Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Delete key has been hot this week, taking out huge chunks of the last three chapters of my novel. Two whole characters - gone in an instant. All their dialogue, their interaction with the main character - gone. They became irrelevant, a sidetrack that I should have taken out before, but until I got nearer to the end and had made decisions about previous bits, they stayed ... just in case. Now they've gone to the Land of Unused and Unwanted Characters. Or, if you want to be clever, the Land of Unnecessary Characters, Animals and Subplots. Feed them all to LUCAS. Hmmmm.
Today I will be venturing into more new words, working my way towards the last paragraph (which remains unchanged, like any final destination - it's funny how you know exactly where the story will finish, but there are so many ways to get there).
Before then, I need to go to the gym to work out the horrible twisted mess my neck and shoulders are in, created by hunching over the laptop, digging in the garden and then sleeply badly.
I finished the Inspector Anders book. Very interesting. I learnt more about the Italian mafia and corrupt Italian politicians and bureaucrats than I thought possible. I did like the mc, Anders, but then a maverick is hard to dislike. Good mavericks in fiction always do the things you long to do yourself, if only...
Now I am reading Lee Childs. Jack Reacher is another maverick, a very clever one, and his confidence and expertise make him very engaging. A character who creates surprises in the plot, twists and turns that keep you reading. A great lesson in how to keep the reader turning the pages through character as much as plot, which is why I love good crime novels. They so often have these terrific characters that propel the story along - think Harry Bosch, Rebus - even Stephanie Plum.
On the other hand, I am writing at least one poem each day at the moment, after a drought of a couple of months. By drought, I mean I might write a poem occasionally but don't feel the urge to do any more. That often comes after completing a collection, or in this case, a verse novel. My brain seems to need a break and this time I had moved on to short stories.
My short fiction class recently studied the two Robert Olen Butler stories that he has included in "From Where You Dream". He has a "bad" story, written many years ago, and then the published story - which actually bear little relation to each other apart from the basic material that the ideas came from. In other words, the published story is not in any way a rewrite. What I liked was the change in subtlety - the first story had none, the second story was full of layers and subtle but telling lines and details.
I have an idea for a short story, which emerged from an exercise I gave them on Secrets, but have no time to write it yet. And an idea for another story that I fear might become a novel. Oh dear. I will have to make notes on both and save them up.

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