Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Killing a Dragon a Day

Right around 800 words today, finished up chapter 16 in Bones, so I've got something to read the kids.

And I tried really hard to "write," give a real word picture of the hot day and the sweat. Some good descriptive stuff, the best I've done, I think.

So naturally I'm worried that not enough actually happens in the chapter.

That I didn't fight any dragons.

Last year about this time I heard about the Percy Jackson books that all the kids were reading and there was a movie out. Never saw the movie, but I read all of them – borrowed them from one of the kids in Tori's class, as a matter of fact. New York kid discovers that not only are the Greek gods real, but he's related to one of them. And there follows a series of adventures as the jealous gods try to keep the Titans from recapturing the earth.

The books are okay. I'm certainly not going to say anything bad about them. The guy had a good idea and went for it, and it paid off. It's way overstating it to compare them to the Harry Potter books, which some critics did. It's like they can't help themselves. If a critic is reading a YA or middle school book and there's even a little magic in it, the barest whiff of the supernatural, they just cannot help themselves from comparing it to Harry. And the Percy Jackson books are good enough, but they're no Hogwarts saga. (And for the record, Neil Gaiman did the "ancient gods in the new world" thing as well as it can be done in American Gods and especially in Anansi Boys. LOVED that book.)

But the kids sure were eating the PJ books up. They love 'em. It was Tori, of course, who put her finger on the formula.

"He kills a dragon in every chapter," she observed. Okay, "killed" is too strong a word, and it wasn't always dragons, of course. The author took advantage of the whole panolpy of mythical beasties.

But the point is the same. A dragon every chapter. That became our new motto whenever I sat down to write – Kill a dragon in every chapter.

I followed that rule in Gladys, and kept the kids on the edges of their seats. And I've been trying to with Bones, but not with the same success. You know how characters are. Sometimes they just want to talk, or to go off and do their own thing, and forget about the author waiting impatiently with his little plot. Bastards.

Something does happen in chapter 16, of course, and it sets up something that has to happen soon. But I'd hardly call it a dragon-killing chapter.

I wonder if Tori will notice.

Anyway, gotta go get a shower before I go to read to the kids.


(Oh, and just by way or warning, I'm feeling some whining coming on. Probably won't be able to hold it off more than another few days. Just so you know.)

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