Melina Gunnett

December 18, 2012

The Sun, It Burns!

Filed under: Odd Thoughts — Tags: , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 11:27 PM

Sunrise2

I have seen sunrise three times in the last week and not in my usual way. Normally sunrise is an indicator that I really, really, really should have gone to bed. This week it has been an “Oh my it’s dark outside. Why am I awake? Hey, what is that big blob in the sky…”

It would have been four times, but I’m living in Portland, and having the sun actually visible through the clouds isn’t the norm. I have this concept in the back of my little brain that if I keep trying to be a morning person, some day it will stick. I know I’m just fooling myself, but it is an illusion that I like to hold on to, especially on days when I need to get up and be somewhere.

I try to convince myself that if I get up early, I will go to bed early. It will become a cycle! All I have to do is repeat it enough and it will stick… Not bloody likely!

No, what happens every time I try this is what happened this week. I get up, I come home tired, I pass up on a nap because “I am going to some how drag by butt to bed on time!” Bed time comes… Bed time goes… I’m half zoned out, but have caught enough of a second wind that I can’t go to sleep. No matter what plausible explanations I give myself, for some reason anything before midnight seems more like going to bed in the middle of the day than a reasonable time for sleep.

Whenever I try this experiment the results are much the same as they were this week. I often end up sick and by the end of the week I will inevitably have a migraine. Lack of sleep isn’t the only thing that will set off one of my migraines, but after a few days it is pretty much a guaranteed method.

Apparently negative reinforcement isn’t one of my learning method, because I have repeated this stupid cycle more times than I can count.– and it is stupid, stupid on my part because it is so easy to end. All I have to do is go to sleep.

Enough already. I survived this rounds migraine. I can always hold out hope that I learned something. Tomorrow is another early day. Maybe I’ll manage to sleep tonight.

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December 9, 2012

Why it takes forever to write a story.

Filed under: Odd Thoughts — Tags: , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 8:47 AM

https://i0.wp.com/img.ehowcdn.com/article-new/ehow/images/a06/c6/ge/remove-pen-marks-clothes-800x800.jpgI’ve been writing for a while now and every time I sit down to write a story it still amazes me how long it takes. I do have other things going on in my life, so they take up part of my time, but even if I put all those distractions aside, it still takes me a while to write even a short story.

I am pretty good at creating characters and, hopefully fairly good at make them come alive on the page. I am also good at creating concepts, those unique little twists that make a setting or situation interesting. Plot is harder for me and the first place a start to lose hunks of time. I can have the most interesting character in the world, but if they don’t do something, why bother writing about them.

I would love to be one of those writers that just puts words down as they go and lets the characters lead them. Maybe some day I will be, but for now I have to outline my plot ahead of time. If I don’t I will end up with 20 pages about my characters trip to the grocery store and the interesting conversation she had with her friend about the latest pop song on the way. By the time the characters get back from the store they won’t have learned anything, they won’t have accomplished much more than acquiring a carton of ice cream and my reader will be off trying to find the amazing pop song that doesn’t exist on youtube.

Once I finally have a plot, I can start to write. This is the easy part – until I hit X. X can be a location, a name, an object… just about anything. The only thing I can say for certain about X is that it will be something I don’t know about. Most of my work is either science fiction of fantasy, so you would think I could just make something up, but you would be amazed how many times it just doesn’t work like that.

For example, the story I just finished writing was pure fantasy, but it was based it our world. My main character was from the past so modern conveniences, like flush toilets, were new to him, or so I thought. I wanted to take a moment for him to marvel at the differences, so I looked up what plumbing was like in his time. That little scene was deleted. It turns out that plumbing in the far past, at least if you had a bit of money, was almost as good as it is today. The Romans had lead pipes that brought water in to their bathrooms and even hot and cold running water was not unknown in some areas.

Another hour disappeared as I tried to figure out what China would have been called 1000 years ago. By the time he got around to staring out a window, I had to wonder wither or not large sheets of glass were really a new thing. At least in that case it turned that it was. They did have some large sheets of glass, but they were expensive and difficult to make so they were used for mirrors. Windows, if they had glass, used smaller pieces and they usually had small imperfections which caused distortion. What I’m trying to say, is no mater what I end up writing about, it seems like I always end up having to do some type of research. (On the up side, I get to find out all kinds of neat trivia.)

Even the things I choose to make up can take time though. Every world has its rules. We have the laws of physics and in a fictional magical based world, there are laws to magic. If I’m making up a world I need to know what they are. Does my character need to know spells? Do they need components for these spells? Can they just think about something and make it happen, if so are there limits?

The answer to that last question, by the way, is a resounding YES. There has to be limits. If there are no limits and the character is all powerful then no one can stand against them and there is no story. Even if they appear to be all powerful there has to be a limit, a weakness, of some sort.

Most of the research and much of the world building takes place as I write. Sometimes I will have to adjust the plot to take in facts or ideas I hadn’t considered when I started, but eventually I manage to string it along into a story. Once I have it all written out on the page – I’m still not done.

Next comes the re-write. This is where I go over the story and marvel at what I have written, usually because I can’t believe that I thought that sentence made sense. There are times when I have had to re-write almost every word, not just the ones that I misspelled, mistyped or left out completely. The thesaurus and I have become very good friends. I would say that I am my own worst critic, but I have beta readers for that.

Beta readers are my wonder, patient, friends and acquaintances that, once I have the story in a form I consider readable, do just that. They read the story for me and get back to me with critiques. No mater how many times I go over my own work, there are things I will miss. By the time I finish a story, I know it. I know my characters background, I know the world the live in, and I know how the think. These wonderful people are a fresh pair of eyes that can read the story and let me know if it someone who doesn’t have all that background information can still understand it. – Oh, and if I am really lucky, they will also catch any technical mistakes I may have missed.

Once I have incorporated any changes I want to make based on my beta readers feedback, I do one last read through to make sure I haven’t missed anything, the I am finally done. I have a story ready to send off into the world.

This is why it seems to take forever to write a story. I know there are some authors out there that can pound out a book an a couple of months. When I first started, I thought I might be able to do that too. Now I am happy if I get at least one, well written, short story out a month. I can hope that, as I gain more experience, the processes will go faster. Only time will tell.

December 3, 2012

And another month fades away.

Filed under: Odd Thoughts — Tags: , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 4:02 AM

So, I have flipped the page on another calendar month. Yeah, the first was yesterday, but I had a lot to do in November, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that it spilled over by a day or so. Amazingly enough I actually got most of the things I really wanted to done.

My job, which I took to help organize my time has been taking up more and more of it,https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/ae/MSLogo.jpg but that’s Okay. I love my job and it is keeping me in coffee. Things will calm down on that front in the next week or so, in the mean time it his really helping me learn my way around Portland.

For those of you who don’t know, I am working as a Mad Scientist. Yes, that is actually my job title. I teach fun, amazing science stuff to elementary school kids as part of an after school program and lately I’ve been doing birthday parties on the weekend. I used to work for the same company in Boston and it is one of the best jobs I’ve had. (And I’ve had some pretty amazing jobs).

https://i2.wp.com/img.ehowcdn.com/article-new/ehow/images/a08/11/je/creative-movie-reel-film-decor-800x800.jpgThat is my day job, by night (or sometimes morning and, occasionally, even during the afternoon) I am a writer. Lately I have been writing a lot of movie reviews – 8 in the past month. Not a bad way to pass the time. I attend free advance screenings and then let the rest of the world know what I think of the movie.

It has been interesting, trying to find the balance between telling the world my opinion of a movie and not giving away so much that it will spoil the movie for others. Deciding wither or not I like a movie is one thing, figuring out why is another. It means that I have to think about and understand why a plot or a character works and where it breaks down. I think the processes is going to make me a better writer as a whole and I plan to continue. To that end I have spun off a new blog REEL SOON which only contains my movie reviews. You can look forward to review for On the Road and Playing for Keeps this week.

Part of being a writer is writing. In spite of my slightly crazy schedule, it has been a fairly good month. One of my pieces, Of Cats and Coins, sold and will be coming out in an anthology next year (I’ll tell you more about it when I have all the dates and details.) and I finished another piece I have been working on and managed to get it out the door before the submission deadline.

One of the things I hadn’t taken into account is how much research I end up doing for anything that is set in the real world, fiction or not. I’m beginning to realize that only about 20 percent of my writing time is spent writing, but it is almost midnight here and I have to be up and awake tomorrow, so I think I’ll save that for another post. For now I’m off to bed. I need to dream up my next story. 😉

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