Thursday, March 12, 2009

What I Learned from the Writer I Used to Be, Part 2

I went to a very average high school in a mostly rural area. It was a school that didn't seem to understand that it was no longer 1972 and they were no longer a small school in a small town. Suburbia had moved in and the class of 2000 was a big one. (I was part of the oft-overlooked class of 1999. We also felt gypped because we were NOT the special class of 2000.)

Why dies this matter-- it's how I explain my BOREDOM in school. I was bored stiff in my classes and since I wasn't allowed to work on homework from, say math, in English class, I put a couple sheets of paper on my desk and wrote. Looks like I'm taking notes... or something. No teachers hassled me-- not even the one that threatened to take away the book I was reading.

It was in high school that I started writing seriously. Well, "seriously." As a mere fourteen and fifteen year old, I was very serious about being a writer. But I had a long way to go to even possibly being a published writer.

The first thing I had to learn was that one does not just publish Star Wars (fan) fiction. Usually tie-in writers are already established. But in the mean time, I had written five 60-70k word novels. During class, mainly.

One of the big things I learned when I finally moved on from Star Wars fan fic was that, while it's okay to love your protagonist, it's not okay to make them all-wonderful, all-adored and have all the characters gushing over the protagonist. Heh. Yeah...

I also learned that climaxes are hard to write. Later I would learn that I had never fully understood what a climax was! Ooooohhh... that makes a difference. No teacher had been able to explain it well enough for me to understand. Ironically, it was when I was student teaching that I realized I had better understand what I was trying to teach. That was when I studied like hell and finally found a definition of climax that clicked in my peculiar little brain.

I never understood climax being the "high" point of the story. (The page looks the same height as the rest of the book...) But it makes sense to me that the climax is the turning point.

It's kind of like the day that I finally made sense of the phrase "Shooting fish in a barrel. I knew it was synonymous with easy. Then I realized... I bet those fish aren't *swimming* they're packed in like folks would do on a boat or dock back in the day. That'd make it pretty damn hard to miss shooting the fish...

I was still in high school when I began the first Bo Fexler story. She was sidelined for a while while I worked on a piece of historical fiction. But she came back even more bad assed.

She started with the idea: How might a woman turn out if she was saddled with the (very masculine) name Bo? And what sort of parents would name their daughter Bo? I decided she'd be a bit bitter. But memorable. Her last name has an X in it because I was sixteen and X's are cool, if infrequently used, letters.

(One of the rare notebooks with collage cover I made.)

The Bo Fexler of today is a very different character than she was when I started writing her in high school. Of course, I'm also a much different character than I was when I was first writing Bo Fexler.

What's your favorite high school memory? (This is mine!) Or when did you start writing for publication versus just for fun?

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