Monthly Archives: November 2009

Falling in Love with your Story Again

I hate my novel.

Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/goddess-arts/ (license=CC BY-NC 2.0)

Many of you pursuing your NaNoWriMo dreams may understand, just past the half-way point, that your lovely story has turned on you and become an albatross hanging ’round your neck.

“What happened?” you may ask. Nothing, really. This is supposedly a normal phase of writing experts describe in countless books to amateurs like me. Keep writing and the love will return.

I disagree. When my pink and wrinkly ‘baby’ was first born, umbilical cord severed with the words “The End”, I marveled at how it’s intricate subplots came together to form this testament to perseverance.

Now the pretty is gone. I’ve reworked my outline, coaxed the characters to speak in turn, as well as patched so many plot holes that the whole thing reeks of Bondo.  It has reached the ‘terrible twos’ and become a monster that won’t stop crying for attention, turns everything I feed it to crap, and scampers off to get into mischief whenever my back is turned.

Where has the love gone?

When first conceived, my story was a world I imagined arising from the devastation of losing our digital way of life. Instead of the gloomy zombie filled post-apocalyptic tales saturating today’s markets, we didn’t surrender our humanity at the first sign of trouble and people banded together – not just to survive – but to reconnect society through shared moral values.

I think this is what the so-called experts meant by “theme”, but it is hard to tell when their nebulous term is applied like baby powder to every story element that chafes as you write.

 


 

Take Home Quiz:

Go over your story and describe why you fell in love with the idea of it enough to write it in the first place. Go ahead and be sloppy- I won’t grade you on spelling or grammar.

Use this description as a reference while you write/revise your work. The plot, characters, even setting may change as you go, but keep this picture in mind as your baby grows and it just might survive long enough to become ready for the world one day.

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The “Spark” of Creativity is Unleashed, Part One

Last post, I introduced the Spark Project, currently completing Round 6. I submitted a short story to my assigned partner, Marty McGihon with the understanding that I would take one of Marty’s paintings and write a story. I’ve jotted down a couple of notes to explain how I arrived at my final work, but you work differently that I (which is the point of the Spark Program – use what you’re good at and see how others do their thing.)

Life Isn't Always Easy

Painting by Marty McGihon

I started with Marty’s picture, “Life Isn’t Always Easy”, which I studied from every angle until I saw an image that I felt I could use. If you turn the picture so that the dark edge is across the top like I did, you may see a woman with a blue face wearing a red shawl on the left hand side. There appears to be a tall yellow cliff on the right with a red waterfall and some green brush in the center. Where the woman’s hands would be are two reddish orange circles that I imagined were her palms filled with magical fire.

A short amount of research (wikipedia) revealed Morgan Le Fay, a legendary Irish sorceress that would make an excellent subject to write about. The only problem was finding a unique setting. For that, I used the yellow cliff and saw the possibility of setting this story in the old West, where orange and red cliffs abound. More research revealed that there was a mass migration to the Americas in the late 1830s due to a potato famine, which I could use to explain why she would have left Ireland to come to the old west.

This project was quickly becoming too big for a mere 1500 words and I sought a reasonable way to cut it down a bit. I discovered that the primary entertainment of the time was the “dime novel” which serialized the exploits of the time. You can find real text from the old dime novels online (which I did courtesy of the Stanford University Libraries collection) and hopefully I’ve captured their essence in this tale.

One thing that I really enjoyed was trying to capture the dialogue and pacing of the dime novels, as well as incorporate Irish/Gaelic phrasing gleaned from a sampling of Celtic folklore. If there are any errors, they are due to my haste or deliberately placed to not anger supernatural entities that typically wander the internet looking for trouble. Without further ado, here is my finished story submission…

THE LA FEY SISTERS, or Eyewitness to a Sorcerous Showdown
Chapter One: High Magic on the High Plains

Before you ask, there is no Chapter 2 (yet). I suspect there will be more in the future and if I do write them, I will put them up right here for you to read.

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