Tuesday, 3 May 2011

A Catch-Up

“I really should blog” was a phrase I kept saying during the Easter/Royal Wedding break. But what to blog about, well a few things:

Finishing the West Wing complete box set – we started this back in September 2009 (I only remember this because we were on holiday in a cottage in Edinburgh but the TV there was so tiny that we gave up) and the other night we watched the final episode. West Wing looks at the politically life-span of a Democrat president and his senior staff. Definitely a happy ending for all of the characters. I know feel like I know more about American politics than British politics. When ever I see an American politician/White House worker on a news item I always sit there and work out their counter-part on the show.

We also finished Battlestar Galactica. I got the box set for my birthday. BSG is set in a distant galaxy; where a human race live on a series of planets know as the twelve colonies. In the past, the humans had been war with robots (originally created by the humans), known as the Cylons – who have human-looking robots and also the traditional, chrome looking bots. They attack all of the colonies with nuclear bombs. Only a few ships survive and are guided by the only surviving Battleship, Galactica, in search of a fabled planet know as earth. I am a big Stargate fan and also like Star Trek but BSG is by far the best science fiction series I have ever seen. Huge themes are tackled – religion, cults, genocide, death, ambiguous morals, politics and terrorism. Every character has flaws and there are no set goodies and badies – they smoke, they drink (a lot), have sex, argue. There are no aliens, no saving planets, no stand-alone episodes – there are long story lines that go across several episodes, series, and entire series. Humanity is on the endangered list. Even non-science fiction fans would like this.

I read a Charles Yu’s short story collection – Third Class Superhero. (I believe it was published before his novel). I really enjoyed reading the short story called Third Class Superhero – it could actually make it into my top ten short stories. All of the stories have similar themes – no father presence, identity, soul less jobs, mothers, the need to express feelings.

I am currently reading Nicole Krauss’s Great House. (I won it via Twitter). I can’t make out if it’s a novel or a short story collection pretending to be a novel.

Novel progress
Over the holidays I planned to redraft a chapter each day. That would have been a huge chunk of the novel. But in reality, I only managed two. At first, I thought I would make it. First day, chapter seven. I read through it. Seems good. A typo. A few confusing sentences. delete a small paragraph. Add another paragraph. Yeah, awesome chapter eight! You are the best!

I left the notes sitting for a few days before pulling them out again. I read through the chapter again. eeek. The beginning went on for pages. Things weren't explained. A hole here, another hole there. eeek. The opening was crap. I really want to type up those notes and pretend it was okay but that nagging feeling made me stop. So, a major rewrite of the whole chapter took up another four days. But at least I like it now. Not so much fluff at the beginning and more details in the middle and beginning.

Chapter nine was all over the place. The major character kept thinking about the same things and moving into different rooms. Too confusing for a chapter. So the character was cut back to two rooms, some more internal thoughts, more character interaction because my two major characters who meet for the first time and improving the dialogue.

So the lessons learnt - being honest with your own writing is the best policy, editing chapters can't be rushed and don't trust a chapter if it says 'I'm awesome.'

Short Story
I had an idea. It involved robots. A boy and his obsession with the girl across the road. I thought it was going to be a piece of flash fiction. It turns out the idea wants to be a short story - So I am currently making notes, expanding and also deleting a few parts.


James Hughes said...

I too loved BSG, and had heard mixed reactions to its prequel Caprica. But having recently finished watching it, it is certainly compulsive viewing for all fans of BSG. The pilot alone is excellent.

Jessica said...

I shall definitely give Caprica a go! I'm currently watching Mad Men season 4 :)