Monday, February 28, 2011
Why? Because every single person in that room had a different opinion about the book. Me, I hated it so much I couldn't finish it. Both librarians and the two high school teachers that were there disliked it as well, though for different reasons. About half of the room either liked or LOVED it but they all liked different things about it. Some people were just meh about it. An hour and a half was dedicated to discussing this ONE book.
ONE book, with thirty DIFFERENT opinions, ranging from hatred to love. It's kind of hard to believe but it's one of the things that's so interesting about literature.
Every person takes something different away from every book.
It's why we, as writers, cannot let the fact that one beta reader doesn't like our story or that one agent rejected it or five editors rejected it or that someone else doesn't like the idea.
It's impossible to please everyone.
It's something that I've always known but tonight really proved that for me and showed me how different the opinions really can be.
Who knew so much could be learned at the library.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
I think, if I'm not mistaken, one of the most commonly asked questions from newer writers to more experienced writers is, "How do you write a book?" The simple answer is, "You just do," but that kinda sucks as an answer, doesn't it? So. I was thinking that maybe if I broke down the process of how I wrtie, it might help some of you out there in Frustrated Writer Land.
With me step one is an idea. Usually it's inspired by a dream I've had (but not one my stress nightmares, because in those everyone dies bloody, violent deaths, and that isn't quite what I want to be writing about.) For the sake of this post, let's say I had a dream about the dish that ran away with the spoon.
For those not familiar with this nursery rhyme, it goes:
Hey, diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed to see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.
In this case, the dish and spoon running away would probably be the scene I dreamt about. I'd write it down as soon as I woke up, because I do with a lot of my dreams, but it'd get stuck in my head and I wouldn't be able to stop thinking about it. So, I'd wonder. How did they get to that point? Who are they?
(Now, usually, the dish is potrayed as female and the spoon male, but a.) I like to do things differently from other people sometimes and b.) when I think of forks and spoons, forks just seem like boys, so let's just say that in my dream, the spoon was a girl and the dish was a boy.)
Now. We have a main character - the spoon. (Just roll with me here.)
This is step two. There are any number of character profiles and questionaires you can fill out, and while those can be helpful at certain stages, I don't use them at all at this stage. I find that, for me, the best way to develop a character is to dive in and write a few scenes from their POV. (Main characers. Not side characers, because I have trouble head-hopping, so I stick to writing from one MC's point-of view.)
For me, this is also a good way to tell how well I can write in their heads. If an idea isn't ready to be written, the words don't feel right.
This is getting long, so how about we continue it next week? What does the beginning of your writing process look like?
Peace and cookies,
Thursday, February 24, 2011
There is this lingering fear that if I actually do get published when I'm a teenager- people will actually read it. I'm not scared of people reading what I write, I'm scared of family reading what I write.
I curse in my novels.
Some of my characters curse like sailors.
But that is just how they are.
People who are non-writers don't really understand that if I have a character who drops the f-bomb every other word, I can't censor them. Speaking of experience, when I censor a character so they don't curse or say a certain thing, it messes them up.
You guys, my grandparents might read what I publish.
They probably will read my books if they get published.
The thing is- I don't say "bad words" much in real life. I don't want my parents/grandparents/parents friends/cousins to read what I write and then be shocked that I know a curse-word!
They make a lot of sexual innuendo's.
They are annoying, self centered, and confused.
I don't want my family members to think of me differently because of what I write. This is a fear that has haunted me for years. I seriously don't know how to get over it. Do you ever get over it?
Let's discuss this in the comments, dear readers.
Am I the only one who has a fear of my elders reading what I write and thinking I'm crazy?
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Person 1: Yadayada
Person 2: Yahblooh
Person 1: Blosh!
Person 2: Bloshblosh.
"Yadayada," P1 said.
"Yablooh," P2 agreed.
"Bloshblosh," P2 added.
I think there are advantages and disadvantages to both. However, do the disadvantages to list-dialogue carry more weight than the advantages? Dialogue tags often add action and description that create the setting or introduce character traits about the two in the conversation. But if the setting and characters are already well established, or if the descriptions could be worked into the dialogue itself, would the list be more effective?
I found a short conversation in one of my old stories. Here it is in both formats.
And without tags:
“What is so urgent?” Henry asks, falling into step beside me. We enter the store, and cool AC washes over me.
“Ah…look at that bottle. Zombie repellant. Only one dollar,” I say unconvincingly.
“The only effective Zombie repellant is a large shotgun and quick feet,” Henry corrects, successfully distracted.
“The stuff here is weird,” I observe for probably the millionth time.
“And useless.” Henry bends over to examine the zombie repellant, and next to it, a crystal ball. “This isn’t even real crystal, or glass.”
“I think it’s supposed to be a snow globe.”
“No, it says crystal ball. Besides what use is a snow globe?”
“I’ll let you ponder that.” I move away and try to find Grandma. She finds me instead.
Henry: Oh no, this AC is freezing. I can feel my epidermis growing numb. Kristyn, what is so urgent?
Me: Ah…look at that bottle. Zombie repellant. Only one dollar.
Henry: The only effective Zombie repellant is a large shotgun and quick feet.
Me: Right. So apart from that, nothing urgent at all. The stuff here is weird.
Henry: And useless. This 'Crystal Ball' isn’t even real crystal, or glass.
Me: I think it’s supposed to be a snow globe.
Henry: No, it says crystal ball. Besides what use is a snow globe?
Me: I’ll let you ponder that.
So what do you think? Which works better for this conversation?
Monday, February 21, 2011
I've heard more than one writer say that the journals they kept as a teenager has been a life-saver when it comes to writing for YA because it helps them remember the small things and the emotions of being a teenager. Often, keeping a journal is the one piece of writing advice they offer up to every teenager.
So do you keep a journal?
Me, I keep one on and off. I'll write in it all the time for months straight then forget about it for a while. Right now, I'm probably about 30 pages from finally filling up my first-ever diary - one that I started way back in '07. I think as I get older, I've started to write more faithfully in it and I'm actually really excited to be able to go out and buy another one.
I write about all kinds of things in it - what I did that day, how I'm feeling, anything that's going on with my family or friends...sometimes I use it as a de-stresser to make a list of everything I plan to accomplish the next day. That may not help me in the future when it comes using my journals to improve my writing but it definitely helps me sleep better at night.
If you have a journal, how faithfully do you write in it? What do you write about?
Saturday, February 19, 2011
So I don't know if you noticed, but I kinda forgot to post last week. (I'd like to pretend that you all not only noticed and missed me, but you just weren't the same without my post, but I know that isn't true. XD Anyways, back to my story/excuse/whatchamacallit.) I totally almost had most of a post written and everything, about things you can do to help when you get stuck.
And then... well, then I most forgot it was Saturday, honestly. I think I had a headache, so I went to bed early and forgot to do my post. So, sorry about that. But! I have news. Not huge news, but news nonetheless.
I finished my WIP. *holds for applause*
No, I'm just kidding. But I did finish the second draft of my WIP. 51,903 words. I've been working on it since November, this draft since about mid-December, early January. This draft is a LOT better than the last, and I'm a lot happier with it. So what happens now?
Well, first came cleaning. Because my house was a total mess and when I'm not writing, that bugs me. Then blogging, because my blog has been so neglected. Poor thing. So definitely blogging. (Still working on that.)
But then, I am going to do a light round of revisions. Mostly making sure all my characters has last (and *cough* first) names, cleaning up any messy sentences, padding out the more skeletal scenes. Nothing really major, but since it's the first time I've really read through it, it does take a bit long.
After that, I'll send it off to my wonderful betas and crit partners and let them tear it apart.
Then: MOAR REVISIONS!
Peace and cookies,
P.S.: Don't forget to enter our contest!
P.S.S.: Also, I'm going to have an announcement... soonish. Not a huge announcement, but a small, neat one. Stay tuned!
Friday, February 18, 2011
This is something I have trouble with, because, let's face it- high school students and writers both love to procrastinate. And Hey! look, I'm both.
Some of you may be thinking "Zoe. Come on, your homeschooled. You have plenty of time to write. Psh, you've got all day!"
To the people who say that, I say no I don't. You are wrong.
I'm not trying to make excuses for not writing (well... maybe I am).
The truth is, I haven't written anything but reviews and essays for the past few weeks. But that's ok. I don't personally believe in writing every day. It works for some people, but it just doesn't work for me.
But I have also come to the point where I want to write. I really, truly do. I just seem to be stuck on what to write about. Which WIP to work on, or if I want to start a new one.
And here I was, going to write about time management. I suppose I should get back to that.
Time Management. Procrastination.
I strongly believe in making time to do the things I enjoy. It may be reading, writing, or watching Pretty Little Liars (oh my gosh you guys- that show is so addicting!). But it's sometimes hard to make time to do that sort of stuff when school, work, sports, and other things can get in the way.
Even if you don't write every day, like me, I think that people should try and make time every day to do something writing related. Outline, Blog, anything.
But let's face it- I am also one good procrastinator.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
My typical day: Alarm clock shrieks, and I smack it every ten minutes until I absolutely have to go. I wake up, shower quickly, go to work, and immerse myself in phone calls and paperwork. I finish the first job and head to the other, serving food and coffee and trying to learn the ropes. One we're closed and my shift is finally done I get in my car, drive the half hour to get home late, and barely manage to eat a few bites before falling right back into bed to start it all over again.
This post isn't to make anyone feel sorry for me, or offer me advice. I know that there are so, so many others who have it tougher than me. The point of this post is to express how important it is to do something we love. Even if some of us don't have the time, we have to make the time. Late at night, early in the morning, on our sick days or the holidays. If you can, cut back on those work hours. Live life. Do this one thing you enjoy most. Because life is too short not to.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
So, we got together and decided that we needed to celebrate, and the best way to do that? A contest, of course! So here's what's up for grabs:
First prize: A signed copy of Rain by our very own Kieryn Nicolas, a custom header/button combo made by the lovely Katie from KD Designs (who made our gorgeous blog button) and a full manuscript critique from all of us.
Second and third prizes: A custom blog button from Katie (see how awesome she is?), and a critique of your first chapter by all of us.
To enter, fill out this form! While comments are appreciated, they won't be counted towards the contest.
To win Rain, you must be in either Canada or the US. Everything else is open to everyone. If someone not from Canada or the US wins the first prize, Rain will become part of the second or third prize. This'll be open until... let's say, March 15th, 2011.
(By entering, you confirm that you are thirteen or older. You also agree to respect that Katie's paying customers come first, meaning you might have to wait while she finishes up other things. Katie's awesome, though, so it's probably only be about a 7 day wait. As well, she won't use copyrighted images and sizes must be provided.)
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
My friend read it, said, "I think it flows fine, but...this character sounds really mean. You might want to change the wording or something."
I took the notebook back and reread the conversation. As I did I realized that, meanwise, I didn't see anything I felt like changing. Yes, an important character the main character is supposed to be very, very fond of sounded mean, but I wanted it to sound that way--mean.
So my response to my friend was, "He's supposed to mean. Because, well, he's a jerk."
"So why does the main character like him?" my friend asked.
I told her hopefully it would be more clear in the story. Because, while I don't think characters should take other characters being jerks lying down, I recognize that real people have both good and bad sides. And good people might just let their bad/mean sides show. Like...say...Snape, anyone? (Yes, I chose to play the Harry Potter Trump Card.) But what do you think? Outside the writing prowess of J.K. Rowling, can a mean character be a good character?
PS-- This weekend I announced the release of my next book!
Monday, February 14, 2011
I've already mentioned that this year, my number one goal was to put experiencing life before writing. And, today, I took a big step towards that goal.
I got a job.
Yes, a job.
It all happened really fast - I dropped off my application this morning, got a call for an interview two hours later, went to my interview at 3, got hired, and I start work at 10:30 tomorrow. Then I had to run to JC Penney to get pants because apparently I don't own a single pair of khaki or black pants.
So now I'm sitting here all nervous and excited and ahhh.
I don't know how many hours a week I'll be working, probably somewhere around 20, but it's going to be time that could otherwise be spent writing. Sure, the money is going to be great, I definitely need it for Guatemala, but I'm nervous about having even less time to write.
I guess this is where time management and prioritizing come in, right?
So for all of you that balance school, work, and all your other activities with writing, how do you do it?
Friday, February 11, 2011
Sit in a room with a bunch of writers you've never talked to before and talk about writing. Almost always, the topic of outlining comes up.
I like to think writers in two categories- those who outline, and those who don't.
I don't outline my novels because when I do, I always seem to stray away from what my outline says. There are pro's and con's to not outlining, so I'm going to talk about those today.
- Your characters really have a chance to let their voices show, because they aren't being stuck to a "script" of sorts.
- Freedom! This is a big thing with me, because I love breaking the rules. Since there is no outline, there is no rules. It makes me feel like I can breath more while writing.
- Less planning means I can start writing right away. I have this fear that if I don't start writing my story as soon as I get the idea, by the time I am done with outlining- the idea won't be fresh and might parish in my mind.
- You get stuck. A LOT. I always find myself wondering what to write next.
- Wild characters who like to party. Since there is no outline, the characters aren't tamed and then they rule the story.
Even though not outlining causes me loads of grief, I still can't bring myself to outline when writing.
Do you outline? What are your thoughts about it?
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Recognizing what I don't like is way easier than pinpointing what I like in a cover. For example, I'm not a fan of covers that have a pale girl looking morosely off camera, with some hot, brooding guy in the background. One, all of these covers look the same to me. And two, I have guyfriends, and I see those guyfriends at school, in classes where I might take out a book to read after finishing an assignment. This may be ridiculous, but I'd feel a bit ridiculous reading a book with some hot model leering at some pale girl on the cover. (Even though I may like the story itself.)
But what I like, that's tough to describe. How about I show you a few of the ones I enjoy?
These aren't even necessarily my favorite books (though many of them are). Off the top of my head, they're my favorite covers.
What books do you think have awesome covers?...and why?
(announcement soon. Biding my time. :D)
Monday, February 7, 2011
All the rules of writing are always about being original, about not being predictable, and developing characters, plot, etc. But do all of those rules apply to the "chick lit" of YA? I mean, I'm not saying that every book should follow the same formula or that I don't love it when something turns out to be less predictable than I expected but...does it make the book bad if it's all just light and sweet fun?
Personally, I don't think so. Some books are meant to be dark, to make the reader think and cry and become emotionally attached but as important as those books are, I think it's important that we have the lighter, slightly predictable books. It's all about having a mix, right?
And yes, this is all on my mind because one of my (many) WIPs is light and fluffy and I plan on having a lot of fun with it!
So, what's your opinion? What are your favorite teen "chick lit" books?
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Q1. What is your name?
2. What is your quest?
3. What is the average airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?
A1. As far as you need to know, Laina. ;)
2. Uh… wait… I have one. To do good deeds and never stop until I succeed. (No one is going to get that reference. Go watch this.)
Q: Will you make me some coffee? Whilst you do that, tell me, what's your fav type of YA novel?
A: I totally agreed to. My favourite type of YA is mostly paranormal. I like a good contemporary as much as the next person, but I have a bit less patience with them. Paranormal speaks to me. This is also why I haven’t finished a contemporary novel, I suspect.
Q: 1. Which little place marker do you pick when you play Monopoly?
A. Our monopoly board didn’t have the car, money bag, or the train and my mom always took the top hat. I was usually the thimble or the guy on the horse because he “plonked” really well when you put him down. I would totally have been the train if we had that.
This is where I start to suck. I expected to have more time to build this post... but I ended up needing it now. So... how about you ask me questions now and I'll answer them?
Peace and cookies,
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
There is one character I've been having difficulty introducing lately: the love interest. How much description is necessary? Should it be another subtle introduction, or one that stands out? How much of their character should come through in the first interaction?
In Rain I didn't have that problem. In my last WIP, I hemmed and hawwed a little about that particular scene, but worked it out quickly enough. In my current story, I'm past the initial introduction, and still trying to decide if there's Too Much Intro or Not Enough Personality and et cetera.
What are your opinions on introductions of major characters (particularly the love interest)?
PS Keep an eye out...big news coming soon from my direction!