I’m off work today, and allowed myself to sleep in. I promised myself that everything could wait until I was damned good and ready to start. So much for the almost busy part.
I got a very kind remark on Twitter about Panama. This made my whole week. The purpose of my publishing is to entertain, and it sounds like I accomplished that. Panama could use a bit more love, but I believe it will get there eventually. Holding onto a bunch of older stories before publishing may have been smart, because it allows me to show a volume of work quickly. The downside is a group of stories without reviews. Right or wrong, that’s what I did. (Hint: link on the right hand column)
I caught up on the overnight blogs for a couple of hours, and caffeinated myself to life. Then it was time to tackle the poetry critique.
I whined about this one, and held it for last. Like most things in life, reality isn’t nearly as bad as my imagination makes it out to be. I know I can’t be much help to the poet, but I caught a few things that might be helpful. Most of it involves my novelist filter, and may not be much use to a poet. As an example, a bunch of cowboy miners are drinking scotch. This never happened in real life. It was hard enough shipping booze from Kentucky, shipping it from Scotland was unheard of.
Scotch is the rhyming word. The whole stanza croaks if they drink rye. I think he’s probably correct – as a poet.
The funny thing is that I may have learned something from the poetry. I knew it, but maybe it added a bit of cement. I enjoy a slower start to novels. This is the character in his natural world from the hero’s journey. I want to know the character before I can worry about him. (Or her. I write plenty of female characters. You know about the sidebar, right?)
I’ve always been down on explosions on page one. I’m not invested in the character, and it might be cool to watch the dinosaur swallow her. I’ll broadly refer to this as action, and I try to avoid it.
The poetry brought a great bit of hook to some of his pieces. Not all of them were this way, but those with hooks were the ones I enjoyed. One was about a long nighttime drive and a lost love. I wanted to know more.
One had a Creepypasta feel to it where the character didn’t know if he was digging treasure or his own grave. I wanted to know more. This one worked really well as a novel opening, but resisting backstory would take a real effort.
My takeaway is that long breakfasts or exploding pit bulls isn’t the way to open a story. Establishing stress, tension, intrigue, or suspense works much better on page one. I knew this, but like I said, a bit of mortar on the cracks of my theory.
We go over our critiques at 4:00 this afternoon. That leaves me with several hours for editing.
I’m going to hammer my way through some more of The Cock of the South. I’m using my Stipula Gladiator fountain pen today as inspiration. It has a gladius for a clip and the coliseum as a band. What else would you use on a Greco Roman fantasy?