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Write-a-thon: Day One! - and: help?
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Today is Day One of the Clarion West Write-a-thon 2008, and that made for great motivation in this morning's writing session. My goals are to finish the first draft of Kat by Starlight and to revise two nearly-ready short stories by the end of the write-a-thon (August 1st, 6 weeks from now). (You can see my write-a-thon page here.) As of first-thing-this-morning, I was about 54,000 words into KbS, which leaves me with somewhere around 16,000 words to go. (It's a first draft, so I'm not being too picky about word length - I'm sure it'll both shrink and expand in future drafts as various bits get moved around!) Yesterday I had a lazy Saturday and didn't do any writing at all, but today when I woke up, the first thing I thought was: write-a-thon! So I got started right after breakfast.

And it was a great writing session. I wrote the first 630 words of KbS's Chapter Twenty-Three, and I did a first critical read-through of the story that needs to be revised first (because it's on a submission deadline of the end of June). I figured out a fun plot twist in KbS as I wrote, something that made me really excited about the next couple of scenes. And I realized that the first thing I need to do about my short story is to ask for some help, specifically from any British readers of this blog.

I've been living in England for about 6 years now, which means I'm finally, finally at the point where I feel brave enough to write contemporary British characters and settings. (Writing historical British characters & settings has always been MUCH easier, after growing up on a steady diet of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, and Georgette Heyer, then doing my MA degree and PhD research on the late 18th century. And since the way contemporary Britons speak is just as distant from historical-Brit-speak as the way contemporary Americans speak, I don't even feel at a disadvantage there.) But I don't know if I'll ever be at the point where I can do it without a backup group of knowledgeable people who can shoot me down when I've mis-stepped with my contemporary British characters, especially when it comes to cultural references and American turns of phrase that are so natural to me that I'd never notice them on my own.

So I have a couple of questions that I hope someone might be able to help me answer:
  • What kind of television shows would be showing in the very middle of the night on British TV, when almost everyone is asleep? (Since we have no TV, I can't research this one personally!) If I were writing an American setting, I might go for the stand-bys of 10-year-old football games and 80s teen movies. What would be the British equivalent?

  • My two main characters are a couple in their 30s with conflicting musical tastes. In my first draft, I wrote that his Metallica collection clashed with her Ani de Franco collection. I know the Metallica collection works (because I am married to a British metal fan!), but I've been feeling nervous about the other bit. Would Ani de Franco be a reasonable choice for a 30+ woman who loves alternative punk? Or is there another singer who would fit the bill better? And am I even using the right term when I say "alternative punk"???? (That question abandons all UK/US distinctions to expose my sheer ignorance about any kind of popular music. Sigh. I know a LOT about 18th-century music, okay? I could talk about all sorts of different genres in the 18th century and what they signified...but sadly, that doesn't come up much in normal life, whereas I am frequently humiliated by my lack of knowledge about the pop music of my own generation.)

  • But anyway, it's been a great, productive morning, and the write-a-thon is working as perfect motivation for me right now. Hurray! Wish me luck to keep it up for the rest of the write-a-thon, please!

    It was a perfect way to start a Sunday morning. And since I got so many wonderful movie rec's after yesterday's entry, my reward to myself is to go next to my online DVD rental list and start plugging in fun movies. Thanks, guys!

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