Gina Writes Words: August 2014

Friday, 15 August 2014

The Very Bad Beginning

I must live with my head under a rock because I have only just discovered that it is bad form to start your story when somebody wakes up. Instinctively I have always started my story where I believe it starts - I do not start the writing before I start the actual story, as far as I can tell. I am lazy in that respect, and that wouldn't gel with my skeletal first draft style, anyway.

What You Wish For starts when Maggie, the main character wakes up.  This is bad, apparently. But less than half way down the page, while she is still in bed, the action starts. Is it still bad, now? I have scoured my first chapter, looking for a better starting point, and I couldn't find one. Anything less, or midway through, doesn't set the scene at all, and there needs to be a tiny bit of introduction, surely? Just enough for anyone reading it to find their feet - a couple of paragraphs. I set Maggie's expectations for the day... and then take them away.

I have considered starting the previous evening, but why? Surely this would contradict the advice to start the story where it starts... I could literally be adding useless padding for the sake of simply not starting when Maggie wakes up.

And, let me be clear she does not wake up, yawn and stretch, make her cereal - with skimmed milk as she doesn't like cream, jump on the tube to work - making sure to sit as close to the door as possible, take the stairs up to her office - to get her daily steps in, and arrive to a giant dog eating her desk. I do not use five pages of scene setting. So am I still wrong?

I like to flatter myself that I sort of know how to write a story. Ask me about any kind of arcs, or plot and pinch points and I will give you a very confused look, but the telling of the story is what I enjoy.  I have works in progress that start in places other than the protagonists bed because I have started where the story begins... hopefully.

It may be worth noting that I have further impounded my literary faux pas by having Maggie question if it was all a dream at the end of the first chapter. Again, this was a deliberate choice, and all is soon revealed.

I am, however, entirely open to another point of view and, should someone come along who can see a better away, let's discuss it. Please. Show me the error of my ways... :-)

When can an accepted 'rule' be broken?  Have I created something entirely unreadable by twisting old cliche's/tropes/stereotypes/bad writing to suit my own ends?

Have you ever broken a rule? How did it work out for you?

Sunday, 10 August 2014

What You Wish For

Yay!  My book writing friend and critique partner, Missy Shirley took my #pitchFURY post, some lines from my story and created a lovely trailer for me.

What You Wish For is the story of Maggie Forrester and what happens when she wakes up in an alternate version of her life. She switches back and forth between both lives and two husbands while trying maintain a degree of normality behind secrets and lies, and work out the difference between 'love' and 'in love'.

Missy is a contracted author (writing as Melissa Shirley) who writes the excellent Storybook Lake series. Storybook Lake is an amazing small American town where the men are gorgeous, practically have to take a kissing exam to live there, and falling in love is a daily event.

Check out Missy on the web:
or on Facebook:
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Thursday, 7 August 2014

That's Great, but What is It?

I should be able to answer that, right? Given that I wrote the thing. Approx 73 000 words and it still doesn't know what it wants to be when it grows up.

I've gone with the really general term "Women's Fiction" because it doesn't seem to be straight-forward genre anything. There is a wide thread of romance running through it, but it may touch a romance-genre taboo, there is a little flavour of magical realism, but I'm not sure I've gone in from that angle enough to classify it absolutely 'magical realism'. It isn't sci-fi, and not really fantasy. The setting is contemporary.

It isn't literary, but is it commercial? Would anyone buy it, because surely that is the real meaning of commercial - that it has wide sales appeal?

And because I'm not sure what it is, who will want it? I've combed all sorts of submission requirements trying to decide if it is a good fit for someone.

I've brought myself (and anyone who will listen) a bit of stress the past few days by trying to classify what I've written, and it almost changed how I view it. It nearly went from being an affectionately regarded child to being assigned all the chores and sleeping under the stairs. But then I realised I still like it. I didn't write it with a market in mind, I wrote to be true to the story.

And, besides, I can't devote all of my thinking power to what I've already written when I need to direct at least some of my thoughts to the next group of people trying to find a way out of my head. (I'm not sure there are any lights up there, to be honest.)

So it is what it is, really. And if no one else wants it, it'll have to be that child who lives with me forever.

Monday, 4 August 2014

A Question of Balance?

With 3 children aged 6 and under, a house to keep clean and tidy, and week 3 of the summer break starting, things here are moving veeeeeeery slowly, here.

Well, that's not entirely true.  My house is not at all clean and tidy because I have very demanding characters who keep distracting me and seeking my attention. And my children have started behaving like barbarians. But that probably isn't related to the writing.

So how do I balance everything? No, really - how do I? This isn't a how-to guide, it's a desperate plea of a question because I don't have the heart or stomach to cut myself in two.

I keep a notebook to jot things down as they occur to me and I attempt to capture my flashes of inspiration there but, by the time bedtime has been and gone and I have have wrestled three very unwilling children into submission, I am tired.  Tired, and only worthy of slumping onto the sofa in defeat. At that point, most desire to write has left me and it's a slog.

I've tried writing when the inspiration occurs, and my story builds in little fits and starts all day but the danger there is that I become entirely carried away and the children could take my house apart around me, brick by brick (because 6 yr old is a bit obsessed with Lego, and - recently - Jenga), and I wouldn't even notice.  My husband would, though, when he arrived home to a house that no longer existed.  Just a group of barbarian children playing in a large pile of a rubble and a wild woman typing up a firestorm on a laptop fast running out of charge.

Where do I find my balance?  Does a good wife and mother wait until the housework is done, the children are dressed and fed (they are never full.  I've tried.) and sufficiently entertained before she turns her attention to writing?  Or does a good writer ride that wave of inspiration, throwing the ideas on the page while the baby eats dirt in the garden and the two oldest attempt to build an extension upstairs (I have no idea what that banging could be, otherwise)?

Where does the balance lie? Is there any such thing?