Writing Week • recalibration

I still like the idea of, at least, ruminating weekly on my writing — what I’ve done, what I’ve discovered, what I’ve focused on, what’s on my mind — but whenever it comes to the day to post (usually) Sunday, I feel rushed. 

So, I may try a different day (Monday? Tuesday?) And I’ll see if that feels less “gotta get it done, rush, rush, rush”.

BUT…

As long as I’m here, I will say that I had deep character building moment this morning. Not just flaws and wants and interests, but the core cog of who this character is. And I’m just, I’m just so pleased. 

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Writerly Notions: metaphors & comprehension

The complex aspect about metaphors — or any kind of literary technique used to compare or create meaning — is that there’s a second level of comprehension needed.

For example, the book I’m reading on how to write short stories cites a cliche metaphor of “sharp as a tack” (102). For me to get the meaning — namely that whoever is “sharp as a tack” is, I presume, very smart (is that right?) — I have to connect the idea of the sharpness of a tack to the idea of the sharpness of someone(‘s mind).

I’m not sure I’m being clear. But basically, metaphors function, for me, as

  1. this thing is like this other thing and here are those two things
  2. this thing being like this other thing implies a correlation, which consequently describes or adds meaning to the original thing

Does anyone else have to take a second step to process metaphors?

Writerly Notions: to outline or not? idea or story

I think the parlance terms are “plotter” or “pantser”: Does one write a structured outline or structure the story as one goes along?

I’m trying to process this whole outline vs. no outline. And how that relates to revision. And where I fit. As I’ve done both, and I’ve done something in the middle, where I have a basic procedure of events following each other.

Like, if I have a rudimentary outline, but the actual first draft deviates from that and has developed a completely different tone and plot, which is the one that should be used in revision? The initial outline or impetus for the story? Or what the story became? Which is truer to the story?

And those questions open up a more important distinction: knowing what the engine or heart of the story is. This leads to what I’ve begun to realize: there’s a distinction between writing an idea and writing a story. This is where characters and character backstory and motivation becomes compelling.

More importantly, I’ve come to realize there’s a distinction between writing an idea and writing a story. This is where characters and character backstory and motivation becomes compelling.

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Writing Week • 10/8/17 — 10/14/17

This was a much better week.

Let’s see…

I delimited the contours of story variants. I’m not sure how to explain this other than…having a multitude of ideas all crammed together and having to sift them apart. 

I reflected back on my earliest writing that featured any content related to my demons. Re-reading that (along with reading LotR currently) has reminded me of where part of the impetus of my demons, as a created species, arose from. 

I also realized (or remembered) that the initial emotional crux wasn’t only related to the Moon. Which explains why the story was ordered the way it was in my first draft. I also will have to delete a huge hunch of material, because 1. It doesn’t fit historically, and 2. I felt it put too much of the conflict’s weight on the gods rather than the demons and that’s been a sore spot on me for awhile. 

I continue to work my way through the Nights of Heroes 100+ character compilation, finalizing names, years of birth, and rudimentary backstory.

I feel like I’m forgetting something, but this will have to do. I hope for one of these recaps’ I’ll be able to dig in a little more about what I’m talking about. More details and more personal reflection. Or maybe I should pick a stand out point and focus on that. That’s an idea. I’ll see how I feel about it.

Best wishes and writing!

The Lord of the Rings • The Fellowship of the Ring | Book One

Nothing elaborate or fancy, just some storytelling thoughts on my re-read:

The plot proper — explicit conflict and character makes a choice that changes their situation — doesn’t begin until “Three Is Company” when Frodo, knowing about the Ring (“The Shadow of the Past”), chooses to travel to Rivendell. This is when the Black Riders first appear. 

On that note, the Black Riders serve as the connecting conflict or anatagonism of this part. They exist as a constant source of fear and anxiety which builds into Frodo’s wounding near Weathertop and eventual onslaught at the Ford of Bruinen.

I found it interesting how much set up there was: Bilbo leaving, Frodo inheriting Bag End, even the time between Frodo officially setting out and his decision to leave with Sam. There’s a seventeen years between “A Long-Expected Party” and “The Shadow of the Past” and that fascinates me. It fits the reader into the doings of Hobbiton and, to a lesser extent the Shire, through their gossip and interactions through the lens of Bilbo and his party. 

Additionally, there’s throughline of the Ring, which Bilbo had and passed to Frodo and which serves as the cause of the plot: Frodo’s leaving the Shire seventeen years later. Even more fascinating, is how the rumors about Bilbo are linked to the Ring — he gained both after he returned from his adventures (There and Back Again, if you will.)

While I can still see how Tom Bombadil is something of a detour, I like what his presence (and later mention) show. Namely, that the hobbits are NOT capable of dealing with malevolent forces which bear no influence of Sauron. If not for Tom, the hobbits would not have escaped the Old Forest or the Barrowdowns. It shows how safe(ly guarded) the Shire is. This is emphasized in Bree; the hobbits seem to attract trouble. 

Additionally, at the very end of this part, Frodo tells the Black Riders to go back to Mordor and leave him alone. But “Frodo had not the power of Bombadil” (209). What strikes me here is the contrast. Tom has the ability to command with his words; Frodo does not, but the parallel to Tom reminds of just that, the ability to use words to dismantle and dispel danger. Even though he’s wounded, Frodo resists in a way that he’s seen used before. It isn’t enough. But I thought it was an interesting detail that wouldn’t have been so striking if Tom had been cut from the story. Heck, even Strider and Glorfindel use words to ease Frodo’s wound. (Well, Strider uses words and athelas, but the point still stands, I think.) 

There was a diversity of poem formats, lots of songs and such. A few have struck with me, but it was enlightening to pay attention to them stylistically.

There were a lot of good quotes. I’d also like to (maybe) type up out when each character is introduced and the first time they speak. Just because I found the order and who and when interesting.

On that note, I’m struck with how direct and precise Tolkien’s language is. I like it. 

More to the point, the way that, while characters have reactions to situations and each other, there’s not a lot of character immersion. I know Sam doesn’t trust Strider because of how Sam talks and what the text tells me: “Sam frowned” (162) and “Sam was not daunted, and he still eyed Strider dubiously” (168). What I mean is, the reader doesn’t experience the story from any particular POV (though the feelings of the hobbits are definitely the viewpoint) and especially not from an immersed-in-said-characters’ experience of the story. That’s not to say the text doesn’t give the reader a sense of what the hobbits feel, because it does. Only it’s not, as I learned on a writing cruise, written in a way for the character to serve as an avatar for the reader in the world. But what’s really fascinating to me about this, is how it reminds me of fairy tales and epics and the Arabian Nights — characters are afraid, delighted, terrified, sorrowful, but it’s conveyed strongest in speech and action. 

On the note of speech, that ties back into Tom Bombadil—words and language are powerful business in Tolkien’s writing. Which, with him being a linguist, makes sense.

    Writing Week • 10/1/17 — 10/7/17

    It’s been an odd week. 

    Also, I have a mild headache, probably from getting distracted on the Internet (tumblr specifically, so it wasn’t like an info-inspiration hole, just the imprint of others’ thoughts and creative projects into my active consciousness) when I had wanted to revel in the sense of openness and work on a few odds and ends, but …nope. Internet. As one does.

    Anyway. 

    I HAVE discovered that a technique used in an old (and now moot) revision may be what I need for Nights of Heroes. I’d been trying to figure out to parcel out the plot via characters. But it’s soooo much easier to:

    1. break into plot categories 
    2. categorize characters into plots 
    3. work out how their wants interact and effect the plot

    Also did some fine-tuning on types of magical imprisonments: 

    • types of magical being
    • type of imprisonment
    • type most likely to be sought be different antagonists

    But it does bring out how odd it (still) is to me that Disney’s Aladdin operates in a world where jinn are automatically enslaved. (Unless that’s some quirk of it being a wish…)
    Sadly, I’ve only made minimal progress on “White Tree.” 

    Did a lot of drawings for Inktober. That’s been taking up my writing attention. Cause deadlines! Bleh. Though to be fair, I did enjoy the load of Dreams drawings I did. Also love drawing those characters. But I have missed writing. I’ve just been off, I guess. A bit tired and a sense of feeling over-ambitious but only getting a bare minimum done. (And being me, I have had medical-inspired anxiety about it!)

    Sorry for the downer post. I guess there isn’t much to say.

    Oh! I forgot. I tweaked a bunch of chronological info and got a better sense of when events happened in lieu of each other. Yay

    Writerly Notions: fanfiction and revision

    Something that has always puzzled me is how people who write original fiction find time to write fanfiction.

    In my case, if I’m going to write, say, a 5k word story, it will take (generously) 8 to 9 months, including writing and revision. And that’s if I’m only focused on that writing project. Why would I take 2/3rd of a year to write fanfiction? And then if I wrote a fanfic bordering on novel-length…

    I’ve always been impressed with fanfic writers. But I can’t wrap my head around how I could ever do that because of the time involved. If I’m going to write/revise a story, I need to focus on that story. If I try to balance, say, three stories, the progress is much slower.

    I mean, to be fair, my writing ration to my revision ration is 3x or more. That is, if it takes me 3 months to write a novel, it will take me 9 months to revise it. Though if I’m honest, it’s a bit of a puzzle to calculate.

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