02 November 2006

Jennifer's list and what it means for me.

Actually remembered to turn my calendar over today.

In working on the raccoon story, I remembered an article by Jennifer Armstrong from the Horn Book which talks about how she likes to set up her stories. In revising Symphonians, I was really disappointed in how few images I had and how there seemed to be nothing behind them. I'm going to try and change that in the raccoon story, since I'm rebuilding it.

But here is a short list of questions Jennifer asks herself in writing her books.

What is this book about?
What ideas will be in it?
What images will I use to reinforce these ideas?
What metaphors will I use to reinforce these ideas?
What’s the tone?
What’s the voice?
What characters will I use? And, why did I choose these characters for the purposes of the book?
A list of important words.
Write a list of scenes, and a list of images that appear in each scene.

More on this later, because a brand-new sale book just landed on my desk.
A day later, as it turns out. (I wrote the above yesterday.)

I haven't started answering Jennifer's questions yet, because when I started trying to, I discovered that there's a lot of information I need about the story to answer them. (The shameful thing is that I've already rewritten the story a million times over the years -- I actually started on it in 1995.)

So I'm exploring what the story's about. One of the things it's about is the idea of "home." So I started riffing off that, writing down the definition of "home," etc. Then I got bamboozled by looking at the big picture. Then I thought, why don't I start building from the images I already have, such as the Psyches with their butterfly wing headdresses and the Outcast, the black hound that burns with an oily light?

And then I thought, let's work on it from both ends, and that way I can find out where they meet in the middle. How zen is zat?

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