Tuesday, November 30, 2010

About writing journals and writer's block

Anna at Anna's Obsession asked how people get over their writer's blocks. 
This is what I answered:

Writer's block is when you sit there in front of the computer or an empty paper and just stare at it. You come up with nothing to write. Absolutely nothing.

I thought it was just words, couldn't imagine it ever happening, but then came NaNoWriMo, and I was there. Staring at the empty screen.

I got over it.

1. I have a writing journal. It isn't very organized, it would be better if it was.

2. I write down my ideas. Where do I get the ideas?

Just like you, I too have interesting dreams. I remember my dreams when I don't try to remember them. I have written down several. Sometimes it's just words, or images, something associations.

I like to fantasize a lot. I fantasize when I walk the dog, when I take the bus, when I wait in line, when I do the dishes and especially when I try to fall asleep. I have written down some of these too.

I write fan fiction. I like taking existing story lines, characters, ideas, and play with them. Most often the fan fiction is unrecognizable, if you just change the most glaring bits, like names and descriptions.

I like reading. I read everything. From newspapers to books, contemporary novels, classics, children's books, any genre. I like watching television. I like movies. I like music. Every now and then I read, hear or see something, just a line, that makes me think. When I search for books at book store, I read the synopsis, and sometimes that makes me think.

The life itself is inspiring. Perhaps a couple of words heard in a bus, an usually beautiful day... things happen. Writers are artists painting with words.

Then there are those book, you know, that make you say "I could have written this better..."
Do it.

If nothing else works, there are several writing prompts around.

3. Then it's just to sit down and write. Even if it is "I am a writer. Writers write, so I write. I write mighty kingdoms and people of flesh and blood, and it is possible that somewhere, somehow, sometime, they live. In another galaxy, far far away from here... there was a little boy who dreamed about flying like his father. His father was an angel, but his mother was a mortal woman, prude and pious, and she was horrified to find out how an angel could desire what by the wicked, lusty people is called love, and she hated what became of this..."

And there you go.

Also, a habit of writing - every day, 2000 words or 10 pages (or what ever goal you have) - makes it hard for you not to write.
"If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."
-- Toni Morrison
Dean R. Koontz says in "Writing Popular Fiction" this: "A writer's block is most often caused by one of five things: overwork, boredom, self-doubt, financial worries, or emotional problems between the writer and those close to him.
If overwork is the cause, stop writing for a couple of days or weeks; when you're ready to start again, you'll know, because the typewriter will no longer appear to be a formidable opponent, but a delightful toy.
If boredom with the piece in progress has slowed you to a standstill, put it aside and begin something new, no matter how close to the end of the piece you may be; chances are, if it bores you, it will bore editors and readers also.
The simplest way to cure a case of self-doubt is to shame yourself without restraint for your lack of confidence and start something new which may, by its freshness, restore your confidence. Don't worry if you go through a dozen ideas before you hit something that gets you going again.
Financial worries must be solved before you can write again, even if that means you-the full-time freelancer-must take a job, temporarily, to keep above water, or you-the part-time writer-must take a part-time job and temporarily forsake writing until your financial position is less
If emotional entanglements occupy your mind and keep you from producing, sit down with your boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, and talk out the things that are bothering you. Not only will such sessions improve your love life, they will improve your writing as well.
No writer's block need be more than a few days long if he is determined to break it."

Then I wrote this as base for an article to write, about Writer's Journal:

"A writer's notebook gives you a place to live like a writer, wherever you are, at any time of day."
-- From A Writer's Notebook, Unlocking the Writer Within You, by Ralph Fletcher
A writer's notebook is an idea storage and a resource bank.

You will need:

- a journal
  • Your journal should be such that you like to write in it. You have to like its looks. Choose covers that give you the feeling you are a professional writer, or inspirational covers.
  • I write on anything, but some people want their paper white, others prefer cream or pastels or other colors. Some prefer paper with lines, some unlined. The paper comes in different weights, surfaces and textures. Ordinary printer paper is white, light, smooth and dense. Choose the paper of your journal so that you enjoy writing on it.
  • Also, choose the size and bind so that you feel comfortable to write on it anywhere and carry it everywhere with you. A larger, spiral bound journal with soft covers might not be a good choice, but choose that, if you like writing in such. You can always get it loose hard covers.
  • Also, you should not feel afraid to tear off pages, draw lines over everything and get it dirty. It is supposed to follow with you until you have filled it, in every weather and environment, you are supposed to feel good to write in it in crowded places, in rain, in a coffee house - everywhere. Don't choose an expensive book you want to keep tidy. The writer's journal is not meant to be used with a ruler, nor is it meant to be graded. You are the only one who is supposed to see and read it.
- a pen
  •  Choose a pen that you like to write with, and that is easily used. I use a mechanic pencil with 0,5 mm HB lead. I like to both write and draw with it. Don't choose something romantic like a quill and ink. It is hard to take it up in a bus to jot down a conversation you happen to hear, that inspires you.
- if you have a pencil, you need an eraser too. If your pencil is not mechanical, you need a sharpener.
- scissors, tape, glue, stapler, paper clips
- post-its
- perhaps highlighters or markers

What to write in it?

It is a good idea to start with a table of contents. It helps you later to find what you are looking for.

- write down quotes you like
- write down passages from books you like
- write down poems you like
- write down words you like
- write down interesting names - for characters and novels
- write down interesting snippets of discussions you hear, from real life or television
- write down comparisons, parables, descriptions, everything like this you like
- write down how other writers have described sounds, smells, sensations, taste, in a way that you like
- paste articles and newspaper and magazine clippings in it
- paste inspiring images, pictures, artwork, doodles in it or draw straight into it
- paste interesting comics in it
- paste into it inspiring scraps you find, like discarded score boards, lists, tickets, flat things rescued from the street or garbage, ephemera, stickers, stamps...
- add pressed flowers or leaves
- add samplers to it
- put brochures and programs between the pages. Fasten with a piece of tape or a paper clip.
- save inspiring letters and post cards in it
- draw maps, charts, diagrams, templates, webs, tables, pedigrees etc. in it
- write down lists in it - places to visit, professions, likes and dislikes, phobias...
- write down interesting characters you have met, read about or seen in television or movies
- write down your dreams and fantasies in it
- write down your questions in it
- write down your ideas and thoughts in it
- write down interesting snippets of information
- add post-its and notes
- cut inspiring covers and synopsis from book magazines and catalogs and paste into your writing journal
- write the research notes in it
- write ideas for good leads and endings in it
- write down interesting writing prompts in it
- write down themes, plots, scenes and storylines in it
- write down single emotions, memories, happenings, but not as in a "normal" journal, in which you register your everyday life, feelings and thoughts. A Writer's journal or a notebook is an idea bank, not a diary.

- write down the ideas, thoughts, dreams these words inspire

And then I read this:
Keeping a journal or notebook fosters the journal-writing skill, not the fiction-writing skill.
-- Caro Clarke; the writer's notebook, or let's not really write

But then I remember the Renaissance method. Several authors manage to write fiction even though they have a writer's journal :-D Go ahead and do what ever you like. It's not that your ideas get stale or die because you write them down in a journal.

P.S. A note to female writers, age 13-22 - it's time for Cleopatra Award
The competition is open for all young women, who write in English. It's international, so not only for those living in USA, Canada and UK, like so many other possibilities.
You can submit a short story, an essay, a poem or an excerpt (not more than 2000 words) from a novel or novella (or novelet ;-)) and your entry should be about the themes explored in "The Lily of Nile", a historical novel about Cleopatra's daughter, written by Stephanie Dray, who established and sponsors this literary competition for young women.

My NaNovel

Dido Heaven is a witch who doesn't believe in magic. Not really. Until, one day magic starts messing up her tidy, normal life and forces her to believe in it.
Dido is fully happy with her life, a good book, cats, a cup of tea and apples, who would ask for more? Sure, it was nice when the handsome man walked into her store, but why is he so adamant about a necklace? And what made the windows shatter? Why are people dying around her? What is it with all these beautiful people forcing themselves into her life? Strange things happen, things that cannot happen, may not happen, shouldn't happen... why, how, who...?
There are only questions, questions, questions, but no answers, at least no rational ones. The only possible answers are impossible to believe. There is no magic... 
Is there?

Excerpt: Heart of Amber
“I’ve seen windows shot at. They don’t break like this.” Nasir said looking at the glass daggers embedded into the wooden desk. “Magic would explain this nicely”, he said.
Dido was speechless for a moment, then burst out saying: “Magic doesn’t explain anything!” She frowned in disbelief. “It’s for subtle influences, praying for peace, and angels, and... fairies... and global warming... and...”

Monday, November 29, 2010

Merit badges

The Merit Badger has created badges for writing and reading. Nice: I like badges :-)

I have paid my library fees, I sniff books (mmmm.... old books, new books, most books smell so good... except a smoker's books or books from a New Age shop where they burn incense all the time. Yuk.) And I read epic fantasy, and historical novels, and basically everything. My book shelves are a mess, and there are books everywhere, and I judge books by the cover, even though I read also books that don't look that nice on the cover. But I don't remember ever reading an ugly book believing it's crap and then found out it's not. It's usually the other way around. I read a book by the cover and it turns out to be everything but what is promised by the cover. *sigh* And I read banned books and communicate with other book lovers on-line, and OMG was I disappointed with His Dark Materials. *sigh* And I share my books, even when a couple never came back, and I like to talk about books I like and as far as I know I have converted a couple of people :-D

A lot more writing badges... I think I earned most of these at NaNoWriMo :-D It started with writer's block and ended with over 50K words. I have not written every day, but I have kept my butt on the chair and written, without knowing what is going to flow from my fingers, and I had a REALLY good day with over 7000 words. I have been distracted by all the amazing blogs and other sites on-line, and I have managed to drag me out of it, and sit down to write. I have created worlds and places, written High Fantasy, and my husband hates me, because I keep talking against -ing and -ly :-D Even though I use them, I do, a lot. Eagerly, willingly and with pleasure :-D I have written by hand, and when I eat, and when I watch the television. And, as I already said before, I need more padding! Oh, and I type like 60-70 wpm. And I am SOOOO envious at some people. Mostly all published authors :-D And all who have got a Nobel prize, and all who have become rich rich rich by writing, and especially those whom I don't like. *sigh* :-D

Now I'm a bit uncertain of if this is okay... is this "derivative work"?

Writing Blogs Written By Men

Why You Shouldn't Write Often

Okay, so perhaps I'm not a GOOD writer, but being a BAD writer is better than not being a writer at all.

No, you don't become a good writer by writing, you become good at writing - the mechanical process, the profession, the activity - which is something you need if you plan being a writer.
You become a good writer by reading.

I have been reading some blogs lately, trying to find writing blogs written by men, for my husband, who is trying to get his writing blog by a man fly.

I don't like Men with Pens, even when it is a blog - sort of - written by men, about writing.

My Literary Jam and Toast is a blog to my taste. It is written by a woman.
I also like Grab a Pen - also written by a woman.
I also like Fiction Groupie :-) By a woman.
and Becoming a Fiction Writer... yes, also by a woman.

I found:
Lee Goldberg's A Writer's Life 
Neil Gaiman I love, but he writes so seldom to the blog. Good, I say. I want him write many, many books :-D
Paulo Coelho's blog might be something for my husband... It is something for me :-) It's just not so much about writing.
Neither is Wil Wheaton's In Exile, but I like it nevertheless. And he is a man who writes.
Jurgen Wolff's Time to Write might be what he is looking for...
John Baker's blog is not for me, but perhaps it is for someone else.
There is the wordswimmer, written by a guy. Makes me realize I do NOT like blogs with only one entry showing. I don't care to push the "Older posts" all the time.
Cole Writing looks interesting.
There's Tom Conoboy's Writing Blog, Luc Reid's Reidwrite, Advanced Fiction Writing by Randy Ingemanson, "The Snowflake Guy", Crawford Kilian's Writing Fiction, Alex Cavanaugh's blog, Ted Cross' blog and Nathan Bransford's blog, which was the one I was thinking, when my husband complained about the lack of good writing blogs written by men. I like that one very much :-D
I also just have to mention Benny's Fluent in Three Months, even when it's not about writing... at least, most of it is not. He's working as a freelance translator, so there's something useful for writers too. ;-)

And then there are several multi-author blogs, with mixed gender authors, and I assume SF Novelists would be what he's after.

Clear with Mr. Clarity sounds interesting too... and I assume Mr.Clarity is a man :-D It's not the kind of a blog I assume my husband is talking about, but an interesting blog nevertheless.
I also suspect the Man Cave author is a man... I think he should be, if he isn't :-D
I am also under the impression that Just the Cheese is written by a man.

I don't know if Query Shark is written by a man or a woman, but it looks interesting.

Also, Ralph Fletcher's Tips for Young Writers looks interesting. I'm going to go and read it after I have written this blog entry :-D

100 recommended books

I am going to make a confession... I haven't read most of these (41 of 100) But I suppose I'm better off than most. Watery Tart says BBC says people in general have only read 6 of them...

I have read the bolded, the italialized I have started to read but haven't been able to finish for one reason or another. (Probably because at the moment I started to read it, I found the book so darn boring!)

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings- JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible
(I would like to say that there is no need to read the New Testament. There isn't much of a story there. Read the Old Testament with the apocrypha.)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52 Dune - Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Loved this one... why it is on the list... don't know.
57 A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses - James Joyce

76 The Inferno - Dante

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I don't think the list is about GOOD books, more than "you should at least know the story, and the original story, so that you won't go telling people things like "The Little Mermaid marries the prince and lives happily ever after". Or that "Scarlett O'Hara had red hair" or that "Anne of Green Gables went to France to find Gilbert during WWI".

So - having seen the movie doesn't count, nor does some "fan fiction" (which sequels and prequels written by other than original authors are) and abridged versions.

Also, there are some new books on the list I don't think should be there. I strongly doubt anyone will read books like Da Vinci Code in just some decades. Right now it's still riding on the waves of the big publishing bang, but... Who noticed the publishing of the sequel?
The same goes with every book on the list published during the last 20 years.

But I don't know what this list actually is. Recommended? Best books? What?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Yay, Winner!!!

I didn't know it would feel like this... I actually cried :-D And then I laughed, and listened to the cheering people :-D You are amazing bunch of people, NaNoWriMo and Office of Letters and Light :-)

Yes, I am a NaNoWriMo winner :-)
I have written over 50.000 words in November.
I am not done yet :-D
I am also especially proud because from 4th until 13th I didn't write much at all, and then it took me a little to get back on track again, so I have written 30.000 words in 10 days.

I feel darn good right now :-)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Some 7000 words later...

I'm hopelessly in love with my male lead... Is that bad?

It should mean, that if I love him, so will others...

but if I am getting jealous at my female lead - and she is still stupid... or actually she isn't. [I made a MarySue to bash her a little. She had to be a MarySue, otherwise she wouldn't have had the right to bash the poor girl. Heroines may not be bashed... because people are supposed to identify themselves with her. Anyway, after the bashing and straightening up, she is now only extremely ignorant and full of weird prejudices, but not stupid. It's more believable now that the hero could fall in love with her. I just don't like it one bit :-D Perhaps, because she isn't me - the MarySue is, and she's already married to the villain, and even though he is all nice and that, I like the little brother better :-D Maybe I get my villain leave his wife for the heroine, so that I... er... MarySue can get the hero ;-> No, he would never do that. But, on the other hand, look at her. Who would? On the third hand (how many are there?) she might be a total bitch. Of course she isn't because she's MarySue, but because she is, why would her husband ever even think of cheating her?]

I'm starting to feel more and more that I'm writing a Twilight :-D The female leas is "normal, average, not too pretty" (but kind of pretty, anyway) and the male lead is like SOOOO gorgeous. :-D
Isn't that suppose to happen too? But I wanted to write a mystery, thriller, suspense... and now I'm writing a paranormal romance :-D Nothing wrong with that, but... *sigh* It's like when you WANT to write one thing, but the story decides it's something else.

Also, there is this Finnish author, Kaari Utrio, whose heroines are ALWAYS red-heads and heros ALWAYS blonde... so I'm writing a Kaari Utrio! And it was totally accidental. I wanted a red-haired heroine, but not one with amazing green eyes, no, she would have brown eyes.
Then I made the villain, and I wanted to make him a Nazi, so - behold, Lucius Malfoy. But he would have dark blue eyes, slate-blue eyes, warm eyes. (He looks actually quite a bit like my nephew... Interesting.)
So then he invented himself a wife, who had the same color hair as the heroine, but different color eyes. Well... she decided to become real, not stay an invention, and my MarySue was born.
Then I created the hero, who is villain's little brother, so he had to be blond too, but whereas his brother was silver-blond with dark eyes, he was to be like a spring day, with sky-blue eyes and light, golden hair.

*sigh* *sigh* *sigh*
Well... Wasn't I supposed to sueify my book and add purple?

Anyway... isn't it nice to be a writer, you can take every person and character and mix it up and take what you like and leave what you don't like, and then play make-believe? In a world where everything is just as you like it... except when the characters and the plot and the side plots and all the other bits and pieces decide to take the story to a whole different direction... but that's nice too, it's like one of those books, you know, written just for you. You get to be the first person to read this brand new story! 

P.S. I wrote over 7000 words today for NaNoWriMo... I was hopelessly behind after my 10 days in Finland, but now it's starting to look possible again :-) Wahoo, me!

P.P.S. From writer today: a 12 step program for writers who care

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Can you tell I'm procrastinating?

Book Covers, Appendix I

A little inspiration for Helena :-)

James Bond covers

These are first edition dust jackets by Richard Chopping.
As far as I know, he didn't do it in this style for all of the books, which is a pity.
Pan covers from the 60's - above - and the 70's - below.
The 60's covers are surprisingly modern... I would have said 80's. I also have to say I think they are the most serious of the James Bond covers, and gives a bit seriousness to the books... They don't look immediately like pulp fiction.
The 70's collage covers really funny and very typical for the time :-D Though I wouldn't have thought this as James Bond cover...If I had to guess, I'd have said they are hobby book covers :-D

Richie Fahey's charming collage covers from 2003

And last, Michael Gillette's centennial covers. I simply love these. So perfect, have the bond girls and pulp fiction feeling, but still so stylish and beautiful and... yeah, different colors ;-) I'm bound to like that in covers :-D

Modesty Blaise Covers
Again, simple is best. The first one is the first cover ever made for Modesty, the last on the first row are the newest covers, from 2007.
The middle row is covers for the cartoon books, but would work for novels too.
The last row is the first print, as far as I understand. I love #3 - the pin-up girl with the HUGE iron something and the little bow... oh so CUTE!!! ROTFLMAO

Actually... for an action novel to work, Artemis Fowl covers might do too...

Book Covers

I don't remember if I have talked about this issue before, but I was watching the "30 covers in 30 days" at NaNoWriMo, and I am reminded of the talent of the designers/artists making book covers...

I have a simple taste. I like the graphic covers, with the name of the book, the author and perhaps a picture.
I also like colors. I fell in love immediately with these new covers for Jean M. Untinen Auel's Ayla books... I love the cave paintings, and the simplicity of these covers is just... perfect :-) I hope the artists also makes the cover for the next book, that is supposed to come out next year.

 And then there's always the magical, mystical, mythical and medieval... ;-)
Just wanted to mention here that I love Pauline Baynes, especially her black-and-white illustrations. May she rest in peace :-)
Her miniatures are absolutely amazing... I wish I had the patience and endurance to keep working with my miniatures, so that one day I might be as good as she was :-)

Added a little later:
I would very much like covers like these for my books:
These are inspired by Swedish John Eyre
who made the covers for the Swedish prints of Dan Brown's books, 
and something similar to this for the Finnish author, Väinö Linna.
I don't like the colors, nor the daisies, but the idea made me cry.
Thank you, John, for understanding the Finnish folk soul and Väinö Linna :´)

 P.S. I found this about the Outlander covers. Oh, how I wish they had stayed with this cover! I would never have thought it was something for me... :-( I hate the book. :-D

P.P.S. These are the covers for my NaNoWriMo, designed by yours truly. :-)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Words are magical

"Movie makers have it easy, it seems. To convey an emotional tone they have sets, lighting, props, music and the ability to show the foreground action and the background action."
- Every Picture Has a Story, WOW 
And so do the writers. We have words to light the scene, to set the tone, to add music and props... we make the story move fast by using verbs, or slow it down, calm and gently, to a nice, slow pace by using the versatile and descriptive adjectives... Words have color, tone and pictures. War is a hard and red word, death final and dark... love is a soft and pink word, dog happy and blue and brown, like little boys, frogs and carpenter pants. You can see the freckles, old straw hat and fishing rod, even when today they seldom exist. The dog has brown spots and it jumps around the boy and laughs, with tongue hanging out.
As Stephen King says, we are magicians working with telepathy all the time...

The article about symbolism is very interesting and inspiring. It made me think about how I could use symbols in writing, the magic and power of words, and seeing my work a little more like the work of the director and editor of a movie. Thank you, Patricia, for leading me to it :-)

Among the things she posted were Jane Friedman's There Are No Rules about query letters
and The Dreaded Rewrite, which I suppose I should be doing with my NaNo. I have started writing the story, got to the middle, introduced all the characters and I have outlined the end, but I don't know how to lead the beginning to the end, because I hate my stupid (yeah, she's dumb as a boot) MC, and cannot find one reason why my male lead would find her in any way attractive. Except that she's not uglier than any other woman, but my male lead isn't stupid, so he isn't shallow either. *sigh*
So - I just need to brighten her up a bit and make her a little more likable... perhaps she could have a soft spot in her heart to alley cats and kids, or something. Stand by the soup kitchen once a week and feed children... like she has asked the local public school if she may borrow their kitchen at weekends so that the kids who have nothing could come and at least have one warm meal in their tummies every day, or something.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I don't understand why I ever thought...

that I would be a writer :-D

Yes, it's that phase of NaNoWriMo going on with me. I have managed to write over 15.000 words in November, and we have passed the 2/3 line, so I'm only some 15.000 words behind the schedule.

In spite of all my good plans and preparations, I'm stuck. I don't like my characters, and if I don't, who will?

It's really annoying, because I would LIKE to write books about all the things everyone else writes books at the moment; mythology, supernatural, superstitions, paranormal thingies... but I don't WANT to write about what everyone else is writing. :-(
It kind of doesn't cut it to say that "well, isn't there tons of romance novels too, and tons of fantasy, why not tons of novels of the paranormal, supernatural, mythical, magical and mystical?", it doesn't help telling myself that "It doesn't matter what anyone else writes, I'm the only one who can write what I write". I would LIKE to write something a little bit more original than that.

BTW; did you know that 10 years ago I didn't know there were romance novels about witches and vampires :-D I thought it was a novel thought, and that I might be able to write that. Perhaps, if I HAD written what I wanted to, 10 years ago. *sigh*

What was the 1st Paranormal Romance?
Isn't Dark Shadows and everything it bred a good candidate for that? How many of today's paranormal romance authors have actually seen and been influenced by the series? I think many...

Also, the curse of Mary Sue. I mean, we all write Mary Stus all the time, because we want to read about things that make us think about something else than our normal, boring lives, and we want to have a heroine who is smarter, prettier, more talented, more capable than everyday woman - especially me, who is not... well... I can't say "especially smart, because as far as I know and intelligence can be measured, I AM especially smart :-D Not that it's much help to me. If I am that smart, writing a book shouldn't be a big problem, don't you think? But obviously it is. 

It really shouldn't, because I can whip up a character, interesting but not Mary Sue, at any moment, and create this character a whole family, and neighbors with families, inhabit whole villages with imaginary people.
I can write dialogue, and I think it sounds ok.
I have ideas about stories, histories, storylines, and what nots. I can invent ten things, give my characters goals, fears, hopes and needs, that lead from one point to another...
I can also easily write a synopsis. It might not be an interesting synopsis, but a synopsis that says with a couple of words what the story is all about. Maybe that's my problem...
I have read so many times "kill your darlings", "avoid Mary Sues", "avoid purple prose", "keep it simple, keep it short", "if you can say it with one word, why use two" and so on and so forth, so that I keep killing and simplifying and peeling and trying to say with one word everything, so in the end I have only a handful of words, that are enough to tell the whole story... but it's not a novel. It's a synopsis.

Maybe I should do the opposite... try to write purple prose, Mary Sues and revive my "darlings"...

It was a dark and stormy night...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My hubby's blog


Do visit it, he has some nice ideas and insights :-)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Five senses and wits

This is from Wikipedia:

In the time of William Shakespeare, there were commonly reckoned to be five wits and five senses. The five wits were sometimes taken to be synonymous with the five senses, but were otherwise also known and regarded as the five inward wits, distinguishing them from the five senses, which were the five outward  wits.

Much of this conflation has resulted from changes in meaning. In Early Modern English, "wit" and "sense" overlapped in meaning. Both could mean a faculty of perception (although this sense dropped from the word "wit" during the 17th century). Thus "five wits" and "five senses" could describe both groups of wits/senses, the inward and the outward, although the common distinction, where it was made, was "five wits" for the inward and "five senses" for the outward.

The inward and outward wits are a product of many centuries of philosophical and psychological thought, over which the concepts gradually developed, that have their origins in the works of Aristotle (who only defined four senses, however). The concept of five outward wits came to medieval thinking from Classical philosophy, and found its most major expression in Christian devotional literature of the Middle Ages. The concept of five inward wits similarly came from Classical views on psychology.

Modern thinking is that there are more than five (outward) senses, and the idea that there are five (albeit that it superficially matches the gross anatomical features — eyes, ears, nose, skin, and mouth — of many higher animals) does not stand up to scientific scrutiny. (For more on this, see Definition of sense.) But the idea of five senses/wits from Aristotelian, medieval, and 16th century thought still lingers so strongly in modern thinking that a sense beyond the natural ones is still called a "sixth sense".

These are the v. wyttes remeuing inwardly:
Fyrst, commyn wytte, and than ymaginacyon,
Fantasy, and estymacyon truely,
And memory, as I make narracyon;
Each upon other hath occupacyon.

Stephen Hawes, The Pastime Of Pleasure, XXIV "Of the Five Internall Wittes"

Hering, sight, smelling and fele,
cheuing er wittes five,
All sal be tint er sal pas,
quen þe hert sal riue.

Cursor Mundi, lines 17017–17020

Sounds interesting... I wonder what to do with it :-D
"Chewing, the fifth sense..."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Oh so tired...

I arrived a couple of hours ago, and I have eaten and slept, so I'm better, but I'm tired, depressed and in slight pain.
I wasn't good at taking my medicine and now I'm afraid I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
I have been living with my hypersensitive respiratory system with some asthmatic reactions and I'm allergic to animals, dust mites and such things, and I have been living in a messy home with animals for too long, and now my lungs are closing down...

I really feel I'm getting paranoid and hypochondriac, seeing spooks in shadows and suspecting every mole of being malicious skin cancer, every consequence of my overweight of being a serious health problem, every normal stroke of flu of being something serious with my lungs.

It's kind of laughable and at the same time sad, because I am frightened.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ah! O Ve! Oh, Fah!

Ok, the story goes like this.

I am writing my NaNo and it's going pretty well. I have some 7000 words written now, and it's day 3, which means I'm more than a day ahead of the schedule.

It won't probably last for long though, as I am to fly to Finland tomorrow, and cannot take my laptop with me, because it weighs some kilos anyway, and I need the space to something warm to sleep in, because it's freezing in Finland where my mother lives, and... anyway, I'm going to Finland for a week, tomorrow.

My considerate, loving and kind husband bought me a new mouse. Tiny thing, wireless, easier to use for my so often aching hands. He comes home with his prey and, naturally, wants me to try the new gadget. I'm not that into trying new things the first possible second, but, how could you say no, huh? He indeed is so kind and nice, and did buy me a mouse to make it easier, and he is so eager to try it and all that, so of course I said yes.

Now, the problem is that I was writing my NaNo when he came home, and as I got distracted, by him coming home, by the new mouse, and I am a little stressed by the trip, so I forgot to save.

We were trying out the new mouse and it didn't want to work too well, and at some point something happened, and the computer understood I wanted to shut down Word. It does what it always does, that is asks if I want to save, or not, or cancel, and in my stress over everything going on, I clicked the wrong option. That is "don't save". Poof!

Also, I hadn't put the Word in my laptop to make a safety copy of what I'm writing, so there's no safety copy.


Luckily, it was only a couple of hundred words, and I could still remember pretty much what it was about, but... There's always this nasty feeling that what I wrote first would have been the best version, and this second one is not as good and will never be either.

Anyway, I came here to read some other blogs, and Watery Tart managed to say just the right thing to comfort a woman in despair.

Monday, November 1, 2010

1st day of NaNoWriMo

This is from 1000 Artist Journal Pages by Dawn DeVries Sokol.
I love Artist Journals, and this is a book with 1000 pages from different artists :-) I think I would have chosen other journal pages... I think I need to make my own artist journal/altered book with 1000 pages after my favorite journal artists :-) When, oh, when do I ever get time to write? :-D

Anyway, it's the first day of NaNoWriMo, and you might be sitting there without anything to write. Just start writing from the beginning and when you have emptied that issue, pick the next one and write. Go on, one thing you can do, now, today, to change the world...
It's actually a very good idea for a novel. :-D "Maire Nic Dhòmhnaill woke up one morning from a dream. It was a very nice dream, vivid, colored, made her feel happy... and she decided to change the world..."