Monday, June 27, 2011

Lovin' the Language Blogfest

I am still not sure what exactly a blogfest is or what it is supposed to achieve, but the subject of Jolene B. Perry's Blogfest is too interesting to pass up.  For me, reading and writing are about the language, the way the words transport me into the character's world, the way their mere sounds can change my mood.  So - lovin' language, here we go!  My five-sentence entry from my WIP:

"I have been lucky.  I haven’t been to a hospital in forty-three years.  I received my conscription papers from the Serbian military a week after my seventeenth birthday and I was ordered to submit to a physical exam.  All young males had to serve and my kind, the ethic German and Hungarian teenagers, were the first to be called in.  I was just a boy then, short and bony, and my hand felt the barrel of a gun before it ever held a razor."  

And here is another:

"The long white curtains are dancing to the afternoon wind, flowing like the skirts of lithe dancers.  The breeze is warm but refreshing, cleansing the air of the putrid smell of disease that has infiltrated every molecule around me.  I wish it would dissolve my gaze glued to the old man walking the hallway and dragging his skeletal frame behind his gray cane.  I must close my eyes; I must stop polluting his dignity and feeding my fear.  But it is too late.  I missed the opportunity the second I laid my eyes on him."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Girl and the Synopsis

I have received some valuable feedback to help me recognize the moment when my story may be really "done."  While one fellow WD group member suggested that the third draft may be the charm, another person told me that a novel is complete when you get to the point of replacing and removing commas and periods - and nothing else.  Yet a friend observed that there is no such thing as a completed novel - there are only various stages of imperfection.  
So, while I am working on that.... I also started drafting a synopsis.  When I first sat down to write my novel, I knew where I wanted to go with the story, understood its theme, and had a mental blueprint of the structure - although I would not have been able to actually name these as key factors.  On the other hand, I had not an inkling about synopses, queries, pitches and all the other unpalatable aspects of writing with a goal of publication. 
One week into writing a synopsis I discovered that drafting a query letter first works better for me - starting with a short plot summary and clarification of the theme came more natural and now I am building on those elements to create the various parts that comprise a synopsis.
Yes, queries, synopses all need to be done, but mostly, I think, I am focusing on these just so I can avoid another dreaded revision and face the possibility of my novel still not being done.

Monday, June 13, 2011

How Do You Define "Done?"

A well-respected agent to whom I am hoping to send my novel (at some point anyway) noted on the submissions page of his web site that he accepts queries from aspiring writers  - but in that sentence he also asked that nothing be sent to him until it is complete; until the writer of the full-length novel "would not change one single word."
Quite a tall order, isn't it?
Can we ever really get to that point?  Be so completely and absolutely satisfied with a sizable work that we truly believe we cannot improve upon it?
I don't know.  I learn something every day, a new experience, a different point of view, an unusual word - the world around us is complex and inviting and I have (almost) never reached the point of absolute satisfaction with bringing to life the experiences it allows me to have.  After I am "finished" and let the story rest, a read a few weeks or months later inevitably produces some changes. 
Of course there are always exceptions.  There is one short story I wrote - 1,500 words of perfection in my eyes. 
Yes, quite a tall order for 80,000 words.

How do you know when you are done?

Monday, June 6, 2011

You'd Think I Am Depressed

The third draft of my novel has been sitting on my dining table for a month now, waiting patiently for me to decide.  Re-write?  Add another chapter?  Take one out?  Or let it sit a few more weeks to gain (more) perspective?
While I am agonizing over that decision, I have spent some time to organize my writing in general.  I have read a few books on queries and synopses, agents and publishing houses, and made a list of my works.
And here it is.  They are all about death and loss, desperation and suffering.  Every single one of them.
I tried to write happy stories, ones that sing of contentment, joy, and perfectly balanced personalities, but everything that comes out is boring and unoriginal. 
What is that all about?