General

End of NaBloPoMo

Today is the last day of November and thus the last day of National Blog Posting Month.

I made it. I can hardly believe I made it, but I did.

I posted everyday this month. God. Some posts were crappy, others were okay. Sometimes I posted at 7 or 8 at night, but I managed.

It was hard. I am glad it’s over. I am pretty sure I won’t do this again. I thinking posting two or three times a week is ideal for me.

Writing

Style as Exposition

I’ve been thinking about my writing style, but I don’t think I actually have one. Not in terms of sentence structure, feel or anything else, either. All those things change with the story. Maybe I’ve just never found my particular style.

The few times I’ve managed to infuse some sort of style in my stories, it’s related to the character or the setting or something.

I am thinking now that style could be another way to do exposition, to reveal things about character in a non-obvious way. It probably works best in first person POV, but could work pretty well in a third person limited POV, too.

Some of that is probably because I read/write mostly fantasy and lots of fantasy is written in the “transparent window pane” sort of style – plain and unobtrusive and not noticeable. The reader notices it as much as those birds who slam into windows in window cleaner commercials. (But with less pain!)

But not all of it because some fantasy writers do have a distinctive style. I know, because all of their books sound similar. You think it’s the characters’ voice. But it’s not, because the language is similar not only across many books and many different characters, but different series as well. Similar enough you know who the writer is with only a single sample page. I know with these writers the way the book is written reflects nothing about the character.

Some of this is probably because I’ve always tried to write in the POV character’s style rather than my own. I try to figure out a few words/phrases the character loves and use those in as varied a way as I can.

A part of me no doubt thought if my character had a way of speaking, preferred some words over others, liked to repeat certain phrases, liked to go on and on and on, there would be a reason and would go to illustrate their character. If they didn’t, it might be best to keep the style as neutral as possible.

What do you think? Can the style of a piece serve as exposition as well? Should it?

flash friday · Writing

Friday Flash: Yellow Ticket

Step. Step. Step.

Gasp. Step. Gasp.

She staggered inside, shuddered as the heat of the store made its way under her jacket, sweater, shirt, thermals and scarf.

She ignored the roars and rush of the crowd.

Instead, she clenched with her numb, worn gloved fingers a yellow ticket: small, badly printed, but the answer to her dreams.

The check-out line grew long behind her, wove around product displays and was full of loud chatter.

She ignored it all.

The small slim box the checkout girl handed her was wonderful. Perfect. Others wouldn’t think so, but she could type now. Write whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted to. Watch videos, even.

She no longer needed to wait on the school’s computer labs.

General

Do you seek out holiday books?

I read a post yesterday on favorite holiday books and I thought: I don’t have any favorite   holiday reads.

That’s not to say I don’t read holiday themed books – I do, if it drops in my lap. Sometimes they do, and they are usually romance books. Maybe mysteries.

But I don’t go looking for them, don’t seek them out. If I see them on library shelves? Okay. Maybe I’ll take one out.

None of the books I love to reread involve the holidays. None. Is that weird?

Maybe it’s because I read mostly fantasy and there aren’t a whole lot of holiday-themed fantasy books.

General

What makes a book hard to read?

One of the first books I never finished Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. It was required reading for English class.

I learned that I could read the beginning, the end and the middle, and still answer all the questions the teacher asked and still manage to write the essays. (This lesson has been useful in subsequent English classes.)

Heart of Darkness, as I recall, is a short book. Certainly shorter than many of the multi-volume fantasies I loved to read. So length isn’t a factor in what makes a book hard to read.

But I don’t really know what the factors are that makes a book hard to read.

For me, such factors probably include:

  • Dense
  • Not Interesting
  • Strange language
  • No Plot
  • Offensive characters/Plot

1) Heart of Darkness might have been dense. Maybe. Probably.

2) I can’t remember how interesting Heart of Darkness was, but I’ve read boring books for class cover to cover, so I don’t think this was the most important reason why I couldn’t read it. Even though it was boring.

3) No plot will turn me off every time, but I am not sure Heart of Darkness is plotless. Not that I actually remember the plot. I don’t. All I remember is him meandering down a river. But I didn’t actually read the whole book, so maybe there was a plot.

4) Some of the book might have been offensive. I distinctly remember reading a comparison to creatures and then being in class and thinking: Oh those are black people! Yeah, offensive.

I think I gave up on the book shortly afterward.

General

Ice Bucket Challenge

I decided to look up various ice bucket challenges done by favorite writers.

This one is by Brandon Sanderson and the best thing about it is that he counties writing even after someone dumped a bucket of ice and water on him. Who does that? I mean, weren’t the papers a little hard to read after a wetting?

This one is Pat Rothfuss’s ice bucket challenge. I really love his “ice”. So smoky and dramatic.

This one is by Jim Butcher. He has ice, ice cream and an ice cream headache.

There are lots more on YouTube: Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, George Martin. But that’s more videos than I want to put here!

I wasn’t able to find any of the women whose books I go all fangirl on do an ice bucket challenge. Is that weird?

And, also, just because, here’s a video compilation of people failing at the ice bucket challenge.

work in progress · Writing

Pondering the WiP

I haven’t written a word today. Just one of those days. And I don’t feel well enough to force myself to write.

But I’ve been pondering my protagonist’s character profile. He has a thing for art and exercise. I haven’t shown either in the WiP so far. I’ve just told it, breaking the cardinal rule of showing and not telling. They’re important enough to the character a part of me thinks they need to be shown.

Neither of those passions of the character are important to the character are important to the plot. So I need to find some very subtle way to work it in.

I just haven’t figured out a way to work it in.

Writing

When do you Create Character Profiles?

On Twitter I asked advice about what to do about minor, inconsistent characters.

A Twitter friend said I should write down everything I know about them and that can become a reference. That sounds like a character profile to me.

I haven’t created character profiles for the WiP yet. I could have, especially for the main character and the secondary characters I knew about. But I wanted to get on with it, you know? I didn’t want to stop and fiddle with an excel file or a word file for the characters. Instead, if I forget the eye color or something, I go back and look it up.

I need to create character profiles now. I’ll probably wait until the WiP is done or create it now. I haven’t made up my mind. I do know I’ll be using OneNote app on my tablet. I want to try it out and it seems perfect for this. Better than either excel or word.

Is doing it this way a bit weird? At least this way I’ll have a list of all characters that need a profile.

And I’ll know what kind of things I keep looking up: physical characteristics, descriptions of surroundings and stuff like that.

Also, the more nebulous, personal stuff that I know is changing right now from appearance to appearance for minor characters, the stuff that makes a character a character, and that stuff that needs to especially consistent. (Unless something happens to a character that makes them change, things that don’t usually happen to minor characters.)

It feels a little backward, to create them at the end of a novel instead of the beginning. Who else creates character profiles at the tail end of a WiP?

General

Forever: 6 A.M.

I watched forever yesterday. It was about a song stolen from a musician and murder.

The song is 6 A.M. – is that a real song? I don’t know enough about jazz to say, but I think it’s probably made up.

But the thing that sticks in my mind is the discussion between father and son. The idea that jazz is a new type of music is funny. Funnier still is Henry going all, the music you kids listen to these days!

And the son is actually – in real life, not the show – decades older is strange. All this brought home that Henry really is the father. Strange as it looks.

Book Review · reading

NOS4A2 by Joey Hill

GoodReads Blurb:

Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.

Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”

Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.

NOS4A2 was my first horror book ever. Well, the first horror book that I actually read as horror (I’ve read other books from the horror shelves that felt urban fantasy to me.)

The first interesting thing is the misspelling of nosferatu in the title. Based on the title, I was expecting a Dracula like vampire. That’s not what I got.

Instead, the main character is this creepy, anti-Santa, emotion-sucking nosferatu. There are emotion-sucking vampires in other books, yes, but this particular vampire is not like them.

The best part of NOS4A2 is the epilogue. It is sweet and touching and really beautiful.

I am not sure I know what is the worse part. Maybe the middle. I was really ready to be done halfway through the book. It just seemed to go on and on and on. It was almost an effort to make myself read, until things got good again.

The second annoying/interesting part is the same part: chapter headings. Sometimes a chapter ends, but the sentence continues into the next chapter as the title.

So one chapter ends like so:

There was only her breath and roaring, raging static, that endless waterfall of sound, rising in volume, building to a maddening intensity and then building some more until she wanted to cry out for it to stop, the word coming to her lips, stop, stop it, her lungs gathering air to shout, and that was when the bike thudded back down in

This is an amazingly long sentence, 62 words, but it’s not finished and I will admit, the first time I saw a sentence like this, I thought my copy was damaged. But the next page is the first page of the next chapter and it is entitled:

Haverhill, Massachusetts

This method of chapter titles was confusing the first few times I saw it, but I got used to it.

 

Vic is the main character. She has the power to create a Shorter Way Bridge. This power wrecks her life. If she hadn’t had it, she would never have encountered the evil anti-Santa vampire without it. Perhaps I should say meeting the villain ruined her life. (But villains do that, don’t they? The ruin lives.)

He kidnaps her and she escapes. But she’s haunted by phone calls from the other children he’d kidnapped ever since.

It makes her a bad mate for the hero of the book: Lou. He’s over weight, loves bikes and Vic both. He deserves someone better, someone able to be with him.

But they have a child together and when he’s in danger, Vic is amazing. That’s when the story really gets going. I wish it had happened earlier. I mean, amazing. She finally gets her stuff together.

If it wasn’t for the epilogue, I don’t think I would like the ending. The epilogue saves it.

 

NOS4A2 wasn’t especially scary. It didn’t give me nightmares. Maybe that means it isn’t horror. I don’t know.

Except for the nosferatu, I am not even sure what horror elements are present in NOS4A2. Maybe it is very unusual horror? I don’t know enough about the genre to say.

 

Would I read this again? No.

But it is a decent read. Not great – it needed to be about 200 pages shorter – but decent.