Recent Posts

27 April 2011

Endings. They are my enemy!

I am having a hard time coming up with endings for several works in progress. Because my writing tends to stall I am trying to outline first before plunging headlong into the stories. I feel if I have a clear picture of how I want a story structured I will stand a fighting chance of actually finishing it.

When I think of endings I always think of the last two lines of T.S. Eliot's famous poem THE HOLLOW MEN:

This is how the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper.

That's how I end up feeling when it comes to my stories - like a whimpering fool. My stories just limp their way towards an ending that always seems elusive and out of reach. In my effort to revitalize my muse I re-read what Orson Scott Card had to say about structuring stories in his two books CHARACTERS & VIEWPOINTS and HOW TO WRITE SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY.

To paraphrase, he recommends one first determine the type of story one is writing based on the MICE quotient (Milieu, Idea, Character, Event). Each type of story creates expectations in the reader of both a particular beginning and an ending. For instance, if one is writing a Character Story then it has begin at the point when the main character is unhappy with their current role in life and seeks out to change it. It's ending therefore has to be the point when that character does one of three things: finds a new role, willingly returns to the old one, or despairs.

That said, I believe my problem is not so much in figuring out an ending but in determining the type of story I am telling. I think most of my stories are a mix of Character and Event stories. I just need to determine which type dominates. Once I do, I think the ending will become clear in my mind.

19 April 2011

Unheeded Advice

Apparently, I cannot put good advice into practice. Like a moth to the flame I allow myself to be constantly sidetracked by new ideas and end up with nothing.

These are the tentative titles to my current works in progress:

Third Encounters of the Worst Kind - a speculative flash fiction piece sitting at 615 words, in desperate need of an ending.

The Necromancer's Daughter - intended as a sword and sorcery short story, sitting at 490 words.

I have plenty more on the back burner. I don't even want to list them because I think it will just depress me.

13 April 2011

Siren Song

One of my Works in Progress involves a romance so I checked-out "The Art of Romance Writing" by Valerie Parv from my local library. In e-book format no less!

It's full of excellent advice and tips - not for just writing romance, but writing in general. The one that stood out for me, since it is my biggest problem, is what to do with new ideas when you are trying to focus on the "old" one.

She compared new ideas to Siren Songs that try to lure you away from your current work. Her advice is to simply jot them down, file them away, and get back to your work in progress. Why? Because a writer needs to finish what they start. Whether or not the book succeeds, at least you have a completed novel.

I desperately need to put this advice into practice because when it comes to new ideas that interfere with one I'm working on I keep crashing against the rocks.

07 April 2011

Resisting Revision

Before I discuss today's topic of revision, I want to thank my two followers from Hatrack Writers Workshop. It's good to know that I am not talking to the wall! I hope that in the very least you will be entertained by my musings.

Now to today's self-imposed topic of resisting revision.

I am currently working on a new story. I have a general idea of the beginning, middle and end but I am finding it difficult to write it because of my bad habit of expecting the prose to flow perfectly from mind to keyboard. Instead of just writing whatever comes to mind, with reckless disregard to the rules of grammar and story structure, I agonize over every word and turn of phrase.

The result of my belabored efforts for the past several hours? Two sentences. I would hardly call that progress or time well spent.

05 April 2011

Gathering Dust

It's been months since I've updated this blog which only goes to show I really let things fall by the wayside.

While my blog gathered dust I did manage to muster enough courage to send out two Flash Fiction stories, "Langley" and "Ping Ping In Love." The former was sent to Every Day Fiction and even though the story was rejected I did get some feedback from the editors. The latter made its rounds through Asimov's, AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, and Daily Science Fiction. It was also rejected. Both Asimov's and Daily sent form rejection letters, while AE's rejection was personalized - they said they would consider more of my work in the future. 

Even though the stories were not accepted, I consider it a small personal victory since (a) I stopped being afraid of rejection and sent out the stories and (b) actually got feedback from editors. 

So, I guess it's back to writing!