Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Reading _The Hobbit_ to my kids

This past Father's Day, I started reading _The Hobbit_ to my kids, at Tanya's suggestion. Tanya's dad read it to her when she was little, and we'd talked about it before, but I'd always sort of thought it would take too long to read it out loud.

But it's been a fantastic experience. The book reads well, and I've listened to the wonderful BBC version of it on tape many times, in addition to of course having read it many times, so I can put a little verve into it, and play with some voices. The kids ask for it (perhaps as much so that they can stay up a few minutes later as anything) and seem to enjoy it. It's been more than a month since we started, but we haven't managed to do it every day. We can usually manage to get through a chapter in one session.

Every darn chapter of this book is fun. I'd forgotten just how much fun it is. It's great to reread it with them, and see it through their eyes a little. We're getting near to the end now...we're probably three-quarters of the way through it, at least.

Monday, July 16, 2007

There's a hole in my story

So last night I was trying to tie up the narrative of "Elf and Troll" (stupid name, still need a better name for this story), when I realized that I had completely failed to write part of the middle of the story.

I'm trying to get this one finished so I can send the draft off to Tyson to review, as per our oft-amended agreement. :) We're doing a story challenge, to give each other a deadline.

At some point, while writing narrative merrily along in bits and pieces, I skipped ahead to the ending without providing the actual scenes that would introduce two key characters or explain how/why they would help the main character achieve the ending.

I think the strategy of skipping ahead is fine, but here it came back and bit me in the ass because of the way I've been working. I've simply done too little overall review of this story, and I thought it was more done than it is. The new scenes probably won't take all that long to write, but there are some possible plot problems in there, and I'm not really sure how to solve them. There doesn't seem to be enough time for the main character to go collect his helpers.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Got some writing done at my parents' house

I went to visit my parents this weekend. I like to complain about how early they go to bed, and how I end up with nothing to do after we put the kids in bed and then my parents go to bed and you can't really turn the TV on or anything. But they don't REALLY go to be all THAT early when my kids are there to play with: the grandparents and the kids both push the envelope a little. And I brought my laptop, and spent about an hour and a half...and got to the end of the climactic scene of my elf/troll story.

I still have to make the MIDDLE work out and support everything that's in the ending, but it's a big step forward, really.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Writing about elves and trolls

I worked on my elf/troll story last night. I actually got to the point where the troll attacks everybody, the final major confrontation of the story. I'm happy about that. Really, every time I seriously sit down to work on this thing I get good stuff done, which begs the question of why I don't spend more time on it and get the thing done.

Anyway, I wanted to mention here that I've noticed that I have several stories/story ideas that I work on that return to a concept of someone, especially a kid, meeting up with a large monster in the woods. It's a theme I have tried out in several different ways. And I see no problem with that...I'm kind of glad to have noticed it, actually. I have no idea where it comes from...probably a wish-fulfilment idea of wanting to be the special kid who has a dragon-friend-sort-of-thing.

In the current story, things turn out much darker. I hope I can pull it off. This month I thought I'd try to blog regularly about my progress on this story as I work toward the ending. I'm actually pretty far along in developing this story. It started out as an attempt to write a very short story, which I began at church one morning during the period when the kids are in Sunday school. In an hour I had hashed out the major components of the story.

The basic idea is that there's a troll attack and some kids are found, one of them killed, others scared or injured, and the adults have to try to figure out what happened. So it's initially structured as a mystery. The main character is a local teacher, whose star student is one of the survivors. It's not an accident these kids got attacked by a troll, and it's up to the teacher to figure things out.

Ah, but it's complicated by the fact that everything takes place in this elf/goblin world setting I've worked out, which doesn't really have a name yet other than "elf/goblin setting."

I've spent a fair amount of time talking about this story. :) I've laid out the whole plotline for some friends, and talked about all the various complications. Talking about it too much isn't necessarily can eat up enthusiasm for writing it. Still, I'm having fun when I work on it. I've got a city filled with elves and goblines, living on the edge of a goblin revolt, sharing space with each other, and looking at each other with some suspicion, but needing to coexist all the same.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Software-company-like deadline writing

I've been engaging in a little writing challenge with my brother-in-law. We were trying to finish a story each in about two weeks...I think that's what it started with. Only we got to the first deadline and he asked for an extension...then we got to THAT deadline and I asked to extend it another two weeks. ;) Work has been busy and I haven't spent much time on the story. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to stick with it better in the near term, though.

The story I'm working on is called "Elf and Troll". It's a lousy title but it's my working title for a piece about a young elf kid who encounters a troll. Actually that's not much of what it's about, but I don't feel like getting into a long diatribe about what it's REALLY about right would end up being half as long as the story.

I did want to record, though, that I had a nice little session today where I worked on a day in the life of one of my characters. I had a character whom I added to the story, who I didn't know much about yet, so I started working on her day from waking up. In the process I found I had to do a fair amount of worldbuilding...things like what kind of food she'd eat, some information on businesses in this world, and so on.

Another interesting (to me) thing about the world of this story is that I realized this weekend that it's probably the only major world-building exercise I've done that didn't get started from a map of the world. This story is set in my Elf/Goblin world setting, a world distinguished by having two major intelligent races who live in mixed least until the goblins rebel against elf oppression. (It sucks when The Man is an elf, doesn't it? :) )