Friday, April 26, 2013

Who is Twinkle Jackson?

I am part of a rowdy bunch of writers who are writing a crazy cliff hanger series called Lather: The Twinkle Jackson Story--a Round Robin of sorts (very out-of-sorts). We all have different writing styles, genres, etc., but one thing binds us all, our love of writing--anything. And this is definitely an 'anything goes' story. Now, it's my turn for a little fun.

To catch you up, read previous chapters on these blogs:

Chapter 8

“No, No, No, I can’t help you save Bikini Bottom. I’m not buying into any of this,” Twinkle jumped up and down.  “La, la, la, la,” he sang as he bounced through the front door of his house with his hands over his ears, his curly hair bouncing like a slinky.

“And, I’m not part wooden-headed Juniperian and Earthling. I’m not, I’m not. And I don’t want any part of this weirdness.”

Jupernia ran after him. “Son, listen to me,” she hollered. “You’re freaking out. Where are you hiding? Twinkle, we have to hurry because the sappy mist over Lord Lobster’s space ship will only last one hour. Then he will come after us with a vengeance.”

She followed him through the house exclaiming, “My—oh my! This hoarding has gotten really bad.”  

Twinkle was hiding under the pallets of soap and other shrink-wrapped items stacked in towering piles in the corner of his bedroom. She shook her head. Twinkle realized his mother had no idea how bad it had gotten around their house with his father's obsession.

“I am so sorry, son.” She reached her hand out to him. “Leaving you was not what I wanted to do, but I have to save my planet because if I don’t, Earth will be next. And you need to help me.” One of the spurs sticking out of her back pocket caught on the shrink wrap and tore it open. Tins of paprika fell to the ground. "What’s this?”

“Oh, that’s some of the other stuff dad collects. Paprika.”

Jupernia pursed her lips, put her fingers to her chin and looked up at the ceiling. “Paprika, Huh? This just might be the answer!” She grabbed Twinkle by the arm and dragged him to the basement and into Geraldo’s home workshop. He was sitting next to his workbench, eating a can of the many refried bean cans stored in the basement, along with his unfinished toys scattered about. He looked up.

“Well, well, my wife has returned.” He pulled out a bean stuck to his moustache and popped it into his mouth. “Why have you decided to return to our humble hovel, now, dear? Run out of trees to climb?”

Twinkle could see fire flare in him that he hadn’t seen in a long time. His father had grown some, and  was pissed—big time. A fight was brewing, and he didn’t want to be around when it exploded between his father and mother.

He felt the vibration in his back pocket and announced, “You two need to talk--alone--and I need a ground-up-bark-malt to calm me down. I’ll be in the kitchen.” He grabbed a bunch of maple wood ships and bounced up the stairs.

He threw the chips in the blender, added milk and flicked on the blender before opening his phone to the text from his girlfriend, Surnia.

“Crazy here. Need to get away. Meet me at the park?” He took a big gulp of malt and sighed. His wooden-head disease eased and his head cleared a bit.

He texted back, “CU there in 5.”

Surnia always knew how to ease his wooden-head hair, but boy would she be surprised when she saw his conditioned locks today. He could almost feel her fingers running through them. He sighed before heading out the door with a plastic tumbler of the remaining maple malt, past the spaceship on his way to meet Surnia.

Meanwhile, Jupernia had calmed down and told Geraldo the real reason she left him. “We can discuss this all later,” she said softly as she touched his cheek. “But right now,” she said with a commanding voice, “we have to hurry and do something before Lord Lobstar’s minions break the sap-mist code around their spaceship that is sitting out in the garden on top of your squash plants.”

She whipped out the can of paprika. “And this is how we are going to do it. Paprika will deter ants and stink bugs, why not Lobstar? Come on.” They went upstairs and pulled out her stash of essential oils which were still in the junk drawer. She chose lavender. “Grab one of the boxes of Sparkle Soap Suds. If this does the trick, it might even smell better around here. Do you even realize what your hoarding smells like?”

What will the concoction do to Lord Lobstar—will it work to stop this invasion? 
Will Jupernia’s idea save Bikini Bottom? 
What exactly is her idea? 
Why did Twinkle abandon his mother right now for his girlfriend Surnia? Will she play a part in saving the planet?

So many questions, so little time.

Read the next exciting episode next week here at: 

S.M Hutchins blog, Live Wonderstruck

Monday, April 8, 2013

To Edit or Not to Edit, That is Not the Question

Do you make edits to your work in progress as you write, or do you wait until the end to edit? (See Developmental Editing to clarify the editing I'm speaking of.)

After reading this post by Sean D’Souza, I realized I had to clarify my thinking on the subject of when to edit.

To give a brief overview, the brain learns in certain ways (read his article) and we can maximize how fast we learn if we understand this process and how to push it.

I have always been convinced that I make better decisions when I ‘sleep on it,’ whether I am debating on making a purchase, agreeing to do a thing (taking on a new project) or whether to change an aspect of my novel in progress.

As a writer I haven’t yet reached a point where I know and understand every aspect of the writer’s craft (and from the many books I’ve read, I’d say there are many, many more writers in the same situation than would like to admit it). 

So after I go to my critique group to share what I thought was a marvelous piece of work, only to come away finding out it is full of holes (I have a good group), I have to decide on the best way to handle that new information.

One way is to set the criticisms aside for a time when I can deal with it all at once at the end (which would seem to be the advice you hear most often; i.e., ‘don’t edit until you have the whole draft down.’). But after reading the above mentioned article, I’m reviewing this directive in a new light. Maybe waiting until you reach the end of your first draft to edit is not the best advice.

I never like absolutes because sooner or later you will find the holes in the theory and have to eat your own words (or edit them out as the case may be). Maybe there is a hole in the theory of waiting until the end before editing. I myself have said it (to encourage those who want to edit the first scene ad nauseam until it is ‘right.’), yet that is not what I actually do in practice.

What appears to work best for me is to come back from critique group and sleep on it. Then, the next day make the changes I feel appropriate while they are still fresh in my mind. 

In that way I learn what I did wrong, correct it and am less likely to repeat the same mistake again (or at least not too many times again) since I will be more apt to catch myself making that error in the future.

Another writer in my group puts all critique comments away, waiting until she finishes her first draft, (which is going slowly because of her life—funny how life has a way of interrupting our writing). But if this theory is right, that might not be a good solution. 

If we learn best by accretion then it might be better to make those corrections right away, as soon as we see them so we are less likely to repeat them over and over, leaving room to learn other aspects of writing we haven't yet grasped.

'Skill is the systematic reduction of errors,' d’Souza points out. So maybe sleeping on it and fixing those errors right away could increase your learning curve and your work. 

Do you make decisions best by sleeping on it or does something else work better for you?

I’d like to know your opinion, since I am in the middle of poking holes in this theory of waiting on editing until after the first draft is complete vs. editing immediately when you are shown there's a problem.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Confessions of a Delinquent Writer

When I disappear for days, you might think I’m slacking off blogging, I do that now and again (more again, lately), but that’s not the real reason this week. 
Procrastination? No. Well, I do that, too, but not this week—I simply had unavoidable interruptions.
Writer’s block? No. Okay, I might be lying about that, but only because I subscribe to the belief that there is no writer’s block. It’s really that you don’t know your character(s) well enough. So, okay, I sort of had to do some backtracking there and learn my character better, but I’m still not admitting to writer’s block.
What I’ve been doing is what writer’s do. I have been hot on the trail of one of my characters and had to do lots of research that was so interesting I couldn’t unplug to do a post sooner. Then I had to have him talk to me and write down every word. It’s about concentration. I am not ambidextrous in switching writer tasks and I can’t switch gears when my concentration is focused like a laser (that means OCD to get this character nailed).
I’ve slacked off Facebook, and been missing far too many Johnny Depp pictures quotes.
And, been missing from Twitter, they’ve changed Tweetdeck, well, they did that a while ago  so it’s not the real reason I’ve slacked off. I haven’t been tweeting much, but following oodles and oodles of nice people.
I’ve also been reading lots of posts (hurriedly, I admit, so I didn’t leave many comments – no footprints to prove it.
So, all in all a great week—for a writer, but not so much for maintaining a platform or promoting.
To prove it, here are a few places I have been that you might want to check out:

I could give you more but that takes me away from my writing for too long and need to get back. ‘till next week. . . .

Do you get obsessive when you write?  When you read? (Yeah, I do that, too.)