Silent’s February Features
My soaring expectations smacked into the real world, and I hit the ground with a thud.
Twenty-eight days is a long time. Everything can change. What if a person turns the page on the calendar, eager and ready to anything they want. Then they might catch a cold, have to deal with a sudden serious illness in the family, and lose their way in learning to be a writer. Looking back on the middle of February, I read little, posted nothing, and cannot point to anything I accomplished.
I started out, strongly enough. I posted, Murder, Mutiny and Mother’s Love, trying to figure out how to crack the Weekly DPChallenge, offering up a 1,000 word story. I carefully followed the three-act, four-part story for the first time. I thought the plot was engaging and the character strong, with a last second plot twist. The editors picked nothing in fiction that week. And when I looked at some of the other winners, I realized I am never going to get picked, because I cannot write flawed and misguided sexism, whether intentional or otherwise, like Playing the Online Hero Offline. I do not know if I will ever enter another one. The editors simply do not want the stuff I write. Maybe, if I played the gender and race card, and wrote a biased, sensationalist story about white males oppressing Native American women, I would be picked.
I continued with my study of characterization, writing a story, We Are Talking About Camp Sites, Aren’t We?, around two characters I had developed. I had fun writing it. No one read it, of course. Having studied the openings to books on the library shelves, I posted some of the more memorable ones in Pick Up Lines. In another article I discovered my analysis was close to copy-write issues, so I took it down. It didn’t matter, because no one read it, either.
I responded to one of the 100 Word Friday Fiction challenges with A Little Light Music. Writing these stories are fun, and I always look forward to seeing what Rochelle will put up. If something pops to mind, I will write it. If nothing does, I usually do not write. I feel like I let her down, only posting once this month.
I looked at my failed novel as a different genre, in Forbidden Footsteps – Imagined As A Rite of Passage. My reaction surprised me. I did not like the idea of the genre, when I started. But…the story has some merit.
Then, life happened. I got sick. A family member became very ill, and may not live out the year. The editor’s choice for Freshly Pressed infuriated me, and I stopped posted for several weeks. I tried out a different site, Scribophile, but discovered they are pretty clannish, and have little or no tolerance for free members, or anyone not in their little clichés. I felt like the new girl back in high school, with everyone looking down on me. (Maybe I should write about that. If I worked in gender and ethnicity, that article would get Freshly Pressed.)
Busy with life, I still found time to read, even though it was like slogging through thick, gushy, heavy mud. I read James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure, Noah Lukeman’s The Plot Thickens, and HRF Keating’s Writing Crime Fiction. I have so many exercises, I could write until Christmas and still not be done. Would I be a better writer? Who know? No one reads, and no one gives me feedback.
I spent a lot of time investigating characterization. I found an old story I really liked, and began to imagine a rewrite, this time with characterization. The original story, with 20,000 words, accidentally almost followed the three act, four-part story, but the characterization was almost non-existent. Were I to re-write it, at this very moment, my mood would change everything, no doubt to a darker, more anguished work. I now know Trisha, my protagonist, and her strengths and weaknesses. And, for the first time, I have examined how Sergio, that mysterious person from the first story, might manipulate her, digging into her weaknesses to get her to do his bidding. At a general level, I can see how he might play his cards to take advantage of her. I could see this story bloating out from 20,000 words, but I don’t know if I want to write another novel’ish length work just now.
Finally coming out of my exile, I offered up a different version of first lines, My Very Best Pick Up Lines, this time from my own stories, asking people to comment. The rock disappeared down the well, never to make a sound. Then, I reorganized my blog, writing about it in I Did It, wondering if it would entice more people to wander around my blog. But…not so much.
I worked on another old story, and posted it in part, Tavern Girl Prolog, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Epilogue. By the time I finished the rewrite, the story was almost unrecognizable, except for the first half of Part 4. In this story, I concentrated on three things. First, I wanted the story to be 6,000 words, which it almost is. Second, I tried to write scenes the way Jack Bickham lays them out in Scene and Structure, complete with scene and sequel, and ping-pong between the characters in the scene. And, third, I stuck to the four-part story, laid out by Larry Brooks in Story Engineering, with changes suggested by James Scott Bell in his Plot and Structure. I put in everything, the Hook, First Image, Save the Cat, Theme Statement, Plot Point One, Pinch Point One, Mid Point, Pinch Point Two, Whiff of Death, All is Lost, Dark Night of the Soul, Plot Point Three, Finale, and Final Image. I’m proud of the story. And I don’t really care what people think of my writing, anymore. Few people establish WordPress blogs to actually read anything, anyway. They just want other people to read their stuff. I’m no different, I guess.
I finished the month off with another strong verbs story, An Unexpected Gift. I had fun with it, and think followed most of the original rules I laid down. One thing confused me. I tagged it as Flash Fiction, but it never showed up in the lists, and I don’t understand why. The story, at 450 words, was far shorter than many I see posted there.
Are we having fun at the pity party?