clarentine: (Pirtate!)
If you were a pirate in 1720 and you had a small wooden barrel that you wanted to refill with drinking water at the local cistern, would you just pull out the bung and attempt to pour water from the bucket into the bung hole?
clarentine: (Pirtate!)
Conflict, it turns out, is easy to generate. All you have to do is find out what your protagonist wants, and what your antagonist wants, and make sure the two things are diametrically opposed.

Yeah. Easy as that.
clarentine: (Default)
World Fantasy Convention is, as I've noted, coming up on the radar. Opening ceremonies are a mere five weeks away now, and I thought as others are noting their general arrivals I'd do the same.

I'll be in on Wednesday, to start off with, rather than the Thursday arrival most attendees are planning. I've got landscape design touristing to do on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning. I volunteered to help scout the facilities and greet OWW attendees on Thursday, so I should be around the lobby Thursday afternoon.

I have a tendency to try and blend with the wallpaper, so do please say hello if you happen to catch up with me in the hallway!
clarentine: (Pirtate!)
Got the alas-o-gram from Merilee Heifetz in yesterday's mail. Maybe, someday, this novel will get a request for partial or--dare I say it?--a full manuscript.

In the meantime, I continue to plug away on the pirates novel and ignore the seductive whispers about plot threads not yet explored in Canum's world. They're unexplored, damn it, because I already have four completed novels in that universe and the first draft of several others.

Maybe I'm trying to raise interest with the wrong crop of novels. I don't think you're supposed to be taunting agents with more than one at a time, though. (Yes? No?) I am operating under the impression that one dangles before agents one's best work--and I may be wrong, but I think Cavalier Attitude is the best I've written to date.

::wrenches focus back to Josh and the pirates::

Parts of this pirate novel gleam even in first draft. I hope it's a good thing when an author likes his or her own work, because I do. Why would you put yourself through this if you didn't enjoy what you wrote?


Aug. 31st, 2006 04:43 pm
clarentine: (Pirtate!)
I just typed "befraggled".

I trust I am not the only one reading this journal who will immediately visualize Kermit, Ms. Piggy, and the rest of the gang clambering over my poor privateer's ship. *g*
clarentine: (Default)
Notes from a conversation [ profile] corrinalaw and I had earlier today, occasioned by the rejection of my short story Straying:


I had a brain flash the other day, with regard to short stories and
getting them published. It's not so much that the story is
unique--though that's helpful--or that it addresses some element of
SFF that has never been addressed before--because that's unlikely.
What matters is that the story be the best at what it is addressing.

I've said before (or I think I have) that I believe that short stories are about ideas, not characters. So, each short story pursues its idea, its theme, and the ones that best explore that theme are the ones that get grabbed up by the editors.

I think that Straying (the (very) short fiction piece I had rejected
by F&SF) is a good story. I think it fulfills the promise made to the reader at the start. I think the characterization and setting are interesting and solid. But does it thoroughly explore its theme of the outsider rejecting membership in the group he'd previously wanted to be a part of? I am not so sure. If there is something about this story that can be strengthened, I think this is it.


I am not sure, at this juncture, what I could improve about Straying's focus on its theme. That it can be improved, I have no doubt. Some day, I'll work on it.

At the moment, however, Josh has my attention, and so it's pirates!pirates!pirates! 24/7 at the center of my consciousness.
clarentine: (Pirtate!)
I stumbled upon a website where you can get scholarly answers to questions about pirates, especially Golden Age pirates, while doing research online. has a Message Board with a scholarly discussion sub-board, and I've already spotted several other writers doing research there. (There's a "Marcus," who I am imagining is Marcus Rediker; I have two of his published books on my shelf, Villains of All Nations and Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, both of them well-researched and, in addition, well-written, which as anyone who reads the work of historians knows is not a common trait amongst their books.)

I did copious amounts of research the winter of 2004-2005, which is when I first made Rediker's acquaintance. I'm glad to see him posting to this website, and equally glad to see the tone and emphasis on accuracy and citations in the replies to questions.
clarentine: (Pirtate!)
...I wouldn't be slogging through the mud, eh?

As Murphy would have it, now that my latest Work In Progress (WIP) has finally started talking to me again and looking like I might actually make some progress, my brain is otherwise too tired to really gain ground on the project.

This project - the pirate story, whose protag is Josh - is a strange creature for me. I'm not sure whether my reluctance to push forward has to do with the fact that (a) I have some idea where I'm going with this one, or (b) I'm just not connecting as firmly as I'd like with Josh, or (c) the worldbuilding (as in, I've stepped outside my comfort zone and I can't get my feet under me) isn't reeling me in. Or any combination thereof.

That said, I may gain some forward momentum tonight, simply because I'm too tired to fight my subconscious.

I wish I could figure out how to release that Muse without exhausting myself first.
clarentine: (Pirtate!)
I know I said, Self, that you weren't to indulge in angst in the place of plot on the current story. That does not mean you must now make Josh leap, marionette-like, from plot-supportive concern over his future to happily looking for a place to hang his hammock. You are giving me whiplash.


Jun. 11th, 2006 10:20 am
clarentine: (Pirtate!)
Checking in via a borrowed dinosaur of a desktop. My words appear on screen three seconds after I type them, and the right cursor does not work unless you pound on it. Probably from being pounded on. But I'm online, at least momentarily.

Party preparations are underway. I'm in a lull between the baking of the cake and the frosting of it. Must go clean in a moment if I'm to have time later to watch World Cup matches.

Best news of the day thus far: I have words! Two whole scenes of them, with several others laid out and waiting for me to have time, or for Josh to hijack me again. (Josh would be Josiah Eaden, who doesn't know he's about to become a pirate.) I love fresh new words. They're so optomistic.

All that time I spent researching pirates is paying off. I have a plot! And it even fits with the actual historical accounts, so I am happy. Thank you, Marcus Rediker.


Oct. 26th, 2005 12:55 pm
clarentine: (Default)
There's a blogger here - - talking about the balance between accessibility and literary ambition, and that got me thinking yesterday.

I appreciate the need for accessibility; if you don't have it, no one will read what you write. I want to write stories that people will understand.
But I don't just want to write a formulaic story, either, that has all the right elements but doesn't try to reach higher. In part, that's what's delaying the pirate story that's trying to percolate in the back waters of my subconscious. I don't know what higher goal the story will serve, and without that I sort of lack direction. I could write boy gets kidnapped by pirates/boy becomes a pirate/boy redeems himself and pirates, but I want it to be more. And I haven't yet found the more that works with the setup, so there it sits.

(It's amusing as hell that I have such confidence that I could write the formulaic tale!)

The blogger is right on one count, I think; the one-novel-a-year climate in publishing definitely discourages writers from taking that extra step, reaching for that extra fillip of meaning. I want my work to have all those layers of meaning that enriches the experience of reading and makes me fall in love with a story. In order to have that depth, I need more than a year. On most projects. (Thinking about Cavalier Attitude, my 4-months-to-first-draft novel of two years ago. That one just fell out of my head.)

Depth. One more in a growing list of individually-calibrated tools in that writer's toolkit we're building--it's not a question that has only one right answer. Each writer will have a different point of balance, I suspect. And just as well, because I don't want to keep reading the same novel over and over!
clarentine: (Default)
Plot, Rule One: make sure the opening conflict, the point from which your story begins, relates directly to the rest of your plot.

That is all.

::smacks self upside head::

Amongst the online discussions of Alfred Noyes' poem The Highwayman, there is one that ponders why Loreena McKennitt's [excellent, truly excellent] version omits verses that make it clear how the authorities learned about the bandit's plans to steal the gold and where to find him. This, it occurs to me, is a valid plot quibble.

And it's what was wrong with the opening for what I've been referring to, variously, as the pirate story, Josh's story, and the Highwayman story. I got two scenes down on paper, and stalled. Why? Because I didn't know what happened next.

Because it wasn't connected to what the story was about.

If, however, I make the attack that occurs in the first scene happen as a direct result of the conflict Josh faces through the rest of the book, then I suddenly know (a) the much less generalized location of the opening scenes, (b) the motive of the men participating in that first attack, (c) the motive of the men participating in the second attack, and (d) what happens next.

Color me pleased.
clarentine: (Default)
Given that I have a pirate tale lurking in the deep corners of my brain, I suppose I ought to give a nod and a hearty Arrrrrr! to the day. >;-]

Now if the damned thing would just tell me what I'm supposed to do with all the pirate research I did last winter...probably more research.


clarentine: (Default)

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