Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Endings

Honestly, I'm tired of two types of endings.
  • Artificial ending (All heart)
  • Unhappy/Unfinished ending (All logic)
 The artificial ending is where you put a cap on the book, sometimes a deus ex machina. Sometimes, when I finish watching a movie or reading a book I think, "That was completely unrealistic. There's no way that person would fall in love with that person" or "why wasn't there a [blank] scene? The whole book/movie was a setup for a [blank] scene and it wasn't in there!". If things are not cleverly built up throughout the story, then when you get to your big conclusion no one is going to feel closure.

On the other hand, there are the unhappy endings. The world operates on something I purposely did not mention before... and that is hope. Happy endings, when built properly and handled well, embed hope in the audience. I know in a lot of ways, people want to keep it as honest as possible. HELLO, this is fiction!! We read it [and I write it] to escape from the "honesty" [some call it reality] of my own life. Or if it's nonfiction, then to rejoice in the depth and survivorship of the human soul, not to wallow in its misery.

Both of these are ways to annoy readers. [And yes, I know Lincoln has a great quote about fooling/pleasing people, so don't bother reminding me.] But you need to be true to what your own heart says and what your logic tells you. Just because you have an evil person in your book doesn't mean that your hero will be strong enough [mentally and/or physically] to defeat them or that the villain will be stupid/weak enough to succumb to the hero.

When you factor in "heart", you also factor in a great number of other things, so that even though you may have planned for your hero to be strong and your villain to be weak... there are things like fate, destiny, and chance that can get in your way.

To non-writers, you may think up the perfect way to logically handle a situation, but you would be forgetting the human factor, the factor that involves another beating heart that you have no control over. You can try with all your heart to make something work, and you can wish on stars too. But sometimes that doesn't work... in fact, a lot of times that doesn't work. In the meantime, you'd be wasting precious space in your heart. In life you can use all heart or all logic, I try to use both.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Making Lemonade

I think that the saying, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade," is entirely disregarded way too much... especially by me.... and here's why:

Now, over the past 8 months or so I've been in school, working towards getting a menial degree that proves I'm capable of doing most menial jobs. Thank God for that, right? I know.

Well, as it turns out, school (as with most important endeavors in life) has caused me a great deal of cumbersome stress. (Note that not all stress is bad.) And when I get weighed down by stress, I lose sight of the good and have a tendency to lean more towards bitterness and sarcasm. And seeing as I am pretty sarcastic and flippantly bitter enough, it's fair to say when I'm stressed I'm a bit too much to handle.

I typically explode like a pressure cooker would with too many ingredients to hold. One of the wonderful ladies who helps me with all my hassles with school tells me that my tea kettle is boiling over.

Today, I found out that someone did something with the intent of a.) distancing themselves from this explosion or b.) to piss me off. I've given them the benefit of the doubt and have told myself they are just "ducking and covering" in all ways possible. I surely can't blame them for that.

But... low and behold....
Something amazing happened! While I was stewing over the fact that they had purposefully removed one of life little pleasures from me (I had been borrowing something), I realized I could just get my own. Yes, I'd have to spend money, but it really wasn't that much. And now, I have my very own!

What this other person didn't realize is that the lemons they gave me I used to make the sweetest lemonade. So I'm sitting here wondering how many more of the lemons being pelted at me could be used for lemonade? All this freedom to decide!! I'm overcome with joy. (The idea of pelting them with their own lemons has crossed by mind, but I try to preserve my integrity in every way that I can.)

How does this pertain to writing? Well, it's simple. If you're characters are getting lemons, then it's called plot. If your book lacks lemons, it's likely you might have a problem.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Enough and Goodbye

Upon looking at my book, I've realized some major mistakes. Character mistakes.

Big breath.

It comes down to how my characters feel to me throughout the book as a whole as well as in individual scenes. Truth is, I love my characters, all of them. Even the bad (antagonistic) ones. They have become a distinctive, influential part of the story, my story.

Sometimes, my characters are practically shouting off the page admitting they need fixing. Sometimes, however, my characters are passive aggressive and fall underneath the radar, managing to stay in the entire book without me noticing that there was something broken about them.

There are two things I can do:
  1. Give my characters enough of what they need. Not over embellish, but fix them... see what's missing in the story and do what it takes to iron out the kinks until I've reached an equilibrium where my characters have depth and I've made reasonable compromises.
  2. Tell the character goodbye. I know people say that sometimes goodbye is the best thing to do, but come on, that is really, really hard. Keeping them around could also ruin all the hard work I've put in, and it may bring down something that has great potential. I may be facing just that problem with one or more of my characters. When this problem arises, I find it's easier to safely store that character's essence in a file folder on my computer somewhere so I don't lose them entirely... perhaps they can have their own different story sometime in the future.
If you're not a writer, there is a metaphor to be found in this. Characters are synonymous to friends and stories are synonymous to life. Sometimes they need fixing and sometimes you just need to say goodbye.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Response and Feedback

Sometimes critiques sting. But as so many things that hurt, only good can come from it, right? Okay, maybe not entirely, but as I mentioned in a previous post, I will try to find the good to spite the bad. Now, that's just me, a real person in the real world. But what about our characters? Will they always try to find the good? Doubt it.

When all else fails... and I have no answer... or no good to find in the things I experience in life, I always have one singular good thing that makes it worth experiencing.... drumroll please.

Because it was an experience.

It's an experience I can pull on to write from. The situation may not be the same but the same emotions can be applied to a number of circumstances. For example, I like my space. I like quiet hours spent listening to music by myself. But there is a moment where that silence can be louder than a fire alarm at two in the morning. It's unsettling and disturbing at best.

But that same emotion appears in one of my main characters in a rather important seen. It works. So when I'm suffering something painful, especially emotionally, I pay attention to it and try to use it in my writing. Nine times of ten, I go write.

Writing always makes me feel better.

As Ever,

PS- I've been getting a lot of feedback lately, and I truly appreciate it, especially from you fellow writer bloggers out there!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Why We Do It

I read an article the other day, and I realized that writing isn't always good... even if it's published... and even if it's published in an important magazine.

(So it's about time I shared some of who I really am with the blogging/writer's world.)

Am I published? No, not as of late.

But I have "finished" a book.

But you should know that in the world of getting a book published, technically, I'm only %25 - %50 done. Agents and editors don't want to read something you've written and not truly edited. That means, when your query hits the door, your book should be a beautiful as it can be.

Mine is not what I want it to be. After letting it stew sweetly for about 6 months, I've realized this. However, 6 months ago, I thought it was amazing. Now... not so much.

So back to my first line, not all published writing is good. I don't want to be that kind of writer that someone reads and wonders why the hell I was published in the first place. So, despite the fact that I have written over 110,000 words in a cohesive story with a cohesive plot, I am not sending it out the door. And I urge others to follow suit. Hopefully, if others do this, we will make all the agents slushpiles a little less gruesome.