Monday, October 31, 2011

The End! (of October Madness)

Tonight, I crossed the finish line of October Madness.  I didn't miss a single day, even through being sick and having a root canal.  (And that's saying something--dental work messes me up like there's no tomorrow.)

I now have thirty-one fresh, shiny story starts ready to be explored and expanded in November.  I've decided that I am doing NaNoWriMo, although it's more of a NaShoStoWriMo, for me, as I'll be writing my 50,000 words on short stories instead of a novel.  I'm energized and excited to dive in when tomorrow rolls around.

My word count for October came in at 19,585, less than half of what I intend to put out in November.  That's okay.  I can do it.  I have faith in myself and belief in my work.

What a word rush!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Importance of Voice

As I have been making my way through my October Madness, I've had some things I've suspected about myself as a writer clarified.  One, I deeply underestimate my ability to be creative and have allowed that to be a roadblock towards producing.  Two, voice is vitally important.

What is voice?  Voice is the language and cadence used when you tell a story.  In first-person or close third-person it is often the voice the viewpoint character.  The way voice is used can significantly add to the believability and realism of the character as well as letting the reader feel like they know this character.  They can hear the way they think.  If you do it right, they can begin to guess at what a character might say, or see, or notice.

There is also authorial voice.  I don't feel comfortable to address authorial voice, beyond saying that with some authors you can tell their writing any time, anywhere.  I do not believe that I have mastered authorial voice, nor am I entirely sure that I want to.  But character voice--narrative voice--is what makes the difference in my work between what is pedestrian and what is compelling.

When I am writing, if I can fall into a voice, it will draw me forward into the story in a way that straightforward telling does not.  It's almost like theater--the difference between performing the words of a script and becoming the person behind them.

I've done a decent amount of theater in my day, mostly musicals.  I have often had major roles, because I am a good singer.  When I've had those roles, I have certainly done my best.  I've tried to be the character, and I've done a good approximation of it.  What taught me the difference between that and what actually being a character can be was when I was in a non-musical play, cast into a small role that was on stage, not speaking, for nearly the entirety of an act.  What would this person do when standing around not really doing anything for half an hour?  What would she notice?  What would draw her eye?  What would she think about?

In that time, I was deeper inside my character than I ever was in a lead role.  I think that's what I need to transport to my writing.  The author is not the lead role.  The author doesn't need to twinkle and shine.  The author needs to step back and let the characters talk.  That's where the magic happens.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Check-In Number Two

October Madness is still going strong!  I haven't missed a day.  Some are harder than others, of course, but every time, I end up with new words and new ideas.  And the amazing thing is that if someone who wasn't there looked at all the words, I don't think they'd be able to tell which ones were difficult and which were easy.

That's a bit of a revelation.  Your readers can't see into your brain.  They don't care if you sweated blood or were awash in creative seas.  They just want good stories.  And you can provide them.

Here's another thing I've realized.  I need to treat writing as a job, with goals and deadlines.  I've always been very good at accomplishing what is necessary at work while letting things sort of drift in other aspects of my life.  If I want to make writing a part of my career--if I want to earn money--I can't just let it lie and hope that things happen.  I have to put forth the effort.

As of today, I have written 6,430 words of new material in the month of October.  That's more than I wrote in the last three month combined, I think.  I did create on story in that time that I felt very confident about, and there was a good deal of editing, but I'm still floored when I look at the number for the first ten days of October.

I'll check back in again in a few days.  Hoping for smooth sailing!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Check-In Number One

October Madness is off to a great start.  I was so excited to get going that I actually did my first exercise on September 30th.  520 words before the month even started!

Today, the official Day One, I've already written 1,272 words.  I got an image that resonated with me and fell into the beginning of what might be an actual story.  Excitement!  Not sure how much more I'll get done tonight, but I'm far enough in that I should be able to move on to Day Two, or even farther, and come back to pick up the thread again.

I'm excited to wake up in the morning and, let me assure you, that never happens.

I think I'm going to like this October.  Might need to do this more often!