Wednesday, May 15, 2013

On Fiction

So, confession time.
I'm writing a book.
Some of you already knew that, I guess, but this is the big "coming out" post.

As a lot of you who know me are aware, I have dabbled in the written word before. I wrote a book for each of D1's birthdays every year from when he was 5 to 11. And I've done photo comics, which involve a plot and character development.

I've always had stories bumping around in my head, though, admittedly, they were always just the "what-if" ideas, with vague characters and no endings.
This one, though… I had let it bounce around my brain for a while before realizing that I actually have a whole world and the characters and the story pretty fleshed out. I just need to write it down and polish it. In my ample spare time between full-time job, toddler/teenager parenting (whose bright idea was it to do this parental thing, again? Oh, right, me!), and running a house.
But hey, I decided that this book is happening. Not sure how, but it's happening.

Right now I'm on chapter 10 (of about 30-ish, maybe?), and it's going a whole lot slower than I thought originally. When I first started, back in the fall, I knew there was going to be a concert scene, and we had just bought tickets for Swedish House Mafia's One Last Tour, for March, and I sort of thought, "Oh, too bad I will have written that scene by then and won't be able to use it as inspiration."
It's the end of April (the show was amazing), and I'm nowhere close to that scene in the book. Dammit.

Part of my problem is that I am so used to working in the creative corporate world (yes, it's a thing) that it terrifies me to not have an art director, a marketing team, or a style guide hanging over me and micro-managing every step of my process.
To have to make my own creative decisions is scary when you have not really done it for over a decade. D1's books don't count, because they actually followed a pretty strict formula - they had to be about whatever he was into that year (knights, pirates, sci-fi) and had to deal with him overcoming his main vice at the time (lying, not listening, not following directions). And because they were children's books, I had to stick to pagination that was illustration-friendly, so that I could follow the format of page-with-words opposite page-with-picture. So, very strict rules to follow.

Here, though, it's anything goes. I mean, I still have to stick to my world's rules, which I had to work out beforehand, but I mean, characters?
Do I make the main heroine more assertive? Less pushy? More bubbly? How much is too bubbly? Is she prudish? Sexually active? Can I get a style guide here, please?
And who is checking that I hit all the main marketing points to make it more sellable? Oh, wait, this is not the kind of thing to need to be Walmart-friendly.

So, getting over these mental blocks is hard. Whine-whine-whine. I know.
I am very lucky that I have some really cool friends who have agreed to be my beta-readers and have been pointing things out that are confusing or illogical or just badly written. I have asked them all to be as brutal as possible, because that is what I need at this point. But then, of course, the insecure part of me is like…. "But… does it mean my book sucks?" I know it's not the next Hunger Games or even Divergent, but the slow pace of some of my friends' reading is making me fear that I might be writing a shoddy version of Twilight, just less financially successful.
I know, more whining. It's that kind of day.

Now that the first third (or so) of the book is done and the pace has been set and my characters introduced, etc etc, I will admit that I am having lots of fun, though I have to be careful of the fan fiction. I love reading fan fiction, and I think there are some really awesome examples of the genre out there, but it should stay in the fanfic realm. I am as giddy as anyone to find good House fluff or Remus/Sirius slash, but I don't want to actually see it in the original that the fanfic is based on. One of the reasons people write fanfics is because they fall in love with characters and often skew their portrayal or the situation to be on the rosy side (unless it's an angst-fic, in which case, everything is grey-colored).  And fanfics tend to concentrate on minute little details or emotions that get left out of the actual book/show, because, well, they're too small and irrelevant to the flow of the book.

I am familiar with the phrase "murder your darlings", which refers to reading through your draft and ripping out all the parts you are super fond of, because those are the ones that usually don't work. I think it's a fancier way of saying, "Don't write fan fiction of your own novel," because, really, you should leave this to your fans.

And, honestly, if this book ever gets published, I will totally measure its success by whether and how many fanfics it generates.


  1. I have a science fiction novel sitting here. Well, sitting on my hard drive and backed up. I haven't been able to submit it anywhere because I can't finish a synopsis that doesn't put me to sleep. I'm much better at long form writing than short form.

    There's a fair amount of fanfic that has been published, with the serial numbers filed off, of course. It takes skill to write it well enough to get it published, but I've read original science fiction novels and even Star Trek novels where I can smell the fanfic in them, probably because I wrote and published fanfic for 15 years. If you need another beta reader, let me know. :)

    1. Oh wow, I did not know that! How very cool for you! I'd love to read it.
      Would you like me to try to come up with a synopsis? I am fairly ok with summarizing.

      It would be amazing to have another beta-reader, actually! I'm all about more input, but I never want to bother people, since it's kind of time consuming and there's a certain pressure if it's a friend's work.

    2. Seriously? I'd love to have you read it. I've had about 4 or 5 folks beta read the final draft and they liked it. Not everyone liked everything, but another brain working on the problem has to help. Do you have my email addy? I don't have yours. I can send it as a txt file. I have to warn you, it's something like 135,000 words. And I'd love to read yours. :)

  2. Oh, and I should warn you, mine is a bit violent, about a tough subject, a disaster on Mars that turns out to not be an accident.

  3. I sent you a couple of emails, but don't know if you've seen them yet. I need the file resent as a .doc or .rtf. :)