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.