Thursday, May 3, 2007

On Writing - by me

It is a terrible thing to be lazy when you have writing to do. True boredom sets in over those days, weeks, (months for me) that you have SO much to do and just never want to do it.

I am behind 4 lessons now. These lessons are suppose to be submitted at the very liberal rate of every two weeks, but, due to excessive "boredom" and a prolonged sickness (going on 6 weeks now), I have let my writing notebook be buried under a stack of Bronte books from the library, 2 weeks worth of newspapers to go through and clip, and a month's worth of receipts, bank statements & withdraw slips, and denied credit card applications that I mean to contest one day.

BUT, last night, I became convinced that it was time to buckle down and get to work.
Dad had asked me his every month question "How is writing going?". Last month I faked a coughing fit, but this time my throat just hurt too bad. I was forced to tell the truth. "It is nonexistent, as of two months ago."
Dad left it at that (the dissapointed look on his face working wonders), and then Mom took over - "But you know Dad paid a ton of money for this course. And aren't you supposed to have book written by the time you are done? When is that, by the way?"
"End of July," I answered reluctantly, "But I don't know where you got the idea that I'm supposed to have a whole BOOK finished."
"That's what you told me when you wanted us to pay for the course. And that's what I've been telling all of my friends."
I was stricken silent, trying to remember back to a year and a half ago.
"I never said that, you must have misunderstood. I said I would know HOW to write a book. And I paid for half of the course myself Mom, but thanks very much for the other half." Trying to pave the subject with gratefulness didn't seem to work: Mom ignored that part and continued with her wisdom.
"Even I know how to write a book, Trina. I thought you were working on one."
Once again, I was stricken to silence, until I finally muttered my parting words -
"Well, maybe I can do a kids book..."

AND SO, that is why today finds me working on "a kids book" that I started sometime last month after an idea stoked by Gail Carson Levine's awesome writing book (written for kids/teens, but WONDERFUL, review to come!) 'Writing Magic' (nothing about magic, like my shocked older sister originally thought).

How does a relatively new writer sit at a laptop and strive to write for many hours without breaks (except to cough, blow her nose, and occasionally check her facebook and email)?

Lets take this a little at a time:

1. Go over your first draft - print it out and pen all over it. Be ruthless. Write every little thought that pops into your head.
(Should this story be set in middle school or early high school? Too long to go without telling about this main character? SHOW, DON'T TELL - written above every other sentence. UGH, cut that, what was I doing when I wrote THAT? Character background notes - Mike:school bully, mother left, father a drunk. Gives up easily. He is surprisingly good with words - possibly becomes a writer later on? School newspaper?
Parts of the story that need to come eventually, always rough - write the ENTIRE idea that comes in your head - get it out on paper, don't ever trust your memory - it fails you every time!) Lines of dialogue that strike you as funny...

2. Pull up your first draft on your hard-drive (hopefully that is where it is), and start writing.
If you need to, write a journal entry about what you are going to do (as I am doing now) to get the words started flying out of your fingers. Put all of your penned notes to use - do a second draft version implementing all of your ideas into the story/article.

3. Write, write, write!
Now you should have enough ideas to keep you going for a couple of hours until the story line upsets you again. Take a break, have some ice cream (or in my cough's case, a cup of hot coffee), watch a morning talk show or write on a facebook wall or two). You may be done with writing for the day at this stage (if you aren't behind 2 months like I am).

4. Sleep on it.
If I have a really tough problem with beginning problems, plot problems, middle problems, character problems, or end problems, I sleep thinking about them. (If you can fall asleep - sometimes the problem is just too terrible - if that is the case, meditate on some verses you learned in your baby/childhood.

5. Do the same thing again tomorrow!

I hope that helped somebody besides me. Now that the words are flying out at the rate of 40-something words per second, I am off to write some more of that kids story!
Please don't discourage me and tell me that a modern-day Beauty & the Beast story is a terrible idea especially when it involves a very ugly girl and the school bully. I couldn't handle the truth.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

REVIEW: The Phantom of the Opera

'The Phantom of the Opera' by Gaston Leroux

This gothic and sometimes dark detective story has been termed a "classic" by some, but purely only for its unforgettable title character. The quality of the writing is nothing spectacular, (ok, I’ll say it – it’s just plain bad!) - switching narrators, genres, styles like a freaky dream.
Still, the character of "Erik" (The Phantom) is an unforgettable and fascinating case in character study (almost a hundred years later, this character was explored expertly in ‘Phantom’ by Susan Kay, which I can’t recommend due to some sensual content).

‘Phantom of the Opera’ isn’t a bad plot, but it is confusing at times and silly at others. The best element is the opera house itself, and the Phantom’s hidden liar underneath. You get the feeling that the author had more to the story than he gave us.

I saw Andrew Lloyd Webber’s film version of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ before knowing anything about The Phantom, the history-making Broadway musical, or even the original book, so my opinion of this book, being very unlike the movie, may be biased. The movie was very enjoyable - a great example that "good" musicals are possible for the 21st Century!

Only recommended for the very loyal ‘Phantom Phans’, or someone who wants to catch of glimpse of the history of the phenomenon.

Objectionable Content: There are some minor cuss words scattered throughout. A bit violent at times. Recommended ages: 15 and up.