Tag Archives: novels

Writing About How to Write

I want to write about writing.

While this is, in essence, a personal blog, most of the time I don’t feel comfortable enough to write about my personal life or problems, so it was always more about the external things, such as movie review, social commentary or random rants. I also love to write about writing, not because I believe I’m an expert in the field (far from it), but because I like to have a space where I can share my thoughts and observations on fiction writing.

I also feel this theme might be inspiring enough to make me blog more often – at least twice a week, because this blog is in urgent need of some updating. While I was never popular – far from it – I’ve witnessed, over and over again, visitors leaving when there’s nothing new on the blog for weeks (you can’t blame them).

Stuff I want to blog about:

Writing tips

Again, I don’t want to pretend I’m an expert, so these will mostly be some observations I will, first and foremost, write as a reminder to myself. It might include points on characterization and plot, DOs and DON’Ts, common misconceptions, writing myths, etc.

Existing example of this kind of posts: How NOT to create Mary Sue

My writing process

These posts will cover my own way of outlining, writing and revising, writing schedule and stuff that works (or doesn’t work) for me.

Existing example: Choosing Character Names

Fiction I like & dislike

These will probably be made as reviews. Same goes for film reviews.

Existing example: The Power of Writing: Atonement

Things I probably won’t blog about:

Short stories, poems, essays, etc. The posts will focus on novel writing, because this is what I’m experienced with. Which is, by the way, a serious problem: a writer needs to know how to write in different formats. I suck at writing poems and I don’t know how to write short stories. It’s bad. So I might reconsider short story writing, but since there are so many things so be said about novel writing, I’m not sure about this. As for essays, I am good at them, but they’re completely different beasts.

Writing excerpts. I’m not confident enough in my English to share my writing online. I might reconsider this, because I know it’s impossible to practice your craft without beta readers and some critique.

This doesn’t mean I’ll turn this into a writing blog. However, expect to see more writing-related posts from now on.

I Finished My Novel

Yes. Finally. I finished my NaNoWriMo novel. And yes, it’s long overdue, because NaNo ended in November (more about that in a minute). But this is a very special moment because last time I finished a novel… It was more than 13 years ago.

Of course, it’s just a first draft. There’s a lot of editing to do. Currently, it stands at 102 000 words. Out of these, around 86 000 were written in November, during NaNo, and the rest (the last 6 chapters) in December. You could tell I really slowed down in December (be it because I’ve encountered a problem with the plot (yes), or because I lacked the motivation and the rush NaNo gives you). In any case, I managed to finish the first draft on December 30th. I still need to write one short scene in the middle and include a couple of pages between different sections of the book, and then I will have to start cutting. My goal is to make it around 80 000 words.

Additional details

The working title was “Hardin Hades” (in lack of a more inspirational one), but towards the end I’ve decided to change it to “A Postcard From Hades” (or something along those lines). The problem is, the title seems like something more appropriate for a horror story.

Also, I still don’t know what the novel is “about”. It’s obviously, more character than plot driven, but it’s not as heavy as some literary fiction is. Alternatively (and I cringe at this), it can be seen as romance, or young adult. The problem is, there’s way too much sex for YA.

Speaking of which, the sex in the story is not erotica, but very Judy Blume style. It’s the only way those scenes could be written. (The only way that makes sense).

What I learned

I learned that I still have “it”. I still have the urge and the need, and I still have the will needed to write, plot and outline.

I learned I still enjoy it, very much.

I learned I still can’t write short: in my mind, this was a small novel, and I wondered if I’d be able to make it 50 000 words long. But it turned out to be more than 100 000 words.

I also learned I am not as bad at writing dialogues as I thought I was. Some of it came naturally to me, and writing most of it was really easy. On the other hand, I learned I have a problem with so-called transitional scenes, in which I have to describe stuff that happened but not directly show it (and no, contrary to what writing advice says, you shouldn’t always stick to “show, don’t tell” rule. Some things you have to tell (and not show), or else your novel will be either very long or fragmented).

I learned I can write explicit rape scene, but not a regular sex scene from a male POV.

And, very importantly: I learned I’m able to write “on command”, meaning, whenever I find time, no matter how small it is. This is very important, because of the time management.

In any case, I am really excited about this, and, dare to say, proud I finished this novel. It’s not my first, it’s actually my 13th, but it’s been a while. NaNoWriMO came at a perfect moment, and it helped me a lot. It gave me hope and support in a moment I really needed it.

Of course, it also helped me with my writing. My style is still unpolished and not as sharp as I want it to be, but I feel like I’m making a progress. More importantly, I am enjoying it, and I am more and more inspired to write something new. Maybe I should really start working on a novel I’ve been outlining for 7 years now (a fantasy novel I still don’t feel ready to do… But I will have to start at one point because it just won’t be any easier to do it. When novels are in your head for so long, they grow to great proportions, great significance, and it just puts a lot of pressure on you to actually start and write it).

Also, I got an idea (well, updated an older idea) for a dystopian novel about cloning. This one might have a potential. And yes, I know we don’t really need more dystopian novels about cloning (and I’m certainly not as skillful as some writers to pull it off), but it’s ok, because it won’t really be about cloning but something else (as usual). A really intimate story, you could say.

I just wanted to share this with you. :)

A writer’s dilemma

I feel disorientated. I know it’s silly, and I know I am overreacting. Still, it hit me, and now I’m out of my element.

So, what happened? Not much. I just learned that the novel I’m planning to write, and the novel I’m outlining and living for so long (around 7 years, to be exact) is not as original as I thought it was. In other words, someone else wrote a novel using similar motives (and ideas, more or less).

Naturally, I feel like crap now.

This thing should not surprise me. After all, things like this happen all the time, and I am the first to admit there is no such things as a “new story” anymore. All stories have been told long ago; all you can do is to tell them in a different way, your way.

Still… It hurts. It hurts not because I thought my story was, oh, so original an unique; it hurts because it sucks to have many/more particular stories that use similar, yet peculiar motives. I mean, it’s hard to make an unusual mix of elements like that, but to do it twice? What does my novel means if some key elements (or what it looks like key elements in my head) are the same?

My husband says I’m just being paranoid and that there are no new stories after all (the thing I always say to people when they encounter the same problem with their writing- and I know plenty of times when it happens).

Then again, I always knew my chances of getting published were slim. But that didn’t change the fact I had (and I still have) a clear vision of what I want with this book, and how I want to make the strange mix of high and urban fantasy and anthropology work. Like I told my husband, this novel was supposed to be some sort of a literary version of my graduate thesis, in which I’ll explore, in fiction form, all the main themes I learned studying archaeology (and anthropology). (My official paper would be about Iron Age Greece, btw).

So yes, I really want to write this novel. It’s not because I spent years shaping its story. It’s because I need to write; I knew this ever since I was 11 years old. Don’t get me wrong: I can live without it. But it makes my days better and it let me cope with reality and its problems (poverty, political mess, etc) better. I am good at it. I might not be a great writer per se, but I have a passion and patience and this need that makes me want to write even if there’s no one to read it.

The power of writing: Atonement

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a really good book. I mean, I read a lot, but finding a quality book is not an easy task. Finding a quality book written in THIS millennium is almost impossible.

You could see why McEwan’s “Atonement” was a refreshing, a wonderful surprise. I read it a few days ago and I’m still under its spell… And impressing me- that’s not an easy task.
By the way, I haven’t seen the film yet (perhaps I will); some people say it stays true to the novel, but I don’t think you could really adapt such a story to movie screen, now can you?

McEwan’s “Atonement” is boring at times, which is one of the best things about it. I have a theory, you see. Some of the greatest works (novels, films) are painfully boring at the beginning. Just think of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. “Atonement” has the same problem, but slow parts are, in fact, the best ones.

I love McEwan’s writing style, it’s really special. It’s… soft and nostalgic, but sharp and precise at the same time. And Briony T. character is well written, realistic and unique. It really touched me, this novel, because I was one of those weird child writers that are sometimes unable to perceive the world outside of their stories. No, wait, this sounds too weird. What I’m saying is, I know what is like to be 12 or 13 years old and lonely, writing your fifth novel, and every exciting moment in the real world around you inspires you to write. I was into mystery novels, and things such as small robbery at school (done by one of the kids, I guess) became inspiration to write a larger story, with detectives and conspiracies. Don’t get me wrong, I could always tell the difference between fiction and reality, yet, I enjoyed writing stories, because in stories, life was more exciting, people were honest and I was not just one of those uncool kids but protagonist of an important story.

What I’m saying is, I could understand the great power that writing could have to a teenager, and I love the way McEwan deal with questions about writing itself, its honesty and dishonesty, its power to affect the author and its strength to, well, messes up with someone’s life.

A great book, brilliant ending, I wish there were more novels like this one.