I’m going to be on my own for most of today – Todd’s not coming home for lunch, and will be late tonight as he works on the server in the office – so it’s just me and the animals.
The plan is:
1. Another critique on FM.
Yesterday’s critique was fun and informative. The one I choose was not bad, a space fantasy that was interesting but only the beginning of an 8,000 word story. She asked about whether people still published seriels, but I don’t think for a piece that (relatively) short she would need to worry about it. She began with a few paragraphs from one viewpoint character then switched to her primary character and I thought, as did a few others, that it wasn’t necessary. The writer said she merely wanted to describe the main character’s appearance (again, not necessary, and the important bit, that her hair was matted with blood, could have been conveyed through her viewpoint upon waking) and to avoid having her ‘wake up’ when beginning the tale. There’s an old chestnut of advice to never have the character wake up when you start your story, but as another critiquer pointed out, that’s to avoid the “Susan woke up in bed, stretched, and brushed her teeth …” thing.
The writer has part two up, but I think I will critique another submission first. I will go back to it, though. I do want to see what happens.
One of the things that really sunk in about writing for me happened when I listened in to the local face-to-face group critique their works last spring. It surprised me how many writers started off with backstory – boring back story that could have been introduced in the story as you went, as needed – that took up, in some cases, three quarters of the whole piece! But no one was saying anything about it to each other – another reason why I want the online critique groups. I don’t think there will be so much hand-holding.
2. Editing on The Butcher (a modern horror).
This is the short story I wrote over the summer, currently in its first draft. I did some editing when I was home on my vacation, and thought about it a great deal. It’s interesting how the idea you start with isn’t always the one you end up writing. Same thing happened with yesterday’s free writing.
The reason I’m not working on finishing the draft of By My Decree (epic fantasy/fable?) is that my friend Lesley read The Butcher and an older, much more polished story of mine called The Gentlewoman’s Contract (dark fantasy). She really liked the latter, which makes me want to polish up the Butcher. She’s keen to see what changes I end up making there, too.
* The Wandering Fire by Guy Gavriel Kay, second in the Fionavar Tapestry series.
* Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, a look at how history has been shaped by environmental and technological chance.
And no more video games. I’ll play party games and the like while our friends are over, but no more RPGs. I’ve finished the thankfully short but sweet Paper Mario for the Wii, a rental, and now I can get back to writing and reading. I’ll watch Todd play, but I’ll have a book in my hands.