Friday, January 22, 2010

A Quiz on Writing

Steph hit me with this, and it's pretty interesting, so:

1. What’s the last thing you wrote? What’s the first thing you wrote that you still have?

The last thing I finished? One of the two short stories I wrote last year. I don't recall which came first, but I ran both on this blog ("Only Begotten Son" and "Partita for the End of the World"). As for the first thing I wrote that I still have? Ye Gods, let me look and see if it's still here...yup, it is. The Star Wars fanfic I wrote in high school is still around. I really should burn that thing one of these years.

2. Write poetry?

Rarely, although I like to think I'm not awful at it.

3. Angsty poetry?

Well, gee whiz, what's the point otherwise? I'm not entirely sure what counts as "angsty" poetry, but I do like my poetry to contain emotion. Actually, I like all of my art to contain emotion.

4. Favorite genre of writing?

It varies, really, but usually I'm either doing fantasy or horror. I've written exactly one story that would qualify as SF (the above-linked tale from last year). I'm writing a space opera now, but, like Star Wars, it's really a fantasy set in space.

5. Most annoying character you’ve ever created?

My characters rarely annoy me. I always kind of like them, even the villains.

6. Best plot you’ve ever created?

Hmmmm. I rather like the plot of the space opera I'm writing now, actually. I'm not going to say anything about it, though.

7. Coolest plot twist you’ve ever created?

I like the little twist at the end of "Twelve Presidents". It's not really a twist, actually, but I like it.

8. How often do you get writer’s block?

Not often. More often is the general lack of enthusiasm for writing in the first place.

9. Write fan fiction?

I wrote Star Wars fanfic as a kid, in screenplay form. What I did was create new characters and put them through the basic Star Wars plot, with some changes along the way.

10. Do you type or write by hand?

I used to love writing longhand; now I mainly type. But longhand is enjoyable.

11. Do you save everything you write?

Yes, except for some stuff I wrote in my college years that is only saved on 3.5 inch diskettes in whatever file format the Macintosh was using in 1990. Yeah, I'll never see those files again.

12. Do you ever go back to an abandoned idea?

Kind of, on occasion. I don't so much resurrect an old idea as sometimes incorporate an old idea into something new. My current space opera project actually recycles a subplot I had in mind for one of my proto-Star Wars tales.

13. What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?

I honestly can't name one. I tend to be overly impressed with the sound of my own writing.

14. What’s everyone else’s favorite story you’ve written?

Relatively few people have read anything I've written, with the exception of "Twelve Presidents", so I guess that's the answer here.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?

No teen drama, but I do include romance as an angle in most things I write.

16. What’s your favorite setting for your characters?

I'm not sure I have one. I have some settings I like -- the Buffalo-like city of New Mowbray, Michigan, for one; the rural Appalachian town of Corley's Crossing, Pennsylvania for others. Setting depends on story.

17. How many projects are you working on now?

Too friggin' many, that's what. I have: the space opera project, a story that takes place on the peripheries of the life of Jesus, a long-abandoned horror novel project that I'm trying to turn into a screenplay, a story about a maritally-troubled couple on a whitewater kayaking expedition in Alaska, and several essays I've started and abandoned. Oh yeah, and The Promised King is always lurking out there, waiting to strike me.

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?

Unless winning the Buffalo News's short story contest two years ago counts, then no.

19. What are your five favorite words?

I couldn't possibly name five favorite words, so here are five words I like: Misty, Golden, Ice, Byzantine, Calliope.

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?

Hmmmm. Not sure, really. I don't do roman a clef much, except for a screenplay I wrote as an exercise a year ago that is based on incidents from my life.

21. Where do you get your ideas for your characters?

My story ideas tend to suggest their own characters. I rarely create characters before the story idea comes to me; most of my tales have their genesis of the form "A person finds him or herself in this position...."

22. Do you favor happy endings?

I'm not sure, really. Bittersweet, I suppose -- my endings are rarely completely happy or sad. Some are deeply sad, though.

23. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

Somewhat. But not a whole lot. I tend to do well with spelling and grammar along the way, but when I edit, I tend to trap lots of passages that aren't grammatically wrong but just awkward.

24. Does music help you write?

Immensely. I'll listen to lots of things, but I find film music my general favorite kind of music for writing, since good film music tends to be inherently dramatic.

25. Quote something you’ve written. Whatever pops in your head.

OK, here's the opening of the whitewater kayaking story I mentioned earlier -- that is, here's the opening of that story in its current incarnation.

The seaplane banked sharply as it came round the last of the mountains and then dropped toward the surface of the icy blue lake. Stephanie Cooper closed her eyes and dug her fingers into her thighs as her stomach struggled to right itself; her husband Eric leaned as far forward as he could, rubbed his temples, and swallowed again and again, trying to keep from throwing up by sheer force of will. Their pilot, a wiry woman named Rhoda, merely reached into the seat beside her and grabbed another triscuit.

"Almost down," Rhoda called back.

"We're almost down," Stephanie said to Eric.

"I heard her the first time," Eric quickly replied, as if his wife's voice might distract him from his work of avoiding vomiting.

Stephanie turned her head away. She'd long since given up trying to figure out how a man like Eric, who paddled the harshest rapids like he owned them, could get airsick.

The cabin suddenly went dark as the plane dropped into the shadow of the deeply forested mountains that ringed Fire Moon Lake, and beyond those mountains rose even higher mountains where the forests gave way to peaks of ice that sired the glaciers that flowed, a foot or two per year, toward the Arctic Ocean. Someday those peaks would feel the bite of the chainsaws and the tread of the logging trucks, but not now, not yet. The Yukon still had places deep in its interior that were unsullied, and for now, this would still be the realm of the elk and the mountain goats and the bears and the wolves and the salmon.

Stephanie and Eric hadn't come for the mountains or the glaciers, though. They'd come to meet Paul Sydon, the greatest river runner in the world or so it was said, who lived on the banks of Fire Moon Lake and who, once a year, would invite someone to follow him down the River Persephone.

This river was only runnable for about four weeks a year, when its banks were filled with just enough snowmelt to make for a river but not too much to turn that river into a hundred-mile-long raging torrent. It was such a remote and unknown river that it didn't even appear on any known maps of the region. Maybe that was because it was only a river at all for less than half the year, or maybe there was another reason. Those who had run this river before spoke of the Persephone in hushed tones. To run it was to become a member of a secret society as exclusive as any, and this club required no knowledge of arcane rituals or secret handshakes. To ask directly to run the Persephone was to guarantee that one would never have the chance, and no one who had run it would ever discuss it with those who hadn't. All a paddler could do was dream, and hope, that one day he might find a letter in the mailbox sent from this far-off place, a letter which read simply, "If you accept, I will guide you down the Persephone. We shall depart on the date written below. Paul Sydon." Eric still had that letter, carefully folded and kept in a drawer at home. As proud as he was to have finally been invited to run the Persephone, it wouldn't do to post the letter to the front of the fridge. All that was ever said was that the Persephone was the hardest river in the world, harder even than the streams of the Himalayas. And Eric had run a few of those already.


And there you have it!

3 comments:

Matt said...

Burn? "Saga of a Star World" will never die, not whilst it still resides safely on my shelf and computer hard drive! Muhuhahahaha!

And I'm still pissed about your f***ing-Episode VII-cliffhanger!!! And what about the 'ultimate' fate of noble, yet strangely uncourageous Captain Senoj??? Your faithful readers must know!!!

Kelly Sedinger said...

I'm sure he was supposed to die horribly. Stepped on by a hundred-foot woman, or something like that.

Lynn said...

Speaking of memes and quizzes...

http://www.lynnspace.com/blog/?p=1691

(I don't normally do this sort of thing in people's comments but this is so cool!)