Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Who Are You?

As I'm retyping and reworking The Thief Book, I've begun to consider which character in the book I most resemble. I don't consciously write myself into stories, and while I joke with my friend that the most irascible character was modeled after her, I'm not in the habit of writing other people into them either. But, it sometimes crosses my mind that I don't really resemble many of my characters.

In The Thief Book, I most generally resemble the antagonist, Prince Leo. It sounds more unflattering than it is.

Leo isn't a villain. He's just a good cop trying to enforce the laws he knows to be morally right. That sounds fair, right? If only that didn't put him at odds with our lovable MC and her friends.

But Leo and I have some things in common, though I'm no one's idea of a good cop, nor am I royalty -- that I know of. Leo and I both like the rules. Yeah, I know, sometimes you need to think outside the box and all that, but there's something to be said for fast rules. Leo believes that some things are right and some things are wrong, and that's just how things go. I've got a more gray area perspective on things, but I can see his point.

He's logical, and a lot of what he says makes sense. I flatter myself that I am just as rational. He's getting in the way of a thief. Yeah, I have to admit, without knowing any particulars, I'd be getting in the way of the thief, too.

He loves his family. I think we all do that. He likes his job. I do, too. He gets beaten at chess. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've done that.

So, it's true. In my book, I have most in common with my antagonist. Go figure.

Do you write people you know, or yourself, into your stories? Which of your characters do you think you have the most in common with?

The Unique Experience

My brother studied film in college. One of his teachers told him that all creative persons must have unusual histories on which they can draw. ( Assuming we all agree with the teacher,and I'm not assuming that at all, I'd have to ask what constitutes a sufficiently unique experience to work as a writer or movie maker or anything, but that's a discussion for another day.) He then handed out notebooks to the class and asked them to fill them as much as possible with the things that they thought made them unique.

To me, that sounds like a fantastic project, but my brother told me that most of his class had trouble with it. He said a lot of kids came in with half the notebook full or less. My brother filled his notebook. (Yes, I'm proud of that.) He said it was no sweat.

His grade: C-.

Why? The teacher didn't believe him. His exact words: "I don't believe your cousin ever taught a student named Dragon Boat."

Now, as someone who would never mind pointed out if her brother had lied, fabricated that story, or even stretched the truth, I can honestly raise my right hand and say, "True story." In fact, without trouble, I can pull up at least five minutes of true stories that most people would never believe actually happened. Hell, I could do five minutes on things somehow related to Canada that people would probably never believe. (Did you know I once convinced someone that on Canada Day, the whole of Canada comes together as one to herd beavers into the Plain Provinces, where we club them to death? I then explained that we skin them to use the pelts, store most of the meat for winter, and make Beaver Burgers, which are quite tasty and delicious. This person was horrified for five minutes before I explained that it wasn't true. Gullible is also written on the ceiling.)

You might imagine that I am unique in this uniqueness, but I maintain that this is not so. Every heard of the website My Life Is Average? While I personally hold that the site should be renamed My Life Is Surprisingly Weird, because none of these things are average, it is certainly an entertaining site. And it's proof that these things happen to people who aren't me.

My point, I guess, is this: Does a writer need to come from some sort of highly unique/different/unusual/unorthodox background in order to create? How important are you life experiences (particularly the odd ones) in your writing?

I personally doubt that J.K. Rowling channeled her years at a magical boarding school into Harry Potter or that Twilight is based on Meyer's relationship with a 117-year-old. However, who am I to determine how much of their life experiences entered the book. Zach Braff drew heavily on his own life when writing Garden State. It seems to vary.

How important are your life experiences is your creative process?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Jedi May Sue for Religious Rights

This article came to my attention, and I thought it should be shared.

The founder of International Church of Jediism was ordered by a store to leave or uncover his head, something that violates the tenets of Jediism. Jediism, a religion based on the Jedi Code of Star Wars, has an estimated 500,000 followers worldwide.

However, it should be noted, in defense of Tesco, that in a 2006 British bill to protect religious freedom, Jediism was specifically excluded all with Satan worshipers.

I, for one, am interested in seeing how this plays out.

Why That Little Miniskirt Your Mother Never Let You Wear Was The Best Writing Tool Ever

A while back, I was filling out an application, and someone asked how long the essay portion should be. The answer: "Writing should be like a miniskirt: Long enough to cover everything; short enough to be interesting." I think that was the best advice ever. In fact, it earned some coveted space on my board of awesome things.

A lot of agents mention on their blog what would be about the right length for a book, depending on genre and intended audience. (A hint, anything over 100k is not a novel, it's a paperweight.) I have heard agents say that after certain word counts, they just put down the query, because they know the book doesn't have a teardrop's chance on a hot stove.

There's some disagreement on the particulars, but basically any agent will tell you that the key is not to waste any of your words. If you MG novel is 30k, it might look short, but maybe you've written the perfect 30k MG novel. If you're writing an 93k YA novel, then those 93k better be worth getting through. How do you think Stephanie Meyer gets away with 105k books? Because no teenage girl was complaining about any of them.

Every word should be covering something that needs to be covered. It should not be there covering things that are best left uncovered. This would be one of those areas where underwriting comes in handy. Saying less to mean more (something that I can admit I don't do perfectly. Yet.) is a great way to tighten up your prose and create subtle works.

My first draft of The Thief Book, I estimated, would probably be around 50k (I was so wrong about that guess), and I figured it would end up closer to 60k once I did all my adding and subtracting and general changes-making. By the time I'm done, 60k is about where it should be. In my mind, that's a reasonable length for a YA book. Other agents might have their own thoughts, but I figured that that was about the right length to cover what I planned to say.

How do you judge word length? How long to your books average?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Are You A Writer?

Yesterday, I read a most interesting post on the Literary Lab. It advised that we ought to admit to others that we're writers. Heck, to me, it might as well have said, admit to yourself that you're a writer. "Look into the nearest reflective surface (unless you are a vampire) and say to yourself, 'I am a writer.'" It's an interesting exercise. I did it, and I immediately giggled, because I couldn't suppress the feeling that I had unleashed a tremendous secret.

Do you admit to others that you write? (See, even there, I say admit. Further psychoanalysis beckons.) Do you tell/announce to/ proclaim/ exclaim that you are a writer? I must confess that I often do not. Indeed, I would not lie, if I were asked, but I don't go handing that information out on a street corner.

I doubt any of us would be met with expressions of shock and horror. (I feel compelled to point that out. I have Dead Poets Society playing in the background.) People I have told tend to be supportive. Some, indeed, find the idea quite cool. Actually, I take the earlier sentiment back. One relative was quite shocked, mainly because I managed to write my first book without him being aware of the fact. He made me laugh.

So, have you announced that you are a writer today?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

National Punctuation Day

Yes, that's right, today is National Punctuation Day. Who knew? Actually, not me. I just found out.

Are you into punctuation? Me, I follow the rules, but it's not my first love. I'm more of a Grammar Geek (known to my friends as a Grammar Nazi) than a Punctuation Gal (god, I wish that were alliterative, but I don't know how to make it so. Any suggestions, I'd welcome them.).

PS: There are 14 punctuation marks in standard English grammar. How long does it take you to name them all?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Is That The Only Ending?

Today, I was listening to The Mystery of Edwin Drood and enjoying the alternate endings. That got me thinking about how I'd once heard the movies used to come with alternate endings so you never knew what to expect (the movie Clue actually has 3 endings), and about other musicals with alternate endings (Clue: The Musical, 216 possible endings. Now isn't that a lot of options). And I got to wondering, why don't books come with alternate endings.

Wouldn't it be fun if, say, a murder mystery came with alternate endings depending on who you really wanted to be the killer? Or maybe they just say Options A,B,and C. I, personally, would enjoy having a chance to read the book three different ways.

Me, I've never thought of alternate endings to my stories. I always knew before I got down to the business how the story was going to end. (Somewhat easier for me than for others, maybe, since I tend towards happy endings.) But, if I had two endings I liked equally, I might write both and see how it goes.

How do you feel about the idea of alternate endings in books? Would you ever write extra endings to one of your works? Are there books with alternate endings?

Monday, September 21, 2009


I'd been reading some interesting things in the blogosphere lately about underwriting. I must admit, that is probably not my strong suits, or even one of my suits at all, when it comes to my writing. I tend to say what I mean to say, only occasionally letting an absence speak for itself.

However, I think the posts I'd read on the subject perked up my ears for future examples of it, because while watching The Emperor's Club this weekend, I found an example in one of my favorite scenes.

SPOILER ALERT: In the beginning of the movies, one of the characters you meet is Marty Blythe, a school legacy. You find out that his father's last words to him were the question on which his father had one the Mr. Julius Caesar contest, which is held every year. At the end of the movie, Marty's son, also named Martin, walks into the same classroom, and the teacher asks him to read a sign that is held above the door. The boy, unlike his father did when asked to do that same thing 25 years prior, reads the sign faultlessly, without tripping on any of the foreign words. What is unsaid is that Marty Sr. has obviously been telling those words to his some the way his father once told him what tribes invaded Rome.

I love that moment for many reasons, but only watching it this time around did I realize that I loved it in large part because of the underwriting. My friend, when it was over, said to me, "I was waiting for him to say, 'What were your father's last words to you?'" We had both surmised what those words were, but she had expected them to be stated.

I shook my head. "Did he really need to ask?" I replied. I think that the moment was stronger for the fact that the teacher knew and we knew but no one said anything.

Underwriting is a useful skill. Sometimes, it is the things we do not say -- especially if you are using a non-omniscient narrator -- that are the telling ones. It provides the reader with information without actually stating the information, making it more intuitive. This is certainly something that I hope to develop more in my writing.

How do you feel about underwriting? Do you use it? Are there any examples of it you particularly like?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Art of Retelling

Yesterday, I watched a movie I've been meaning to watch for some time: 10 Things I Hate About You. (I warned you, I've got movies on the brain.) I'd figured for a while that I'd like it, since I loved Taming of the Shrew. And, I can't deny, I loved it. I loved the soundtrack, which was perfectly suited to the movie -- and composed of music I really liked. I loved the costumes, partly because I've always wanted to be able to pull off some of those looks, and because I actually dressed rather like the shrew. Most of all, I loved the script. Kate and I have the same sense of humor. :D If you liked watching Kate the cursed verbally spar in Shakespeare's classic, then you'll appreciate some of Cat's lines in the movie.

The joyful aspect of this is that they updated the story to a certain extent. While the premise remained, those aspects that couldn't be swung in a modern setting (ie: the marriage, his keeping her up all night and denying her food, etc) were altered. It maintained the good parts while altering to keep the story fresh.

I like retold stories. I like seeing how someone can take something that should be familiar to the reader and turns it around to make it new and original. Sometimes half the fun is seeing how the author will handle certain aspects of the story in regards to how things have been shifted. It's like vintage clothing pieces. Wearing too many at once makes you look like you're in costume, but wearing a few makes an interesting combination. Or cutting a dress from a 1950s pattern. If it's in Mamie pink, it's expected. If it's in black and paired with modern punk accessories, you've turned the original concept on its head and made it unique again.

The key to an interesting retelling is the surprise factor. The alterations are the unexpected part, after all. If, say, at the end of your telling of Cinderella, in which the shoe is replaced by an iPod, and the prince, who you've replaced with the student body president, is looking for a girl who loves indie music with female singers, then maybe he gets the band at prom to play the music to see which girl gets really into it. Maybe two completely different girls both start dancing in front of the speakers and he has to choose which one he thinks is his girl. The key is to take the expected aspects of the story, the ones that would make it cliched, and to change those.

Do you like retellings in books and movies? What's your favorite?

One Among Many

I recently bit the bullet and subscribed to Netflix. I always figured I don't watch enough movies to merit that fact. However, since I now live a considerable distance from a movie theater or video rental place and where the library has developed a sorting system used nowhere else in the known universe, I've discovered that it has its uses.

Well, I have also realized that I greatly enjoy its Instant Watch feature. So, don't be surprised if for a while, a number of my posts reflect back to movies.

But, for the moment, I'm sort of fascinated by one of Netflix's features. When you're reading reviews posted by other users, it will tell you how similar that viewers tastes are to yours based on what other movies that they have watched and liked.

So far, I've only found one other viewer whose opinion correlated to mine to something greater than 70%. A handful of 50%. Generally, most people only seem to line up to me around 22%. (Yeah, I'm basically skipping those reviews, or doing the opposite.) I guess that means I'm unique.

How about you?

Friday, September 18, 2009


Last night, by which I mean the earliest hours of this morning, I was personally informed that my efforts to become a member of a certain society had failed. (By personally, I do mean in person. The Vice President and the Treasurer, whom I happen to know outside of the organization, came to tell me. I think they like to tell people personally to avoid the form rejection feel. Guess what, the personalized rejection does feel better than the form rejections.)

After my first wonderings, which was what they would have done if the person they were trying to reach were asleep -- not unlikely considering the hour, my next thoughts were that this didn't sting as much as older rejections used to. And I'm pretty sure that it's writing that's done it.

Before I started writing, I had issues with rejection. I covered, but I really didn't like it (who does, right?) and I used to do things that required auditions a lot, such as theater or choir (and I can't sing). Sometimes, just to prove I could take it, I'd set myself up for rejection instead of heeding self-preservational instinct. So people thought I didn't mind, but I did.

Then, I wrote a book. And I started querying it. Except it wasn't that good. And neither was the query. So rejection promptly followed.

But, after a while, it stopped stinging so much. I learned that it wasn't personal, that there are lots of factors going into every decision like that, and all I could do what put my best foot forward and see how it goes.

So, that's what I've been doing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But, when it doesn't, it hurts a hell of a lot less.

I'm glad I started writing.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dance of Joy

I'm doing a Happy Dance right now, because I've finally finished the first draft of The Thief Book. It's not the full first draft, because I already know of two scenes that I need to add, but it's basically the whole book. :D

The current estimated word count (I can't get an accurate one until I type it up) is a bit over 54.5K. Which is a pretty good place to be starting in my opinion. The next version is going to be longer, since I'm gonna be adding scenes and description, but I'm happy with what I've got so far.

Tomorrow, I'll figure out my goals for getting it all typed up. Tonight, I'll smile.

President Obama Wan-Kenobi

This must be the week for fantastic stuff on the Internet, but this story made me laugh aloud. How come no one told me that President Obama is secretly a Jedi? Well, now that he's been outed, we all know. I'm glad our president can protect us from the Sith.


Since my new Undisclosed Location is possessed of a few new positive cases of H1N1, this link seemed timely to me. Plus, it's amusing as hell. You've got to love geeky people.

Apparently, this condition is also called PAXFlu or NerdFlu.

Hmm... Maybe I should try to rename the cases here. **Arches an evil eyebrow**

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The 100th Post

According to Blogger, this is my 100th post. I must admit that when I started blogging back in February, I didn't think that I would actually make it this far. It took me a while to find my groove in blogging, let alone get used to the idea. It's been quite a fulfilling and interesting experience. I've learned several things along the way.

  1. Writing should be done ever day, whether it's to a particular end or not. Writing is like a muscle. It shouldn't be allowed to go unused too long. I learned that one the hard way.
  2. Never fear the book you're working on, nor the editing required to improve it, though always remember to respect the craft.
  3. Be nice! I know, that sounds obvious to everyone, but sometimes I forget. I sometimes get too caught up in feeling clever to remember that I might be hurting someone's feelings. (For a brilliant post on this, I recommend the always amusing Natalie Whipple.)
  4. The number of people out there who are smarter and cleverer than I am is, indeed, as large as originally feared, but, thankfully, they seem very glad to help. (Consider, for example, The Literary Lab.)
  5. Even people a bit younger than I am have been writing for longer. Good news for me, they don't feel shy about sharing their experience with the rest of us.
  6. Though the internet has a reputation for being full of crazies, meanies, and some generally sketchy individuals, there are several people out there who good things to say and good words to share. (One post that particularly warmed by heart was Kierstan White's on cruel words.)
  7. Patience and Persistence are the true essentials in getting things done.
It's been fabulous, and I have high hopes for the future. :D

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Little Things

I don't normally watch TV, but some friends of mine love Grey's Anatomy, so it's hard to avoid knowing what's going on or watching it sometimes. The other day, I was watching an old episode in which one girl tried to explain to her boyfriend that they couldn't live together, because he was anal retentive and she was incredibly messy. And, in my opinion, the script was wonderful.

The thing that made it great for me was the subtlety with which their roles were portrayed. This was the first time the viewer was seeing their homes, near as I could tell, and these were aspects of their personality that hadn't been too prominent in the show. But, through the episode, while they blantantly declared these facts, they also dropped subtle hints that this was their life.

When the messy girl is alone in the boyfriend's place, she calls her friend. She says that they could do surgery there (which I enjoyed, because it shows that they both think like surgeons, and they're supposed to be surgical residents) and then cries, "Oh my god, he's sorted his books by the Dewey Decimal System. I've got to get out of here." What I that translated into for me was, "Holy hell, he's crazy organized, and I can't handle that, because I'm incredibly not." So it was highly informative, a new quirk about his character, and highly amusing.

My personal favorite touch came when he saw her apartment for the first time. Clothes everywhere, stuff everywhere, a complete mess. She walks in and drops her bag on the floor (great detail for her character, by the by), but he remains at the door, with a look of complete shock on his face. Then, his face still in shock, he reaches down, picks up her bag, and sets it on the chair. He hasn't said anything, moved from the door, or altered his facial expression, and yet his character shown through so brilliantly. And it was just such a tiny, simple action.

I know it's probably said a million times but it's the little things that really make a moment art. Today I passed a couple eating breakfast. How did I know they were together. They weren't wearing 'I'm With Her -->' t-shirts. No, there was just a look in their eyes when they were talking to each other, a way that one positioned her body towards the other. Tiny things, but you just knew.

From a very young age, we learn to respond to the small signs and minute signals that people give us. The hint of an eyebrow raise between two people indicates mutual acknowledgment of acquaintanceship. Leaning in more indicates interest. Tightly crossed arms indicates discomfort, anxiety, a desire to be separated from a particular person, place, or situation. We all read these clues, whether we realize it or not. So would our characters. And if people need to read them, they need to know they're their.

Is your character ticked at someone else? She might cross her arms when speaking to them. Is you MC very gregarious? He'll probably be inclined to gesturing and touching people a bit more. Persnickety and fastidious? Such a character might redo his or her hair at frequent intervals.

The little things are the clues to the big ones.

What kinds of little things do your characters do? Any sightings of interesting "little things" lately?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday Progress Report

So, I cracked 53K. Didn't finish the book, though. I'm close. I'm in the final chapter. It'll just take a scene or two more. My goal was to finish it all up today, but I have a feeling that that just isn't going to happen. I have a lot of work that I need to get done first. Maybe next week. :(

I might be absent from the blogworld for a while, because my Internet has decided to take a turn for the despising me lately. I don't know when I'm gonna be back online smoothly.

How is everyone else's day going?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Joy of Toys

I got a new toy in the mail yesterday. And by toy I mean book. And not just any book. The Annotated Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and David Shapard.

It's wonderful. I'm in love. I loved Pride and Prejudice when I read it. I loved the movie with Kiera Knightly. I loved the BBC miniseries (hell, I watched all 5 hours in one sitting). I loved it when I did sound for a theatrical production of it. So, yes, I love Pride and Prejudice. But this book is just taking me to whole new levels.

Usually, when I have writing that I ought to be doing (and when I'm in the process of reading two other books) I tell myself not get distracted by Shiny Awesome Toy. I mean, they're awesome and cool and new, but I should focus. But I'm telling myself it's research, and I'm letting it slide.

And, the thing is, it really is research. Not just the historical period, which is what I was hoping for, either. (Though I'm learning lots of interesting historical tidbits. Did you know that blackjack used to be called Vingt Un?) It also contains notes on Austen's use of foreshadowing, dialogue, foils, and telling details. God, she was brilliant. I feel like it's giving me hints on how to be a better writer as a keep going. I would definitely recommend this book to those who want to improve their style and technique.

Excuse, me, I'm off to go giggle with glee now. :D

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Great day, no? I laugh whenever numbers line up like this.

In celebration of this day, how about some 9 trivia?

1)Nine is a Lucky Number in Mathematics (but not a Fortunate Number, oddly enough).

2)Nine is a lucky number in China, because it sounds much like the word for 'long lasting.' How lucky is today?

3)Nine is unlucky in Japan, because it sounds like the word for pain. Okay, that's not so fabulous, but if you're not in Japan, then you're in the clear. Me, I could to look at today as super lucky.

4) The year 9 started on a Tuesday. (That would be funnier if today were a Tuesday, but it still amuses me.)

5)Nine is revered in Hinduism as a complete and divine number. It is also important in Buddhism, in which important rituals often involve 9 monks.

6)In Christianity, there are 9 choirs of angels.

7)In Norse Mythology, Odin hung himself from a tree for nine days to learn the rules. I'm not quite sure how that worked, but talk about dedication to the written word. I love writing, but I don't think I'd hang myself from a tree for nine days for my book. How far would you go?

8)A Base 9 numerical system is called novenary.

9)There used to be nine planets. Until Pluto was declared no longer a planet. Poor Pluto.

I like 9s. Since they are 3 squared, they're very round for an odd number. (ooh, funny balance. No wonder in Asia, nine is considered a womanish male number.) I like it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

On A Personal Note

I'm feeling pretty awesome today. Second day in a row, I've met my Mini Goal of 500 words. Actually, I exceeded it, hitting a bit over 700. So far. I might keep going, since I'm feeling so awesome. How are your Goals and Mini Goals coming?

On a very different note, how do you all feel about bugs? Me, I don't usually mind them, as long as they're not huge, potentially painful, or on me. I mean, I'm pretty chill. I've held a cockroach, for crying out loud. However, the building I've moved into in Undisclosed Location seems to be experiencing minor bug issues. Namely, there's the occasional cockroach. This has led to something even more annoying -- a lot of screaming. Some people just can't take the sight of bugs.

I have dubbed this The Cockroach Wars. (Not that I'm even sure that what they're up against is, indeed a cockroach, because to me it looked like an over sized beetle, but they all call them cockroaches, and who am I to judge. If the 100 Years War can last 96 years, this can be The Cockroach Wars.) For the record, I don't kill bugs. I just don't like it. So, when everyone's freaking and yelling, 'someone kill it!' I'm the one saying 'chill. it's just a bug.' But then I have to get the bug killers anyway and cover my eyes during the carnage.

But, I'd like to say, on the record, "Guys, you're at least 25 times its size. I think you can take it."

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day

Have a great day, all!

Harry Potter The Musical

Okay, I don't care if it means I'm a complete and total Harry Potter loser (we'll just add this to the long list of other proof), I watched this video. Absolutely hilarious and totally awesome.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Back in Step

Well, I've been on a sort of mini writing vacation lately, as I've been rather busy. However, today I broke the 50k barrier, so I'm rather pleased with myself. And I have a new goal. I want to finish this book, which I'm estimating is about 3k from being done, my the end of the week. Yay. I love having new goals. And, with shiny, new Goals, of course, comes nice, pretty Mini Goals. My mini goal is to do 500 words a day, definitely possible.

So, all in all, I'm feeling very positive about the day and the week to come. Hopefully, after I finish this handwritten draft, I'll be able to type it up by the end of the month, though I haven't quite finished outlining the goals for that plan. But, I like how this is looking.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fake Outs

Ever read a book or watched a movie or seen a tv show and the whole story ended by telling you that what you just experienced was a dream, plan, or drug induced hallucination? I hate that. I really do.

Why? Because I feel like they just wasted my time. 'Why did they tell me that if none of it counts?' I ask myself. Admittedly, there are some times when I wanted that to be the end (I thought the end of Inglorious Basterds should have been Brad Pitt's character saying, "And that's the way it's gonna go down.") but all in all, it usually just ticks me off.

But I recently watched a video that made me question some of my perception of such endings. The video is a House M.D. fanvid to the song "I Kissed A Girl" by Katie Perry. If you like House it's a good laugh. But, the thing that rendered a rather ordinary video if well done video truly exceptional was that the end was House waking up. The whole concept was House's dream, which means that the video was House dreaming of 13 and Cameron getting together. If you follow the show, you know it's definitely something he'd do, and it's great.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that sometimes the Take Back ending of Fake Out story works. The key is knowing if you're doing it to amuse your audience or give them useful information, or if you're just doing it to screw with their heads (that's my theory on why some people do it) or to tell the story that you can't get away with otherwise since you'd have to disregard a ton of your characterization (another thing I think happens occasionally).

How do you feel about Fake Out stories? Ever used one?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Other Reasons to Story Map

If I could meet any author from all time for five minutes, I would pick Charles Dickens. Not that I'm a huge fan of his, because I'm not, but I really want to know how The Mystery of Edwin Drood ends.

I know what you're probably thinking. 'God, just read the book if you want to know how it ends. There's no need to harass some gone to rest spirit for that. Read the book.' Well, thing is, I can't. No one can. Dickens died half way through the book and no one knows how the story was supposed to end.

See, the story is about a guy named Edwin Drood. He's got a nice fiancee, whom he isn't in love with and who isn't in love with him. He's got a close relationship with his cousin, an opium addict who is in love with Drood's fiancee. And there's a whole host of over characters who are also very interesting, including the Egyptian immigrant who is also in love with his fiancee. (What can I say, she's supposedly good looking.) See how these people might want him dead?

Yep, half way through Drood disappears. Cue the murder mystery. And no one knows who actually did it. I want to know.

The new mystery of the story is how it was going to end. That question actually gave rise to the musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood which puts the book on as a play, complete with all the potential alternate endings there could have been. (Including more than a few I doubt Dickens ever considered.) I like the musical (click here to listen to one of my favorite song,
"Both Sides of the Coin.") but I wish I knew what ending Dickens plotted.

Some critics figure that the killer was Jasper, the cousin, and that the book would end with Jasper about to mount the gallows, contemplating the evils of his actions. Boring. Others, since Dickens never considered a title involving the words 'death' or 'murder' believe that Edwin was never actually dead and would have made a triumphant return. I don't know how I feel about that, but it's not the worst idea ever.

What's the moral of this story? Always make notes on how things are going to end. That way, in the event of your tragic demise, the world is not left to ponder it for all eternity. Unless that's what you're into. In which case, you're cruel.