Sunday, October 30, 2011

How to generate story Ideas

Re-visited a fantastic post by Kelly Link - I was reminded again about the great advice to try and launch into a piece of writing by getting down DIALOGUE FIRST. 

Also - I need to take another look at my theme list.

How to Generate Story Ideas

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cliche ? - try going deeper

I've been working my way through a collection of American short stories. Today I finished The State of Grace by Harold Brodkey. 

There's a moment where a lonely 7 year old boy is compared to an emerging butterfly. This image could have been a tired cliche. But Brodkey transcends the cliche by going deep into the boy's experience.

. . . the cold winds of insecurity hadn't shredded the dreamy chrysalis of his childhood. He was still immersed in the dim, wet wonder of the folded wings that might open if someone loved him; he still hoped, probably, in a butterfly's unthinking way, for spring and warmth. How the wings ache, folded so, waiting; that is, they ache until they atrophy.

The frustration about cliches is that they work. They work so well, everyone uses them until they become boring. Next time I'm worried about getting into the area of cliche, I hope I'll remember to try going DEEPER into the moment. Maybe I won't need to throw something away just because it's too familiar.

Power of plagiarism as a prompt

Coupla days ago I read that Raymond Chandler taught himself about novel structure by copying out existing novels. He made changes as he went along to better understand how the author had structured the novel.

I remember checking out C. J. Cherryh's site and seeing one of her suggestions for getting started. You take an existing piece of fiction and keep making changes. And keep going and keep going. You can end up with a whole new story by piggy backing on top of an original work this way. 

Since I haven't made any start to my story about a hit woman, thought I'd start copying Ms Smilla's Feeling for Snow - and see if I can use it as a prompt into something else. I also want to do some deconstruction and really understand why this is my favourite novel. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Amazing how much easier it is to write in a private journal !

Yesterday wrote up just over 1,000 words in the diary. I'm so relaxed in that blog. The words flow out in smaller sentences. And I use simpler words. I do less tweaking and revision before I finish a post.  

But when I try to squeeze out fiction I still get bogged down in long sentences and 'big' words.

So ... the experiment for today. I'm going to pretend to be one of the 2 main characters from the nail house story. Pretend that character is making quick diary entries - See if I can uncover the conflicts, and work out how they need to be resolved.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Starting my first shitty novel draft

I still want to write about a female assassin. Of course the people (aliens?) she kills, will be bad guys. And I'm leaning to the idea of her protecting a child. The child of a friend maybe, or a child who just comes into her life.

I've been thinking about stories and films with tough, anti-social MCs. About the problem of keeping a reader interested in some-one who's angry a lot of the time. Or a loner. Especially when that some-one is a woman over 30.

I've been thinking especially about Smilla's Feeling for Snow. Smilla is prickly, angry, bitter, tough as nails. But there's also this hurt, soft side, a side she reveals to her neighbour's child. Her anger comes from being dislocated and stuck between cultures, from feeling orphaned by a distant father who tore Smilla away from her mother's family. The first chapter ends with her resolve not to desert Isaiah after he dies a suspicious death. Smilla is likeable because she's out to avenge an innocent child. And because she's also a victim herself.

It's the same with the Sven Tveskoeg character in the David Gunn books. And the 'preventer' character played by Liam Neeson in the film Taken. Both ruthless bastards, but they're on the side of the weak and vulnerable. You cringe as you watch Liam Neeson torture the bad guy, but he's a father; you understand he needs to do anything that'll get his daughter back.

1st step - ask hundreds of questions, learn everything I can about my female assassin.

Besides Using Google, How Can I Do Research for My Book? | WordServe Water Cooler

Besides Using Google, How Can I Do Research for My Book? | WordServe Water Cooler:

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