by: Joelle Charbonneau
First off, I want to say WHOOO HOOO to Steve Weddle's news. I am so excited that Country Hardball will be published by Tyrus Books. It couldn't happen to a more awesome person and writer.
Second, THE TESTING launching is just over two weeks. So if you find me chewing my nails or hiding under the bed--that's why!
Third, the weather has finally taken a turn and spring has arrived...just in time for summer to start. Trust me when I say I'm not complaining. As a matter of fact, the less than fabulous spring weather has made it easier for me to stay focused on the work that needed to be done. I am thrilled to say that I am almost to the end of writing A CHORUS LINEUP and will also soon finish my first round of revisions on GRADUATION DAY. These two events signal something pretty astonishing for me. These are the last two WIPs that I have under contract.
I know most writers do not want to go a day without having a book under contract, but I'm pretty stoked to see the light at the end of the contract tunnel. Oh - don't get me wrong, I've already put together a proposal for the next project that I hope to work on. But having finished writing the books I had under contract means something very important to me. Now I will have time to read.
That probably sounds crazy, right? I'm a writer, so, of course, I read. Rarely does a day go by that I have not read at least a chapter or two of a book. But before I started writing, I used to read a book in a day. I used to curl up in a chair with a story that gripped me and not go to bed until the story had ended. I miss being able to do that. So as soon as I am done with this manuscript and the revisions I have to finish, I have promised myself at least a week of doing nothing but reading.
Since this is a celebration of sorts, I want to make sure that every book I pick up is a fabulous read. This is where you come in. I need recommendations. What books do you think should be on my celebratory to-read list? Here is a chance to tell me about your favorite author, your favorite book or even something you've written. The floor is yours. What books have gripped you that you think will entertain me?
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Scott D. Parker
Today’s entry is a short one and not very earth-shattering. It is dedicated to all you pantsers out there who think that an outline kills your creativity.
As I’ve been documenting for the past couple of weeks, I’m in the process of writing a new tale. This comes after a lengthy time of not writing, naturally resulting in a bit of relearning what I used to know. After crafting an outline structure based on Lester Dent’s master fiction plot, I had a pretty straightforward time filling it out. Next, the only thing left to do with a completed outline was write the story.
I’ll say outright that I’m not yet done with the story and that, in itself, is a thing I wish I could fix. You see, I’d like to write faster, more efficiently, and with better word choices. I chalk that up to muscle soreness. Like an athlete who took a summer off and, upon starting a training regimen, has all his muscles screaming at him, my writing chops are rusty. That’s to be expected and I don’t give myself too much, if any, grief on that account because, after all, I’ve written over 8,000 words on this story, more than I’ve written on a single thing in a long time. I’m happy with my progress.
And I’m also satisfied with all the little detours my imagination is taking off the road map of my outline. The outline itself is tight and I didn’t have the space to flesh out every scene. On the one hand, that slows me down because I have to think up the details as I go along. On the other, I can’t help but think if I fleshed out the outline, I’d streamline the writing more.
But I’ve again realized that which I knew when I was fictioneering more regularly: the fleshing out is supposed to come during the writing. It’s when the imagination is working and connections are being made that makes writing one of the more enjoyable creative activities you can do.
More importantly, however: I’m finding myself being pulled to the keyboard. Unlike other months when I was more than content to read, I am wanting to write.
Chalk that up in the win column.
For you outliners out there, do you find you find the threads come together during the outline time or the writing time?
Friday, May 17, 2013
Overheard in a bookstore a few days ago:
“Oh, I don’t want to buy that.”
“Why not, you love Author X.”
“Aye, but its no’ the right character. I don’t know why authors try and change what they’re writing. They should just stick to the one thing.”
Its often been a bugbear of mine about writing - particularly in the modern age - that authors get stuck, pigeonholed, genrefied and branded. That they become known for one thing and one thing only. As good a writer as Rankin is, when people hesitate over his new book because it might not be a Rebus, there’s something wrong, trusting the character over the writer. Or when people refuse to pick up Stuart MacBride’s Halfhead because its “science fiction”.
Are we, as readers, limiting ourselves?
Are writers, as a whole, being limited?
Its an interesting question. In reading recent biographies of Raymond Chandler, what comes up time and again is his desire to write a book that it not a mystery novel (he comes close with The Long Goodbye, but its interesting that he requires Marlowe to write the novel, almost as though he has become so intertwined with the character that he cannot escape him). He loves the form, but he wants to try and escape it, too. To tell other kinds of stories. Tom Hiney’s biography briefly mentions his interest in SF at one point, although his description of the genre does come close to parody, so perhaps its as well we didn’t see that story.
I do think that some writers are being limited by being pigeonholed in genre. One of the reasons Iain Banks remains an interesting writer was that he mixed up genres so much. And got away with it. He is proof that a writer can in the modern world break free of expectations. But he remains the exception rather than the rule.
A writer acquaintance used to try and mix other genres into mystery, but his editors always diluted it down to create something that was less than it could have been. An attempt to create a horror novel was, for example, toned down to become Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” with a hardboiled edge. Because the genre elements that were not generally deemed to mix with crime were considered too much for an audience to cope with. Personally, I’d love to see what they could have done with the full freewheeling use of the horror elements they were looking to use.
I also think that as a reader, its fun to defy your own expectations occasionally, to read something entirely different. And to be surprised by your favourite authors. One of the reasons you loved them in the first place was that you did not know what to expect from them from page to page. But that can’t last forever. If an author doesn’t mix things up, then how can you ever bve surprised and delighted by them again?
One of my favourite crime authors is George Pelecanos. He tends to shy away from series, instead writing sequences. He sticks with characters for two or three books before putting them down. He surprises us - and often himself, I’m sure - by keeping things fresh, even in a limited fashion, but making sure we don’t know what to expect the next time out. Its the same with Don Winslow; except Winslow often changes voice, style and attitude to suite whatever story it is he’s writing. There is nothing predictable about what he does. And that’s why he remains exciting.
Reader expectations are funny things. We get burned a lot by bad experiences in reading, and this can lead to a need for the safe, the middle ground, the predictable. But part of the joy of reading is discovery. Of new authors. New genres. New ideas.
Part of the joy of being a writer, too, is being able to explore new ideas. Being allowed the freedom to communicate different experiences to the reader. I’d always rather see an author try something new than retread the same ground. But then, maybe I’m daft that way. Maybe my view of the world is at odds with everyone elses.
I’ve always said, in regards to my own writing, that the McNee series will not last forever. That it is a sequence and that it does have an end. That is important to me as a reader and a writer. It stops me being trapped, and it stops my reader becoming complacent, looking for the same thing time and again. Of course, then that’s a gamble. Because if McNee really took off (hint: he hasn’t, although he is, I think, kind of a cult*) then would anything else I wrote be looked at with the same affection? Would readers follow me into other places, into other lives?
I would hope so.
But of course, in this business, no one knows anything.
And I guess that’s why I love it.
*that is not a spelling mistake