Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ending and Beginning

A very big day today! I just read the class the last three chapters of Scurvy Dogs! And I'm already a chapter into the new book.

Scurvy Dogs! came out much as I'd hoped for a first draft, but there's a long way to go. As Chuck Wendig says, the first draft is when we write the words down. The second draft is when we make them not suck. But I need a little distance before I dive back in.

Mostly, I love where the story went and the exciting ending, with cave ins and cliff hangers and fighting off pirates. In reading to the kids this morning, I warned them that something shocking happens right near the end. But it still drew a lot of gasps and one girl even cried. But I also told them I'm not sure it happened to the right person. Oddly, they convinced me that it does, even though they hated it happening to that character. I'm pretty sure they're right.

What I have to do is go back and really take apart the first half of the book so that the stuff that happens in the second half has the proper setup, a strong foundation. The first half, in retrospect, feels a little like I was floundering around trying to find the story, although I thought I knew it. Now I know what the story is about, and I know what I need to do to tell it well. And I should admit that a lot of what happens in the last few chapters I did not plan. The characters just did things and revealed things about themselves that I hadn't suspected. I love it when they do that, it's always a good sign, but it means I'll have to adapt.

But in the meantime, I've already started the new story. This is not a pirate book at all, nor is it like The Skeleton in the Closet, where I tried to write something in a genre because I knew it was popular. That was a mistake I'll never repeat. This is about a young man I first wrote about in February 2011. He just jumped into my head and demanded I tell his story. Good thing I waited, because I was completely wrong about what his story IS. He's much more complicated – and interesting – than I'd dared to think.

So on we go, I'll write the first draft of the new one, put it aside, then revise Scurvy Dogs! So I've got my summer planned out for me,

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Foreign Languages are Tricky

Look, sometimes it's hard enough to make sense in English. Why compound the trouble by going into a foreign language?

Two examples in the last two weeks from the same writer, a really good sportswriter name of Don Banks at Sports Illustrated. So the guy's no slouch. But foreign languages bedevil him. Just before the NFL draft he wrote, "So without further Adieu," meaning of course, "further ado," as in much ado about nothing.

This morning I see his story about competition in training camps, and it was headlined "Man A Mano," which everyone knows means "Man against Man." Except it doesn't. That's one of those things that everyone knows that's wrong. It actually means "Hand in Hand," which makes no sense in the context of the story.

I suppose we can't blame Banks for the headline, those are written by editors and we all know what Mencken said, "All editors are vermin."

In the meantime "Scurvy Dogs!" is going well, coming up on the finale now. I have jotted some ideas down for a new book that's kind of exciting. And still waiting, Anxiously.