Saturday, October 31, 2009

NaNo #1

Hello Facebookers, Twitterers, and Readers of My Blogs:

As noted, you’re all getting the same updates, at least for now. Maybe I’ll rotate them thru the week as I go.

Oct 31 – final countdown. At 12:01 am on Nov 1 (remember, we don’t officially change clocks until 2am) I will begin writing. I plan to go until 2:00 am, just because I can. Then bed and back to writing in the a.m. I’m excited about this… and I’ll let you know how it all goes tomorrow

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Long Time, No See

So I have to admit it's been way too long since I posted. However, I've been working madly on several fronts, including finishing, polishing, and submitting to first readers my novel. Based on comments by the readers, I've also been adding material, revising, polishing, and -- in some cases justifying -- my work.

And that's what this post is about. Justifying. Many people would -- or would like to -- say, "Never justify." Certainly a finished work should stand on its own. After all, you're not going to be draped over your reader's shoulder explaining the text to her. And a story too weak to stand on its own isn't getting published anyway. However, at this stage, justification is part of the process, as is validation.

My reader has pointedly put questions to me about aspects of my book. Is the locale important? Is the time period necessary? Does one character need daughters who are triplets? Why does one couple deserve any kind of empathy at all? How can people drop in and out of each other's houses all day long?

At one point, even I had to laugh when she said, "I don't see any young people, and does anybody have a real job in this town?"

Of course, I had answers for all these questions. Or, I thought I did. I found I came up empty on some of them. On others, the answer I thought I had ready didn't stand up to inspection. It seemed that in my enthusiasm for story, I'd ignored whether or not some things were possible, or what background certain conditions might require. My reader's questions forced me to provide sufficient backstory. And if what I came up with didn't cut it, then changes were made.

I've not really lost anything. In fact, in underpinning the weak parts, I've learned new things about my characters and their stories. They are deeper, more real; and events are knit together more tightly. In having to justify the story to my first reader, I was forced into making it a better book. At least I think so, and I really, really, really hope my readers think so, too.

That's where validation comes in. Besides critiquing the fine points, first readers are able to tell you if you have a book at all. They let you know if you're on the right track. They validate your reason for sitting down with those messy, pesky words all day long. If, sorrowfully, they can't validate you, then it's either time to scrap it all and start over, justify 'til you're blue in the face, or get a new set of readers.

About it having been so long since I posted: it may be a while again. I'm doing NaNoWriMo for the first time this year. From November 1 to November 30 I will join other demented writers as we all try to write a 50,000-word novel in one month. Personally. I'm using this to jumpstart my next project, and I'm actually going to try for 90,000 words. First draft, uninhibited, headlong unedited writing. I will try to post a couple times with my progress, but I'm not making promises. So, you'll either see me when I come up for air, or possibly a couple times in between. And, hey, why don't you come try it, too? They have a special one for teens and kids, and sign-ups continue through the end of October. Come on along!