All Hallows’ Eve…of NaNoWriMo

Today, people will dress up in all kinds of costumes and go to parties and/or get free candy.  But writers…

Well, writers embarking on the adventure known as NaNoWriMo will eye the clock, fingers will be poised over keyboards or over a well-loved notebook, waiting –

Waiting for that month that embodies both a writer’s sprint and marathon – National Novel Writing Month, where writers will try to pen, type, or scrawl out 50,000 words in one month.

Crazy, you say?  Well, maybe.

Ill-advised?  Probably, considering it’s also the start of the holiday season.

Impossible?  Well, that’s where you’d be wrong.  Because every November, countless writers finish first drafts of novels this month.  So if you’re a writer, or a reader, this month can be pretty magical too.

And even though it’s very ill-advised, well considering I work full-time and am in graduate school, I’m going to through my pen into the ring as well.  Fun fact, while I’ve never actually won NaNoWriMo, I have used to to start, finish, and revise my novels.  But this year, I’m going to try to do the whole thing.  Because, hey, all those other years wee just practice. 😉

Happy Halloween, all and happy eve of NaNoWriMo, writers. 🙂

 

 

Characters and the writers who torment them

As writers, we do terrible things to our characters over the course of short stories and novels – we throw obstacles in their paths, send them after serial killers, break their hearts, introduce them to their arch-nemesis, strand them in foreign lands, and make them flirt with disaster.

wordswag/pixabay

Often when I’m in the middle of a story and have to take a break from writing (to eat, sleep, work, or socialize with my dog, friends, and family), I feel guilty about where I leave my characters.  Did I leave my heroine during a lunch date with her friends (acceptable), did I leave her after she lost her job (not cool of me), or did I leave her just before the beginning of a love scene (oh that poor dear)?  Sometimes the thought of where I’ve left my characters in the story makes me giggle, but sometimes it makes me feel bad.

Then again, I write mostly light and silly things.  What if you write darker stories?

I’ve tried to write mystery/thriller type stories and as I’ve complained on this blog before, I often have a hard time keeping the dark going.  Also, I seem to have no trouble getting my hero or heroine into trouble…it’s the getting them out of trouble that is the tricky part.  So I have dozens of characters over the years that I’ve left stranded in precarious positions because I couldn’t figure out how to write them out of it.

But sometimes in addition to feeling guilty when I leave any of my characters in the middle of the action, I also imagine their dialogue to me, often in snarky texts (especially if I’ve abandoned the story completely) –

“wtf? You let me snoop around the killer’s house and then bailed when we heard the front door open?  wtf?”

or

“I hate you for ditching me when I’m inches away from Logan’s lips…granted I’m not sure how I feel about him yet, but still girl, wtf?”

or worse yet…

“Girl, you made me discover a body on my way to work and now my clothes are a mess, I’m having a major panic attack, and oh yeah, you were kind enough to let the body fall ON me!  Know what?  Know what?  Don’t come back!  I don’t care if I  was supposed to hook up with wolverine-inspired Logan later. You’re evil!  EVIL! WTF?!!”

lol.  Sorry and for the record, most of my characters do swear…often. :p

Believe it or not, sometimes it helps me go back and finish the story…other times, it just gives me guilt for hitting a road block.

How about you?  Do you ever feel guilty about where you leave your characters (especially if it’s a long time before you pick up the pen again)?

Motivation from “Jaws”

How the story behind the making of “Jaws” can motivate you through a hard (re)write (or really anything)

It’s Shark Week and I love “Jaws,” (I re-watched “Jaws” and “Jaws – the inside story,” so I’m a happy camper), so it’s a shark related post today. 🙂

Gasp!  Can you hear the theme music?

~~^~~ (that’s a shark fin emerging from waves, in case you couldn’t tell)

Making the movie “Jaws” was an odyssey for the cast and crew.  While re-watching the documentary “Jaws – the inside story,” I was reminded of how much was endured to bring the epic film to life and ultimately, how it was all worth it.

The odyssey of writing a book is similar to many of the problems that were faced in bringing “Jaws” to life –

1)  The shark didn’t work:

Ugh.  Isn’t this always the case?  You have a great plot twist or evil character that you’ve envisioned.  Yet every time you try to put it down on paper, the words you’ve written (or worse, blank pages) give you a giant raspberry. :p  Boo.

How did Spielberg deal with having the star monster constantly on the fritz?  A lot of times, he doesn’t show it at all – there are shots of waves, views of swimming people from below the water, and that creepy-ass, John Williams music.  He also spliced in real-life footage of sharks and had a whole team dedicated to working his mechanical sharks.  So see – there’s always a work around and sometimes, it ends up much better than anything you ever planned in that tidy outline.

2) “Jaws” went well past its original filming schedule and way over budget:

You’re still working on that novel?

Geez, how many drafts are you going to do?

Stage whisper: “She’ll always have a half-finished novel on her iPad.”

It doesn’t matter if someone says these things to you or if you mutter them under your breath – it’s not helpful.  Alas, the writing process takes time – and we all write at different speeds.  I wish I could write faster. My pace is what I would call glacial, if the glacier constantly questioned itself and periodically went backwards.

If you feel like a project is dragging on, take a deep breath, do one of those neck stretches, and then dive back in.  Keep at it until you’re finished – at least you don’t have studio execs calling and threatening to cut your funding….so, it could be worse. 😉

3) “Jaws” had a young, untested director, who had nightmares of being fired or ruining his career as a result of the movie.

That’s you, kid (and me too).  Whether you are actually young and untested (or just untested), writers constantly doubt themselves.  I hate that doubt – it’s annoying.  But, in some ways, that doubt can help you.  It makes you go back to edit (re-edit, then re-re-edit), to work at your novel until the words sing.

 

The next time you’re suffering through a rough patch of writing, editing, or whatever – just remember that Spielberg suffered through making “Jaws.”  But when he was finally finished, its success surpassed everyone’s expectations.

So, get back to work! 🙂

~~^~~

Side note – what’s your favorite line in “Jaws?

Mine is a toss up between the often quoted: “We’re going to need a bigger boat.” And the amusing (and fitting for my genre), “wanna get drunk and fool around?” 🙂

Writer’s Conference Bound

I’m currently en route to the Writer’s Digest Conference in NYC (yay for free wifi on the fancy bus!) and taking a chance on becoming  of a proper writer (and by proper, I mean published, not actually acting in a proper manner. :p).  Though don’t get me wrong, I’ve no illusions about magically winning over an agent or editor (locking eyes from across the room and knowing we are meant to make beautiful literature together) at the conference.

But, I do hope to meet new writing friends and also to learn more about all of those complicated things authors need to have a handle on after they’ve completed their final draft – self marketing, self-publishing, the pros/cons of agents, and whether or not to go the traditional publishing route… And also to stay in a neat old hotel in NYC, see a show, hopefully visit the Met or the NY public library, and of course,  get my Saturday night drink coupon.  :p

Wish me luck! 🙂

Just how bad should characters be?

All characters, like people, should have elements of good and bad. The best of all villains (adult books) are those who start off good (either actually good or tricking us into thinking they are) and those who have good motivations for being bad.

Too much bad and you can end up with melodrama or worse, a cardboard cutout that causes readers to roll their eyes. Now, that is something that we all dread.

But what fun is it if only the bad guys are…well, bad?

There are many people who prefer their hero or heroine to be perfect (or nearly), and there is a market for that. It is the same market that always makes me think of sunshine, sparkles, and ponies. Don’t get me wrong, that world is lovely, that world is fine, I even visit those books sometimes….

…..all that said, I don’t know about you, but I don’t live there. More than that, I don’t want to live there. Is it any surprise that I don’t want to write there either?

I like my hero and heroine to have flaws. I love it when they are impure and imperfect, it makes them more real….more relatable.

If the novels that I’ve read lately are anywhere near a microcosm of the industry, many readers must agree with me.

I’ll end this with a simple statement: Give me bad any day, but be sure to make it good. 😉