Sunday, November 11, 2012

Deadlines, Accountability & How Social Networking has Helped Me with My Writing

I tend to write better when up against a deadline. It's something I've been trying to fight (and failing) for several years now. Finally, with mounting evidence that I'd get stuff done for school 'cause I HAD to or for a project where others were counting on me, I gave in to this being a part of my nature as a writer.
I started giving myself arbitrary deadlines. I would even research deadline schedules of places where I wanted to submit my work and use that as my deadline. This helped... a little. But it didn't quite do the trick. If I was coming up to a self-imposed deadline and I wasn't done or didn't FEEL like working on the piece, I would simply move the deadline. After all, it was just me, right?

But that was the problem. By themselves, the deadlines were too malleable.

So I looked at the other factor that played into me getting collaborative projects or school work done. ACCOUNTABILITY... A small part of me crossed her arms, pushed out her bottom lip and stomped her wee foot. (It was a little part of me.) She screeched about how NOBODY should have to check in on her 'cause she's an adult, dammit! (Funny how the side of me that claims adulthood with such defiance, is the very side that throws a childish temper tantrum.) A quieter voice asked, but who would want the burden of being accountable for our deadlines? This was a conundrum...

I had / have no desire to be a burden on anyone. But then I thought about the ways I could spread the accountability. It isn't about someone hounding me, but about me believing that my failing to finish affects more than myself.

Here are the places where I am accountable along with a few that I'd like to use:

  • A Writers Group would be good, but I'm between groups right now. (I have an open invitation to a newish one, but it meets at a really bad time for me.) I LOVED when I was part of the Chicago Writers' Coven!!! Perhaps I'll gather a faction of that and get it started again. 
  •  Open Mics kick my booty into getting things to a sharable place! I attend two pretty regularly: 
Even though they each have their issues, Top Shelf is far and the Tamale Hut isn't at an optimal time work-wise for me, since they meet once a month it usually works out. (There are a few others that I'd like to attend, but they are far AND at not so great times for me. I can rarely do that combination. Oh well... I do what I can.)
  • Then there's Facebook... I've found that it helps if I post my writing plans. I've been advised that a Twitter account can have a similar effect. (I'm holding off on getting one of those for when I'm less dependent on the hours of the Libraries and the availability of their computers.) When I post about my plans, I get lots of encouragement and friends who are eager to see how my writing is going. 
  • This blog is to be another accountability tool. In my sidebar, I've listed the writing I'm currently working on and what my deadline is. I plan to keep this list current and to add where I'm submitting as well.
  •  The final accountability for me is teaching. I've just recently started doing workshops again and I get so much out of them! I'm going to work on doing more.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Notes on The Humor panel at the World Fantasy Convention

Over the weekend (Nov. 1-4), I was given the opportunity to go to World Fantasy Convention Toronto, Canada. This was an AWESOME present from my best friend!!! I met and reconnected with so many people and learned so much!

The Humor in Fantasy Panel was the first one I went to. I'm so glad I did! Here are my notes about the insight that spoke to me:

(I don't have the program with me, so I'll fill in the details later.)

Humor in Fantasy

"Humor often defines who we are."  ~ Tanya Huff
"[writing is] sharing a dream with someone you have never met."  ~ Sarah Beth Durst

Laughing with characters you love
Humor can start with the premise and/or it can come in the editing process... word choices based on "is it funny?"

Some forms of humor:
  • Situational
  • Premise
  • Unexpected or "pie in the face"
  • discovery - giving the audience something they can perceive before the the character gets it.
  • banter
  • unintentional character revelation - done usually through dialogue
  • splash of the absurd
  • embarrassment
  • coping mechanism
BALANCE - do not sacrifice what feels true for what's funny

Be aware that to a certain extent, much humor is generational
Universal humor is much harder to attain, but carries through the years

Make sure the humor doesn't deflate the tension/stakes of the scene
(be sparing with humor that makes fun of the characters)

Be aware of:
  • Where there is the anticipation of humor (from the characters or the audience) and use it!!
  • Humor that makes the reader uncomfortable so you can decide if that's what you want to do
  • how humor can create a bond with the reader
Symphony of humor....
  • sprinkling the humor throughout
  • pacing it appropriately throughout the piece... i.e. a little Oboe goes a long way!!
Humor often comes from the outsider viewpoint. Since Fantasy / SciFi is already looking at the world askew, it's often a good match.

Draw from the people who make you laugh. inspiration

My gift to myself

Today, in celebration of my birthday, I decided it was time to start a blog that focuses solely on my writing. I would very much like for this blog to be updated every day, but until I get a new computer, that may not happen. As it is, I plan to at least update twice a week. Aaaaaaand I'm off!