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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Year of the Kraken.
V.E Schwab

This past month has not been kind, but I have since made considerable efforts towards kicking it's ass. I've stopped drinking, I'm running 30 minutes a day, switched to fish n' chicken, and! I've started writing that novel I'm working on.

And if that processes has taught me anything about my writing... it's that I need to start reading more. My pitifully small library has been an issue in the past. I mean, I hear my mom's voice right now being all "how can you write if you don't READ?!" I actually spend 2 hours a day reading. Though it's mostly cracked and news. Too much video game news, but still, I read.

But if it's a novel I want to write it is novels I will have to understand. But where to start? Something close to what I hope to write? That seemed like a solid plan. So I tried Johnathan Strange and I treated it like it was printed on sandpaper.

I'm glad I actually sat down and watched the whole mini series the BBC did (it's really good). Because it has egregious third act problems. The final act spends way too much time setting up a sequel that will apparently never happen and it ends on a semi-tragic note I felt it didn't earn. If I actually read the whole thing I might have been soured on writing for a couple more months. Even the show; which covered the Napoleonic war, a literary wizard feud, fairy folk, and sand horsies, felt like it was constantly starved for sh*t to do. So the lesson here is don't have 2 characters hate each other for the sake of drama if that drama isn't half as interesting as a friendship would be.

Imagine a scene where Johnathan tried to be Norrell's wing man at a dinner party? Imagine Norrell trying and failing to make a friend. Imagine that in the place of one of the hundred times he moans about how much he haaaates Jonathan Strange. 

Huh... I didn't sit down to review JS+MN. I'm actually here to talk about A Darker Shade of Magic. It's wonderful. It's a hokey premise (an 18th century wizard has a magic cloak that lets him travel to 4 alternate magical "Londons") and has fun with it. It's so much fun to read it's inspirational. Which is what I really needed from a book. Story structure and grammar improvements,(I'll need to ply my college editor friend with some serious liquor), were the practical goals. This is actually putting my mind at ease.

For so long, nearly my entire life, I've kept my favorite stories to myself. Because every time I sent a decoy out into the world, for a class or what have you, it was occasionally stamped into the dirt. Seriously, I once took an intro to play writing class that traumatized the ever living shit out of me. Here's my professor's IMDB page. On the first day of class I said I really liked state of grace, I'm a huge Mae Whitman fan to this day. She thought I was a kiss ass and never let me forget it.

I was the first person to finish their one act play, everyone else was either checked out or part of the theater nerd cabal. Thus my work was set upon by both pithy disgust and frozen indifference. For 2 weeks all that seemed to happen was a slow motion autopsy of my creative short comings.

Two. F***ING Weeks.

I've already droned on too long about ancient history, but I can tell you this... I'll never write an elevator scene for the stage again. Jesus, I guess I needed to get that off my chest. I've haven't brought that up in 5 years.  This must mean I'm subconsciously serious. I hope this means I'm going to write a high fantasy novel that's a satire of stagnant story telling with the tenor of a PG-13 Pixar movie.

*breaths deeply* Ok, let's do this!


  1. Some writers consciously avoid other writers in their genre to ensure they don't subconsciously steal work - 'cause we'll all do it, consciously or not. My first novel was a spin on (80's dark comedy) Heathers. My series of novellas was spun out of the episode of South Park where the kids all get early-years education in STDs and it becomes a Mad Max style war of the sexes.

  2. is it called... 17?

  3. It's been years, but I think that's the episode.