Friday, June 26, 2009

Muse

If there is any truth to the existence of a muse, then he/she has made a sudden appearance. The first draft of my novel has been completed for quite awhile now, but is not ready to be presented to an agent. The characters don't have enough bones, blood and definition, and the plot is disconnected with holes that look like a children's snowflake cutout.

I began working on my revision about three or four months ago, when I decided to sign up for a thriller critique group. With the deadlines of meeting every other week, I have been writing like crazy. Recently, my writing cohorts asked me in the kindest way they could, "What does the murder have to do with what is going on with your main character?" I did not know what to say, probably because I did not know the answer!

Over the next few weeks, their question rolled through my mind like a gentle flowing river. I stopped and thought about my main character and asked him to share his story. Every time his voice came into my head, I listened. Finally, I realized that the murder is not important. However, the type of work he does is central to the story (in case you are wondering, he investigates missing children). The murder went, the work stayed.

I have rewritten chapters one and two and look forward to three. My story feels alive, real (well not real real) and my fingers are on fire. Speaking of, it's time to write now.

Happy Writing!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Creating Character

In my writing, I often question whether I create my characters or whether they create themselves. I have a more difficult time writing about characters in a longer piece of work such as a novella or novel, and I find it easier to portray my characters in short stories.

For example, in my short story The Softball Crush (Vintage Voices Four Part Harmony, 2008), creating the situation and characters was easy, because the characters were based on children I went to grade school with. The story situation was based on two truths I had as a child: I could not play softball to save my life, and in eighth grade the most popular boy in school asked me to be his girlfriend.

My story The Bicycle will be published in the Vintage Voices anthology to come out this year. The only truths in that story were that my father really would not let me have a bike, and I grew up in a small town in California. The rest is fictional.

However, my novel-in-progress is not based on any part of my life. Through a series of circumstances, my protagonist finds out a truth about his past that literally sends him into a another world (we are not talking science fiction here). Thus, he finds himself embarking on a life changing journey that brings him in touch with parts of himself that he never knew existed.

We have all encountered finding missing parts of ourselves and learning how to integrate them into who we are today. I have never dealt with the depth of what has been missing in my protagonist for most of his life, and I have no real person to base his life on. Therefore, I am having to work harder on creating this character.

Writing is hard work not matter how you look at it. While my short stories might seem easier to write, I still have to put a lot of work into them to make sure they are what people might want to read. Sometimes I feel like throwing the pages of my novel across the room, other times I want to keep it close to me as I would a child. No matter how I feel, I won't give up on writing my novel. Feelings are fleeting, they just are. The written word is permanent.

Happy writing to all.

To Go Oxford....or Not

Do you use the Oxford comma or do you omit it? Some grammar sages say to either keep it or omit it, unless omitting the Oxford comma will...