Showing posts from March, 2011

Writing, Writing, Writing

Is what I am doing, every spare minute of the day as well as the un-spare ones where I just shuffle my priorities aside to make a way through them. Making the ones that are semi-urgent wait. Listing everything that needs doing but doing them only 'just in time'.

I'm writing, in long hand and every other pen on paper style I've ever used. I'm writing a long short story. I'm writing it in the first person. I'm being in the skin of the main character, feeling his frights, feeling his feelings, his hunger, his thirst. He's been abandoned in the woods. I'm forgetting to eat and describing how I feel when I realise. I've got a dry mouth right now, I need to take in some more water.

I doubt I'll be in bed in time for my needful eight hours because my character is having to sleep in the forest tonight and I need to go out and feel it with him. What the moon looks like at midnight. Where it stands above the planet. What insects his planet has invente…

An Intermission with one of the Masters

I'd finished the Ahni SkinGifter part of the Lodestar Saga but when I turned to the second part I wasn't happy with it. I figured I need to start much closer to the beginning of the action. Plus I don't like the flavour of who Srese, the main character in this section, has become. I've lost something of her that I had before. I've tried to make her older -- as in maybe 17 or 18 -- and maybe that was a mistake.

In short, I've put her aside and I'm having an intermission. I've started on a much shorter, completely different project, and I am re reading the Ender's Game series by one of 'my' masters.  I believe every writer has a bunch of them. These will be the authors who they are most influenced by, or whose stories they most admire, or from whose writings they've learned.

Of course each of us learns from every other writer we read. Even excessively bad writers have something to teach -- how not to do something is as useful as learning t…

More on Paragraphing

I've decided that the possibilities of formatting for a 3rd person's POV are points along a spectrum. It's the only way I'm going to be able to distinguish between different practices.

Things aren't just black and white in a spectrum. Shades of grey, and colours are important. It's the reason I find them very useful.

In the POV situation, one end of the spectrum is 3rd person omniscient. The other is the most severely limited 3rd person. This is where a character's own experiences, and all actions by the supporting cast, as observed by the primary character are formatted as all his/her own. Where the supporting characters get only to say things. All else is part of the primary character's experience.

A little like in Cormac McCarthy's The Road (2006). Which is a gripping read. But minimalist in punctuation. Capital letters, full stops, the odd question mark. Even an apostrophe -- on page 107, in 'But we're not dying.'

Often the boy'…

Paragraphing as a Function of 3rd person POV

A discussion (telephone conversation ... no net links) on paragraphing led me to look at my own practice. It's interesting how and where you/I/your average writer gets her self-doubts from, isn't it? The fact that paragraphing was discussed, as in how to format them in Word for Mac, sent me to look at my own practise with a fresh eye. Despite the fact that I don't use Word 2008 for Mac.

Neither did I start with worrying about the how-of-the-formatting. I'll just sit down one day with an expert and get it shown to me; or I'll email someone and get a blow-by-blow account of how to do the modern style sheet. I used to know and love style sheets a few versions of Word ago. But they keep changing and I've been left behind.

My worry was that paragraphing should be a function of Point-of-View (POV). In the Lodestar series I'm  telling the story of an Artificial Intelligence, who doesn't have its own mobility or agency, through the third person limited POVs of …

Reading Chaucer in a Time of Disasters

The real world is doing it again, topping any horror you can read/hear/see with its own, earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear explosions. With wall to wall descriptions of unfolding events, holding back on none of the griefs and personal disasters.

In fact, it seems to me the media is a vast mob-like mentality that individual practitioners claim they can do nothing about and saying they must, to keep their jobs, push their mics and their camera eyes where people are most in need of private moments to work through their emotions.

One interesting effect of this set of misfortunes happening in a country with its own (very different to Australian) strong language and strong culture and its own media organisation, the intrusive quality of the rest of the West's media pack seems to be blunted.

When everything has to be translated, when media getters look vastly different and out of place and talk an incomprehensible language and the victims don't particularly need to be noticed by the …

Plot and its Lack

I'm interested at the moment in the question of plot and what it is, because my book club is reading Regeneration (1991) by Pat Barker this month. This is a novel about shell shock as caused by conditions in the trenches in the First World War. The main story is about Rivers, the fictional psychiatrist engaged in curing the soldiers sent to his hospital. The novel describes his methods in great detail.

To me, 'plot' is a well constructed framework of causes and effects. Reasons why things happen. What things happen as a result. A plot takes you by the hand and leads you through the novel. A plot organises the excitements in the most potent pattern. No plot made me feel bereft, like something was missing. Like the account would continue and continue. It made me feel distant from the characters, not caring all that much about them. I'm astounded that a novel without a plot would make it past the publishing gate.

Novels like Regeneration always make me doubt that I know w…

Real Life, What is it?

What is real life anyway?

An account of what I do in a typical day? Get up, have breakfast and write in the meantime ... pen on paper, get outside and weed around the vege garden, sit in front of the computer and write, wash the dishes, eat my lunch -- and read, write, go for a walk, check my emails and so the day marches to its close.

A description of a typical writing day? Get up, thinking about what I will attempt to achieve that day... which probably makes me an A-type personality, achievement oriented. At breakfast time, while slurping down three mugs of tea and eating my muesli, I write down/draw/plan/chart the ideas a good night's sleep, if I had one, generated. Pen on paper, whatever colour comes to hand. In a scrapbook journal, number 43 or thereabouts.

Wander outside. Weed halfway around the vege garden, exposing again the track for the two nearside mower wheels, throwing back onto the woodchip path all the bits of tree bark loosened by me ripping out the weeds. Thinking…

Editing Real Life

Editing is what I have been doing this week, attempting to 'do' a chapter a day of Ahni SkinGifter, part one of the Lodestar Series. Managing it until I hit chapter 9 which previously was from Kes's point of view.

Due to the new structure I've decided on, I need to write this chap from Ahni's point of view. I slowed down. Can't hurry over a scene where the lovers meet and proceed their relationship, all in the dark and with three, counting the implant, extremely antagonistic elders in the picture as well.

Then real life interceded. I attempted one of my reads-in-one-sitting. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. A great deal of turgid prose that I skim-skipped. Dialogue is so rare and special, it's italicised. The primary plot, the part that's sign posted as the 'thriller' often is almost subsumed by the way the 'perfect society' (Stalin's Soviet Union) re interprets its people's experiences. (This second part generating the turgidity.)