Okay, I’m really just working and thinking but that song was in my head.
I’ve been fussing with edits and just finished a novella manuscript that I’ll probably ban from my consciousness for a few days. It’s not bad or anything; it needs some polish, true, but it’s one of those ideas that I need a vacation from so that I can properly tweak it before sending it out to torture the masses. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve taken it upon myself to fuse the two great genres of our time: horror and chick lit. The working title for that one is Happily Ever After I’ll keep you updated on how that works out.
Between edits I’m determined to go back and finish up another project that at this point is somewhere between a novella and a novel. The manuscript has been knocking about in different forms for a good number of years – I’ve workshopped it different places, forced it on my best friends, and changed it up and submitted it until I realized that it’s a fabulous idea that needed a facelift. It seems like every time I go to drop it into the Pit of Unworkable Ideas, it springs back like the phoenix or Ra’s al Ghul. It’s a kind of different flavor for me because on all levels it’s anchored in the real world. There are implausible bits, but there’s no monsters, no spells, none of that.
It’s straight up rock n’ roll conspiracy theory. The re-working has come up because there’s no way I could get away with the original version without it looking way too much like fanfic, which wasn’t my intention. So I’ve had to invent a band, write its entire fifty-odd year history, and splice it into the working plot. Add to that the fact that I’ve changed the time period from the nineties to present day, which means that the music biz is a very different place. While I get that I’m not going to be able to give a thousand percent accurate description, I want the ‘what the hell’ moments to at least be feasible within the world of the manuscript. Unfortunately, despite my vast and sundry list of people I’m friends with, I don’t have anyone that I know well enough in the music industry to talk out points that I’m concerned about. But the story is something that’s very close to my heart and while the lead character is probably a little like me ten or twelve years ago, she’s a very strange sort of person for me to be writing now. In a lot of ways I’m starting to understand her way better than when I first started writing this. So with a little luck and some polish, that project will see light of day soon.
And of course I need to finish The Novel. Most of it was finished last year and then I hit a bit of a snag. The funny thing is it was never supposed to be a book. It started out as a very short story that I wanted to write after getting really pissed at a person I knew a long time ago. And somehow it evolved…and kept evolving…and when I thought I was done suddenly this huge subplot reared its head and it was way too good to ignore. I’m going back to my roots on this one – fairy tales and folk stories. There will be a lot of nods to familiar characters as well as some not so popular ones, but every archetype is going to be turned on its head. Nothing is what it seems in this world, and I’m really excited about this one…if only I could figure out how to stop the world from ending.
And I’ve got a couple of other ideas I want to start to fill out before spring. I know, I’m such an overachiever. Part of it is I’d rather crank out the ideas as I get them and then go back and finesse when my schedule is more full. Part of it is I’m sure I have some form of creative ADD. I’m fine at focusing on stuff, but the moment I get a new idea I immediately want to be with it all the time. It’s worse than falling in love or something; that idea becomes my gleeful world…until the next one. And the next. I’m not like that with anything else in my life, so I suppose that’s a good thing.
I have noticed that I’m focusing a lot on female characters that start out as unlikable or pathetic and either pull themselves up by their bra straps or submerge themselves so totally into the twisted situations they’ve fallen into, that it becomes its own form of redemption. I’m not quite sure why this is. I’m a fairly happy chicky. I’ve had my moments, but if we’re being honest, we all have. I really like writing male characters and I don’t consider myself that bad at it, but at the moment I’m really curious about these female protagonists. I’m trying really hard to put them in genres or situations that are either against gender or put the emotions associated with their gender to use in a new way. As I write my column for Fandom Scene it’s becoming evident that a lot of old forms of genre and story really didn’t discriminate about gender roles (I’m talking way back in the day. Yes, there are examples for and against this logic in any genre, I get that.). A lot of fairy tales had female characters finding their own destiny and the fantasy genre has its own badass heroines. But it seems like the older everything gets, the more focus is put on the hyper-sexualization of these characters, as if that’s what it means to be a woman. I’m not saying that a chick can’t be gorgeous and deadly, gorgeous and vulnerable, etc, but more and more it seems like it’s the package first and then the most caricature-ish version of feminine characteristics to round out the character. And I’d like to think that it’s time to knock the teeth out of that notion before it bites us back.
I’m not saying get rid of love stories – a lot of my characters struggle with relationships or how they feel about them. I’m not saying they can’t fight, because I love a tough woman character. I’m not saying they can’t be completely crazy, but let’s have the crazy come from the complexities that are a woman’s emotions, and not just have her going nuts to provide an edgy plot point. It mildly concerns me that the goal has suddenly become the outcome rather than the journey. This isn’t the case with everything, of course, but it seems like the examples of genre work that have gotten really popular feature things like this.
I have no idea if I’ll be successful with any of these stories, truth be told. And maybe it’s a cheap excuse to put to rest some of my own frustrations once and for all. But I’m all about good, complex stories and good, complex female characters. There’s no reason to skimp on character development just because a book has magic, vampires, demons, oppressive corporate entities, epic quests, or creature love interests. If anything, they’d better be well-developed (in character, ahem) so that they can hold their own.
As a heads up, be sure you check back from Saturday to Tuesday – I’m taking part in the With Love Valentines Day Blog Hop and I’d hate for you to miss out on free stuff!