming too rose-colored.)



Speaking of conventions, I attended one this past weekend, and I just wanted to share this little anecdote that illustrates why I love nerds and conventions so much:

Friend and I are walking through the exhibit hall and pass a booth for a small ghost-hunting team neither of us knew.

Friend:  It'd be fun if they had the Ghost Hunters (i.e. TAPS) here.

Me:  Or the Ghostfacers.

Girl behind me: *sings* Ghostfacers!


If you ever feel like it's hard to find people like you in real life, go to a convention and you'll find tons of them.  (This isn't an issue for me now, but I would have loved to know this when I was younger!)



And as a random aside, xkcd did one of the coolest things I've ever seen on the Internet today, and I think it's appropriate to share, because it is a masterpiece in worldbuilding and storytelling.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Are readers really that dumb?


This past weekend, I had a long conversation with a friend about books and writing.  I mention a scene late in my novel that I'd been pondering.  Said friend knows little of this WIP, so she doesn't know any of the backstory, worldbuilding, etc.  The conversation went something like this:

Me:  So I'm just a little concerned about whether the time he (a character who has "died" previously) shows up again is too convenient.

Friend: Well, how does he survive?

Me:  ...Well, like I said, it's less about him surviving, period, and more about the timing of his reappearance.  But part of it is that there's this system of shared memories and my main character had accidentally slipped him one when she was trying to save him, and it helps him survive by--

Friend: O_O 

She makes an inquiry into how the memory system works.  I am interrupted every five words, so I cannot finish an explanation of anything in this system (which is something I am POSITIVE is explained well enough in the text).  Naturally, this leads to confusion; if I can't finish an answer, she can't understand how it works, and she can even start trying to poke holes in it!  (Note also that this had nothing to do with my original concern.)

At points, it felt like if I put a dog into the story and mentioned he was difficult to house-train, she would have asked about the domestication of the wolf.

This is then followed by many proclamations about how this needs to be clear(er?) in the text.  Which she has never seen.  How will readers know this, etc?

She admitted several times she hadn't read the book.  Well, duh.  But any potentially confused readers will have, and I'd like to think the previous 300+ pages will have clued them in.  But as she went on and on, I started to wonder whether she thought the readers will be stupid people who need lots of hand-holding.

She's not a dumb person.  I wouldn't be surprised if she thought others were, but she's also not the type to care about others' opinions, so I wouldn't think she'd expect me (or any writer) to cater to stupidity.  But her argument seemed to be that if I didn't make a certain occurrence explicitly clear every time it happens, the story wouldn't make sense.  (And God forbid if any writer leave something ambiguous until a later point in the story...)

I'd prefer to give readers a little credit.  Most, like her, can make connections without needing them explicitly pointed out.  Of course, one can't expect readers to be psychic.  They can't intuit something from nothing.  But I'd like to think that if a cause repeatedly leads to a certain effect, then when they see that cause again, they will be able to infer that, "hey, maybe it led to that effect again"--even if the scene cuts off and I don't immediately confirm "HEY SHE SLIPPED HIM A MEMORY HERE.  DID YOU GET IT???"

The funny thing is, this whole debacle probably wouldn't have happened if I'd laid out the entire world/story first or she had read the book.  All of the issues addressed are relatively minor, and little would be required to fix any of them.  They're not huge gashes in the tapestry of the story.


What say ye?  Where is the line between providing readers adequate information and holding their hand?  Insulting their intelligence?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

This writing process post is really just an excuse for a GIF party

I finished the first round of revisions for my latest book!  That makes me feel like this:


For the last few stories, I've found it very helpful to print out my first draft, two pages per sheet, like a real book.  It just makes it easier to flip back and forth and check for continuity, repetition, and things like that.  I'm also a very wordy writer and almost always need to cut thousands of words, so crossing them out on a physical page helps me see how much I'm eliminating at a time.

And I don't think there are any HUUUUUGE problems with that one!  For sure there are little issues: plot points that need a little more support, characters who could use a little more depth at times, etc.  But no huge structural issues as far as I can tell.  *crosses fingers*

The biggest drawback of this is that I then have to go replicate all those edits on my computer!  That will be my task now, and I hope it goes quickly.  It should go quicker than the paper process, but I'm not sure what a reasonable number of pages per day will be, so I can't predict a timeframe.  A few weeks at most, I hope.  We'll see!

And then I will find a beta to edit.

And then I will go back and look at the Beta Notes of DOOM for my second-to-latest novel, the one which my beta ripped apart.  And rightfully so.  I won't be surprised if the revisions for that book end up being more like a rewrite, though. 

And then I'll feel like this:




Look how I told a story with my GIFs.

But when I'm done, I hope I'll feel like this:
 


And that someday in the future, I'll look back and laugh and it will get a few fans and I'll feel like this:

And all shall be well and awesome.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What would you write if not your current genre?

I write science fiction and the occasional fantasy, but if I weren't so invested in those genres, I'd write historical fiction.  Why?  Several reasons:

1) Research.  I like doing it.  And I do get to do a lot of it for certain stories now.  The main difference is that for science fiction, most of my research is on science.  I do research other cultures, eras in history, etc., as they fit the story, but since most of my stories are either in the future or in fictional worlds, I'm free to twist such things as much as I like.  With historical fiction, it'd be an interesting challenge to write within the confines of the world:  how people behaved, how they thought, how they interacted with each other, and what sorts of things were available to them.  I suspect my main issue would still be research porn and balance; I tend to research certain aspects of a topic too heavily and infodump heavily on them, while leaving holes where other aspects could use some support.  It usually takes me a couple of drafts to disseminate what is too much and identify and build up what is too little.

2) Personal interest.  When I'm not reading or watching SF or fantasy, I'm usually reading the classics or watching a period piece.  Right now I'm reading one of those SF books where technology has regressed so much that it reads somewhat like a period piece, and I've just finished season 2 of The Tudors.  I am going to miss the heck out of Anne Boleyn.

3) Escapism.  I like reading and writing SF and fantasy because they are different from real life.  This provides not only escapism, but a compelling platform to explore the human experience.  When you change the circumstances of a world, you can better illuminate what will always be universal in people.  Historical fiction allows that same opportunity; the trappings are different, but we can still identify with the motives, emotions, hopes, and fears of the characters, and through that process, become more familiar with our own.

What about you?  What would you write, if not your current genre?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

An unexpected effect of unusual monikers

In certain segments of the reading population, there is a little bit of amused condescension or annoyance with certain tropes of name-creation that are popular in fantasy and science fiction.  Many readers are a little bemused by writers who insert apostrophes or certain letters or too many syllables, but it does little more than provoke a giggle and is generally regarded as a bit silly.

But as a book I am reading right now shows, sometimes odd enough names can actually impede the reading experience.

In this book, the characters speak a form of English that has evolved in pronunciation, but supposedly not in spelling--yet all the character names are spelled oddly.  After the first several, I was able to determine a pattern to it, and figured out that they are all bastardized European names.  My theory is that the author took the original names, pronounced them with bad French accents, then tried to spell them phonetically except for replacing half the vowels with y.  Perhaps the author thought this looked cool.  Perhaps he was trying to illustrate how the pronunciation of the language has shifted through the names, since everything else is spelled normally.  I don't know.

But in numerous instances, it has stopped my reading cold.    My eyes traced over the names as if they were any other word, and then backtracked because I had no idea what I had just read.  With most of the names, my eyes adjusted, but there are a few egregious examples that trip me up nearly every time.  Needless to say, this kind of distraction prevents me from digesting the larger story and disrupts the seamless and engrossing reading experience all writers hope to provide.

So that's another thing you might want to keep in mind when you're naming:  that name may be unique and you may think that spelling is awesome, but it may trip your readers up and distract them from what's really important--your story.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Don't let the rules get you down


Don't let that smile turn into a frown... Sokka.

I'm always a bit bemused when I see writers protest about rules and guidelines stifling their creativity, and so they want to break them.

Cool.  Some rules should be broken.  But I don't think the rules are always the real problem.  I think the real issues are usually mindset and experience.  Learning to write within certain parameters is a vital exercise for any writer, especially one seeking traditional publication.

I understand the fear.  I remember the passion with which I wrote my first stories and novel.  I was free and uninhibited and wrote whatever appealed to my heart.  I didn't worry so much about whether my prose was too purple or whether I was head-hopping or anything else.  And though I do still quite like my first novel, a little more practice revealed to me that some passages were overwrought; that the story could be stronger told from one perspective at a time, even if that character didn't know everything I did; that some of the writing was weaker even if it was passionate.

As I gained more experience and began worrying about craft and the rules, there was a period where it was stifling.  I worried too much about how I was telling the story, whether it would please publishers, whether I could do something or get away with it.  I silenced ideas for fear they wouldn't fit into an established mold, and didn't experiment out of concern it would all be changed back anyway.  I feared my own voice would be rejected, so I should start learning to speak in some other voice that people wanted.  But it wasn't me, and it created many messes where the way I wanted to write butted up against the way I thought I should write.

But with more practice, I've begun coming out of that phase.  (Only "begun" because there are still moments where I worry too much about rules or publishers instead of focusing on getting the story out and fixing  problems later.However, working within that box for a time has improved my craft.  I can see a huge difference between the first drafts of my last two books.  In the first of the two, one of the issues was that I was throwing things everywhere to see where they would stick with little regard for the wisdom underlying many of the more commonly-touted rules of writing.  (Another was that my writer-brain apparently just stopped working in that portion of grad school, because I don't have any excuses for some of the crap I wrote.)  In the latest, things are more streamlined and well-composed, but even where I follow convention, my passion still comes through.  It may be a little more understated in places, but sometimes a slow burn is better than an inferno.

You see, once you understand the rules, you can utilize them to channel your passion.  Once you know the edges of the box, you can push against them.  You can break them with confidence and expertise, making direct hits instead of flailing.  That'll make your rebellion more effective.  That will be the truly crazy thing.  And if you can learn to be creative no matter how many "limits" are thrown at you in the form of rules or guidelines, then you're not really limited, are you?  You can't be stopped.  You go, writer person.

So next time you fear the rules are keeping you down, consider whether that feeling might be part of a natural progression.  Mine seems to have taken me from naive inexperience (first book) to trying to follow every rule too closely (second and third books) to messy rebellion (fourth book) to, I hope, a better synthesis of creativity and good writing.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Some quick notes this week!
  • Not writing-related at all, but it is occupying-my-brain-related:  My best friend is getting married this weekend!  And I'm a maid of honor!  So I am both excited and plotting things!
  • Currently starting my first pass at revisions on book #5, the one with aliens and a dual storyline.  I've already finished the smaller storyline.  I didn't cut as many words as I'd hoped, mostly because I rewrote as many passages as I reduced.  While it's not much shorter, I do think it's stronger!  I'll hope it's not too much trouble to cut the remaining words from the other storyline, which is much longer.  My revision notes are already pretty long, but there seem to be equal amounts of "eliminate this" and "add this", so my hope is it will all work out OK.  After this, I'll go revise book #4, which my beta trashed, and then I'll do a second pass at book #5.  Somewhere in there I'll plot book #6.  So many ideas everywhere.
  • It's amazing how much a good knowledge of local geography can add to a story.  This has struck me this past week as I've been watching Arrested Development and taking in all the Orange County-ness it's imbued with.  I've only set a story in a real local setting once before, and both of those novels were trunked, but my familiarity with Los Angeles and southern California did lend them authenticity.  I'm not sure yet if I'll set book #6 in a real place or not.  In either case, the story will take place in the future, so I'll have to extrapolate a bit, but...research trip! 

    And while I'm at it, I should take a "research trip" to Cambodia so I can better extrapolate that setting when I do book #4 revisions again. :-P
Have a good week, everyone!