Saturday, November 20, 2010

Workshopping

I was pleasantly surprised at the results of the workshop from last night.

I submitted a piece I had been hemming and hawing on.  I had written scenes over and over from different characters' perspectives using first, third and then second person points of view.  I finally settled on the young daughter's voice in second person.  I knew it was unusual, and I knew some people would hate the use of second person.

And they did.

But, not all of them did.  In fact, some really seemed to like it, and thought that it was an appropriate way to tell the story of a young child whose mother suffers from mental illness without getting bogged down in the child's language.  Which was really why I chose to tell the story that way in the first place.  So they got it!  They really, really got it!  Okay, not all of them got it--but you can't please everyone.

I think the best comment of all was when the professor said something along the lines of, "Remember when I said that a second person story is always, first and foremost, a second person story?  Well, I think I might have to amend that statement."

I think I might frame that and put it on my wall.

One guy in class said that my plot points followed Freytag's Triangle perfectly.  He actually numbered my plot points--there were ten.  This really floored me, because I'm so terrified of not being able to hold a plot, I actually got out graph paper and charted the goddamn plot while writing the story.  I'm not kidding; I really did.

I got a few comments about effortless writing.  (Aw, jeez... Guys!  You're making me blush.)   Effortless it was not.  They should see the cutting room floor!  I slashed nearly 2,000 words from the story to get it to come in under 5,000.  I mean, I tore that sucker apart.  I cut out two entire scenes and reworked the surrounding ones to cover the sutures.  I played around with the order of the backstory and telling in one scene, and went through the entire thing with a heavy hand on the delete key.  I removed everything that wasn't absolutely critical to the story itself.  It was actually down to around 4,500 words before I beefed up a few scenes with some more description because I felt they needed it.  I was worried that the story would be too sparse and too bare, but... not so.

I still have a little work to do on it yet, some reworking of passages and sentences to make the intent more clear, and I need to find a stronger ending.  I think the workshop gave me some great ideas as to how to accomplish all of that in revision number two, so I'm feeling good about going into that process.

And sorry guys, but it's staying in second person!

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo Roundup

Yeehaw!  November 1st marks the start of National Novel Writing Month, that auspicious time when writers across the world dig into new novels, elbow-deep in plot lines and characters, trying like hell to race to 50,000 words in the span of thirty days.

We turn off our inner editors, roll up our sleeves, ignore phone calls and family members, neglect all kinds of other obligations and just write.  Some of us will make it and some of us won't, but we will all end up with (at least the beginnings of) a crappy first draft that we might be able to beat into shape come January.

If you think you might be interested, go sign up!  Time's a-wasting.

http://www.nanowrimo.org/