Sunday, June 1, 2008

It's been one of those weeks!

Alvin in better days.

It’s just been one of those weeks, this week. Memorial Day was a total wash-out, with storm after storm raging through our area all day, and a couple of tornado warnings thrown in for good measure.

We did finally get hold of the vet on Monday evening, and he agreed to take a look at Alvin’s leg. Luckily, there was nothing broken, except my purse, which ended up $98 lighter. But, judging by the entrails left on my porch yesterday morning, he has now made a complete recovery.

Tuesday evening, I had to go to a meeting of my writer’s group, and the bloody garage door mechanism had been knocked out in all the storms, so I couldn’t get my car out. Mick had forgotten about my meeting, or he would have left it open when he went to work. I finally got there 40 minutes late, and I hate being late. Plus, with all the carry-on over the garage door, I forgot to take the critiquing I had done for the group.

Wednesday, I was in a sweat, because I needed some photographs for my latest article for Oklahoma Living, many of my own had turned out too dark to use. The photographer had been supposed to e-mail them to me on Saturday, but it being a holiday, I thought I would leave off pestering him until Tuesday. Anyway, he did get them to me later that day, so I managed to make my deadline. I hate being late.

Thursday, I was finishing up my book proposal, and inadvertently deleted a chunk of it, and had to redo it. But I did finally get the bloody thing done.

Friday, I had to catch up with some household chores, and getting my hand down the toilet (I did have a brush, I hasten to add), was the perfect end to my week. Oh well, it’s the weekend, things can only get better from here on in, can’t they?

Here’s some more writerly advice for my granddaughter. All writers will tell you that a story or a novel needs a "good hook," at the very beginning. A good hook is what compels the reader to keep reading, and is usually a problem or conflict, that your main protagonist has to sort out, or try to sort out (not all stories end happily), during the course of the story.

In a short story the hook should be in the very first paragraph. In a novel, it should be in the first chapter, preferably in the first couple of pages.

A common mistake for beginning writers is to start the story/novel by giving the back story to the events that are going to follow, or by telling all about the main character. This is one sure fire way to bore your readers to death. It’s not that these things aren’t important, but they should be revealed as the story unfolds. Likewise with characters, meeting a character is like meeting a person for the first time, you don’t know everything there is to know about them after one encounter. We should learn more about a character as the story develops, and we learn as much, if not more, about them through their actions and reactions to events and situations, as by being given a full history of their lives to date.

At the beginning of a story readers don’t care how upset Aunt Mabel’s was when her ginger tom died mysteriously. At this stage they have no investment in Aunt Mabel or her cat. But if the death of Aunt Mabel’s ginger tom was a catalyst (no pun intended), to a neighbor’s vendetta against Aunt Mabel, then we want to know what that vendetta is all about. Sorry that’s a bit of a pathetic example, but I think you get my drift.

This is the opening from one of my stories, hopefully it makes you want to know more about what happened to this character.

I feel as though I have to tell my story in order to make some sense of it, for my own sake if for no one else’s. The events I am going to relate have unsettled me for some time. No, more than unsettled me, they actually caused me to fear for my sanity. But if I can work through the bizarre occurrences of past few months with pen and paper, perhaps I can consider myself cured. This recent madness, only a temporary glitch in an otherwise sane existence.

This type of opening is known as a grabber. Another type of opening is known as a teaser, it draws the reader into the story more gradually. Teasers only work in novels, as short stories need to be off and running from the outset. I do have an example of a teaser, but I’m not going to post it as the novel is still a work in progress.

Thought for the week:
Unprovided with original learning, unformed in the habits of thinking, unskilled in the art of composition, I resolved to write a book. – Edward Bulwer-Lytton


pamokc said...

thanks so much for the writing lesson. i have taken the odd class on it from time to time and never produced much. keep this up and who knows, some of us might get inspired! glad the kitty is better, too!

Raquel said...

I love to write, but have a hard time getting from my head to the paper. Sorry you had such a hectic week, maybe this one will be better, but don't count on the weather! Missouri is so much the same, hot, then cold, dry, then humid. Ugh!

Janet said...

Thanks, Pam. Though I do believe I can only encourage and advise, true inspiration only comes from within.

Raquel, you write some lovely posts on your blog. And you do have to love writing to do it, as much of the time it's damned hard work.

You're right about the weather. This weekend has just been one long round of storms, and it looks like more of the same for this week. The garden is loving it though.

BritGal' Sarah said...

Hey Jan, I hope Alvin is doing better now. Thank you for the great writing tips, they are much appreciated. Hope this week is a good 'un :-)

plantgirl said...

your cat is adorable - wish I had more time(energy) for writing...and art - and all my before parenting pursuits. at least I can blog!

Janet said...

Sarah, I'm glad you find my writing tips useful. And I'm definitely having a better week this week. So far, anyway. :-)

PG Don't be deceived by Alvin's butter wouldn't melt in my mouth expression, he's one mean killing machine, as the mice around here will attest. Well, those that have avoided him so far.

pamokc said...

janet - i tagged you with a meme to post six random things about yourself! can't wait to see what creative writing you can do with it!

Janet said...

Well, thanks a bunch, Pam, and what did I ever do to you to deserve this. :-)

I'll try to play along, but I have to say I hate these meme things, they're the blog equivelent of chain letters.

Also I don't think 6 people read this blog that I can tag. And if there are a few lurkers out there, they'll definitely be running for cover now.

BritGal' Sarah said...

You have been tagged, see blog but feel free to ignore!

Hope you make it through the storms unscathed