Monday, August 30, 2010

Derailed

It dawned on me today why I've been having so much trouble with my current WIP, an Old West horror with a touch of steampunk. The reason turns out to be simple: The story is on the wrong track. In reading over what I've already done, the story is nicely suspenseful up until a certain point -- and then it's not.

So, now I have to rework the story from the point where it went off track. That means a little more than a 1,000 words are going into the trash can. And the submission deadline for the market I'm writing this one for: Sept. 15. Good thing I have a week of vacation coming up in which I can finish it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Week 1

For the first time in six years, I am getting back into running. Why now? Because the kids are in school -- all three of them at the same time for a few precious hours each week. That means I have quiet, uninterrupted time to work on two things: Getting my body back into shape, and doing more writing.

So, Week 1:
-- I went for runs on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday for a total of about five miles. Not a huge tally, but I'm easing into things.
-- I didn't write as much as I wanted to. I'm about 5,500 words into the current WIP, which has a submission deadline of Sept. 15. Gotta get cracking and finish up this story in the next two days, so I have time for a quick round of critique and revise.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A case study in storytelling

Last night, I finished watching the BBC miniseries "Casanova," which was also broadcast by Masterpiece Theatre four years ago and is handily available on DVD at my local library. I'll be honest: I picked it up because I've run through every David Tennant episode of "Doctor Who" and was interested in hunting down some of his other work. But my sudden fondness for British television is not what this post is about. It's about themes in storytelling.

At first glance, the storytelling in "Casanova" struck me as somewhat uneven. First off, there are two stories going on at once: the exploits of young Casanova, and the shame and regret of old Casanova. The tones of the two stories are quite different, as are the performances of Tennant and Peter O'Toole.

With a deeper look, though, the story comes together into a beautiful whole. And it's because, at its heart, this "Casanova" is not about bawdy, raunchy fun. (Although it certainly has its share of that.)

This is a story about a man who runs from the consequences of his actions for years and years -- be it an angry husband or a jail break or fleeing France before the revolution that Casanova is sure he had a hand in causing. But no one can run forever, and when Casanova finally comes face to face with his legacy and with himself, he cannot handle it and becomes a broken man. Tennant and O'Toole are, in effect, playing different characters, divided by that moment of revelation. But O'Toole's Casanova, in the end, rediscovers what made him great in the first place - his amazing capacity for love - and it heals him.

Despite, the wildly divergent tones and performances, the themes of love vs. sex and of facing consequences are consistent throughout. For me, watching the miniseries was an interesting study of the glue that holds a story together. Of course, the bawdy, raunchy stuff was fun, too.