Wednesday, March 28, 2012

You Just got Kicked In the ****!

We all have those moments in a book that we are really enjoying. You know, where you think the protagonist has done what they set out to do or you just settle into really, really liking a character and getting used to their voice when....

You all know the feeling I'm talking about. My fellow BWBers know EXACTLY what I'm talking about because the High Priest of this is George RR Martin. I mean: Ned Stark's fate, Jaime's hand, the Red Freakin' Wedding, the end of AFFC. The man mastered the art of kicking his readers squarely in the junk...and we love him for it.

Suzanne Collins proved to be another master of this literary technique. I was sick to my stomach at the end of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire left me so emotionally scarred that it's been almost 2 years since I read the book and I still can't read Mockingjay, I just don't know if I can handle it. Seriously.

I write this because I think that I wrote my "kicked in the ****" scene last night and I was so jarred by it, so to speak, that I actually couldn't move on to the next chapter because I needed to recollect my thoughts. Seriously.

Now, I know mine isn't the steel toe to the soft parts that the above mentioned examples are, it's more of a catching the corner of the lab table in biology class, glancing blow kind of a thing, but it still has a degree of impact in the story. It's the moment in the story when it feels like the stakes have changed, usually for the worse. There is even a part of me that thinks my betas will read the section and think that I'm overestimating the gravity of the scene, but it really feels like I've done something I've never done before in my writing.

Last night I hit the point in the book where suddenly the risk has become very real. I don't know if I've ever written anything like this and it made me squirm a little. Not in a bad way, but a way that made me very, very uncomfortable. All of a sudden, my little book about kids dealing with the sins of their parents switched from being indirect to direct. They were now involved. And that changes a lot about the story itself.

The next chapters are going to move much faster. It's not going to take me a shorter time to write them, but they are going to be in a constant state of movement and action. The stakes have been raised now and my characters are going to have to do things that they might not have done earlier in the book. And I don't know if that was my intent for them, but it's a good thing that's what they decided to do.

As anxious as I'm painting myself in this, I'm excited too. It means I'm taking risks as a writer. (A motif in my life for the last seven months, by the way.) It means I'm growing as a writer.

I start the second chapter of this section, the beginning of a cycle of, as one of my betas called it, PB&J sections rotating around the three main characters. (Oooh, maybe a return of the trope of the week and talking about the number 3????) Sprinkle in a mad princess (should I have said SPOILER alert) and a new threat and Spring's Tempest will be done!

Victory is mine!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Green With Envy

It's March. For some it means going in like a lion and out like a lamb. For some it's time to start thinking about Spring. For others, it is time to think about St. Patrick's Day (making an obviously offensive Irish joke would be to easy so I'll say the following) and drinking Shamrock shakes. While others it means college basketball becomes the center of the universe. For me, March is a combination of the latter two with one other thing: it's the doldrums.

For those of you that don't understand what I mean, let me explain in an old fashioned SAT analogy: March:Teaching as August:Baseball.

March is the longest period of time between breaks for us in the educational world and if not for Good Friday and a screw up by the NYS department of Regents, it would've been even longer. It's the time when you tackle something long and time consuming that usually involves the students working independently.

March is also going to have to be a HUGE month for me as a writer. HUGE. And while I started off gangbusters, I haven't written a word in three days. THREE DAYS! Considering the roll I was on, that's a lifetime. Part of the hold up is my impending review observation that has consumed a massive amount of time. The other is something completely different that has me thinking if I'm beginning to doubt myself. Not in that fatalistic, staring up at the heavens as the dog is doing her business in the morning before school thinking "what the F**K was I thinking becoming a teacher?" kind of doubt. Well, not exactly, but close. I'm in the midst of reading two books that are messing with me a bit.

The first is one that I am just starting, Saladin Ahmed's Throne of the Crescent Moon. I'm only about 30 pages in and I am really impressed. It's a great story and one that I almost feel like I could've written. And I mean that as a compliment. It's brilliant and fun (see prior post) so far and I'm jealous of it.

Myke Cole's Control Point is the other one. I'm just finishing it up and insanely jealous of what the book. His ability to write action and fight scenes has me angry at my own relative ineptness at writing such scenes. His world building is brilliant and his inside knowledge of military life isn't heavy handed.

Last time I felt like this? When I read Arthur Slade's The Hunchback Assignments. That was a book I should've written and I will always be jealous of him for writing it before me!

I consider these guys contemporaries and I hope to sit alongside them on panels at cons in the future. For now, I am grumbling and growling about how awesome these guys are and how good their books are. And it makes me wonder if this is the reason why I've been in a bit of a rut the last few days. Maybe I'm doubting my own ability. Maybe not.