Friday, January 8, 2010


Some quick comments. Feel free to discuss, and, as is customary, take the conversation wherever you want.

I did not read all of Agent Bransford's contest entries, but I did read all of the finalists, and of those I thought the voters got it right. So congratulations to Jenny. Here's a link to her blog. She only has 15 followers, but that number might blow up, so get in early while the gettin's good.

About that contest, there's no way he read all those things. He'd have to be this guy to do that. My guess is he read them like he does query letters. Too long--out. Boring, cliched, or offensive first line--see ya. Typo--gone.

I'm reading K.L Going's latest and I'm pretty sure it's okay for me to admit I like her work. As of tomorrow, I will have read three of her four books and I've liked all of them. What impresses me the most is that although Going is, as far As I can tell, an actual chick*, she always writes books with male protagonists and she does them well. She must have had brothers growing up.

I'm outlining my latest novel attempt. I don't really like outlining because 1. I worry it'll take some of the fun out of writing, 2. It feels too controlling, and 3. I suck at it. To elaborate on #3: I can't plan that far out. I can get the first couple of scenes down and I know the ending, but what's going to happen in between is really anybody's guess, including mine. I'm not one to believe in characters taking over and all that sort of writerly nonsense meant to portray us as nothing more than conduits whose job is to transcribe the stories our characters demand we tell. That's a bunch of horse honky. But I do know that whenever I think Things will go a certain way they usually don't.

Didja all see Tracy over at Heather's blog?

What was up with the Christmas Day terrorist's underwear? I know people joke that you should wear clean underwear In case you end up in the ER, but if you're planning on dying, shouldn't you go with something a little more manly?

The Wife thinks me something of a book snob ever since I started writing seriously. My snobbery, however, has more to do with the number of books I want to read than my writing. I've always read, but with the Internet and reading blogs and being on message boards, I just have a longer to-read list than I've ever had and I don't want to waste time reading anything that's not holding my interest. And that's why I've recently abandoned The Secret Life of Bees, The Lovely Bones, and Shiver (don't hate me, Myra).

So you tell me, what books that everybody loves have you not had the patience to finish?**

*See evidence here.
**God, that's an awful sentence. Apologies. It's late.


Angela said...

I really like Going's work, too. She has a wonderful practical knowledge bok as well if you're interested: Writing and Selling the YA Novel. It's really well done.

Anita said...

WAS it Myra who recommended SHIVER? I couldn't do it (sorry, Myra), I had to stop. I thought the first two "chapters" had potential, but then...I've never read LOVELY BONES, because I'm already paranoid enough. The other day, I was driving Oldest Daughter and her best buds to the theatre and one of the friends said quite out of the blue "I hope somebody DOES attack me, so I can rip their eyes out of their head." Hmm...I wonder where she could've gotten that idea?

I've just put a Going on hold at the library.

I love Tracy's interview!

I didn't read Bradford's finalists because I wasn't one of them (that's just the way I roll).

REcently finished LOOKING FOR ALASKA. I'm a John Green fan. He makes writing look easy. Did find a typo, though. That bugs.

I outline sorta and then it all falls apart after a few chapters and then I go on. Points to anyone who read this far in my comments.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

I saw that typo, too. the the. Hard one to catch sometimes.

Tina Lee said...

I noticed the typo too. So proud of myself. I never notice those things. Read to the end of Anita's comment so I got points. Never read Shiver but have discarded other of M.S.'s books. I thought LFA was well crafted but a little passionless. But I'm a chick, so what do I know.(I liked Paper Towns a lot, but I read that first and felt they were a lot alike. Maybe J.G. was relying too heavily on his outline.)

Oh and as far as characters go, they totally take over but sometimes its hard to tell where they end and I begin.

Anita said...

PMM: Regarding points system, please note Tina deserves a point.

I teared up with LFA when the stripper shouted, "This one's for Alaska Young." Weird that no other part of a book in which a girl dies made me cry.

Anita said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lily Cate said...

I can't outline, at least, not before the first draft is done.
I tried it once, but it was a disaster. Now I write out the first draft and then go through and anaylyze the structure.
Not very efficient, though.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

Yes, the inefficiencies was what I was trying to address. I write a lot of stuff that is not story and then have a hard time cutting those parts out. I figured if I outlined, it would take care of some of that up front.

And then I went ahead and outlined and found all sorts of potential plot problems and motivation problems, so I soured on the project and started something new.

Wrote 2,000 today, with no outline in sight.

Kelly said...

When I was scanning through the comments (entries) of Nathan's contest (obviously not all of them but a few pages), Jenny's caught my eye before she was a finalist. I think it really stood out! Congrats to her!
I got Shiver for Christmas so I'm going to read it cover to cover! (because I like to be a rebel here)

Heather Kelly said...

I outline after my draft gets going. There is a point in my writing where I fall in love with the writing, and go off tangentially. Then I outline to get myself back on track. It's good to know what works. (But it's not just an outline--it's character arcs, and graphs and all kinds of silliness.)

Tina Lee said...

I make drawings more than outlines, which I realize is very silly, but it sometimes gets me back on track.

Anita, I cried at that part of LFA too, but nowhere else. And, as far as points go, I thought they were from you! I'm guessing PMM points are on a strict behavioral schedule. I have yet to behave in a way that garnered those points. I'm still trying but probably on the wrong track.

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Paul Michael Murphy said...

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Thank you, second anonymous, for defending me and calling me a nice man. Thanks also for the random capital letter. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Jason can defend himself, but I can assure you he is not anonymous 1.

Anonymous 1, thank you for admitting that you used to be "a dump." But my guess is you still are.

MG Higgins said...

Hm. So much to comment on, I can't decide. I have wondered, PMM, with all of your reading and blogging, do you ever have time for chores around the house?

Paul Michael Murphy said...

You had to ask, MG. The Wife's going to roast me no matter how I answer.

1. We have a three year old, so the house is never actually clean. Since it will never be clean, we don't worry too much about the little stuff. Dusting, for example, is rarely done. Vacuuming is done more often and almost always by The Wife.

2. We do not have a dishwasher. My wife usually (as in 9 out of 10 times) does the dishes.

3. I do my own laundry. By which I mean I don't do laundry until I absolutely have nothing presentable to wear. You'd be surprised how infrequently this occurs.

4. Lest you think I do next to nothing around the house (a fair assessment at this point in the comment), I do have a few jobs.

a. I take out the trash.
b. I do most of the cooking. And if I don't cook, I pick up the food.
c. If it is dark and we need something (milk, medicine, donuts), I am the one to leave the comforts of home and brave the Michigan winter.
d. I do all the outside stuff like mowing the lawn, weed whacking, shoveling. This explains why we have no garden.

MG Higgins said...


Betty said...

I listened to the Secret Life of Bees on audio book and I think that helped me finish. I might have ended up setting it aside if I hadn't just had an hour every day on my commute. :-)

The Lovely Bones, however, is awesome. Try it again in a month or so and maybe you'll like it more. :-)

Paul Michael Murphy said...

Honestly, I don't do well with dead narrators (the exception being Death himself in The Book Thief). I ran into a similar problem with the second half of Looking For Alaska. Once someone is dead, I don't really care how it came to happen or what will happen now that they're gone.

I quit The Lovely Bones early because it seemed to me there were three questions I was to have wanted answered.

1. What's heaven like and does the narrator like it there?
2. Will the rapist get caught?
3. What will happen to those left behind?

Honestly, I didn't really care about 1 or 3 and I was pretty sure the answer to 2 was going to be yes.

Jonathon Arntson said...

The Book Thief. It was a sad moment when I finally gave up on it. I saw your Shiver thing, I am on page 22 right now...I'll let you know where I get.

Jonathon Arntson said...

I can't let this one go, I don't think John Green was trying to get us to care why Alaska died, we were watching Miles get over why she died and move on.

I also think the power of John Green's writing lies in the situations that would seem trivial to anyone else, like the "to be continued..." scene, but they overshadow the fact that that girl is dead.

Anita said...

I think there was still momentum after the chick dided in LFA. If the main character had died, that wou;d've totally ruined it for me.