Saturday, September 29, 2012

Why am I so stupid ?

I've come to a total STOP with the writing. I haven't even been doing free writing, which is crazy. How hard can it be to sit there and happily scribble away for 20 minutes? You know, "Free Writing' where the goal is to just fill a page with any dreck you want. 

I start reading novels but don't finish them. Maybe I miss the tightness and vividness I've found in the short form? Or am I just getting more critical, more demanding when it comes to novels? 

I've only been doing critiques. Because crits draw on logic and analysis. And my problem is that I can't tap into the weird and fantastic. Or rather I can't find the creative links between all the stuff in my head - scenes, ideas, characters, themes, images. 

This morning I was reading some-one's critique about a character in a story. And I suddenly got an insight into why I've stayed blocked on the 'Enlightenment' story. The MC is in denial that her boyfriend doesn't love her. And BF is in denial that his obsession with meditation is really a way to avoid emotional conflict. I couldn't find the words these 2 people will say to each other. I only had one scene - in an ashram. I've had all these fragments and endless 'maybes' I keep throwing away.

But this morning I realised that my MC is boring. She just watches him, desperately wishing the relationship will go back to the way it was. She's just waiting for the joy and romance to come back. I couldn't work out what she's DOING while she's waiting. What are the interactions and dialogue that happens between these 2 characters? My MC felt boring, so I felt bored and stuck in the writing.

But what if the MC isn't a sad introvert who pines away in silence? What if she's extroverted and even a bit bossy. How about flipping it around so that she's the more dominant personality? Now that I see the BF as the wishy washy and ineffective character it feels right. Well yeah . . . if the focus is on the woman, maybe it should have been obvious that she needs to be the one DOING stuff. Whereas a BF who wants to meditate all day works ok as the passive one who just waits for stuff to happen. DUH. 

My stupidity, my inability to get out of a thinking rut, still amazes me.

All this time I was thinking that the story would finish with the woman having an insight and realising that he doesn't love her. 

Now I'm thinking the story could end with them staying stuck. She doesn't understand why he can't see that the guru is clearly a fake. But she can't see their relationship is fake - while it's obvious to the reader.

This feels a lot more like a humorous piece now. The new problem is how to make the woman a sympathetic character. I don't want a shrill control freak. 

So - the goal for today - write out what these 2 characters each need and how their conflicted needs could be shown in the way they interact.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The importance of moving

I wanted to write out the rescue scene last night for my alien 'Dragon' story. But I still can't see how the alien creature is going to be rescued. 

I had this idea that one of the creatures is snared in some growth. A man and his daughter frees the animal by cutting off one of its horns. It turns out the horn is of great value and the man is able to avoid starvation by selling it.

But the 'horn' aspect won't work. It's too obvious. The creature (scary and dangerous) has something very valuable, but it mustn't be obvious to the reader how the father and daughter are going to benefit from their kind act. 

Then there's the usual problem of Back Story. How to include it in a natural and interesting way. So many writing problems that kept rising up the more I tried to piece things together in my head. 

This morning I enjoyed reading a story written in first person POV on Strangehorizons. I realised that the back story was all there in the MC's thoughts. It hadn't occurred to me until now, that when someone is thinking about their past and having an emotional response, they're automatically giving the reader back story and dry facts. Back story that's vivid and interesting because it's being filtered through a character's emotions.

It's amazing how long it takes me to see the obvious when it comes to writing. I'm sure I'm not this slow in other areas.  

Then I went for a walk. Did some house cleaning. Not thinking at all about writing. Out of the blue, while I was scrubbing the bathroom sink I decided to write the story in first person POV. From the daughter's POV. I'd been thinking the story would be in 3rd person and the child would ask her father questions. The back story would be there is his answers.

But the father rescues the scary creature because his daughter begs him to. Maybe the story's MC is the daughter, not the father. OK. So the back story could be there in the daughter's thoughts and emotions.

And another solution. The alien master race that once used the flying creatures - the reason why they kept herds of these creatures? They ate them. Simple. But this works for me. Maybe they cut off their wings so the creatures couldn't escape. And now the creatures are growing and adapting - and so are the humans.

So I went from feeling totally stuck to feeling that maybe I can still do this. I've seen writing advice before about going for a walk when you're stuck. But I need to remember - the brain REALLY DOES tap into stuff better when you move around. 

The human body, including the brain, wasn't designed to stay still for more than 20 minutes. 

Types of past tense - post on Anne R. Allen's Blog:

Clear simple explanation - though I'll NEVER understand all the rules of grammar back to front.

Anne R. Allen's Blog: Should You Eliminate "Was" From Your Writing? Why Sometimes "the Rules" are Wrong.:

'via Blog this'