Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Favorite Genre

Since we're all big readers and/or writers, I was wondering what everyone's favorite genre is. What do you like reading best, and if you're a writer, what do you like writing best? I like reading fantasy, science fiction, and mysteries. I think they're all good, but it does depend on my mood. I like how fantasy and science fiction can take you into another world.  Authors who have obviously spent a lot of time world-building have my complete respect. And I love mysteries, especially if they can surprise me. Some of my favorite authors, listed in no particular order, are J.R.R. Tolkien, Agatha Christie, and Mercedes Lackey.  I don't have a favorite genre to write. I like to explore different genres with my writing. I used to write a lot of fantasy. (It was mostly urban fantasy. I have tried to come up with my own epic fantasy world. It needs work.)

So, discuss: Why are your favorite genres your favorites? Do any of you like the sort of action/adventure books like what Dr. Thomas wrote with Butterfly Kisses? Looking forward to any of the books we are reading because it is your favorite genre? I am looking forward to Anne Hillerman's book. I thought it was coming out sooner and was disappointed to realize I got the release date wrong.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Reactions to "Butterfly Kisses"

I was curious about how the class generally felt about the book as a whole. After having met Dr. Thomas today, we know that, for example, he tried to portray Mari as "dumb", but I personally didn't get that from the text. What surprised me the most was the graphic sexual content of the story, and I felt it didn't need to be in the story as much as it was. Another aspect of the text itself is that it felt a little disconnected, as if we had to "fill in" some of the sentences ourselves. What do you guys think (either about my take on the book, or your personal view?) Overall, I felt the book was really good to read, and I enjoyed it!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Any first thoughts on Butterfly Kisses before we talk about it tomorrow with the author tomorrow?? I personally am really enjoying it, but, not going to lie, I've still got a little bit left to finish before class starts :). Any thoughts on the title especially - page 101 is the first mention.

Introductory exercise

A.      Words:

cactus,  photograph, criminal, draw, chirp

B.      Write:

The tumbleweed blew across the trail. It was the only movement around. It ran into a cactus and once again everything was as still as a photo. Sheriff Tim had his hand on his holster, a mirror image of the famous criminal standing across from him. The only sound was the chirp of crickets and various other desert insects until suddenly


It was over in a moment the criminal was dead.

C.      Revise:

Tim did a little dance. He was victorious. He would get to live another day to kill more criminals. Crime doesn’t pay.

D.      Discuss:

I really liked this exercise. I always enjoy having a jumping off point. Immediately when I saw my words, I thought of a spaghetti western. I love spaghetti westerns, so I pictured the classic scene where the bad guy/criminal and the good guy/sheriff are standing across from each other and duel.  

The group who added to my story added a bit of humor. I thought my scene was pretty serious, but then again it was pretty cliché which maybe made them think it was funny. In the end I don’t think their additions really kept with my tone. I think that was the hardest part of the exercise, keeping the tone of the original author.

I also had a hard time writing under pressure. I don’t like how choppy my writing ended up, but that is typically how I start off my writing, just getting ideas onto paper.  I decided to re-write it so that it would flow a little better:

The only thing moving around them was the tumbleweed blowing across the trail. It passed between them and got caught on some pear cacti, and everything was still again. Sheriff Tim had one hand hovering over his holster; in his other hand was a Wanted Poster with a photograph resembling the man standing across from him. The man also had a hand hovering over his own holster. It was quiet except for the chirp of the cicadas and other various desert insects until suddenly:



It was over in a moment. The gun shot was echoing along the valley. Justice was served. The criminal was dead.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Response to group writing

A gray car was heading down Girard, alongside UNM. The driver of this car, an old 1989 Mercedes, was drunk and angry, and he had decided to visit his ex-girlfriend. However, a black cat ran in front of his car before he could whip around the corner to her street. He slammed into a telephone pole, and the cat walked off as if nothing unusual had happened. //// “That’s just my luck, damn!” the man said with one of his final breaths. Quite ironically enough, the untouched cat is grooming itself right outside my passenger door. “Oh the things that happen when you’re drunk.” Guess I should have watched the DWI commercials.

The five words I was given were “car,” “pole,” “cat,” “run,” and “drive.” I immediately pictured a car swerving into a pole to avoid a cat, and decided to put it in the neighborhood next to UNM in order to incorporate New Mexico. The writers after me decided to let the man die from his accident, and add another New Mexican element in the form of those DWI commercials everybody sees. They also switched mid-way through from my original third-person perspective to first-person, but this may have been accidental. The authors also made it a bit difficult to continue this story any further, since the now first-person character is apparently using up his last breaths. I have done informal games similar to this exercise, where one person says a word, another person says the next word, and so on until a story forms.

Introductory Exercise

A. Words

Family, Mexico, Camera, Betrayed, Running

B. Write

The family was supposed to come visit us tonight. They said they left Mexico about six hours ago so they should be here by now. I hope they come soon so we can put this whole family feud behind us. My tío felt betrayed the last time he came to visit us, but he said he would put that aside so we put the past behind us. I stared blankly out the window and was bored of the scenery. I looked over at my desk with my camera on it. I was running low on film and needed to get more. I got up from my chair and started to look at the pics I had taken about New Mexico and my family. The family fishing at Red River, sledding down Taos and the cabins we stayed at in Ruidoso. I hope we can bring the family back together.

C. Revise

But it was not to be. Last night the knock on our door did not present tío, but a police officer with no glad tidings to give. Tío was gone; a drunk driver had taken him out at the top of the road.

I’m glad I was given the five words. It gave me a place to start and I was able to picture a story in my mind. I usually have a hard time starting a story if I don’t have a starting point or direction. As I started writing I was trying to form the story in my head and where it was going to go. I don’t focus too much on the present time frame of the story just how it is going to end. I’m so focused on getting toward the ending that I rush through the part I’m working on. I was also focused on forming my story that I forgot the other requirement for the exercise which is to include New Mexico. All I need is a starting point but when I have to add something to structure the story I have a hard time with that.     

Writing Process

Having missed the first day of class, I can't say this for sure, but I assume that many of the students taking this class signed up in part because they write themselves. I'd be interested to know how you all go about the writing process thus far, and maybe see if it changes by the end of the semester.

For my own work, I generally start with a character I want to explore. Later on, I tack on a world for them to exist in (usually speculative in some way), and try to spin a plot from there. I recently began using the world as a plot point in itself, and its "character" proves just as interesting as any other person in the story. It also helped me figure out whodunnit in my mystery. What about you guys?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Introduction Exercise

A. Words:

Chad, Hamburger, The Library, Run, Swim

B. Write:

            Chad was on his way to the library on a hot New Mexico afternoon after class. But while running to the library he had a sudden craving for a hamburger. However, Chad then realized that he would have to swim across the Rio Grande in order to get to the taco stand which sold hamburgers. Chad was so hungry that he was completely willing. So Chad then leapt into the Rio Grande and swam like Michael Phelps. He soon had a hamburger in hand and was pleasantly satisfied. The satisfaction didn't last long. He needed to find the perfect hamburger, but he knew he couldn't find it in New Mexico. So he swam across the ocean to Hamburg, Germany, where he found the perfect burger. 

While writing this exercise I found it helpful that I was given five words that I had to piece together. If I had not been given those words and I was told to write a short story then I would not have known where to start. One thing that I found limiting was the fact that it was only supposed to be one paragraph and relating to New Mexico. Even with these restraints I felt that our creativity ran rampant in the streets. While writing, I simply wrote the quickest thing that came to mind. I decided to learn more towards a tone of humor because I felt that in a story this short I couldn't breach deeper feelings such as loss or love. Some people are capable of that in such a short space but I don't have enough confidence in my skill. In the end I found the product enjoyable and I was pleased.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Favorite NM Author

Who is your favorite New Mexico author? Why is this person your favorite? Which of the works of this author is your favorite and why?