Thursday, July 7, 2011

Long Night

I've had two long nights these past two, since I haven't been able to sleep because my bedroom is so muggy (yes, Erin, this will be another post where I rant about heat). Our apartment must have some major design flaw, since the others are nice and cool when the temperature drops in the evening. Not ours, no no no.

Right now it's sort of fine, at least in the livingroom where I am now. It's raining, so I'm hoping for a cool night. That's a win. The fail? I had left my windows open when we went to dinner tonight, so my bed is wet. D'oh.

Gary Braunbeck has been lecturing for us this week, and it's been really interesting. The subjects so far have been dialogue, subtext and emotional realism. He has 25 years experience as a writer, and has a lot of knowledge on the subject of writing.

What's easy to forget in a situation like this, with so many people offering excellent advice on various tools for writing and aspects of the industry, is that these things don't work for everyone. These are not truths we are being told, but rather an opinion on something born out years of experience. Each writer has their own truth. I need to find mine.

What has really stood out from Gary's lectures, so far, is this:
- Forget about genre. Concentrate on telling a story. Genre will emerge. Beginning with genre will limit you.
- Always ask the next question. When creating a character, begin with a question. What does he have in his pockets? Then keep asking, depending on what the answer is. Do this enough, and you will have a complete character. Ask until you reach an answer that has absolutely no relevance to the story.
- Give your antagonist/villain an emotional core. Something that shows why he is not a villain in his own eyes. This creates an emotional gray area, and enables you to steer away from the monologuing, moustache-twirling bad guy.
- What is lacking in genre fiction is a writer's trust in his readers to recognize subtext. Assume you're not writing for morons. Don't explain everything.

On Monday, I had a private critique with Gary on my story The Long Night. It has Vikings, werewolves and a bad-ass sorceress. Right now she is kinda moustache-twirling, unfortunately. But it's only the second draft, so things may change.
He really liked the story. A great ego boost. He had some minor suggestions for things I should change, and then listed a few places where he thought I could get it published. Sweet! So now I have two stories that two different authors have put their seal of approval on. Priority one when I get back home is polishing these stories and then sending them out.

Last night, I was over at the other house, writing, because it was cooler there. Well, not so much writing as goofing around and talking about our stories. In the midst of it, Narcomancer comes out of her room, looking exhausted. The following was said:

Palin: Do you need a hug?
Narcomancer: I need a new brain.

And on the same subject (sort of). The Commodore informed us about Friday night's cookout and said:

The Commodore: There's a slight chance of rain.
Werefox Ninja: Brain?
The Commodore: Yes. Brain is in season now. We could harvest some of that college student brain.

1 comment: