Monday, February 22, 2010

What It Means to Begin and End Well

Hello Reader.  When writing a novel, if you're not pretentious you look to other authors' works in the hopes that you can somehow better your own.  Especially the endings and beginnings of any piece of literature.  Seeing as how I've been working on and off this novel for sometime now (five years!) I've gone through a lot of blog posts and websites about exactly this same topic.  And I've learned that the trick to having a great start and end to a novel is luck.  Sheer dumb luck.

There's absolutely no pattern!  To any of this writing business.  What clicks with people is so random, and frustratingly so.  The beginning of many of the Harry Potter books are really confusing, and in the first novel alone Rowling throws so many different character names at you in the first couple of pages that I remember as a kid I gave up on reading it.  But now I've made it a tradition to attempt reading all seven of her novels during winter break.  I absolutely love, adore, and cherish those books.

Then there's "one of the best beginnings of any novel ever" in A Tale of Two Cities.  "It was the worst of times, it was the best of times..." (I might have gotten that backwards).  I hated this book, I completely revile it.  And yet it has one of the most celebrated beginning lines of all time.  You see what's going on here?  There isn't a ruddy pattern!

In all honesty, I think I've got a great beginning line.  But who knows if that translates to a great book?  And my ending?  I think it's powerful.  Is that a powerful closing to a fantastic book?  I'm completely insecure about the answer to that question.  This is the deep plunge that I take as an author.  I stress over the bookends, and yet I'm still so unsure about the actual content between.

Which brings up a great point.  What does it mean to begin and end well?  Nothing.  After five years of worry, I've figured that if I don't have a great beginning but if my content is going to blow people away then I'll be satisfied.  If my ending is lackluster, I can learn from it later so long as readers enjoyed the ride.  Because at the end of the day, I remember when Ron pulled out Gryffindor's sword and crushed the locket containing Voldemort's horcrux.  I can forget completely the epilogue of Deathly Hollows.

So my weekly question is this:  What beginnings of ends of novels totally blew you away?  And did they lead to an awesome book?  Or was the content of the novel a dud?  You can leave your comments below.

This is a short post, uncharacteristic of me I know.  I have midterms and a banquet to plan so I'll be harried and frenetic for a while.  But I love this blog and I'll do my best to update it as frequently as possible.  Until next time then.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Livelihood

Hello Reader.  I couldn't think of something to say today, so I decided that a post of my revamped query letter would be better than sending nonsensical bullshit your way.

My last two versions of the query letter (which can be found here and here) were, I feel, just ok.  I've been brushing up on query writing techniques, as well as reading a ton of other authors' query letters, and I think I've come up with something a little better.  Hopefully, those of you out there reading this will like it.  It's after the break.

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Breakdown

Hello Reader. After a bit of feedback, I'm thinking a clarification is in order. Well, not so much a clarification as an outright listing of the novels and volumes that comprise Briok's legend.

Beginning with Volume 1: The Proxy Wars, Briok's story starts with the death of his father and ends with a tragic incident at Methoral Palace. The Volume is made of four books: Dramatis Personae, Rising Action, Climax, and Denoument.  Each book is a self-contained story with implications on the next one.  At the end of Denouement, the Howlamega is NOT dead.  I only mention the Howlamega throughout Volume 1.  He, and his son, are never seen.  The crux of the action in the Volume is the war fought between Atlantis and Tory, the proxies of Amar and the Howlamega, respectively.

Volume 2: Qasida is a deep submerging of my story into the richness of pre-Islamic Arabian poetry.  The Qasida in Arabic poetry is the standard epic poem, comprised of three parts: the Nasib, the Rahil, and the Ritha.  Guess what the names of the books in Volume 2 will be?  You got it!  Nasib, Rahil, and Ritha.  Each book serves the same purpose that they serve in the structure of a normal Qasida.  In Volume 2, the war between Briok and the Howlamega culminates into an enormous battle on the planet of Paragon 3, introduced earlier in the series.  So basically Volume 2 is a war novel.  I'm extremely excited to start it.

Volume 3 doesn't have a title yet.  In fact, I have no clue as to how many books I want in Volume 3.  But the story is concrete, as are the ending chapters.  Briok journeys far and wide to find his enemies, alone. His quest takes him more places internally than it does physically, leaving him both scarred and battered.  But he is better for it.  It's a one-man show, with intermittent characters and vignettes of his friend's lives after they abandon him (with good reason).  After two wildly epic stories, I wanted to focus in on Briok and Briok alone.  He transforms the most in this volume, and hopefully I'll get around to writing it.

Again, these ideas are all based on the assumption that the first book even gets published.  Let's hope I can get a handle on my schedule so that dream becomes a reality iA.  If this still leaves you confused, please comment below.  It's important to me that I get as much feedback as possible.  Until next time then.