Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category
My friends at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood just pointed out there are only 38 days until the Golden Heart calls go out.
Really? Thanks for that anxiety-inducing tidbit.
When I’m done hyperventilating over here, I need to get to query- and synopsis-polishing.
My writing output seems to drop in direct correlation to any increase in blog reading. That’s a problem, I know — but if I don’t take the time to read a few blogs, how can I expect anyone to read mine?
Besides, if I stopped reading, I’d miss out on gems like this one from Janice Hardy’s blog, The Other Side of the Story. She writes:
Choices that don’t cause trouble are wasted opportunity. The whole point of a book is to show someone overcoming adversity to win. If there’s nothing to overcome, there’s no point in the winning.”
What a way to put it!
It’s no secret that I struggle with conflict. (I blame it on being a Libra. Libras strive for fairness and avoid conflict.) Judges’ comments I got on my first completed MS — even after several new drafts — consistently said “not enough conflict to sustain the story.”
What? You mean a girl falling for one guy when she’s trying to “snag” another one altogether isn’t conflict?
Not according to Hardy. She writes, “A choice between two good things with no consequences for making that choice is probably not going to hold your reader’s interest.”
Well, I already knew Brad and Erin’s story needed help. I tried to remedy it in subsequent drafts by casting suspicion on him … I even hacked out their original “black moment” (such as it was. The “Battle of the Birth Control” was pretty silly when I look back at it with a more experienced eye.)
The key for me is to remember that my hero and heroine have to make choices. And those choices have to mean something. The potential for disaster should loom around every corner.
I think that is the case in my more recent stories. Bethany’s decision to talk Cody into applying for the TV show lands them in a heap of trouble. When Kenny asks Kristi to pretend to be his fiancee, things get out of hand quickly.
Hmm. All my blog reading must be teaching me something about the craft.
The hero in my WIP, Cody, has a tendency to use big words and shrink-speak when he’s upset, angry or flustered. (There’s a reason he has a T-shirt that says “I’m fluent in psychobabble.”)
It turns out Cody and I have that in common. Now that I’m writing fiction fairly regularly, I notice myself trying to flaunt my vocabulary in the articles I write for the newspaper, too.
When I was in journalism school (way back in the dark ages … the early 1990s), we learned the average reading level of the newspaper audience was eighth grade. (I think I’ve heard it’s since dropped to sixth grade, but I might be mistaken there.)
I analyzed my writing style with a computer program once (way back in those same dark ages) and it told me I wrote at a 10th-grade level. That has more than likely changed the farther I’ve gotten from college (where everyone used big words in an attempt to show off what they thought they knew) and the more deeply entrenched I’ve become in journalistic style.
We journalists are trained to use simpler words. A school bus is just plain “yellow,” not “canary” or even “that shade of mustard peculiar to school buses.” Don’t use “growled” or “yelled” when a simple “said” gets the point across without embellishment.
Sometimes I wonder if that training has affected my fiction writing. In first drafts, I often go with the most expedient word. Then I scramble to change it later on.
But now that I’m shifting my focus to making a good impression on agents and editors, I find myself choosing words with a little more razzmatazz … well, like razzmatazz. 😉
That’s not a bad thing at all — unless I’m writing a story for the newspaper. When I’m in journalist mode, I have to catch myself before I use words like “eschew.”
At least I haven’t tried to throw “bifurcated” into a sentence. I stumbled across that one while editing someone else’s story one night and spent much time complaining to whoever would listen that “bifurcated” was unnecessary when “forked” meant the same darn thing — and didn’t send readers scrambling for the nearest dictionary.
How about you? Ever catch yourself using words that make you feel like a big fish in a small pond?
I don’t often do this, but after I wrote this post for my other blog, I realized it’d be a perfect fit here, too. Here goes:
Sign me up for the Vince Vaughn fan club
Has anyone else seen “The Dilemma” yet? In it, Vince Vaughn plays a guy who discovers his best friend’s wife is cheating on him. Then he has to deal with his dilemma: To tell or not to tell.
Am I the only one who thinks Vince Vaughn is a great leading man?
“The Breakup”? Hilarious. “Wedding Crashers”? Heck, yeah. “Couples Retreat”? I could watch it over and over. “Four Christmases”? Yes, please — and I’ll take a couple more while we’re at it.
I love the fast-talking, mistake-prone, so-smart-yet-so-dumb, sweet, funny type of guy Vaughn seems to excel at portraying.
He may not be Brad-Pitt beautiful or Gerard Butler gorgeous, but he’s adorable in his own way. He’s more guy next door … the one the girl doesn’t realize she’s in love with until he’s dating someone else. Then she kicks herself ten ways to Sunday and embarks on a campaign to steal him away from the other woman who is, of course, clearly wrong for him.
Hmm … did I just come up with a story idea? I can work with that.
You never know … maybe I can talk Vaughn into playing the hero in one of my novels someday.
You’re nothing without your dreams, right? 😉
(Speaking of Gerard Butler, the movie trivia playing before the film started said he had a law degree. I did not know that … but I bet Kristan Higgins did. She’s always posting “Gerard Butler Grammar Quizzes” on the RWA newsletter editors’ loop.)