Thursday, January 27, 2011

A girl who read The Girl Who

I’m past 30, but if I can still be classified as a girl, I can also be a girl who recently read The Girl Who Played with Fire, as well as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I also can be a girl who growled when the Fire novel ended so abruptly. I’m irritated, but it’s a fair irritation; Fire provided enough conclusion for a series novel. So until my number comes up at the library on the waiting list for the final book in the series, I’ll be the girl who is impatiently waiting on The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Slogging through

I’m finally through a writing slump. For a couple weeks around the holidays, but what seemed like a couple months, I wasn’t blocked, which I define as a period of inability to write anything. I was just incredibly slowly trying to get through this one scene. I’d turn on my computer and write a few sentences, and tweak a few other sentences and then – and then I’d just sit there. Maybe I’d write a few paragraphs on a good day. Finally, I ended up writing past whatever it was that obstructed my progress, the scene was completed, and I’m back on my typical pace. Phew!

Why I struggled through this one scene, I don’t know. Perhaps my ideas of what would happen in that scene were too vague and my brain wasn’t being creative enough to find a fast way through. Eventually I slogged through it, though I’ll have to come back to it eventually and do some serious rewriting. But I’m through, and the writing is going smoother, for now at least. Can you hear my sigh of relief?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On Writing

Stephen King’s On Writing is the best book I’ve ever read about writing, described on its cover as “part memoir, part master class … a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft.” While my husband is the King fan, this King book speaks to my writer’s heart of hearts. In the book, King voices common-sense truths about writing.

One of my favorite quotes from the book: “At its most basic we are only discussing a learned skill, but do we not agree that sometimes the most basic skills can create things far beyond our expectations? We are talking about tools and carpentry, about words and style … but as we move along, you’d do well to remember that we are also talking about magic.”

If you’re a writer, you should read it. If you’re a King fan, you should read it. If you’re neither, you still should read it.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Yipes! 46 pages of backstory?! Well, kind of.

If a bestselling author can get away with 46 pages of backstory, why can’t I? Not that I'd want to.

Beginnings of stories (even newspaper articles) always seem to be the hardest part for me – where to begin, how to begin, how much to include. I lost count of how many times I reworked the beginning to Storm Surge. Originally, the opening began before the murder, and my protagonist meets the victim before her death. (I had my protagonist arrive late to a family funeral, with the old church door stuck because of air-conditioning suction, then having the suction abruptly cut off, the door flinging open with a loud crash, breaking a religious statue, and my main character making her grand entrance barely able to stand on two feet. It was beautiful. And I cut it, way before I shopped my novel out to Peak City Publishing.)

Recently, I picked up a mystery by a bestselling author, and from the description on the book, I expected the book to be centered around an adult protagonist. Well, for the first 46 pages, that protagonist is a pre-teen girl. Granted, she suffers a traumatic and dramatic incident that shapes her life, but 46 pages? I almost put the book down and walked away (until, exasperated, I flipped ahead and realized I’d only a dozen pages to go before the novel jumped ahead to her adulthood). I mean, I’d signed up to read about one thing and found myself getting a very different other thing for those first 46 pages. Hmpf. But then the rest of the novel jumped around to various segments of her adult life as she grew older, finally settling on “present time” on page 130 of a 456-pager: an interesting structure of a novel that spans a couple dozen years, so I don’t suppose the 46-pages of girlhood is most accurately described backstory. But embarking on reading the novel, it sure felt like it.