Friday, October 14, 2011

Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble

Alas, there was a time, long, long ago.....a time where this blog was supposed to include "written triviality." I sat here last night, drinking Woodchuck's last fermented apples of the season (Try the stuff, it's great) when a wild flight of fancy took me. I want to write a Halloween story! Buh...buh....

BUH! Get it? Dramatic woodchuck? I know, I crack myself up.

Why, you ask?

    "Jarryd, a holiday-themed story will never sell. The markets and time-frame are too narrow."

I agree, it will likely never sell to a professional market. But that's not my purpose. My purpose is simple creative fancy. You see, before I got home to sit in front of the computer and drink fermented cider, I attended a meeting of my bi-monthly writer's group, the Palm City Word Weavers. We are a motley crew of experienced veterans and new talent. I am neither experienced nor talented, yet I do my best to learn from both. Anyway, at this meeting, several of my fellow writers presented Halloween-themed stories for critique. Needless to say, I was inspired. I had the privilege to listen to whimsical stories about magical pumpkins and creepy stories about the weird guy next door. As I listened, I got to thinking.....

    "Hell, fall is one of my favorite times of year. A time when harvest apples, leaf-diving whimsy, and the spirits of the dead all get together. Why can't I write about that?"

Good question, Jarryd.

I want to write this story. I may not be able to sell it in the traditional sense, but it'll give me something fun to read at Howl at the Moon next week. Plus, if it turns out well, there's this little contest the story would be perfect for.

So yes, the prospect of a sale on this one is a bit slim at the get-go. Who cares. Sometimes, you just have to write what you like. Until next time...

Be sure to fly all of your fancies,


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Into the Middle of Things

As I mentioned last time, I signed myself up to participate in NaNoWriMo 2011, which challenges me to write a 50,000 word novel in a little under one month. As I also mentioned last time, I'm scared to death. When I'm scared or nervous, I tend to fret endlessly about everything regarding the subject of my nervousity. (ok, I totally didn't know "nervousity" was a word before I wrote it. I guess you learn new things every day *cue thumbs up*)


OK, back on topic. When nervousity gets the better of me, I worry. Not surprisingly, I'm currently worrying about my novel. The world I've created is of utmost importance to me and, like a child on their first day of school, I want to present it in the best possible light. It will be the first time most people will see my world, and I want to make sure it doesn't trip over the proverbial steps and land on its proverbial face.

Not pretty.

If my first novel is the first most people will see of my world, the beginning of said novel is the first part anyone will see period (.)

Gee pal, thanks for dragging us through the unecessary logic chain on that one.

I know it's tedious, but I just want to emphasize how important the beginning is to me, and therefore why I'm having so much trouble nailing it down. Not only is the beginning the first part of a novel potential readers (read: customers) see, it's also where novels are potentially sold or rejected by editors and agents. It lays the groundwork for the entire book, and often a book will sink or swim based on that groundwork. You might see why I'm concerned.

Anyway, there is a terrible precedent in the fantasy genre to start books slowly. In some of my favorite fantasy series, the first book starts by carefully laying out the protagonist's humble beginnings, usually as a Luke-Skywalker/Frodo-esc farmboy, who will eventually lose their family and humble beginnings to fiery tragedy. Hero will then promptly grow up to save the world in some fashion from glossy black rebreathers, magical lightning, and cyclopsian black towers. It's such a classic and mythical archetype that the farmboy-orphan beginning persists as a bit of a cliche within the genre. Now, I'm not one to buck tradition. I want my protagonist to follow similar lines, because, well, I like it. My only problem is that I actually want to sell my book. If I persisted with my preferred beginning, the only result would be a pile of pink rejection slips. So, in the interest of my future livelihood, I've been hard at work trying to find ways to subvert and disguise that particular trope.

After several sleepless nights, I remembered something I'd heard on an episode of Writing Excuses. They referred to something called "in medias res." According to God, in medias res translates from Latin as "into the middle of things." It is a narrative technique used by some authors to break out of slow and exposition-heavy beginnings by starting the narrative in the middle of the story (read: the action and fun parts) while periodically filling in the needed exposition (read: beginning). Homer was a fan, as he employed in medias res in both the Illiad and the Odyssey.

Who am I to second guess Homer?

Through much thought and careful plotting, I've decided to start the first novel with the end of the final novel. By allowing the reader to see what happens near the end of the trilogy, I hope to lend the first two books a sense of tragic inevitability before the story finally catches up to itself near the end of last book. While this technique doesn't exactly fit the exact definition of in medias res, it fits somewhere in between in medias res and a classic frame narrative. It's not exactly an original technique, but it's unique and interesting enough that it should serve to get people through the boring exposition to the meat of the story.

Remember to sign up for NaNoWriMo if you haven't yet, and check out my entry for the 150-word Reader's Digest contest =). If you have trouble getting to my entry, "Like" Reader's Digest, and disable "Secure Browsing" in your Facebook security settings. Until next time,

Be wary of faceplants and cyclopsian black towers,


Saturday, October 8, 2011

NaNoWriMo and Other Fatal Maladies

This week, I'm proud to announce my status as an "Official Participant" in NaNoWriMo 2011. For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo stands for "National Novel Writing Month," which takes place annually in the month of November. My goal will be to write a 50,000-word novel in about 25 days. In short, I'm terrified.

So terrified.

According to Microsoft's Calculator suite, that equals 2000 words a day, or roughly 1.4 words a minute for 25 days straight. Why subject myself to such rushed literary torture? Three reasons:

1. I eventually want to write full time, which means writing (almost) everyday. I want to see what that's like, and NaNoWriMo gives me a good excuse.

2. I have a problem with accountability. With NaNoWriMo approaching in November, I now have a hard deadline for finishing my short stories, allowing me to move on to my novel.

3. I've been challenged. Fellow writer and blogger Candice Coghill threw down her proverbial glove on Facebook earlier this week, and I am now honor-bound to kick her literary tail.

Since I promised to document the experience of writing my first novel, I will be releasing frequent updates throughout the month of November, providing fresh and exciting updates from the gritty novel-writing front lines. Wartime press coverage will boldly go where no split infinitive has gone before.


Lastly, I've recently submitted a piece to the Reader's Digest contest, "Your Life....The Reader's Digest Version." The contest consists of 150-word stories, lessons, advice, etc. The winner receives $25,000 as well as publication. The contest was a great exercise, as it forced me to condense my message to a strict word limit and trained me to make every word count. I highly recommend everyone to give this a go. You can read and vote for my entry here.  Best of luck to anyone who enters!

Also, I've added my NaNoWriMo profile to the links on the left sidebar of my blog homepage. Check me out, or better yet, sign up and friend me. =) Until next time...

Game on,


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Art of Trailblazing and Remounting Steeds

Last week, I received my first rejection slip.

It hurt. Bad.

Well, I can't say I expected anything else. Now that my minor cardiac laceration has had time to heal, I'm taking a longer view on things. My story is good, I have no doubt. It was well executed and original, and my writing group liked it. I feel like it was good work. However, there is something vital, something extremely important I forgot during my time of wretched inconsolability. (yeah yeah, not a word). My story is good, yes. But it can be better. Much better, even. To me, this is good news. Even though they sent me a form letter rejection after two months with no feedback, I believe I have identified the things that, while relatively minor, caused my story to be rejected. My story, for instance, is fairly short. At 2000 words, it falls short of most professional market's preferred length of around 4000 words. There are several parts of my protagonist's story that could stand to be fleshed-out and clarified. Doing so, I know I can easily double the word count of my story.

Rejection, whether literary, professional, or romantic, is never easy. Just like dating, however, it's important to carry on. For me, it's time to get back on the proverbial horse.

*cue triumphant whinny*

With life doing its best to put me on my back, rejection is just what I needed to pick me up. I've been in a bit of a creative rut lately, so there's nothing like a good kick in the pants to get me moving again. All I can do is write, revise, and submit again. I know that if I keep at it, it will only be a matter of time. Comments, advice, and consolation are always encouraged. =)