jennygordon: (Tortoiseshell Butterfly (purple))
So, here's a poser for you.

In MoulderingBook, my MC badly wants to have killed her father. I badly want her to have killed her father.

If she did kill him, it was prior to the beginning of the story, and isn't central to the story's premise or plot — although there would obviously be a ripple-effect on her if she did. She has the motivation to do so, and it's kind of understandable that she might, given her reasons and the kind of person she is. Which is to say, she's a liar and a manipulator and an all-round charismatic stinker, but do I make her a murderer as well?

After all, this is a YA book. Albeit an upper-end YA story. As I've explained before, it's a Gothic, Poe-esque story set in a historical period that never really was, with sort-of Steampunk nuances, and Addams Family undertones. It's a fun sort of nasty, dark little romp.

I think I've worked out what I'm going to do, but I'm curious to hear your views. And it doesn't matter whether you're familiar with YA fiction or not I'm still interested.

So what do you reckon? Did she, or didn't she?
jennygordon: (Froud - Green Man)
My grumbling last time about the dratted Rampaging Doubts got me thinking about this bizarre condition that is 'being a writer'. It doesn't matter whether you're published or not, famous, mid-list or a nobody, anyone who writes with any degree of seriousness suffers from the same condition.

Sure there are the Writer Highs, when words flow like blackbird song, and ideas flood through us like moonlight. But to counter those precious times there are the endless solitary hours spent setting down one word after another, deleting, repeating, struggling with plot and character, while our friends and family are playing with the dog, or visiting the cinema. We sacrifice parts of our life in order to find those hours. We deny ourselves a social life in order to pace around, plagued by the Rampaging Doubts that what we're producing is little more than rubbish.

And yet, we return to our notebooks and our computers regardless, to set down another word, and another —

Is it a strange sort of courage, or simply sheer bloody-mindedness that keeps us going through draft after draft, parking our egos in order to open up to critique, binning vast tracts of what took us hours to shape in order to shape new, hopefully better words?

Because, much as I'm still feeling disillusioned about MoulderingBook at the moment, come the weekend, you can guarantee I'll be bundling those Doubts out the back door and ignoring them while they pull faces at me through the window. I'll be picking up my pen and settling down in my Nook, battling onward in the hope that my next Writer High is just around the corner.

Why? Why do this to myself? Why not do something more fun with my time instead?

We talk about the 'need' to write that is an essential part of us; the unquiet creative mind that plagues us; the drive to express ourselves through our stories.

But honestly, when you think about what we put up with in order to answer that calling, I'm not sure it's a medal we deserve, or a padded cell!
jennygordon: (Froud)
As I mentioned the other day, I've reached Act II in MoulderingBook. (I'm using Blake Snyder's Save the Cat structure for this book, and it's working nicely so far). Act II ("The main character makes a choice and the journey begins; a strong, definite change of playing field",) puts me at the point where I introduce the 'B Story' ("Often the 'love' story; gives us a break from the tension of the A story; carries theme of story; often uses new 'funhouse' version of characters.")

What with reaching the 20K word mark, and the end of my current sparkly purple notebook, I find myself facing the conundrum of whether this is a good point at which to stop and type up what I've written.

Hmmm.

There are pros and cons.

Pros:

1. I'm starting to get a little paranoid that sparkly purple is the only version of the story I have (you can't save a hand-written draft to a datastick!)

2. This might be a good point to revisit what I've written so far, to pick up on threads I might have forgotten about, and polish the text a little.

3. It'll be a whole lot easier to use the 'Find' version in WORD than flicking through endless handwritten pages next time I want to check how many piglets Master Doubleday's prize sow has.

Cons:

1. I may well be falling into the trap of miring myself in endlessly working the first 20K words, as opposed to making forward progress.

2. There isn't a 2. or a 3. Number 1 covers the entirely of the Cons.

As I said — hmmm — It's a tricky one. So tricky in fact that rather than make a decision about it yesterday, I decided to read some Joanne Harris short stories instead. Procrastinating? Moi?
jennygordon: (Rossetti - Veronica Veronese)
The more life I live, the more I come to believe that there is no such thing as coincidence. The things that come to us come, and the things that happen to us, do so at the time they do for a reason. Our job is to pay attention and do our best to understand.

Case in point: I came across this quote in an old notebook this morning. I originally jotted it down back in September, and now that I've found my way into the story I want MoulderingBook to be, it's speaking to me loud and clear:

"I want the difficult stories, the ones that aren’t easy to believe, the twisted ones, the sorrowful ones, the ones that need telling most of all."

Alice Hoffman, 'Green Heart'
jennygordon: (Rossetti - Veronica Veronese)
I envy writers who can sit down and write in any old place — in hotels and cafes, on buses and trains, in departure lounges. It's an ability I mostly lack. I did recently spend a couple of hours jotting in the cafe at my local park, but then the wailing of small children became too much and drove me and my creativity away.

I've been thinking about the spaces in which we write a lot recently because, for various reasons, I haven't been able to spend much time in my study since moving into my new(ish) home. Some of the reasons are purely practical ones, but there's also been the more psychological reason that the room simply didn't feel right. It felt more like an office than a study; it wasn't the sort of place in which I felt comfortable and inspired, and able to lose myself in stories.

This was a problem.

It niggled and nipped at me.

So I finally tackled it last weekend.

I swapped the deskside filing cabinet for a little bookcase, and covered the ugly desk with a lacy tablecloth bought from a charity shop (in fact, the same lacy table cloth I used part of to make my lightshade). I covered the filing cabinet with a pretty Indian textile, and added a wooden bowl, crystals and feathers. I dotted ornaments and crystals around the bookshelves, and threw down a couple of old rag rugs. I tied an old shawl over one of the curtains to break up its mono-colour and give it some character. Finally, I framed and hung a selection of inspirational pictures above the desk (which faces a wall, not a window).

And you know what? It didn't cost me a penny, and I now love the room so much I can barely keep out of it.

Our writing spaces are precious. It doesn't matter if we're lucky enough to have a whole room, a corner of one, or a cubby under the stairs. A shed or a kitchen table. The place where we do the majority of our writing has to be a special in some way. A single talisman placed on the shelf next to the compost in the shed might be enough to conjure the 'special'; a certain mug that sits at our side at the kitchen table, or even a particular pen that conjures the writing zone. We are invoking magic when we tap into our well of creativity, and we need to create our sacred space in which to do that.

So, a question: do you have a sacred writing space? If so, what is it that makes it special?

When I Die

Dec. 3rd, 2014 02:11 pm
jennygordon: (Roe Deer fawn)
When I was a kid and got it into my head, as kids do, that I had to have something, my Mum would always ask me, "Do you really need it?"

While I'm no angel, and there have been times in my life when I had the disposable cash to spend on frivolities and indulgencies(though not these days), my Mum's lesson remained there at the back of my mind, even if I chose to ignore it sometimes.

One of the things I'm never frivolous about is footwear. I only ever have a few pairs in my cupboard. For everyday wear, I tend to buy a couple of pairs of good quality boots, such as Doc Martens, take good care of them and wear them until they fall apart. Last week, the pair I've had for the last eight or so years did exactly that, so I had to replace them.

By unfortunate coincidence, I decided to go boot shopping on Friday after work. Yep, Black Friday, although I didn't realise it was that until an hour or so before I left work. Still, needs must, so I braved town, and actually benefitted from a Black Friday deal, which meant I replaced my boots at a considerable reduction.

Then I came home and watched the news reports on television of the Black Friday shoppers in the UK. The hideous displays of selfishness, greed and consumerism-gone-mad reduced me to tears. Imagine what we could achieve if the human race channelled that kind of energy into something positive.

Then today, I read on this lovely blog that I've just been introduced to, the same question my Mum used to ask, along with a secondary question:

"Do I really need this? What will be done with it when I die?"

It struck a chord with me.

Not wanting to be a seasonal party-pooper; just putting the thought out there.
jennygordon: (Star Gazer Lily)
Two things:

1. I'm an idiot, and
2. I love LJ

Why? On October 31st , we had a really useful conversation here on LJ about how I was going to overcome my writing fears after a long writing absence. At the end of the conversation, I decided my best approach to the fledgeling MoulderingBook, and to tackling my lost writing confidence, was to simply freewrite for a while. I also decided I might try working up a full outline for this book. I've only really outlined in part for previous projects, and for a number of reasons, I realised I might be doing myself several favours if I tried out the full-outline approach.

15K words and a month down the line, I'd forgotten that plan, and found myself in the pickle I told you about the other day.

And that's why I love LJ (one of many reasons, in fact). Because the record of this conversation on LJ preserved what my brain hadn't, and reminded me of my intentions.

Essentially, I can now reassure myself that the 15K words — mis-step and need to rework and all — are just a freewriting exercise that's served its purpose: I've put the Procrastination Pixies and Rampaging Ogres of Doubt back in their box and I'm writing again. Hurrah! Now it's time to head back to planning and persuade the story into a proper shape.

Maybe I'm just playing games with my inner Writer Jenny to make myself feel better, but hey, what does it hurt?

Which brings me to a few questions:

In the past, I have outlined to a degree, but have never worked up a full and lengthy outline in the way that some writers do. I think full-outlining is something I'd like to try and I wondered if those of you out there who do produce full outlines have any tips to offer on how to approach it. How long do your full outlines run? How much detail is in them?

The main thing that has put me off full outlines in the past is that the only time I attempted one, it killed the story for me, as it felt like I'd already written it, and all enthusiasm and creative delight vanished. How do you get past this?

Any and all advice welcome (thanks).

Devastated

Nov. 27th, 2014 07:07 am
jennygordon: (Froud)
I read a particular piece of news a couple of months back, and find myself returning to it over and again. It rips at my heart and makes my soul ache.

In the last 40 years, the world has lost half of its wildlife.

Simply typing those words makes me hurt.

In the last 40 years.

That's in my lifetime.

In my lifetime, we have lost half of the world's wildlife, to either devastating depletion, or outright extinction.

On telly the other night there was a documentary about how a wonderfully-preserved mammoth has been discovered in Siberia. Apparently, scientists are hopeful it may lead to successful cloning. The recent news has been full of reports of a revolutionary space probe landing on an asteroid; it's amazing, we're told, and I'm sure it is. Season after season, year after year (most recently with the terrible snowstorms in the US), we hear of 'unseasonal' this and 'record-breaking' that when it comes to extremes of the weather.

I keep wondering why we, as a race, are so intent on bringing back a species that died out for perfectly natural reasons (climate change that wasn't manmade), and on exploring the vast 'out there', instead of using our energies, resources and intellect to protect and save what's left of our beautiful world. Have we really written off the Earth already?
jennygordon: (Great Grey Heron)
So, I hit the 10K mark with AutumnBook the other day, which was rather a pleasant surprise.

Then something went *clunk* (you know, that noise your car makes just before it breaks?) and I ground to a halt. I coasted into a layby and slumped onto the steering wheel, glowering out of the windscreen into the fog that had risen out of nowhere up ahead.

Then I realised: it's okay, this always happens at the 10K mark. And I also realised that I have to remind myself of this fact every single time!

By the 10K point, I'm usually beginning to find my stride with the voice and tone of a story. Important pieces are in place, players in play, and setting evoked. And then ... and then ... that initial surge of excitement at the new-and-shiny story that has swept me along before it fizzles. The enthusiasm is still there, but I need to take a breather. If I continue writing at this stage without pausing to plan what comes next, I will inevitably take a wrong turn, and while those wrong turns can occasionally be fruitful and fun, more often than not, they're just a frustrating waste of time.

"The 10K Lesson" (it's most definitely A Thing for me) has been one of the Big Important Lessons I've learned along my writing path. Once upon a distant time, I would have given up at this point, ditched the book and moved on to something new. But over the years, I've learned that's not a very clever thing to do.

So, back to my other notebook I go, thinking trousers buttoned, I need to sit down and plan my next move. Whereabouts am I in the story structure? Am I on track in terms of the shape I want this story to be? What do I need to put into play between here and the next staging post? I return to my rough outline and gather the scenes that belong in this next section, then I conjure the scenes which also belong here, but which are missing from the plan at the moment.

I might also take a moment to check that I've not missed anything in the first 10K. Once upon the time that came after the 'ditch the whole thing' stage, I would retrace my steps and rewrite the whole lot, but I generally find nowadays that it's better to simply note down whatever I've forgotten, pretend it's not missing from the text at all, and address it when I tackle the rewrites proper at some future time. Otherwise, you see, I end up in an endless loop of working on the first chunk, with the rest of the as-yet-unwritten book receding ever further into the distance, which is rather disheartening and enthusiasm-squashing.

And I'm all for not squishing enthusiasm.

With that in mind, I'm off to check I've seeded enough clues about the underlying mystery in AutumnBook ...
jennygordon: (Rossetti - Veronica Veronese)
One of the things always at the forefront of my mind when I'm writing is creating the right "feel" for my story. The right mood or atmosphere: it's both of those things, but it's also something less tangible. Something to do with the way I want to make my reader feel when they're reading it. It's something in the voice, the pervasive weather, the word choice, the sustained metaphors. Something ...

For me, the "feel" of a book is almost a character in its own right. When done well, that "feel" can be the single aspect that lingers in my mind long after the details of plot and character have faded.

The strange Gothic grandeur of Edgar Allen Poe. The best of childhood dreams conjured by Erin Morgenstern in 'The Night Circus'. Young Adult author Brenna Yovanoff is wonderful at creating a "feel" in her stories, both short and novel-length.

The "feel"/atmosphere/mood of a story is something I work hard at invoking. Not always successfully, because of its subtle nature. I read authors who manage it and try to work out how they've achieved it.

It's about more than simply reams of descriptive prose and scene-setting. It's something more ellusive and powerful.

AutumnBook is very much a story that requires the right "feel" (sorry, I can't find a better word for it). I find myself wandering around trying to sense it, to smell it, hear it, taste it.

Fallen autumn leaves after days of rain.

Homemade lemonade left out too long in the sun.

I do my best to steer clear of cliche, to create other touchstones of mood and atmosphere. To create that subtle soundtrack which flavours everything else.

It can become all-consuming.
jennygordon: (Skywatcher)
Like I said before, I'm not Nano-ing. And it's just as well, since a killer headache wiped me out for the better part of the last few days, rendering me able to do little more than brush up on my dribbling skills.

That said, I did manage to throw down another 1,500 words of AutumnBook on Saturday, before the pain (in so many, varied and interesting senses of the word) kicked in.

Rather than getting frustrated with my body for letting me down, I decided to shrug and go with the flow. Maybe it was that Zen frame of mind which showed me that, even though I wasn't actually writing, there are many other pursuits which contribute to the writing life:

  • Once the drugs had kicked in, I thunk thinky thoughts about the story, conjuring the next scene in my mind, and realised that the names I'd given the two characters to be introduced in that scene don't work, so came up with new ones which do.
  • I read Maggie Stiefvater novels, which, as well as being wonderful escapism from the headache, are always an object lesson in subtle character- and world-building.
  • I went for a brief walk and in the hopes that fresh air might scare the headache away. It didn't, but I collected some willow-withies, which I wove into circles ready for my next crafting project. It might not have been writing, but exercising creativity in whatever way still feeds the source.

It's so important for those of us who aren't always able to write when we want to (and surely that means all of us at one time or another) to remember that our creative brain is rarely switched off completely; like a CPU, there's always a part of it working away in the background, whether we realise it or not. We might not actually be writing, but the Writing Life is fed in so many ways.

I've written a bit about how Life has prevented me from writing much over the past year. However, I certainly haven't stopped creating, and that magical CPU in my brain has been busily working away. So much so that when I recently dug through the various notes made and images collected over the past months, I discovered I actually have the seeds of three novels. While they're not a directly related to one another, there are links between them, which excites me. I like series in which the books aren't direct sequels of one another, but which are connected in some way, perhaps with cross-over characters (usually a minor one in one becoming the main character in another).

Still, I do hope I'm able to get back to actually writing this coming weekend ...

jennygordon: (Tortoiseshell Butterfly (purple))
I had a brief look at FallingBook the other day, and apparently I now have a Prologue. It was something of a surprise that the first few hundred words of what was Chapter One now want to be a Prologue, since I feel rather ambivalent about the things. They're all well and good in their place, and sometimes there's definitely a place, but they can also be a rather unnecessary conceit, the content of which is soon forgotten once you're into the book-proper. Which, of course, defeats the point of having one in the first place.

So yes, I'm a bit surprised to find that I may have one.

I'm not entirely convinced at the moment; it may end up simply being a short Chapter One instead.
jennygordon: (Magpie)
Yesterday, an opening line dropped into my head apropros of absolutely nothing, and utterly unrelated to FallingBook, or indeed anything else.

Since health and energy levels are currently failing me, I may take up pen and notebook and play around with that line; see what emerges. You never know, it might be, well, something ...
jennygordon: (Froud)
I've read a couple of books recently which deal with a series of events that took place in the past, and a series which take place in the present. The point being that the former impacts on the latter in some way. In telling the stories, this particular author opted to alternate chapters between the two time periods. So far, so good. It works. The chapters are fairly long, so the reader has the chance to immerse themselves in what's taking place in each before the switch to the other. There's also a narrative ploy involved in that you want to keep reading in order to return to the events of the other time zone, which are usually left on a cliff-hanger of some kind at the end of each chapter. There's the comfort in knowing that you will get your chance in the next-but-one chapter.

It's a pretty basic structure. It works perfectly well, and the books are a good read, however ...

You could sense there was going to be a 'however', right?

However, I've found myself pondering the different ways the author might have approached the telling. I'm mainly thinking, I guess, of books like 'Rebecca', in which events that took place in the past are crucially intertwined with those taking place in the present. The ghost of the first Mrs de Winter haunts every page. And it's that 'ghost' aspect which intrigues me from a writerly pov. It's a classic Gothic narrative ploy. We see the events of the past through the stain they have left on the characters in the present. There is very little narrative 'telling' of what actually took place; instead, we have the various characters memory of the first Mrs de-W, very much coloured by their feelings for her.

Other other books include 'snapshots' of the events that took in the past, rather than devoting whole chapters to them, perhaps in the form of memories, diary entries, or ghostly visions.

While there's certainly a place for the first approach to a dual (or multi) time-period telling of switching between the periods and showing the reader the events as they took place, I continue to be intrigued by the narrative tricks and manipulations of the 'Rebecca' approach. After all, the purpose of this sort of story is often to explore how the events in the past impact on those in the present. And, more to the point, how they impact on the characters. Of course, if the characters in the present don't have any sort of connection to those in the past (or if they're not aware that they do, and past of the discovery is precisely that connection), then it's trickier to use the 'Rebecca' approach.

Since FallingBook is very much this sort of story — the devastating events of twenty-five years ago have badly damaged the characters involved, along with characters who weren't even born then — the pondering of different approaches to the telling is a regular pastime for me. I'm constantly asking myself, "what's the best, most impactful, most effective, most engaging way in which I can tell this story?" I want to do my very best by a story that has been with me for the past 15 years.

So, I was wondering, can anyone recommend a book(s) in which they've found the handling of this sort of story tackled particularly effectively? Do you have a preference for the way such stories are best approached? All and any thoughts welcome.
jennygordon: (Naiad)
A fly-by posting from me today to let you know I'll be flitting in and out of LJ rather sporadically over the next few weeks, as I'll be ..... MOVING HOUSE!!!

I know! Finally!

HURRAH!!! (and further excessive use of exclamation marks).

I'll catch up with you all when I can, but for now, here's a picture of some baby horses (and their Mums) to keep you going ...

IMG_3064
jennygordon: (Froud)
Well, I say "the failings of time", when in fact I mean only the one; that being, there's never enough of it!

Something about returning to FallingBook after all this time has brought memories of other old projects out of the closets of my mind. One in particular. For the purposes of LJ, I'll refer to it as ... oh, I don't know ... let's go with PaintingBook.

PaintingBook was the adult novel I wrote immediately before the 2010 version of FallingBook, which means I was working on it during 2008-9. In fact, I wrote a lot of it longhand while I was off work with a badly broken arm during the winter of 2008-9. While it's a ridiculously weighty tome, it's also the book that's brought me the most success with agents  — I even had one agent ring me a couple of times to talk about it. I didn't get any further than that with it though, and I'm not surprised; there's a lot to like about the book, but there's a lot wrong with it too. The premise explores some of the same ground as FallingBook, but I've had an idea for a different direction I can take it in so I don't come across as a one-trick-pony.

Which brings me to my current ponderings. See, I'm wondering if I might earmark it as my next project after FallingBook. And that's where the cursing of time comes it. I've only just begun reworking FallingBook; that means I won't get to PaintingBook for a couple of years! Maybe I could play around with PaintingBook at the same time as FallingBook? Hmm. I've never been any good at working with multiple writing projects at the same time; I need to immerse myself in just the one or my brain melts.

What I might do is read through the old MS and maybe sketch in some thoughts about how I might approach it when the time comes. In the meantime, here's the image that inspired it (or near as dammit, anyway. The actual image is a wonderful sepia postcard I've had since I was a child). *Sigh*. Just looking at it gives me the itches to write!

jennygordon: (Rossetti - Veronica Veronese)
Funny thing, how you can experience books differently depending on the view from were you're currently sitting in your life.

I've just finished reading a book that swallowed me whole, made me laugh, made me cry, and made me .... yearn, I guess is the word I'm looking for. Honestly, I couldn't bear to put it down, yet at the same time, I couldn't bear for it to be finished.

Now, at another time, I know I would have found this book a little too saccharine for my taste. A little too ... I don't know ... a little too girly. And yet, I find myself reaching for more books by this author (and no, I'm not naming names!) I want to wallow in her stories, to lose myself in her sweet magic-realist words. I'm moved and inspired, and all good things. I'm even going to try re-reading one of her books that I set aside a few years back as definitely too saccharine. That'll be the real test.

Perhaps I'm becoming a girlie girl ... Not sure if that troubles me or not ....
jennygordon: (Froud)
Thanks everyone for your feedback on my fledgling logline. I have duly scrumpled it up and tossed it in the circular filing cabinet!

Which is to say, I went back to the drawing-board last night to have a good hard ponder (see avatar!)

This is the first time I've written a logline up front (or in fact a synopsis of any kind or length). Normally, my 'process' is to get some planning done, with particular reference to my final destination. (I've learned that if I don't have a pretty clear idea about how the book ends, it'll fizzle out and fade at some point along the way). Then I write, write, write.

FallingBook, however, seems to want me to approach it differently, largely because it's a reworking of an existing MS. Also, for certain Life Reasons, I have limited time and energy at the moment, so am not able to indulge in delicious swathes of writing. So, bite-sized exercises such as writing the logline are very useful.

Useful in lots of ways, as it turns out.

As I mentioned last time, Blake Snyder advocates writing the logline before you write anything else, and I can see the sense in doing so. In figuring out the key elements of the logline — who is it about? what are they struggling against? what are the stakes? what do they need to do? — it reveals where the gaps are in the story. This is immensely helpful, as it means I can fix things at this early stage, instead of realising it 100 pages and 1000 hours down the line, swearing a lot, and plunging into the Writerly Doldrums.

Specifically for me, it has raised the question of who or what my antagonist is. Who or what is the MC struggling against?

At the outset, I was pretty certain her estranged daughter filled the role. And to some extent, she does. However, when [livejournal.com profile] authorwithin pointed out that my stakes in the logline aren't high enough, it made me rethink my position. And what I've realised is that the daughter isn't the antagonist at all. I've gone full circle and arrived back at the point where I started 15 years ago when I wrote the short story on which the novel is based. Intriguingly (for me, at least) the antagonist doesn't appear in person until well into the book, and then it's in flashback form. We don't meet the antagonist in actuality until the closing chapters. It reminded me of this helpful little piece by Donald Maas.

Such fun, this novel-creation business!
jennygordon: (Froud)
Thanks everyone for your feedback on my fledgling logline. I have duly scrumpled it up and tossed it in the circular filing cabinet!

Which is to say, I went back to the drawing-board last night to have a good hard ponder (see avatar!)

This is the first time I've written a logline up front (or in fact a synopsis of any kind or length). Normally, my 'process' is to get some planning done, with particular reference to my final destination. (I've learned that if I don't have a pretty clear idea about how the book ends, It'll fizzle out and fade at some point along the way). Then I write, write, write.

FallingBook, however, seems to want me to approach it differently, largely because it's a reworking of an existing MS. Also, for certain Life Reasons, I have limited time and energy at the moment, so am not able to indulge in delicious swathes of writing. So, bite-sized exercises such as writing the logline are very useful.

Useful in lots of ways, as it turns out.

As I mentioned last time, Blake Snyder advocates writing the logline before you write anything else, and I can see the sense in doing so. In figuring out the key elements of the logline — who is it about? what are they struggling against? what are the stakes? what do they need to do? — it reveals where the gaps are in the story. This is immensely helpful, as it means I can fix things at this early stage, instead of realising it 100 pages and 1000 hours down the line, swearing a lot, and plunging into the Writerly Doldrums.

Specifically for me, it has raised the question of who or what my antagonist is. Who or what is the MC struggling against?

At the outset, I was pretty certain her estranged daughter filled the role. And to some extent, she does. However, when authorwithin pointed out that my stakes in the logline aren't high enough, it made me rethink my position. And what I've realised is that the daughter isn't the antagonist at all. I've gone full circle and arrived back at the point where I started 15 years ago when I wrote the short story on which the novel is based. Ingriguingly (for me, at least) the antagonist doesn't appear in person until well into the book, and then it's in flashback form. We don't meet the antagonist in actuality until the closing chapters. It reminded me of this helpful little piece by Donald Maas.

Such fun, this novel-creation business!
jennygordon: (Clematis)
So, I have a question for you guys.

Currently, FallingBook opens with a dream.

Which is a big cliched no-no.

It's not the kind of set-up where I reveal that 'Ha! It was all a dream!' in the next chapter. It's more a premonition combined with a flashback in the form of a dream, which sets up the question of M's sanity and mindset, along with what she wants and what she fears. I make it clear in the first couple of lines that she's dreaming and she knows she's dreaming, so I'm not playing tricks with the reader.

The trouble is, I'm having trouble thinking up another way to open the book with the sort of mood and questions I want to establish at the outset. The dream solution in its current form ticks all the boxes nicely. On the other hand, I desperately don't want to be Cliched No-no Girl.

So, I thought I would ask you guys for your thoughts/views/words of wisdom about books that open with a dream, and how you feel about such books.

Thanks in advance.

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jennygordon

January 2016

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