This quote was posted on The Writer’s Circle, a group that posts about writing stuff on Facebook (click the picture to go to their page). It inspired a conversation among my writer friends, in which one friend told me about a “what if?” writer’s conference she attended. The speaker gave them the following writing prompt:
- In 12 words or less, starting with “what if” , charismatically describe your book so everyone will want to buy and and read it.
Sounds simple enough. But here’s the funny bit-it’s not.
Here is what I came up with for The Gatestone Chronicles: Fayling
- What if you were the only person who could fix magic?
It isn’t a bad sentence, but would it sell my book? It doesn’t really hit at the real story, does it?
Okay, let’s try again.
- What if a human could save the universe from fairies?
Hmm. I like that one better. Closer to what the book is about, but it vilifies the fay a bit too much.
One more time.
- What if saving one life could magically alter the course of fate?
Okay, well it isn’t perfect, but to be fair I have to keep it to twelve words, so it will do.
What about you reader? Tell me what you came up with in the comments below. Happy Writing!
Ah, to romance, or not to romance? That is the question I have been presented with this week.
You see, I was aiming at a urban fantasy without any lovey dovey stuff. Partly because I was afraid my attempt at literary smootchy-smootchy would end up super cheesy, but also because I wanted to focus on Jeremy-my leading fellow- and not who he is kissing. I have invented a politically unstable world, and thus far I have focused heavily on that. But as you may know, writers invent characters, and then those characters seem to do whatever the heck they want to do, regardless of your original intentions. So now I find myself battling the seemingly natural progression of a budding relationship between two of my people.
I took the issue to several of my writing buddies, and a funny thing happened. None of them had an issue with an underlying romance. Nobody thought it was cheesy. Most of them didn’t know why I was even asking, thinking I’d done it on purpose. Do you know what did happen? I got pretty divided camps on who Jeremy should end up with.
As it it turns out, I have written myself a bit of a love triangle, without realizing I had done it. So I had a choice. Let it work itself out as I go along, or try and snuff it out. When I talked to my hubby about destroying the bit of romance, he protested. Loudly. I got a stern, “what does it matter if there is romance in it?” lecture. Oh, and he tried to say he didn’t care which girl Jeremy ended up with, but he had a lot more positive things to say about the witch. . .
Sooooo. . .
Apparently the romance stays. But I am going to blow some stuff up. You know, just to compensate. =)
Adjacent to Miss Badalla’s Curseology class in room 405, is Mr. Theyorie’s Art History class in room 406. Mr. Theyorie wears a carefully preserved tweed jacket with leather elbow patches, beige corduroy pants, and an olive green paisley print tie. In his jacket pocket is a yellowed handkerchief that he uses frequently to wipe snot from his scruffy grey moustache throughout the course of his lectures. His monotone voice drones on about the masters throughout the ages at exactly the right pitch to lull an unsuspecting student to sleep, often resulting in a banging noise as the student’s forehead meets the desk in front of them.
The most exciting part of Mr. Theyorie’s class is when the Curseology students next door get too rambunctious. Mr. Theyorie will halt mid-drone in order to bang on the wall shouting, “Shut up, shut up, shut up!”
If any student of his dares to laugh, Mr. Theyorie will level a scowl at them so fierce the student will shrink in their seat, rendered completely silent.
Once, several years ago, someone asked Mr. Theyorie why he gets so angry about the noise next door. Mr. Theories proceeded to shout for thirty solid minutes about the uselessness of learning such made-up bologna.
When Miss Badalla was nominated by the student body for teacher of the year, Mr. Theyorie promptly lost what was left of his hair. When the newspaper arrived to cover the presentation of the award, Mr. Theyorie had to lie down.
In apology for being significantly more popular than Mr. Theyorie, Miss Badalla made him an amulet to protect against high blood Pressure. Mr Theyorie threw it away.
The following semester Mr. Theyorie had only two students in his Art History Class. When he confronted Miss Badalla for cursing him, she politely reminded him he didn’t believe in curses.
If you are looking through the course catalog of your local college, you will find your typical classes offered; English 101, Algebra, Pottery, Nutrition, that sort of thing. But if you flip to the back of the catalog, under the miscellaneous heading that most people don’t read, you will find a class not offered by most colleges. This class is Curseology 101, taught by Miss Badalla.
When you enter the classroom it looks like any other. Rows of tables and chairs to the left and right of a center walkway. The front of the class has a green chalkboards and a podium, where Miss Badalla scatters her various notes and articles to reference in her lectures. She runs the class much like any other teacher; there are vocabulary lists and chapters of assigned reading from the Curseology 101 textbook. But that is where the similarities to everyday learning stop.
Miss Badalla teaches her students about curses. How to use them, what they are, and how to defend from others cursing you. She peeks out from a halo of frizzy salt and pepper hair, tied back by a scarf embroidered with silver suns and moons. Her hands are laden with numerous rings, all interesting stones like turquoise and Jasper. She wears charms around her wrists, ankles, and neck, each one with a special defensive purpose she teaches about in her advanced class, Amulet Crafting. She wears brightly colored wispy fabrics, and a gray shawl that looks as though it has been dragged down the street by a trash truck, and then hung to dry. Her brown sandals have been patched and mended, and are the only pair of shoes she ever wears. She calls out her lessons in a sing-song voice, wafting the spicy aroma of incense as she passes between each desk. She answers criticism and doubt with the certainty of someone who has seen the effects of the curses she explains.
Curseology will not likely help you achieve your major. Indeed, nobody is even sure if there is credit for taking Miss Badalla’s class. But the experience is well worth the price of one semester of your time.
Lesson of the day: How to handle minor curses
Method 1: Think of puppies. Curses are based on negative energy. A minor curse, such as Drabulize, can be counteracted by the adorably positive energy of a cute, fluffy, wiggly tailed pup. This method is sometimes difficult, because thinking of puppies while someone is cursing you can be distracting.
Method 2: the counter-curse. While this will not prevent you from being cursed, at least you force your curser into a similar predicament. There is a chance they will lift the curse if you agree to do the same. Curse mediation is sometimes necessary to negotiate these situations.
Method 3: Deflection. This method is safest for you, but very unsafe for unsuspecting bystanders.
This will also be on the quiz
This week’s vocabulary list:
Insomniate: To curse an individual with the inability to sleep.
Abdactify: To magically force someone in a position of social power to step down against his/her will, though it appears as if he/she voluntarily stepped down. Often used by school girls to settle popularity contests.
Drabulize: Draining all the color out of a victims entire wardrobe.
Conjactuation: The writing or inventing of new curses.
Floorigating: Causing a person’s shoes to leave behind muddy footprints, regardless of the weather outside or the victims vicinity to mud. Common trick played on housewives with tile floors.
Pay attention. There will be a quiz.
Writing is a challenging thing. There are always a million other things to do. There are always a thousand reasons not to.
I may not be any good.I don’t have time. So-and-so thought that this was a bad idea. Oh, but what if I’m terrible at spelling? I never took creative writing in school. I don’t have a degree in literature.
Ignore all that. Sit down, and pen the idea- or type it. I don’t care how, just do it. You are good enough, your ideas are worthy, and screw so-and-so. All that other stuff doesn’t matter. Writers come from all walks of life, and in a rainbow of colors. If you have the desire to write, and the ability is there, the other stuff can be taught. Grammar can be corrected. But there is only one you, nobody else will do what you can.
Stop making excuses, and write you darn book. Go on, right now. Do it!
As you know, I live off in my own world, full of fairies, monsters, and creatures of my own invention. I like living this way, and I have no intentions of my work reflecting anything that isn’t me. I’m weird, and I’m aware of it. It showed through in Tilted Tales, and it will shine equally as bright in Fayling (my pending novel).
Now, when I share my work for critique, I get lots of great advice and encouragement from my fellow group members. But I sometimes get critics who just don’t like my genre. They question a characters abilities, and try to enforce real-world physics into my book. “that’s not possible,” one person will say “a character cannot be all powerful” another will say. Yes, because being able to move walls means nothing can ever harm you. It’s an ability, my friend. Not all mighty perfection. Magic is supposed to be unexpected, and put the super in supernatural. Their problem is not with my style, by the subject matter. And that is just fine; clearly they are not my target demographic.
Thank god J.K. Rowling didn’t listen to any such advice.
Feeling the way I did about the review of my current chapters, something occurred to me. I am always encouraging other writers to seek out and listen to the advice of other writers. I may have left an important tidbit of advice out of that sentiment:
Don’t stifle your own voice because someone doesn’t like your theme. Listen to the grammar corrections, and the honest concerns about your plot. But take the opinions of the people who don’t like the subject matter (and judge the work accordingly) and place their opinion on the shelf, where it belongs. Your writing is yours. Don’t let anyone try to change that.
As a writer, I understand the protective instinct that develops when it comes to your work. You’ve poured your heart and soul into this idea, and obviously it is important enough to devote your precious time to it. So when you show it to someone, be it a classmate or a friend, you may want to stand over that person’s shoulder and explain your thought process. You will want to answer questions and deflect criticism.
Here is the problem with that: If you publish your book, you are not going to follow around every single one of your readers to answer their questions as they arise. Nobody is going to sort out any confusion for them.
This brings me to today’s point. Your writing needs to speak for itself. It is so easy to get defensive when someone challenges a plot point. And sometimes it really is just a misunderstanding, and the reader just didn’t follow along. But that is the exception, not the rule. Generally, if someone has a question that requires clarification/explanation, then you have left something out of your story. Go back to you current draft, and edit, edit, edit.
There are no set-in-stone rules to being a writer. The point is to be creative, and explore a world you can paint with words. Depending on what you want to achieve with your writing, you may need to touch up your work. Be open to doing re-writes, and you can be successful.