There are writer-bloggers out there who are better than I am about developing an online community. There are any number of reasons why I’m not terribly accomplished at this, which is not really the point. The point is that they’re better and they do much more with their site and their readers than post 600 word folk tale variations for 50-some odd of you to read (for which I am immeasurably grateful, by the way).
This is where “Pitch Wars” comes in to play. It’s a contest run by Brenda Drake that is intended to help polish up writers’ query letters and first 250 words – basically, the parts that are going to grab an agent’s attention. Given that the whole point of the query letter is to get said agent to request your manuscript and reading your manuscript is the bare minimum that will be done before anyone will even think about offering representation, any and every kind of polish is a good and useful thing. (more…)
I am sorry to see the close of Rachael Harrie’s Campaign Builder, Sommer Leigh‘s month of Monstrology, and the Rule of 3 (hosted by 4, but who’s counting), but at the same time it’s been a busy busy month and it’ll be good to hunker down and get back to fiction writing. Besides, there’s always updating the Occupy Writers website and working with dedicated volunteers if I need something else to eat up a lot of time.
Two weeks ago I wrapped up the first draft of The House of Clicquot and got preliminary feedback from Lisa (aka “Beta Reader number Alpha”), which I can sum up as “Too much secrecy makes it too confusing. Simplify and introduce some of the major characters in their original guises earlier.”
After a serious surge in reading, I’ve been trying to focus more on writing over the past week or so. Result: as of last night, I’ve finally got a solid first draft of The House of Clicquot, so I can put that away for a bit and get back to the prose work of Effigy. I’ve also been doing a lot of research and drafting on my next MonsterFest entry, which isn’t due until the 24th or so, but there’s a lot of background to sphinxes. The running start has been helpful. Also, there’s the Rule of 3 blogfest (new prompts up today), and Rachael Harrie’s final challenge will be Monday, when I’m out of town but theoretically wi-fi-enabled.
I’m participating in two more blogfests in October, which could be madness.
One is Sommer Leigh’s MonsterFest 2011, which seems to be a create-your-own bestiary kind of thing. There’s a calendar at the link identifying who is writing about what and when. I’m up on October 9 with the ouroboros and October 25 with the sphinx. Be sure to visit the other beasts from other writers, too!
The next is a shared world scenario, three posts of 500 words or so each, in the Rule of Three. I don’t expect to be using any of my WIPs for this, but I will probably try to work with the overlapping timelines. Good practice.
The last challenge for Rachael Harrie’s Campaigner fest is coming up this month as well – that’s the flash fiction I’ve been using. The character of Kevin is the central one in Effigy and Jack (from the first story) is the primary antagonist for the bulk of the series. “Eyebrows” (from the second story) may not ever show up.
I’m also going to try and keep up with regular posts on structure to keep developing that idea, write the odd review or two, and increase some character studies (a la Latter Day Punk).
In other writing, I knocked out another chapter of Effigy in the past two weeks, and starting tomorrow I’m back on The House of Clicquot, which I think I can wrap up by the weekend, first draft style. Which means next week is Effigy again.
And after a summer of eating out more than we’re used to, Lisa and I are talking a good game about Eating Right and Exercising.
Let’s see how this all shakes out. Seems a wee bit ambitious.
I didn’t catch on to the 10-things post circle, but I see that Jessica’s running another round, so I’m coming in on this one.
This is my second blog – the first began as a means of describing shows I was seeing at the Prague Fringe Festival in 2009. Sometimes I write about theater and performance or if I’m producing an arts event like Motionary Comics, and recently it’s been a lot about writing. Last year at this time, my partner Andy and I had just cancelled our second performance set of The Heart of a Dog and I was going up to Minneapolis to visit a friend with brain cancer. So I was doing a lot of writing about slow grief. This post captures a lot of the activity without having some of the harrowing details that other posts do.
Your Lips Are Flapping, But You’re Not Making Any Noise (more…)
Got a lot of work done this week, but very little of it was of the paying sort. Enough to keep me in Chicago, certainly, but not enough for a round of huzzahs. Really, though, this is more about what I did get done.
One beta reader finished A Watchful Eye‘s current draft. No criticisms, lots of enthusiasm and praise. Thanks, Mom!
The gutting of Manuscript #2 continues. First 48 pages sent off to beta reader for a test-drive. Does it make sense? Can you tell who the main character is? Etcetera and so on. Since then, I’ve made another 21 pages – this is less impressive than it sounds, because I’m hardly doing any original composition – I’m re-ordering and re-structuring lots of already-written stuff. I have to write one solid scene right now, then I can step back into Concatenation Mode and leap ahead a magical 6 pages. It will be magical. Then I’ll do what I did with those first 48 pages, which is go over them two to three times, reading for continuity, sense, typos. And I’ll probably have to make a lot of changes. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
I think I discovered a character that needs to appear in this book that I hadn’t considered before. Damn it? Hooray? I’m not sure.
I’m going to try and wrap my head around another Query Letter for AWE over the weekend, looking to post it next week.
Other writing: I’m trying to get into the habit of writing some reviews (not that this will be a review site – too much unpaid work already) and posting them over at GoodReads. So with the end of Harry Potter comes the beginning of The Hunger Games (click for the fancy motion poster).
Here are my reviews:
I’m working on the next manuscript again today. Again. Today. I spent three-ish months in the spring drafting the story, and it was okay. Unfortunately, it was a better story than it was good storytelling. When I started work on the house, I began to re-imagine how I might improve that storytelling. I’ve since cut probably a third of the text, overhauled the structure, strengthened the motives and operations of the Bad Guys. It hurts a little bit, it’s so much better than the first version. I made some good discoveries.
The thing: just because it’s better than the first version does not make it good storytelling. Now I’m wondering if I’ve overplayed my hand in terms of narrative devices, even as I work through the new story parameters I’ve created by making the changes I’ve made. I’ve sent out the first 48 pages to a reader who’s completely unfamiliar with the first manuscript (very important not to have inside information), and while the narrative devices should be okay (the non-linearity in particular), I’m not sure that it makes sense. Stupid non-linearity. Whose idea was that? I’m not sure if it’s clear who’s the main character. But I believe I’m on the right track.
I’m not a fan of this guy (wait for the connection, it’ll come).
1) Imagine the piece, i.e. a balloon dog! But huge! Made out of steel!
2) Contract with fabricators
3) Pick up huge steel balloon dog
4) install in museum
5) collect wealth and plaudits; feed off naysayers’ naysaying. mmm, tasty.
Based on talking with a couple of “conceptual sculptors” (their words, not mine), I believe Jeff Koons is one of them. He’s an IDEA MAN. He’s commenting on art and on the idea of art while creating “art.” Part of me wonders why there’s still a market for this after Dada, Duchamp, and Warhol, but that’s the free market for you. Invincible and evaluating things at their proper worth (that’s a joke, son). For Koons, there is simply the IDEA. There is no discovery.
When I was contracted to build a costume that looked like a guy in a giant powerball (the lottery, doncha know), I had to figure out how to make him look like this (note: I had nothing to do with the locker room):
Red arms and legs. Yellow hands and feet. Giant red ball body. Yellow starburst head. Human face. BALL text. Those were my instructions. Someone else had the IDEA, and I was just the fabricator. I made many, many phone calls. I hired specialists who wouldn’t have my learning curve with fabric (we had to dye the gloves and shoes) and who were faster than I am at sign application and painting (the text letters). I made a couple of discoveries. It was a lot of fun to build.
When the Spouse produces commercials and films, it’s a bit like assembling a jigsaw puzzle with moving pieces that keep changing their shape. The challenge and the delight in the better jobs is the juggle, keeping it all together. That’s not to say that discovery is a necessary and sufficient quality to the artistic process, but at least that process is made more delightful when there are discoveries to be had, like you just came across a bit of gold.
Of course, the actual excavating can be a drag. And as I slog my way through my next round of edits to create a readable, understandable, captivating, and page-turning first act, I keep reminding myself to look for the discoveries of gold.
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