Showing posts from June, 2009

Mary Sue

Authors, in writing characters that float around in their heads, also fear the Mary Sue.

According to Mary Sue

But how do you know it's a Mary Sue? Some of them are obvious (coughmyfanfictioncough). I found this last night: the Mary Sue Litmus test!

Mary Sue Litmus Test

I read fanfiction--less so these days--but I get caught up in the stories, even though they're not exactly well-written or well-plotted or anything. And obviously, any "real people" fic where the hot actor/musician/really sexy dude falls in love with the overly intelligent/beautiful but doesn't know it/ordinary woman and then they go forth and have lots of sex....It's the closest I'm going to get to any of those guys.

So I ran a few of my characters through. Madeline earned a 24: a Borderline-Sue. (But let's fact it, it's a romance novel. It's helpful if she's attractive, intelligent and likable.)

Let's do her love interest, Henry. (half-Indian jaded sp…


In celebration of actually having a turning point, I give thee portion of chapter eighteen (as it is now):

Mady opened her eyes to pitch darkness. She blinked, several times, trying to clear her eyesight. For a moment, she wondered if she’d gone blind.

No, no, she wasn’t blind. She moved her right hand, where the knuckles were bloodied, in front of her face. She couldn’t quite see it, but Mady could make out the shape. With her left hand, she reached out into the darkness and felt the brush of rough cloth underneath her. Wool, perhaps. The cloth soon turned into something hard, yet yielding. Moving subtly.

A body.

She listened carefully for a moment. Yes, that was breathing she heard. Only a foot or so away. Her eyes adjusted to the dark and Mady made out a thin, weak light coming from above this space. Was it was a cellar? A room? A cell?

Then Mady became aware of movement. It was rhythmic: a sway one way, then a sway back. A rise and then a slight dip.

She made herself lie still…


I need some advice!

I have approx. 51,000 words written--143 pages according to Word--and about sixteen chapters in all. Now, a book in this genre should be about 80,000 words. But many of the seem to be over 400 pages, or at least above 300.

On the one hand, the plot feels like it's moving too quickly. It shouldn't be up to 16 chapters in under 150 pages. That's not something I'm worrying about right now, since it's not finished.On the other, let's face it, 143 pages is pretty damn long.

It's more about the overall pacing of it: how quickly or slowly events unfold. When things are revealed. Pacing isn't really something we got in writing workshops because it's not hard to pace a 7-page short story, but it goes along with description and plot (which i'm coming to find is a lot more involved than what I thought it meant). So I suppose my problem is that there either isn't enough plot or description as of yet.

How would you guys slow or pick …

In the Name of Research

Just a quick note: I linked what is available of the two stories to the right----> They'll lead you to the table of contents for the relevant posts for each. I've decided not to post the historical/romance/thing that I'm doing as I look for a job on the blog, as it's too long and not finished. However, if you're truly bored/need new reading material/feel like criticizing something...

So, today, I went to Governor's Island with my cousin. There was an exhibition going on and he was supposed to set up his project (that's a whole different story right there). Now, having never been to Governor's Island, I went along, expecting to assist. Didn't quite expect research/inspiration to strike me right then.

I have been walking around for the past week, mumbling "research." Watching The Count of Monte Cristo recently gave me an idea of what a port town may have looked like in the Napoleonic Era. Re-watching a few clips from Vanity Fair reminded me…

Oh, the places you'll go....

Writing a book is a lovely exercise in realizing how much you don't know. Here's why:

I decided that most plausible way to have two characters be mixed (of different combinations) yet still related was to have their father be a sailor. Friendly ports and all.

Fine. The Caribbean was a huge trading stop for the British because they had colonies there--Barbados included--which had slave-produced products like tobacco and sugar cane and molasses. Macau, in China, was a Portuguese colony and one of the few places that the Chinese allowed foreigners to dwell. Which is an improvement over the Japanese, who only let the Dutch settle on an island in Nagasaki Bay and did not allow them to set their dirty white man feet on Japanese soil.

But then there are questions like, "How long does it take to get to Macau from Barbados? By ship? By sailing ship? By 1790s-type sailing ship?" Which leads to research on nautical mileage and the ships carrying convicts to Australia from Eng…