Welcome to the second edition of Garbage Day. Mondays are hard enough without having to try to come up with a coherent theme for however many words I typically average, so I try to collect a random mishmash of ideas that come to mind on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, then throw them together to see if it makes something interesting. Sort of a word stew, I suppose.
First item, of course, is that the Star Wars Blu-Rays came out on Friday. I know this isn’t strictly writing-related, but it is site-related, as I’ve spoken before about the changes that have been made. I haven’t had a chance to see any of the changes beyond A New Hope, but I felt I should acknowledge the arrival because as mixed as my feelings are about the franchise these days, trending toward negative, it still has been a huge influence in my life and, along with Tron, was instrumental in making me a writer.
One of the things that I’ve been thinking about as it relates to Star Wars is the Hero’s Journey. You know, Joseph Campbell’s concept of the Hero’s Journey monomyth? If you’re not familiar, a summation of the concept from Wikipedia:
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.
Many stories feature this monomyth besides Star Wars. The first Matrix movie, the Never-Ending Story, Ender’s Game, Conan the Barbarian, and even Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure all pay tribute to this concept. It’s a commonly-used trope, so much so that when I set out to write this entry, I was going to rant about how this has become shorthand for making an interesting plot and has become overdone. In a conversation with my friend Rob recently, he cited some movie that I can’t recall, but he said that he enjoyed it because it was the Hero’s Journey all over again. My knee-jerk reaction surprised even myself: I said I felt that it was a bit overdone these days, and I was getting tired of it.
But the truth is, while I might have felt it was played-out and a cheap way to buy legitimacy for a story, I’ve since realized that that is not my problem at all. I mean, hell, In the Corridors of the Dead is basically the Hero’s Journey, so obviously I feel some resonance with the idea still. In fact, I think I lost some sight of the fact that the Hero’s Journey underlies almost every story that we tell these days. Seriously, check out The Godfather, Harry Potter, Slumdog Millionaire, When Harry Met Sally, etc. etc. So my problem is not with the concept itself, or even every story using it. I think my problem is that it’s become perceived as something special when, really, it underlies almost every story. That’s truly what irritates me – that something that is basic to storytelling has become so revered. It was a big thing in the 90s to talk about the monomyth in relation to Star Wars, but I’ve come to realize since that It’s akin to celebrating DNA, I suppose.
On to the next topic. I’ve decided I’m not 100% happy with the current cover for Corridors of the Dead. Don’t get me wrong, I like it. I think it’s well-executed and I think it’s a good cover, but there was always something that never felt quite right for me. It wasn’t the vision that I had for it. So I’ve found a place where I could hire another cover designer, someone who I think understands what I want. After a lot of pondering over what to do with having two competent cover designs, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not fair to throw the first cover out. So I’m going to have to two covers for Corridors. I’ll use the new cover exclusively on Amazon and the print copy (as we’re building this one for dual purposes), and use the original on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and any other site that might pop up. I’m kind of tempted to have a third cover, in fact, so that I have one for the Nook, one for Smashwords, and one for Kindle, but that might be overdoing it.
But I think that’s what I’m going to do. I’ve seen plenty of examples of this in the music industry – buy the album at any given store and you might get a different cover. The more I thought about this, the more I liked it as an interesting marketing angle. And who knows, a re-release might make it even more interesting. The initial sketch of the new cover is very exciting, though. I think you’re going to like it.
I’m roughly a quarter of the way through Entanglements, and it’s bringing out a different side of me, I have to say that. I’ve written several passages now where I can see myself maturing as a writer. I think you might know what I’m talking about – the kind of passage that you write, then look at later and marvel that you wrote it at all. Saturday night, as well, when I really got down to it, something clicked and I really “got” the principle of showing and not telling in a way that I never have before.
Part of this evolution is down to tone, though. Corridors of the Dead is told by a woman who doesn’t read a lot, and while she’s intelligent, it’s more street-smarts. Entanglements is a combination of a novel and a journal “written” by a woman who has authored and self-published a novel and works as a proposal writer. There is also more of a sense of adventure in the first book. Both share suspense, but with the latter being more of a romance, there has to be a different quality to the language – a more languid feel at some spots that allows me to stretch out more. I think the book will ultimately benefit from that.
Also in the very early stages of plotting The City of the Dead. I’m molding my idea around a structure which came to mind last night. More on that in the future.