Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"They float down here. And when you're down here, you'll float too!"

I finished Jodi Picoult's The Pact this morning. I don't know what I think about the ending. The whole book was depressing. Parents who don't know their kids; kids who don't know who they are. It was well written and compelling, as usual; she's one of those who can break rules and it's OK. But the ending. Was it too quick? I like that she ended with the climax and wrapped up in an epilogue, but I felt there was one bit of information lacking.

I don't want to ruin this book for anyone, so that's all I'll say, but if you've read The Pact, did you think there was at least one bit of information lacking in the epilogue, or did you love how it was done?

My husband is finally conquering his fear of Stephen King's It. He's been afraid of the story, or the Pennywise the clown, since the movie came out on TV in 1990. He's on page 753 of the book now and loving it, which is validating to me, as it's one of my favorite books.

I would love it if he started reading fiction regularly. He's already a great idea man and has been helping me with my novel a bit (although sometimes I have to tell him to save it; the plot is the plot, and these other fantastic ideas can go into other stories), and I think his reading fiction will make for some fun conversation. Not as though we don't already have great conversation, but how cool would it be to talk about psychology, research, AND story, among other things, of course.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

4:54 p.m. + 7 working days

Just finished an incredibly sad and moving story about an American nurse working in Saudi Arabia. Remind me to tell you about it.

In other news: just finished the backmatter for an incredibly sad and moving story about an American nurse working in Saudi Arabia. Remind me to tell you how to get a copy of the book once it releases.

And finally: the book does has some non-sadness about it.

Awry in Arabia by Mary D. Kavanwal

Friday, May 01, 2009

Psycho Editor is Unable to See Beyond Technicalities, Becomes Depressed

I've noticed that I often get so caught up in structure that I forget character - that, to me, structure trumps character. But this seems crazy. Could this be true?

When I've asked job candidates the question, "What makes or breaks a (fiction) book for you?" nine times out of ten the candidate's answer has been "character." And nine times out of ten I have snickered and thought, How cliche. Do you really know what you mean by that?

But the truth is: character is a fine answer. Often times whether I've liked or cared about a character was the reason I kept reading a book and didn't throw it across the room. So why do I have such trouble digging into this area when I'm editing a book? Why is it always: plot structure, holes, story questions, plates, stimulus-response, dialogue tags, etc.?

Probably because these are the things I studied in grad school. But also because these are simply the things that stick out to me.

Last month, however, I felt I did at least one of my authors a disservice by not talking character and focusing on other, what I thought were, larger issues. And maybe they were larger issues, but regardless of whether this author goes back and fixes all of her dialogue and answers or doesn't answer certain story questions, there is still the issue of, Do I really know and love these characters? What could she do to make me care about them more?

It's not as I don't have pages and pages of knowledge on this stored away as well. I just seldom bring it up. Ugh.

This month: I focus on character. I see what happens. I dig deeper. I don't forget about the rules, but I am honest about how I feel about the characters in the books I'm editing and whether they really impact the reader.

This month: I get back to work on my novel.

This month: I have a baby.

This month: Angela and I make this magazine happen.

And then I don't sleep for a while, because hey, it's May. I can't believe it's already May. I had a big realization when I left work Thursday that today it would be May. And months go fast. And at the end of this month comes new life. Whoa.