Tag Archives: insanity

…Because I’m an Idiot, That’s Why

JuNoWriMo starts in two days. Technically less than two days. My brain has been wandering everywhere lately– that is, everywhere except where I want it to go, which is writing.  I need fewer distractions in my life, especially for the next month, when I’m going to be trying for 2,000 words a day (and hopefully most of those before the kids get up in the morning, fingers crossed, yeah right).

So what did I do today?


ImageNot only did I go and look at books, I also got out more books than I could hope to finish in a normal two-week period, never mind one when I’m supposed to be writing all of the time.

I picked up a few books I’ve heard a lot about but never went OH MY GOODNESS I HAVE TO READ THAT RIGHT NOW and a few that have been recommended to me personally. Maybe it’s not fair to the books, but here’s how this is going to go: they have maybe three chapters, depending on length, to win me over. If I’m not intrigued/excited/curious/whatever (really, I’m open to a host of possibilities) by then, I’m not wasting my time on it.

Is that unreasonable? All we hear as writers is that it’s our job to hook readers in the first pages. The first paragraphs, even, if you’re talking about querying agents. Is it my responsibility as a reader to give a book more than three chapters to win me over? Even if the story isn’t in full swing by then (and I’m not saying it needs to be; I can enjoy a slow build or a quiet beginning), it needs to have promised me something that will keep me going.

It’s no different from dating, I guess. First dates don’t have to be perfect, but you’ve got to make a good impression. I don’t need to know everything about you by the third date (and please, I don’t need to have SEEN everything by then), but there’s got to be chemistry there. If there’s not, there are other people I could be spending time with who might work out better. It’s not you, it’s not me, it’s just not working.

I guess that’s an advantage of library books, at least for readers. If I spend money on a book, I’ll probably push harder to finish it. Now, if it’s not a good book this also means I’ll hate it more by the end, but I’ll at least try to finish it. If I have no money invested, I’m much more likely to leave it and go find something I DO enjoy.

So that’s the plan for these books. I’m going to give them a fair shot when I have time (and thank goodness for library renewals!), and I hope I’ll enjoy all of them.

And no, I won’t be reviewing/talking about any that I don’t finish. 🙂

How do you approach books? Do you feel like you HAVE to finish a story once you’ve started it? I used to. Do you think books deserve a chance to get good in the middle, or do you expect to be hooked/entertained right away? What pulls you in to a book? Voice? Action? A world that you want to take up permanent residence in? Characters who are interesting, either because you love them or hate them? What turns you off right away?

PS- if you’re a blogger friend and I have your book, I promise it’s still on my TBR list, but I’m waiting until I have time to really enjoy it. Yours get more than 3 chapters. 😉


Guerrilla Dialogue (or: Nobody Expects the Dramatic Imposition)

Sometimes I feel like my efforts to improve my work go unappreciated at home.

Take dialogue, for example. It’s one of my favourite toys; I constantly have little bits of conversations evolving in my head. Random things. Tiny bits of conversational flotsam that distract me from the real world. Sometimes this dialogue applies to a story I’m working on. Other times it’s generated by a situation, and I know it will never fit in anywhere. Still, it’s fun to play with, and I think the paractice helps when it comes time to write dialogue in a story.

OK, so sometimes this leaves me giggling to myself in the grocery store for no apparent reason, but strangers thinking I’m off my rocker is a small price to pay for entertainment and experience.

I recently decided to take this show on the road— that is, I’ve started grabbing every opportunity I can to inject dramatic or interesting dialogue into conversations with my husband. Now he thinks I’m nuts. Really, though, it’s so much more rewarding when he has no idea that he’s my guinea pig.


AJ: “Kit, do you know where the Windex is?”

Me: “Pointed. At. Your. HEAD.”

I think I should get bonus points for the fact that I did, in fact, have a squirt bottle of the blue stuff pointed at the back of his cranium, but that’s beside the point. You see how this works?

That one just got me The Look. Other attempts haven’t gone so well. Like last weekend, when I decided to go all old-school Batman with a nasty twist, just to see how that went:

Me: “Leaking LADY-BITS it’s cold out there!”

AJ: *dead silence* “That… was the worst thing I have ever heard.”

Me: (after laughing until my stomach hurt) “I didn’t say what was leaking…”

AJ: “Doesn’t matter.”

Come to think of it, we have a lot of those moments when I know he wants to say, “Please don’t ever speak to me again,” and I wouldn’t even blame him.

So here’s my challenge for you: choose your target(s). In the middle of a conversation, use your whip-smart brain and writerly instincts to inject something dramatic, suspenseful, cheesy, or completely bonkers into a conversation*. Defy someone’s conversational expectations. Turn your dinner conversation into a one-sided scene from Flash Gordon, or imagine yourself as a world-weary PI and your [sister, boss, uncle George] as the dame with legs that won’t quit who just walked into your office with a sob-story that makes you reach for your [whatever world-weary PI’s drink]. On your way out the door to get groceries, convince the dog that you only have five minutes to get to the store to diffuse a bomb/stop the alien body snatchers/defeat the Invasion of the Watermelons of Death.

Trust me, dogs love that shit.

And please, report back to us here, whatever happens. (Disclaimer: I am not responsible for what happens if you try this on the wrong person and they call the police. That’s all on you, you weirdo.)

*Sarcasm doesn’t count, everyone does that.

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