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.


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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