Thursday, March 01, 2007


Nobody had any comments about the bad hair photos of myself I linked to in my "harrowing hair tales" post yesterday?! Methinks no one must have read the post!

A couple of nights ago, I read back over the 7,000+ words of my unfinished National Novel Writing Month manuscript from last fall, hoping it would turn out to be good, and I'd feel spurred on to get back to it. No such luck! If anything, I found it depressing that there were a few, mostly buried gems of ideas or characters lost in a story I don't think is good enough to finish. Also, I had set the story in Sarasota, Florida, where we lived last year. It was the first story I ever tried to write that was set in a real, identifiable place, and for that alone I found it noteworthy--I wanted to write it as a tribute to somewhere I might soon forget. Unfortunately, it seems I have already forgotten Sarasota! I started the manuscript just 1 month after moving away. Now, 4 months after that, even the landmarks I wrote about in the story had largely slipped my mind, and I realized I could never finish it with the same realistic descriptions now, from here, as out of touch as I am with that area already. Very strange. How quickly we forget!

On a brighter note, I also looked back over some sample intro paragraphs I'd written for a chapter book series I'd like to write. And I liked them! What the novel manuscript lacked most of all was voice, and the chapter book idea seems to have it. What it doesn't have is plots, or even definite characters...I still haven't decided if the characters are humans or animals! So I don't feel ready to start it right now. But I do think it's worth batting around, while my kids are still at chapter book age so I'm familiar with the genre. I'm thinking I should probably finish one of my YA novels first, though, if only because I'd prefer to make a name for myself in midgrade or YA first, since they are my first loves. But if I figure out a plot for one of the chapter books (I have titles in mind, oddly, but not specific plots), I may start writing it and see what happens. 

I'm also not sure which YA I'd want to work on--one I have a full draft for, which needs massive revisions I've been putting off, or one I only have partially written, which has given me fits for years. All of the characters deserve to have their stories told, so I'm not sure who should win! And then I begin to doubt that any of their stories is really interesting enough to tell. I've been reading the novel "hooks" some other writers are posting in their blogs, and I know my novels don't really have hooks. When one of them had a first chapter critique at a conference some years ago, the editor critiquing it said it was fine as far as it went, but it needed "more." More what, I asked? She couldn't say. Just "more." I'm still mulling over that! For ages I thought she meant deeper themes, or more going on in the plot, and I even tried to add in some edgier stuff that another editor then told me didn't fit. But now I'm thinking maybe it just needs to be more vivid, more sensory, more tangible--areas I often struggle with--so it pulls the reader more deeply into the world of the story. Hmm. Part of me wants to work on that, and the other part of me thinks I should write the chapter books because they have simple storylines by necessity, and won't require so much of that elusive "more"! (Not that I think they'd be "easy" to write--just that they might be an easier fit for my natural writing style.)

Now go laugh at my hair pics!


David Tinker said...

I did read your bad hair post. I remember you telling me some of those stories and showing me some of those photos back in the 80s. I actually remember the late 80s hair in the picture from 1988.

Phyllis said...

I moved to Sarasota about 7 months ago. I would be happy to go around and photograph whatever you want. You can email me at phyllisweitzner at aol dot com.

Alison said...

Wow, thanks, Phyllis, but I think I'm giving up on that one for the time being! I hope I can go back to Sarasota for a vacation someday, so if I ever decide to work on that story again, it would probably be when I was going back to have another look around, anyway. (But eat some Amish food for me... Yum!)