Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Neurotic Genius

It's official. School has swallowed my life whole. I have lost all hope of properly sitting down with MSWord to work until December. I don't think I'll remember the things that come up that I want to share here either. I'm trying though.

There were a number of highlights last week, many of which are escaping me as one day blends into the next, but the biggest one is definitely as of 4:43am on Monday, September 6th, 2010.


*louder drumroll*

I finished the first draft of U:RS!! *queue fireworks, pompoms, and victory dances*

There were tears, there were laughs, and now it's in edits. Those are coming along slowly. It's all very superficial things that are changing: rephrasing to make lines and paragraphs more concise, typos, etc. Like I said, I don't think I'll have time for serious edits until the holidays roll around. Thaaaaanks, school. I can forgive The Good Doctor rehearsals because that's my favorite kind of work. Theatre can have my life...unless a publishing company wants it, and I'm iffy about my abilities to write plays professionally. But I'm excited to delve into playwriting. My mythos may not be deep with psychologically complex and stimulating characters Aristotle and Steven Hawkins would admire, but it's mine, it's cute, and I'll be happy with just that when I see it read in January.

*insert transition line to plotting a story*

In my playwriting class Friday, we were doing a character examining exercise where we took on the personality of our characters, and we had a "speed dating" session. It was interesting, but I don't think I got across what I wanted about my character because I was so nervous to do this in front of the class. I was after more seeking for something bigger, and less neurotic. But the exercise was productive in another way. While talking to some of these "characters" I learned some things about mine that I had to spew out on the spot and they just worked. Next thing I know, I have more plot points that could make it a promising one act.

What I realized later on was that I had just publicly done what I swore I'd never tell anyone I do. The only difference was that this time, someone non fictional (although portraying someone fictional) was actually talking back!

...Are you backing away from the keyboard yet? Give me just a minute.

When I speak the situation out loud and go through the motions in my room (or whatever room I'm in and no one else is), as if I were running lines in a play or spouting off an improv scene, it forces me to answer the situation immediately, to keep the flow going. Quick! The love of your life is walking away! What do you say to bring him back? Quick! The hero is gathering strength from his hero's creed, "I'm the good guy. You're the bad guy. I'm gonna beat you with ultimate bonds of friendship!" How do you throw him off his game? And so I stare down the computer screen, or the wall beyond the imaginary love interest/goody two-shoes hero, and I say what the character in the story/play/whatever would say.

It works for calmer situations too. Just have the conversation, and there it is. Afterwards, I'll think it over and see if it's something the character would really say or if it falls into a plot hole. If it's good, I plop myself down and start recreating the conversation in MSWord, praying I remember the key parts to it. That's a big reason why my first drafts are very wordy. I ramble in my thoughts, so these "conversations" ramble a bit, which makes my scenes ramble. But having that instant answer gets me thinking. Sometimes I come up with stuff that just never occurred to me before I talked/acted it out.

Maybe my play character is too much like me, and I really am neurotic. Or maybe it's just my inner thespian having a fit from performance withdrawal. Well, as the saying goes, if it ain't broke...

I'd say back to the MSWord futon, but I'd be lying. Back to the books!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Plotting from the salon chair.

Looks like another good news - bad news moment. Although last time wasn't really bad news. Some might've called it bad news. My ankle is really feeling much better already.

Well, the good news is that I finally finished rereading Wizards at War by the ever awing Diane Duane! It was even more beautiful than I remembered (but my memory is poor, which works well in this case.) The humor was spot on, the plot was brilliant if complex. The characters, even the ones with royal-pain-in-the-butt attitude, had me falling in love with them. And once again, DD shows her knowledge of astronomy in ways I only wish I could. My series on Fictionpress has my protagonists, who are totally nothing like Nita and Kit, bouncing to every corner of the universe. I now understand the universe is, to say the least, pretty darn big and complicated. Way to go, sixteen year old me!

The bad news is that when I was totally inspired to go back to my WIP as I always am after reading a good book, it felt so very...inadequate. I know I shouldn't compare my amateur writing style to a great like that, but I can't help it. When you aspire to a certain standard of excellence and it's clear you're not there (yet), it gets to be a bit disheartening for us beginners. It makes me wonder, "How much time do published authors spend on their MS before it becomes the gold that agents want to represent?" and "What did the MS look like as a first draft? Am I on the right track or am I doing this all wrong?"

We just need to avoid the dangerous pitfall of, "Why should I bother?" I'll tell you why I bother. Writing is slowly bumping theatre out of the top place in my heart, which is a HUGE deal because I absolutely adore performing, assisting, and watching theatre. It's my major! But writing is fun while keeping me entirely in my comfort zone. As I've said, I'm not a socialite, so having fun writing by myself in my room with a snack sounds like the ideal day for me.

Back to the point, now I just want to plot until I get my confidence back. I hope to bolster myself to the point where I was before when I was flying through the chapters and loving every word of them. The prose felt colorful, but not purple, and the dialogue to narrative ratio was in perfect balance. And I used the word "sequester"! I was really proud of that. Haha!

After reading a few articles thanks to Twitter forcing them into my home page feed, I thought of some great ideas that will liven my characters, and give them a stronger persuasive argument to get you to read about them. Less doomsday plot dominating the story, and more down to earth problems screwed up by the doomsday plot as we slowly sink into the heart of the matter. That sounds more enticing. I read that readers are more interested in a close to home problem than a universe in danger because they can relate more. How often is our universe in danger by the forces of evil that we know of? Now how often do you have a crush on an unavailable someone? Thought so. I really should bookmark these articles and link to them. I won't plagiarize these tips.

Of course, this could all just be a ploy to avoid writing further while I feel like my writing could only ever be read and enjoyed on a poorly maintained fiction site. This blog entry could be one big procrastination device. Hmmm...

But I don't blame DD for her wonderful writing affecting my confidence. I'm a novice writer working to better myself. I'm writing these entries in hopes that other novice writers don't feel alone, and so more accomplished writers can look back and smile that I-was-there-once smile because they have already bettered themselves. Congratulations! I thank DD with all of my heart for giving me something to which I can aspire. Maybe one day my WIP will share a shelf with her books...do I sound obsessed enough? I can do more. ;)

Anyway, that's what was on my mind while I was sitting in the hair salon today getting fabulous. Back to the MSWord futon!