Sunday, May 31, 2009

I know writers who actively go searching for pictures of people who look like their characters. I know writers who have songs that are their character’s theme song, or a playlist that is their story’s soundtrack.

I’ve never been into that. I’m not putting down people who do that. I think it’s actually kind of cool sometimes. Some people like to “cast” their stories and give them a soundtrack and that’s cool. It’s just not the way I work. I very rarely know exactly what my characters look like. I know them intimately, I have basic features worked out, but the image is flexible. I like to leave that up to the reader. And I don’t listen to enough music to pick out a soundtrack (though I think that is pretty friggin’ cool and having had a bit of experience, I almost want to try).

Now, having said that it’s not really my thing, I recently heard two songs that just plain screamed certain characters at me. I wasn’t looking for them; they found me.

1) “ Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy” by Queen. Seriously, this song describes my new treatment of Meirzen,
my boy king in a currently sidelined project, like no other. I’m not even writing him or thinking about him currently, and this song demanded to be about him.

2) “When You Say Nothing at All” by Alison Krauss. Really, the thing that clinched this as a song describing Red and Quina’s relationship was “the touch of your hand”. The tone of this song is a little too cutesy for them, but it works pretty well.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


In reading my archives from past drafts of my novel, I tend to look back and wonder just what I was thinking, or marvel at how much things have changed, even if I did like what was written before.

For example (and this is what got me thinking on it), in my older drafts, Red seemed almost abusive. Seriously, he was constantly beating up on Quina (tough love was the thought behind that) and making her into a killing machine through rough handling. Then there were moments of tenderness, like after he had finished beating her up with her own weapon, he would call for a break and then check her over to make sure she wasn’t injured. Stuff like that. And also, he was the one who first started making romantic advances. He was the one who kissed her first, who showed his affection physically first. I liked it then, but looking back on it, it seems like he was pressuring her into liking him, like he wasn’t leaving her a chance. It was like she didn’t reciprocate his feelings, but was frustrated by his attentions at first because she didn’t understand them entirely (being a bit crazy and very simple in her understanding).Red came off as a pushy, fluctuating jerk. Me no likies it so much anymore.

In contrast, in this draft, Red is the first one to realize that he loves Quina, but she is the first one to initiate any kind of fond physical contact. He doesn’t touch her for the simple reason that he doesn’t want to pressure her. Quina, on the other hand, takes a longer time to realize intellectually that she loves Red (being the crazy bat that she is, it takes her a while to think things through… she just feels, usually) but she is dependent on him first, takes comfort in him first. She is the first to initiate contact by touching his face. This way, it is more like Red is in love, but trying to remain distant for her sake, and then it turns out happily that she is in love with him too and has to assure him of it. It’s rather nice actually.

Of course, saying that now, I’ll probably look back in about a year and have the same reaction as to my older work now: “What the flapjacks was I thinking?”

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Double double, beginning trouble...

So I have a little dilemma right? In bumping back the beginning of my novel, I’ve cut out a lot of tedious and unnecessary exposition and whatnot, but I’m not sure how to pull off my proposed alternative beginning.

One of my main characters is a gladiator who has amnesia. Basically she was beat up pretty badly by her cellmates and ended up with a fever that leaves her a bit muddled. But since she doesn’t remember that, there’s really no point in showing it, since it is explained later on by another character.

The basic idea was to have her still fevered at the beginning of the story. She:

-wakes up

-is confused

-is put in training ring with trainer

-ends up passing out

So that’s the first chapter essentially. She is very confused and her POV bits reflect that. However, there are other character POVs that help explain things, so the reader has a bit more of an idea of what’s going on than her.

Cut to a few weeks later, after she has been treated and is on the mend. My plan was to have her POV bits be almost identical to those of the first chapter, to reflect that she doesn’t remember anything of the events in the first chapter. So pretty much, she:

-wakes up

-is confused

-is put in training ring with trainer

She doesn’t pass out this time and this is when the story really begins where she remembers it. But I’m wondering if this double beginning (for her) is actually worth it. What really makes me want to keep it is because of an event that I really want to have happen, but that she can’t remember.

Her trainer tries to kill her the first time he meets her. Basically he sees how sick she is and figures that killing her now would put her out of her misery faster. If he were to try and teach her to fight, she’d live longer, but end up dying more painfully, if she didn’t succumb to her fever first. He ends up not succeeding and so decides to give her a second chance.

Thing is, she cannot remember this. She and her trainer end up being the romantic couple in the story and if she were to remember that he tried to kill her, she would never trust him. Ever. He has a hard enough time bringing her around to trusting him after he grabs her arm trying to make her understand him. It’s not like he can just explain things to her rationally, because they don’t speak the same language. They end up communicating mostly through body language, which doesn’t lend itself to involved explanations like about why he would try to kill her.


I am a writer.

This blog is the ongoing saga of my writing experiences and thoughts, most centrally focused at the moment on my novel-in-the-works: Scorpion and Sandman.

Scorpion and Sandman
's two main characters, Quina and Red, actually started out as two of many characters in another novel project, Ocean of Fire, that I had started when I was around 14. That project, which I labored over for several years, has finally been put to rest, at least in that incarnation. But I loved the characters so much that I didn't want to let them die. I just didn't have a place for them.

Then National Novel Writing Month, 2009, rolled around. I wanted to join, but I didn't know what to write about. Then I remembered Quina and Red, my two favorite characters from the doomed Ocean of Fire, and decided to write their story as a full-length novel for NaNoWriMo.

30 days and 69,000+ words later, I had a manuscript in my hand. It was beautiful, but it was also horrible. Editing was the order of the day.

And so I began editing and have been editing since. It's not as steady an effort as I would like, but it is coming along nicely, despite competing with other projects in the works as well.

Welcome to the blog of a writer.