Friday, March 31, 2006

Still Fixing That Blank Page

Okay, I admit it's been a while since I've written here, but be consoled: my revising via the blank page method is still working beautifully. The first 50 pages of "Kismet's Angel" are better, tighter, and ready for publication, thanks to this odd new behavior of mine.

I would probably have twice as much done if it weren't for real life getting in the way. Behind the scenes, there's a lot going on right now, most of it serious, some of it downright petty and ridiculous. But each of us occasionally takes our turn in the barrel. This month, it seems to be my family's turn and by extension, mine.

There really is no glorious ride into the sunset in real life. The best we can hope for are moments of sheer joy. Those moments carry us through the not-so-pleasant ones. Luckily, I am surrounded by love and have many moments of sheer joy to stave against the events in motion right now. By this time next year, I hope this will just be another example of how we triumphed over adversity.

Getting back to my revisions, I've been catching up with a few writer friends' blogs and am amazed at how much time some writers spend reading about the craft of writing. They'll go to a conference and hear a writer present a new way to draft a character arc, or they'll read an article (or blog entry) about story structure or characterization and wham! They're attempting to work this new method into their latest wip. Sometimes, it works. But most of the time, what I've discovered, is that it's just another distraction, like email and online poker. The only way to finish a story is to WRITE.

Save the formulas and the new programs for the revision process (where you can take advantage of my Fixing The Blank Page Method...)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"I can fix a blank page" (well, sort of...)

Many writers quote Nora Roberts: "I can fix a bad page. I can't fix a blank one." The quote is meant as an impetus--permission, if you will, to write anything even when you know it's garbage because, in the end, you'll be able to fix it. I've never been able to do that. (Anybody surprised?) In fact, I can't usually move on to the next chapter of a wip until I've made the previous chapter as perfect as I can at that time.

Until today. I recently pulled my very first manuscript out of the laundry room, with the insane idea that, maybe, just maybe, it wasn't so bad and I could finally get it published now with a little tweaking.

O, ye of little sense!

Let me preface my next comments with a few facts: 1. The story is pretty good. I love the characters and the way Kismet plays with them. 2. A reader would love it--as is.

But, the writer in me cringes as I continue to turn the pages. Mechanically, the book needs some major rewriting. Yes, it was as perfect as I could have made it eight years ago: before I found RWA and the LIRW. before I knew about such initials as POV (Point of View) and GMC (Goal, Motivation and Conflict) and the dreaded TSTL (Too Stupid to Live). Still, I really love the story, and the two sequels it inspired! So I am determined to see if I can fix this puppy.

The problem is, I wind up reading entire scenes and thinking to myself, "What can I keep?" "What do I ditch?" and I become hopelessly lost in the possibilities.

Today, however, I changed all that. Rather than opening the full manuscript on my computer and playing with scenes, I opened to a (ta da!) blank page. Then I printed Chapter One and rewrote the opening scene in a new POV on the blank page. I didn't worry about Chapter Two (or Chapter Twenty-two, for that matter), I didn't attempt to determine what I could keep vs. what I should ditch. I simply rewrote the scene in a different character's head. And it was...magic! I wonder if I can write the whole book via my blank page method. Who knows? Maybe it'll inspire a workshop for National in 2007. Gina Ardito presents: Fixing the Blank Page.

To quote Willy Wonka: "The suspense is terrible. I hope it'll last."

Thursday, March 9, 2006

I AM A CHILD OF THE 70'S

With thanks to Childhood Site for the memories.

As a child of the 70's I could relate to the following statements:

1. All skaters, change directions" means something to you. Yup. Roll 'n Ice.
2. "Members Only" jackets...say no more.
3. A predominant color in your childhood photos is "plaid". God, yes! In my school photos: 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. How scary is that?
4. It was a major accomplishment to get to the "Chase" scene in Ms. Pacman. (And I remember the first time I heard the phrase, "Wow, you must be really good. You got commercials.
5. You can remember the words to the theme song of "The Greatest American Hero." ("BELIEVE IT OR NOT, I'M WALKIN' ON AIR... I NEVER THOUGHT I COULD FEEL SO FREE-EE-EE...") Yet I never watched the show--the kids I babysat did.
6. There was nothing strange about Bert and Ernie living together.
7. This rings a bell: "My name is Charlie, and they work for me."!
8. You actually believed that Mikey, famed kid on the Life cereal commercials, died after eating Pop Rocks and drinking a Coke. Well, I didn't really believe it, but I remember the rumor.
9. You actually remember Benetton.
10. You actually remember Mr. Bill. Oh, nooooooooooo!
11. You can recite the Preamble to the Constitution, but only to the tune of Schoolhouse Rock. My husband and I often sing "Conjunction Junction, what's your function?" much to the embarrassment of our kids.
12. You ever had a Dorothy Hamill haircut or used Short and Sassy shampoo.
13. You know, by heart, the words to Weird Al Yankovic's songs.
14. You learned to swim at about the same time "Jaws" came out... and still carry the emotional scars to prove it. And I still hear the theme music in my head every time I wade into the ocean.
15. You owned a Jordache anything, or you remember when Jordache jeans were cool. I used to have them dry cleaned to keep the deep blue color.
16. You recall when Love's Baby Soft was in every girl's Christmas stocking. And Heaven Sent, too!
17. You remember having a rotary phone.
18. You remember having to get off the couch to change the TV channel. (which was changed with a pair of pliers because the knob had broken in another century!)
19. You were not allowed to see The Exorcist, The Omen, or The Blue Lagoon when they came out.
20. Your first musical purchase was an 8-track tape. Well, my first album purchase was on 8-track. My first musical purchases were singles that required that little yellow plastic thingie I always lost within a day.

There's also a quiz if you're a child of the 80's, so why not stroll over to the site and relive your own childhood memories?

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Do you take this woman (and an apple pie)?

For the second time in a month, I'm reading about a couple getting married at McDonalds. The first was on Valentine's Day. That happy couple had about 50 guests at a local McDonalds where they dined on Big Macs and fries. How romantic...not! At least the second couple worked and met at the McDonalds where they tied the knot. Still, the idea sends bad taste shivers down my spine.
Maybe it's me, but I don't find this trend romantic, or even cute. Promising "'til death do us part...'" under the Golden Arches is a little too much tempting fate for me. Whatever happened to the backyard wedding? The quickie elopement? In this day and age it's smart not to blow your entire bank account on an affair for 500 of your closest friends and their closest friends and so on. But there has to be a happy medium somewhere. McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's...they just ain't it. Yo quiero my new wife...and Taco Bell. Hmm. Loses something in the translation, don't you think?