Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Over 1800 words!

Whoo hoo! Over 1800 words written and the first 3 chapters in draft form. My lead character is just about to find out why she's where she is. I'm soo excited to discover this with her. (Yes, I do know where this is going...or at least I think I do.)

The most challenging aspect of writing fiction, I'm finding, is allowing the characters to live. I feel like a director of improvisation, rather than the director of a scripted play.

I'm setting the scene and some of the main character attributes, posing the situation, and allowing the characters to create, speak, live.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Writing starts today!

OK, I've reached the end of the gravel road and am about to start the rocky climb up the mountain. There are several paths before me, all equally less-traveled.

The training is done, the research is done, the outline is looking pretty good, and the story fragments are changing from sepia-toned into jewel-like clarity. I'm even meeting this week with the model and photographer for the cover-shoot.

All that is left is for me to pick up my figurative pen and begin. Any path will do, and I can always backtrack if I reach a steep rock-face or river rapids.

So, with no further procrastinating, I shall now write.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Story of Hanukkah

There are so many great memories from my childhood at this time of year: arranging the candles just right on the Menorah (or Hanukiah), playing a game with a dreidel, eating potato latkes, watching Mom scurry off to wrap a little gift, blessing the candles, and thinking about the miracle that we celebrated. Yes, a miracle happened, long, long ago.

Almost 200 years before Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, the Jewish state of Syria, which was once part of Alexander the Great's empire, fell under the rule of a wicked king named Antiochus, of questionable sanity. He hated the Jews and when they would not worship the idols of the Greeks, he defiled their Holy Temple, finally leaving it in shambles. The Jewish women and children were captured and sold as slaves. Pigs (non-kosher animals) were sacrificed upon the altars. This desecration continued until a man named Mattathias in the village of Modi'in could stand it no more.

Mattathias slew the officer who had sacrificed a piglet upon the altar in the marketplace of his village. The first cry for freedom was heard! Mattathias quickly summoned his five sons, Judah Maccabee, Jonathan, Johanan, Eleazar, and Simon, and quickly fled the village. These stalwart fighters defeated four of King Antiochus' armies and kept on fighting, and winning. Judah Maccabee led the final battle in the town of Emmaus. Victory! And a return to Jerusalem and the devastation that lay there.

The Maccabee fighters found the Holy Temple in ruins. They scrubbed and restored it, and on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, in 165 B.C.E. the Temple was rededicated with the single flask of holy oil that was found to light the great Menorah. Here's the miracle part. The oil was only enough to burn for one day, but it said to have lasted for eight days! And so, Jews around the world each year celebrate eight days of Hanukkah. Each evening, one more candle is added to the Hanukiah (or Menorah), until all nine candles are lit.

Nine, you ask? Yes, one candle is the servant or guard and lights all the others each night. Children receive a small gift after the candles are lit and blessed. They play a game with a 4-sided top known as a dreidel for chocolate coins, known as "Hanukkah gelt." The Hebrew letters on the dreidel stand for "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham," or "a great miracle happened there." And so it did!

Happy Hanukkah!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Research #4 Awareness of space

Studying plot takes so much time!!! One of the key elements of plot is a strong sense of surroundings. It's the difference between, "I walked into the kitchen and got a glass of water," and....

"Sliding past the glossy, ebony grand piano, into a well-lit modern kitchen, complete with overhead hanging racks, underlit glass-front cherry cabinets, and brushed nickle-and-black fixtures and appliances, I reached out to what looked like an oversized cabinet door, and pulled on the handle. Suddenly, I was bathed in the cool glow of an open refrigerator. Pleasantly surprised, I chose between several brands of bottled water."

So, the surroundings can drive the story-line just as much as the story helps to discover the surroundings!!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Research #3 Wikipedia and Getting Organized

This was not the best of weeks. There, I said it! I'm being honest. I haven't written one new word on my book, though I've thought about it a lot! My Foster-Harris book on plot development, titled "The Basic Patterns of Plot," arrived this week. Challenging reading, so far. Not sure if I understand what he's trying to say. Guess reading for comprehension is best done after a refreshing sleep.

Two other items have been started:
(1) The file structure for organizing a book. People who know me see an organized person on the outside, but let me tell you that this lady is not organized at all. So, the file structure has been set up, and can be changed, if needed. Also, the master index file has been set up, too. Hopefully, I won't get lost if I have a master index file. *wink*

(2) The trial of the file structure was researching Wikipedia. It felt a little silly typing the word, "Wikipedia," into the Wikipedia search box. Truly an amazing history. Loaded with factoids! And, just why am I researching Wikipedia? Well, my book is set in the future, looking back at the near-present, and I want to include as much of our current culture as possible. This could include lots of product placement, though it would require lots of permissions, and has a risk of needing an emergency 'rename" if the vendor does not agree.

(3) Project high-level task list. I'm not a certified project and program mgr for nothin'! Yes, I'll manage myself to project completion. Wow! Did I just say that?

Anyways, I just made 3 items out of 2, so this magician must call it a night. Until next week!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Research #2, Study / Prepare

This week was mostly about reading. The Foster-Harris book taught how to develop a character and create conflicts or tasks. Thankfully, I was also able to order his book about developing plots. Can't wait until it arrives! This new-to-me, very old book will be the guideline for outlining my story.

The lead character is ready to jump into an outline. The only real debate is who are the other main characters in the story? I keep flip-flopping, so probably the best thing to do is to try a few different ways and see what "sticks."

Tomorrow's task will be to type up some writings from my notebook. Maybe some other fun surprises will also appear? I have no idea what's in store for me as I begin to write! My usual penmanship is non-fiction, technical writing. Quite humorless.

It is now very late at night. Quietly, I slip off to slumber. Peacefully, I sleep, and dreamingly, I journey to unknown destinations.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Research #1

Dental surgery / pain has put a temporary end to my creativity this week. I chose, instead to do some research on structure, to help me identify a starting point for my book. The books I'm looking at are "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," "Sphere," and "The Da V. C-de (title modified so not searchable)." Each book provides a different perspective on mystery & suspense. I'm particularly watching how exposition and pacing are accomplished.

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is written in 3rd-person omniscient without a single direct statement by any character throughout the entire tale. That in itself is spooky!

"Sphere" is written entirely in first-person, and we see the thoughts, feelings, and memories of the main character. Sometimes the memories take more time for the character to remember than could possibly have been available during the course of the current action. I'll have to watch out for that. This story also involves a group of people put into the mysterious circumstance. I like that.

"The Da V. C-de" is written in varying first-person perspectives, each with their own memories and drives. Also, a lot of "teaching" or "lecturing" is done in this book. The Scienctific explanations, while useful for understanding, weigh heavily on the reader and slow the action of the story. Also, jumping back and forth among different characters' plot-lines would be confusing for a newbie to write.

Maybe if there were just two main characters' plotlines, with a small group of supporting characters for each? The prologue could be 3rd-person omniscient and the rest of the book in 1st-person (varying). Sounds like a plan!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Chapter 1 - Where am I?

This week, the nature of my lead character oozed onto the pages of my notebook. She's not a saint, by any means. This, according to my guidebook, makes her more human, more believable, more real. Her first adventure at the beginning of the book is beginning to take shape. The story opens with a mystery...."Where am I?"

Last week's task on character naming and backstory also continues. Somehow, I think the backstory will come from the nature of the lead character, and not the other way around. Sort of convenient history creation. (Where has this been done before?)

Additional challenges include cleaning up the hard drive and operating system of an old laptop, so that I have somewhere to create and organize the sections that I write, as well as revise, rewrite, and edit to make words come alive. Lazily, I put off writing until the very end of my day. Perhaps as I move further into the story, I will find more motivation to write?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

First Post

Writing a book stretches all senses, expands all thoughts, and causes much lost sleep. This is the story behind my story. Because the only writing I do is business-related, I quickly learned that I needed some help. A book titled, "The Basic Formulas of Fiction," written by Foster-Harris in 1944 guides my creative efforts.

Topics include:
1. What a Story Is
2. Viewpoint: Space and Time
3. On Character
4. The Parts and the Process
5. The Finishing Touches

So far, the title revealed itself (secret for now), the main character appeared in a dream in February 2009 along with key items in the plot, and the backstory emerged over the past several months. This week's challenges included the difficult task of character naming. Alas! Characters may take on other names as the story progresses, but at least it is a starting point. Another great challenge is the backstory. What happens before the curtain opens? Time to go find out.....