Saturday Summation – 22 August 2015

Bits and pieces of things that caught my eye not only for my own interest, but enough to want to share with you, too…

Writing Stuff:

The first book I sent out to agents didn’t go anywhere, and it is sort of a “trunk” novel in that it’s definitely taken a back seat to the other books I’ve written since that one. However, I love that story. A lot. I have plans for it down the line, but it’s not the one to work on right now. Many writers and authors have called their early works “practice” novels, and while I definitely cut my teeth on that one, I really appreciated Kimberly Belle’s post about taking out a “dust-bunny book” and turning it into something great. I have confidence that I can and will do this with that first book.

There’s a quote out there that may or may not belong to Mark Twain that says, “It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.” Mary Carroll Moore expands upon this by reminding us that sure, maybe something that has happened in real life is amazing and fantastic, but is there a story to it? Can you make a narrative of it? I liked the process she mapped out of her own experience of pulling a narrative from experiences that might not have had a story all on their own. For me, I don’t have any immediate (or long term) plans to write any kind of memoir, but Moore’s example of tracking real life stories and experiences are how I start my ideas and develop my characters. When I think of how a single late night experience led to the ideas that created my latest, complete novel, there absolutely wasn’t enough in that “real” experience to make into a good story, but it offered a thread. Also… Moore offers weekly writing exercises (one is included in her post mentioned here) – they’re worth checking out!

How do we authentically and effectively write characters who are “other” than ourselves? Author Justina Ireland talks of how she is asked this a lot – although not in the best ways, of course – and I like the route she took to broaden it, to remind all writers that writing a black character, for example, as a white writer doesn’t have a magical formula. I mean, honestly, the biggest answer is do your research and interact with that “other” population, whatever that might be. What Ireland offers, instead, is looking at character development in the big picture – because isn’t this the most important? She narrows in a little bit, however, in the section labeled “compare yourself to the character you are writing.” In other words, don’t try to pretend or force your “other” character to be “same” or worry if some of the differences are basic and obvious. I make some initial lists about my characters like she describes, but I’ve never done the comparison thing. I might give that one a try as I move forward with my current project.

Reading Stuff:

Until this year, my kids have never really had any homework over the summer other than “read.” And yes, my youngest was supposed to keep track of his reading minutes each day, but no, we ditched that after one week. He read a bunch, okay? Anyway… my oldest did have specific reading homework over the summer, but had a HUGE list to choose from for the single novel he had to read for English. Fairly decent in variety, too. I get the idea, however, that not all schools are like this, so I’m happy that for schools that regularly assign specific reading expectations over the summer, that they are updating it a bit as noted in this piece from NPR.

Recommended Reads:

The Real Boy – Anne Ursu (MG)

Vida – Patricia Engel (A)

House Broken – Sonya Yoerg (A)

The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster – Scott Wilbanks (A – My Goodreads review)

The Perfect Son – Barbara Claypole White (A – My Goodreads review)

Currently Reading:

Sorcerer to the Crown – Zen Cho

Song of the Week:

How about a song recently added to the playlist of my current WIP? Sometimes I add a song that doesn’t always stick later, but so far, I think this one works.

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