Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Stuck in the Middle With You

I was planning to post something today about some of the good TV shows I've been watching, but that's going to be moved to Friday (or next week). Today I want to talk about recurring characters. Some authors like Elmore Leonard rarely feel the need to revisit characters. Other authors (Chandler, Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn) have series characters. Most, if not all, of their books have the same protagonist and same supporting characters in the same universe.

Since I wrote my untitled PI story over the weekend, I've been thinking if this is going to be a one-shot or if there is life to the character to have another story about him. I did come up with a loose outline for a second story when something funny happened. A scene where the eye meets a character from the first story in a grocery store popped in my head. I had no intentions of bringing this character back, but there they were.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Back in the Saddle

This weekend I finally sat my butt down and started to write. The result of two and a half hours is a lean, mean story that clocks in just under 3,100 words. On my way home from work Friday night, I came up with a character for a new private eye story. I combined it with part of an idea I had rattling around in my brain for a while.

So I actually wrote my first story starring an eye. I thought I’d go and check out Thrilling Detective to see how much time I had to revise it before the next deadline. It seems I just missed one on February 14th. Doh! Then I see that recommended length is about 7,000 to 8,000 words. Double doh!

This is all probably for the best anyway. I like the story, but there are a few small problems with it. Some may consider it too linear. It just goes from A-B-C. The other thing is it doesn’t have a hook.

The two things I need: a title and a hook.

Friday, February 23, 2007

On Editing

The one thing that many writers have trouble with is editing. Editing takes almost as much time and talent as writing. Most everything I’ve ever done has been first or second drafts. Part of it is because I don’t want to spend time on something I’ve already “finished”. Another part is I can’t throw things away. I can probably count on one hand the number of times that I’ve actually deleted whole sections of text (or a whole document) and started over from scratch. That’s probably the one problem with any level English class you take while growing up. They try to teach you grammar and punctuation and how to write. But nobody ever teaches you how to edit. While I don’t strictly adhere to them, I love Elmore’s Rules of Writing. Quite often one or more of them pop into my head while I’m writing something. But I don’t have a good set of rules for editing. Anyone have any they’d like to share?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Am I a writer?

The question I posed for this entry is: Am I a writer? That’s a hard question (at least for me) to answer. Do I enjoy writing? Yes. Have others told me I have some talent at it? Yes. Am I serious about putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and telling a story? Not really. I’d like to, but I haven’t been doing it.

My day job is not related to writing at all. I am not a novelist, editor, reviewer, journalist, or teacher. Recently I have been writing a lot of documentation at work for people above and below me in the food chain. But it’s not creative. I’m just writing about the way things work and the way things should work.

I used to write a lot of fiction when I was younger: stories for myself, stories for school, I even did a whole series of comic books despite being a horrible artist. One of my English teachers in high school approached the drama coach to see if I had plagiarized a one-act play because he thought it was that good. I started a novel and handed the first couple chapters into a creative writing teacher who said “can’t you just see it as a movie?”. [PS. My inspiration ran out at around 11,000 words and it hasn’t been finished nearly a decade later.]

Like most authors, though, I get inspired by the world around me. While driving to work the other day, I saw the name on the side of an 18-wheeler and on the spot I came up with a new character for a story idea that’s bouncing around in my head. I see TV shows setting up the climax of the episode and I play the scene out in my mind (usually different from what shows up on the screen). I get pleasure out of reading a smart sentence in a book and wish that I could come up with something just as good to give someone else the same pleasure.

There are a couple short stories I want to crank out before I get started in a novel. I’m hoping this will help me find my voice again and exercise the muscles that I haven’t used in a while. Kind of like running short distances over a long period of time while training for a marathon. Maybe I should just dive into the novel right away, but I don’t want it to end up like that 11k Word document copied from hard drive to hard drive in hopes that one day it’ll be finished. One thing I said I’d do this year, call it a resolution if you must, is to spend at least one hour every Saturday morning writing. Just to get back into the habit. There’ve been 7 Saturdays so far, and I haven’t done it even once.

Maybe it depends on what your definition of a writer is. If I ask myself if I am a writer, the honest answer is no. But I hope to be.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

State of the Blog

Being on Blogger, I'll probably get some random-people traffic, but hopefully some of you will come here from my comments on other blogs. First off, let me address Dave White: I am not PlotBabyPlot or Abe Vagoda. If you search through your comment history, all my comments have been supportive. The only time I insulted you (as a joke) was when I called you a girl while posting under the name Anita Bonghit (love that name). Gerald: previously you asked for my website/blog, but I never responded. That's because I didn't have a blog until now.

Onto this blog itself, I don't know why this is, but I already have more ideas to post here than on my personal blog (where everybody knows my name). Maybe because it's new. Maybe because it's anonymous and I feel I have more freedom without worrying about what people think. My own blog has degenerated into a collection of trivia, silly videos, and links to articles without much commentary by me.

Just so everyone knows, I envision posting here maybe once or twice a week (more if I have an idea). Once I settle get into a rhythm, it'll probably be a story on Monday (if I have one) and a commentary type post on Fridays. The stories will probably start showing up in early March.

The first commentary will probably show up early next week. It will be called: Am I a writer?

Friday, February 16, 2007

First Post

Ok, so I guess it's about time. Since some of my friends are requiring you to have a blogger account to comment on their posts, I'm going to create this. Somewhere along the line, I may use this space to put up some of my crappy flash fiction or less crappy short stories. That way I can gauge people's reaction to my work without having to reveal my identity. And don't even bother...this is a new e-mail address too so you guys can't track down who I am!

Until next time!