Friday, February 28, 2014

World Builders and Storytellers: Hayao Miyazaki

Now and then I'll be spotlighting some of the people who have most inspired me. First off, in honor of his final film The Wind Rises releasing in the US last week, I'll focus on Hayao Miyazaki.

Famed animator and creator of Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki's films are known for their poignant stories, beautiful animation and breathtaking landscapes. Being born and bred in the US, with practically no knowledge of anime, I'd never heard of him until eight years ago, when Turner Classic Movies devoted an entire month to featuring Miyazaki's movies...

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Saturday Check-In 2.22.14

Not a very exciting report today, I'm afraid. Edits have come back for LAST NIGHT IN GHOSTTOWN, and I haven't had a chance to work on the short story this week. It's for the best, since I think the short story needs to simmer on its own for a bit. I've never had much success with the "write even if you're not feeling it" school of thought. Sure, some days it's just laziness, and as a writer I have to buckle down and push through it. Other days, though, it's just not there. I discovered this with painting long ago, and learned to listen (after ruining enough sheets of watercolor paper by saying "I'm just going to paint something anyway!"). For me, when the creative well runs dry no amount of butt-in-chair time will change that.

Still researching and cogitating on the mermaid story. At some point I'm going to have to relinquish the library's oceanography book and start really fleshing out the characters. But until then…

Word of the Day: Guyot (or, my mermaid colony has a home!)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Links and Check-In

Procrastination (Or Why You Can't Trust a Version of You from the Future)
I am so very guilty of this. In fact, I've spent all week procrastinating this post, which was in turn my excuse for procrastinating working on my short story. Very interesting take on why so many writers, myself included, put off writing that hard scene ("I may have no clue how to write it today, but surely Tomorrow Me will know just how to do it!")

Premise vs. Plot: Which Do You Have?
This could have been written exclusively for me. Premises come to me as easily and often as oxygen. Lately I've had about seven different premises vying for attention in my brain. Plots, however, have always been a different story. It often seems to come down to the fact that my characters prefer standing around talking to actually, you know, doing anything. I have no idea where they got that trait from *ahem* Anyway, this article breaks down the difference of plot and premise, has some handy tips on fleshing out an idea into a story. I've bookmarked this baby!

What Makes a Story Event a "Turning Point"?
Another article that could've been written just for me. As I said above, plot has always been a challenge for me. Sure, I can come up with things to keep the characters busy, but how to keep all those events from becoming a random mishmash of obstacles? Finally my writing mentor introduced me to what so many other writers already knew of, the "trigger." It's not just that events A, B, and C happen to the characters - it's that A happens because of the initial setup, B happens because of A, C happens because of B, and so on. This article explains it all in detail, and will surely be invaluable to me in the future.

* * *

As for my own writing, I've been battling the Demons of Self-Doubt and haven't gotten too far on the short story. I did go back and rework the opening, which I'm much happier with. Currently a bit stuck, but if I can silence (for a little while at least) The Voice telling me my time would be better spent organizing my sock drawer, then I can push through and get on with the story. Fingers crossed.

Also, Arizona has been the only state in the US not buried under a foot of snow, so I feel obligated to enjoy the sunny weather on behalf of all of my fellow writers. How's that for an excuse?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Writing Links

Who Cares? ~ Rachel Herron
Excellent summary of how I've always felt about first drafts (though I didn't realize it until I read her post). My natural tendency as a writer is toward a long, rambling, and distinctly violet-hued style, so I tend to overcompensate by writing lean. As a result, my first drafts are often little more than awkward beats interspersed with clumsy dialogue. And, perhaps most importantly, I've yet to get a really good grasp of my characters and their voices (it took three drafts to feel like I really knew Dev's voice in Last Night in Ghosttown).

In Defense of Pantsing ~ Jami Gold
Really great post about plotting vs. pantsing. I write by a mix of heavy research and planning before I ever write a single word, then more or less turning myself loose on the early drafts. So many interesting points develop as I write - things I never, ever could've planned for. When gaps in my research and planning become apparent, I fill them in in preparation for subsequent drafts. So the thought of being a strict plotter, complete with outlines and bullet points, just leaves me cold. Basically, I write like I paint - lots and lots of prep (possibly to the point of over thinking everything) then get out the paint and go with the flow.

On Recent Doctor Who ~ Lenora Rose
Interesting analysis of Moffat-era Who. She pegs some of the things that have really bugged me about recent seasons ("series" for any Brits out there), like why Moffat's writing has irked my feminist sensibilities. It really all comes down to this:

While I'm looking forward to seeing what Peter Capaldi does with an older looking Doctor, we didn't actually need a new Doctor. We need to get rid of Steven Moffat as head writer.
I would disagree slightly in that I was more than ready for Matt Smith to leave (while he's a good actor, I've felt from the start that's he's simply too young for the role. YMMV). And I too can't wait to see Peter Capaldi come this fall. But with Moffat still in charge, we'll likely continue to have the inconsistent characterization, convoluted season-arcs and nonsensical resolutions that, honestly, made me lose interest in Who by Matt Smith's second season.

I want a new head writer, too.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Saturday Check-In

Not very much to report, I'm afraid. I didn't write anything this week, and didn't get to starting on the next draft of the short story. I did however continue research on various topics for my two WIPs.

The short story, which I've mentioned previously, combines knitting and Chinese vampires into a darkly humorous urban fantasy. (At least, I hope it does. That's what I'm aiming for!)

The other WIP is a retelling of The Little Mermaid, and will likely be a novella or novel. Novels intimidate me, to be honest, but if that's what the story needs to be then I'll do my best to do it justice.

That's all for now. Hopefully I will have lots more to report on these in the future.