Posts Tagged ‘ craft ’

Pithyism #2.35

2010.05.22
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THE FIRST TIME, YOU SEE/READ/HEAR IT for the story; the second time for nuance; third (and thereafter) is sheer love of craft.

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Under Oasine: Chapter Two Synopsis

2010.05.16
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NO ONE WAS MORE SURPRISED than I to have finished the second chapter of my novel[1], nor when the characters hijacked the plot (at about the 0.23 mark. Stephen King said that was going to happen eventually). Thus, in all its synoptic glory[2]:

In our previous chapter, our three heroes (one reluctant), in their quaint craft the Deeper, tumbled deep into the oasis of Fint to surface only the Hydrator knows where. Are they lost, or is their hometown, or…?

After a brief discussion, Twiz and Ij take the Deeper’s small-boat (and a variety of weapons) for a closer look at their new surroundings while Hapler putters with the quaint craft’s gomaker: a complex assembly of pith and vegetative muscle, now damaged from the Deeper’s tumble.

Twiz and Ij soon discover that, wherever they are, at least they won’t starve. Fish are plentiful within the oasis lagoon, and fruit from its overhanging palm trees; but these are as unfamiliar to the explorers as the songs of afternoon insects. Ij is so taken by a clump of flowers that he doesn’t notice the beast until it leaps on him. A quick struggle, some deft spear-work by Twiz, and the sharp spindly thing lies dead.

Meanwhile, Hapler has troubleshot the damage and is heartened to see that it’s minimal. He is about to effect repairs when a banging on the hull draws his attention: Twiz, with the delirious form of Ij. The two lash their stricken companion into his hammock, then medicate him into sleep.

After a fitful dinner, Twiz and Hapler divide the night between them. Nothing happens during Twiz’ watch (beyond some intense apprehension and self-castigation); Hapler is just beginning to enjoy the strange insect-song when he notices a ring of eyes all around the Deeper. The eyes belong to slender grey-green figures — about a dozen of them — who swarm over the craft and subdue its astonished occupants.

Tune in next time (say, another 5,000 words) for the next thrilling chapter of Under Oasine!

[1] “My novel” (I love saying that; insert Peewee Herman giggle) is called “Under Oasine.” It’s set in an otherwise desert world, and everything I blog about it is tagged, well, http://metaphorager.net/tag/under-oasine/.

[2] Sorry, that’s all you get ’til the whole thing is done. (See http://metaphorager.net/under-oasine-synopsis1/, second paragraph.)

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Under Oasine: First Chapter Synopsis

2010.04.29
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AS NOTED EARLIER, THIS BLOG will feature periodic updates on my new Work In Progress, Under Oasine: the adventures of Twiz, Ij, Hapler, and the author as they pursue a desperate quest to save their world.

(I want to bang out a first draft of the entire novel on the thousand-words-a-day plan before I polish (and post) the first two chapters, while (partly to motivate myself, and partly to come down off the inCREDible buzz one gets from making up and banging out a thousand words a day) posting occasional synopses.)

Thus: With 4,000 of an estimated 50-70,000 words in the bag, our heroes have reached the end of the first chapter, wherein we are briefly introduced to the world of Oasine and its inhabitants. The planet is one big desert from pole to pole, orbiting a big red star; life evolved late in its history, and only around scattered oases of various sizes. Some are connected by caravans, but in the oasis of Fint one man wants to prove they’re also connected by water.

Twiz Beelan and his best friend Ij have talked Hapler the podgrower into growing a mobile pod big enough for two, stocked with everything needed to withstand a two-day journey to the neighboring oasis — assuming that Twiz’s theory is more than just a crazy dream. The big day arrives, the Deeper is set for its maiden voyage, when disaster strikes! and the pod sinks into watery darkness!

Apparently stranded, the three work out a desperate plan. Soon they are heading surfaceward once more — but when they break water, Fint is nowhere to be seen.

Reaction: Novels are very, very different in process from short stories. My reporter training makes short stories a natural medium — clean, concise, pointed — but something as big as a novel? With multiple characters, viewpoints, subplots, etc.? It’s really hard, as all writing is hard, only more so.

But it’s also fun. I’m using the ol’ index-cards-for-every-chapter-character-and-setting method of organizing my notes and keeping track of new ideas. (Annie Lamott’s first draft advice from “Bird by Bird” is very helpful too.) This is also entirely different from the Prosatio Silban pieces in another way: this isn’t a world I’ve been working on since 1978 in my scrap time, but something which came to me idly drawing (now worries, no spoilers): “What if there’s a world called Oasine, populated only around its separate oases but linked by the water beneath them? And what happens if somebody goes under Oasine?”

And remember; Just because I’m writing it, doesn’t necessarily mean I know what’s going to happen next. I hope you enjoy finding out as much as I do.

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Thousand-Word Taskmaster

2010.04.18
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“FROM SPACE, OASINE WAS AN otherwise tan ball flecked and dotted with green – but none of its inhabitants had ever seen it.

“Few of them, in fact, had been outside their own birthplaces. These were oases of various shapes and sizes whose populations, separated by trackless desert, varied from savagery to the sophistication allowed by circumstance and caravan. In one of the latter, called Fint by its blithe and industrious residents, and on one of countless cloudless days, a crowd of gawkers, mockers and the curious gathered at Horolan’s Pier for the maiden voyage of the good ship Deeper.”

Thus begins Under Oasine, a science fantasy novel relating the adventures of three unlikely heroes (Twiz, Ij and Hapler) who discover that their world is a lot bigger than they had thought — and it (along with everyone on it) needs their help to survive.

I’m telling you this for two reasons: 1) partly to avoid through preemptive imprimature a repeat of the Matrix incident”, and 2) mostly to motivate myself (as with the Prosatio Silban stories) through risk of public humiliation should I flake.

Somerset Maugham once said: “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately nobody knows what they are.” Although a skilled news reporter, I know nothing about writing novels save what I could glean from Stephen King’s On Writing, Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method and Simon Haynes’ How To Write A Novel. There is great advice to be found in each of these, but after mumbling it about my own muse is telling me to chart what I want each chapter to do and where I want it to end, write a thousand words a day until I reach 45-50,000, then look for an agent and a movie deal.

Blogging a novel may be dicey for aspiring writers who want to sell their works: the idea is still catching on, and while it can raise a persuasive buzz some publshers may see “blog” as “previous publication.” My task here will be to navigate the narrow path between these two extremes — and entertain the hell out of whoever reads what results. To this end, I plan to post the first two chapters, with synopses according to clamour. Your task will be to tell me whether or not I’m successful.

Deal?

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Wit Dealers

2010.03.11
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TERSE WORDSMITHS, ATTEND: WEIRD TALES, that neo-venerable publication whose pages were graced by the first fruits of H.P. Lovecraft and Tennessee Williams, is currently accepting submissions for One Minute Weird Tales, which they describe as “sharp little micro-stories of 20 to 150 words, presented in a quick sequence of brief one-screen chunks.” (See more at http://weirdtales.net/wordpress/contact/submission-guidelines/; AC, RS and DH, ferstehen?)

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How To Write

2009.06.27
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SUCCINCTLY.

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Journalism As Art Imitating Life

2009.06.23
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CAN WRITERS REPORT? THAT QUESTION nets a “yes” according to Daniel Elstrin in the June 19 Forward, reporting on the day Haaretz (think Israeli NYT) swapped its staff for 31 leading authors and poets:

“Among those articles were gems like the stock market summary, by author Avri Herling. It went like this: ‘Everything’s okay. Everything’s like usual. Yesterday trading ended. Everything’s okay. The economists went to their homes, the laundry is drying on the lines, dinners are waiting in place… Dow Jones traded steadily and closed with 8,761 points, Nasdaq added 0.9% to a level of 1,860 points…. The guy from the shakshuka [an Israeli egg-and-tomato dish] shop raised his prices again….’ […]

“News junkies might call this a postmodern farce, but considering that the stock market won’t be soaring anytime soon, and that ‘hot’ is really the only weather forecast there is during Israeli summers, who’s to say these articles aren’t factual?”

This is also the sort of newspaper dreamed of by most, if not all, of my reporterly colleagues, at least at some time or other (usually on deadline day of a slow week). But that’s true in another, non-ironic way: Elstrin also cites a couple of features whose subtle depth make a nice model for would-be human chroniclers.

Peruse:
Daniel Elstrin’s article
Ha’aretz Archives; select “10 jun” from the “Previous Edition” menu at lower left.

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Na(t)ive Torah

2006.05.18
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Considering that this is how many of us returnees (including myself) came to study Torah in this unannounced-but-nonetheless Golden Age of Judaism, Plotz’ wide-eyed innocence struck a deep chord with me. Perhaps this is one reason why the Torah remains a “living document” after 3000+ years…

Blogging the Bible: What happens when an ignoramus reads the Good Book?
—————————————————
By David Plotz
Posted Tuesday, May 16, 2006, at 7:00 AM ET

[…] I love Judaism; I love (most of) the lessons it has taught me about how to live in the world; and yet I realized I am fundamentally ignorant about its foundation, its essential document. So, what will happen if I approach my Bible empty, unmediated by teachers or rabbis or parents? What will delight and horrify me? How will the Bible relate to the religion I practice, and the lessons I thought I learned in synagogue and Hebrew School?…

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