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Finding My New Groove

I've been working on the mental transition between "web cartoonist" to "writer" over the past week or two, with varying degrees of success. Some of it has been getting my tools up to speed -- clicky keyboard, updated version of WordPerfect[1], that kind of thing. The rest of it has been trying to train my mind to get back in the habit of thinking in terms of long-format fiction.

The Fictionlets have been a lot of fun and great use for keeping my prose muscles loose and active, but they are by their nature very different from working on a novel. Granted, if you string enough of them together, they'd be novel length, but 80,000 words of 500-word micro-stories is a very different beast from a single 80,000-word story.

So as I've been bending my mind towards writing as a more primary part of my life, I've been trying to come up with ideas large enough to sustain a novel -- and I don't mind telling you, it's hard! I've come up with a couple dozen premises that would be great for short stories (and writing them down, I never throw a good idea away), but a novel requires a much deeper framework than "cellphone found embedded in 5,000-year-old volcanic rock." You need a cast, a setting, two or three meaty subplots and a theme -- and you need a plot with enough actual plot in it to fill a book.

And it's that last part is the tricky bit, for me. Sometimes I can sit down and just start banging out something and a plot will unfold in my mind, but more often than not, after having established character and setting, I then go "Uh ... then what?" and get stuck. I'm pretty solid on writing entertaining-to-read prose, but that's just the icing. I need to come up with a proper cake to put under it, and that's where the hard part of writing is, for me.

-The Gneech

[1] Yes, OpenOffice is free, and so is that one from Google; but whether it's because WordPerfect is what I got my start in, or it's just a superior product, I'll leave for others to debate. I need to be working in WordPerfect to work comfortably, so Corel gets a bit more money from me. Le sigh!

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( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
confusedoo
Nov. 28th, 2009 04:16 pm (UTC)
Write some short stories by all means... You should write a short story for the next volume of Roar.
athelind
Nov. 28th, 2009 07:05 pm (UTC)
Roll with the short stories. Do something with those ideas, get'em out of your head, and get in the habit of WRITING. Use'm as breaks when you're staring at the blank screen with GREAT-AMERICAN-NOVEL.WPD at the top. The format may be a bit out of fashion right now, with the decline of the Fiction Magazine (genre and non-genre), but it was a significant one for over a century. Time was when every Real Writer cut his teeth on shorts.

Personally, I think that there's a lot more craft in getting a solid story out of 20-30 pages than there is in meandering on in the bloated, padded, never-ending multi-volume epics so beloved of the current crop of paperback publishers.

CRISWELL PREDICTS that the short story will make a comeback in the coming years, as it's a format well-suited to reading online. The two or three decades around the turn of the century when the venue for shorts dried up will prove to be an anomaly.

And I wanna read about the cell phone, dagnabbit.
radarnocturn
Nov. 29th, 2009 12:48 am (UTC)
If you find a solution for the "Uh ... then what?" problem, let me know, I've got the same problem!
chipuni
Nov. 29th, 2009 03:00 am (UTC)
Here are a few phrases that will get the story going again.

"Suddenly, a shot rang out."

"The telephone rang."

"The otter nosed Betty. He wanted more fish."
radbaron
Nov. 29th, 2009 03:12 pm (UTC)

It was the otter, in a telephone booth, with a revolver!

Isaac Asimov did hundreds of shorter stories. He also did the large volume series as well (Foundation). So you need not focus on one over the other. Luckily for him, though, that there was a resource in which he could be published, which I don't find today... the pulp magazines.
hossblacksilver
Nov. 30th, 2009 06:36 am (UTC)
I found Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine in a local Books-A-Million. I got introduced to it through a reading for the blind on radio that they had on Saturday mornings (CrossTime Cafe, not related to the web comic). It actually inspired me to create up with a low level sci-fi story that one of these days I may put into a word document.
chipuni
Nov. 29th, 2009 10:38 pm (UTC)
In other news, thank you thank you thank you for making a wallpaper of the final scene of The Suburban Jungle!

grizzly47
Nov. 30th, 2009 07:04 am (UTC)
When I was a student in college, I began my matriculations with a mediocre style of writing. My written efforts during those early college years were filled with many run-on sentences. However, with some practice (and a technical writing class) I finally succeeded in constituting my thoughts in print.

I will not state I'm a good writer, only that my writing has improved with practice.

Gneech, I'm sure your written work is far better than mine. Still I'd like to pass on one word of wisdom from my technical writing professor; KISS (or "Keep It Simple Student," however, you may replace that last word with your favorite "S" word).
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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