Saturday, September 28, 2013

The NaNo Idea: Setting



NaNoWriMo begins in a month and change. For the first time in quite a while, I have a shiny new idea developing.

I want the tone and impeccable characterization of a fanfiction I really love called Both Alike in Dignity (a Downton Abbey modern alternate universe. Don't even need to know anything Downton to read it) mixed with a dash of the Pistol Annies' "Hush Hush."

I'm not sure how my mind spins story ideas out of seemingly unrelated things.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Writer's Guide To Character Traits

                                                              

When I was starting work on Last Request, I knew that the story was going to have to be modern. The characters were genuinely messed up and since I had a habit of inserting myself and my friends into any modern-set story I wrote, I wanted to really get into my characters' psychology because they were shaping up to be original characters, very different from anyone I knew.

So I bought the Writer's Guide to Character Traits by Linda Edelstein. I took it out again recently in my quest to fill in the blanks of the male romantic lead in my upcoming NaNo project. I'm outlining it now. We'll see if I can avoid total first draft mess in November. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Backstory

Ah, backstory. That stuff that happens before your story starts. The reason why your character is so messed up and why he or she is in these circumstances in the first place.

I like backstory--that is, I seem to spin backstory more easily than I do plot, which is a problem. Your character's childhood, family, reason why he/she is afraid of spiders, where they grew up, what kind of education they received...

Unless any of this is the main plot of your story, then it is backstory--and should be revealed sparingly.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Downton Abbey season 4

Photo credit: Nick Briggs/Carnival Films


Downton Abbey season 4 starts back in the UK this coming Sunday. It won't air in the U.S. until January.

The series 4 press pack was recently released. Very veiled spoilers. You can see most of the characters who will be featured in the season.

Season 4 starts six months after last year's Christmas special. The Downton estate is once again in a state of flux after Matthew's death. Not only is Mary, his widow, still deep in mourning, but the heir to the estate is a six-month-old baby boy.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Post-Draft Emptiness

I've blogged a lot about what happens pre-writing, during writing, revising, editing...but never what quite happens after one is, for the time being, finished.

It's a curious feeling.

I finished revising my third draft in late July. Since then, I've been editing, which means that I've been reading it over and not extensively rewriting. I've mostly been clarifying where I thought the thing needed clarifying and nit picking over specific words and sentences. I cut out a character and overall, cut a thousand words. I took my time.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Semester of Infidelity

It's the first day of school for New York City public school students, which got me thinking about one of the oddest English class semesters I ever had.

I think it was English 6, the second semester of 11th grade, and we were finished with our English Regents. But we still had to take English class.

That semester was...different than the others. I haven't thought about it in years, but if there was a theme to that semester, it was infidelity.

Here's what we read:
The Crucible
Ethan Frome
The Great Gatsby
"The Storm" by Kate Chopin

Have you guys read these? Did you read them in school?

My favorite read of the semester is a toss-up between Gatsby, which sent me on a Fitzgerald binge not long after, and The Crucible, which I used to read aloud to myself (I performed that seeing spirits in the courtroom scene in my dining room.)

But, my God, Ethan Frome. I don't remember the book too well, but it definitely wins the Most Depressing Novel I've Ever Read Award.

I remember: snow. A sled. Somebody running the sled into a tree. Just grimness all around.

And "The Storm." As one friend put it during a class discussion: "This is like softcore porn!"

What kind of semester themes did you have in high school?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Goodbye, Lady Rossmore

Quick Note: For those of you reading this on an iPhone, iPad or iPod, Blogger's comment box and those devices do not go together. My phone freezes when I try to reply to comments and then won't post. Why? I don't know.

For whatever reason, somewhere during the first draft of my WIP, I wrote a few chapters with this one character, Lady Rossmore, in it. I think I created her to a) fill up the middle of my book and b) to contrast her with Mrs. Braddock, a saucy widow who lives in my village and is all up in my MC's business.

There's some chitchat about Lady Rossmore, who is a countess, the widow of a dead Irish earl who died during the 1798 rebellion possibly looking for a husband, and look, we have this widower in the parish, after all. Problem was, Lady Rossmore has 5 kids and as much as I loved writing the few scenes she was in (three, all told), I could never get her to come across as less-than-haughty and cold.

Monday, September 2, 2013

When Does Diversity Become Token?

I was reading some research the other day and came across this article written in 2011: Why Wuthering Heights Gives Me Hope. I haven't seen the last adaptation of Wuthering Heights and I haven't read the novel in more than ten years, but the article's point intrigued me because it's related to my novel--

Why aren't there black people in British costume dramas?

The article, by the way, was written by a black British actor. Apparently, in the version of Wuthering Heights that he mentions, Heathcliff was played by a black actor named James Howson. This isn't a case of color blind casting, since Heathcliff is described as "dark" and "a little Lascar" and "gypsy-like" within the novel, so the casting could very well be a legitimate reading. Didn't the father pick him up in Liverpool or something?