Writing What You Know

When I started my first novel, A Box of Rain–well, technically the second–in 2008, I followed the old advice-write what you know. I knew very little about novel writing or myself as a writer at that point. I knew about teaching and schools. So, it started out about a teacher who’s marriage is going to hell fast. She develops a relationship with another teacher who helps her through and they fall in love, etc. In the end, she ends up a teacher married to a teacher, which is actually quite common. And boring and predictable–to me, anyway. It didn’t help that I was disillusioned with the education field, big time.

I devised an alternate ending which involved a relationship with somebody who wasn’t a teacher and that was better, but…meh.

So I thought, who would take my MC, challenge her to the nth degree and put her in an environment she never planned on. Hmm. I remember sitting on my sofa, laptop on lap and thinking…an actor. Meh…maybe. Ah! A movie director! This became Another Place on the Planet.

But, I knew very little about filmmaking. But this director character stuck with me. He wasn’t going away. So, I researched filmmaking.

For about a year, I checked out and read books from the library about directing, producing, assistant directing, the language and little recognized but important areas of making movies. I found websites and studied a lot about the politics and lifestyles. I am by no means an expert, but I know more than I used to and it was enjoyable.I appreciate movies on different levels so much more. It made me wish I wouldn’t have given up on my theatrical leanings in my college days and would have pursued some field of it like costume or set design. Much like my MC wishes she wouldn’t have dropped her music.

My next stand alone novel, What Doesn’t Kill You, involves filmmaking, too, to a degree. I figured why waste all that new knowledge I had acquired? I threw in dressmaking, of which I know a bunch. And Leukemia, which I also am familiar with.

My sequel to Another Place on the Planet is Places Bright and Dark and has me researching sex addiction, co-addiction and recovery. I’m slightly amazed at how some of the knew information I’m already familiar with. Writing what I know. Hmmm…

The end is near–if only I could write it

I have until Sunday night to finish my book, Another Place on the Planet. I just have to hack it out to get it done. I don’t have a flair for snappy endings. Heck, I’m not even sure I have a flair for decent writing, but I try.

Another Place is an alternate ending to my first novel, A Box of Rain, which I wrote for my first NaNoWriMo in 2008 when the the writing bug bit and I became infected. I think some parts of the story were good for my first attempt, and I had some nice compliments from my critique group, (Glendale Writer’s Critique Group) although none of them liked the main character’s love interest. It had an ending. But as I thought about it, I wasn’t satisfied. After all, it’s a romance and all the ending promised was stability with a nice guy. As escape material, I thought, “Boring!”

So, I had the MC meet another potential love who was a bit more interesting. And I liked that and hopefully had the reader wondering who was going to get the girl, the MC. But then I took it one step beyond and Another Place on the Planet was born and has grown and grown and…

I have enough material for at least three books. I started last May and spent almost a year writing scenes, rewriting a few, taking different twists but couldn’t get it all focused so this summer I said, “Trilogy!” We’ll see what a publisher, if any, says.

But first I have to write the end of the first book. Then I have to revise and see if it all makes sense and where I can improve conflict and sexual tension, etc. I have to focus on the unseen details that make it tight and readable, that make it flow. It’s quite the learning process. Not as much fun as devising new situations for two characters I’ve come to love. But any good writer knows that most of writing is rewriting.

I’ve been finding if I get bogged down and can’t move the story forward I need to take a short break from it. Maybe work for a day or two on my current screenplay or watch a few movies or read some fiction or a combination of all of the above. I do have a couple of Netflix I’ve been looking forward to viewing, Precious and Through a Glass Darkly. So, maybe I’ll do that tomorrow. Also must edit my critique group submission for this week and critique the submissions from last time.

My free time is rapidly drawing to a close. I went into my smelly new classroom today and filled up my desk and put a personal-type bulletin board up where I hang important papers I need often and things the kids give me. I’ll have 90 kids this year instead of 70. Besides Science and Social Studies, I hear they’ve tacked on Writing, so I’ll have 90 kids to read for. Hmmm…I’m not going to let it cut into much of my writing time. Keep it short, stupid. KISS.