Monday, January 10, 2005

I have got to stop reading manga when I get home.

The manga in this case was volume four of Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha, a massive epic that tells the tale of the Buddha’s life. Fortunately, Tezuka’s brilliant, so his narrative is breathtaking. Unfortunately, he’s telling the extended edition, full-scale version of Buddha’s life; Buddha doesn’t even get his name until the end of this volume. As a result, this is a sprawling story, and it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture in the midst of fascinating subplots.

I bought this book today, at the local Evil Chain Bookstore, just after an excellent writer’s group meeting. We critiqued one short story and two novel excerpts, which were all about as different as could be:

  1. “The Bank Robber Wore Armani” was a humorous piece that the author had pared down for a short-short market, but I felt it pared down too much. There was just barely enough to describe the plot, and precious little to establish characters.
  2. “As Yet Untitled” was the first chapter of an older woman’s first attempt at writing anything. In this case, it’s a mystery novel. It was a textbook example of a first writer’s work: inconsistent point of view, minimal description of characters, scenes that began and ended abruptly…and yet the author had a wonderful ability to evoke mood and describe details with richness and power.
  3. The final piece (I can’t remember its name) is the emotional climax of a dramatic novel about a woman with a domineering mother, who is returning home to deal with her now invalid mother, and the emotional minefield she must navigate there. It was powerful and moving and beautifully executed. We had comments and suggestions, but were mostly blown away by the sheer emotional weight of the text.

This makes me want to write. I hope I can spend some time this week polishing my December short story, “Crossing the Border,” and writing more of the VR story. I have about 2,500 words of the VR story as yet unpublished, which is a considerable buffer, but I do plan on posting larger segments as we move into the next big action scene, so I could do with some more material.

>At this point, I wish I had a better idea of the future direction of the VR story. I intentionally began the VR story with no idea of its direction so that I could just write something fun, but it’s turning into a mishmash of action sequences. I’m toying with the idea of plotting out the direction of the story so that it would hold together better—

But I just realized exactly what needs to happen next in the VR story. Okay. Yes. This is going to be very cool and a lot of fun.

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