Archive | March, 2012

Writing on Fayah! & Chapter Up! Lioness Ch 12

31 Mar

I must say, being a member of Writer’s Digest was starting to get on my nerves, what with the constant canvas-ads and begging me to pay more money for this and that… Then I get a link to an article that just sets me on fire.  And I mean that in a good way.

How to Write a Manuscript: 5 Tips You Need to Know

How to Use an Outline to Write a First Draft

Seriously.  Especially the “outline” one.  It got me going.  I’m using it to try and finish Lioness (sort of as a guinea pig) so I can maintain confidence with easy characters.  Then I’ll branch out into my OC’s.

In the meantime, check out LL12 under the appropriate link above (in the header links on my site here) and let me know what you think!

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Let’s get Political…

9 Mar

(originally posted on 3/9/12)

To the mass-media idiots: Can I be a dork and just say that it’s actually still a multi-candidate toss up on the Republican side of the fence and not just between Romney and Santorum, as some people think because they’ve received the most popular votes in the primaries since January? Popular vote has nothing to do with elections in the end, popular vote determines which way the electoral college votes and each region has a set number of electoral college voters. Gingrich has more electoral college votes than Santorum, even though he’s got about 100k less popular vote and only carried 2 states. (Remember, that’s how W won over Gore in 2000, electoral college over popular vote)

Technically they’re all still in the game until at least May when all the Republican’s votes are done. Sucks, but true. I have no idea why the Republicans decided to stretch their voting period from February to May (aside from trying to push all those ID laws through which keep getting shunted off by judges in Democrat states) but that’s what they’re doing, so there are no decisions yet.

And on a side note, from the laws and declarations that are flying through congress and the executive office over the past few months and I’m sure in the next eight, the Democrats don’t seem to be expecting a win. They didn’t even put forth another candidate. Even when Mr. Clinton was at his best, they put forth at least whispers of someone else wanting to run. There wasn’t even that. I don’t know about you, but that sounds fishy. Or should I say “Lame”?

NO BOWS!

6 Mar

One of my least favorite things about traditional American media (movies, literature, etc.) is the necessity for a complete, tidy “Happily Ever After”.

Don’t get me wrong, I used to eat it up like after-dinner pudding, licking the spoon clean and going back for more…but somewhere down the line, my brain grew up. Actually, not somewhere. I can pinpoint it. Two instances in particular.

Becoming familiar with Andrew Lloyd Weber’s The Phantom of the Opera, and watching the movie re-creation of a little play called “Educating Rita” starring Michael Cain and Julie Walters (who is better known now cast as ginger matron, Molly Weasley) were the exact turning points for me.

I think I saw POTO enacted in a cartoon on HBO as a child first, but did not know what I was watching. I wasn’t truly introduced to it until my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Sullivan, decided we needed a little culture during the last week before Christmas break. I was, of course, terrified and obsessed from that point onwards. The story is so beautifully unreal and complicated, you find yourself struggling with Christine…well, I don’t need to tell you the story. We all know it. The true tragedy lies in that we feel sorry for Phantom at the end and actually want him to win, somehow, even while being horrified by what he’s done and identifying with it at the same time. It’s not a wrapped up, clean, neat happy ending. You wonder, does Christine regret? Does she ever wonder about the life she could have had with Erik versus Raoul? What happens to Erik? Did he die? Did he keep watching over her (as the movie suggests, long after the play gives us these questions)?

No neat, shiny bow, giving us the answers. And yet, we knew the story was over. There was no more to tell, we were not invited to intrude on their lives anymore. It was lovely.

Now, on to “Educating Rita”. I’ve taken the following synopsis from www.imdb.com:

Bored with teaching undergraduates English literature, Frank Bryant morosely reflects through a whiskey glass on his failed marriage and his attempt at becoming a poet. His world is turned upside down by the arrival of Rita, a hairdresser who has decided to find herself by taking an Open University course. Excited by her freewheeling and acute observations, and – let’s be honest – by Rita herself, Frank also feels a deep sadness as he watches her warm impulsive reactions being replaced by the sort of cold analytical approach he so much loathes in other students and colleaguesWritten by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

This sums up such a lovely story and you’d think from reading this that Frank and Rita would end up together, right? WRONG! Oh, I wanted them to. I SO wanted them to, especially after the hair-cutting scene (delicious!) but in the end, they don’t. He lives his life, and she lives hers with both of their choices made on their own terms and you feel satisfied with that. No sloppy kisses or frantic sex in a dark room, no awkward moments for professor and student, just…respect and friendship and a really good story.

I will tell you: I watched this when I was about ten. It shocked the hell out of me that there was no wrapped up little ending with them flying off to the tropics together. I had become so trained and so inured to watching American media that I had come to expect the happy ending.

But, this was a happy ending, wasn’t it? Rita got out of her crap life and Frank started taking interest in life again, thanks to her. That’s pretty happy to me. It’s just…not American (and let me say that American cinema has made leaping inroads on this lack in genre since then, but I digress).

Once, I remember watching a movie with my mother on television and getting bored with it. I got up to leave the room and she asked me, “Don’t you want to find out how it ends?”

I responded, “No, I already know. He [does this] and she [does that], they kiss and make up, music swells, the end. Nothing new.”

She blinked at me like I’d grown a second head, but I remember pining for stories like the ones I’m talking about here. I couldn’t find them, growing up. There were tragedies, aplenty, but who wants to bawl their eyes out? I wanted to be happy at the end but not turn my brain to mush in the process.

The day I got my driver’s license I went to the bookstore and started searching, hoping books were the answer since it was an older medium. I was already addicted to romance (backwards, I know but I was still hooked on that happy ending without all the frills). There were a few authors that could do it and I clung to them like limpets. The more I read, the more I would look back at my first-reads with disgust.

I was constantly searching for an intelligent, open read with a happy ending because I couldn’t find it in American cinema and the international market wasn’t open to me at the time.

And then it was.

I went to college, and it was. I devoured foreign films, particularly Chinese and English because they seem to have the knack of not getting too weird (on the mainstream, I can’t vote for the goat-guy…don’t ask, it was a bad night for movies) and having an open, happy ending with intelligent plot you had to chew on. I also discovered new genres in reading, particularly Science Fiction. I am ashamed at how closed-minded I had been over that genre and happily eat that crow daily!

Now, one of the worst things you can do to me is hand me a book or movie that has all the little plots and people tied up in little boxes and bows on my front doorstep in a neat little pile. I want to take that neat little pile and toss some boxes under the bushes, then throw some in the street, chuck a few onto the roof and when I get down to the last five boxes, I’ll burn three of them. The last two boxes will tell me the protagonists are happy and a possible, plausible future. I don’t care if her second cousin found a boyfriend at last and is planning a wedding this Thursday, but the cake is spiked. I. Really. Don’t. Care. You can tell me that the bad guy/girl/spiny jungle squirrel either got away or got its come-uppance. Those kind of bows are fun.

Now, before your very eyes, I shall take this rant and turn it into what I want to write (ahem: Marc Schuster’s advice was to find what I love and/or hate, well, here you go). I want any story of mine to be intelligent, tangible, and thought-provoking, but for God’s Sake NO BOWS! I love happy endings, but I don’t want to be pat or trite or predictable. I want to be a contribution to the written word, not as fodder or escapist literature, but as something to chew on. I want my reader to want to eat my book with both hands, then lick their fingers afterwards. Burping is okay in my book, it’s a compliment to the chef.

It’s going to be hard, but then again, I was the girl that learned division before subtraction, multiplication before addition. To quote: Baby, I was born this way.

If you want a list of authors I’m trying to emulate or that I think have the ability to write like I’m attempting, check out My Inspirations page.

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