A continuing saga of one writer's quest to reach an audience.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Torturing the hero
Well, not really.
But here I am plotting F3 again. I need to lock the hero away for a few days.
Should I put him in jail? In the castle dungeon? No, too cliché. I don't want to starve or hurt him, for when he's set free (by the heroine, naturally) he has important work to do.
No, he doesn't save the world, or even the country. It's a mission of a highly personal nature and a battle he will win. But the war isn't over yet and winning it calls for much strategic planning and a fair bit of sucking up.
I think I have the perfect spot for a temporary prison. Much more comfortable than a cold stone cell. He'll fuss and fume at first, but he has a nice surprise coming.
It'll be months, maybe years before I get to that part of the book. But I, and my hero, will be ready!
I'm reading a romance by a NY Times best-selling author I haven't read before. I found the beginning a bit slow, not terribly involving. Then I arrived at the first Big Love Scene. Things were proceeding along until I came across the word laved -- as in one of them laved the other with mouth or tongue.
Now, to me the word lave means to wash and I just can't relate this to romantic, exciting, sexy scenes. (Unless, of course, they're bathing together!)
I paused long enough to say, "Eeewwww." Need I say that the word laved yanked me out of the fictive dream? Especially when the laving takes place in the folds around the neck area, you know, those folds where sweat and grime collect...
I started skimming and realized I was doing so because there were pages and pages of too much unnecessary detail (tab A into slot B), too much purple prose, too much thinking going on by both characters when such deep pondering would not be possible given what they're doing. If ever the adage "less is more" should be applied, this is a textbook case.
I checked Amazon and found ratings evenly divided -- those who loved (diehard fans, friends and family?) and those who thoroughly disliked.
I'll reserve final judgment until I finish. But unless the plot picks up, things look bleak.
Maybe I'm getting too picky? The last romance I read affected me in a similar way, though not because of a single word. It was one of a plethora of novels published these days with the words Highland something-or-other on the cover. The hero and all his brothers, cousins, and friends spoke in a strong Scottish accent and the dialogue was so overdone it got tedious. I love that accent, but when it's spelled out so much the words often need to be re-read, slowing, stopping! the story cold. Here again less would have been more, though this book lacked other things.
One thing with both these novels -- I was bored. With the first, I want something to happen, something more than romantic scenes or characters thinking about romantic scenes. With the second, I wanted more development, of characters, of setting, and while there was what some might call an exciting plot, it seemed terribly familiar, as if I've read that tale a hundred times.
Well, who am I to say? These books were published. Mine aren't. Yet.
Cat -- off to look for overdone scenes, too much thinking when characters should be doing, and to remind myself that if I start skimming my work, so will others.
A scene came to me almost complete and I had to get it down before it got lost in The Wasteland.
The problem: the scene takes place late in F3, before the semi-climax, the Big Climax, and the post-climax.
Hmm. Too many climaxes? My characters would say, no, there are never too many... Shall I slap them now? Or douse them with cold water?
Okay, back to the writing. I got out my synopsis of F3 to add the new scene and adjust some others that have changed as a result. I came to a spot termed as ***missing plot*** because something needs to fit into that part of the story.
I don't want to spend a lot of time on the third book when I'm still working on the second. Maybe tomorrow that missing plot will find me. Or maybe next year.
Odd, how it works.
Only amateurs say that they write for their own amusement. Writing is not an amusing occupation. It is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill and childbirth. Writing may be interesting, absorbing, exhilarating, racking, relieving. But amusing? Never! -- Edna Ferber
Forgetting the synopsis for a moment (it's no fun, anyway) my inspiration came to me thus:
Thinking about my novel, I said to myself: What if .... Well, then .... and .... would happen, and .... would follow. It would make for a much better outcome, justify the pain I intend to inflict on the characters. The facts would not come out until FORTUNE 3, but I have to sow the seeds in F2, do some subtle foreshadowing, not so much as to give it away, but enough to keep it from seeming contrived.
"You see things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream things as they never were and ask, 'Why not?'" -- George Bernard Shaw
Am I a writer because I'm a loner, or am I a loner because I'm a writer?
Do I communicate better via the written word than the spoken ones?
Yeah, surely, probably, maybe....
Though some might say I talk too much at times.
I know I've always marched to the beat of the different... (you know that old cliché) ever since I was a kid.
Okay, enough introspection. It's so boring.
My husband received a gift of the Historic Ales of Scotland, four bottles based on old Scottish recipes: originally made with seaweed, heather, pine and spruce, etc. I'm not a beer person (give me Merlot or Shiraz) but these ales were delicious. I particularly liked Ebulum - elderberry black ale, from a recipe by Druids. Lovely flavor. Got to get more of that.
Well, back to the synopsis. I've seen some omissions that should be there and will rework the thing yet again.
Sometimes I feel like the obnoxious child: "Are we there yet?"
I've been spending time studying the blog of literary agent Miss Snarkwhere she reads synopses writers have submitted and praises or tears them apart. I've determined she likes to get a sense of what the story is about, and what the characters are about -- what makes them tick (my words).
I looked at my synopses for Fortune: 1 very short, 4 paragraphs long, 1 short, 1 page long, 1 longer, 2 pages. There's a condensed bit of story but not much about the characters. I need a longer syn -- maybe 5 pages? I'll get working on that.
Well, two days later and I'm still working on my longer syn. (New Year's Eve kind of interfered.) Oh --Happy 2006! Now it's time to buckle down. I swear, writing the book, all 145,000+ words of it, was easier than writing a synopsis.
Because I need to summarize the story, it needs to be mostly "tell" -- I'm thinking back to when I was a kid and told my stories to friends. Not much opportunity there to "show" what happens, which is a major goal for writers. I used to say "And then....", "And after that ...", "And then..." And TOLD the story as it unfolded.
Do I need to find my inner child (or some such psycho babble) to relearn how to tell the story? Nah. The ability to tell should still be there. I will write the synopsis as if I'm telling this great, wonderful story to my best friend.
Whether it will come across as a great, wonderful story, I won't know until people read it. When it'sready I'll get some astute minds at Compuserve's Books and Writers Community to have a look.
I'll get this sucker done yet!
"What is written without effort is read without pleasure" ---Samuel Johnson