Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Ah! Books!

Sorry if it seems like I've been devouring books two at a time - the novels assigned to my "Overview of Children's Literature" class are bite-sized treasures to be read in a day. Not only did I finish I was a Child of Holocaust Survivors, by Bernice Eisenstein, but also the creepy Coraline by Neil Gaiman (which I'm pretty sure is pronounced "COH-RAH-LINE", intead of "COH-RAN-LEEN", because it would explain why everyone keeps calling her "Caroline" by accident), and Uncle Ronald, a story of a boy and his mum fleeing an abusive father to the benevolent relative of the title, by Brian Doyle.

Now I'm back onto my Contemporary Canadian Lit books, with What We All Long For. I usually read the children's books two at a time, because they're so slender and quick to read, then jump into a meatier adult Canadian novel. I haven't read too much of my Popular Culture books (other than the Eisenstein), as they're all graphic novels regarding the Holocaust and two out of the three books are wrapped, so they'd be impossible to return if they turned out to be removed from the list.

Also, I've been butchering "Magic Doesn't Grow on Trees". The original first draft ballooned to sixty-one pages of single-spaced prose, hardly a short story, and my attempts to simply transcribe it into the second draft while cutting the fat haven't been working. I'm fond of starting at a certain point that sets up the the story, but apparently that's not the sort of thing that attracts readers nowadays. Now, they want to start with some action, or some immediate contact, and have the information about the setting, story, etc. filter through in the way the author tells the story.

That's fine with me, it just means that when I make a second draft, I end up chopping off the first couple of pages, because they helped me to discover the story, but the readers aren't going to want to deal with them. So I've strongly reworked "Magic Doesn't Grow on Trees" - the crazy guy's turned into a obsessively orderly jerk, the magician-looney-bin has been converted into a fully-functioning (but boring) office, and Ravine is slightly more competant at her job, only now she's making mistakes on purpose to piss the crazy- er, I mean the jerky guy off because it's the only way he can let loose. ^_^

I think it has very little connection with the original story, except for the central idea of magic. And that's not such a bad thing. I can only hope I can keep it down to a seemly story length, I tend to be wordy at times and I need to learn how to restrain my writing.

My new story, "House Hunting", is going well. Things usually do when I write a new story on a fresh idea, as opposed to an idea I've abandoned or an idea I've written down on a list to use later when I'm in a dry spell. This is the story that I'm going to use to try and win the McTaggart scholarship at my University. It's basically a short-story contest where the winner gets $12 000 in travel money. Europe, baby! Scotland, Italy, Ireland....and maybe Japan. But only if I win.

3 comments:

  1. I'm dropping you a line about your comment on the Writer's Beware blog... to Agents deserving respect and people at Absolute Write dog piling them, heck yeah! I just took a break from AW because I was defending an agent they were dogpiling (a reputable one) and they started personally attacking me. The scammers rip people off and then people get so determined not to scam that they jump down throats at every little thing. Your agent will be lucky to get you.

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  2. Yeah. People ask, "why aren't agents taking care of this problem?" I just refer to Victoria Strauss' answer: "the scam publishing world has NOTHING to do with the real publishing world." So why should agents involve themselves in something like that?

    I also read A Gent's Outlook http://agentsoutlook.blogspot.com . He's a little (okay, VERY) caustic, but he gives us the other perspective. Writers Beware shows us ways for writers to identify bad agents, and A Gent rants about how some writers take it too far and end up slamming perfectly good agents.

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  3. neato.

    PS this is quite a nice blog m'freind.

    PPS i too am a writer.

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