First of all, I apologize for no Thursday review. My Word Press site was up and down yesterday and then I couldn’t log into my account this morning, though I could finally get to the site. I’m glad they got the log in working in time for Spark Tally. Please Like us on Facebook and you will see my announcements of when the site goes down like that. You can also check the old blog where I was planning to post Spark Tally if there were still technical problems.
Next, this might be a rambling Spark Tally. Think of it as an extra post to make up for the lack of a review
My word count this week is 5500. I’m pleased, though I was hoping for more. It took me until yesterday to get good focus. Here is the breakdown:
About 1000 words to the new novel SSw. That brought me to the end of the first quarter. I have to stop there and figure out what’s going on in another country in that same world at that same time before I move on. Of course, I can’t just outline it; I have to start a whole new book for it—SD. About 1200 words for SD that I trashed. I restarted and got 300 words out. In a fit of frustration, I started working on a third novel that’s totally unrelated to the other two—DB. DB is a story I’ve started a dozen times, but this time I finally think I’ve got it. I wrote 3000 words in one afternoon for DB. Hooray!
And here’s the bonus blog:
Beginnings. When I first took up writing, I thought the best way to draw in editors and readers was to show how unique and different my character is in a unique and different situation. Oh how wrong I was. The most common critique I got was “I don’t like your protagonist.” I do think part of it was bad writing, but what a reader really wants at the beginning of a story is to be drawn in by a feeling of sympathy towards the character. Look at all the openings with orphans, parents are divorcing/just divorced, spouse/SO left, dead relative, dead pet, evil boss/monarch/overlord, etc. The beginning of a story seems to be to build a sense of connection to the character by means of “Oh, my life isn’t that bad. That poor person.” After you build that connection, then you can go on to build the unique characteristics for the protagonist and the world to keep the reader reading.
I could still be wrong, but since I’ve made this change I’ve gotten some stories published and people in classes and crit groups no longer say at the beginning of my story, “I don’t like your character.”
How do you work out your beginnings? Please post your word count!
I wrote 1700 words this week and finally finished my 5000 word short story that I really labored on. I think it still needs a bit of revising, but I’m pretty happy that it turned out much as I pictured it in the beginning. When I write, I usually have the general synopsis of the story in my head, then I try to start out with a poignant scene. The most important thing to me is making an impression-something that will stick in the reader’s head and be valuable for later reading. If that makes sense.
Glad your site is up again and that you were able to post this week’s tally. I enjoyed this extended version of your regular post. Congrats to you and Shari on your word counts.
While my overall word count was negligible again, I had a very productive week. I finally finished revising the first seven chapters of my novel to what I’m calling the “agent-ready” draft. The rest of the book still has a long way to go but this definitely feels like a big step forward.
In other news, one rejection this week and one publication. My super-short story “Segregated World” appeared in AE Science Fiction’s annual micro edition of their magazine. I’ve included the link below for those who asked. Thanks for your interest and support!
As for beginnings, I think you’re onto something about generating sympathy for the protagonist to draw the reader in. Everyone likes a good underdog story. This especially makes sense when you think about it from an anti-hero protagonist perspective. The novel I’m working on has an anti-hero protagonist, very dark, withdrawn, sarcastic, and angry all the time. Though, my writing group says they like him because of his motives. He’s looking for redemption from a troubled past and–deep down–tries to be a better person, though he’s not always successful. They say this paints a realistic picture and something to relate to. There are always times when we question if we’re a bad person, and even times when we believe it. Most people try to be a better than they were before. This gives the audience a character to root for, even when they’re not a virtuous and kindhearted hero.
Read your story, Holly. I really liked it. For a short, short it has a lot of raw emotion in it.
I’m glad everyone feels they accomplished goals this week!
Re Shari: Yes, I can see the advantage of picking a poignant moment, especially in short story writing. Probably for novels too, but there seems to be a little room there. Sometimes I think readers want more of an anchor for the character before they are thrown into a situation. I’m trying to find a balance of that at the beginning of SSw.
Re Holly: SD also has an anti-hero and I’m dealing with some of the same issues you mentioned. For that story, I’m trying to find a moment to start the story where he is showing the best side of himself rather than the worst. It’s really tricky which is why I think I decided to set it aside and work on DB.
Woo-hoo! I just got 1300 words down for DB to start off the week I hope the rest of the week goes so well.
Anyone else out there want to post their word count?
PS…Thanks for posting the link Holly! I plan on reading it before tomorrow’s post goes up!
I hope you enjoy!
Great Flash Fiction Holly! Sorry it took me so long to read Is that one more toward your goal of three professional short story publications?