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Showing posts from June, 2012

Plot Crap

If you ever watch a movie with my husband and I, you're very likely, if it's not a great movie and sometimes even if it is, to hear me exclaim at some point, "OK, this is total plot crap, right?"

What do I mean by plot crap?  And does it apply to books?

Plot crap does not mean crappy plot.  In fact, it can often have nothing to do with how well a story is plotted.  A great example of plot crap is the movie Gladiator.  Now, I love this movie.  I love the story, the incredibly orchestrated battle scenes, even the soundtrack.  But the historical facts framing the film?  Total plot crap.  Sure, Marcus Aurelius and Commodus existed...but there are a lot of factual missteps.  There's no evidence that Marcus Aurelius ever wanted to restore the Republic, therefore the basis of the film's struggle is historical plot crap.  (Commodus also didn't die in the arena, but was strangled in his bath.  Sometimes truth really is more interesting than fiction.)

However, most…

What First? Writing and Editing

So I'm working on newish projects--projects that haven't yet been revised or edited.  In fact, they're still incomplete drafts.  And I ask--when is it best to start revising and/or editing?

Sometimes it's pretty clear when to do what. I crack the eggs BEFORE putting them in the cookie batter.I cut fabric AFTER I take measurements. I lather, rinse, THEN repeat.
And of course, first pants, THEN shoes.

But when it comes to the writing process, it's not so cut and dried. The posters in my elementary school classrooms would beg to differ--they say you "prewrite" (which inevitably involved bubbles and arrows in my grammar school days), write a rough draft, revise it, which produces another draft, which you edit and polish into a final draft.

Anyone else feel like it's not so simple?  At least not for writing novels?

Now, I know writers who do keep it simple--they butt-in-chair, hands-on-keyboard plow through a full first draft before going back to tin…

How Stripping Wallpaper is like Revising

Stick with me long enough, and you'll discover I like odd comparisons, a la "How is a Raven like a Writing Desk."  (I also love Alice in Wonderland, but that's another point entirely.)

Because I like odd comparisons, I find myself making them to writing while doing otherwise unrelated things.

Like stripping wallpaper.

My husband and I just bought a Rather Old House and my latest adventure is ridding it of some unfortunate decorating choices.  First up is the laundry/utility area upstairs, which was papered c.1977 with mildly dizzying brown, gold, and orange flowered stuff.  The homeowners managed to find matching fabric for curtains, too.  Pristine vintage, except it's horrifyingly ugly.

So as I spent hours tearing a harvest gold meadow from hell off the walls, I found myself comparing the process to revision.

After all, redecorating and revising share some similarities--the basic structure is already there, but you're changing how it looks and polishing it …