Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lies, Lies and... All Right, Some of It's True

Jaydee, over at Jaydee Morgan, has passed the "Creative Writer" Blogger Award my direction. Below you'll find a list of eight facts about me. Only two of them are true. If you'd like to guess which of them are not false, feel free. I'll add another post in a couple of days to let you know if you were right.

1. In college I worked briefly as a catalog model.

2. My parents named me after a lobster boat they saw during their honeymoon in Maine.

3. I have a cardboard standee of Christina Aguilera in my closet.

4. I make all the cards I give to people for birthday/Christmas/Halloween including writing all the little "card poems".

5. If I could have any job in the world (besides this one) it would be designing toys for kids.

6. I'm terrible at repairing things around the house.

7. I once had a horror movie moment involving a group of people I'd just met, a lonely stretch of woods in the Deep South and dude having a mental breakdown.

8. My favorite colors are pastels.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Script Frenzy

April 1st marks the beginning of Script Frenzy. No joke.

If you don't know what Script Frenzy is, think the National Novel Writing Month only for screenplays/stageplays/graphic novel scripts. The goal is 100 pages in 30 days.

In a number of ways this is much simpler than NaNo. The number of words required is about half (or less). There is usually a lot more white space on a page of a screenplay than a page of a novel so the 3 1/3 page daily goal is not nearly as overwhelming as the almost 2k words required to complete NaNo.

However, there are plenty of challenges too. Less space means... less space. And one can't sneak in adverbial dialogue tags. The dialogue has to convey tone in what is said and how the scene is set up. Then there's setting the scene. In a single paragraph of description. Format is a challenge if you don't have a template but I've got one that should work out fine. In college I just used a basic Word template and it was more than good enough for what I was doing. This is one for OpenOffice and after checking it this morning it looks like it will suit my purposes quite nicely.

The big thing about screenplays in particular (which happens to be what I'm writing) is that structure is very important. And that means outlining and knowing what I'm going to do ahead of time.

Thank goodness I have a novel from November that is in desperate need of replotting. So I'm going to turn it into a script, then (later) rewrite the novel to fit the new improved story arc. I've never written a script based on my own work before - though I've done adaptations a couple of times previously - so it's going to be quite an experience.

I'm excited. (Even though it means putting an even bigger helping of I'm-crazy-to-think-I-can-handle-all-this on plate.) New territory is always a challenge and things that challenge can only help me get better.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Note about Excerpts and "Publishing" via Blogging

I like to post excerpts from my novels as I write the rough draft. It's fun and I feel encouraged to know that someone besides me may be reading and enjoying what I've written.

You might notice that I don't post more than two or three chapters from a given book or I post only a paragraph or two from a handful of chapters. There is a reason for this.

Most publishers now consider that any piece of fiction posted on a blog or "public" networking site has used up its first publication right. (As of this point, password protected forums do not count as "public". Facebook, MySpace, etc do.) This is especially true to publishers of short fiction. Which is why I do not post even excerpts of shorts online.

Now. Some people will say posting any excerpt is not a good idea. They may be right. I figure I've not put enough out there for anyone to steal. And, I only post early drafts, not polished versions. Given my writing method the bits posted here are unlikely to be exactly like the final (hopefully) published version.

I point this out because some of us writer-types don't research our markets before we start writing. *raises hand* That would be me. I had several short stories written and posted on Facebook before I realized I was killing my chances for getting them published. I won't be making that mistake again.

And, just in case it isn't obvious, publishers nearly always want first publication rights. (Editors for anthologies are a bit different. They are usually looking for already pubbed work. But, they tend to not pay as well.) It is difficult for them to try and sell anything that is already available for free. So, nothing pubbed on a blog is eligible for "first publication."

Will any of this stop me from posting snippets from my rough drafts? Probably not. At least not until I get an agent or publisher who tells me different.

Should you be wary of posting snippets on your blog? That depends on what your goals are. And just exactly how paranoid you are. ;)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Quick Note RE: Writers' Commandment #4

I did say one should not obsess on the negative feedback one gets. This should not be taken to mean that you should ignore everything that isn't glowing praise.

That would be stupid.

Here's the difficult task you are faced with. Take the objective parts of the criticism you receive and apply them as necessary. Let go of the rest.

Now, it can be hard to find the objective point in the criticism. Say, frex, that someone says your story is dull. They might just be a talentless hack who is determined to discourage you so they have a better chance at publication. Or they might be trying to say that there's a lack of conflict or the pacing is just too slow.

Writers tend to be a cranky bunch. Even when we're trying to be helpful sometimes we take the short curt way out. Trying to find that objective criticism in a hurtful comment is hard, but it can be done. And, if it seems valid, it is something to be applied as you make edits/revisions and so on.

Not every comment will yield that kind of fruit. Some people are just mean and they say stupid hurtful things to make themselves feel better. But some just had a long day or not enough sleep or are trying meet a deadline and don't have time to be polite and spell things out.

Learn to read between the lines. If all you see is shit, then let it go. If there's something of substance there, something constructive beneath the patronizing tone, then do something about it.

Writers' Commandment Number Four

I've been struggling to make progress on the various projects I piled onto my plate all at the same time. And progress has been made, just not as much as I had hoped. But I have managed to think through my next couple of "commandments".

Here is Number Four.

Thou shalt not obsess over the negative response thou receives in regards to thy writing.

This means exactly what it sounds like it means. Let the bad stuff roll off like water off a duck's back.

I know that a lot of us *cough* me *cough* are very attached to what we write. And that's the way it should be. If you're not attached to what you're writing then you probably shouldn't be trying to write it. But the practical truth of being a writer seeking publication is this: there are people out there who will not like what you have written. There are even people out there who will hate what you've written.

That sucks. But here's the thing, if you get all bruised and emotional over every negative remark to come your way, you'll just spend all your time angsting over why nobody likes your brilliant novel. Trust me. I've been there. In fact, I've been there far more recently than I would like to admit.

It is natural to want everyone to love what you write. But it's not going to happen.

Your time (my time) is best spent working on the things you can control in regard to whatever you're writing. Learning how to pace a story, develop characters, build worlds - those are all things you can control. Even the more mundane things like studying how to properly use a comma (don't ask me - by the way - the little buggers are the bane of my existence), vary sentence structure and knowing when to use affect/effect.

These things are what make up the craft of writing fiction. If you practice them, you'll get better at them. The better you get the fewer rejections you'll receive. The less negativity you (and I) will have coming back to us and the more love for our project (which we all know richly deserves it).

If someone is giving your story the brush-off, just let it go. (Yeah, I know. It sounds so easy when I write it.) Nothing good comes of hanging on to the crap people try and throw at you. Let it go, practice your skills and move on.