Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What puts the umph in your motivation?

Today I'm calling all of you creative types and asking you to share what keeps you motivated.

Whether you're a writer, musician, actor, artist, jewelry maker, craft maker, baker, whatever- what keeps you going?

Having a creative dream isn't easy, we often aren't paid for the "Journeyman" level work we do, and even past that level most of us won't be making enough to survive on.  Friends don't always understand what you're going through, they don't realize (for writers) that no, you can't just slap a bunch of words together and call it a book (ok, you can- but it's not going to be anything anyone aside from those who love you enough to lie to your face would want to read ;)).

Creative works take time.  A movie lasts a few hours, but takes years to make.  A CD could be listened to fairly quickly, but could have taken a year or more to craft.  Books are read with varying speed, but never as slow as it takes to write them.

And your friends, family, loved ones, pets--don't always get that.

The industry for creative ventures is small and often brutal- spitting out victims in huge numbers.

Yet some folks muster on.

So, I'm asking folks what keeps you going?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Killing them not so softly

Today’s all about death in our books and the books we read.  Now, I’ll freely admit I’m not a huge fan of characters I care about being killed (yeah- not a Game of Thrones fan ;)).  I know some folks like death in their books (readers and writers) since it lends realism.  I’ve lost enough people close to me that I don’t need that kind of “realism”-- hits a bit too close to home.

That being said, I have been known to bump off a character or two and there have been books that didn’t become airborn (aka being through across the room) the minute a character was killed.  I didn’t like it, but I could see where the author was coming from.

What I REALLY hate is when a character is killed for no real story or character reason- or a reason that could have been plausible even without the death (yes, I am still traumatized by Joss Whedon- love the man, but won’t forgive him for Wash).

I just finished a book that I would have recommended- right up to a gratuitous killing of the character’s parents…right in front of her….after they’d just gotten back together with her after a two year estrangement. Yeah….no.
Part of the problem was the character had a chance earlier to save them- she knew they were in danger, drove out to get them- then decided it was better she didn’t.   Even though she knew the Big Bad had her parents’ address.

 The second part is that it didn’t really seem to impact the character.  This was an “origins” story, and as such could have used the deaths early on to motivate the character (Batman anyone?) but where it was placed it did nothing but shock the reader (and in this case, piss this reader off). Injuring the parents and having a dramatic reconciliation would have a had a much bigger character impact- especially since the character really didn’t respond to the loss.

I know not everyone is as sensitive to death as me, I’m a wimp and I admit it.  But I still believe that as writers we have to make the big events count- we weaken them, and betray our readers, when we just dump them in for shock value.

What's your take?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Repetition, repetition, repetition!

I've been thinking about repetition and writing alot lately.  Mostly since I started reading a book in my print book to be read pile when my kindle went wonkie.

This author (not a new one, and no, I won't point fingers or say names) likes to repeat things.  A lot. It's an interesting story and a great premise.  I even like the character, even if she's a bit predictable (the only thing that really separated her from most urban fantasy heroines was having a child- then the author swept that away- but that's an annoyance for another blog ;)).

Anyway- what is killing this book for me is repetition.  She points out a fact or observation the character has.  Then ten pages later, it pops up again...then again a few more pages.  That combined with a very  "lots of words but getting nowhere" style of writing has made it very difficult to keep reading. I feel like I'm reading in circles just a slight change in location.

So why do writers repeat things?

Repetition can actually be a good tool when used properly to connect the reader with the world or characters.  Going back to a favorite haunt for the character, seeing a friend of theirs from time to time, subtly repeating a theme.  All of those help to make a cohesive whole world for the reader.

But sometimes writers use it out of laziness or fear.  Laziness in that while writing the writer fails to go back and fix repeats that happened while writing the rough draft.   Having them in there  is understandable- it takes so long to write a book it's easy to forget what you wrote six months ago.  But not spotting them in later drafts, or worse, seeing them and you (and the editor) thinking it's ok ain't so good.  It's not ok, it's a waste of words and reader time.  And boring.

Fear comes from thinking the reader didn't get it the first time.  If you tell me what the relationship is between two important characters once- I pretty much got it.  The only time it should be brought up is if there is something new to add or something changes.  If you want to reinforce something find more creative ways to do it than just repeating what you said 50 pages ago.

So that's my rant about repetition- what about you? Annoyed by it?  Deal breaker?  Don't really notice?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

IWSG: Better on the other side?

Happy First Wednesday of the month!  If you've read this blog for any time at all, ya know that means it's Insecure Writer's Support Group day!  This is a group of writers from all over the world who join to support each other- join us!

Ok, onto today's post :).

First off, let me identify myself- my name is Marie, and I'm a Pantser (cue- "Hi Marie" here ;)).  Pantser just means I write by the seat of my pants- aka I don't plot.  Now pantsers can range from the Bradbury type of just opening a window and just seeing where the characters go to an almost plotter type of pre-plotting but not really mapping it all out.

I'm soundly in the free for all, just trying to keep up with my character's end. 

And while I have finished a number of books that way, there is a tiny part of my brain (which grows louder and more aggressive when I box my characters in somehow) that says the plotters might have an easier way of it.

I did try plotting once.  In fact, as I type this I'm looking at a nice big cardboard tri-fold, broken up into acts and scenes with lined colored post its covering half of it.

Yup- half.  I found that I ran out of steam, and even though I have the major climax points in the later half, the first half just didn't work so I never finished.  That book is waiting for an overhaul as I've got it so out of wack in terms of a "blah" plot that I can't move forward without a serious re-write.

And yet--I still look at my plotter friends with more than a little tinge of envy.  It just seems like such a more efficient way to write, so streamlined and clean.  And cool office supplies!  Ok, let's face it, one of my favorite parts of my trip into plotter-land was the lined, colored post-it notes.

I'm sure, somewhere, there is a plotter who wishes they could be more pantser like. And while I do still think it might be better of that otherside, I think this is who I am, and how I write.

So chime in- plotter?  Pantser?  Plantser? Where are you on the scale and do you envy the other side?