2007-10-16

Another Book to Recommend

One presenter said something in her crit of a portion of the first chapter of my WIP that niggled something in my brain.

BTW, she thought it started out strong, but lost a bit of steam towards the end, so it wasn't all daisies and sunshine. ;-) Anyway, one of the things she said that the idea I've come up with - an adoptee going back in time to find her birth mother - was fun, but that I needed to make sure that it was unique to my particular story.

Unique? Wait a minute, says I, that unloosed a bit of squicky memory.

So I decided to go through where some of my other writing books (don't we all have billions of them, some good, a lot that suck?), and couldn't find the one I had in mind. As I hadn't had a V-8 (and don't anticipate ever having one again, as it tasted horrible), I finally remembered it was upstairs in the bookcase up there.

Yes, the one I have in mind is this one: Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. Yeah, that Donald Maass, the one who has his own literary agency?

I'd forgotten that this book is what helped me think differently about how my story was going to flow. Originally, it was: woman goes back in time, hangs out with her adoptive mother and girlfriends, and finds her birth mother, after not too much detection time.

Boooooring.

In one chapter, Mr. Maass said to escalate the stakes. So how could I escalate the stakes with this particular story? I wrote and rewrote stuff; I let my mind wander. I, of course, looked at some examples Mr. Maass included in the book (really good ones, too; led me to an excellent early novel of George R. R. Martin called Fevre Dream, about vampires on the Mississippi in the years just before the American Civil War; yes, dear reader, he made it work!).

My idea made it more interesting, in that my MC has to do more work to try to meet her birth mother. And it's because of something she's done (I won't get into either here, heh). In fact, this does more than psychologically change my MC.

Anyway, although Mr. Maass gears this more toward a midlist, or already-published, author, don't let it get to you. I do have one pub to my credit, although that was 3 years ago (::sigh:: for a short story). I still used some of what he comes up with in here, and, if nothing else, he includes some really good excerpts that may make you want to go out and get the book.

It might be something to consider. I didn't bother getting the workbook, but that might help, too.

~Nancy

3 comments:

Angie said...

but that I needed to make sure that it was unique to my particular story.

See, now, this bit here made me think that she had in mind some other story about an adopted woman who goes back in time to find her birth mother. [bemused smile] Have there actually been other stories like that? Because yours sounds pretty darned unique right down to its basic plotline.

BTW, how do you want to be called? I've been using "Nancy" since that's what shows automatically when you post, and ~Nancy is up by your bio, but I've seen you sign "~jersygirl" too. Do you have a preference, or even care...? :)

Angie

~Nancy said...

That's true; I wasn't sure if there was anything out there like mine, either. Might be worth a look-see, just for the hell of it.

I lurve time travel stories, no matter how weird, quirky, off beat, or unbelievable. :-)

BTW, how do you want to be called?

As long as it's not a 4-letter word ;-), Nancy is fine. Although I'll allow you to use jerseygirl if you want. ;-)

April said...

I should read that book. That is the second time I've seen it recommended, and I don't have a lot of books on writing..but I am expanding my collection. I learned so much from the few that I've read!