Daily Archives: October 12, 2006

we interrupt this literary programming…

…to talk about tonight’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

It’s a classic story arc: female protagonist must choose between hot “bad boy who always seems to hurt her and will continue to wound her heart” who happens to be her soulmate….and hot “too good to be true good boy who is kind and everything wonderful but is not her soulmate.” You know, choose between the man you feel passion for, and the man who is good for you.

We saw this story arc in Sex and the City (Carrie and Mr. Big versus Aidan).
And now, it appears in Grey’s Anatomy: Meredith and Derek Shepherd versus Finn Dandridge.

We started this season off with the cop-out story line of “Meredith is not going to choose between the two men, she is going to date BOTH of them.” The writer in me groaned. Literally. Bleah. But the writer also knew that there would ultimately be a choice–whatever choice she’d choose would be one filled with conflict and twists (after all, this is a tv show–a story lives on conflict).

Would she choose Finn? That choice might work–she would choose Finn but her heart would really be with Derek. That could be the basis for an angst ridden season; after all, Ellen Pompeo is an actress with expert pouting capabilities.

Would she choose Derek? That would be too boring–then all is right in the world, no? What kind of tension would there even be?

What would the writers come up with? Ah–Derek walks away from her, and she walks away from Finn, and she decides Derek is the one. I guess that was option C.

Oh but wait why was I posting about this? Yes, because I’ve made that same choice in my life before (back in my dating days). Um, multiple times since there have been several occasions of what I like to call “relationship overlap.” I’ve left the good boy for the bad boy.

I destroyed the good boy who begged me to stay and offered me his forgiveness by still leaving him for a boy (actually a man ten years my senior) I knew would end up hurting me. I just felt compelled to do it. I even told the good boy, “I know he’ll hurt me, and I know you’re going to be better to me, but I have to do this. I want to do it.” Maybe I was young and wanted to learn lessons, or wanted to explore some crooked corner of my heart. Whatever.
Then the bad boy destroyed me.

He was not my soulmate, but without the bad boy I would not have learned the parameters of my heart.

And sometimes as in writing–you must write/live the bad to get to the good.

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Filed under Life, Miscellaneous

Orhan Pamuk wins the Nobel

Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel Prize in literature this year.  Every writer I’ve bumped into today is positively giddy, “Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel!”

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Filed under The World

What is my personal writing style?

After many years of muddling through horrifying fashion trends and multiple wardrobe rehauls (i had an “i wear only black” phase, a “tshirt and jeans” phase, a “baggy clothing” phase, “designer only phase,” etc.)…I have come across my own personal style. I know who my fashion icons are and what I can pull off (and what I can’t). I know what I can highlight and what I’ve got to hide.

But WHAT is your WRITING style? Lit Agent X asks, What is your personal writing style? What authors are you drawn to? What are your own aesthetics? What do you do well? What do you want your writing to accomplish? Notably, she asks the following questions (sorry–this is a LONG quote):

Better if you already know your strong suit — Do you write funny? Or can you create an ambiance that gives people chills? Or would you rather have them on the edge of their seats? Maybe you want your writing to turn them on or romance them. Maybe you wish someone had written certain books for you and there’s nothing out there like it yet… so you’ll be the first.

What about plotting? Are you focusing on your characters’ internal growth, or focused on racing them through to solve a mystery before the world is destroyed or their loved ones lost? What pacing do you like to read yourself? What most fascinates you?

What settings draw you in and make your fingers itch for your camera?

Which people in your life have you puzzled over and wondered why you felt compelled by their personalities even as they should have annoyed you or had nothing else in common with you? What aspects of them stuck with you?

What feeling do you want when you read a book? (This is a more important question than it would seem — Not as obvious of an answer as you might expect.) I’ve gotten pitches at conferences and queries for books that have puzzled me because they ended terribly (everyone dies) or else they have such relentlessly dark plot lines… and so I ask. I’ve surprised a few writers who’d never really considered that. Would they read someone else’s hardship journal? Would they enjoy it if they were reading a thriller and every character died in the end? Do they like reading about aimless young men who hate the corporate world and get trapped in a downward spiral of drugs / alcohol / debauchery? Usually not.

What’s the best way to give other readers what you want?

If you’re still not sure about your writing style, or even if you are, consider trying out an experiment with a writing group — ask them what they like best about your work and really listen. Ask them for solid adjectives describing your strengths.

I’m not saying to ignore your weaknesses in the hope your dazzling strengths will overshadow them, but playing up your strengths is equally important to improving your weak points. Knowing what your books are doing right helps you know how to position your books, find your audience of readers, and make your work stand out from other writers’.

Now there’s some food for thought. I know what I’m bad at (but I am not so sure of my strengths)…but there’s where you can go wrong: you can spend all your time focused on and/or hiding your weaknesses that you forget to highlight your strengths (a lesson in the creation in my own personal fashion style).

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Filed under Writing

locking it all out

The other day my husband had a writing deadline.  He is not a writer, but he did have to write something for work, a long document of sorts.  Oh good, I thought–we could sit down and write together.

And then we started writing.  And I had to take a break.  But he kept on writing.  I went back to writing.  And I took a break.  But he kept on writing.  Two hours went by.  And I was stuck and stopped writing for the afternoon.  But he kept on writing.  I got hungry.  I wanted to eat.  But he kept on writing.   How was he doing?  He growled, “I’m WRITING,” and kept on writing.  I went out to run errands and fetch dinner.  While he kept on writing.  I came back with dinner.  And he was still writing.  “IN a MINUTE!” he said, not even looking up to check out the food.  I started eating by myself.

Not until he was finished with his document, seven hours from the beginning of our writing session, did he look up and eat.

Boy, I wish I could lock everything out (including HIM) when I write.  I just can’t lock him out of my mind when I write.  Just think of what I could accomplish if I had that ability to tunnel.

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Filed under Writing