Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Still kicking

Thanks for the "virtual dancing smilie", Debra! I'll send you one when you finish that first draft of "The Ghost Jewel". Now you have an incentive! ;)

Finished a major revision of "A Time To Every Purpose". Net gain of 950 words. I think I left some stuff out, so I'll come back to it after it sits for a while.

Got a crit back on "The Easy Way Out" that confirmed a couple of my suspicions about the story and the main character. The crit also offered a suggestion about a possible turn of events in the story that would move it well into the horror genre. This has caught my attention and is being given serious consideration. We'll see what everybody else says.

On the evolution of stories

Something I've run into several times recently is the problems thjat I run into when a story evolves away from the original inspiration. Most of my stories are based on a specific line or picture that pops up in my mind. When that happens, I say "Hmmm. There's a story here." and start figuring out what it is. Often, the story I wind up writing has little to do with the original inspiration. That's OK. I can always recycle the line or scene or character later.

What bothers me, though, is when a story evolves only slightly, but far enough that the original inspiration becomes marginal to the "real" story. It's very hard for me to let go of a much-loved idea or sentence. Sometimes I will hold on to it in spite of the damage that it does to the story that's trying to get out. That's a problem.

The notion of "murdering your darlings" is widepsread in books and articles about the craft. A writer has to be able to let go of anything that stands in the way of the story. I have to keep trying to develop the objectivity to see these things and to take out what doesn't fit. Even when it hurts. That's what the "Ideas" file is for, though. I need to use it more.

When imagery attacks

"He lay across the room." In the Deep South this is a very natural way of saying what other people say as "He lay on the other side of the room". I got gigged on this in "The Easy Way Out". Once I actually read the words literally, I laughed my ass off. Either he's a great big sucker, or it's a real small room. That got me to thinking about some other strange turns of phrase in the English language, including some of our most loved/hated cliches, and some of the worst imagery in the history of hack writing. I think that's "fixing" to turn into an article for Vision. Working title: "Chasing a Greased Pig: the Search for Just the Right Words".

Enough foolishness. Got 2 crits to work on, and "Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet" demands to be whipped into shape.

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