Saturday, November 28, 2009

A list of books.

I really want to know what makes that engine behind the words. The one I can feel right away in the very first paragraph. The one that pushes. It is all fine and dandy when you pick up a book and you start to read and it is fine. But then there are the ones that have an urge from the very first words. Oh, to have that in my own prose.

Here are the books I have finished in the last little bit. In no particular order.
Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge
Looking for Alaska by John Green
When I reach You by Rebecca Stead
Ice by Sarah Beth Durst
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Books in the queue:
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Lips Touch by Laini Taylor
Fly Girl by Sherri L. Smith
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

(I've read first little bits of each book in the queue, in some cases more. Enough to feel what kind of engine that they have for me. I'm reading machine at the moment. Not writing much though.)

As Always(looking for something),

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Data dump of sorts.

Just finished Catching Fire. There are a lot of things that being sick are good for and finishing books in nearly one sitting is one of them. Needless to say, I loved it. Is is needless to say? I'm not sure. I never said it before. So maybe I should say it. Mostly because of the pace. So how do you think Suzanne Collins does that? I suppose having that Reality TV element helps. You can make something terrible happen whenever. But also Suzanne Collins has Katniss turns things in a millisecond. It took me a long time as a writer to realize how pleasing those surprises are as a reader. But each time she has a knee jerk action, pulling the story forward, it is a readers thrill.

I have to find some good way of keeping track of these books I read. I'm not much of a reviewer and I don't want to be. I read as a writer. Reading what I like and picking it apart for what I can use. I'm not much interested in talking a book up just to get it for free and I also do not want to dis my fellow writers when I don't like something because often my likes have to do more with subjective taste and the luck of picking up a book at the right time. Often my likes have to do with particular problems I am trying to figure out in my writing. I have strong opinions and can tell you when I don't think something is working, but I'm more interested in how the internet buzz works in positive ways. The best books I have read lately have not been the ones face out on the bookstore stack(When do I ever go to bookstores. Do I even know what I'm talking about?) They have been the ones my fellow bloggers blog about. So how to report on books is one of the many things that I have to figure out in the next few weeks. And generally this blog needs attention.

Also, I had thought I would participate in some version of Nanowrimo(Can I call it something else? It's like something you do to someone you hate. Perhaps Katnis will perform this procedure on President Snow in the next book.I hope so.) If I did, word count would be greatly reduced. Not only because I'm starting so late but also because I don't seem to be built for that kind of output. So maybe 500 words a day for the rest of the month. Brainstormy story starter kind of stuff. I have the beginnings of two things I am interested in but I feel like I would need to find the ploty points of it before I go forward. Ways to keep it interesting, Suzanne Collins style. So anyway....

As always(I also will need to begin that query thing and designing a class???)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Story of Draft 5

So I finished up. Just last night at about midnight I merged all my chapters into one big manuscript(thanks, Scrivener) and sent it on over to Word to format. I came up with a title finally: Assignment 7: Abandon Hope and that last thing I needed for the end came together. Than I crawled into bed with a splitting headache and woke up this morning with a full-on cold, my nose running like a faucet. It was singularly anticlimactic.

I am calling this version Draft 5. But the only other draft I wrote all the way to the end was draft zero as I learned to call it from Justine Larbalestier. And it was truly a zero, horrible thing. But essentially it built my story and from that came my plot. My second draft only made it half way through. At the time I had some kind of meta narrator who was super self-conscious and a little bit of a pain. I didn't have the skills to pull it off. So I started draft three in the first person. Actually I did the first chapter both in first and third to try it out (third sans annoying narrator). And I chose fist person. That time I got over halfway through and I met my writing partner Andy. Together we started over and gave him Draft 4 a little chunk at a time. He was there with me, holding my hand(not literally) through the worst. Finally the book started to get better. (Thanks, Andy.) For Draft 5, I cut the first two chapters, totally rebuilt the middle, rewrote the new first chapter twice and weaved in all the threads(I hopei. Wrote a new first page several times. Fixed Mother who was a wreak. Fixed Duane and Dwight,for that matter, and as long as I'm making the list, I hope I fixed Heather. Now I'm here, ready to give it away whole. This will be the first time anyone reads a viable version of this book. And I expect that there will still be a lot left to fix. So, alas, no fanfare, no fireworks or champagne. But it is nice to sit on the couch and blog, while just real messy life waits, without messy novel life hanging over my head.

I want to welcome Paul as a follower PMM style. Thanks for signing up! He has a blog with beautiful pictures. A great moose sighting(those don't happen here in Minneapolis) and great writing advice. I went to his blog just now for the URL and it was titled momentum. That word came up in the final edits of my final chapter last night. It was a part of a phrase that I had written early in the writing of the book but it had never made the way in. I discovered I was writing toward it. Process is a crazy thing.

I love thinking about momentum as a writing term. There is power in a moving object!

As Always(but today I will sit still),

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I'm a sucker for anything to do with creative process.

Probably by now everyone has read The Wall Street Journal article How to Write a Great Novel and this is old news, but the piece goes through a long list of writers detailing their process. Riveting. As writing-mate Andy pointed out at the Hoe-Down last night, most writers' rules were a bit superstitious. Which totally makes sense, right? Because writing is magic and the only reason anything good ever comes out is thanks to the lord or little fairies or cute boy muses, because it certainly has nothing to do with me. Except for the fact that I sit down and labor over it until my eyes hurt and my family is crazy. And I keep coming back everyday, and only because, once in awhile, it hurts so good.

As Always (taking a break),