Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Let the Editing Begin!

I've begun editing the Irish Novel - aka The Long Road Home. The first 150 pages have been printed and read over, red quill pen in hand, and page 151-278 will be printed this afternoon (I don't want the IC library getting too mad at an alum using their printing services).

I like editing on paper - it's easier to see things on a printed page than on screen sometimes, and somewhat therapeutic to strike through lines of stilted prose with my red pen.

This novel needs a lot of work. Quite a lot. There are a lot of strings to pull, and at the moment they're a little bit more gnarled up than they should be. Character arcs that don't quite add up, a lot of worldbuilding that needs to be in place way before it is, and a lot that needs to be established earlier in order to make the conclusion work. Especially when it comes to my secondary villains.

But I'm really hoping that I can pull this off the way it deserves to be pulled off. I really think this one could mean something, if I can just weave all those strings together in the right way, get all these pieces to really resonate the way they should.

So I'll spend the next few weeks making notes in red pen, rearranging and adding and cutting. After that, it'll be off to the beta readers, who hopefully won't hate it. And hopefully, by the end of it, I'll have a finished product that really shines. The plan is to have it ready to submit to agents by November, when NaNoWriMo is in full swing for all those people insane dedicated enough to try and churn out 50k words in a month.

And then - well, I guess I get to figure out how the heck to squeeze this one into a query letter.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Fun Stuff

Do you guys ever write anything just for the fun of it?

I mean, obviously my full-length novel projects are fun. I enjoy writing them (except when they drive me crazy) - why would I do it otherwise? There's nothing like sitting down to write after a bad day - the soft clack of my keyboard and the constant march of letters across a blank page is soothing. It reminds me that there is, in fact, something that I am meant to be doing with my life, and it's this. It's writing. I've got stories to tell and I'm meant to tell them.

But aside from that - I think there are very few projects I've started just for the sheer fun of it. I've written for myself and I've written for school, and those things have been fun, sometimes - but not in the "ah, why the heck not, let's just see what happens" kind of a way. Those projects, even in their most fun moments, have always had a tinge of SERIOUS BUSINESS to them.

Right now, I'm taking a break on The Long Road Home before diving into some edits, and I'm working on, would you believe it, a one-act play.

Because, well - why the heck not?

And, well, because my actress roommate/best friend is bored and theatre deprived. And because I went to a history convention for Phi Alpha Theta which involved spending two hours-ish in the car with my professors, and after recounting that story to everyone I'd always say "there really should be a sitcom called Road Trips With Professors" and they'd say "yeah, you should write it!"

So I am. And it's been fun - it's going to be the world's most stage-direction-less play, because I'm enjoying just focusing on the dialogue. I am hoping that it's halfway decent, because I am going to show it to Lisa at some point, but for the most part I'm just killing some time, letting myself focus on other things before going in for edits, and simply enjoying myself.

What about you, fair readers? Do you ever write little projects just because it's fun, or are you all-novels-all-the-time?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Kinds of Stories

I've noticed that people - myself included - tend to like the same kinds of stories. And I don't really mean genre - I mean that people often have a fondness for Coming of Age Stories or Road Trip Stories or Love Triangle Stories or Stories With Crazy Plot Twists or Sad Stories or Stories With Very Happy Endings. And sometimes these kinds of stories combine: a person who loves both Road Trip Stories and Sad Stories will be the happiest of campers upon finding a book or a movie or a tv show that incorporates both of these elements.

And these types of stories can be found in every type of genre. I'd argue that a "Road Trip Story" would cover, in a sense, everything from The Lord of the Rings to An Abundance of Katherines. But these types of stories often include the same elements, the same or similar themes, the way variations on the same piece of music contain the same chords. The Lord of the Rings and An Abundance of Katherines have absolutely nothing in common in terms of plot, and yet they both touch on bits and pieces of homesickness, of traveling into the unknown, and of self-discovery.

My favorite type of story is the Fun Yet Poignant Story. A story that is amusing, engaging, and yet meaningful; perhaps the ending is bittersweet, or the characters face extreme difficulty throughout the story and cannot quite overcome all the little bits and pieces put in front of them, or there is simply a Lesson of some kind that is very well crafted into the story (rather than being plopped down and presented as "here, look, a Moral. Learn things"). Stories like Love, Actually, Paper Towns, certain episodes of Doctor Who, The Scorpio Races, etc etc etc. The kind of story that makes you laugh, that is just plain FUN to read or to watch, but that also makes me think. This is my favorite kind of story to read, and it's the kind of story I try hardest to write as well. Entertaining but also truly meaningful.

What about you, fair readers? What is your favorite "type" of story?