Friday, August 31, 2012

Hungry

The local convention has come back around again, and all the ambitious thoughts I had this time last year seem like the rest of my dreams. I have a list of things I should have done, and it syncs nicely with the list of things I would have done had I the chance of a re-do. Oops.

On Sunday, the fourth draft of the short story I wrote was sent to the contest, an entire month before the deadline. This was not done entirely to give me something useless to fret about, but mostly to let me focus on some real-life things that have become most pressing. I had some good talks with people who read it, and learned some things about my constantly improving style and feel. I've been told I'm getting better at tap dancing the knife edge of showing just enough and telling too little.

And, crushing onslaught of reality or not, the voice in my head spinning sentences for the novel returned this very morning and I was happy for it. It's looking like this weekend will be productive on that front, at the very least. I feel confident that if I can move past the upcoming chapter things will be somewhat smooth for the next foreseeable chunk of the book (I outline, but with respect to the understanding that things can change in the moment of the actual writing). The trouble I ran into was trying to convey information to the reader through a character that is less helpful at conveying information. I'm still considering the obvious solution of switching point of view to another of the characters in the scene, but that might not be as beneficial as it sounds.

The transition from writing in a shorter form to a longer one is as strange as it always is for me. The maximum word count for the contest is 17,000. I sent somewhere around five, which came out, double-spaced, at around 18 pages or so. Not a leisurely chunk of reading by any stretch, but it can be done in one sitting. And I think that's fairly ideal. A short story comes in one bite, for me. There might be a difference in the chewing needed, and the mass on the utensil could be larger, or denser, comparatively, but I think a reader digs in one good time, takes away a full compliment of what the author was providing, and then drops the silverware into the bowl to signify completion. It's not as full of a meal, but it can sate if prepared correctly. On the other hand, a novel tends to have multiple courses. Things have to be eaten and paired together as the reader moves along, a bite of this mixed with that, a nibble here, a sip there. It takes longer, and is much more complex, and people are much more likely to take different things away from it. I'm consciously slipping back into a slower, more thorough mode of preparation, because the risk of putting in the wrong ingredient is the same, but there are so many more opportunities for a miscue. The likewise is true, too, and that is what can make it more rewarding.

And if you're wondering where all that came from just now, we'll go with "Ratatouille is one of my favorite movies."


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