A year in reading

August 16, 2012

Before taking a shower this morning, I curled up in the armchair and pulled out my paperback copy of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” (Massive slab of a thing, ain’t it?) Got through some great stuff before I ran out of reading time – Hermione and Ron both got their separate opportunities to arrive at just the right moment to save Harry’s life, and it was really great to see Ron get a chance to be a hero for a change.

Before scurrying off, I opened the netbook to update my reading page tracker file, because I get compulsive about stuff like that. So under ‘Aug 15 2012’ I start typing ‘Aug 16’, and notice that it auto-completed with 2011 before I typed in the 2012. “Huh. I don’t remember that happening before. Could it be…”

Paged up to the top of the Excel sheet. Yeah, sure enough, the first entry is Aug 16 2011 – Mixed Magics by Diana Wynne Jones in trade print, up to the bottom of page 83. (I’d actually read some of the first story in the collection before I started keeping track – I didn’t read 83 pages on my first day of Consistent Writer’s Club, though I’ve read more than that on a few days.

So yes, it’s been a year and a day since I started the Consistent Writer’s Club, and I’ve only missed 3 days so far – none of them within 2012. There’s a lot of good stuff I’ve read listed in my spreadsheet – novels and short stories both, and I’ve been smiling at the thought of it all day.

Have you been reading anything really fun lately?

Doing another big rewrite

June 3, 2011

I want to rewrite ‘Harry and Mars’ by June 14th, so that I can incorporate most of the notes I got from critters.org before submitting it for the Kansas workshop. (I’m also planning to do a few more revisions to ‘The Landing’ in the same timeframe.)

Unfortunately, it looks like most of the opinions I got from critters.org are suggesting that the story has some good potential, but some serious issues. When I pull up the appropriate tab of my ‘tracking spreadsheet’, some of the first entries for Harry and Mars include:

  • Flesh out the characterization of all characters (except Harry)
  • Explain the roots and the progressions of the phobia better. The reader has to believe in it!
  • Plot relies on unlikely personal issues.
  • ‘Show, don’t tell’ about Harry in particular
  • Write with better style
  • Explore the theme of hopelessness more?
  • The ending is pointless

Now, to be fair, I sorted the list for items that I felt would require a lot of work to get these ones to the top, but still, there weren’t a lot of ‘quick wins’ and easy changes that I thought would improve the story much.

Like the title character in the story, I do feel a bit as if I’m on the edge of giving into despair and fear. I’ve already done a fairly substantial rewrite on my first draft, and despite the potential that I and other people have seen, I’m not entirely sure if there’s a great story in here that I can tell, or that I really want to tell. Still, I haven’t given up, and I’m going to give it one more try in the next two weeks. Going over all the points from that list, I’ve actually just had an interesting idea for reworking the story – getting rid of Charlie as the POV character, beginning the story with Harry attempting suicide and being stopped, and having three supporting characters each interview her to try and find out why she did it – the doctor, the captain, and Charlie, the best friend.

As tempting as it was to work in the ‘phobia of Phobos’ bit, I think that that was leading me astray too. My first draft wasn’t about a phobia, but about a crewmember on a space flight giving into depression and despair in the midst of a crisis, and I think that may be the better way to go after all. The question of why she suffered from that depression, and how no-one had spotted it earlier, can be the central question that I explore.

Wish me luck!


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