Writer’s Boot Camp: Kicking Word-Smithing Butt

At the end of my last post, I proposed a writing exercise and decided to take my own advice and get writing!Pen&ink copy

If you have a novel idea kicking around, give yourself 15 minutes, take a deep breath and write the opening lines. Don’t pause, don’t edit – simply write without stopping. Then take a look at what you’ve done…and I’m sure you’ll be surprised.If you don’t have a novel idea at this time – read the opening lines of a favoured book. Pick a minor character, make them major and write the opening lines for a novel featuring them.

I’ve been noodling around with a YA (Young Adult) supernatural novel featuring witches (I do love magic and not the kind that pulls rabbits out of hats)….so I put the timer on for 10 minutes picked up my Pilot GreenTechpoint 5, stared at the abyss and for a split second paused at the precipice.   Putting those first words to blank paper is frightening but also exhilarating. I guess it’s my version of an extreme sport.

Here’s the result:

She plunges her hand into the rich red fur of the fox. Somehow Leni knows this is a dream but the animal’s pelt feels so real. Her fingers nearly disappear into the thick fur, to touch the ultra soft inner coat, soft as feathers.

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Literary Vs. Genre Fiction: What’s The Diff And Who Cares?

I’m a reader…a discriminating and voracious bookworm. One that loves a good story, a good yarn that unravels, wraps itself around my body, ties into my brain and then releases into a pretty skein that I can put on my shelf  – wooden or digital – to enjoy another time.

That said, the literary fiction vs. genre fiction debate and which is superior kind of escapes me.

Firstly, I’m not even sure what the difference is exactly…

From what I recall hearing over the years, the adage is genre is plot driven and literary is character driven. That I can’t say is entirely accurate.

Catcher in the Rye (a perennial and personal fave) has plenty of plot – a road movie of a novel if you will – and then there’s characters you won’t ever forget like Danny Torrance in Stephen King’s The Shining or any of the tortured characters in the mystery novels of Michael Connelly or the fantasy/sci-fi works of the wonderful Ursula K. Le Guin (who has brilliantly espoused on the attitudes literary snob types have about genre in her essay “On Serious Literature”)

One other difference I’ve heard is genre is considered fleeting entertainment while literature is supposed to challenge and make you think.

Hmmm. Yup you got it, I’m about to raise a finger here again…

No one can dispute that Charles Dickens’ novels were considered popular entertainment of the day. I think every one of his novels were published serially first for the entertainment of his readership that couldn’t afford to buy books but could afford the “instalment” plan.

Another difference I’ve heard bandied about is: genre is disposable – something you wouldn’t pick up again whereas literature is something that sustains – something you go back to again and again.

Yes, once again I must dispute the notion…

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