Fireflies & Laserbeams

"What’s it about?"

Saturday September 24, 2011 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | Blogging | Leave Comments

I don't know about you, but when people find out I'm writing a book, they get very excited and ask me what it's about.  I have a real problem here.  I actually get a little embarrassed by this question, as if being a science fiction writer is akin to being a junkie or a male prostitute or something equally vile.  I don't know why.  I love science fiction!  I mean I rarely read anything else, I love almost all the genres of SciFi equally.  I also like the vampire genre a great deal.  There is some really great stuff out there, and some really crappy stuff too.  I'm hopeful that mine's not falling in the latter camp. My WIP doesn't fall into an easily definable category.  It's not a vampire story that has roots in the Dracula type vampire, at least not completely.  It has elements of the traditional vampire, but mine are called Nemesi and they started from an alien virus.  See? ... science fiction.   The evolution of the story was organic, and even though the story arc is fairly linear, there are a lot of elements of different SciFi genre, as well as an entire story arc centered around a young woman, adding in more complexity.  I can't think of another story that is actually "like" mine, so it's hard to tell someone something like, "It's like Stephen King and Anne Rice mixed together with a dose of Rod Serling."  (Although that might be very close...j/k) So it normally goes something like this:  "That's so cool that you're writing a book, what's it about?" "It's science fiction..."   Then it goes one of two ways.  I measure their reaction.  If it's an encouraging smile, then I try to explain a little bit more: "It's about an Air Force pilot that gets turned into a vampire and it's a long time into the future..."  Something along those lines.  Sometimes they ask more, but usually they just nod and say, "That sounds cool, I want a signed copy."  Like somehow I will have a truckload of them to give away for free.  Of course I'd be very excited to sell them a signed copy, at cost for crying out loud, don't look at me like that! or They give me a clown smile, clowns are scary.  You know, a demented grin, like they are patronizing me.  Actually they are patronizing me. So it ends awkwardly, and we part company. I really need to figure out how to answer this question with confidence and clarity.   Anyone else having this problem or is it just me? Clear Ether!

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Structure and Style

Monday August 1, 2011 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | Blogging | Leave Comments

I have something to share before I get into this week's topic.  It happened!  I finished my first draft on the 31st of July!  It was a bit anticlimactic, and I was starting to wonder when I was going to be finished.  It seemed like I was paragraphs away from finishing and the finish line keep moving away from me.  I think I wrote another 11k words when I thought I had less than 500 to go.  I had the most productive week ever, with multiple days of 5 and 6 thousand words.  But it's actually done at 597 pages and 131,464 words.  That was quite a bit more than I originally planned, but with hope it will slim down, as now come the rewrites.  I am going to try to let it breath for a bit, but I'll likely be breaking out the scalpel and duct tape sooner rather than later. As I got close to the end I had the chance to go back and review my original plots and attempts at an outline and I have to say they are nothing like the finished product.  I had an idea for an opening scene, that was the starting point, and then my POV character changed and changed again into what I ended up using, and that changed the entire perspective of the story.  I think it's crucial to get that part right.  Once the ideas started to settle into the semblance of a plot, it became obvious that the original MCs were not going to see enough of the story to carry it through.  That was when I hit on the idea for the new MC, and once that was decided, something magical started to happen ... the story started to develop a life all on its own and I just tried to take notes.  Which leads to this weeks topic. I seem to be getting hit over the head lately with STRUCTURE.  I am reading a few books on writing and a few blogs I follow also hit this theme really hard this past week or two.  It's one idea on how to get started, by laying down a sort of skeleton of a story and then adding meat to the bones to form it.  It has a definite road map, with the 4 parts.  The first being the set-up, where you introduce the characters and the start of the dilemma to end the first part at the 1st Plot Point, it lays out the stakes.  Then the next section has the MC running into trouble, and helping us, the reader, have empathy for the MC and having to solve a problem, most likely related to the big problem (key plot) and ending with it resolved at Plot Point 2, then another one much like the second, but it is really focused on the Big Plot and the major climactic event at the end of part 3.  Part 4 is just tying up loose ends and resolving the Big Plot stuff.  There are lots of other parts that fill in with subplots and side stories, but that is the basic layout.  I can see this working for a lot of people, but I don't think it works all that great for me, at least in the intended fashion.  I use it at the end of my process, to make sure I didn't go too far off course, a way to validate the structure after the fact. I'm what they call a pantser.  I just start working ideas like working a lump of clay until something forms and I go "AHA!", then I just start writing.  About halfway or 2/3s in I start working on an outline to get to a satisfactory ending.  I revise the first bits here if I need to, then guide the characters along the outline, but my outline is more like a Lego structure, not one made out of steel.  I like to be able to take it apart and reform it from time-to-time as my ideas coalesce into something with substance.  It's really very organic, but then I probably have a lot of pruning to do on the rewrite. The thing I don't really like about the STRUCTURE at the beginning in the story development phase is that it requires you to be brilliant all at once.  Your plot really needs to be strong or it won't matter how much meat you put on that weakling.  I find that I have what I hope is brilliance in small doses.   A scene or an idea sparks and grows and I can mold it and shape it and add other ideas to it and then that leads to more ideas.  Like I said, it's organic like that.  I'm interested in how you develop your stories, I love to hear all about it! BTW I will be looking for some alpha readers soon.  If you like Sci Fi and Paranormal Romance it might be up your alley, please let me know if you would be interested.   Clear Ether!

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