What I'm reading: Eternal Pleasure, by Nina Bangs
First, thanks to Lorena for her post on Point of View -- and for triggering the idea for this month's "contest."
It's not a contest at all, but a giveaway. My first sale was a short-short story called, "Words" which began as an exercise in Point of View. Actually, it began as what was supposed to be a light-hearted story based on an experience I had with hubby while eating at our local Chinese restaurant. We always order hot and sour soup, and this time it was spicier than usual, and my eyes were watering. I asked hubby if my mascara was running. He said (believe it or not), "You're wearing mascara?" My response was, "Are we out of the house?" Now, at the time, we'd been married over 30 years, and had shared a bathroom for much of that.
However, when I started writing the scene, the character took over and it emerged as a much more 'literary' piece. It was very short—under 1000 words, and I thought I'd see if I liked it better from "her" point of view. It evolved into a he-says, she-says sort of piece, and the Wild Rose Press, which was just starting up at the time, offered a contract. Several years later, their format no longer accepts stories that short, and it's no longer available.
So, to commemorate that sale, I will offer a download of "Words" to anyone who buys any two of my short stories from The Wild Rose Press. Details are on my website, where you can look at each, and get a "Behind the Scenes" look at the story behind the story.
Point of View is near and dear to me, as it was my very first writing lesson after I tried my hand at a piece of fan fiction. Although I'd been an avid reader, I'd never paid a whole lot of attention beyond the obvious – 1st vs. 3rd. But my mentor soon pointed out some of the basics of what it means to stay in the head of a character, and I've been sensitive to it, both in my work and in the work of others since then. Shoddy POV now is a definite read-stopper for me. If I like the characters I'll stick with it. If the story's compelling enough, I'll stay with it. But I might not return to that author.
Yet, I'll bet most of the non-writer readers out there are as oblivious as I was to the mechanics. Still, how many times have you read a book that you just couldn't get into? It's quite likely the author didn't handle POV in a way that kept you in the characters' heads.
I've caught up with my 'non-wip' writing. I sent a copy of an older manuscript to my new editor, and will be looking forward to finalizing the contract details and seeing her take on my updates.
Also, I managed to get another manuscript plus synopsis put together so that it fell within the combined word count required for a contest. It's like going back to my pre-published days, but with a wrinkle. Normally, an agent or editor will ask for X number of pages or chapters, and a synopsis which may or may not have a page limit. My standard synopsis for my agent's guidelines for submission was about three single-spaced pages. But with a total word count, that long of a synopsis would mean severely limiting how many manuscript pages I could submit.
It became a balancing act, finding a page-turning point in the manuscript that came early enough to allow for a synopsis that still would meet all the judging criteria set forth in the score sheet. (At least I found the score sheet before I had to submit the entry!) And, since my writing style does not include thrusting hero and heroine together on page 1 (or even page 20), in order for the romance elements to be clear, I definitely needed more than a one-page synopsis. I'm satisfied that I did the best I could do. Now it's a waiting game.
Meanwhile, hubby and I drove up to St. Augustine Beach. He's got a 3-day meeting, the room is paid for, and I thought a change of scenery might rev up the writing engine, so I'm not home at my desk. I figure I can hole up in the hotel room and work out some of the back story I find I need now that I know who my villain is. I'm utilizing a charting technique that combines things I've gleaned from workshops given by Rhonda Pollero and Barbara Parker, where I can make sure I've got motives for a number of characters, thus keeping the mystery from being too obvious.
My next obstacle to overcome is how my bad guy will find and threaten the other characters, and how the cop will discover the critical clue that will have him charging to the rescue. Or will my other characters manage to get themselves out of the hot water I'll put them in?
The weather, typically Floridian, is conducive to staying indoors and working. Plus, this hotel has something I haven't seen in any other hotels—a lap desk. Not only that, but there's an electrical outlet right beside the bed. Now, if I can just avoid spending too many hours with the US Open, which is on one of the channels the hotel provides.
The hotel also has free wireless Internet, which means I can continue to post to the blog this week, so please keep coming back. I'll let you know how my writing escape is going. And Detective Hussey's post for Friday is already in the hopper.