Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All the Little Pieces

The other day, Melissa commented on my post Reblocking = Rethinking that "a great story is made up of X,000 perfect words in the perfect order." At the time, I thought that was quite brilliant. Last night, my family and I were watching our collective favorite Christmas movie, Love Actually, and I realized that the reason I love that movie is that it doesn't just have one, two, or three great moments. No, it has a ton of moments where I end up saying, "Oh, I love this part," or "this is such a good moment," or "ooh, I love this bit."

The truly great stories aren't one absolutely amazing bit. They're made up of x,ooo really good moments in a succession. For one fabulous moment, I'll read the book once and occasionally pick it up and flip right to that chapter. For a ton of good moments, I'll reread the entire book over and over again, because all of it's good and all of it feels worth it.

To sum up: You don't have to create a scene that is so absolutely fantastic that people read it and go, "oh, heavens to hopscotch, I'm never going to be that good - I should just give up." It's better to have a lot of little great moments over and over again. Tiny moments that tug at heart strings or inspire smiles and laughter or make me want to read that bit aloud to a friend total up to a book that moves someone, makes someone laugh every time they read it, and they want to give it to friends. 100 one-pointers is better than 1 ten-pointer.

Thoughts? Are there stories you love that are just a lot of good moments? What are you better at, little moments or big scenes?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Books, Books, and Books

Once upon a time (read: January), I posted my New Year's Resolutions on the blog. While some of them (such as my resolution to post five times a day), didn't last until the end of the year, others actually made it through. The one that actually surprised me was reading 50 books this year. I felt reasonably sure I'd be holing up on New Year's Eve to finish the last few, but I actually rounded that one out back in October. Made me feel accomplished.

When I finished 'em up, I told myself I'd do a post about it here on the blog. Well, this should be an indication about my fantastic capability to procrastinate. But here goes my efforts:

Names that appeared multiple times on my list (yes, there was a list) :
  • Rick Riordan
  • Ally Carter
  • Julia Quinn
  • Lisa Kleypas
  • Simone Elkeles
In hindsight, all of these books contained some manner of a romantic plot, and they all featured something resembling a happy ending. So, I think we now know what sort of story I enjoy reading. And I would personally recommend just about any book written by any of these authors. I haven't read everything they've ever written, but I've enjoyed what I've read.

Biggest surprise on my list: Mauprat by George Bernard Sand. I felt pretty nerdy for reading a French novel. Plus, it's a love story with a happy ending, and I think we know how I feel about love stories with happy endings.
Favorite Debut: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White I loved that this book turned prior tropes on their heads. I think I took a strange amount of joy in the fact that I've followed this woman's blog for more than a year, so I'd heard a lot about the book before it came out. Totally psyched me up for the book. Definitely worth all the hype.
Biggest Surprise: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson I picked this up at the library, because I saw a movie based on it. I thought it would be dry and boring, because it's old. (I stereotype like that. I'm heinous. Truly heinous.) Then again, there are pirates, and I'd enjoyed the movie I saw, so I had some hope. I actually enjoyed it. Plenty of good plot, even if they don't seem to include in it English classes these days. Surprisingly kid friendly, by the by.

How have your goals been going? What have you read this year? What have you particularly enjoyed? What's your sort of book?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reblocking = Rethinking

Once upon a time -- by which I mean last month -- I teched a play. One night, near the end of the run, an actor did something that made every techie watching the scene say, "Woah!" Because at the end of the scene where the couple fights, maybe the lights didn't dim quickly enough, maybe he needed more time in the wings, or maybe he just felt it, but the actor just got up and walked off stage.

Normally, blocking changes didn't freak us out so much. But this one had the effect of somehow altering the feel of the entire moment. At the end of the fight, instead of just staring at his wife until the lights dimmed, he just walked off. So, instead of their ending as some sort of truce, it looked like it had ended with his pretty much fed up.

This got me thinking. Somehow, with one change, it seemed like the actor had entirely changed the emotions of that one scene, which changed the manner in which he went into the following scene. So, in theory, with a single sentence, one could change a character's motivations, actions, and emotions.

When editing, consider every change, every new avenue to alter and shift the situation. It doesn't take much, not a whole scene, not a whole rewrite to alter the course of a character or plot arc. Just an action. Just a sentence. Just a single revision on your part.

Are you up to it?

How's your writing going? Any revising going on? What makes you think?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Where's My Head At?

The honest answer is, I don't know. Seriously, you know you're far gone when you think you got everything done at night then, in the morning, you're moseying along and suddenly you remember, "Oh, right, I have a blog." I'm sorry, my lovelies/minions/Merry Men. Somehow, I gapped on this sight. My abject apologies.

In the thread of things I somehow gapped out, I received a blog award a while ago and neglected to pay it forward. That shall be remedied now.

I received the Irresistible Blogger Award from the lovely Lola Sharp.

So, now, I don't know quite how this works, so I'm just going to hand this out to blogs that make me smile. Sound good?

Roni Loren @ Fiction Groupie
Kiersten White @ Kiersten Writes
Natalie Whipple @ Between Fact and Fiction
Elana Johnson @ Elana Johnson
Lisa and Laura @ Laura and Lisa Write
Susan Mills @ A Walk in My Shoes
Hannah Moskowitz @ Invincible Summer

Also, for you enjoyment, I bring you Fly Like It's Quidditch.
I hadn't heard the song Fly Like a G6 before my friend made me so I could understand what they were pardoying, but as far as I'm concerned, if you haven't, this video is still fun.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We Made It!

Congratulations, my lovlies. NaNoWriMo 2010 is over! We've made it to the end with your sanity (mostly) intact, and hopefully with some more story written. I suggest a massive communal happy dance, followed by some well deserved sleep.

I can't believe I'm actually going to say this, but I won NaNoWriMo. This makes me feel epic, espec
ially because I never thought I'd actually get a chance to do one, let alone win it. November isn't a month when I have abundant spare time.Okay, so I feel like a bit of a jerk for putting in the sticker, but I'm really jazzed about making it through.

I did feel really good about this story though. I feel like I really knew my MC and Leading Man really well going in, and I think I had a firm idea of what was happening when, which really helped smooth things along.

How'd your NaNoWriMo go? Or your November in general? I can see a few of my writing buddies are NaNoWinners. A tip of my hat to anyone who won, because I recognize your epicness. Heck, a tip of the hat to anyone who got a lot done in November, no matter what. Take this moment to give yourself a pat on the back. Please do. You deserve it.

Also, a special notice to any Jewish readers. Happy Hanukkah.