Monday, June 20, 2005

Yes I said Yes I will Yes

Happy belated Bloomsday!

A request for help: In October I am giving a workshop for the Rocky Mountain Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators called "The Rules of Engagement." My focus is on writing great beginnings -- the qualities of voice, character, plotting, and pacing that get readers hooked on a story -- and I'm trying to collect a wide range of good, published examples so I can point to them and say "See? Do this!" It's more than just having a great first line. . . . My working thesis is that there are voice beginnings, where the voice is so enrapturing you're hooked (cf. If on a Winter's Night A Traveler; Pride and Prejudice); mystery beginnings, where the promise of a story to be told draws you on (cf. The Golden Compass, The Hero and the Crown); and character beginnings, where the character is someone you want to follow for purposes of either entertainment or edification (Emma; Middlemarch; Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, where it's great fun being snobby toward the Dursleys). But these all cross over each other, I know, and the thesis will doubtless evolve as time goes on. In any case, if you have a suggestion of a great beginning or three to share, I would love to hear it.

Why spend $11.00 and two hours of your life on a movie when you can watch a 30-second synopsis re-enacted by bunnies?

Vocabulary lessons of the day: for love; for everyday (or at least Scrabble).

If you have Quicktime, you can see a fun video of Arthur (my boss) and Barbara (the president of Scholastic Books) talking about the new Harry Potter here. I appear at the end looking very smug. ("What? Cheryl smug about Harry Potter?" I hear you all say. "Impossible!") You can also watch Charlie Brown dancing to "Hey Ya."

I saw Batman Begins and Howl's Moving Castle this weekend -- both visions of great beauty, though one of them wore a Batsuit. Yeah. No, I found Batman not entirely satisfying, partly because we were following beautiful Mr. Bale out of that prison and through the wasteland before we had a reason to give a damn about him, and though the movie gets into its groove somewhat in the middle, it misses out on that opportunity to slip us inside Bruce Wayne's head so we could share his mania for justice (and therefore, apparently, running around Gotham in black body armor and a cape). But it was all right. Howl is deadpan, rich and strange, and also not entirely satisfying in its convoluted narrative logic, but very much worth seeing for the imagination and visuals alone.

I also finished the aforementioned The Big Love by Sarah Dunn, which was the best piece of "romantic fiction" I've read in a very long time -- partly because it was honest rather than romantic about romance, and partly because it dealt with the emotional and especially religious aspects of sex (having it if you were raised religious, I mean), which is not common in romantic fiction. This would be the first novel I can think of that's done it at all, as a matter of fact. Also highly recommended.

All right. Here's wishing you all a week filled with euphrasia and typhlobasia!

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