Friday, February 28, 2014

'P' is for 'What are the pairings in MSR?'

So, what is the pairings in MSR?  I get this question sometimes.

Well, the story is marked as BellaRose, but ...

But. Okay. Take a picture of your friends, does instagram say A is paired with B? Even though you're sure they are? Check back two weeks later. Are they still a pair? Two months? Two years.

When you're 100% sure, itrw, that a couple are a couple ... well, something else happens, and their story ... or 'life' changes everything?

Is MSR BellaRose, or is it BxE (okay, ICK! Seriously?) or is it RosyEm? (eheh)

I, as the author, know this. But do the characters know? Do you, as the reader, know how a story ends? One of Ursala Le Guin's best books, her hero died in the first couple of chapters. Her hero. So she had to write with a minor character for the rest of the story.

And it was one of her best books. If somebody asked her, a prior: "who is the hero of your book?" She would (or wouldn't) have told them: "oh, the hero is X" but then X dies right away after the introduction.

If you're guaranteed the ending before you start reading ... why read? where is the fun of it? where is the discovery in the story? where is your discoveries?

MSR isn't plot-driven, it's character driven. And there aren't ANY pairings (well, there's Carlisle and Esmé, but that is very slight to this story). The pairings are for the characters, and for you, to discover in themselves.

I mean the intro says "no Emmett" ... so what happens when Emmett shows up? Does Rosalie just dump Bella because Ta-DAH! Emmett's there so Bella can go off on her own alone now, or so Rosalie can kill the troublesome human?

And Edward, at the beginning, is smitten with Bella. So what happens when he shows up? Is Rosalie just going to hand Bella over and say: "Welp, you and Bella are supposed to be together, because that's how the story goes, so here you go!"

And how will Bella take that, being traded as a bill of goods? Doesn't she have any say in this, or, like in Twilight, is she to be walked all over, voicing her totally ignored views?

What ARE the pairings in MSR?

I think the answer is: "Hm. Well, yes, dear reader: what are the pairings that you see?" and "By you seeing these pairings, are they official? Or is there play in the story? Can something happen or are the characters' minds made up such that no matter what happens, they are for each other, no matter what, because this is the big-'L'-word here."

What do you think, having read MSR?

Friday, February 21, 2014

'F' is for fight: or editing a written work

A little post in response to what Nicki Elson forwarded on thoughts on editing for rock-star writers.

Editors have it tough, don't they? Editing a good work to make it better, then getting slammed by the writer for daring to destroy their creative work. How dare they!

And then the reviews come out that say exactly what the editor was saying, and the editor just has to sit there, read the reviews that say 'where was the editor?' and put a glum smile on their face and not even dare to whisper 'I told you so.'

Editors have it tough.

No. Editors have it TOUGHER.

Why? They give this constructive, thoughtful criticism, and the writer has a hissy-fit on them and flames out,  in a most spectacular fashion.

Writers can be rock-stars, if not in sales, then in egos.

Not that I (am) talking from personal experience.

But it's fine to say 'Woe is I!' as the editor for getting napalmed, but, pardon me, didn't you sign up for it? You know you are dealing with children (or if you didn't, then that delusion is soon lifted from your eyes), and you are dealing with something amazing and creative and ...

And you want it better. That's why you just spent sleepless nights pouring your heart out in these constructive comments.

The thing is, you know better, and the writer does not.


The thing, also, is: the writer had the vision. You do not have the writer's vision. The writer does.

So you offer your suggestions, and cutting comments, and the writer says, 'No! Never!'

What do you do? You have the experience of the publishing process. The writer does not. You know the writer is going to get flamed.

All you can do is say, 'Look, Chris, you are going to get savaged here. It's too wordy. (or: it lacks dialog) or you go too deep too fast (or: you skip from a to z, you need to lead the reader more here, really) or whatever.'

You know this. And the writer still says 'no' and has the work published her way.

Let go. You did what you could. The writer didn't take your advice, because she was just so sure of herself and her writing.

Now the reviews come. Who grows? The writer does, or ... the writer does not, and that crap you needed cut out? You were right. And If the writer grew, she would see that in the reviews and improve her writing.

The hard way.

Wisdom is taking the advice from others (you) without the hard knocks of finding out for herself. So few people have wisdom, and so many people are just so attached to what they created, because why?

Because they created something. You know a lot of writers. You know a lot of creative people.

But the life of a writer, oftentimes, is a lonely one, and she's the only one who's ever done this from her family, and none of her friends nor coworkers ever have.

She created something, and you want to cut it all up into little bloody ribbons, AND have her happy about the damage you've just visited on her baby?

And ... wait. Did you just surprise your writer with a big red stain all over her manuscript, or did you, the second time you noticed this grammatical mistake or gaping plot-hole or excessively wordy description ...

Did you edit away, cutting, cutting, cutting throughout the nice, marking the same mistakes over and over and then present the remains to the author as one huge 'surprise' for the writer to swallow en mess (not en masse because to the writer, you just made a mess of things).

Or did you, the second time into page 10 of the manuscript, get on the phone or meet for coffee and say, 'Hey, Chris, I started editing your work. I liked it. The thing is, I keep noticing this, can we sit and talk about this before I go further?'

Editing doesn't need to be a solo work either. The editor can collaborate with the author, and maybe have less push-back and more buy-in with the big battles come.


And maybe some writers are big enough to realize that the editor is right, and that she is wrong, and could've written that passage or chapter ... or ending ... better.

Some writers are that good, eh, Nicki?

And maybe some editors collaborate, but to no avail, because the writer is being priggish.


If the writer saw it your way in the first place, she would've written it your way, not hers. She didn't. She wrote it her way.

Is this manuscript important enough for you to fight for, as the editor?

Yes? Well, then fight, and enjoy the fight, win or lose: you fought for what you believed.

No? Let it go, and let it be a learning experience for the nascent rock-star.

We all have to grow. Sometimes. Unless we're perfect, beautiful people already.

Then it's all good.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

'O' is for 'old-fashioned'

A reader writes to me: "I just want them to admit what's going on. Not just having them seemingly fight 24/7!!"

My response was 'brief' and 'to the point.'

Was that irony? Anyway, my response:

Hm, yes. You may be forgetting the time and the place. Montana was newly incorporated as a State and homosexuality was illegal: you could get hanged for that in some States. This is the Depression, and the 'Roaring 20s,' and its licentiousness, were blamed for the dark years of the 30s.

And shame was a big component of relationships then: holding hands was a big deal, it said you were getting married, and kissing was never seen, in public nor even at home.

Yes, our girls aren't dealing with a lot of stuff, but, on the other hand, they're dealing with a lot more, and a lot more openly, than their contemporaries were.

For Rosalie or Bella to say 'I love you' day three together? In the 1930's? Anachronistic. And why would they, anyway, and how would it work if they did? Would they be accepted in society? Would guilt overwhelm Lizzie?

Or were you looking for easy answers and the happily ever after with birds singing as they frolicked off into the sunset, holding hands?

For them to admit what's going on, they'd have to acknowledge it, and this 'something' never, ever went on, publicly, in the starch, conservative West, ever. And in private it surely didn't either, because they wouldn't admit it to their friends, nor even to themselves. They would just look at each other, afterward, (after what? the admission), and avoid each other as much as possible without causing a scene.

So what can they do?

Nothing. Nothing but fight and be angry with each other and themselves.

MSR is a fairy tale, but it is readable and credible because these are things people are dealing with, even today, and even here.

Or: if Rosalie is the one for Lizzie, and Lizzie is the one for Rosalie, aren't they worth fighting for? Aren't they worth every fiber of their being?

"Why can't we all just get along?" is a hopeless, stupid cry, because we can't all just get along, we're not all exactly the same, we're not all robots following some totalitarian plan, we're, each of us, a person, with our own thought and feelings on how to get by, on what's right and what's wrong, our own petty fears and jealousies, and for some people, saying: "Hey, I love you, I really do," are the scariest words they'll ever say, and it may take more than everything they've got. It may take a miracle for someone to risk it all with that one person with whom they can risk nothing, because if they do risk it, they might lose, and so what's the point?

How do you say 'next!' after Rosalie? Or how does Rosalie say 'next' after her Lizzie?

She can't.

And so we're stuck until somebody rises above herself and their petty differences. Bella did that, a little bit, already when she said 'no, not this game anymore,' ... and then she instantly chickened out. Did you see how she chickened out?

Two steps forward, three steps back, but that's still progress, because at least they're stepping forward, at least they are taking action and doing something different, something new, something nobody else in the world at that time is even trying to do, everybody else is just trying to scrape by or to scalp the scrapers, this is the beginning of the end of individuality in America: the 1930s where the little guy is overwhelmed by market forces and Big Business.

Rosalie and Lizzie are thinking and doing things on their own, and these things are unlike what everybody else in America have submitted themselves to.

MSR. Slow going? At least it's going, and going somewhere: somewhere different, somewhere new. And you can jump, you can take that leap of faith, and find that there are, indeed jagged rocks, three thousand feet down at the bottom of the chasm, or, you can take little tiny baby steps forward, fighting (each other) all the way, and make progress, not fast progress, but it does take forever in the cocoon for a caterpillar to become a butterfly.

Or you can leap, instantly, and get right to that happy ending. There are many, many fanfiction pieces out there that are 'Oh, Bella, Oh, Edward, kiss-kiss-kiss! YAY!'

How many books were Twilight? How many pages were Harry Potter? My story is only 347k words, so far, that's a rather small book, and only three days in the cabin, that's a rather short amount of time to demand that two girls get over themselves AND their societal mores and get on with the show.

MSR can be read in one sitting. I know more than several who have done just that.

But it's not T2: Judgement Day, it's not a bang-up show nor a wham, bam, thank you, ma'am story. It is a fine wine, not to be gulped, enjoyed so much more savored, isn't it so?

Or perhaps I'm just old-fashioned that way.