“I legitimately laughed-out-loud when I read the words under your first chapter :).”
-A. Adams (not Amy Adams)
I submitted Two Candidates Walk Into A Bar for a novel workshop class this year. Here are a few of my classmate’s positive responses. Of course, not everything said about my novel was complimentary. But that doesn’t matter anymore. Because as of right now, the novel on ChapterBuzz has been updated. Welcome to Two Candidates Walk Into A Bar 2.0.
The journey to create Two Candidates Walk Into A Bar has been a strange one. I’ve finished Amal Beck’s character sheet yesterday. Today and tomorrow, I’ll work on edits to the novel itself. During the past week, I’ve thought about how to rework different parts of the story. In answer to last week’s post: I’m going with option 3.
(as a side note, I lost my current idea notepad AGAIN. I swear, my iPod Touch targets the most important notes I keep for unexpected deletion. This is the third time in the past two years where out of 30 notes, the only jottings to disappear are the most important ones.)
What I’ve learned as a writer: it’s ok if nothing goes as planned. I like my schedules, and this week looked like the first period of time in a while when I could actually keep one. Today’s missed alarms thought otherwise. Again, technology is out to get me. Or, at least, it’s trying to convince me that the only things worth doing are worth doing quickly.
Novel-writing will continue to be a rocky, bizarre process. It’s time I embraced that. I still want to create a good schedule for myself, mind… but I also want the freedom to change it when I need to. I dictate the schedule; the schedule doesn’t dictate me. Beating myself up over today will not help me get up tomorrow. And hey, I don’t need all those idea notes anyways… I’ve got plenty to use.
I hope you don’t surrender your writing life to what you think should happen. I hope you let your beautiful, crazy experiences create a writing life all for yourself.
We end the Winter 2015 issue of Glimmer Train as we began it— with a globe-hopping look at how every life interconnects. And, would you believe it, it’s even more plotless than “Number 41” was! That’s not all bad. Like I said, some stories move along by theme instead of plot. And in a couple of those stories, theme’s all you got. I loved “Number 41” like a comfort pillow. “Transit”’s more like bubble wrap… fun and cozy, to be sure, but not as substantial or even as appealing as such a pillow.
In a previous “Have You Heard” post, I extolled all the great things Writing With Color provides. But if you want to create a story about a culture other than your own, then you’ll need some hard data. Do you check Wikipedia for factoids? Here’s a better option! You can look at the World Culture Encyclopedia (a.k.a. everyculture.com), which gives great breakdowns on cultures from Afghanistan to Zambia, from French Canadians to Afro-Colombians.
Each entry provides an overview of a country’s geography, language, national identity, diet, industries, class systems, social problems, family units, etiquette, art, and sometimes even more, depending on which nation you research. A well-cited bibliography caps off each section. All this information can be dense, so don’t expect to go though it all in one sitting.
Also, don’t try to put all your findings in one story! When I wrote “I Am A Mountain (y estoy hundiendome),” I began my research with this long entry on Mexican-Americans. Of the notes I wrote down, I used only 10% of the facts I listed. Lucha Corpi seems cool, but I don’t think she needs to get name-dropped in a superhero story. The World Culture Encyclopedia should provide you with a background for your story… not a prong for your thesis.