Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's like parenting

In a way, this story of mine is like my child. I incubated it, letting it grow and take shape inside my head for a long time. Then I brought it out of my head and onto paper, giving birth to concrete ideas that I shared with other people, but not until the story and I were both ready. I continue to feed it with daily attention, discipline it by correcting mistakes, and teach it how to behave in public by sharing it with my writer's group. It needs my time and my energy, and in return the story takes on its own life and will (hopefully) be strong enough to live on its own in the future. Like parenthood, writing this book has been great fun, a pain in the neck, an inspiration, completely aggravating, and a challenging, amazing experience.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Writer's voice

It's said that a writer's voice reveals the whole person behind the words including his/her ideas, wit, rhythms, and passions. Books by Michael Crichton, for instance, show he was an intelligent man with insight and passion for science, both traditional and experimental. Compare his voice to that of Woody Allen (self-deprecating humor, outsider looking in) or Judy Blume (gentle humor, love of life) and it's easy to how the writer's voice comes through in his/her work.
So that leads me to an obvious question. What does my voice reveal about me? Ideas? I have too many with not enough time and focus to develop them all. Wit? I've got lots of that, especially for puns and the ridiculous situations I find myself in. Rhythms? I alternate between tense and relaxed, and I try to do too many things at once.
My passions? By far, the thing I'm most passionate about is decency and justice for people who are vulnerable. That's no doubt because of my early experiences with Joyce and my work for so many years with kids with disabilities and their families. That passion prompts me to write letters to the local newspaper editor, to legislators, and to network TV shows when I see people who have no voice as the targets of injustice. The recent state budget debacle here in Pennsylvania has pulled the rug out from under senior citizens, at-risk children, and the poor and hungry. I've been protesting and I will continue to protest. I've been praying for resolution to this injustice and I will continue to pray. Not surprisingly, my protagonist, Sophie, develops that same passion for human decency over the course of the book I'm writing.

Monday, September 7, 2009

My story's longer than I expected

When I first started writing this book, I figured it'd be about 200 pages. It's clear to me now that my first draft will be over 250 pages, typed and double-spaced. Maybe more. I was beginning to think that it was too long for the current market, since getting published is my goal and a fit into the market is a must if that's gonna happen.
Then I found this info on a blog I follow: The average number of pages in books for teens has been increasing steadily over the last few decades. Part of that is because of the increased popularity of fantasy, which tends to run longer than average. (Maybe that's why I love fantasy. It tends to wander.) But other genres have increased in length as well. Here's the stats I found.
Average length in 1979: 151 pages,
1989: 157 pages,
1999: 233 pages,
2009: 337 pages.
So maybe I'm right on target after all. I guess I'll just keep writing until the story's told and not stress about the length.