Project Update and Recommendations
Well I did it! I finished the second draft of Mulrox. Hooray!
It had to push to get through it, but it’s exciting winding down a story, even if it’s only a draft. A ton of effort goes into the first ¾ of a book in order to properly set up the ending. So by the time you get to that last quarter, it’s like you are running down hill.
Brandon Sanderson talks about storytelling as setting up a series of parentheses; open questions that slowly get closed out as you move to the end of the story. Some of these brackets are opened and closed quickly, while others expand out over the majority of the book. One of the earliest opened and last closed of these is the central/dramatic question, which I wrote about in this blog post: “The Central Question”.
Using that metaphor a story might look something like this:
[ (()) (()()) (()() (()) ) ]
Which I see, now that I draw it out, is not very clear or simple. But the idea appeals to me as a way of explaining the continual task of setting up and nesting questions that pull a reader forward, while slowly dolling out the answers. I think it also appeals to me because I am learning to code. I like to think of a story not compiling if I forget to answer one of the questions. This probably doesn’t appeal to many people.
Anyway, I finished the draft, and in the process have essentially re-written every scene. I am now trying to determine exactly what my next steps will be. Given that most of the scenes are essentially in first-draft form (even though the story plotting and concepts have been worked through at least 3 times), the book will certainly need at least another light pass through before I get anyone to take a look at it.
This week I’ve been listening to the usual podcasts,(The Creative Penn, and The Story Grid ) but I also started listening to Tim Grahl’s Book Launch Show . I’ve found the early episodes to be informative and that he takes a clear approach to launching and marketing books. Tim Grahl is one of the co-hosts of the Story Grid Podcast. Book marketing is Grahl’s day job, so you get to hear him in his element instead of as the student.
His method focuses on the importance of building a platform, connecting with influencers in your sphere, and specifically building your email list. All things I’m trying to learn how to do. I recommend it if you are interested in book marketing. The episodes are short and deliver a lot of information without a lot of unnecessary hype.
As of writing this, I just finished reading Code Name Verity, a book by Elizabeth Wein. The book is about a British pilot and a Scottish spy during World War II, chronicling their friendship and early career. The story is composed entirely of letters and documents. The first section of the book is from the point of view of the spy while she is is held captive and tortured in a Nazi prison in France. I won’t tell any more about the plot, because the way it unfolds is part of the joy of the story. This book is classified as YA, though I could just as easily see it shelved as an adult novel.
I found the book moving, and by the end I just couldn’t put it down. The detailed description of aviation (the author is also a pilot) also shine. I also enjoyed both of the characters’ voices, which is something I can sometimes struggle with in YA fiction. But one of the best things for me about the book was the friendship between the two women. I don’t see near enough strong women characters who have strong female support systems. The book delivers not only in the primary relationship but also explores their relationship with several other women. o
Interestingly, it is also very much a woman’s war story. Featuring depictions of fear as well as courage, camaraderie, and the normalization of the harrowing. There are heroes and villains, but Wein goes to lengths to humanize all the characters and works hard not to glorify violence. For a book about WWII and a Nazi prison camp, it manages an admirable balance between despair, hope, fear, and levity.
The only thing I would mention is that the book is dark and involves descriptions of torture (though it is not overly gruesome) which may be too much for some.
If you are into historical fiction, epistolary novels, war or buddy stories I highly recommend it!
That’s it for this week.
Thanks for stopping by!