Bear with me.
So the other night the husband and I watched Kick-Ass 2. While the third act is pretty cool action scene, the movie overall isn’t great. I watched it mostly because I loved the original Kick-Ass so much. As I lay in bed (and honestly, again the next day) I kept thinking things like, “you know, if they had cut out the X storyline and made the Z storyline that felt tacked on into the main storyline, it would have been much better and would have nodded to comic-book tropes, too” and “or they could have made Kick-Ass the main character and Hit Girl the protagonist, like they did in in the new Mad Max,” that sort of thing.
My writer brain wanted to make the story better. My writer brain recognized what wasn’t working in the story and thought of ways to strengthen it.
We storytellers usually talk about how reading good writing will help make your writing better, and that’s true. One should definitely spend the bulk of one’s time consuming good story. However, there is something to be said for reading/watching/experiencing a subpar story so you can recognize it when you see it and think of ways to make it better.
Come to think of it, that’s good advice for editors, too.
Filed under editing, writing
And I actually enjoyed it!
Progress on the current WIP–the novel set in 1920’s Chicago I’ve blathered about before has hit a few stumbling blocks.
- My kitten chewed through my laptop’s power cord, not once, but twice; each time meant a week away from the novel.
- I traveled for work and was away from home for a week.
- After living in Chicago for two years, we finally stopped paying for our storage unit, which means we have to clear it out and find homes (which mostly means the garbage) for all the stuff.
All of which has shown me that having consistency in my environment is a crucial part of my process. I tried writing on other laptops while mine was out of commission, but it just wasn’t the same, mostly because that laptop didn’t have Word and so I had to use Office online and work through a saved version of my manuscript on Dropbox. Great in theory. Horrible in execution. I just kept thinking “but this isn’t the real document” and I got thrown off my game. Apparently I’m not one of those writers that can write anywhere, anytime, and with anything. My recent experiences makes me appreciate and respect those sort of writers even more. Also, when my normal environment is in chaos–like, say, having a room filled with boxes of junk that need to be parsed–I can’t concentrate. I can layer of dust on the shelves, apparently, but not a lot of clutter.
Filed under editing, writing
So it turns out that editing is a craft, too. I don’t mean editing your own work or critiquing others–though that certainly applies, too. No, I mean editing several stories for an anthology.
This is the third year I’ve run programming for the Library at Origins Game Fair and edited the accompanying anthology. While I have certainly edited the previous editions–made suggestions, asked for changes, etc.–this year I’ve done that much more. Cut 2000 words! Your story starts here, not there! I like the story but not the structure–is there a way we can fix that?
Why is this?
Mostly, I’m feeling more comfortable in my editorial skin. I know what I want and I’m not afraid to ask for it. I respect all my authors enough to know that they are capable of making any change I request. I’ve grown as an author, too, so I see more issues with story than I did before. It’s been an enlightening and fun process.
So I’m in the middle of a staycation from the day job, which means I finally have large chunks of time to devote to writing/editing projects (and, who are we kidding, watching West Wing). I’m working on the next Origins Game Fair Library anthology. The stories are great and so the work is enjoyable. It just sort of struck me today as I finished one of the stories: two months ago, this story didn’t exist. These characters didn’t exist, their situation didn’t exist, I didn’t have any clue about any of them. And now, today, I’ve been moved by fictional characters. I care about them. I care what happens to them. All of the stories I’m reading are set in the future, on asteriods and in space ships and on other planets. Alss of them feel very real to me.
Yes, this is due in large part to the skill of the authors and their deftness with words. For whatever reason, today I’m reminded that writers just make shit up in such a way that readers believe it. It’s … sort of magical, when you think about it.