Thursday, April 24, 2014

Moral Complexity in the Lord of the Rings

just something I drew
I was talking with my reading friend about having morally complex characters in YA lit, and I gave the example that, in Tolkien’s book, orcs are all evil and wear black and Gandalf is good and wears white. You know who is good and who is evil.

She retorted that Gollum/Smeagol is a morally complex character because of the both good and evil intent, and I’ve been thinking about that. I don’t think he is. Gollum is evil, and Smeagol is good. It’s not really complex, because when one personality takes over then it goes from one extreme end of the moral grayscale to the other. Black or white. Either Smeagol is good Smeagol, help good hobbitsis OR Gollum *gol’lum* hates filthy fat hobbit and they stole its from us.

To really be complex, characters need to exist within that gray area. Smeagol/Gollum is always one extreme or the other. I think a morally complex character needs to make decisions where the reader doesn’t know if they would agree with the choice or not.

What do you think? Leave a comment and tell me!

Also, twitter with me! @Oxyborb

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Writer's block, taking breaks, skipping over parts, working on something else, and other methods to run away when faced by a challenge

I am not a professional writer yet, so maybe my advice is not the first place to stop on your research. That said, I want to talk about what happens when the going gets tough, and how I see other writers handle challenges in writing and editing. I like to join writer discussion groups on facebook. I like to participate in sharing thoughts about how a writer can act to be successful.

Lately, the topic has been what to do when you’ve hit writer’s block or what to do when editing has you hung up.

I always see the same responses to these problems. They go something like this:

Take a break from it.
Skip over it and come back.

Work on something else.

I just want to say that I think that this is all awful advice. When you’re faced with a challenge, your first instinct should not be to run away from it.

so many writers

…never finish their manuscripts. So many would-be writers never even finish chapter one. They claim that they have writer’s block. They claim that they just cannot think it through, when I believe the truth is usually that they just don’t want to think it through. They don’t want to put in the work, the effort.

There’s a difference between planning a break between large projects and taking a break because you’ve hit a giant challenge. I always take breaks between finishing, drafts, and major goal points like that. Usually my breaks are about a week-long. But, when I have a major challenge in front of me, that is NO time for a break. That is a time to work.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

April showers, bring many days to sit inside and write.

I’ve been feeling really good lately. I just finished my fourth “draft.” I use the word with quotes because I’m a new writer and I’m perhaps using it differently from the industry standard. My drafts are the points at which it feels like my work has leveled up. Usually, I say it’s a new draft when I’ve completed working through the book of notes I’ve taken for my upcoming edits.

Anyway, I flew through editing. I mean, I spent hundreds of hours, but they were hundreds of hours of pure fun. I love this stuff.

Next week is spring break in the schools, and, as a teacher, I am lucky enough to get the week off. I’m planning on spending my vacation from work working on my new book, the one I’m not editing. I’m really excited to work on it more, as I’ve also put down about 15k words on it. My finished novel is soaring at the 100,000-word mark. I’d love to cut that down to 95k, but every time I cut out something, I find something else to add. That’s probably a bad practice, haha.

But, that’s my life. Teaching and writing. I’m very happy about where I’m at.

Well, that’s all I really wanted to say. I haven’t blogged as much because I’ve been spending every ounce of my free time writing and editing. Anyway, keep it up! Stay positive and rock on!