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Ari Meermans
10-18-2016, 08:15 AM
Someday, you’ll find yourself being interviewed about your just-published book. Typically, those interviews include questions like:

Why this story?
Why does it need to be told now?
What does this book/story mean to you personally? (This can sometimes include an event that inspired the story.)

Using the answers you would make to those three questions, tell us about your current WIP or the story you just finished.


Tell us about your book in one to three sentences.* (Think of this as condensing to your premise or your elevator pitch to an agent. It’s good practice.)

Then, answer the questions asked above. (There is no “rule” on how long your post may be, but do try to “write tight”.)

Be prepared to answer any questions about your book that other posters may ask.

Do ask questions of other contributors and show interest in their work, too.


Go.


*(No excerpts or expectations of crits, please; those belong in SYW. Neither is this a venue for promoting a published work; please don't do that.)





Our next Topic Tuesday will be Tuesday, November 1st when we'll discuss "What I do when I want to quit."

mccardey
10-18-2016, 12:32 PM
Been waiting for this - Ari, it's a brilliant idea.



Okay - my current WiP is Our Father Heart

Why this story?
i) A story, like a life, requires a beginning, a middle, an end. For Liz Boughton, the middle wrote itself through talent, hard work, and courage. Now, having reached the end of her life, she will need to discover the truth of her own beginning.


Why does it need to be told now?
ii) This is a refugee story – which came about in 2012, when I met some refugees in a detention centre in Australia (don’t get me started about refugee detention centres in Australia). When I first approached the book, it was polemic – which is never a good idea. In the second approach, it became a story about a man getting caught up in the asylum-seeker trade - also not a good approach, because I didn’t have much to bring to that book beyond heresay. But this last approach works for me, because, as it turns out, I could be a refugee. And if I was, I would probably deal with it through courage and hopefully some humour, like most refugees - but what I would hate most was the interrruption of my story. Anyone who has come from a traumatic childhood knows that feeling of “but who am I, really?” In this book, I place that question with a woman who was a little girl in Malaya during the Japanese push through the mainland in WWII. She is who she is, but - who is she really?

What does this book/story mean to you personally? (This can sometimes include an event that inspired the story.)
iii) It was while I was doing the research for this book that I realized how much story means – and that personalized it for me. I don’t have a narrative of my own that goes beginning - middle – end. I wonder how many people do, really? And yet, I do think it’s a human right and I think most people assume that most people have it.

I'm not sure that most people do have it. Mine was truncated through family issues. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have it destroyed by war – or, worse, kept in the kind of raw trauma that we in Australia inflict on the people we lock away on Nauru and Manus.

ElaineA
10-18-2016, 08:24 PM
I keep trying to answer with my WIP but it's WAY harder than I thought it would be! So I'll start with Q&A.

McCardey, when you say you don't think most people have beginning-middle-end, are you referring to a rainbow arc of a narrative? Sort of a seamless path vs something that looks like a saw-tooth graph? Or one that forks off? I suspect this is a difference in defining "story" and I'm fascinated by your feeling that a life's narrative can be truncated by something other than death. So does the narrative reset, but the feeling is that it begins in some middle? That it's lacking a true beginning? I ask because I think my WIP's MC has a similar situation--her life veered abruptly onto a different course--but I'm not sure if that's what you're getting at and I don't want to assume.

In my case, the character is fully aware of her beginning, I think. It's the middle that feels wrong. Like it's attached to a life she wasn't meant to have.

Regardless, it's a fascinating way of looking at characterization in a character who has suffered significant trauma.

DancingMaenid
10-18-2016, 10:26 PM
I've been looking forward to this. Great idea, Ari!

My current WIP is an untitled fantasy novel that takes place in an alternate present where vampires have been revealed to exist and are navigating being recognized as citizens. Aleksandr, who has struggled to adapt to modernity and life in America, is reunited with a former lover whom he turned into a vampire before going through a bitter breakup.

Why this story? I never have a good answer to that. This idea has been in my head for years, and I love the characters. I tend to hold onto characters and ideas forever until I figure out how to use them, so it's more of a "how" and "when" question than "why."

Why does it need to be told now? This novel started when I was 17. More than a decade ago now. It was completely different, and it was a mess. I can't even remember what the plot was supposed to be. A very generic revenge plot involving vampire hunters, I think. It crashed and burned halfway through.

A year or so later, I came up with an idea for another vampire novel with some of the same characters but that was very different in tone and scope. That one didn't really work, either, but it set me off in a new direction. Now the story is more darkly humorous and has more complex themes revolving around immigration and affluence, and I'm no longer using most of the main characters from the original iteration (I'm saving them for a different project).

I shelved the project indefinitely because I felt like I still didn't have enough of a story, and I was nervous after the previous trouble I'd had with it. Also, the increased visibility of homophobia in Russia in recent years made me worry about my story seeming more political than I really mean for it to be (the protagonist is a gay Russian man). Also, I gained a greater appreciation for the amount of research about Russian and Polish history I need to do yet, which is a little daunting (but fun).

I still really loved the idea, though. Fast forward to a few months ago. I was struggling to decide on a project, and after talking about this idea with some friends, I decided on a whim to try it again. I brainstormed a plot with the various elements I'd come up with over the years and started writing. And it's going great! I'm still a little nervous that the project is cursed and that it's horrible, but I feel like I'm making up for my terrible luck with novels as a teen. And this is the first time in a while that I've had a lot of fun writing something.

What does this book/story mean to you personally? It's really nice to revisit these characters now that I feel like I've got a better handle on them and am at least a little better at constructing plots than when I was 17. I can't say much for my plotting, but at least I've gotten better over the last 11 years.

mccardey
10-19-2016, 12:17 AM
McCardey, when you say you don't think most people have beginning-middle-end, are you referring to a rainbow arc off a narrative? Sort of a seamless path vs something that looks like a saw-tooth graph? Or one that forks off? I suspect this is a difference in defining "story" and I'm fascinated by your feeling that a life's narrative can be truncated by something other than death.

Yes, that is exactly what I mean - the arc of an unbroken life being like the arc of a well-told story. We don't really know who we are unless we know who we've been.

For refugees from war, I think the arc of the story they are living is so violently truncated that they can often assume a new identity, but only as patchwork over their old knowledge of themselves. In this story, the MC was a small child during the Second World War, and has only very scant memories of the self that existed before - a self that she is dissociated from. In terms of the narrative, she's now an old woman with a tumour diagnosis, and either the drugs or the tumour are bringing fractured memories back and she needs to find the courage to explore them.

It's also a love story of sorts - because her carer is a young woman whose life has been fractured by traumatic relationships. They have to put aside their defenses in order to help each other.


In my case, the character is fully aware of her beginning, I think. It's the middle that feels wrong. Like it's attached to a life she wasn't meant to have. Oh I like that idea. Is there a reason she feels that way? Or has it been building?

mccardey
10-19-2016, 12:20 AM
A year or so later, I came up with an idea for another vampire novel with some of the same characters but that was very different in tone and scope. That one didn't really work, either, but it set me off in a new direction. Now the story is more darkly humorous and has more complex themes revolving around immigration and affluence, and I'm no longer using most of the main characters from the original iteration (I'm saving them for a different project).

I shelved the project indefinitely because I felt like I still didn't have enough of a story, and I was nervous after the previous trouble I'd had with it. Also, the increased visibility of homophobia in Russia in recent years made me worry about my story seeming more political than I really mean for it to be (the protagonist is a gay Russian man). I love the way the book-being-written changes along with the writer. :) It's one of my biggest reasons for writing. :)

Layla Nahar
10-19-2016, 12:26 AM
Why this story?
Because I think I can finish it.

Why does it need to be told now?
Because I think I can finish it.

What does this book/story mean to you personally?
The MC looks like me.

ElaineA
10-19-2016, 12:29 AM
Current WIP: The Broken (working title)

Katrina, a child of the Chernobyl disaster and now a Russian government assassin gone rogue, drags an American Afghan war veteran into her plot to kill his boss, an undercover SVR (Russian CIA basically) agent who trained her, then broke her. Michael, the vet, has learned more than he ever thought he would about the value of life and the personal cost of ending one. As they head toward the fatal meeting, he tries to convince Katrina it’s not worth the scar to her soul; but for her, it’s always been a suicidal mission. Each damaged by personal experiences in ways that make it hard to operate in the ordinary world, together they begin to imagine how the jagged edges of two broken souls might fit together to be whole again.

But only after the assassination. On that, Katrina can’t budge.

Why this story: Something I’m discovering as I write more and more toward publication is I’ve been writing variations on the same characters my whole life. A while ago I went back and read some of my short stories from college and yep, same issues. I’m apparently working them out through the keyboard rather than therapy.

In the case of the current WIP version, they began as characters for a short story. As that story fleshed out, I had to understand more about the characters’ backstories, even if none of it would make it onto the page. In the end, I found them so interesting I wanted to give the general characters a more robust story.

Why does it need to be told now? I have two answers to this. 1) I have been in a novel-writing stagnation that has me second-guessing going on with writing. I’m trying to force myself to finish a thing as a test of my fortitude; and 2) the prosaic reason that this story is sticking with me. I always have lots of “ideas” but few ever end up being novel-able. This one seems to have more meat on the bone.

What does this book/story mean to you personally? (This can sometimes include an event that inspired the story.)
Because I don’t have any trouble with ideas, I tend to pay attention to the ones that, once sprung, lead me to interesting discoveries. That process is often random, but occasionally things start happening that feel almost karmic. In this case, I had these two people that seemed to be wildly self-destructive from the outside looking in and I wanted to know why. I had been fascinated by the Alexander Litvenenko story, the former Russian secret agent killed by polonium poisoning, so I gave my SVR agent the general backstory of some sort of Russian government assassin. She evolved into a character who had been born in the Ukraine at the time of the Chernobyl disaster.

Then one day, while scrolling through the "What's New" here on AW, I saw mention of a book called Voices From Chernobyl and it made the hairs on my arms stand up. I read the post and it was like I’d been given a secret gift. I got the book from the library, and there in the horrific, moving essays of survivors of Chernobyl, I found my character in full: her history, explanations of why she might wind up who she is—a person shut off from her emotions enough to be a professional assassin. For her LI, it seemed right to take the other side of that coin. A person who must kill, even though he’s so present about it it causes him deep psychological pain. I guess the bottom line is this story allows me to poke at these issues from many sides at once. (Loop back to answer #1 :D)

Silva
10-19-2016, 03:18 AM
Gah! I love this thread! Am very fascinated by some of the responses so far, but no questions yet. Maybe later after more contemplation.


My WIP belongs in the M/T/S category right now, though the first draft was written more as a romance. It's about a homeless woman who was raised in a very, very isolated religious community, how/why she got out, and what happened after that, and it's about the man who perceives her as a threat for various reasons and is trying to figure out who she is-- she's very secretive about her past, due to having an ex-mentor who is trying to find and kill her. More or less. (Still doing extensive revisions and some aspects are up in the air.)

Why this story?
I find the character interesting. She's the product of my subconscious-- I had a dream in which she was supposed to be my doppelganger so that I could stand by idly and watch her do all the things I couldn't but wanted to, or something, which was absurd because she looked nothing like me. But she was pretty kickass, so I decided to give her a backstory and an antagonist and a goal that was all her own.

And for a while, it was the only story I had. It came on the heels of a long bout of soul-sucking depression where I felt I had nothing to say and all fiction was frivolous, and this story felt like someone dangling a carrot in front of me to lure me out of my rut. This story was like a gift from the gods. Gods who didn't know that I hate carrots and apparently didn't need to know because it worked anyway.

Why does it need to be told now?
A big part of the story is that the main character can't prove who she is, even if she wanted to. She cannot prove that her name is her own, that her parents are her parents, or that she is a legal citizen in her own country because of the way she was raised. I worry this will come across as unrealistic to readers, and it is somewhat hyperbolic, but my own family teetered on the edge of being in the world but not of it, and I know a lot of families who toppled right off that edge and have done great harm to their children who now, as adults, wish to be part of the real world. I don't know if a lot of people realize how difficult it is to climb out of that abyss, with your own family trying to drag you back down and maybe one or two strangers reaching to pull you up at the top, if you're lucky.

But also, I wanted to tell a rollicking good tale about deviousness and love and death, and there's never been a time where that wasn't appropriate. :)

What does this book/story mean to you personally?
This is the first novel that I got anywhere further than a few pages in. It's also the first one where I actually had a plot (though the plot has changed a lot during revisions). I really, really want it to actually be a good book, and not just the book where I learned to write that subsequently goes and hides in a box under the bed and blackmails the next book for all its royalties.

And, of course, carrots.

KTC
10-19-2016, 02:55 PM
I'm late to the party. Been in my head and off the web a lot lately.


Novel: I Will Tell the Night

Why this story?
Because I wanted to tell a story about a main character who had grown up gay in the seventies when it was less acceptable, but I also wanted to tell a story where that was not the real issue and the main character's sexuality didn't drive the plot...it was just who he was. I wanted to tell a family saga about being broken, experiencing the death of a parent, and overcoming childhood abuse issues...about rediscovering and reuniting.

Why does it need to be told now?
Because this has been the most insanely wild year of my life. I have had to re-imagine my entire past. I discovered that there are two sides to every story and that we you go back, you can catch glimpses of the other side of your own story. I have grown and I wanted to tell a story of growth because when you come out of the fire your first impulse is to burn everything around you. I wanted to share the pain to invoke change.


What does this book/story mean to you personally?
It is part of my year of discovery and re-alignment. It means everything to me. It's a path of lies if looked at askance will give glimpses of truth. I gave everything to this story and I'm excited to see it through because in April I truly believed I was a person who once wrote stuff but wasn't a writer in the least. I'm writing my story in this novel...but not a single sentence of it is me. It's the weirdest thing I have ever experienced. And it means so much more than this to me. I began it in the 72-hr Muskoka Novel Marathon weekend in July...and I thought I would dry up and fade away at that marathon...that I wouldn't get a solitary word out because I had discovered that I wasn't ACTUALLY a writer. It went against 40 other novels (WIPs) and it took Best Novel Award. So I received a validation just as I was ready to end putting words on paper. This book saved my life because a life being anything but a writer would have eventually killed me. What does it mean to me...meh, you know. Stuff and what not.

Ari Meermans
10-19-2016, 04:14 PM
*Nobody's late to the party. Tuesday is just the day of the week we start the topics; they never close*

These stories are fabulous and I have so many questions for each of you, but I'ma waitin' 'til we get more stories. Your WIPs sound mighty fine, too; they excite the reader in me.

mccardey
10-20-2016, 03:05 PM
Isn't it interesting how many stories contain examinations of identity? Identity, Place and - what's the other thing? Oh yes - Belonging. ;)

(This is an in-joke for Aussie High School English students)

Ari Meermans
10-21-2016, 05:05 AM
Yes, it is. Very interesting. How do you think it happens that certain universal themes (such as identity here) ebb and flow with the times in which writers live? Is it the hyper-awareness of a writer's mind? Is it subconscious? How much is it of each, or of something altogether different?

You all, maybe unknowingly, also touched on that most fascinating of subjects—the one I call "Genesis of Story." It's what I think new writers really mean when they ask, "Where do you get your ideas?" And they can't get a satisfactory answer without tapping into the fertile ground that is the author's knowledge/information/research, lived experience, and imagination. Did you see answers to that question within each other's story?

MeghS
10-29-2016, 04:49 AM
My current WIP is called "Selfless" and is hopefully going to be a literary fiction novel about a girl working at a mismanaged nonprofit for a toxic, narcissistic boss. When a new girl gets hired, my MC is forced to confront all the problems she's been ignoring and shouldering herself, and she gets caught up in a plot to overthrow their boss and take over the agency, building a friendship and learning how to be more assertive along the way.

Why this story?

I'm ready to take my writing seriously, and this book explores themes I really care about. I feel like I can do a good job of showing stress, burn out, compassion fatigue, and how a toxic workplace can destroy someone's personal life and relationships. I also want to tell a story about female friendship and women who do things and worry about things other than romance, haha, because I'm a rabid feminist and it puts a smile on my face.

Why does it need to be told now?

I'm ready to tell it. I have a solid outline, and it's almost NaNoWriMo time!

What does this book/story mean to you personally?

This book is very personal for me. I had a near nervous breakdown a couple of years ago due to an extremely toxic office environment and nasty boss, at a nonprofit for a cause I deeply believed in. I've been out of the situation long enough to have some perspective on it now, and I want to explore burn out and stress with this book. It's not my story, though - it was inspired by a story I heard while working there, about two employees who were fired shortly after I was hired because they used company emails to plot the overthrow of the agency director. I don't know any more about it than that, fortunately, so all the details in my version are completely fictional.

This really got me thinking; thanks for this!

MaeZe
10-29-2016, 06:12 AM
Yes, that is exactly what I mean - the arc of an unbroken life being like the arc of a well-told story. We don't really know who we are unless we know who we've been.

For refugees from war, I think the arc of the story they are living is so violently truncated that they can often assume a new identity, but only as patchwork over their old knowledge of themselves. In this story, the MC was a small child during the Second World War, and has only very scant memories of the self that existed before - a self that she is dissociated from. In terms of the narrative, she's now an old woman with a tumour diagnosis, and either the drugs or the tumour are bringing fractured memories back and she needs to find the courage to explore them.

It's also a love story of sorts - because her carer is a young woman whose life has been fractured by traumatic relationships. They have to put aside their defenses in order to help each other.

Oh I like that idea. Is there a reason she feels that way? Or has it been building?[/COLOR]

This is fascinating. I didn't understand from your first post, but here it makes perfect sense.

Mary Love
10-29-2016, 06:17 AM
The outline for my WIP is about a prince coming out of hiding and looking to prove himself by rescuing his oppressed people and reclaiming the throne that was stolen from his parents. Only, his quest brings him to realize that the conquers aren't all evil and the victims aren't all innocent.

Why this story?

Most of my plot bunnies come from dreams. This one had that sparkly vividness that screamed 'write me!'

Why does it need to be told now?

Man, you sound like my brain! I've been arguing with it on that point all month. NaNo save me!

What does this book/story mean to you personally?

I mean, it is another 'who am I?' story and I guess I can relate to the 'outcast' feeling, but honestly, it would mean the most to me if I could just finish it and still feel like the story had potential.

MaeZe
10-29-2016, 06:19 AM
Current WIP: The Broken (working title)

Katrina, a child of the Chernobyl disaster and now a Russian government assassin gone rogue, drags an American Afghan war veteran into her plot to kill his boss, an undercover SVR (Russian CIA basically) agent who trained her, then broke her. Michael, the vet, has learned more than he ever thought he would about the value of life and the personal cost of ending one. As they head toward the fatal meeting, he tries to convince Katrina it’s not worth the scar to her soul; but for her, it’s always been a suicidal mission. Each damaged by personal experiences in ways that make it hard to operate in the ordinary world, together they begin to imagine how the jagged edges of two broken souls might fit together to be whole again.

But only after the assassination. On that, Katrina can’t budge....What an impressive story and plot. That sounds like a spy story for the ages. I do hope you finish it.

MaeZe
10-29-2016, 06:28 AM
Gah! I love this thread! Am very fascinated by some of the responses so far, but no questions yet. Maybe later after more contemplation.


My WIP belongs in the M/T/S category right now, ...M/T/S category?

Your story sounds like one worth writing, very relevant to a lot of people who grow up in an 'odd' family.

Claire Connor's Wrapped in the Flag (http://claireconner.com/wrapped-in-the-flag-description/) is about a woman who grew up with fanatical John Bircher parents. How kids cope in those situations and what they are like if/when they emerge are stories I find absolutely fascinating.

nossmf
10-29-2016, 07:35 AM
My WIP is an untitled fantasy story about the war which divided the four great nations. Humans and dragons, elves and dwarves, all once lived in harmony until a terrible conflict tore the peace asunder, threatening to exterminate all life. Heroes from both sides must work together to discover what caused the split, and if possible heal the rift between species before it is too late.

Why this story?
A few years ago I published the novel Dragon Born, the story of a young woman who bridges the gap between dragons and humans. During her adventures she learns about the Great War which tore apart the peace a thousand years before. My WIP is a prequel which examines the War in far greater detail.

Why does it need to be told now?
After I self-published my first novel I thought my career as a writer over, my great life story complete. But my daughter insisted I write another story within the same universe. Her unrelenting enthusiasm, combined with unexpected high praise from non-family readers of my first novel, eventually convinced me to pick up my digital pen and resume my story.

What does this book/story mean to you personally?
My first novel was a check mark on my bucket-list, a project undertaken simply to see if I could do it, if I could create a work of fiction to hold in my hands. This time, I am allowing my imagination to soar, not only with the story itself but also to dare dream I may have a future as an actual author, trade published and available for purchase in book stores across the land.

MaeZe
10-29-2016, 09:22 AM
... What does this book/story mean to you personally?
It is part of my year of discovery and re-alignment. It means everything to me. It's a path of lies if looked at askance will give glimpses of truth. I gave everything to this story and I'm excited to see it through because in April I truly believed I was a person who once wrote stuff but wasn't a writer in the least. I'm writing my story in this novel...but not a single sentence of it is me. It's the weirdest thing I have ever experienced. And it means so much more than this to me. I began it in the 72-hr Muskoka Novel Marathon weekend in July...and I thought I would dry up and fade away at that marathon...that I wouldn't get a solitary word out because I had discovered that I wasn't ACTUALLY a writer. It went against 40 other novels (WIPs) and it took Best Novel Award. So I received a validation just as I was ready to end putting words on paper. This book saved my life because a life being anything but a writer would have eventually killed me. What does it mean to me...meh, you know. Stuff and what not.
[/I]

So you sat down to write and in three days you had an award winning novel? (http://www.muskokanovelmarathon.com/about.html) That is incredible. Even if it wasn't finished it's still impressive.

MaeZe
10-29-2016, 09:36 AM
My current WIP is called "Selfless" and is hopefully going to be a literary fiction novel about a girl working at a mismanaged nonprofit for a toxic, narcissistic boss. When a new girl gets hired, my MC is forced to confront all the problems she's been ignoring and shouldering herself, and she gets caught up in a plot to overthrow their boss and take over the agency, building a friendship and learning how to be more assertive along the way.

Why this story?

I'm ready to take my writing seriously, and this book explores themes I really care about. I feel like I can do a good job of showing stress, burn out, compassion fatigue, and how a toxic workplace can destroy someone's personal life and relationships. I also want to tell a story about female friendship and women who do things and worry about things other than romance, haha, because I'm a rabid feminist and it puts a smile on my face.

Why does it need to be told now?

I'm ready to tell it. I have a solid outline, and it's almost NaNoWriMo time!

What does this book/story mean to you personally?

This book is very personal for me. I had a near nervous breakdown a couple of years ago due to an extremely toxic office environment and nasty boss, at a nonprofit for a cause I deeply believed in. I've been out of the situation long enough to have some perspective on it now, and I want to explore burn out and stress with this book. It's not my story, though - it was inspired by a story I heard while working there, about two employees who were fired shortly after I was hired because they used company emails to plot the overthrow of the agency director. I don't know any more about it than that, fortunately, so all the details in my version are completely fictional.

This really got me thinking; thanks for this!

I can relate to much of your story.

Taylor Harbin
10-29-2016, 06:42 PM
This thread deserved the Nobel Prize more than Dylan. *hides*

My project isn't really in progress at the moment. I'm on hiatus, and hopefully not for too long. The first draft was finished in 2013, but given my recent experiences, I've been delaying over and over, convinced a total rewrite is required to give it better depth and substance.

The working title of the book is Things to All Men

Fresh out of graduate school, Clark Penning can't wait to begin life as a professional historian in the old town of Havenport, Missouri. The town's long-time newspaper editor, Ed Watson has recently died, and the rookie researcher jumps at the chance to help construct an exhibit about his life and work. But when Clark begins investigating his colleague, Kip Johnson, the town's first black reporter who died under mysterious circumstances in the late 1960s, he's pulled into a feud between three people, rekindling the memory of an era the town would like to forget.

Why this story?
I learned a lot in school. The discussions were great. Government work has really opened my eyes. Having interacted with the public for some time, I've spent many hours questioning the importance and role of historians in today's society, a society steeped in lies and willful ignorance. The idea came to me when I was still in graduate school, but with two years of government work behind me, the it's grown bigger. Part of me wonders if I should wait a while longer before chasing it seriously; I wonder if I'm still too close to the profession to give it just treatment. I'm sure I could tell a good story, and based on my cursory glances at the contemporary fiction section, no one else has written a book like it.

Why does it have to be told now?
Part enjoyment, part catharsis, partly because I feel it needs to be told and I could actually do it.


What does this book mean to you personally?
I'm usually a fantasy/science fiction guy. I like to let the imagination run wild. This is the only contemporary/literary fiction idea I've ever had that has taken serious root. I've always admired guys like Steinbeck who could get so close to an issue or point in time and then make the characters come alive. I don't want to let this one go because I believe I have something to say, and no one else is writing about it.

My main objective was to portray the daily life of a historian (which is why a rewrite is necessary; the first draft is from the POV of a graduate student). I want to give a "behind the scenes" look at what the tourists don't see: the low pay, the stupid questions (one teenager pointed to a marble-top table and asked 'Why is this white?' then snickered like he'd told the world's greatest joke), the people who think they know more and want to argue about documented facts, the complaints (Why's there no AC? Why don't you have handrails?), hours that we spend scouring for jobs and then crying because we don't have the education, skills, or experience they want, the dark times when we wonder if we're just part of the entertainment business.

But they don't see the bright moments either, like the Australian couple I toured who wanted to know everything about American history. They don't see the Scottish couple who answered my questions about Brexit and their positions on it. They don't see the twelve-year-old girl/boy who can't stop asking questions because they actually want to learn. They don't see the PhDs or retired National Parks people who come and praise us for taking it seriously.

The book isn't meant to be a ranting roman-a-clef, but Clark goes through the same cycle I did (still am, to a degree): fascination with history, excitement about working in the field, then shock and disappointment when he learns how things really are. Lots of doubt and second-guessing, finding new reasons to enjoy and believe in the work. The whole thing about investigating a black reporter's death was my idea and completely made up, to be used as a lens that magnifies all of these points, and the bottom line: there is no easy answer.

*whew*

Still with me? Great. Hope this qualifies, and that it's kindled some interest. Maybe you've had a similar dilemma with a project.

Taylor Harbin
10-29-2016, 06:46 PM
Current WIP: The Broken (working title)

Then one day, while scrolling through the "What's New" here on AW, I saw mention of a book called Voices From Chernobyl and it made the hairs on my arms stand up. I read the post and it was like I’d been given a secret gift. I got the book from the library, and there in the horrific, moving essays of survivors of Chernobyl, I found my character in full: her history, explanations of why she might wind up who she is—a person shut off from her emotions enough to be a professional assassin. For her LI, it seemed right to take the other side of that coin. A person who must kill, even though he’s so present about it it causes him deep psychological pain. I guess the bottom line is this story allows me to poke at these issues from many sides at once. (Loop back to answer #1 :D)

I've had this very experience! Don't you just love it when research materials fall into your lap?

ElaineA
10-29-2016, 07:39 PM
I've had this very experience! Don't you just love it when research materials fall into your lap?
It's a very otherworldly feeling. It happened quite a lot with my first novel, about Pompeii, and some of the stuff I stumbled onto ended up reader-favorites. I find these accidental finds often lend an extra layer of authenticity. Probably because I am so jazzed about finding them they get my best effort in incorporating them into the story.




Still with me? Great. Hope this qualifies, and that it's kindled some interest. Maybe you've had a similar dilemma with a project.

I love how you've evolved your story, and how you intend to parallel the love/hate of being a historian with the shades of gray of an old murder. I think it will be an effective tactic. It almost reminds me of the way Eric Larson writes his books. Two separate stories connected by one overarching event.

It seems to me a lot of writers have stories they must wait on. For their skills or perspective to catch up to what the story requires for it to be told properly. I know I've seen something Neil Gaiman said along those lines, though I can't put my finger on it at the moment.

Not unlike being a historian, writing requires truckloads of patience. :)

NateSean
10-29-2016, 08:22 PM
Why this story? There are six stories here, in different genres. One is autobiographical. The main theme in all of them is that I saw something from a certain perspective that I would normally chew someone's ear off about for an hour until they, minus one ear, ran for their lives. Writing them down always seems like the more socially acceptable option so that if someone ignores me, at least it's not because they're checking for escape routes or for someone else to fob me off on.

Why Does It Need to Be Told Now? I could die tomorrow. Whatever I believe in or am surprised to find out about the afterlife, I'll still have no control over how people rate my accomplishments in life. I have no control over that now. You'd be surprised how happy I am about things that others consider a failure. At least if I've told my stories to the best of my ability, before I die, then I can enjoy a Shamylanesque feeling that I have done what I can to change the world.

What does this book/story mean to you personally? I had something to say. I said it. No one stopped me and their doubts didn't slow me down. The standards set by other people are a bit like the rules of a game on a playground. They change frequently to suit the needs of the people who aren't very good at the game to begin with, but just like to feel like they've won by making it difficult for the people below them. Even if no one else thinks I've won, I feel like I have and I didn't make life difficult for anyone else to do so.

Silva
10-29-2016, 09:22 PM
M/T/S category?

Your story sounds like one worth writing, very relevant to a lot of people who grow up in an 'odd' family.

Claire Connor's Wrapped in the Flag (http://claireconner.com/wrapped-in-the-flag-description/) is about a woman who grew up with fanatical John Bircher parents. How kids cope in those situations and what they are like if/when they emerge are stories I find absolutely fascinating.

M/T/S is Mystery/Thriller/Suspense--not that they're all one genre, but they're grouped together here on AW like that which is why I put it that way. :)

I'm definitely going to look up that book, thanks for the rec.

pegasaurus
10-30-2016, 12:27 AM
I recently completed a YA fantasy MS titled The True Story of a False Wizard. It's the story of a non-mage who cheated her way through wizarding school and is now being sent on a quest to officially earn her place in her (very magical) family. Rather than admit her handicap and solidify her status as an outcast, she puts her life on the line to retrieve a lost family treasure from a pack of goblins. But what she thought was a simple quest turns more complicated when real wizards start disappearing, and she finds evidence that her brother might be involved.

Why this story?
I kicked this story around for a while before I started writing it, and I actually started on another project first before coming back to this one. Honestly, I thought that compared to the other one (a Paranormal Fantasy) this one would be more salable as a debut.

Why does it need to be told now?
True Story has a lot of themes that I think will resonate with younger people, and people of my generation (the dreaded Millennial)--particularly the struggle of trying to find your place in a family and society that has very rigid standards and pathways to "true" success. As a creative type, it can be really demoralizing for people to not consider what you do actual work. It also deals with learning to cope with failure when you've been told your whole life that hard work and perseverance will always pay off. What if it doesn't? Then what? When it is okay to stop trying and move on to something else?

What does this book/story mean to you personally?
That last bit I wrote to the last question, haha! This whole book is basically an extended metaphor for my insecurity as a writer. What if I am just not good enough to become published? I'm not ready to give up any time soon, but it was kind of cathartic to write about someone hitting that wall and coming out on the other side okay.

NateSean
10-30-2016, 12:48 AM
Why does it need to be told now?
True Story has a lot of themes that I think will resonate with younger people, and people of my generation (the dreaded Millennial)--particularly the struggle of trying to find your place in a family and society that has very rigid standards and pathways to "true" success. As a creative type, it can be really demoralizing for people to not consider what you do actual work. It also deals with learning to cope with failure when you've been told your whole life that hard work and perseverance will always pay off. What if it doesn't? Then what? When it is okay to stop trying and move on to something else?


If I had a nickel...

Seriously, I can't wait to read this one.

pegasaurus
10-30-2016, 01:02 AM
If I had a nickel...

Seriously, I can't wait to read this one.

Aww, thank you! It's so nice to hear that--especially when deep in the query trenches! :)

Namatu
10-30-2016, 04:06 AM
I haven't been around in too long, swallowed by the stressful necessities of life but trying to climb my way back out toward what makes me happier, and that includes writing. I've enjoyed reading everyone's posts in this thread. Lots of great ideas being given life!

My WIP: Deja woke up from an accident six years ago with soap opera amnesia. She remembers nothing about who she was, where she came from, or who was sitting in the Oval Office. She's got a good life now, even if there is a big hole where twenty-plus years used to be, but that's all shot to cosmic dust when she learns she's an alien from outer space and her people have come back--but not for her. She may not be able to read their alien-speaking lips, but she can get behind their plan to save Earth. She'll help keep safe the only home she remembers--and deal with this new identity crisis later.

Why this story?
Unlike my last few novels, it's firmly in a genre, and that nicely ushered it to the front of the line.

Why does it need to be told now?
I'm ready for it. This is a more personal, emotional book than I've written before because of who the main character is and her situation, but it also has a light humor to it that balances out all of the issues of identity, abandonment, anger, and questions of where do I belong.

What does this book/story mean to you personally?
My MC has a hearing loss as a result of her accident, and so do I (a result of something entirely different). Because some of her experiences understanding others are close to my own, it naturally makes this story one that's more personal to me. At the same time, this book is so different from anything else I've written that it often feels like a stranger--where is this coming from and what's the best way to not screw it up? It feels like an evolution, and I'm excited to see where the journey takes me.

KTC
11-11-2016, 08:46 PM
So you sat down to write and in three days you had an award winning novel? (http://www.muskokanovelmarathon.com/about.html) That is incredible. Even if it wasn't finished it's still impressive.

Thank you. Yes...I write most of my novels in 3 days. I have an attention span of seconds. I can't write a novel any other way. I forget my characters' names, what happened, everything. In one sitting...I can keep the flow. :-)

Jade Rothwell
11-11-2016, 10:27 PM
My WIP: Brothers Dante, Miguel, and Javier rarely speak to each other. However, when Miguel goes missing, Javier and Dante decide to go looking for him. The search leads them through oddly similar motels, supernatural sights, and a cult that Miguel may or may not have willingly joined.

Why this story?
I have a real soft spot for stories about families, and I've always wanted to write a road trip movie. Although, so far, the road trip portion is only about a third of the script.
Why does it need to be told now?
Families grow apart because of small things that grow into mountains. I want to show that you can be different from your siblings and still care for them. And that you can grow apart, for a time, only to come back together. You just have to put the past behind you.
What does this book/story mean to you personally?
I'm not very close to my brother anymore, even though he used to be my hero. Our cores are similar to Dante and Javier's. Dante is unempathetic, Javier is too empathetic. I wanted to explore our dynamic, although in a more fun and supernatural way.


What does this book/story mean to you personally? It's really nice to revisit these characters now that I feel like I've got a better handle on them and am at least a little better at constructing plots than when I was 17. I can't say much for my plotting, but at least I've gotten better over the last 11 years.

Reworking old stories is great. It's like connecting to your younger self.

ElaineA
11-12-2016, 12:07 AM
My WIP: Brothers Dante, Miguel, and Javier rarely speak to each other. However, when Miguel goes missing, Javier and Dante decide to go looking for him. The search leads them through oddly similar motels, supernatural sights, and a cult that Miguel may or may not have willingly joined.



So this is a movie script? AWESOME. Sounds like a movie I would LOVE to see. Not the same at all, but for some reason reading this gave me hints of Y Tu Mama Tambien (and hopefully not because of the Hispanic names, ugh). The "roadtrip to discovery" theme is such a rich one. I hope you get bites when you're finished!

Jade Rothwell
11-12-2016, 04:26 AM
So this is a movie script? AWESOME. Sounds like a movie I would LOVE to see. Not the same at all, but for some reason reading this gave me hints of Y Tu Mama Tambien (and hopefully not because of the Hispanic names, ugh). The "roadtrip to discovery" theme is such a rich one. I hope you get bites when you're finished!

Thank you so much! I haven't heard of that movie before, but I'll look it up :)

Sage
11-12-2016, 11:04 AM
Why this story?
Why does it need to be told now?
What does this book/story mean to you personally?[/I] (This can sometimes include an event that inspired the story.)

Snow, Sparkling Like Stars in 3 sentences: 18-year-olds Hale and Max, stars of the intergalactic hit Max Universe, follow a pair of talented sisters to a snow-covered planet, even though the girls are members of the alien race the boys fought in a war just 3 years ago. Hale falls for the troublemaking Johee, but won't get any dating time unless he can push her slow-moving sister in the direction of his even-slower-moving partner. But when the weather system breaks down, he suspects Johee might be in league with saboteurs responsible for bringing down planet-wide systems.



This book was inspired by the movie White Christmas, developed into a sci-fi novel after complaining to my NaNo Peeps that it couldn't be adapted to YA because of the war aspect, but how Judy's plan to manipulate Bob and Betty together by pretending that she and Phil were dating was such a YA plan. One of my NaNo Peeps pointed out how many teenagers in YA fight in (or even lead) wars and rebellions if it's dystopia or SF. Suddenly having images of "Phil" (Hale) losing his arm to save "Bob" (Max) but replacing it with a superior cybernetic one, I launched the story. Now, to me and my sister, WC is all about the sister element. Long before we understood WC enough to follow it form beginning to end, we were singing "Sisters" together. I used it as part of my toast at her wedding. It's also a movie my whole family will tear up over. It's our Christmas movie.

Once I had the idea of how to do it, I decided to develop it, even if it were just something for fun during NaNo. I spoke to an author (an AWer, actually) who developed a YA version of Sabrina, and she warned me off being too dedicated to the original plot. Obviously, I was never going to use the movie's device of endless rehearsals and I hadn't planned on using any music or lines from the movie, but she made me think about the plot in a whole new way. My efforts to allow the story to deviate from the original has led to a lot of interesting developments. But one that I wanted to keep was the sisters. Which made things difficult when suddenly the love interests' brother was talking about his siblings: a brother and a sister. I had flirted with the idea of "Judy" (Johee) being male, but didn't want to abandon the "Sisters" aspect. This proved to be more interesting when the pair arrived on the scene and indeed were sisters. Johee was a transgirl. Now the "Sisters" aspect has extra meaning.

I did start out with an idea that was very similar to the original, despite being in space and having Glee-proportions of QUILTBAG characters (asexual, pansexual, and trans, in this case) in my main four. That in itself makes it timely, as more teenagers are exposed to different QUILTBAG experiences through novels. I see few beyond gay and lesbian that are not books about those identities, and I wanted to write one where it's simply who they are and, because it's the future, nobody questions it beyond, "Oh, I was expecting a brother and got a sister instead." I also try to include as much cultural and racial diversity as I can within the cast and as the boys visit different planets for their show. The more that I write, though, the more I see current events echoing elements in the book. The fear of this other race, both for justified reasons in some cases (they were at war, the girls' commander is a pretty mean dude) and biased reasons (Max has no reason to dismiss the girls for being Hanaran other than racism). The girls are refugees from their culture, hoping to find asylum in an Earther culture. I'm not exactly sure at this point who is behind the sabotage and what their motives are, but I bet current events could help me shape this up, quite honestly.

MaeZe
11-12-2016, 12:33 PM
Why this story?
Why does it need to be told now?
What does this book/story mean to you personally? (This can sometimes include an event that inspired the story.)

Using the answers you would make to those three questions, tell us about your current WIP or the story you just finished.

Tell us about your book in one to three sentences.* I cannot describe my novel in a couple sentences, still working on that.

Why this story and why now? I've been involved in promoting critical thinking for several decades. I don't understand why so many people have drawn unsupportable beliefs when knowledge is so readily available. Why is marketing so effective when anyone with the smallest bit of curiosity could find out the techniques and immunize themselves against them? How is it the skeptical community I am a part of doesn't recognize the one science that peddlers of anti-science use, the science of persuasion and marketing?

The second layer of my book is that of data collection and data mining. Orwell had it wrong, which is one reason a new book needs to be written. Mind you I am in no way comparing myself or my book to Orwell, it's just that 1984 is obviously dated. (Yeah that was a pun. :tongue ) It's not just the government that is collecting all that data on its citizens, corporations are probably better at it and less encumbered by laws. In addition, with their lobbying and meddling in political affairs, what is to prevent it all from coalescing into one big clusterfuck?

The third layer is my love of YA and wanting to write the heroine that needs to be written. She has more going for her than the coolest boyfriend, she's not a chosen one, not a skilled fighter, and she doesn't have any magical powers. She believes in an evidence based world. She challenges the beliefs of her village, in particular, the elders that have old ideas and her peers that bully her for her beliefs. Her self esteem rides a roller coaster. If you recognize people don't see reality the same way you do, how do you know if your version of reality is right? Especially when you make the biggest mistake of your life?

mccardey
11-12-2016, 12:52 PM
MaeZe, as someone who spent a good few years writing advertising copy (sorry, everyone) this sounds really engaging. Is it your first?

MaeZe
11-12-2016, 02:14 PM
MaeZe, as someone who spent a good few years writing advertising copy (sorry, everyone) this sounds really engaging. Is it your first?

Thank you, thank you. thank you.

My first, yes, but I've spent the last 5 years on it learning how to write. The story's been building in me a long time. There's still so much work to do.

Sage
11-12-2016, 06:16 PM
I love her being the only one who can see the (to us) obvious based on evidence, not just what feels right.

ElaineA
11-12-2016, 06:58 PM
Why this story and why now? I've been involved in promoting critical thinking for several decades. I don't understand why so many people have drawn unsupportable beliefs when knowledge is so readily available. Why is marketing so effective when anyone with the smallest bit of curiosity could find out the techniques and immunize themselves against them? How is it the skeptical community I am a part of doesn't recognize the one science that peddlers of anti-science use, the science of persuasion and marketing?


When my kids were small, I refused to buy them clothes that turned them into walking billboards for designers and clothes companies. When they got old enough to want the things their peers had, I told them they would have to buy them with their own money because I wouldn't. I explained my position to them and let them decide for themselves. They never did spend their own money, and now, as young adults, both of my sons scorn designer duds, and neither will wear anything with a prominent logo (that isn't a band). I think the thing I'm most proud of as a parent is teaching that skepticism. Not that any of us are perfect about it, and of course they're probably participating in the data-mining culture through FB and the like, but they at least have the rudiments of critical thinking down.

I just love the premise you have here, MaeZe, and it's certainly going to be timely. Best of luck with it.

Jade Rothwell
11-12-2016, 09:33 PM
Snow, Sparkling Like Stars in 3 sentences: 18-year-olds Hale and Max, stars of the intergalactic hit Max Universe, follow a pair of talented sisters to a snow-covered planet, even though the girls are members of the alien race the boys fought in a war just 3 years ago. Hale falls for the troublemaking Johee, but won't get any dating time unless he can push her slow-moving sister in the direction of his even-slower-moving partner. But when the weather system breaks down, he suspects Johee might be in league with saboteurs responsible for bringing down planet-wide systems.

I love the concept of taking White Christmas into the future! That movie's big in my family too (we watch it nearly every year on Christmas Eve. My dad LOVES that movie) so it's nice to see it living on in a new way.

mccardey
11-13-2016, 12:17 AM
MaeZe, one of the things that's infuriating so many people now is the power of political lobbyists to wreak damage with data and numbers. Interesting time for your book. Write it, quickly!

MaeZe
11-13-2016, 03:16 AM
When my kids were small, I refused to buy them clothes that turned them into walking billboards for designers and clothes companies. When they got old enough to want the things their peers had, I told them they would have to buy them with their own money because I wouldn't. I explained my position to them and let them decide for themselves. They never did spend their own money, and now, as young adults, both of my sons scorn designer duds, and neither will wear anything with a prominent logo (that isn't a band). I think the thing I'm most proud of as a parent is teaching that skepticism. Not that any of us are perfect about it, and of course they're probably participating in the data-mining culture through FB and the like, but they at least have the rudiments of critical thinking down.

I just love the premise you have here, MaeZe, and it's certainly going to be timely. Best of luck with it.

Thank you. When my son was in grade school I tried to get the teacher to show a Consumer Reports video that revealed how advertisements tricked kids, making it look easy to catch a ball or adding all sorts of scenery to a toy that doesn't come with it. It was basic but important stuff. The teacher said she didn't have time to add anything to the curriculum. Teaching media literacy has to be one of the most important things kids need to learn, yet it's not taught in school.

Sage
11-13-2016, 03:24 AM
I loved my media literacy class in college, but I definitely came in with only a rudimentary understanding of the manipulation beforehand. I think teens and most adults could use that sort of education to interact with media with a more critical eye.

ishtar'sgate
11-15-2016, 09:41 AM
Current WIP: On a dig in Babylon, Iraq, an archaeologist plunges back in time to ancient Babylon just prior to the city being overrun by the invading Persian army. Desperate to get back to her own time she is terrified her actions might alter history and destroy her own future before she can find her way home.

Why this story? I honestly don't know. The idea developed as I researched and grew and grew....
Why does it need to be told now? Because it's been swirling around in my head for quite awhile and if I don't get it out, well, maybe my head will burst :)
What does this book/story mean to you personally? The germ of the idea began when I stumbled on a news report about the damage that had been done to the ruins in Babylon. I was appalled at how thoughtless armies had been when occupying the site. I became interested in researching ancient Babylon and thought it would make a fabulous setting for a story, kind of resurrecting that once magnificent city.

P.S. It feels even more important today in light of what just happened to Mosul.

Josie Cloos
11-25-2016, 07:27 AM
Signs Along The Way is the story of a woman who is searching for what she wants in the face of everyone telling her what she has is amazing and she just needs to get her head out of her ass and enjoy it all.

It all started about a decade or so ago; I was thinking about my lifelong fascination about people who were fascinated/obsessed with celebrities and I decided to sit down and write a story from the pov of a woman married to a famous singer. I wrote a couple of chapters, set it aside, and forgot about it until about three/four years ago. I was organizing my handwritten stories and came across that one and was like, hey, yeah, this is the project I'm going to work on. I vowed it was a project I was going to finish come hell or high and I'm keeping my word.

I kept the main theme and added a few others and I have to say, in spite of the many issues I've had getting this thing told and ready for submission, I'm enjoying the hell out of the process and learning a lot about the best way for me to approach writing novels.