Thursday, October 25, 2007

russian: nyet

Three and a half months is a long blog vacation, and I regret to say that I didn't spend it learning Russian or waterskiing or crocheting. (Confession: although I'd love to learn Russian, the very idea of crocheting makes my fingers tangle up; and it's way too late for water sports unless they involve a blow-up raft).
But I have a new novel project, while I'm waiting to see what happens with the ghost novel, which is actually an old novel that I mean to revise. So here I am again, trying to think about how a book works, and getting intimate with reluctant characters. I dropped this novel several years ago, because I couldn't solve two problems: 1) what to do about a character who didn't have enough substance, and whose backstory I could never settle on; 2) whether or not to keep in the subplot about finding a cave with archaeological finds in it, and what to replace it if I didn't keep it, or if it should be replaced at all.
Oh, and I guess there were 3 problems, because I didn't know how to end it, even though I wrote my way right up to the end, or where the end was supposed to be 3 times--3 unsatisfactory, annoying, not-in-any-way-good endings.
But I had a feeling that I could tackle it more effectively now, so I pulled it out and we're having another go-round.
In honor of starting another novel revision, I'm taking up the 5 writing strengths meme that Jadepark tagged me for (here is her own post on that) weeks ago.
1. I'm good at dialogue. I like writing it, and I've got a pretty good ear. I'm not bad at making speech sound like the character who's saying it. There's a small flaw inherent in this strength though, because I often write whole scenes where people do nothing but talk, because I like it and because it's so easy.
2. I can do a very good 1st person voice. I like getting into someone else's head and speaking from behind his or her face--it's a form of writer escapism, I guess. I especially like to write 1st person characters who are feisty and maybe a little difficult, which is a way of getting out of my nice-girl role (Catholic school alumni: unite).
3. I can write funny, although I can't do humor, by which I mean that I can be funny if it's the coming-from-the-side, unexpected kind of funny, but not on-purpose funny. Sometimes though I've written something which I think is quite funny and other people think it's depressing (e.g., my 1st novel).
4. I'm good at coming up with what's-next, although only if I'm actually writing. It doesn't work if I'm thinking about writing, only if I'm fingertips-to-the-keyboard, plowing through a chapter. But it's so much better anyway to be writing than thinking abt writing or planning to write, right?
5. I have never given up.

If anyone's interested and hasn't done this yet, I tag Plan B, Madame X, The Cleveland Brawler, Book of Marvels, and the Alternate Side Parker.

6 Comments:

Blogger Kate S. said...

It's lovely to see you back. I've missed your posts! Excellent strengths all, especially the not giving up, without which none of the rest matters...

10/27/2007 12:09 PM  
Blogger Brian Kornell said...

Phew. I was afraid you'd stopped blogging. Your dialouge abilites are most excellent. I'm finding I have the same problem though, where I'm writing nothing but scenes of people talking. I need to work on some scenes of only action.

The other day in workshop, I thought I turned in something kind of serious with a little bit of humor to it, but it turned out that everyone thought it was really funny. I didn't know how to take that.

10/27/2007 10:09 PM  
Blogger lucette said...

Kate--yes, not giving up is my best one.
BK--I think you're a funnier-than-you-know writer; and think of yourself as Dan-Chaon-ish, who's so good at writing serious/funny.

10/28/2007 11:37 AM  
Blogger Kristin Ohlson said...

Ah, I'm glad to see you blogging again too!

I'll try to do this 5 things thing, but it will take some thinking.

10/29/2007 5:06 PM  
Blogger erieblue said...

I love archaeological dig/cave things. I think it goes back to all those English adventure books we read as children.

10/30/2007 10:02 AM  
Blogger MJN/NYC said...

OK, I see I've been tagged, and I'll look at the original post and apply myself. I'm also glad I looked in on you, because I've missed your vintage cooking entries (figured you were busy at school). Then I remembered Novel-Writing Month and thought it might have revived you.

And yes, the main thing is that you never give up.

11/09/2007 1:57 PM  

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