Sunday, February 12, 2006

From 78,000 words to 2,000 max. From a full novel to a short story. A nice, challenging change of pace. It's always a shock to come back to half a short story started two months ago and suddenly see that it is really, really bad. 1100 words written and maybe two lines of dialogue in the whole thing - a ton of telling and no showing, no action ... OK, plenty of character but again, mostly told. Well, at least I can recognise it now when I see it. And I didn't want to slit my wrists. In fact I saw right away how to fix it. That's a step forward!
After several hours of fixing and adding more story, now I have no ending. So I'll leave it to vegetate again and see what grows or dies in the time-out. Yes, a mixed metaphor. I can see them too. Sigh.
For a complete (sort of) change of pace, this week I read the new Dean Koontz. Now I know why I haven't read him for at least 15 years. My reading has moved on. I still love crime novels (didn't he used to write horror?) but they have to be great crime novels that are involving, entertaining and have strong characters. DK goes to the bottom of my list, even from the library.
I've gone back to a collection of short stories from Andre Dubus III (he of House of Sand and Fog). I must have read 60 short stories or more over the past few weeks, trying to find good ones for my class reader. Then I realised I only needed 10 for them to study, and that made it easier. I finally found the Alice Munro story I wanted and included it.
Classes start in one week. Arrgghhh! I'm not ready. So this week very little writing will get done as I madly create three weeks worth of class prep.
A writer friend and I are doing an experiment that we've talked about for ages - we are taking 4-6 pages of each other's novel and rewriting it the way we would write it if it was our work. The kind of thing everyone says you must not do if you are in a workshop - never, never rewrite people's stuff for them! But she did some for me first and it was such an eye-opener! Of course, the voice changed and she cut it by about 60%, but there was lots for me to think about. Now I am about to do it for her (after telling her that her scene felt too slow - out with with hatchet).
Half of last week was spent on sending out manuscripts and creating good cover and query letters. That is an art in itself, I think. And sending out feels like fishing, always hoping for the right fish, nice weather and not too many waves.

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