John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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What's the Difference Between Weekends and Bookends?

Bookends last more than few hours.

Hm. That came out lame. Oh well.

Laurie and I have settled on a new place; neither of us are real thrilled about it, but neither of us hate it either, and it's $250/mo cheaper than what we're paying now, larger, and has a shorter commute. We're putting in the application tomorrow; if all goes well, we should have a new address within a few days.

I haven't read my LJ since Friday; seems that a lot of my friends are having a rough time of it right now. :( So for all of them, all I have to offer is a big ol' virtual hug:


I have given up on Game of Thrones. The last time I picked it up, my brain said, "Please, no more ... I don't care if it does get better, I just want it to go away." So away it goes. I picked up a few other books earlier today, and I'll start one of them tonight probably.

katayamma has apparently lost his copy of Photoshop, so I'll be doing the coloring on SJ for a while; that's gonna hurt. At the moment, SJ is riding purely on my stubbornness not to give up on it, on the assumption that if I can work out a way to get to MFF, my enthusiasm will naturally kick in of its own accord. I'm just not terribly interested in what goes on in the Suburban Jungle right now ... my mind is in "fantasy" mode, not "furry" mode, and as a result, I want to write and not to draw.

On the subject of my writing, I think I have worked out most of the details of the Soloman story, "The Stones in the Desert." If I get a chance tomorrow, I'll probably finish it at work. (It is nice to be paid to sit around and work on my own stuff, as long as it lasts. I suspect that after this coming week, I'll be much busier, le sigh.) It's a pretty good little story, I think; it definitely shows the influence of Howard on my writing, however, both in terms of the storyline itself, and in the voice of the narrative. I'd like to think it's not so derivative of REH that it comes off as basically a pastiche, but only the views of my readers will determine that.

Unfortunately, while REH was a master of the short form, he was not that strong a novelist -- so I'm going to have to transcend the shortcomings of my spiritual mentor in order to make my own way -- at least if I want my writing to sell! The short story market ain't enough to live on, and there's precious little interest in the good old-fashioned pulp fantasy in the short story market anyhow. Right now editors and publishers want Big Fat Fantasies, as they're referred to in the business, and even if I can't write exactly those and would hate doing it if I could, likewise I'm not going to get anywhere by clinging to their exact opposites.

My previous attempt to write a fantasy novel reached something like 60,000 words and I couldn't find a single other thing worth saying in it. That story is done at 60,000 words, and heck, some of that is padding. But it was still longer than the other attempts at novels I've written, and I view it as being roughly akin for the training a long-distance runner has to go through. You don't start with the Boston Marathon, you start by running around the block and work your way up.

The problem I have with novels, I think, is that I think of a single story idea and write it out -- e.g., Varakh's attempt to ruin April and Serrick's wedding, and the attempt the heroes make to save Serrick's life as a result. But a novel needs to be a bigger idea. Lord of the Rings isn't just about Frodo and Sam hiking to Mordor -- it's also about reuniting lands that have drifted apart, the tragedy of Boromir and the victory of Faramir, the redemption of the line of Isildur in the person of Aragon, restoring the Shire, etc., etc. A novel tells many stories, weaving them all in and out of each other.

This may be why so many writers start with an outline, rather than just opening up WordPerfect and typing in "It was a dark and stormy night..." It's a much smaller task to tackle, writing a 10-30 page summary of a big story, than it is to jump right in to writing the story itself.

The main reason I haven't had much success with this tactic myself is that I don't think in terms of plot, I think in terms of character. Some personality or set of personalities will catch my interest, and I'll find myself exploring them on paper until I've got them worked out -- or until I'm distracted by something shiny, which is the more common result. (I have tons of stuff about Conrad, Drezzer, Beowulf, Mopsy, and even Col. Thunder that I've only scratched the surface on, but because other stuff has my interest at the moment, those things are in the back seat.)

I think my next goal for my writing (aside from finishing "The Stones in the Desert") should be to think of a story idea (or just take the Coren idea) and write a properly novel-scope outline based on it. As much fun as it is to pfutz around with the world map, and as ego-soothing as it is to procrastinate by reading "How To Write" books or other people's fiction, I am spinning my wheels, creatively. I need to move forward.

I'm sick of being a wannabe!

-The Gneech
Tags: adventure, family, fantasy, house, reading, writing
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