30 Days of Writing: Days #21 & #22

The answer to yesterday’s question was short and I had little else to say…

21. Do any of your characters have children? How well do you write them?

None of my characters have children. I occasionally write short pieces from a young person’s POV, but not often. None of my stories thus far have called for a child character.

22. Tell us about one scene between your characters that you’ve never written or told anyone about before! Serious or not.

Okay, I suppose it’s best to take a moment and differentiate what sorts of writing I do. The first and most basic type is free writing. This is spewing on paper and is almost always done with paper and pen. This is where I bitch and complain about life (more so than I do here) and occasionally work out story details. For the purposes of this question, I don’t really count what’s been done as free writing because it’s all half-assed ideas and snippets.

The second type can be labeled "Projects." Projects are the novel(s) I work on in collaboration with Eric. Scenes may get written for a novel that never get used or get cut later. A whole character was cut from Model Species. I expected there to be more unused scenes while working on Luck for Hire, but that hasn’t happened yet. (I do have a probably non-cannon 52|250 piece featuring Mr. Luck coming out on Friday…) Again, things that get exorcised in the process of revision fall by the wayside of my mind. Regardless, these scenes get written and most often looked at (by Eric).

The third type we’ll call "Me Only" writing. Lately this has been random #FridayFlash or 52|250 pieces. Short, one-offs originating pretty much from my brain only. No Eric involvement. In the past, Me Only has included the occasional short story and even some bits and pieces of a never worked-out novel. In this case, sure. There are scenes between characters that have never been seen. I even have a short story that I haven’t written which obviously includes some scenes between characters that I, well, haven’t written.

I’d say a weakness of this meme has been that it assumes that I only have one group of characters. Or rather, maybe I’ve been interpreting that questions too broadly and should only use my current work-in-progress. Which would be boring since it’s only 10K words long at the moment.

30 Days of Writing: Day #20

20. What are your favorite character interactions to write?

Conversations. I like writing dialog and there’s an interesting challenge to integrating action into character conversations. Alternately, I hate writing fight scenes. They never contain conversation. Sometimes, I think screenwriting would be easier for me. I hear characters more than I see them. My impression of screenwriting is that you write the dialog and sum-up the setting and action to a greater or lesser degree. Can’t do that when writing a novel.

Funnest bit of writing I’ve done lately? The phone conversation between Aleister Luck and Cindy/Mr. Schlotz.

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Needed a break from 30 Days of Writing while I traveled back to AZ and regrouped. It’s good to be home, even if it is still 100+ degrees here. Regardless, I’m breaking out the Hallowe’en decorations tomorrow.

30 Days of Writing: Day 19 – Minor to Major

19. Favorite minor that decided to shove himself into the spotlight and why!

None really come to mind. Two reasons for that:

First, I know many writers talk of characters getting out of hand. This doesn’t happen to me. Occasionally, something I have a character do doesn’t ring true, and that’s probably because what I’ve done is somehow wrong in terms of the plot (or I didn’t know what the character needed to do in terms of plot). When the plot is straightened out, the characters act right because they are my tools for driving the plot.

Second, I have a bad memory with respect to process. If a minor character became major, I’ve overwritten the fact that they were ever minor. It’s the same as when I’m revising. The previous version of the story becomes overwritten, though often not perfectly. (Eric would argue that I have a bad memory in all things.  He has probably come up with five good examples of minor characters that be came major in the minute and half it took to read this.)

30 Days of Writing: Day 18 (& Life)

18. Favorite antagonist and why!

Alcander of Model Species. The tricky thing here is that I can’t really get into why I like Alcander without being spoilery. Alcander is smart. He acts deliberately in his own best interest. He is not a mustache-twisting black-hat-wearing baddie. There are shades of gray to what he does. And…yeah, I really don’t want to say much more. Eric has written some of his back story and I get to have more fun with him one of these days in Fuel Eaters.

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Last Friday, my grandma went back into the hospital. She was having trouble breathing and had swelling in her feet. By chance, I’ve been in Nebraska since Friday. She’s back out again and doing okay with O2 at home. So, this trip has been somewhat disjointed. It doesn’t help that my joints have been pretty lousy the last couple days. But, what are you going do?

30 Days of Writing – Day 17: Favorite Protagonist

17. Favorite protagonist and why!

Tough question. Of major protagonists, I’d have to say Inspector Gaent.

The last Twitter urban fantasy chat (#UFChat) was about male heroes and, in particular, "alpha" males. Alpha males were roughly described as buff, uber-competent leaders who are generally pretty arrogant, but of course, have a nurturing side. I would say that these alpha men are pretty much female fantasies.

Paulos Gaent is not one of these men. Gaent is on the average side in all ways. He’s fit, but not muscle-bound. He’s balding. Within his culture, he’s on the educated side of mediocre. He’s curious about the world he lives in, but not necessarily knowledgeable. He’s traveled some. He is a detective and pretty good at his job, but he is not the wunderkind of the department. When he does his job, his job is what he focuses on. He often puts his foot in his mouth when it comes to the feelings of other. Again, like Balito and Dino, Gaent is a bit put-upon; a little behind the ball socially. That is a quality that I share with those characters. The one thing that is fairly outstanding in Gaent is that he values the point of view of Teria, his partner, even though (or especially because) she sees things in a different way.

To some degree, Gaent-and-Teria is my favorite protagonist because they are two sides of a coin and are meant to complement each other.

30 Days of Writing – Day 16 & Book #22

16. Do you write romantic relationships? How do you do with those, and how “far” are you willing to go in your writing? 😉

Both Divine Fire and Pas de Chat depict romantic relationships. DF has a Victorian feel to how male-female relationships are handled. Therefore, everything is pretty chaste. (Come to think of it, the same goes for Lucinda at the Window except in that case the book *is* set in 1901. Not Victorian, but close.)

PdC is contemporarily set and is a little more sexy. There’s a bedroom scene; it’s brief. I will admit, as I have before, that I’m not very comfortable writing the sexy bits. I’d rather write some stomach-churning gross bits. I’ve mulled a little about why this might be. The best answer I’ve decided on is that while a reader may or may not believe that writing reflects the writer, I am more comfortable with the utter unbelievability of my being a serial killer than the possibility that I might be a perv in bed.

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Book #22 – The Prestige by Christopher Priest

My book-every-ten-days plan want right off the rails in August. I just could find the time to read everyday. That trend has continued into September.

Over the weekend, I finally managed to finish The Prestige by Christopher Priest. This is the book that the Hugh Jackman/Christian Bale movie was based on. I knew that The Illusionist was based on a novella, but I hadn’t realized that the other "magician movie" was based on a text as well. (I currently have some interest in magician novels…)

What strikes me about this novel is that, while originally published in 1995, it is much more like 19th century novels: Dracula, Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights. There is narrator that is external to the majority of the story. The story is formed by several different journals. Which means, there is a great deal of "telling" in this novel rather than showing. And that’s okay. There are quiet a few extraneous details, especially within Angier’s journal, that have more to do with the character’s life than with the story. And that’s okay too. It works.

I do wish that I hadn’t seen the movie before reading this because I knew what to expect twist-wise. I could appreciate some of the literary misdirection that the author engaged in to tell the story, without cheating. I also think that the movie tells a better story by limiting the scope to only the two magicians, though I would like to give the movie a rewatch.

30 Days of Writing – Day 15: Who do you admire?

15. Midway question! Tell us about a writer you admire, whether professional or not!

Helene Hanff.  Not a writer of fiction, but a writer with a unique voice. Miss Hanff was a working writer. When she didn’t succeed as a playwrite, she wrote for TV. She edited. She wrote articles. She lived in small drafty apartments, struggled financially, but *worked* as a writer and had fame (with books like 84 Charing Cross Road) in a manner that she never foresaw.

That’s the aspect that is shared by all the writers I admire. They *work* as writers,

Harlan Ellison is quoted as saying, "The trick is not becoming a writer. The trick is staying a writer. Day after month after year after story after book. That’s the secret. And if you can do that and produce a body of work, no matter how large or small it is, that is true and can pull the plow, then you’re a writer. If you are not prepared to spend your life doing that, then, for christsake, don’t do it."