Give me a Break

Life has taken a massive turn into the world of busy so I admit that I haven’t taken much time to do a lot of work on my novel. Of course it hasn’t been far from my mind, but my lack of work has not been so much because of my busy life but because I simply needed a break.

Last week I did some massive work on my novel going over my committed weekly time of working on editing. I worked through 2 and half chapters of my novel. I have reached the halfway point when it comes to chapters. Of course there is an almost over whelming amount of work still left to do on my novel but I needed to take a break.

While some people might see taking a break as slacking off I know that taking a break can be good for the novel and the writing process. When we don’t take breaks – at least for me I can get to close to the work and not see things that a fresh set of eyes can see. I was starting to get lost in the details and not seeing what really needs to be addressed.

Another part of over working is that the love for the work wains. As I continued to push and over work my love for my novel started to dwindle and I knew all the more that I needed to take a break. I will be the fist to admit with my novel, that I have a massive love hate relationship with my novel but it is well balanced. I hate it enough to want to improve it and love it enough to want to keep working with the story. It is a fine balance but when that balance gets out of wack I know it is time to take a break.

Having done such I feel that I will be able to stomach those blue and pink comments in my chapters and continue to working on my novel improving it and making it the best I can. I feel like fresh eyes will help my novel more than chugging through and growing to hate it. Anyone else have issues of a love hate relationship with their novels and just needing to take a break?

Pete and Repeat

And now it is stuck in your head the never ending rhyme:

Pete and Repeat got in a boat.
Pete fell out who was left?
Repeat.
Pete and Repeat got in a boat…

The story goes on an on forever really. It is a classic child’s game that many of us all are familiar with.  The point of the little story is the repetition.  Of course coupled with that point is the fact that when we experience or see the same things over and over again we get bored.  We don’t want to see it.  We like things that are kind of new and fresh there can be some familiarity and similarities but we can’t stand it, if there is too much.  This is a simple fact that most people can agree with, even if there are exceptions to this fact, such as the use of repetition to get a point across or for compelling power of the words in how they read and sound – such as Edgar Allen Poe’s The Bells.   

Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the throbbing of the bells —
Of the bells, bells, bells–
To the sobbing of the bells;
Keeping time, time, time
As he knells, knells, knells
In a happy Runic rhyme,

It’s only a small sample of the poem and the repetition found within it but I find it beautiful and purposeful and thus forgivable.  There is rhyme and reason (pun utterly not intended).

Thus, while I love most of Poe’s work and have a love  for the sound The Bells invokes with it’s repetition, I have come to hate it.  (Repetition that is.)  It has become my arch nemesis, as I am continuing to edit my novel.  I am finding more and more moments where I use similar words and phases making for a boring read.  Some of them my editor picked out, others I’m discovering on my own, such to the point that it makes me want to scream and toss the story aside.

Yet, while I feel like I’m on the edge of a repeating word nervous break down, as I look at actual word and phrase counts, via this lovely tool I discovered at Write Words my counts are not as bad as I thought them to be.  Causing me to calm down and realize that my freaking out could be due to a sever lack of sleep and over working.  I still need to tighten things up keep from saying certain words too frequently and too closely together but I’m not as bad off and I could be.  So while repetition is my current mortal enemy I will conquer it! Wish me luck.

An Epilogue

I know for a lot of people in the writer and reader community there is a strong hatred for prologues and epilogues, such to the point that there are those who will skip them entirely. For myself I am not quite that far into the camp of refusing to read the words written by an author. I personally have respect for the author to read all the words of story that they have written in the given book. It is meant to be part of the story and it is meant to be read.

While I am strongly of the opinion that you read all the words, I have concluded that Epilogues are atrocious and something I am growing to despise. Prologues how ever I am very okay with and do not have a hatred for them like I do epilogues.

Prologues when done right are like a larger form of the teasing blurb on the back of the book. It gives you a glimpse of the future events of the story to make the slightly more ‘boring’ start less boring because you know that isn’t the whole story more is coming. While I am not overly fond of the books an example of such a prologue is Twilight. At the start of the book there is a prologue that mentions how death was not something the character expected. I don’t remember exact details but it gave a taste that something bigger was going to happen before we dig into the story of Bella moving to Forks Washington. I admit the prologue is what drew me into the book before they became a craze and before I realized the quality of the writing found with in the book.

If a Prologue doesn’t give you a glimpse into future events they many times can give you knowledge of events that your hero is not privy too events else where that tell you things are coming for your ignorant character. It gives you that moment when looking at the every day life of the main character of ‘you poor fool, everything is about to change for you’. I like these moments. A good example of this is Mister Monday the first book in the Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix. The prologue starts in the magical world where a motion of events take place that leave you wondering before you start the story with the hero Arthur who is just trying to survive a day of school not knowing anything about the world of magic. The prologue wets your appetite, or at least usually does. There are times where it is pointless but even then I am not bothered by them.

Epilogues however…. that is a whole other ball of wax. I am not saying all epilogues are bad but a lot of them are terrible. I really truly hate them. I can think of three distinct examples where at best it was bad and pointless to completely and utterly ruining the end of a story. The first example I present to you is the Epilogue found in Armada the second book by Ernest Cline. The story was to me mediocre at best but the epilogue was a massive rush to the end to summarize several things, and set up for a possible squeal but poorly so. It was a rush of scenes and events that would have been better fleshed out and played into the prose or left off entirely. However the epilogue did not ruin the story.

The next two epilogues should be more familiar with people as the first one I present is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I know for some massive fans they loved knowing about the next generation and I know I’ve had my fun writing that next generation in the past but still it was weak and in my opinion it detracted from the chief story. I know there are a lot of people that would have preferred it not be there and I feel it weakened the story told across all seven books. Again not terrible but it does contribute to the whole epilogues not being great motif.

The last epilogue I present is the worst of them all and quite frankly ruined the story and negated a brilliant ending. What book it that? That is none other than Mocking Jay by Susan Collins. The end of Mocking Jay was beautiful and so fulfilling.

So after, when he whispers, “You love me. Real or not real?”

I tell him “Real”

That is a powerful ending to me so complete and fulfilling, unfortunately you turn the page and there is epilogue where we see Katniss still haunted by her past and how she is getting ready to face it again so to speak by recounting it to her questioning children. It doesn’t have power doesn’t speak, they are just words on a page. In a lot of ways this epilogue more than any other was just vanity writing. It wasn’t a matter of words written for the story and the reader but written for the author, and that bugs me.

I know as writers we write for ourselves, but as we write for ourselves we also write some for an audience and while you the writer have ideas beyond the main story sometimes the end of your book is not the place to put them. I hope that if I ever write an epilogue my test readers and editors will tell me right off if I am writing for my vanity or detracting from the story.

Of course with my examples and rants I am not ready to say all Epilogues are bad but I not able to think of a good one. Does someone know of a good one to share? Do you disagree with my assessment? Are you willing to consider prologues or epilogues in your own writing? I have yet to write one but I won’t rule them out.

The Benefits of Fanfiction

As of late my mind has been drifting quite a bit to fanfiction.  I know a lot of people frown on it because it is not 100% original but those people don’t know the great benefits that come with writing fanfiction.  To me it is a great start for writing, it is a safe environment with which to play and write.  It allows you to exercise certain writing muscles at certain time.  It also gives you the opportunity when posted to the internet to get experience with feedback and even criticism.  While fanfiction was not my start as it was for many writers I know it was a great growing and learning experience.  Thus I want to share with you the 6 things I learned from fanfiction.

  1. The importance of plotting – With fanfiction a lot of times you write the first scene/chapter and post it and then write the next and post, writing then editing a little at a time rather than writing the whole story then editing. With this format there were many times not a lot of pre-plotting of the whole story I would write as the words came to me and more than once I wrote myself into a corner.  If I hadn’t published I could back track and change a thing or two to keep out of the corner but sadly couldn’t because I had already published.  So I learned to plan ahead and be sure that things were not going to blow up in my face.  It still happens today but a lot less and fortunately because I don’t publish before completion I can tweak things.
  2. How to write an ending – This is a rare thing for some people to learn in the world of fanfiction as there are a lot of incomplete stories out there. I have a lot of incomplete stories myself.  However, it was in the world of fanfiction that I wrote my first short stories which are a whole different beast than novels.  Unfortunately, I have fallen out of practice with short story writing but the skills were still learned there in fanfiction.
  3. Beta Reading – Fanfiction is where I learned about beta readers and the need to get some people you trust to read your work and offer critiques to make your story better and verify that you have comma’s in the right place and aren’t missing words. (Something I fail to do on my blog.)
  4. Reviews and Criticisms – When you post your fiction for the world to see and leave things open for comments you learn how to take the good and the bad when it comes to your story. You have people pointing out mistakes, telling you what they liked, what they didn’t like and even some people who will dump a can of hate on you.  It helps you develop a bit of a thick skin sometimes and judge what you are good at and what you are not.
  5. Confidence – This one kind of ties into the whole reviews thing but for me fanfiction was where I built my confidence. I was always scared and shy to share my works and what I had written.  While it seems weird at the same time it is true, it is easier to share your stories with complete strangers than it is to share with those you know.  I learned how not to be scared to share my work.  I learned what I was good at who my style of writing mirrored some and that I might actually have some good ideas and stories in me that people want to read.
  6. What not to do – In my experience doing fanfiction I also learned what not to do, I saw and read more than my fair share of really bad fanfiction. I experienced more than most as I worked for a fan fiction site for a time validating stories to make sure they met site rules for publication.  I cannot account for the horrors I read some of it sadly published and some of it not.  There can always be something said and learned from reading poor works of fiction as much as from good works of fiction.

Over all fanfiction has been a great experience for me and I don’t regret my time spent writing it.  I don’t write it much anymore but I have had thoughts of dabbling in it once again, a break from work and a chance for my subconscious to chew on my original works.  I’m not sure though, as a lot of spare writing time goes role playing which has its own merits and can potentially be a form of fanfiction writing but the merits of role playing will be saved for another blog post.­­