Tuesday, August 31, 2010

There could be a death. It might be murrrderrrr.

Following the serial killing train of thought, I ran into a huge problem today. I need to kill someone. No honestly, there's this guy and he's lying there on the concrete bleeding from his head and I just know that my next actions are going to trend toward murder rather than salvation.

Yeah, yeah. Of course I'm talking about a character (since if I were to kill actually kill someone, I probably wouldn't blog about it. Probably.) but it doesn't make it any easier. I finally get past this enormous month long block, typing away on my WIP only to be stopped by something like a character bleeding on the concrete. Now this character I don't just love, but adore on many levels. He's one of my favorites and I'm not even sure his entire story has been told. So when I say that I probably need to identify him as dead or alive in the next paragraph, you'll understand my dilemma. I honestly didn't even want to go there. It wasn't a part of any outline, notes or visions for the work. It was just one of those !@#$ moments where the characters and situation takes over and what I have is a bleeding character who may or may not make it through the paragraph.

I guess you might consider it a curse (or a perk, I know there are some weirdos out there) of writing that you have created these wonderful characters, named them, groomed them, given them feelings and life and then in one moment of crap-the-character-hijacked-the-story-again, you find them dead. Writers are killers. There's no way around it. Death is a part of the circle of life and if characters aren't facing mortality in one form or another (i.e. every other chapter usually with M-16s in my books) they are probably not exploring the full scope of their character arch. So we hurt characters, we kill characters, and we throw them into horrendous situations just to see them get out of it. What kind of monsters are we!!

Ahem . . . okay back to bleeding character #1. Without knowing the story, I need votes on what to do. Kill said, interesting, well-loved, not-quite-completed character . . . or let him live to die another way? I mean day. I mean, honestly he might make it. Who knows. It's the climax. A lot can happen.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Book club and Serial Killers

I seriously have the most awesome book club in the universe. This month was our annual book club retreat which took place at the Silver King resort in Park city. Imagine spending the entire night (ahem, okay only until 5 am or so) talking with your best buds about reading, writing and everything in between (and eating lots of snacks of the sugar and doughnut variety). Now add that our fearless book club leader managed to secure the author of our book as a guest for the evening and you have the most FRAWSOME book club ever!! (Yes we are attempting to kill each other with kitchen utensils. Last one standing got an ARC of Mr. Monster--yeah, I'm reading it right now.)

The book choice this month was I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells, a local Utah author. Now not only is this book amazing (no really, the protag is the most interesting and complex protagonist I've ever read) but the author is likewise amazing. The very fact that he took an entire evening to discuss not only his novel with us, but also talk writing and publishing with the few writers in our club says a lot about a person.

Okay, enough gushing (I'm not a gusher by nature but every once in a while I get the urge). One of the things Dan said really stuck with me. I'll have to paraphrase since I wasn't taking notes.

"Anyone can make a living as an artist. If you put as much time and energy as a doctor does in building a career, you can be just as successful. Unfortunately there are not programs designed to guide an author step by step into the industry as there are in other fields but if you consider yourself a writer and work everyday toward making it a career, you can't lose."

Well, I've decided I'm an author. Of course I must be a mother first, but as a sanity-saving supplement to my life, I will be putting in the hours as if it were a career, not just a hobby. Good things are coming my way, I can feel it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's too dang crowded, I can't see the end . . .

Today my two youngest children (2 and 4) dragged out an old toy kitchen set that's been residing in our basement since their older sister outgrew it four years ago. Seeing an opening for quiet writing time while they played with their "new" toy, I put it in the two-year-old's room, listening to them play quietly with the single piece of plastic pizza that had survived the four years of abandonment. Hoping for more than ten minutes of writing time, I scavenged around the house for other toy dishes, toy utensils and plastic food. I was very pleased with myself as I set out the toys for them and then settled down with my laptop to do some serious writing. Not more than ten seconds later, without a single new word to my name, I hear the screaming and wailing telling me the kidlets are engaged in an all out war over the new items. So I settled it, found a couple more things and pulled out my laptop again. Screams, followed by some pushing and if I were to gauge by the the strange crescent-shaped mark on the four-year-old's arm, there was some biting as well.

So what happened between the twenty or so minutes they played happily with the single piece of pizza and the ten seconds they played with everything else. I guess things just got too crowded--too many cool things were put into play.

This got me thinking about my current writing quandary. There I was happily typing along a singular plot line, excited about my dear protag going from point A to point B with this motivation and that problem. Then I start working on the climax and the winding up and realize that things have become too crowded. I've seriously thought of screaming, pushing and biting but being a mature adult have restrained myself (ahem, those aren't bite marks on the screen, I swear!).

I kinda feel like perhaps Stephan King felt when he got somewhere toward the end of The Stand and realized things had gotten too crowded with too many story lines going in a too many directions. What did he do? Apparently he blew up half his characters (I'm only halfway through so I'm going to take his word for it until I get there).

Now blowing up half my characters isn't going to work for me, first of all, I like them way too much and have worked in hints throughout the novel that their lives are vital to the climax, and second of all, I simply don't much care for killing characters (not that you'd know it if you read it).

I did come to a conclusion today that since moving forward is proving impossible, I need to go back and untangle the first draft rats nest, working out all the character's wants and motivations. Hopefully then, I'll be able to see the climax come together in the way I want with all the loose ends tied up.

Before I do that, however, I should probably go and untangle the children from that kitchen set and remove everything except that single piece of plastic pizza.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

This'n that

So first off, I'd like to thank all my new followers of this blog. It's been wonderful thinking that I'm posting something and someone is actually reading it. *sniffles and blows nose with stunning self-deprecation*

There has been a great deal going on in the writers community in the last week. My poor google reader is struggling to keep up with the wealth of information. I can't help but sit back and enjoy every article, letting it feed my obsession with the written and soon-to-be-written word. First of all http://writeoncon.com/ is in full swing filling my little brain with so very much knowledge, I feel like I should be handed a quiz soon just to prove I'm learning stuff. Second, I finally got the hang of twitter, sending out my first tweet just yesterday after cyberstalking agents and writers via their tweets and clicking on every link they offered, sending me into yet another maelstrom information. Thirdly, I discovered a rather new publishing company in Utah http://widopublishing.com/ which is playing a part in hosting a wonderful contest if a person were to perhaps, I don't know, have a manuscript they've been querying that they'd love feedback from an editor on. That link is here http://karenjonesgowen.blogspot.com/2010/08/lettuce-write-and-get-your-chapters.html

So there you have it. It's only Wednesday (at least I think it's Wednesday, seems like it should be Friday since I finally get to see Inception then) and as you can see I've been busy sitting on my butt while my mind has been running in a million directions.

....oh and I'm potty-training my youngest child so my butt and my computer have spent a lot of time on the bathroom floor. 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hanging threads

What do you do when you're 70,000 words into a manuscript (okay actually 78,000 words, 8,000 of which I have deemed unworthy but can't seem to delete) and you just don't feel it coming together? I have all these little threads I've been setting out since the beginning, characters that I intend of having a great impact at the end and subtle little mini-plots worked in throughout. Trouble is, now I'm feeling the pinch. At 70,000 words the novel should be winding up, everything rolling together into a nice little package that will explode into a dramatic fireworks grand finale of climatic satisfaction and yet my threads are still hanging in a million different directions without a rubberband in sight to hold them in place.

I finally had to pin my husband down last night and give him the abbreviated plot version and beg him to help me out of my rubberbandless dilemma. It helped. A lot in fact. I was able to fix and finish the chapter I'd been wallowing through and even started on the next chapter. That put one thread in place, now I just need to work the other ones in. I have no doubt that everything will work out in the end, but just now I'm in writing purgatory. Right now there's not a lot of enjoyment in putting words down because I know they're bad and will need to be fixed later. The only thing that keeps me going is that whatever I'm writing, I have no doubt I will be able to improve on it--and I will. Yessiree. That's the good part about writing. Most of the time it can only get better. If you're already at good-better-best, you should probably be publishing.