M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Deciding What to Write or Not-to-Write

The Read ...
Prologues seem to be out of favor.  The last two books I started off with two different characters than the main ones, both calling themselves chapter 1.  One didn't work.  The other did:  Aaron Elkin's Skull Duggery.  Elkins mysteries are more intellectual than gut-wrenching, but his characters pull you into the story for an enjoyable read while you puzzle out the connections to the clues he gives in abundance. 

He also makes your lips twitch frequently.  If you know the background, you often catch a wry little observation buried deep in the action.  For example, the setting for the story is Mexico more or less before the drug cartel mess, but Elkins several allusions to police corruption during the course of the story.

The opening of chapter 8 presents a good case example of a master writer setting the scene and transitioning into the action.  The first three paragraphs take up almost a full page describing the deteriorating elegance of a regional government building.  Then, Elkins yanks you back into the story with his transition:

"All this Gideon (mc) had to take in on the fly as he and the heavily perspiring Sandoval walked rapidly --  trotted, in the smaller Sandoval's case -- over the brick-paved front plaza and up the two flights of wide, curving stone steps to the entrance."

Web and Other Stuff ...
Since promoting your book(s) is a necessity after you're published, I thought I'd mention Maria Zannini's guest blog.  You can link to it from Tales of Otherworlds.  My position is every writer needs quickie promo tips whether they are published or not.

Even more important:  Being aware of how your body is responding to the hours you spend in front of the computer screens, especially if you're participating in NaNoMo or whatever they call it.  [Writer's Living Hell?].  Whatever, Sevvy of Fictionmagoria had a blog dedicated to Writerly Injuries.

With all this e-platform building running around the web, it behooves writers to know as much as possible about e-publishing.  Eric at Pimp My Novel   has a nice blog summarizing the history of e-books and how to make the trend work for you.

Agent Suzie Townsend recently blogged on the dastardly synopsis.  Most people obsess out on queries and pitches ... but synopsizes have their place in the marketing effort too.  Actually, she boils the process down to worthwhile fine point. 

My take?  Doing a synopsis might even  help you stay focus when you revise.

There was another blog about first lines.  Started with the first line of the book ... and then continued with the first lines of each chapter.  The hooks were sharp and deep enough to draw you into the story even if it was way past your bedtime ... but when I went back, I couldn't find the blog.  Wouldn't mention it, but I've been going back to the beginnings of my chapters and cringing.

Progress ...
Okay.  Writer's have ideas.  Only problem.  You have to decide what to do with those ideas.  For the last several years, I've had a nice easy pattern.  The first six months of the year, I wrote/drafted/created.  The last six months I revised.  Seemed to work.  I had four manuscripts with actual endings, critiqued, and ready for beta reading.  It was a pattern that worked well with the Christmas baking ... and my inclination to goof off.  This presents a couple problems.

One problem is what to do with those four manuscripts.  One is adult fantasy (the Half-Elven) and the others are tween/middle grade.  Worse the drafting season will soon be upon me, and I have three, maybe four ideas nagging me to be written ... at my slow pace of about 500 words a day.

Worser still ... I'm now writing new stuff [as I build my pretend platform].  Short stories, no less, of which I'm absolutely incompetent at.  I can never seem to narrow down to the point of action.  There are all those events that happened before ... and the events that happened afterwards.

My decision?  I must change the way I set my priorities.  Bummer.  Of course, I could always go back and write to amuse myself ... but that feels defeatist.  So, here I sit stewing.

Trivia ...
I think we are the only people in the block who rake up our leaves ... rather than letting them blow to Nebraska.  We use them to blanket the carrots, daikon, and turnips over the winter.  By spring, they're almost compost and get dug into the ground to grow other vegies.


Maria Zannini said...

Thanks for the shout out, Kay. :) I'll have a couple more posts on promo before the blog tour is over.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Your post reflects the way I feel. Here it is Nov. 3 and I still haven't settled on which novel I want to write next. Too many ideas can be just as bad as having no ideas.

Patti Struble said...

Wow, Kay, sounds like you're deep in the miasma. Can't wait to read some more stuffs.

Ryan said...

I've recently just started sharing my fiction with the world at large and I'm definitely empathetic of the fact that you can be burdened with too many ideas and even worse is the fact that I jump from project to project, sometimes taking months to complete one. The only thing I feel terrible about is my destroyed copy of the Thinker's Thesaurus, which I've highlighted to death.

Unknown said...

One thing about ideas. If I have a false start, I create a new folder, dump the stuttering idea, and go on to a new one. It seems to work. I have four manuscripts to revise.

The Sisterhood said...

I just wanted to welcome you to the Divine Secrets of the Writing Sisterhood! We're glad you've joined! Plus, I think you have some great tips on writing fiction and when it comes to composting your garden. ☺

♥ Mary Mary