Sunday, November 29, 2009

Something To Be Thankful for?

The movie The Road based on a novel--a post-apocalyptic tale--opened on the eve of Thanksgiving. I found the timing interesting. Did it mean to say we humans have something to be thankful for surviving the end of the world? Thanksgiving Day is a day we tend to find something or someone to show our gratitude. In real life, surviving an accident, an injury, an economic hard time, anything that flings us out of our normal state is something to be thankful for.

The scenario of the end of the world is scary; no wonder some movie critics view it as a horror film. And apocalyptic theme seems to fascinate some writers and movie makers and will probably continue to do so. I was wondering how many more books will be written and published on the same theme, and how many more movies will be made based on those books.

Wes and I planned on seeing The Road on a big screen on Thanksgiving Day. With a knee injury, I can't go anywhere for at least a while. So, we'll wait till it comes out on DVD. The experience wouldn't be the same, though.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

To Prologue or Not to Prologue, That Is the Question

A prologue to a novel is like an appetizer to a meal. Some writers like to have a prologue and do it well, but not all readers would want to read the prologue. Once I talked to someone who said she and some of her friends picked up a fiction book with a prologue, they skipped it and came right to Chapter 1. As a reader, I read everything. As a writer, I know those writers who do prologues have a good reason behind it; in other words, a prologue is necessary. For example, in Sherlock Holmes, and later, in the TV series Law & Order, the crime scene that opens the story/drama is equivalent to a prologue. Therefore, to prologue or not to prologue is up to the writer, and it also depends on the genre. Certain genre works better with a prologue. My work-in-progress fantasy novel has a prologue, and I know it is needed.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Certified Writing Coach?

I always thought a writing coach is a writer who's had enough publication credits to be qualified. But recently I "discovered" something interesting. One day I went on a writer's blog (whose name I've forgotten), and one sentence caught my eye: "So and so (the writer's friend) is a certified writing coach." Immediately, it raised a question in my mind: How is a writing coach certified? I know how to become a certified interpreter: A would-be interpreter goes to a state-sponsored agency, takes a two-part test--oral and written--in English and the native language, if passes, he/she will become a certified interpreter. But a certified writing coach? I wonder how. It's something "new" to me. Does a would-be writing coach do the same thing an interpreter do to get certified? Going to a writing program and taking the test, if passes, he/she will become a certified writing coach?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Writing Fantasy

I like fantasy and I've been working on a genre-blending novel that mixes fantasy with mystery and history. It's a lot of fun because writing fantasy allows my imagination to run as wild and as far as it can go, even the sky is not the limit. I like fantasy because it reveals a part of the human psyche; namely, when we're in danger, we want an immediate exit. That wish is fulfilled in fantasy as the character wraps himself in a cloak and he disappears. However, some people consider fantasy low-brow and don't take it seriously. In truth, a writer can say something very profound in her fantasy novel other than good versus evil, something that can be as profound as that in literary fiction. In addition, even Shakespeare's great tragedy has fantastic elements in it. Read one and you'll know what I'm talking about. So, what a fantasy writer needs to do is to fantasize her fictional world populated with interesting characters and writes a fantastic story that fascinates the reader.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Genre Blending or Genre Bending

Years ago, I learned the term "genre blending" from articles in writing magazines. I found it very interesting and thought it a good way to write a novel. At the time I was writing plays and kind of ignoring it. Years later, in 2007 when I started writing fiction, I gave "genre blending" my serious thought.

To my delight, Jonathan Lethem did just that for his first novel in 1994, according to last week's The Seattle Times book reviewer Mark Lindquist. Mr. Lindquist wrote: " . . . was a weird blend of science fiction, hardboiled detective and literary fiction. "Genre bending" is how it was often described. I was a fan but didn't expect Lethem to find a wide audience. I was wrong about that." Mr. Lindquist used "genre bending" to describe a novel that combined two, three genres. In truth, both terms "genre blending" and "genre bending" say the same thing: mixing genres.

Because I like "genre blending," I combine three genres in my work-in-progress novel: fantasy, mystery, and history. And, of course, before we do so, we need to know each genre well. How many genres are there altogether? More than ten, fantasy, detective, romance, to name a few. If you like the idea, pick two, three genres you're famliar with or you love and write your "genre bending" novel. According to my own experience, it's a lot of fun writing "genre blending" fiction. Try it and you'll know what I mean.