October 30, 2010

Preparing for NaNoWriMo

Only a little more than a day and it starts! I'm really excited, eager to write which is a great feeling! Writing is easier when one's enthusiastic, right?
Right. Still need to figure some things out before it begins. But I would love to write instead of smoothing out the details. I've just finished the outline yesterday evening. I was glad I can finally see exactly where I wanted the story to go and how to prevent time's material from fracturing further, when who decided to join? After I mentally finished my story? Another character! It's so frustrating, because now I have to edit the 2/3 of the outline so she would fit into the storyline. However, I can see how she would propel some events and she also has a big role in the romantic thread of the story.
Ah, the romantic thread. I hope I'll be okay with it this year, because I'm afraid that in my last NaNo, it only existed in my imagination, but not in my actual storytelling. Maybe I should re-read some of my old works.

I used a new method (for me) this year while collecting my ideas for my novel. My mp3 player broke, but I can still use the dictaphone mode. So I made notes on that and later, listened to my own voice (ugh) and it took a few afternoons and evenings, but I finally managed to get everything typed into my computer. The best thing is, my notes on the dictaphone are in Hungarian, while I was writing them down in English. A warm-up for my NaNo this year, because I'm writing it in English!
The point is, I love that it captures more of my ideas and I can think paralelly not only on 2 or 3 threads, but on one more and I won't forget it, because I only need to listen to it once more, after I wrote down my other idea(s). So it may take more time, but I think it's perfect for being more creative and for a brainstorming session, of course.

What methods do you use while outlining? How are you preparing for NaNoWriMo? Are you as excited to begin as I am?

October 26, 2010

Magic realism

Magic realism or magical realism is an aesthetic style or genre of fiction in which magical elements are blended into a realistic atmosphere in order to access a deeper understanding of reality. These magical elements are explained like normal occurrences that are presented in a straightforward manner which allows the "real" and the "fantastic" to be accepted in the same stream of thought. It has been widely considered a literary and visual art genre; creative fields that exhibit less significant signs of magic realism include film and music.
Quote: from Wikipedia 

Characteristics of magic realism

*Plenitude style
Stratifying elements (themes, stories), different styles.

*Characters can have fantastic attributes
'Pleasant, but extraordinary strange.' 

The author doesn't tell everything, and doesn't explain if the events are accurate or authentic OR whether he/she agrees with the characters.
The difference between fantasy/sci-fi and magical realism is that the latter doesn't even explain the most fantastic/impossible occurences.

*Sense of mystery
The reader has to look for hidden meanings in the text. A higher awareness in regard to life's contradictions and hidden meaning.

*Collective consciousness
It maps society in the novel, characters relate to that world (and in turn).

*Political critic
Implicit critique of society, particularly the elite.

Magical realism is a post-modern characteristic; realism, surrealism, related to fantasy and science fiction. The first 20 pages are decisive ones.
A few examples: One Hundred Years of Solitude (by Gabriel García Márquez), Salman Rushidie's several books, Toni Morrison, etc. We can see Kaffka as the precursor of magical realism.

No writing excercise in this lesson :( 

October 22, 2010

Publishing in Hungary

As I mentioned in my last post, we discussed this topic after the memoirs and even though I knew it works differently here than there, I came upon a few surprising facts.

First of all, we have Literary Agencies, too, but they don't represent Hungarian authors. My initial question was: 'Then what the heck do they do?' I just learnt that they are the connection between foreign publishers and Hungarian publishing houses.

The other comes from the fact above: writers who'd like to publish their books, go straight to publishers. They pitch their projects to them and if they don't like it, then Writer goes to another publisher. Then another... and another... And when they finally found the perfect match and it comes to signing contracts, well, there's noone to ask advice from, regarding the agreement.
How much advance is normal? What about royalties? If I want to have any say in (for example) the cover, will they change their mind about publishing my book? Will I see the MS after the editor goes through it? Can I have any say about the changes? - And these are only a few questions Writer have to solve on their own.

After these concerns are out of the way and you both signed a contract, then it's usually about 1/2 year or a year before the book is published.
1st: editors edit
2nd: proof-reader goes through the text (this is more strict, looking for grammar mistakes, typos, double meanings, etc.)

What I really couldn't get out of my mind was when the teacher said she works for a publisher and she told us some questions they ask when interviewing new writers. One of them was this: 'How many times did you read your book?'
She said if the answer went on like this: 'I read it, then edited, then got a few friends to read it, too, then edited again...' Then there's a high chance they won't accept the MS. Why? Because they think the words aren't as sincere as in the first or second draft.
For the record, I don't know whether this applies to other publishers in Hungary or not, but I almost asked which one does she work for.

So, you see I discovered another difference! This kept me thinking for awhile, though. But because in the end, I'll always be a maximalist and can't be someone else, whether a publisher likes it or not, I'll be perfecting my MS.

Any thoughts on this topic?

October 20, 2010


Better late than never, they say.

The week before last, we were discussing memoirs. We learnt that biographies are between fact and fiction and there're two types: autobiographies and classical biographies (external). And two other categories for the first one: self-help autobiography (to show yourself to the World) or fictionized autobiography, which is not in chronological order.

The first autobiography novel was written by Augustinus, the title was 'Confessions'. Back then, a biography was called an 'apology'. Interesting, isn't it?
Rousseau wrote the second autobiography.

Autobiography is 70% stream of consciousness-novels (about your feelings, etc.) and 30% facts.

Writing practice:
+ Write one of your days, of your feeling.
+ You have a minute to write anything that comes to mind when hearing the word 'rock' (free association-game).

We also talked about how books are made - in Hungary. I think my next post would be about that, I found an interesting thing to contemplate about, regarding this topic.

October 02, 2010


I took on a creative writing course at the University this semester. The first lesson was on Thursday, and as far as I can see, we'll be focusing on the various genres. E. g. Memoirs, Utopias & Distopias, Fairy Tales, Historic novels... AND there'll be a lesson dedicated to Translation & Editing.

We need to turn in an essay and one of our own texts. I'm already done with my essay. We had 3 topics to choose from:
1) The reason why literature exists
2) My favourite texts
3) A text by me

I went with the first one. Because A) How can you ask a writer for her favourite text? Clearly, she has many. And I was a bit lazy trying to decide which ones should I include. B) Usually, I takes me minimum 7 pages to write a whole short-story, otherwise it'll be a bit... ungainly. This task also said that the writing should be around 3-5 pages.

And I wanted to create something new to reflect my current writing style (though on second thought, I don't know if the first choice can really do that) and I usually have novel-lenght ideas. A bit harder for me to write a complete short story.

For the record, I was thinking for days what to write in my essay. 'The reason why literature exists'... Eventually, I had several point of views and opinions to choose from.
So, with this creative writing course and November coming (NaNoWriMo!) and starting my thesis, I won't be bored this semester. (Did I mention lots of seminars, yet?)