Words Alive (2)

Part 1

[Oops. This is long overdue. Sorry!]

On Saturday, I went to two workshops.

First up, Anita Daher delivered a presentation on “Writing for the Young Adult”. This intrigued me, since one of my back-burner projects (also my second nanowrimo project), Salyx, neatly slots into the YA marketeering category: it’s about a boy’s coming of age on a distant colony world. It’s currently sitting at about 55,000 words, and it really needs to have its ending cleaned up. It’s also got some heavy themes in it: teen pregnancy, murder, religion, the friction at the edges of two cultures…

So it was good to hear Anita’s advice: Don’t worry about writing to the market. Just write the story — write the truest story you can — and let the marketeers figure out which slot it fits best in. (It was also nice to hear that 40,000 words is a nice solid number for a YA novel — I was thinking I’d have to add to it, and the story’s all told already.)

Next was Danishka Esterhazy‘s session on Screenwriting. I’m not a screenwriter, but almost everything she told us maps straight across, in my view, to novel-writing. The intertwining of action, interpersonal conflict, and personal growth; the idea that most movies follow a four-act structure (though movie execs will claim up and down that they’re really three acts, split 25-50-25); the concept of growing a screenplay from a solid logline into a hundred-or-so-page draft; all this fits very well with what I’ve learned about writing long-form prose.

So here’s the logline for my work in progress:

Everything that Never Happened is the story of a rudderless 17th-century sea captain, who must battle his undead patroness to save the world — and his soul.

Tomorrow*: my reading.


* This time I mean it.