Sunday, May 30, 2010

What I Knew Then

I just accomplished the unthinkable: I wrote a complete short story in the space of a single week.

Yes, the idea had been bumping around in my head for about two years now, but I hadn't actually gone to the trouble of writing any of it down yet.  Whether it's any good, I can't judge.  But I'm a bit enamored of it for the fact that it has made me feel productive and purposeful, which I needed right now.

I got to thinking about it last night, wondering why now?  What was it about this story that made me decide that now was the time for it to come into being?  As I said, the germ of idea has been alive for a good long while.  If I had written it then, it would have been quite different.  The elements of fantasy would have been severely muted, if present at all.  The character who appears in this incarnation as an outlaw would have instead been a failed artist.  The protagonist would have been older; her husband/betrothed was going to be more of a brute.  The entire story would have taken place in a single conversation around the appetizer table at a cocktail party.

It might have been a decent story, but it would have been completely different from what I ended up writing.  I think I decided to write it now because I wanted to have an entry for our Leafkin anthology, but I'm still not sure that this has anything to do with the folklore theme.  In any case, that added a deadline.  Some of the elements of the story are directly influenced by events in my life that happened within the past month, which makes me wonder: how would my stories be different if I hadn't written them when I did?  How much does a time period, a frame of mind, a memory, a fear influence the telling of the same basic story?


Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Game Plan

So it looms!  The release of Leafkin 2!

We made $300 of our $1600 goal last we are off to an awesome start.   That means 1300 left!

We are separating into committees so that no one is over-committed.

Fund Raising/Event planning:  Arrange fund raisers and plan Leafkin event.

Projects: Arranges for the publication of the anthology (editing, formatting, choosing a publication method) and fleshes out Dynesia

PR/Sales: Promotes Fund Raisers, SWS, Leafkin, the release party, and sells tickets and promotional items (and Leafkin).

In order for all these groups to work together, communication is essential.  So choose the member best able to keep others in touch!  Let's work as team so we can all see our names in print.   This event made us all feel successful last year, and we can do it again.  Better.   But this time, we will need our groups to work closely. Is there any area which your unique abilities will be most suited?  Let us know!  The more people on each team, the less work for the individual...we just need to share responsibilities.  

Goals for PR/Sales:
Achieve more visibility for SWS FB page.
Achieve more visibility for SWS Blog.
Compose Press Releases for Print and Internet Media 
Construct Fliers for event.
Promote Fundraisers, Leafkin and Event

Goals For Fundraisers:
Come up with the funds (1300 or 350 a month) by Sept.

Goal: maintain $500 in account at all times (this guarantees we incur no charges with the bank)
Goal for Room: $1000
Goal for Leafkin printing: $300 to $600

Melissa will post Projects goals this weekend!  Stay tuned :D

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Characters in Pain

This is inspired by the most recent installment of David Farland's e-newsletter "A Daily Kick in the Pants."

So first, a minor recap:

Farland states that the best way to make readers sympathize with characters is to put them in pain and then force them to confront said pain.   He says that American readers don't like characters who suffer from self-inflicted pain.  Apparently, we like only characters that are hurt by others and find a way to deal.

I'm not going to argue with this.  Not really.   But I do think that characters suffering psychologically are more real than those who are merely react to those around them.  But the best way to convey psychological issues is to have characters undergo self-inflicted trials.  I love it when an author can take a character, shove said character through crap and have them suffer internally, only to reach the main goal despite their shortcomings. I don't want a character who can triumph and remain unscarred at the end.  I don't want to read a character who changes only for the better.

I love escapist literature. Still, I take the more realistic characters more seriously.  We can't overcome everything.  So give me a character, scarred and likely to never fully heal, but who will face all of his/her trials and come out on top. That will make me feel that I, lowly and struggling, can reach my goals as well.  These characters can provide therapy in escape.


Monday, May 17, 2010


My motivation to write is usually highest when I have the least time for it.  Shove tests, papers, and events in front of me, and I'll have no stronger urge than to plant myself in front of the computer and turn out chapters.  Every year I tell myself the same thing: Just wait until summer and then you can write for hours every evening.  Every year the same thing happens: The instant the final final has been finished, my stories are repulsive; the idea of writing unappealing.  What I do turn out is stilted and forced.

I bring this up because my semester ends tomorrow.  I have an ethics final in the afternoon and then I'm free for the next fourteen weeks.  And I have caught myself giving the doomed promises of how much writing I'll get done once I get through this.  After eighteen straight years of school.  I never learn.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Outlining & How my WIP is like my Closet

I know, I know, not everyone starts with an outline.   I try to start one.  Then, I write and the plot-line meanders down paths the characters have devised over my strongest protests.  No matter, I go back to the drawing board and try to hem in my ambling prose. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

But if it doesn't work on the first go-around, it can be good to construct an outline during the revisions.   This can help tell you where to cut.  When I'm critiquing i don't like to tell others where to cut out characters, scenes and the like.  As a writer, I wrestle over what to cut.  I'm not good at it.

I think my manuscript looks like my closet. In my closet I have a plum-purple H&M dress--very trendy and "this season," but I also have work-casual, "I bought it at Ross" red dress, bohemian skirts that belong in a 2002 catalogue, an ao dai, a kimono, a marroon velvet early-ninetees hand-me-down and my High School prom dresses --one 10 yrs old and the other 9 years old.   Obviously, there are pieces in that list that have hung in my closet with barely any use in ten years (the ao dai, which I would never dream of getting rid of, was a 16th birthday present) but are full of sentimentality.   My closet is not being well tended. My passion for dressing up has conquered two double-wide closets.

The next step is trimming down to function.  I can make an argument for some of the sentimental outfits, but they needn't remain in the main closet.  They can go into storage.   Then it's a question of "Precisely how many plays/opera/symphonies/ballets do I intend to attend on a yearly basis?" and "What is work-suited?"  then I can trim down until I have a functional, ordered, closet space.

Writing is the same.   Sometimes I'm afraid I keep passages and minor arcs out of sentimentality.   Like the black speghetti strap dress with the large red tropical flowers--it looked good when I graduated HS, but it really is massively outdated now.  It needs to go away.  Out of the closet.   High School wasn't really that important.   Why would I find it easier to get rid of the dress I wore to my college graduation?  Far more recent, far more suited to the times--but not to my wardrobe.  it's as if the parts of my writing that have held on the longest are parts I think I should keep.  by virtue of their pressence they become sentimental.

But that attitude makes the manuscript as unruly as my closet.  It's time to Outline.   What do I need?  What do I cut? 


Monday, May 10, 2010


My latest favorite way to avoid writing is a disgustingly addictive website called tvtropes ( The common belief is that there are no new stories. Well this site looks at just how much our stories have in common with one another by listing themes or elements that a particular story involves (and giving them cute names to make it more fun). Despites its name, tvtropes analyzes books, movies, comics, and even advertisements in addition to television programs. It’s incredibly comprehensive – they’ve got everything. You know when characters scream NOOOOO when something bad happens? Yeah, they’ve got that listed as “the big NO.” And when something that might be awesome, but just ends up being over the top and melodramatic happens, it’s called a “NARM.”
The point of all this is that if you haven’t heard of tvtropes, you should really go waste a few hours there.

And all of my writing could be classified as a NARM.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Liking Your Characters

For me, at least, it is important to like my characters. All of them. Even the awful, sadistic bastards. (alright, maybe especially the awful, sadistic bastards) No matter the character or the circumstance I have to find something, no matter how small or random or inconsequential to the actual story, that I like about a character. Otherwise I can't write them.

At the very least I'll do completely ridiculous or terrible things to them.

Luckily, this usually isn't an issue for me.

But sometimes it is. And man does it suck.

Because, on the one hand, it's really fun to  indulge that urge. On the other, it's rarely ever good for the story.

I have one character that I dislike immensely. His name is Tobe. Sometimes I amuse myself by thinking of all the different scenarios I'm going to drop him into and watch him try to squirm out of. It's a bit awful. But, in the universe that Tobe exists in, there isn't much that isn't awful so I don't feel too bad about going with it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Thought for the day:

There is something both masochistically and sadistically satisfying about writing a beautiful love scene…

…and knowing that you’re going to rip out your protagonist’s heart in a few chapters.


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