Learning to cut–again
One thing I wanted to do while at my new school was write for the student newspaper. Problem is that I’m squeezed so tight schedule wise, taking the extra class will not be beneficial. As such, I can’t take journalism, so I really struggled last year when I wrote.
My solution: I’ll write a story.
Why not? I want them to be enjoyed.
So I picked Time of the Dragon Slayers. I like that story and it has good tension throughout. At least, I think so. I figured it’d be easy, I’d copy each section, e-mail them to the newspaper, and tada! Life is easy.
I need each section to be 500-750 words. Do you realize how hard that is? Hard. Think less than two pages per section (single spaced).
Last week’s section was 1000 words that I needed to cut to 750. (I think I ended with 748.) This week I have 1600 words I need to cut to 750 again. However, on my first cut, I’m already down to 787, so it might not be so bad.
You think you can do it? Probably not, but it really helps you think about how to say things in as few words as possible, and to carefully pick your words. Maybe you should give it a try, because I’m actually thinking it’s making this story better on the whole.
Here’s my problem. I’ve been reading my novel, Shad, in order to do some of the finer editing on it. If you don’t recall, I wanted to finish editing Shad by May, with hopes that I could write the summery for the publishing company during May, and send it on in June. (I need to send out something.)
So, I’ve been reading Shad and the problem I’m having is that it’s not as awesome as I thought. I love it. I love the universe I created. I love a lot of the different aspects of it. But there are some parts that just seem to be lacking. The dialog in particular.
I always thought that I had good dialog. I don’t know why. I just thought that it was. It just seemed to flow well enough and I took special details to make sure that it sounded good and that each character seemed to have it’s own unique voice. Now, it just falls flat.
Worse, I have some sentences that just seem wrong. It just doesn’t seem to flow or seems chunky.
So I don’t know what to think of Shad anymore. It is disappointing, but then again, I wrote Shad almost two years ago. So it makes sense that I would get better or that I would have things not quite the same. Moreover, this is really my first novel, so there are bound to be problems.
I’m still going to do it, obviously, because I said that I would. But I’m once again behind, because I didn’t finish Shad in time.
On the same note as goals, as far as Time of the Dragon Slayers go, the English teacher that was looking over my story so far thought it was good. But finals came so she didn’t get too far. How sad.
for the art
A friend of mine is hosting a fund raiser along with a silent auction and asked me to sell one of my drawings. She also wanted me to write up something about the picture an why I drew it. So I wrote this.
From: Time of the Dragon Slayers
My name is Natalie Paulson. I go by Natle.
I live in Basham Heights, right in the middle of the Dragon Nest. You’ve probably heard about that area. It’s considered one of the most dangerous in the country. Not because of neighboring countries but because of the dragons. Yes, the stories are true. The dragons do attack us, attack our farms, eat our cattle, and force us to rebuild.
We used to fight them. Dragons are smart. They don’t want to be hurt and they learned not to bother us. It wasn’t perfect; we had some problems. Babies came often enough, before they learned how dangerous we were. And rarely, a few from the herd would come, when they were desperate. My parents died because of that, leaving me alone with my brother.
But everything changed when Jorn came. Jorn told everyone that the dragons were dying out and needed to be saved. He said it was honorable for people to save them. People believed him. So people stopped fighting. They burned our crossbows, and banished me from my town, because I would shoot a dragon for my protection.
So when the dragons came again–five, six, maybe seven of them–we could do nothing but watch.
The dragons killed my brother. They destroyed my farm. And still, everyone thinks the dragons are merely misunderstood. Which is why I have to leave now. I have to leave the land that has been in our family for generations, the people I grew up with, and everything I love, to live in a place that I barely know. It is no longer safe here. It will probably never be safe again.
why to draw pictures
So, I said a while ago that the best way to stop writer’s block is to draw a picture of something related to the story. Some stories, I draw more than others. Like Time of the Dragon Slayers
We have one of Justin and Natlie talking, actually just before the town meeting results are found out.
Then I have one with Natlie shooting a dragon at the end. I actually messed up because she should have had a quiver but I forgot it until I colored it in. My bad.
Then this one… yeah. IT’s at the very end. That’s all I’ll say. I’ll probably end up sticking all the pictures into the story actually, because I like doing things like that.
Now, those pictures I all drew AFTER I wrote the story. So how does that help me with the current story? How does that help me to write.
This is a picture from “Miles’ Love”. Now, for those who don’t know the story…. too bad. I’m hoping to work on it like mad tomorrow and get it posted starting next Sunday. We’ll see how I feel though. [EDIT: After my sister read it, she pointed out how boring it was and as such, it never actually got posted. I’ve never had the motivation to fix all the problems with it.]
But what I discovered in this one was I was so concerned because Miles has a prosthetic arm. Originally, I had problems because guys typically don’t go around wearing really long short sleeve shirts (like the guy in red). However, because of the commit that he makes to himself that it is almost like winter from the country he’s been living for the past three years, it made much more logical sense that he would be wearing a jacket or long sleeves, thus, no worries about how long his short sleeve shirt goes.
This is Carmen. You know nothing about Carmen. Carmen is a new character from a story I’ve been tossing around in my head since December time and I finally decide to write.
What you need to know is that she is a doctor working as part of a research group in an area that most people say women can’t survive because women are too emotional. (They say.) Truth is, too, that right now she can’t. Her life is basically falling apart an things far apart worse the further you get into the story.
What’s so important then about a character I haven’t said anything about? Well, when drawing her I realized that she probably has been trying to be as much unwomanly as possible. So, she pulls back her hair into a ponytail all the time, especially while working. She just wears a basic shirt and pants, nothing low, nothing clingy. The only reason why she’s wearing it in the picture is that she is on vacation. And now I have another thing to play around with in the story.
I know; it seems strange that I can somehow get that from a story. And I know that not everyone can draw well. But sometimes it just doesn’t matter. Just do what works, for you.
So I posted a few weeks ago my goals for my writing. And I have managed to successfully fail at them. Well, at least one.
See, one of my goals was to send Time of the Dragon Slayers into a writing contest. I decided against that. Partly because I’m so tired, partly because it costs lots of money (okay $5 but…), and partly because I gave it to someone to edit.
Now, I don’t know if she is really going to edit it or not. Or how much she will is more correct. But, I’m hoping to get her evaluation of it back tomorrow at work. And, in a way, it makes sense to wait. I’ll send it in next time. (When is that? June 30th I think.)
Now, maybe I should have send When Darkness Swallows in instead but like I said, I’ve been tired and it takes a lot of work to prep a manuscript. Also, I have no clue how that stands besides that it lost the writing contest at school. If it lost that one, surely it will lose the other one.
On another note, I mentioned, I think about two months ago, my plot for arranged marriages. Well, good news and bad news. Good news is that I finished the first draft and it’s bout twenty-six pages. BAd news is that it is really bad.
Not terribly bad. I understand the characters at least. But I’ve been so tired while writing it and such that the writing isn’t good.
So if anyone as any tips on how to write tension or on how to write action scenes, that would be of great help when I go to edit it.
AS a note, working title for that story is now “Miles’ Love.”
Time of the Dragon Slayers (part 8)
The last one. Remember, the story is on the side bare there.
Between the small fire and Justin’s cloak, the cold stayed away as best it could that damp night. Justin knew how to make the small cave her family always used as a refuge against the dragons cheery and provided warm food for them both. But not before they set up a small stone for Colton in the little birch grove where the rest of her family rested. Although she hated the fact, that was all they could do. There was nothing to bury.
Justin lowered himself next to her after tossing on another log. He stuffed his pipe meticulously and inhaled deeply before he looked at her.
“Are you ready to hear my plan?”
Time of the Dragon Slayers (part 7)
The (so far) complete verson of “Time of the Dragon Slayers” is there on one of my pages, if you haven’t read the beginning.
For some reason, Natlie expected when she came back to the farm Colton would be there, looking tall and solemn across the land. She’d touch his shoulder gently and he’d look at her with a sad expression. “We’ll rebuild,” he’d say. “We’ll rebuild it all, just like it’s always was.”
Time of the Dragon Slayers (part 6)
The weather only become warmer, with many rumors of this being the hottest autumn ever felt before. Colton wiped his brow and took the water gratefully when she offered it. Threshing was hard enough on cool autumn days that doing it in near summer-like conditions zapped his strength.
He gulped it empty before handing it back. “Thanks.”
why to write what I write
An interesting transformation has taken place in my writing over the last three months.
When I first began writing, I wrote for the story. The story line was the key. Hope was about the revolution against the aliens on Earth. Shad was about a guy’s race across the galaxy. (Plot actually ended up being a big surprise for me on that one.) Everything was about the story. What is the story about?
Now, it’s changed or maybe morphed. Yes, I care about the story because the story is the essence of anything worth reading. But I’ve suddenly discovered another side of writing: the side of a message.
I don’t want to be preachy in the least. But sometimes just writing the story doesn’t cut it. During December when I was trying to figure out what to write for the writing contest, I began thinking in terms of the message. What is the purpose for writing this story?
With that in mind, I planned my story, discarding several because there wasn’t a good enough message. I didn’t try to preach it, not in Kontyo at least. But I did become suddenly aware of it.
Then, I wrote Dragon Slayers. Dragon Slayers is a bit more obvious I think, since I wrote it with the sole goal of making fun of people who think that we need to protect endanger species, no matter the cost. (My goal, by the way, is to have that posted by March 20th, and since I’m prewriting this and I don’t know when it’s going to actually be posted, I guess you might know if I made that goal or not.) In my head at least, I was thinking back to when Atlanta had a serious drought but they had to send fresh water to save the oysters or something like that.
Now that I’m writing “Miles’ Love,” I more left the idea of themes for some reason, although I am sure one will show up. Miles has enough secrets to make that easy for me I think, and the girl does too. But I didn’t really think about it when I began writing.
I’m also thinking about what to write next and I’m finding that, once again, I’m looking for messages. It’s like if I don’t have a good enough plot, I need to fill that void with a message and then build the message around the plot. In a soon-to-be written piece, the message is the one about how everyone treats the same person differently, even if that person gives them the same view of themselves. (No name, although the girl’s name is Alisa. I know that much.)
I can’t imagine this change in writing to be negative. After all, it goes back to my rant a while back about my psychology teacher not wanting us to have a thesis statement for our paper, even if the paper is about our life. Everything needs a purpose to be written. Maybe telling a story is one purpose, which was mine for a long time, but the overshadowing theme is what separates today’s books from classics. (That and good writing, tension, characters, plots, and morality but we won’t go there yet.)
Time of the Dragon Slayers (part 5)
This one is for today and tomorrow. Sorry. School calls.
The storm was followed by a period of dry weather, much to all of the farmers’ satisfaction since it neared harvest time. Harvest came and with it, the tiring routine for Justin and Colton began as well. They rose in the morning early, did the chores, ate breakfast, and then disappeared into the fields until sunset. Once dark, they finally trudged home to collapse around the dinner table. At first, Colton jested Justin often about how he handled a sickle like he never had done it before in his life. Justin just brushed it off but Natlie guessed, based on how much he did not protest, that Colton was correct. Not that it mattered much. No farmer would argue against help, no matter where it came from. Soon, sheathes of grain stood in all the fields surrounding them for miles and Natlie began her daily checks to see if they were dry enough for threshing.
Although the men had many things to do, Natlie had very little besides her normal chores. As such, she found herself missing the town even more. Harvest always dragged Colton away from the house for long periods of time. Before she had escaped from the desolate house by going to town. The town always was a place of excitement and people. There, she could always find someone to talk with there. Sometimes, she caught herself staring across the fields at the buildings and wondering how long Colton would persist in his stubbornness that she could not go.