Sunday, October 31, 2010
Yesterday, I woke up with a sore throat, a killer migraine, body aches, and I couldn't warm up to save my life. Long story and Nyquil later, I'm feeling better but not better enough to write a post. Sorry guys!!
Peace and cookies,
Friday, October 29, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I'm not a comedy writer, but you have no idea how much I sometimes wish I were. I can spend hours watching shows like 30 Rock, Community, and The Office, and trying to figure out why the funny works as well as it does. So it's no surprise that, when doing a post on TEH FUNNIES, I'm going to be looking at both television and books.
Elements of Funny
Keep in mind, please, that there's no reason to use EVERY SINGLE ELEMENT unless you just want to. This is just a list of common funny things I've noticed that some hilarious works make use of, if that makes sense. And, because I didn't have a whole heap of time to write this post I only came up with three. SOZ BOUT THAT.
THE FUNNYMAN :
Spencer, from Suite Scarlett
Alpha, from The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (arguably)
Spencer, from iCarly
Tracy Jordan, from 30 Rock
This is the character that makes you laugh. You learn pretty quickly that this character is never going to have a not-funny scene. They just say the darndest things. Or do the darndest things. This is the character that you can always rely on to be funny. (For all you TV tropes fans, the funnyman can sometimes be the Cloudcuckoolander, but not always.)
In television it's fine to have a character whose sole purpose is to be funny, but one of the reasons that Spencer (the Suite Scarlett one) works so well is that not only is he the funnyman in pretty much every scene, but he's also one of the most important characters and has a very strong relationship with the protagonist. He's not the primary main character, but he's close.
OUTRAGEOUS SITUATIONS :
Everything 30 Rock does
Most of Community
Everything Spencer from Suite Scarlett is ever involved in
These are the situations that, even on their own with no characters to support them, are completely insane. Things like putting on a Shakespeare play (complete with unicycles!) in your home, breaking into a KFC space shuttle simulation and being towed away. Those things. They just sound ridiculous, and if you can fit something that ridiculous into your completely-grounded (or even un-grounded) story, KUDOS TO YOU. It's funny.
WACKY NARRATOR/NARRATION :
The best example of this one is Serafina67, in which the entire book is told in blog format and there are whole chapters (including scenes and dialogue) written in... wait for it... LOLCAT. For serious. It's undoubtedly off-putting to some readers, but for others (like me) it's absolutely hilarious.
I'm not telling you to write your book in lolcat. But telling it in an interesting, offbeat way usually gives it some humor.
I absolutely love jokes. I wish I could write them into my stories, but I have no idea. I know nothing about them, but obviously they're hilarious.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I had one of those strange dreams Friday night, and I remember it quite vividly, as I had to wake up in the middle of it to get to the airport (you can only remember dreams you wake up during, right?). It was the perfect combination; crazy dream, vivid recollection, and lots of time sitting in moving vehicles to mull over it.
Needless to say, bam, new story idea. The characters and their relationships are already so clear in my head that I was itching to start writing. So, I did. (Not going to say in which class.) By the end of a surreptitious half hour, I had four pages written. Normally it's hard for me to write that fast, except when writing a flashback scene. Which I was.
Why is that? Almost every time I write flashback scenes, I write at least twice as fast as when writing present-moment scenes. Anyone else find that happens to them? Any thoughts why?
Monday, October 25, 2010
For me, it's a little bit of everything. I write about writing because I want to connect with other writers. I read tons of blogs on writing and I figure, why not share my opinion in case it can help someone else? But, I'm also creating another blog/website in the hopes of getting my name out there. I don't expect to get an agent based on a blog - that's crazy. I do think that it will be beneficial to me in the long run, though.
What about you?
Saturday, October 23, 2010
(Snort. That sounds so dramatic.)
When is it time to stop writing? Not permanently, obviously, not even at all. Don’t panic, I’m not suggesting that I’m going to stop writing completely. :P But the thing I’ve been wondering is… when is it time to stop writing a WIP? How do you know when you’re not just stuck, but you’ve run out of words?
See, whenever anyone asks how much I write (though this has only happened a couple times) I always answer, “Until the words stop.”
With #TheGenieBook, I think the words have stopped for good. My word count was fine, but nothing was coming right and it felt so forced. I've cleaned several rooms in my house, scheduled a dozen or so posts in Blogger and my Google Reader was pretty much empty for a time (these are the things I do when the words don’t come right).
I didn’t want to quit. I liked my characters, I liked the story, but… a break might be in order. Time to let it percolate and give myself some space so when I feel like going back to it, I can look at it more objectively.
I mean, I wrote… three? Three or four scenes for #Spyder while writing another book and then wrote the full thing when I was desperately bored and needing something else to write.
I'm really excited about my NaNo idea. I feel like I'm really connecting with the characters without even writing and the idea just feels good, so... I think this is right. Forcing myself to write something that I'm not as excited about... not so right.
The only problem now? I have nothing to write until November! And I'm bored :P
So how about you guys? When do you know when a story isn't working for you? When do you guys move on?
Peace and cookies,
Friday, October 22, 2010
This all comes down to the whole "crappy first draft" thing, which I've talked about before. It's okay to write crappy. You can edit it all to a beautifully tight, flowing script (much unlike this one) later.
But to be able to write fast, to get everything in your brain onto the page, you have to not worry about what you're writing. You just have to go with it.
So say this or this or this or that or this and don't worry about how it sounds until later. Just get those words on the page.
So I have a challenge for you. Write for fifteen minutes solid. DO NOT stop. You can use Write or Die for this, which is an awesome program. Try to get as many words as you can without stopping. Don't think about what you're writing.
This is what I do when I need to figure out a plot problem. Just write it out. It might be crap, but your characters are still speaking to you and guiding you. And you can shape it later.
So don't make excuses. That bagel you were about to make or that book you're reading or that show you're watching can wait fifteen minutes. (Unless you're leaving for a 30 Seconds to Mars concert: then, it's a valid excuse.) Seriously, stop everything right now and write. You will thank me later. I love praise.
Let me know how you do and how many words you get. I'll be doing the exact same thing tonight when I get home from this crazy concert.
And I promise a more thought-out post next week.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Also: the playlist for my current WIP can be found here. Sadly, no country songs except for one Taylor Swift song that is SORT OF country.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I write at night. I mean, not to say that I don’t write at other times of the day sometimes—mornings, the rare weekend afternoon, et cetera—but usually, I write at night.
This is due to three reasons:
1) My overactive black cloud—you know that little black cloud that hovers over you reminding you of homework and chores and homework and training runs and homework and homework to do? Yeah, mine almost never lets me concentrate on anything ‘fun’ (unless it’s accidental procrastination) until I get homework—I mean, everything—done. Therefore, It’s usually late by the time the cloud dissipates.
2) My zone—when I am tired, I can slip into a ‘zone’ where my mind blocks out everything around me (or on the internet) and becomes consumed by my story. This is my prime writing mode, and it happens later at night.
3) Being the only one up—my parents are early to bed, early to rise-ers. I am not. By the time I sit down to write, my parents are asleep, my sister is either asleep or reading quietly, and the house is very still and not distracting.
When’s your best writing time?
Monday, October 18, 2010
But is it more important to stay home and write than go out with friends? Isn't important to actually LIVE your life so you have experiences to write about, rather than stay home and writewritewrite?
Needless to say, I haven't been writing much lately. Why? Well, two weeks ago, there was a family emergency that resulted in me doing absolutely nothing for an entire week. That resulted in me being behind instead of ahead in school and everything kind of snowballed after that. I'm currently juggling 9 classes a day, some of which are honors and therefore require quite a bit of effort, PAYA, and all my projects, including the Brightly Woven Fan site. Add on the fact that oh, hey, homecoming is next weekend, I have chores, friends that want to hang out, emails that need to be answered, interview questions that should've been answered yesterday, and oh, those three manuscripts that should've been critiqued last month.
All of that has resulted in me doing very little writing these past few weeks and I don't honestly see that changing much for a while.
What do you do when life gets too crazy to handle? How do you still find time to write?
Saturday, October 16, 2010
I am not organized. I lose everything. If I need to take something with me for some reason, I check it three times so I don’t forget and half the time I still forget. I make lists like crazy when I have to plan things. When I planned our Thanksgiving, I had three lists, I taped recipes to my cabinets, I didn’t sleep well for days and I had a stress headache for a week, not to mention the anxiety nightmares.
And don’t get me started on packing. Because if I pack on the fly, I forget things I really need. Like clean underwear. (Zomg, I’m totally the first person to say underwear on this blog!) And deodorant. And pens. I remember notebooks, but forget the pens.
I am not organized.
I’m stressing this because I have posts like this and this, and nights like the other night where I scheduled a dozen or so blog posts (so my blog won’t die when/if I attempt to NaNo). When I do things like that, people tell me I’m so organized. I’m not. And I feel like such a phony when people say things like that. Because if I appear organized, it’s only because I’m so disorganized that I need to be organized to function. You know?
Anyways, so my latest attempt at battling #TheGenieBook includes spreadsheets. I totally stole this idea from Justine Larbalestier and her post is far more brilliant than mine.
But here’s my take on it.
I have a column for the chapter number, an “events” column where I list pretty much anything I think is important to remember. Things like, “She got a drink of water,” not so important. Things like, “She found a frog in her shoe, kissed it, and it turned into a prince,” are important. Make sense?
I’m also keeping track of when I use a break, to see if I’m overusing them, as I tend to do that, the word counts of each chapter, and I will fill in the day column once I figure that out. (I currently have no idea what day it is in #TheGenieBook… or several characters’ last names… and a couple characters’ first names.)
I have another spreadsheet that’s just one fat column with my outline of things I plan on happening for me to incorporate as I write. Really, that could have been done in a document, on a piece of paper or pretty much anywhere, but the spreadsheet worked and the ideas came so I ran with it.
But I’m still not organized. Honest. I don’t even normally plot. I’m a pantser and a scene-sewer (thank you, Tina, for that AWESOME phrase). I (somehow) managed to come up with a 70 something K novel doing that, but #TheGenieBook is not so co-operative with my pantser style… so I’m adapting.
I’m still not organized. :P
Peace and cookies,
Friday, October 15, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Yeah, well. It was horrible. It deserved to be deleted. But still, never delete things. It just makes picking the idea up again even more difficult. Although in this case I'm starting to think starting from scratch again was a really good idea.
For any of you who don't remember/know of last year's nano, I'll just say that it's YA contemporary (of course) about a girl whose nickname is Stalker. OOH, INTRIGUE!!
step one. THE INSPIRATION! it is shiny. it is new. it is all full of sparkles and rainbows and oh look! the rainbow is made of skittles! taste the rainbow! ta-dah!
step two. OH CRAP HOW DO I WRITE THIS THING? time for panic.
step three. GIVE UP. *tear hair out* it is just so much easier to work on this other idea that i have had for ages and ages and is like a good old friend instead of this weird new thing.
step four. TIME PASSES. weeks, months, years, whatever the case may be. what was once your shiny new idea is now sitting in the attic of you head, collecting dust and cobwebs and it is under three huge boxes of other ideas now and you can barely even FIND IT.
step five. OH HAI, REMEMBER ME?? you accidentally bump into the old idea again! maybe because you've just abandoned yet another new idea and now the first idea is the old one you're going back to. or, you know, maybe you're just driving your car or sitting in class or talking to someone and something they say reminds you of the old idea and it's like hellooo again.
step six. THIS TIME IT'S DIFFERENT. the first time around you were so excited!!! sooo excited!! and you wanted the idea to spring, fully-formed into your writing program. because it was JUST SO PERFECT. but now you're smarter. you've lost a few ideas along the way, you've given up a few times, written hideously bad prose, and this time you're not going to rush things. you are going to WRITE THIS BOOK, DAMMIT, even though it's going to take so long and there's so much to do and there will be fights and sometimes maybe you won't talk to each other for weeks. but, um, that's not the point.
step seven. BABY NAMES!! or, erm, character names. from the beautiful wonderful amazing cool names for babies, which is one of those books that i love love love love thank you baby-naming-people for writing it. anyway, yeah. names. for characters. awesome names, i mean.
step eight. DANCE PARTY!! playlists, i mean. music.
step nine. HELLO NOW FILL OUT THIS PAPERWORK. i do character bios but some people do outlines, summaries, whatever it is that helps plot the book. this takes way longer than it probably should, ending with me spending over an hour on each character's flimsy little character card. SO YEAH.
step ten. WORDS. finally i get to write something.
(i'm still in step nine, btw)
And yes, in case you're wondering... steps 2-5 happen for me in nearly every single novel I write. At least in all the ones that are any good and definitely in all of the novels I've queried or plan on querying. It generally takes over a year for me to figure out an idea well enough to really set out and write the novel. SO UH, HOW DOES YOUR PRE-NOVEL TIME GO LIKE?
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Books are usually the first items I notice in a room, so when I walked into the living room after school today I noticed Nightlight by the Harvard Lampoon lying on the table. My sister got it from the library the other day, and obviously I picked it up right away instead of doing my silly math homework. Nightlight is a parody of Twilight; I'm only a few pages into it and I'm already laughing. Which got me thinking about parodies.
I think I like parodies. I'm sure there are some exceptions--as in, parodies that are poorly done or overdone--but for the most part parodies and satire crack me up. The trailer for Vampires Suck had me in stitches. Weird Al songs make me grin. "Academy Award Winning Movie Trailer" on YouTube is hilarious. And did you know that Lord of the Flies is a parody of Coral Island?
Parodies for me are exceptionally funny when I really like or really dislike the original work. What about you guys? Do you find parodies funny, or demeaning, or ridiculous, or even all of the above?
Monday, October 11, 2010
New Idea 1 was inspired by the song "War" by the Sick Puppies (which is currently one of my favorite songs.) It's going to be a fun, humorous upper-MG/lower-YA about what happens when the mathletes and cheerleaders go head-to-head in a dance off. I think this will probably be the just I write next.
New Idea 2 was inspired by the song "Mine" by Taylor Swift. More specifically, the line "you made a rebel out of a careless man's careful daughter". I actually know how this one is going to end, which is surprising, but it's going to be a regular/upper-YA and the characters will be older than me so I might hold off on it for a while.
New Idea 3 was inspired by an old story I wrote. Once upon a time, I had started writing a story about a vampire in a rock band. Then my computer died and I lost it. I wasn't really feeling those characters anymore but I was feeling a werewolf in a rock band and a journalist.
I'm *really* excited for all three of these - I wish I could write as fast as I come up with ideas!
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Just in case anyone doesn't know that, NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month. You can find out more information here.
This is a pretty common question on twitter these days. My answer is: I don't know yet. I am currently 23K into #TheGenieBook. But a friend of mine REALLY wants me to do NaNo with her, so my "plan" (read this as: insane idea) is if I finish #TheGenieBook by the end of October, I'll do NaNo. I do have an idea for something I could write for it, but if I'm not finish #TheGenieBook, I don't want to stop in the middle and start something else, you know?
So, if you're keeping track, that will mean I'm trying to finish three books in less than six months.
AKA I'm trying to kill myself.
On top of that, tomorrow is Thanksgiving (technically Monday, but my mom works Monday) so I'm making a full turkey dinner for the first time ever. Which I'm mildly terrified of, but it'll be okay! Right?
So that's where I am right now and that's why this is all I'll be writing today. I'm a little exhausted right now :P I promise next week I'll have a better post.
But tell me now, are you guys going to do NaNo?
Peace and cookies,
Friday, October 8, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
What do you do once you finish a book in English class? Oh, that’s right…you write a paper on it. And holy cow, are there a lot of topic opportunities for Tale of Two Cities. Feminism Lenses, Character Analysis of Sydney Carton (!), Comparison of Foil Characters Like Miss Pross and Lucie, Why The Heck Does Lucie Choose Darnay and not Carton, Pick Some Symbolism Any Symbolism, Et Cetera.
Mine, though, doesn’t stem from any of those. My idea came from a random thought of vaguely avian creatures with Stars Upon Thars.
Yep, my in-progress paper compares Tale of Two Cities with The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss. And that got me thinking: yeah, Dr. Seuss writes about animals that look like Big Bird crossed with an emu and a teddybear named Sylvester McMonkey McBean. But he also writes about humans. In The Sneetches there’s a not-so-underlying lesson about how groundless and ridiculous discrimination is.
Once the ball of thought got rolling I looked at other stories by Dr. Seuss, and they’re riddled with commentary on human nature. The Butter Battle Book, for instance. Go read it, and then tell me it’s not a brilliant narrative about rising tension and danger rooted in something completely trivial and misunderstood. (Cold War?) And my English teacher mentioned that the Cat in the Hat and that Goldfish that’s always a downer are like Sigmund Freud’s id and ego.
So do your inner psychoanalyst slash sociologist a favor. Put down that vampire/fallen angel/heartbreak novel and go catch up on your Sneetches.
Monday, October 4, 2010
On Monday and Tuesday, I was flying. On Monday, I had 5k written by noon and on Tuesday, even though the words came a little slower, I had 5k written by one in the afternoon.
Then, on Wednesday, I ended up getting grounded. That meant no writing on Wednesday or Thursday. By the time Friday rolled around, I just wasn't feeling it anymore. I managed to push out a few hundred words but that was it.
I think another problem that I had was that 25k was too high of a goal for this particular story. Yes, it has to be at least 25k in finished form but I write very short rough drafts. I summarize a lot of things and they're just messy. By trying to hit 25k, I was adding so much unneeded description that I'm just going to have to cut in the rewrite. The next time I attempt to write a middle-grade, I think I'll probably aim for 15-20k.
Those two things aside, I'm actually pretty proud of myself. Yes, I didn't make my goal but I proved to myself that I CAN do it. If I hadn't been unable to write those two days, this post would be completely different. And, either way, I also have over 11,000 words I can work with. That's a LOT more than I had the last time I posted.
My goal for this week is to finish it and then in a few weeks, I'll start revising!
Anyone else have a writing goal for this week?
Saturday, October 2, 2010
When you let people read your writing, not everyone will like it. Some people will, and that is the most awesome thing ever. Some people, who are even more of the most awesome thing ever, will love it, and these people will make everything you went through writing it, worth it.
But some people won’t like it. And that hurts, a lot. It is one of those things that I don’t know if you can ever get used to. It’s scary and painful and I do not like it – but it’s going to happen.
For leWIP1 (aka Spyder), so far I’ve had two betas* read for me and one critiquer**. One beta love it. My critiquer loved it.
One beta pretty much hated it.
This person (and I am sorry if you’re reading this and you recognize yourself, but I swear I won’t name you and, well, this is kinda what writers do when things happen to them and honestly, I need to talk about it, plus I kind of think it’s a valuable story so please keep reading because you might understand me a little bit better after I’m done), this person had read another story of mine and liked it, but she didn’t really like Spyder at all (or at least that’s how it felt). She didn’t like most of my characters, she didn’t like some of the choices they made, she just didn’t really like it.
This was not my fault.
Nor was it her fault.
While this person was harsh, at times harsher than she maybe should have been, I told her to be honest, and she was honest. Brutally honest, but honest nonetheless. She didn’t like it. She said so. I always found her to be a good beta, and a lot of what she suggested, even not liking the book, I did agree with.
In the end, though, she didn’t like my book. It wasn’t her type of book, which I understand and I don’t hold a grudge about it. I don’t blame her, I don’t immediately think of her as “the person who didn’t like my book” or anything when I see her name on Twitter, and I consider her to be a friend, I don’t want it to come off like I do.
I don’t know yet if I’ll ask her to beta for me again. She’s offered me valuable advice before and she’s always been super-supportive. But it is hard, when thinking about writing, to forget that she didn’t like something of mine, even though I think (hope) that #thegeniebook (as it’s currently known as Twitter) would be more to her taste.
That’s my issue, though, and it’s not even really about her. I knew while I was writing Spyder that some people wouldn’t like it. (To be honest, I didn’t expect anyone to like it.) But… it still hurts and I don’t know if that will ever change. I know I’ll have to deal with it… but I don’t think it’ll ever feel okay.
Okay, because this post was pretty serious and I think you guys might need a laugh right about now (I sure do), here’s a video of the puppy a friend of mine owns, and a video of “Soft Kitty” from The Big Bang Theory (which I can do by memory).
Peace and cookies,
*Writer vocabulary lesson! (Well, in Laina-speak, anyways.) A beta reader is someone who reads your writing and gives their opinion of it, helps you improve it. I’ve talked about this before. These people are awesome because they’re like your first fans and they make it all the not-sleeping and work worth it.
**A critiquer, sometimes known as a crit partner, is someone who takes your work, tears it to pieces, and somehow makes you make it better, all the while being awesome and supportive and generally making you feel really good about yourself while still helping you recognize the flaws and things that make your writing weaker and helping you fix them. *coughAshycough*