Friday, June 21, 2013

What Don't You Want In Your Story?

I’ve been working on my MG fantasy this last month, and I’d like to say that everything is moving along swiftly—but then I’d be lying.. I’ve rewritten the first chapter several times already, and it's looking as though it's about to get another full rewrite. Unfortunately, my critique group is a rather impatient bunch and has been clamoring for something to tear apart, so I’ve jumped ahead to work on the third chapter. That’s not considered cheating, is it?

Although I’m still undecided about what will happen in the first chapter, I do have a short list of things that I want, and do not want, to occur in my story.

Stuff I Want List:

1. Magic. Not only am I fascinated by magic, but my quirky imagination and sense of humor tend to require some rewriting of the laws of physics for everything to work right (see Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), and magic lets me get away with this. I doubt I’ll ever write a story that doesn’t have some kind of magical influence running through it.

2. Castles. Love ‘em. (What’s that? The blog title and masthead didn’t give it away?) Hogwarts was my favorite part of the Harry Potter stories, so I knew I’d have to put one in my story. A really big one, with lots of tunnels and secrets.

Stuff I Don’t Want List:

3. Obligatory Sibling Conflict. I’ve posted about this before. Too many of the MG books I’ve read lately begin with an argument between siblings for no apparent reason other than to give the reader an opening filled with (artificial) conflict. I’ve seen this so often I usually stop reading by the end of the first chapter.

4. Orphan syndrome. Is it possible to write a MG paranormal fantasy without the MC having lost one or both of his parents, usually requiring him to live with a clueless relative or at a boarding school? Apparently not, based on the books I’ve read. I’ve heard this trend is due to writers attempting to create sympathy for their characters, but I suspect it has more to do with writers not knowing what to do with real, live parents. Seriously. Most of these stories involve kids getting into trouble in ways that any self-respecting parent would have crushed immediately. In my story, I wanted the challenge of keeping my MC’s adventures hidden from his parents (at least for a while) to be part of the fun.

What sort of likes/dislikes do you have on your list?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Insecure Writer And A Lack Of Time

Today is June's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

Time. Or the lack thereof.

I know a lack of time is a problem for all writers, at least the ones with day jobs, but it’s a topic that’s been on my mind quite a bit lately. Being a glacially slow writer has always made me sensitive to the passage of time, but these past few months have magnified the problem—in part because of all the time I’ve spent prepping the garden.

Still I wonder if I’m trying to do too many things. I meet with a local critique group once or twice a month—and may be about to join another group. I exchange critiques with my CPs as well as with an online group. I try to keep up with other writing blogs as well as post on mine. (Nothing makes me cringe more than seeing how much work Alex puts into his blog. He must have an army of clones or something.)

I haven’t gone to any writing conferences, but I have attended several online classes, including a session hosted by Jami Gold demonstrating how to set up a WordPress blog. (BTW, I still owe her a testimonial). And, of course, I’m working on my own stories.

Like I said before, I know time is a problem for all of us. But that doesn’t mean I can’t bitch about it on the first Wednesday of the month.

Yeah, I know it’s a short post, but I ran out of time.