Friday, March 16, 2007

October Road--Take a Different Route

Watched October Road last night. What a waste of time.

The show is about Nick,a first time novelist who returns to his hometown after being gone for 10 years. At 18, Nick left to backpack through Europe for 6 weeks and didn't come back. Well, apparently he came back to the States, but not back home. Anyhoo, he's gone for a decade, wrote a wildly successful book, and is asked to do a one day seminar about writing at the college in his hometown. While there, he reunites with his high school buddies and his old girlfriend. Some of whom hate him because he trashed them in his book (ie: using "Anna" as a name for a not-going-anywhere-stuck-in-a-small-town girl in his story when his old girlfriend's name is "Hannah." VERY creative, Mr. Writer Dude.).

Aside from the less than stellar acting, I have to say the whole thing was ridiculous. Which is a bummer because I like Laura Prepon (Hannah). She played Donna on That 70's Show. Nick just decided to not come home for 10 years because on her death bed his mother had told him to be sure to have adventures? And he never called his girlfriend? Ever? Or the best friend he was supposed to start a business with? Never wrote a letter? A post card?

Ok, fine, so Nick the kid was a REAL jerk. Then I'm supposed to believe he began writing a book just 3 years ago and it's already published, in HC and PB, and is a movie (I think) and on audio as a super bestseller but now he's having writer's block and can't get another story out. Glad I'm not his agent or editor. But maybe they're making buckets of money off this guy with this one book, so they can coddle him.

In one scene, he visits the rundown NYC apartment where he first wrote the book. It's the middle of the night and he knocks on some stranger's door so he can return to where he first got his inspiration. The couple who answers (with the guy holding a baseball bat) listens to Nick explain he once lived and wrote there, and the woman asks if he wants to come in! In NYC!?!?! In the middle of the frickin' night!?!?!? She does, of course, impart some "you can go home again" wisdom on him. I'd've hit him with the bat. He decides to go back to his hometown.

He meets with a couple of his buddies and sees the girlfriend. More on that in a second.

At the start of his seminar he has a panic attack and bolts out of the auditorium filled with people waiting for him to impart his wisdom about writing. I hope it was a free seminar. He returns to the seminar room and meets the one person who stayed in the otherwise empty auditorium, a young woman who "never read his book" but can discuss it thoroughly. Uh huh. Oh, and she's about ten years younger than him and very, very cute. Hmmm....

So he's a wunderkind of a writer with a single load who wants to get over his writer's block. Got it. Now I have to swallow that he's gone back to his hometown, when he apparently skewered his best friend and girlfriend in his novel, added to the complete lack of communication for 10 years, and can't seem to understand that (a) they hate him, and (b) they've moved on with their lives. His buddies seem stuck in late teenage-hood, but maybe that's how guys in their late 20's are, including the one who hasn't left his house since 9/11 and the one who screwed the other friend's wife. (Why would you blurt this out to your estranged "buddy" the night before he is supposedly going to drop out of your life again? Would a guy REALLY do that????) Also, the ex girl friend's kid (she denies the boy is the Nick's), a precocious little bugger, has peanut allergies that Nick also has so Nick MUST be the father, 'cuz, yanno, there are SO few people on the planet with peanut allergies like Nick and his entire frickin' family have.

Nick decides to stay in town to....what? Mend fences? Fine. Find out if the boy is really his? Fine. From the scenes for next week's episode, which I will thankfully be missing, the kid is hit on his bike. I'll bet you a cheesecake the boy needs some kind of transfusion or transplant that ONLY Nick matches because {gasp!} he was right! He IS the father!!!!!

Sorry if I've spoiled the twist for you.

Can't wait to see how Nick makes it up to his friends for the character assassination in the book. Oh, wait, yes I can SO wait! Forever, if necessary.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Woo Hoo! More Friends with Books Out

Thankfully, my friends/crit partners don't hold it against me when I neglect to spout their latest publications. I try to only be slow, not completely forgetful.

Sierra Donovan's Meg's Confession is out. I haven't read this one, but I have read Sierra's other work as one of her crit partners. Like my other C.P.'s, the woman can flat out write.

Jody Wallace has contributed to and edited SUM 3, an anthology of speculative romance penned by the winners of the Speculative Romance Online's Zircon short fiction contest. Excellent writing in lovely little bits.

So treat yourself to some new reads. I know I will!


Friday, March 02, 2007

Writers of the Future

I am fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom, which means I can help out in my kids' classrooms and schools. Most of the time I grade papers, listen to the kids read, and help serve lunch once a week. For the last few days, however, I've been helping my oldest daughter's fourth grade class with a writing assignment.

They are supposed to write a fiction or nonfiction story of about 750 words. I am not a good short story writer, but I figured I could help a bunch of 10 year olds. Some of their stories lacked detail and/or plot. We had to find ways to expand their ideas without needless padding. Some were well over the allotted word count and ran amok with repetetive phrasing, unclear sentences, and meandering narrative. A few strokes of Mrs. P's magic red pencil helped clear that up. The biggest problems seemed to be grammar and formatting, but overall they created an amusing variety of works. Ten-year-olds have some interesting ideas. They aren't afraid to go way the heck out there, which is so fun to deal with. They don't worry about conventional wisdom or what the other kid is writing. They just do their thing. They're also open to your suggestions and don't balk at grammatical rules.

I think many of us could take a lesson or two from these writers of the future.

1. Write what you love, or at least like a lot. Throw yourself into a story and let it flow. Editing can come later, and it will, but enjoy the time with your muse when you get it. Don't write to the current market if you aren't enthusiastic about the topic or genre. Readers are a savvy lot and will sense your apathy. And besides, who wants to toil away on a project they aren't excited about?

2. Yield to a "higher authority" when it's appropriate. If your editor/agent/crit partners all call you on a particular issue (grammar, plot flow, pacing, etc.) consider that they may be right. Give the changes a try and see how they work for you. Even some of us over the age of 10 have something to learn.

3. A fun font will make your story shine, even if it's bad. Okay, that's not quite true. Use a fun font, if you must, as you're writing, but be sure to work on your craft and change the font to something more acceptable to crit partners, agents, editors, and fourth grade teachers. Hey, we all have to grow up sometime.