Tuesday, March 25, 2008
My first novel lies in the midst of the second draft, begging to be edited. I have no excuse to drag my feet on it, really. But instead of buckling down to it, I've been busily writing chunks of my new WIP, as they sizzle in my mind and demand their turn to be heard.
The new WIP sprang from bits of unused research for the last novel. What can I say? I'm a sucker for WWII stories set in Poland. The tentative title is The Last Cuckoo, another name with a double-meaning, springing from the cuckoo symbolism I use in the story. Cuckoos are common birds in Poland, and to hear one sing means a year of prosperity. But what if the MC sees one, up close, but it refuses to sing? It's spring of 1939, and terrible things are ahead.
The story begins a full half-year before Hitler's invasion-- with massive university protests against Germany. One of those scarcely known facts that helped spark the plot. Student activists were well aware of what was happening, far from being surprised. They even expected a Nazi invasion in April, at the time of Hitler's birthday.
Another interesting bit of research I've been doing involves an obscure concentration camp in Lodz, Poland, set up a month after the invasion specifically for intellectuals--doctors, professors, actors, writers, artists, and most of all, activists. Getting rid of these people was Hitler's first priority. But, imprisoned in terrible conditions, these intellectuals banded together in incredible displays of solidarity.
The camp was burned down in 1945, to cover up the evidence, but I was able to find photos of the former factory-turned-concentration-camp as it looked during the war (not to be confused with the memorial set up in its place.)
I love the new WIP, and writing in first person is like candy-- it's so effortless to get inside the MC's head. For now, I need to get back to my editing, but I look forward to writing more of it when inspiration strikes again.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Over at the Books and Writers forum on Compuserve, I'm participating in the Firsts workshop, where we writers are working to hone the all-important openings of our WIPs-- the hook with which we hope to catch the attention of an agent. We did first sentences, first paragraphs, and first pages. Right now we're in the midst of workshopping our first five pages. I'm amazed at the effort people are putting into each other's work, even four sessions into the workshop, with pieces getting longer and longer. Kudos to all of you!
From the first workshop onward, my first paragraph has evolved multiple times based on overwhelming critiques and suggestions from my fellow writers. I'm grateful for all the good advice I've gotten, and all the time and energy people have invested in helping me get it just right. I think it's a lot stronger now, and more succinct.
But as it continues to receive comments, I'm beginning to ask myself when to stop polishing it and leave it be. One of my best critters confirmed my gut feeling that the changes have gotten to where they are only making the paragraph more awkward, not less. I've restored part of an earlier draft, making it more to my satisfaction.
It's a good rule of thumb that it's time to stop editing when you start restoring bits and pieces that were cut earlier. Seeing as I've hit that point now, I suspect I should be setting it aside and concentrating on other aspects of the opening instead.
Tension hung in the air like the heaviness of the last summer heat. It was as if the whole of Burzski village was holding its breath. Heidi Jasinska felt it that afternoon, more real than words. Before today, she'd told herself there was no possibility that war could happen here. She had heard her father and his best friend, Andrej Malov, discuss the rumors over cups of coffee, but until now most of the villagers had disregarded their warnings as mere exaggerations.
Tension hung in the air like the heaviness of the last summer heat. Heidi Jasinska felt it, more real than words, as if the whole of Burzski village was holding its breath. Before today, it didn't even seem possible that war could happen here. True, she'd often heard her father and his best friend, Mr. Malov, discuss the rumors over cups of coffee, but most of the villagers had dismissed their warnings as mere exaggerations.
Tension hung in the air like the heaviness of the last summer heat. Heidi Jasinska felt it, as if the whole of Burzski village was holding its breath. Before today, it didn't even seem possible that war could happen here.
Before today, it hadn't seemed possible that war could happen here. But now tension hung in the air, heavy like the last summer heat. Heidi Jasinska felt as if the whole of Burzski village were holding its breath.
Tension hung in the air, heavy like the last summer heat. Heidi Jasinska felt as if the whole of Burzski village were holding its breath.
Before today, it hadn't seemed possible that war could happen here. Tension hung in the air like the heaviness of the last summer heat. Heidi Jasinska felt as if the whole of Burzski village was holding its breath.