Saturday, July 31, 2010

Editing the story out of your story...

The idea for today’s blog came from an amazing event I attending this past Wednesday- the San Diego 48 hour film project. This is a nationwide event that travels from city to city drawing in the crazy, the insane, and the unbelievably inspired.

Now first let me say, I have nothing but awe and admiration for the folks who take on this madcap adventure. For those who are scratching their heads- yes it is just as the name implies- 48 hours to conceive, write, direct, shoot, and edit (and all of the insane parts that fit in those categories) a 7 minute film. I went on Wednesday to see a very fun film (The Serendipitous Adventures of Darbo: Episode Six - Darbo Goes to Earth) done by some gloriously talented and creative friends. I was amazed by all of the films I saw- doing what they did in 48 hours and not ending up in a loony bin is inspiring for anyone who is in a creative field.

But some of the films did have editorial gaps. I have no idea how much film is laid down by most of these teams, but I’d venture a lot more than 7 minutes. Which means editing- A LOT- of editing. There were a few films (I won’t mention their names, I don’t know the folks behind them and what they did was still crazy good) that lost some story due to editing.

A film editor working with tons of film (yeah, I know it’s digital, work with me folks) is doing a job very similar to an author looking at a too fat novel. Thinking, “what can I do to get things down to size, but still workable.” Now these folks in the 48 hour had a pressure that few if any writers would feel- in most cases the entire team is running on mere hours of sleep and they have very little time to get it together.

But the problem that appeared in a few of those unnamed films can befall any of us- cutting out something vital to the story.

As authors were often told to keep it tight, get rid of the extra verbiage. But are we cautious enough in keeping the story itself intact? In keeping its heart and soul vital and alive?

How as writers can we know that we are keeping the spirit- and more importantly and intact story- alive as we go through our slash and burn editorial process? I’m at a point where I’m going to putting in some pretty heavy editing hours on numerous projects VERY soon-I need to be very aware of not losing my story to fit the book length.

Any ideas, hints, tips, etc are most welcome!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Magic of Geeks

Yes, geeks not Greeks. While I'm sure the Greeks do have their own magic, today I am here talking about geeks.

I have just survived another Comic Con. Not sure, but I think this is number 16 or 17 (that I’ve been to- they all blur after a while). I’m in recovery today, reconnecting with the aspects of my life that got shoved into a dark corner during the week of con madness.

For folks who are unfamiliar with this tiny, intimate event- let me provide a brief explanation.

Comic Con International San Diego is one of the biggest popular culture events in the world. 125,000 geeks gather from across the globe to mix and mingle with other fans of comics, novels, tv shows, movies and art. It is a four day bit of glorious madness that is dear to my heart even as it has me often ripping out my hair.

People can see a number such as 125,000, but often not really process just what it is like. It’s A LOT. Even someone like myself can get thrown off (see above for how many of these things I’ve lived through). For instance preview night (once upon a time preview night was for pros and a select few to make deals and see the floor- now it is just insanity in a three hour window). I knew to expect madness, but the crowds just had me running for the door after an hour (but not before I’d bought my pass for next year ;)).

To see any of the “big” panels (aka those hit tv shows and upcoming movies) you really need to be in line by about 6 or 7 am…even if the one you want to see isn’t until much later in the day. And the stars have just gotten bigger each year. This year I saw panels for the movie Megamind (Will Ferrel and Tina Fey in attendance), the upcoming Tron movie (the whole flipping cast); Salt (Angelina and Leiv- nuff said), and Battle Los Angeles. Plus the casts for Chuck, Castle, Futurama, Family Guy and many more. And I missed FAR more than I saw. You learn to function on little sleep, pack lots of food and water, and hunker down for the duration. These big rooms hold between 4,600 and 6,500 folks- so the lines are massive.

Massive lines, insane hours, pressing crowds…and yet I am depressed now that it’s over.

Aside from the coolness of seeing some favorite actors, writers, and artists, and getting to be around my "own people" en masse comic con is an amazing example of the power of creative energy. Even as it is sucking the energy out of you- it is also feeding your creative spirit.

The sheer mass of creative folks there is simply awe inspiring. There are so many folks from so many creative industries that you can’t help but get a little psychic charge. A bit of “wow, that would make a great character in a book!”, or new ideas for a WIP, or weird terrifying thoughts like “yeah, becoming a cartoon voice actor would be great!” (it’s important to watch what panels you go to- ya never know WHAT will seem like a good idea!)

In short Comic Con is a well-spring of “what if’s” and folks who are following those what if’s, living the dream of all creative people everywhere. They are a reminder that wherever we are in our career- we too can make it.

I know a lot of writer’s limit their convention exposure to events that only handle writing, and often only their genre. I say that if you can, find other types of creative conventions. Comic Con isn’t for everyone, nor can everyone come out to San Diego. But chances are there are some sort of smaller creative cons near you- check one out. The buzz you get may motivate your work in new directions.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Just what is romance?

Ok I should first preface this with the admission that I am not a Romance author. I say Romance with a big “R” to indicate a book or author whose books are placed in the romance section of a bookstore and handled by editors and agents within that genre.

I am however a author who writes romance. By the little “r” I’m referring to the fact that romance is the heart of my stories. It may not be the plot driving mechanism that it is in Romance books- but without romance my books would be less dimensional, have less feeling and heart.

Whenever I come up with my heroine (or hero) I almost always immediately think up their significant other. Again- even though my plots (so far) could exist quite well with no romance- I find my brain automatically switches onto “Ok, here’s my lead- now where is her partner- where’s the guy who’s going to join her for this adventure? “

I, however, don’t really put much in terms of sex in my books (yes, I know- I have a few folks who hate me for that ;)). It’s not that I’m a prude; I read Romance books and enjoy them. I just don’t feel it fits with my writing at this point. Or with my current projects. And there really aren’t undying declarations of love either.

So is it possible to have romance without Romance or Sex?


Probably the easiest example would be a tv show. Doctor Who (new incarnation) had a massive low level love story between the Doctor and his first companion, Rose. This was played out slowly and there were no overt sexual or Romantic elements for the most part. But there is no denying there was romance. An example of this was in a video made by an extremely talented friend of mine Ryalin.

There is no doubt from the clips that these two characters loved each other (which you can get even if you have never seen the tv show ;)).

Yet there is no sex, no deep passionate embraces. However the emotion is there.
So this all comes back to what is romance? Can I in good conscience say that I am not a Romance writer, yet I write stories with romance?

Here’s what the dictionary has to say:

1: a medieval tale based on legend, chivalric love and adventure, or the supernatural (2) : a prose narrative treating imaginary characters involved in events remote in time or place and usually heroic, adventurous, or mysterious (3) : a love story especially in the form of a novel b : a class of such literature
2 : something (as an extravagant story or account) that lacks basis in fact
3 : an emotional attraction or aura belonging to an especially heroic era, adventure, or activity

Hmmm- it does mention “a love story” but there seems to be so much more. It appears that by the above definition most all fiction that has some emotional pull is in fact a romance.

I would state that romance is the emotional connection between two people, a pull towards each other. And that it's pretty much in most everything.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Care and Feeding of the Writer's Soul

I have been thinking about this a lot the last few weeks, interaction for writers with other writers. Could be called writer socialization. Those of us who have pursued a life of making up worlds find out that we are in a world of our own- literally. So we reach out to others of our own kind, eager for knowledge of the skills we need, camaraderie for folks who understand what we’re going through, reinforcement that we are charging in the right direction.

Now there are many ways for authors to obtain this community. We can join writer’s groups, crit groups, take classes, go to conferences, haunt blogs and websites.

But how do we know we are getting the right feedback? Just because some author is lecturing or conducting an online workshop doesn’t mean they know how to teach.
Even if they are a published author.
YES- even if they are published.

Not all people who can do a skill, and do it very well, can instruct, coach, or mentor others. Yet for many writers as soon as we see “published author” (or agent or editor) we immediately jump all over the class, conference, workshop etc. Some folks joke about their addiction to classes. We constantly search for help, feedback, reassurance. But is that what we are only looking for?

I have respect for the addicted and if there were more “in person” writing workshops/conferences that I could afford- I would probably be one of the afflicted. But for me at least online workshops don’t seem to work. Could be my tired old 40 something brain needs a real person in front of me to charge me up. Maybe I just can’t focus enough for the online options. Now, this could be good because I LOVE being around other writers so if I were more into the online classes I could end up in serious trouble.

Which leads to another question- is it the information/ skills/ etc that we crave or just the socialization with folks of our “kind”? I have recently joined my local RWA chapter and I’ve found (although ALL of the meetings have been great) it’s more of being around other writers. The energy that comes from the meeting is what gets me going. I attended one meeting where it was about YA- I came away just as charged as I would have been if it had been a field I write.

Comic Con does this as well- and then not just around writers- it’s the creative energy that floods the convention. The power that is emanated by folks creating works of art (of various sorts) is addicting.

So in answer to my own questions- I think writers NEED to be around other writers- both of our genre and even not in our genre (I have picked up lots from screenwriters at various conferences- and trust me I have no intention of being a screenwriter ;)). We need the power of being around other creative souls.
What do you think?

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Ok, what could be the worse thing that could happen to a writer going through the "blahs"? Getting a computer virus.
There are in fact many many worse things that could happen. But when one is having serious motivation issues to get ANYTHING done-- having the object of joy and torture fall under attack from an outside source really doesn't help.

I let it knock me off my seat completely. Nevermind that I even have a lap top- it had issues too (no virus) plus I'm not used to it. *whine* And all my work was on the desktop one *whine whine*. And I just couldn't focus since I didn't know how bad the virus was *whine whine whine*.

I think you're seeing where I'm going. My starting to get back into the writing habit psyche took the above "whine"s to heart and I shut down again.

Never mind that all of the excuses were exceedingly lame, I let myself fall under them.

How flipping pathetic.

I need to write.

I like to write.

I REALLY like to have written. (I love the putting the pieces together editing phase ;))

And yet, when I feel depressed, or tired, or upset, or anxious- I don't write?! OY! Again- how pathetic! I know writing will make me feel better- yet I let any excuse knock me back down.

If I were talking to a friend (a good one) instead of myself- I'd say suck it up buttercup and get off the pity/tired/depressed boat and write something.
Since I am good friends with myself most of the time- I'm thinking I'm going to have to do just that. Or find a professional butt-kicker..

So, the computer is back, (with a new virus protection package since the virus destroyed the one I had) and I'm back with a new tough love attitude.

Wish me luck and feel free to kick my butt anytime I slack off- I NEED IT.