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Thursday, December 16, 2010

A New Approach

This must be what a sheer-rock climber feels. I'm working on a novel without an outline. I may give in to my organizational obsession soon, and I haven't quashed the story arc growing in my head. But I've got no detailed outline. Let the chips fall where they may. It's an experiment, and it can always be fixed if it turns out as a great, soupy mess. Chapter 1 is pretty tight, though.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I'm Embarrassed to Admit This, But...

I've got an unfinished novel gathering dust in a drawer. Okay, it's a series of computer files, but that doesn't have the same ring to it.

It's an albatross, this novel, so personal, quirky, and long that it may never be marketable. Yet it was what started me writing fiction. I also happen to love it. Those close to me who've read the first two thirds are very enthusiastic, but that isn't related to actually selling the thing.

Occasionally I prepare for the battle: "I'll revamp it," I declare. "I'll rework the first part into its own novel." "I'll change basic elements of the premise so it's more accessible."

But I never actually do that. It's my first born, albeit specially challenged, and it's beautiful to me just the way it is. Still, I'd like it to be able to grow up and have a life of its own someday outside of my hard drive...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Argos the Reader

In ancient Greek mythology, Argos is the original peacock, a creature with hundreds of eyes on his tail. Athena put them there so he could watch over her treasure. Recently I found a new job for Argos: as a story draft-reader.

I'd read my new story over and over, of course. Then I sent it to some of my trusty guinea pigs to see what they thought. I'm blessed with a cadre of smart, literate folks with good critical skills whom I can call on to look at my stuff. Three of them read my story and loved it, just catching a couple of typos. I was ready to send the story out. Then reader number four sent an email.

"This character seems to be a split personality. He has two different names."

Sure enough, in my indecision, I had named one character twice with two similar names. I'd used those names alternately throughout the story. No one else had caught it!

So, friends, be sure you have an Argos of a reading team, with as many eyes as possible looking from all different angles. You'll be amazed what they can see.