athenaltena: (Bored)
I'm not sure I ever really woke up today due to allergies. I also can't tell if my face is puffier than usual or if I'm just noticing it more than usual. The good news is that I was with it enough to go to the staffing place and do a computer test, so they can submit my scores to this one job. It was some basic stuff like if you can copy a passage, listen to a story and then remember some important details, and know the difference between certain words like dessert/desert*. According to them I did a lot better than most people, including the spelling part, even though it had a few words that always trip me up like (ironically) embarrassment. I can never remember how many Rs are in that word.

When I went out to do some laundry I also had a surprisingly deep conversion with a local guy who works at the laundromat about that Zimmerman asshole, since the news conference where they announced the charges they're bringing against him was on while I was in there. This local guy had a great line when the reporter said that Zimmerman's gone set up a webpage asking for donations and talking about how scared he is, to which this local guy responded "That's funny, I bet that's how that 17 year old black kid felt right before you shot him!" The Italian folks up here do not seem particularly sympathetic towards that guy, including another guy who works in that same laundromat who looked up from his paper just long enough to say "fuck that guy" the last time I was in there, and I agree. We also made some snarky comments about how we wouldn't trust a Fox News poll further than we could throw it.

Right now I'm catching up on the second season The Wire since it's OnDemand, and I watched the DVDs of the episodes before the ones OnDemand while I was out in Western Mass. Cross-referencing a lot of things I like, including Games of Thrones,  I seem to be drawn towards stories with huge casts full of characters with complex motivations and relationships and very grey morality. Makes sense considering that's also the type of story I tend to write. And since I'm working on the backstory of one character who's more or less an antagonist I realized that I'd started picturing him as Jimmy McNulty from The Wire, which makes sense since this guy is basically what would happen if McNulty got away with everything. I actually came up with the character long before I ever saw that show, but they're definitely in the same mold.

*The trick I always use with that one is "I'd rather have two desserts than one desert."
athenaltena: (writing)
"Executive Acumen"

When I saw this in a job description I literally stopped and stared at it for a minute as I tried to understand just what the hell it means. One Google search later and it's something to the effect of “keenness and quickness in understanding and dealing with a business."

And I'm still not sure precisely what that really means.

And of course every time I use a buzz word in a cover letter I gag a little at myself, since I generally speaking hate those, and try to avoid using them whenever possible in my own writing, especially since I follow the Robert B. Parker school of show don't tell, or at least try to. But they're a necessary evil in a job search, I guess.

Also, remind me to never write a cover letter when I'm really really tired. I found one I'd started writing late at night, and it's awful. So many goddamn stupid typos. I'm just glad I had the sense not to send it before sleeping on it.
athenaltena: (writing)
I just wrote what's probably one of my favorite paragraphs in the history of my writing for one of my fiction class assignments.

"Everyone in Southie knew Shannon Flaherty. She was the fourth of seven kids, though only five had survived to adulthood. She was in her late twenties, and the mothers called her a spinster behind her back, since she lived alone and her sisters had all married before her. She also never went to Mass, hung out with odd types, and had the nerve to occasionally wear pants."

For context, it's set in the 1960s, when a woman wearing pants really was on the same level as those other things. I still love it.
athenaltena: (writing)
Our new writing assignment is to write a scene where someone is killed with something you can find in your medicine cabinet. I picked floss. It's turning into a very dark comedy.
athenaltena: (PMMM)
Pet Shop Boys - Home And Dry by andie_ba

This is quickly becoming my favorite Pet Shop Boys song. I'm not quite sure what it is about the composition, but it just works. Maybe because it manages to capture a really complex emotion.

I also had two characters of my characters basically tell me that this is their theme song. Insistently.

And sadly I've had lots of ideas, but haven't made much progress on said story. But it's better than being completely idea-less.
athenaltena: (writing)
So I think I've mentioned again that I finally started writing again after several months of nothing (meaning that once again my sleep schedule has been shot to Hell since my best ideas come at 1 in the morning), and appropriately enough I spent part of yesterday writing a scene I'd been bouncing around my head for a while involving a guy telling a story about something his adoptive father once did.

I won't give too much detail, but I will say that when I was done I read it again and realized that what the dad did is almost exactly like what the son does later in the story, only with the roles reversed. Even some of the same language to describe what's happening gets used. I swear that wasn't intentional, but when I reread it I had a 0_0 moment.

It also made me realize that I should add a scene where they talk about the fact that the situations were so similar and now get what was going through each other's heads.

I'm telling you, folks, I just write this thing.
athenaltena: (writing)
When I went to Dennis Lehane's talk last week he mentioned that he finds that he can only write really early in the morning, and that whenever he tries to do it during the day (or as he put it, 12-5) the results suck. He thinks it's that you still have to be in a semi-dream state for the creativity to work, and he doesn't know anyone who can write from 12-5 and have it be good. He said that he usually wakes up at six in the morning, writes for a bit, then plays with his daughter when she wakes up.

I believe it. I'm currently somewhat half asleep, and I'm bad in the sense that I sometimes jot down stuff in early morning classes. I got three pages of notes in my last class that I'll convert later.
athenaltena: (writing)
The problem with taking a 100 level course when I'm credit wise almost a senior is that I sometimes have to do stuff I already know because the assumption is I haven't learned it. Like write an outline for a paper and find sources, even though I could probably MLA cite something in my sleep, and in terms of academic papers and how I write them I almost never use notecards or outlines, both of which I have to hand in, so basically I have to do more work even though I know I don't need to, considering I consistently get As. *grumble*

And I'm within 1000 words of my NaNo goal. Not sure if I'll do it tonight, but this timing is good since I'm about to have to do a shit ton of school work. Luckily as managing to complete NaNo shows I can write pretty fast, so I'm pretty confident, it's just doing it on top of everything else that's a challenge.
athenaltena: (writing)
The good news? I'll probably hit my 50k for NaNoWriMo later today.

The bad news? I'm still not done with this story!!!

Ahhhhhhhhh!!!

Oh well, I just have to write the climax now, and I had planned this section out ahead of time. This also means that the full story is going to wind up somewhere around 100k, if not more, by the time I'm done. And then I have to edit it. Oh joy.
athenaltena: (writing)
I suppose it's a good thing that when writing the villain all I can think is "Oh my God, that is wrong!" I'm getting chills just writing one part.

I also came up with a way to solve on problem I had with the villain and make them even more twisted. One problem with my original plan was that it fell into Bad Powers Bad People, which I wanted to avoid, but I came up with a way to solve it that makes the villain even more twisted.

Oh, and I hit 40k. *yay*
athenaltena: (shinra)
Darn it, why did I get an idea for a new story on day 21 of NaNoWriMo? So just for posterity I'll put this here to work on once I'm done with the current one (which I intend to finish this year since it's now year 2 of the same story):

Radcliffe, Massachusetts, a tiny town of 2000 people west of Worcester (aka the middle of nowhere) with no stores, no traffic lights and one streetlight. The perfect spot for a supervillain hideout. Or at least that’s what The Liberators thought before a precocious 8 year old found them and all hell broke loose.

And basically (lovingly) making fun of small towns like the one I grew up in. Among other things one of the villains’ schemes runs into trouble because they can’t get their driveway plowed during the winter. And so on and so forth.
athenaltena: (Rider)
It also goes very well with the scene I'm writing right now.

athenaltena: (Rider)
I heard an interview on NPR with Dennis Lehane, one of my favorite authors now, and me being me I like to analyze why it is I like how certain authors write. He’s pretty well known for having twists that you legitimately do not see coming, and I figured out that one way he does it is by having the reader figure out what’s really going on the same time the characters do, maximizing the “Oh shit!” level. I have a twist in my NaNo story that will hopefully achieve the same effect, and I’m still working out when I’m going to drop the reveal-bomb.

One thing that I’d been doing without intending to was set up a relationship between the person who turns out to be the real antagonist and the reader that mirrors their relationships with other characters in-story. Basically, they are not what they appear and completely fooled everyone. Note that I’m avoiding specific pronouns because I hope people will one day read this thing and I don’t want to spoil it (and yes, the gender of this person is a spoiler). But so it doesn’t come off as coming out of nowhere I actually went through and made it so that you never actually hear what this person actually feels when you’re in their POV, they only repeat what other people think. The intended effect is that when the reveal drops the audience goes “Wait, how can it be them? I know them!” only to realize that they really don’t, which is exactly what happens in-story. So they not only trick the characters, they trick the reader.

Whether it’ll work in practice remains to be seen, but I’m rather proud I came up with that.

Progress

Nov. 16th, 2010 10:37 am
athenaltena: (writing)
I tweeted myself last week that I should really draw up a timeline for my story since I was having trouble keeping track of it, and I made one using Word last night. I wound up condensing events much more than I thought it would, but it works, and at this point it looks like the bulk of the conflict will take 6 months.

I also went through and corrected references to how much time has passed so it's consistent, and at some point I might go back and add the date at the start of chapters.

I'm also now at the point in the story where people have to start dying. A lot of people. And I have a few Sacrificial Lions set up. I do not like killing characters, but when I do I try to make their deaths as badass as possible.
athenaltena: (writing)
One thing I've decided to do in my NaNo novel is avert some of the stereotypes I don't like, especially when it comes to fantasy and the lack of diversity in a lot of novels. Tamora Pierce, one of my favorite authors, works pretty hard to avert them, and I'm sort of taking a page from her in that sense.

One thing I think are severely lacking in fantasy novels is an LGBT presence, and though Pierce has done a lot to fix this by having openly gay and trans characters it's lacking in many other books. I think a lot of authors fall into the trap of forgetting that it's a fantasy they can create pretty much from whole cloth, and include the biases right along with it. I, on the other hand, decided that it's my world, my rules, so being LGBT is not a big deal and never really has been. I currently have a married lesbian couple, one of whom is one of the country's leaders, two gay guys who eventually get together, and I decided that I'd have a transwoman and a woman who is genderqueer (though whether or not I'll get to mention that the other woman is genderqueer is another question, but at least in my head she is).

I just wrote the first scene with the transwoman, and I really, really like her. Many of my characters sort of pop into my head fully formed, and I only discover things about them as I write them. She's kind and very concerned about others but she's also snarky, and her boss is fairly uptight and stoic so they have great interaction and banter. I wound up basing parts of her on several people I know. One problem I had was that I wanted to introduce her and make it clear who she was but not have it come off as forced. I decided that she talks to another character who just arrived at this place and isn't sure if she'll be accepted, and tells her about how she was able to start her life over and live as herself, which is when the other character understands. I knew I wanted to avert dropping a Bridget since it's cheap, exploitative and lazy writing, not to mention not being true to this character's personality. Now it's possible that it wound up being too subtle, but I'd rather it go over some people's heads than come off as cheap.

And I believe this character will end up in a fairly important role later on, so I'm really excited to see what happens! (Note how I phrased that, since it seems to develop independently much of the time without input from me)
athenaltena: (writing)
I've mentioned before how it really does seem like my characters drive the story, I'm just providing the gas, and this was especially apparent today.

One character's arc is essentially following him he as decides that he wants to switch sides, but I never wanted it to be sudden. The turning point is when one of his most trusted and valuable subordinates leaves due to something that pushes her over the edge, and my original plan for that scene was that he'd find her and convince her to stay. But as I wrote it I suddenly realized something: It couldn't happen that way because he couldn't give her a good reason to stay, because he knows deep down, even if it's not yet consciously, that he's not doing the right thing.

So I changed it, and I think the end product packs the appropriate punch-in-the-gut. I just record this thing, folks, they write it.
athenaltena: (writing)
Since I've been plugging away at NaNoWriMo I've been thinking about what I said earlier about how one character wound up being made alive rather than dead as I originally planned, and how I was glad I'd made that decision since I'd been going in the Women in Refrigerators direction. Well, now that I've written some scenes with that character I've realized something.

Any writer who kills off a character to make another "more interesting" rather than write them as a couple is fucking lazy. Seriously, it is so easy to write people who have been together for years, they pick up what the other is thinking like that and the banter just comes naturally, and I think the resulting dialog is really great. And angst is not interesting if the alternative is seeing a loving couple interact*. It's just not.

So yeah, my conclusion is that WiR done purely to make a character "more interesting" = lazy writer. Now it's true that in fiction characters die, and in my case a lot of people are going to end up dead by the end, but if you want to avoid WiR you'd better have a good, plot relevant reason to kill them, have them go out swinging if it's true to their character, and not have it come off as just lazy writing.

*I'm willing to make an exception if there are flashbacks of when one was alive and that's how their characters are developed, I'm referring to more the "Yup, his wife's dead, so now he's gonna angst and get revenge" and we never see him interact with his wife at all sort of stories. As much as I love it, Lone Wolf and Cub was a major offender on this one since the wife dies in the first chapter and is never mentioned after that.

NaNo update

Nov. 7th, 2010 10:17 am
athenaltena: (writing)
Oh yeah, I hit 10k in NaNoWriMo last night. Boo yeah.

Since I'm continuing the story I was doing last year I realized that I might actually run out of story before I hit 50k. In that case I'll either elaborate on backstories for some characters in short stories (which I've been intending to do anyone) or switch over to Project Samurai.

We'll see, but I estimated I was about halfway done with the story when I started, but it may turn out to have been more like 3/4.
athenaltena: (writing)
Since I’m now knee-deep in NaNoWriMo for the second year in a row I’ve started both writing new scenes for my project, which I’m continuing from last year, and going back and fixing a few things in the parts that I wrote before. One thing I have to make sure I do is change all the references to one character’s parent being dead, because I originally had them die before the story started, but then changed my mind and decided they were alive. I’ll have to rewrite an entire scene that now has them in it, but I think it was the right choice.

For one thing I realized I was falling into the old Disney cliché of one parent being mysteriously missing/dead (seriously, I can think of exactly two heroes who have both parents alive in the main story who survive all the way through, Mulan and Princess Aurora, and in a lot of cases where one parent is dead it mostly seems like it's because they didn't bother writing them in), and also I realized I was skirting uncomfortably close to Women in Refrigerators syndrome*. That and it’s just more interesting to write the character’s relationship with both parents alive, and I’ve discovered that writing two people who’ve been together for a long time interacting with each other actually comes very easily to me, not to mention that it's fun.

*Which, for those who don't know, is a term coined by Gail Simone for when a character, usually a woman, is killed off in a particularly mean spirited manner solely to provide angst/motivation for another, usually male, character.
athenaltena: (writing)
So I was filling out stuff on my NaNoWriMo page and the info on my story I realized that the title I have for it is really, really old and from a time when the story was much different.

For one thing the main character was actually the son of two characters from the current one, and this story actually started as an idea for a prequel before I'd ever written anything down, and eventually it usurped my headspace and became my main focus. At this point I don't know if I'll ever get to their son since I have to finish his parents' story first!

So the working title was and still is Protege, which still kind of works but not as well. So I'm debating if I should try to change it or just leave it for now. Or maybe I'll get an InspiroBrick&trade to the head that'll help.

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