September 2, 2014 § 2 Comments
I like Romantic Comedy when it comes to film. When I hit on a favorite I’ll watch it a bazillion times. Been doing this for years and years. Only recently did I realize why exactly. I want to know how in the heck did they write such a good story?
My teen novel falls under humor, which is serious business. I can get carried away in the emotional aspect of a scene and pretty quickly void it of humor, or perform an “info-dump” where my quirky protagonist shovels tedious details at the reader (boring them), not funny at all, sounding suspiciously like the author.
This week I’ve been filling in the novel with scenes I think/thought necessary. Today I’m thinking no, the fill-ins are from the 2009 version. This version – this draft, right now in September of 2014 – is a different book. Not so crowded. It’s possible I don’t need these scenes anymore.
DVD’s are great for watching while listening to the commentary. Here’s where the director, producer, writer, actors talk about what really went on behind the making of the film. I take notes:
Nancy Meyers comments on the writing of her 2003 romantic comedy, “Something’s Gotta Give” – “Sometimes you don’t know you over tell your story. You take things away and it’s still there . . . It’s a little scary taking scenes out because you worry it won’t make sense.”
TIP: Take it out! It’s really true what Nancy says. xo Pierr
August 28, 2014 § 2 Comments
The summer before sixth grade I got to ride the bus by myself to the University of Washington campus to take an art class. This was a really cool thing. I felt very important, and confident that I would learn how to do everything -draw, paint, sculpt- perfectly. First time. After all, the instructor was a trained professional. One who knows everything.
Each class we worked with a different medium. When we got to clay I built this house. It had an awning over the front door supported by two pillars. That was the first thing to go wrong. I didn’t understand how to secure built-on parts so they wouldn’t break or collapse in the kiln. But the rest of my house held up well. Our professor warned us about rolling our slabs too thin…I made sure even the Big Bad Wolf wouldn’t crack mine.
We were encouraged to make decorative impressions in the clay with tools. I used a pencil and my fingernail, eager to get on to the next step: painting. I don’t remember now if we fired our clay creations first and then applied the glaze, and fired them again (since I never made slab house construction my career), but I do remember how surprised and angry I was at the looks of the exterior of my finished house.
My favorite colors together were pink and orange – never mind the popular opinion that those two colors you NEVER put together, ever, because of The Clash. I didn’t care about popular opinions. They were all stupid. I wanted half my house pink and the other half orange, with an alternating pink and orange striped awning. So I dipped my brush into the shiny bright pink glaze and slathered away. Thrilling! Then I did the same with the orange glaze (also very bright and shiny in its liquid form). Whoo! Going to be the most beautiful clay house in the land.
The following week we watched while the professor unloaded the kiln. Nothing shiny about my home exterior colors, first of all. Second – and worst – the orange had been obliterated by the heat, leaving behind this putrid, ash charred dirty white. I was sure the professor had tricked me on purpose. For a good laugh? So I’d never be as great a slab house builder as he was? Who knew? I didn’t have the guts to ask any questions at age 10. And if I had, I wouldn’t have known what to ask. Maybe he assumed I knew what I was doing (going at those colors with a passionate purpose). Maybe he told us all about the colors changing and I didn’t hear him, couldn’t hear, wouldn’t hear. Maybe he even had sample glazed & fired squares dangling on one of those silver ball chains, and assumed I knew what they were, why they were there on the table with the jars of to-die-for rainbow liquid glazes. I don’t know.
I do know this: “It’s best to have failure early in life. It wakes up the Phoenix bird in you so you rise from the ashes.” - Anne Baxter
TIP: Keep failing. The Phoenix bird still lives…even After 60!! xo Pierr
August 20, 2014 § 3 Comments
Whee! Coming along. Getting there . . .
. . . you’ll notice the green tags 41 to 68. Those are chapters I haven’t written yet. I’m not absolutely sure all are necessary. All but chapter 41 are near the end of the book, pretty much right in a row (73 chapters total). Thinking they’ll be short, maybe combined somehow into four or five. Don’t know. But at this point psychologically?–I need to move on. So I’m going to punch holes in this draft, stick it in a notebook for easier reading, tweaking and tagging, and by next week I’ll be calling it working DRAFT #4.
Also exciting is the word count: 52,846 so far. That’s a NA-NO!
This novel in the photo didn’t begin as a NaNoWriMo (writing 50,000 words in 30 days the month of November), as I may have mentioned, but I’ve been a NaNoWriMo “winner” four years in a row with other novel beginnings, so I can say with complete confidence it’s a good way to start writing one.
TIP: Get it all out of your head and down on paper any way you can.
That’s what I’m doing with the green-tagged chapters now. I have crazy wild sentences typed out that go with each chapter title to get me started again. So when I return to reading through the draft I’m not hit with a neon blank page. Who knows? More sentences might fall off the top of my head when I get there.
XO – Pierr
August 13, 2014 § 2 Comments
TIP: Take time to see important stuff.
August 6, 2014 § Leave a comment
Pauline – my ’89 Honda Civic – turned 370,000 miles yesterday. A 5-speed still getting the mileage other models only dream about. And though she’s not doing long road trips anymore – to write in the Iowa Summer Writing Festival or in New Mexico with Natalie Goldberg, and slows from 70 to 40 mph up those long gradual climbs not far north to Bellingham to browse Village Books in Fairhaven or east over Snoqualmie Pass to ski, then on down into Ellensburg to see a genuine Old Rodeo, Pauline’s still going strong.
Novel progress this last week has been slow, so I’m sure you’ll guess where I’m headed with this mileage thing. Sometimes Pauline doesn’t go anywhere for a week or two. Living downtown I can walk to most everything I need and this we both really like. She can rest next to the hedge where the raccoons play. But she’s here. So am I.
TIP: Go the distance. xo Pierr
July 30, 2014 § Leave a comment
Naa…it’s not the whole draft yet. I’m trying a little visual psychology to excite the brain to cross the finish line. But even with this third draft ‘finished’ the novel isn’t done yet. See the blue and green tags? Once I have the last section of this third draft completed, I will read through it and tag it as I’ve tagged these two sections alerting me to spots where a certain plot element would fit nicely. Then my task – to call it a fourth draft – is to actually write in those spots a little something of that plot element.
You see how I’m working in the future here…not having actually completed the two tasks I’ve just described. The power of a blog is to keep a person accountable I guess. That’s what I’m up to, anyway. Oo – but look at these pages from the side . . .
Impressive, eh? Now that looks like a book!
“What we intend has a very high probability of actually occurring.” – Martha Beck
TIP: Fill your eyes with the final vision – heart & mind are sure to follow.
July 22, 2014 § 6 Comments
Personality-type wise, I’m someone who likes to make lists. Have a plan to ford.
There are all kinds of ways to plan things out on the computer these days – charts and graphs and Scrivener has a fabulous ‘Binder’ feature and virtual cork board where you can post index cards. I’ve been typing this third draft up in Scrivener, its chapters all organized and tidy, but there comes a point where I need to touch a real piece of paper, chart a course with a real pen and pencil. Use real Post-Its and highlighter pens on a big paper map.
From the start, I knew the novel would take place over 12 specific days in one particular month. My rough draft wasn’t written with the kind of detail you see in the photo above at all. My only plan was to write 300 pages, getting it down any way I could. It was all over the place. And that was a good thing. First and second draft I honed things in a bit, deciding what I liked and what might keep the plot rolling along. In fact, at that point I was thinking I could skip the writing of five days in the last week because once I had the narrator’s routine down for the reader, I figured no use repeating herself, right? Well, that may end up being true, but now – in this third draft – I’m feeling the need to know every detail of these 12 days so if/when I cut stuff in a fourth draft, I will know and understand what I’m leaving out rather than feel as if I’m lying to the reader somehow. Withholding.
In other words, at this point in the process I’m seeing how important it is to know the back story and the consequences of choices the narrator makes even if the writing of them never appears in the final draft. Maybe that’s why it takes so long to birth one of these (at least for me).
TIP: You gotta know.
xo – Pierr