Mary H. McFarland
Aug 31, 2009, 11:14 AM
Post #5 of 7
Yes, I also like writing the short story. As you say, they seem so self-contained. When I began writing them, I didn't worry about things like story structure and arc, etc., so I wrote what I felt. Some of it was syrupy; some of it was good. Of course, I've since learned how challenging it is to write the short story, but I'm still writing them because, as you say, it's satisfying. Mainly, I polish them and submit them periodically, which makes me feel good, even when I get the rejection letters.
That's really great that you've found a good critique group: I know the writing styles vary, and actually, comparing styles is what helps me see the larger context for my own writing, and that keeps me growing and progressing. I have not been as fortunate as you. Wilmington is small and rural, so it's hard to find even a small group of people interested in completing and publishing novels. I'm not whining, mind you, I'm just a realist. However, I've been invited to one about an hour's drive away, so think I'm going to start going this month. I also have a friend who has agreed to swap critiques online, but I really love meeting with people, having coffee, and simply feeling the heft of other folks' manuscripts in my hands!
I'm revising Mostwanted.zip, a contemporary romantic suspense. It's about a Dept. of Justice fraud analyst who returns to her racist hometown to bust a fraud ring of good old boys. She is biracial and has converted to Islam, so the return poses many challenges. The romantic thread includes confronting her handsome ex-lover, by whom she has had a son (now fifteen). I like the story because it's out-of-the-box for the romance genre: it includes a protagonist whose faith is Muslim, first of all, and a story thread that explores a high-tech crime, as well as high-tech romance by a couple of the antagonists. I've put the first fifty pages or so on www.mostwantedzip.ning.com, so you're very welcome to look: it's in the group, Most Wanted, and I'd appreciate any remarks. If you have a location online where I can help critique your work, I'd be happy to return the favor.
My second novel is a contemporary mainstream called Mule Boy. In keeping with my challenge to write out-of-the-box, I've abandoned the old, three-act structure story model for one promoted by Donald Maas in his Writing the Breakout Novel. Are you familiar with the work? I've just started using Don's guidelines to develop Mule Boy, and the writing process is the opposite of that I employed for Mostwanted.zip. I'm actually enjoying this preliminary work, so I'm pretty addicted to the Maasian process. I've also put each of the steps I'm following to create the structure for Mule Boy on my site, so again, you're welcome to follow that, too. That group is called, not surprisingly, Mule Boy. I know you're busy, so don't expect any critique, but if time permits and you get the chance, you might simply enjoy visiting my site. Likewise, if you have one, I'd be happy to take a look.
One of the speakeasy's rules is to keep things short, so I'll do my best. What is your novel about? Do you do a lot of prelim. work, or are you one of those incredibly gifted writers who can just write without an outline? I have a friend who writes everything that way, and I am so in awe of him.