Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thursday on Her Issues

I have a story I would love to write. The characters need to be written about. I just don't know if I can write them. It's one of those stories where I just want to put it off and write it when I "know more". I don't feel like I have a complete understanding of the complexities of relationships and such to be able to write this book. This has happened to me before. I have so many ideas for "issues" books, but can I handle the delicateness of the topic? Should I?
I want to.
I'm sure JK Rowling didn't know everything there was to know about sorcery and magic when she wrote the Harry Potter series. I'm sure many authors don't know everything about what they write about.
I'm scared though.
I'm scared to write something that might offend someone.
I'm scared not to.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thursday on how Donna Noble Can Improve Your Character Arc

I love Doctor Who's writing. Donna Noble in particular made the show notable.
Spoilers About Doctor Who Ahead:
One of the things that made Donna Noble losing her memory of the Doctor so tragic was that she forgot about who she was when she was with the Doctor. Throughout season 4, Donna grew as a person who learned to see how amazing she was and move passed her mother's harsh words. She lost that version of herself when she forgot about the Doctor.
I think her fate was worse than any of the Doctor's companions because she lost the most. She lost adventures. She lost the Doctor. She lost herself.
That is what should happen at the end of your novel.
It should be tragic for your hero to forget their adventure and lose their character growth.
Your character must grow. At the end of your novel, your character should not be able to return to who they were at the beginning.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thursday has Issues

I would call my WIP an issues book. I'm tackling a lot of really powerful stuff, and I'm not sure I am handling everything correctly. One of the issues I'm writing about is how women treat each other (I guess this could be called female bullying).
I read a book by a beloved author that really upset me. The main character was arguing with her enemy who called her fat or something. The main character responded with something along the lines of "at least I'm not anorexic like you!" This caused everyone repressed by the enemy to cheer for the main character.
If you have any thought that someone (friend or foe) might have an eating disorder, you do NOT publicly humiliate them. You gently bring the topic to said person and/ or an adult that can assist the person in need.
The many point I am trying to make is that if you are going to reference something that is a MAJOR issue, you should handle the issue with care.
I'm sorry this post is not very helpful, but I have a ton of homework, which is a minor issue.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thursday with Relationship Advice

When writing an early romance scene remember BOTH people are trying to attract the other person. I hate reading a book where the romance scenes focus on the guy showing he is worthy of the MC. What has the love interest seen in the MC to make her worth the effort? Show that. The answer should not be something like she gave money to a begger. That's great, but I wouldn't start a relationship with someone just because they are charitable. It's a nice trait, but that isn't a sign we are soul mates. Soul mates come from shared interests and a mutual understand of the other person. I want to fall in love with that.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thursday on Realistic Occupations

Do proper research on your character's occupation.
If someone wanted to make a movie about a teenager who writes YA lit, they could easily look at the bestsellers list to see who teenagers must love reading about. Odds are they might choose an author like Stephanie Meyer (Not here to say hate about Twilight).
The main character in the movie is a writer who wants to be just like Stephanie Meyer.
While there are many people who are like that, I know many other YA authors who would shake their head and think that is stereotypical because it is.
That is the expectation of someone who reads YA lit.
A lot of writers would be upset over this movie, and the same can be said about other occupations and how we portray them.
I also hate the idea that all writers/ booklovers love the classics. I understand their importance, but personally, I hate most classic novels (probably because of how they are taught). Shakespeare sends me into fits of rage, yet I still consider myself a writer.
Not every person in a set group likes what is expected.
Not every artist likes Picasso.
Not every musician likes the Beatles.
Not every chef likes Paula Deen (I know the media with her right now, but I couldn't think of another big name chef that everyone would recognize)

One way to remedy this is by creating an idol like John Green did in The Fault in Our Stars.
Another remedy is too really research into what these groups like. Read blogs, youtube comments, forums, whatever.

Make characters more than what people THINK they like.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thursday on Writing Unforgettable Antagonists

There is a photo that's been going around for a while with Professor Umbridge from harry Potter. The caption says something about how people hate her more than Voldemort. When I saw that, I responded as most people do: That is so true.
I didn't figure out why this was true until recently.
Professor Umbridge is an ACTIVE villain while Voldemort remained pretty inactive throughout the series.
Most of Voldemort's horrible deeds occurred before the novels even take place. Yes he killed and tortured thousands of wizards, but we never experienced that. We were just told "hey there's a scary guy who killed your parents, so you shouldn't say his name."
Even throughout the series, Voldemort didn't DO anything until the end of the books (not including Deadly Hallows).
Voldemort remained this constant threat that we never really had a chance to fear because we didn't see Harry tormented by him.
Professor Umbridge on the other hand constantly tormented the students which added to readers hating her.

My point is (in my tired state) the most powerful antagonists come from those who continuously antagonize the hero. Do not just wait until the last 20 pages to show how big band bad your antagonist is.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thursday Attacks Endings

Lately, I've read a lot of books with amazing twist endings. I just sit there wondering how the author could have thought of something so ingenious. I love them. I just have one tinsy, tiny problem with them: how they are built up.
I hate the whole decide to attack, fade out, PUNCH.
It's really vague when something bad happens, the MC decides enough is enough and that they need to take action, but the scene ends before the big action sequences occurs.
Those really bother me.
I get that it adds suspense, so the reader can go "OMG what are they gonna do", but I just roll my eyes and close the book. The author has lost me in that moment.
For me, this is a trick to keep readers interested.
GREAT writing doesn't need tricks.
I would prefer the MC come up with the plan then plan go up in flames.
1. More realistic- NOTHING goes according to plan
2. Shows how the character reacts in a crisis- FORCE the characters to do the unexpected. They might surprise everyone
3. More dramatic- the readers need a bit of a shake up
Possible idea: Maybe there could be a GIANT plot whole that you character doesn't realize, and that plot hole ruins their plan. How does your character over come their mistake?
You can have that awesome trick ending, but make the character work for it not the reader. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Thursday with BAD Romantic Dialogue

In my last post, I talked about how to write realistic dialogue.
The problem is that in novels, characters don't talk like normal people, but sometimes they should.
Characters in love should talk like normal people instead of cheesy cheese (not my best word choices).
A few weeks ago, I saw the Host. I had never been to a movie in the theater where people were laughing (more like howling) without reservation throughout the entire movie during "dramatic" scenes. I spent a majority of the film saying things like "if they say/ do this, I'm going to hit my head against a wall" which I actually did. It was that bad.
The problem was that the dialogue tried so hard to sound romantic and ended up sounding creepy.
Yes, theoretically, a guy telling you that he watches you while you sleep should should romantic (sorry for the Twilight reference Meyer fans), but in reality, guys should NOT sneak into your room while you are unconscious.
When you are writing romantic dialogue, think would I find this romantic if you were in the situation. The odds are you would say yes since the dialogue roots from your subconscious (which thinks about that kinda stuff). If you happen to say no, DELETE IT.
If you answered yes, go up to a friend and tell them your romantic dialogue out of the blue. If they don't get a restraining order on you, you can keep it.
Best of luck to you while you try to not creep people out.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Thursday's Observation on Speech Patterns

I really hate when people talk about how to write dialogue by telling me to listen to other people (I might have given this advice, but I could be a hypocrite). This angers me because if this was tried and true advice, they must have tried this and have taken notes on speech patterns. If they haven't, they shouldn't give me this advice. If they have, they should share their notes which is what I'm doing. Here are some dialogue thingys I've notices.
As I've mentioned in a pervious post, I contribute to my school newspaper. For newspaper, I have to transcribe my interviews, so I have accurate quotes. It's so funny to look at the individual words a person is saying and realizing they don't make any sense.
Common dialogue key:
  • People don't speak in complete sentences (fragments galore). On the other hand, people tend to use run-on sentences. 
  • People lose their train of thoughts and change their idea in thr middle of- btw this is annoying (see what I did there)
  • People don'r remember what they use for lists. For the first example they might say 1, but for the following example they will say B. 
    • 1. this looks like a mistake when people read it 
    • B. I do this all the time
  • People aren't always consistent syntactical patterns. For example, if I made a list of object, I might start off by separating each example with a comma and lead into saying "and"between the final examples. (I like writing side notes to clarify what I am saying, separate my description with my example and looks cool and adds something the break the reader form my gibberish description, creates something new)
  • People are really repetitive. They like to reiterate themselves, and sometimes they just forgot what they said earlier. 
  • People use the same phrases over and over. I'm not talking about catch phrases (which I don't know anyone who really uses those), but people have certain ways to describe what they want to say. For example, I say gibber gabber and heebie gibbies a lot. I wouldn't call them my catch phrases, but they are a part of my dialogue. Most people's key words aren't as obvious as mine. Their safety word can be as simple as "despite" in every comparative sentence. 
  • When people are saying what the other person said, they don't always use "like" or "said". I've notice a lot of the time, people don't even use a verb before dialogue. (Mimi not eating her food made mama mad "if you don't like my food, you can go hungry")
  • This is unusual, but it pops up every now and then. Don't mention how long a conversation lasted. I hate when books give a time about how long a conversation lasted for. (Example: The conversation with Jackie last five minutes. The most chaotic five minutes of my life). I don't like them. I think they are awkward. Also the times are usually way off. This might be hard to believe, but a person can say A LOT in a few seconds. My voice record is weird, so if I'm a few seconds off, I have to wait for the person to say half a page of information before they get back to where I wanted them to be. I'm not sure if this is 100% accurate, but one of my friends who wants to write screenplays told me that a page worth of dialogue lasts for 30 seconds. In books they will have half a page of dialogue and say it lasted five minutes 
  • People like to say "you" opposed to general statements (Saying "you can lose weight if you don't eat an entire cake day" instead of "people can lose weight if they don't eat an entire cake a day")
  • Everybody's style of talking is different. I complied this list based on patterns I found bettwen multiple interviews of people of different ages and sexes, but this doesn't apply to every single person in the world
I hope these helped. The best advice is to listen to other people to really learn how people structure their sentences. I just recording a conversation with a friend or interview a friend and transcribe it later for the most accurate results. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thursday Covers Religion

I was planning on posting about dialogue, but something I read is bothering me.
I was reading book reviews for a book I was planning to buy, and the major concern in the reviews was religion. The fact that religion was a prominent aspect of the book halted people from reading it made me unbelievably annoyed. 
Tons of bloggers rant about how authors need to push the envelop and talk about "touchy" topics that aren't being properly explored like sex, diversity, etc, but when a book has a religion, that's too touchy for them to handle. 
Religion is is like any controversial topic. It deserves to be explored. 
My WIP deals with religion a lot. It's probably the most prominent idea in the story. I'm not shoving down a religion down anyone's throat, but I'm exploring the aspects of faith. 
I want someone to read my book and relate my character's religious struggles instead of close off reading my book because it has religion. 
I don't know where I was going with this, but basically, I hope people realize religion doesn't mean shoving faith down someone's throat, but it should be feed with the memory that not everyone likes the same food (in less flowery words: not everyone will agree with the religion explored, but they should keep an open mind)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wednesday Talks Banter

Hello, lovely people! I’m sorry I’ve been missing in action yet again, but the life of an Irish dancing A.P. student in March is not a life with a lot of free time. It’s a sad fact, but a truthful one.

Now that I’m done whining, I want to talk to you about dialogue. One of the things I’ve noticed when reading young writers’ work is that sometimes people kind of...well… screw up the dialogue. Dialogue is conversation, not exposition. It’s not the place to give an entire back story.

And if you can’t remember the correct way to format dialogue, please, PLEASE, go look it up on Purdue Owl. I can’t tell you how distracting it is to read through a short story or novel where people don’t indent dialogue or use quotation marks. French people use dashes to set conversation apart instead of quotation marks and so do some super avant-garde British and American writers. In some books some of the dialogue won’t be in quotation marks. This may be used to create a certain tone or voice for a story and can work beautifully (I’m thinking of A Star Called Henry and An Invisible Sign of my Own), but I wouldn’t recommend doing this unless you are positive you can do it in a way that will be coherent.

Once you’ve got the formatting down, it’s time to think about how realistic your dialogue is. I think the best way to do this is to listen to people talk. Pay attention to speech patterns. If listening to people in real life sounds boring, try listening to some books on tape.

For me, one of the best ways to get an ear for dialogue is watching movies, TV shows, a plays. BBC’s Sherlock does a wonderful job of creating witty, interesting dialogue and I would argue that The Office has some of the best conversations ever. If your piece take place in a historical period, try to read writing from that time or to find a period drama like Downton Abbey that can help you visualize and hear what that period was like. Make special notes of slang that’s relevant to your story-- I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t catch Lady Grantham saying YOLO.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thursday with AMAZING News

Can we all just take a moment to appreciate the fact that... VERONICA MARS IS GOING TO BE MADE INTO A MOVIE. I could not stop freaking out when I heard. My legs were shaking. I couldn't finish a sentence. I squealed.
If you follow anyone amazing at all, you probably already know this fact.
As a writer, I have to appreciate the beautiful craftsmanship from Veronica Mars.
The Dialogue!
The Wit!
The Relationships!
I don't have time for a real post, so I will leave you with one bit of advice (you can thank me anytime): Watch Veronica Mars. All three seasons (you can skip the last episode of season three because we all know it did not end correctly). I don't care if you have already seen it. Watch it again. New comer? Watch it! Watch from a writer's POV.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Thursday Names Her Characters

I prefer to name my characters based on their name meaning. I take history of the name (such as famous people with the name) and origins in to consideration, but I mostly focus on the meaning.
I once read a writer say that most parents don't intentionally name their child "dead sexy manslut love interest", so we shouldn't give characters a name that their parents wouldn't logically give them (obviously that wasn't the name meaning they used, but you get the idea). I like the idea of this: we must take parental influence into consideration, but as a writer I can make the parents any way I want. If I want my LI's name to mean "dead sexy manslut love interest",  can make his mother into a gold digger who wants girls to find her son irresistible.
We have the power to do anything.
I have used my power to name my LI... David. The name works extremely well based on the history, meaning and parental influence.
My only problem...
I know a lot of people named David.
I am no ways naming my character after them, but it's difficult to write a really romantic scene when I remember how my cousin David made fun of me for liking Disney Channel when I was 7.
How do you name your characters/ problems you face when naming characters>?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thursday with Newspaper Help

There are some basic knowledge things authors feel like they know. The sky is blue. Fire is hot. Reading tweets while walking down stairs is dangerous. 
I've seen a few newspaper articles in YA lately, and it annoys me.
I like the idea of newspaper articles in YA (easy way to establish the perceived backstory while adding the opinions of other characters through quotes), but sometimes it's obvious an author hasn't done their research.

  • The introductory paragraph should answer who, what, when, where, and why
  • Headline (title) needs a subject and verb (the punny titles are called kickers, but headlines are always needed)
  • Like in writing a novel, quotes are written as "Quote," Name said. "Rest of quote."
  • Newspapers aren't supposed to publish names of children under 18 (this is so the minor can move past the incident). I learned this in my law class, so I don't know how often it's followed. Basically, would you want an article about how you were involved in a fire to stay with you forever?
  • No Harvard Commas (this is an extra character, and every character is vital in journalism)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday Talks About Sedaris and Hotel Shampoo

A lot of the writers I’ve met seem to be under the impression that because they weren’t child prodigies, they will never be successful. I’m not sure where this assumption comes from-- it’s not like writing is something with a shelf life like gymnastics, or professional dance.

I’ve decided I’m going to stop worrying about accomplishing great things and just worry about everything else for a while. And it’s because of David Sedaris. Last fall, David Sedaris was speaking and my family had tickets. It was a school night, so I did French homework until the lights went down. I was in stitches the whole time once he started speaking. I had forgotten my glasses, so he was blurry, but that didn’t bother me. He makes everything seem like a story. Even stupid things. Even things you’re convinced are too normal to be an interesting story actually are.

And that’s what this story is: normal. Up until a point. After David Sedaris finished, we got in line to have him sign his new book for us. The line looped from the front of the building all the way around to the front of auditorium and we were almost the last people in line. There were two vaguely Russian sounding people behind us. We had been waiting for about five minutes when someone tapped me on the shoulder. It took me a minute to realize who it was-- I didn’t have my glasses on earlier, remember?-- but it was David Sedaris. I don’t remember exactly what he said first, but it was something along the lines of "come with me.” I figured I should probably listen to him, so I began half running after him as he began to walk away. He turned around and added that my parents could come too, which was nice. He could have just kidnapped me.

As we walked past a crowd of angry people waiting to get their books signed, he explained that he always liked to give teenagers stuff when they came to see him. I later read in an interview that this was because “they could be getting high in their cars, but instead they came to see me.” He gave me one of those miniature body lotions from his hotel and one of the post cards he had printed out with a pekinese skull on it. As he was signing our book, he asked me if I had a job or lived in a house. I said yes to the latter, but had to admit, that no, I did not have a job. If I had a job, I told him, I would want it to be writing. He didn’t laugh, so he was already my most favorite adult in the universe by that point. He just said, “You won’t be paid for writing until you’re 37.” I’m not sure if this is a prophecy or a challenge. I want to get paid for writing something just so I can write to him and tell him.

Jobs are important and everything, but hearing someone say that I won’t be paid for writing until I’m 37 was actually kind of relief. It feels like a hall pass -- yeah, I’m not one of those people who are published when they’re ten and make millions-- but so what? I don’t have to do anything yet. As David pointed out, I could be getting high in my (non-existant) car, so as long as I’m not doing that, I’m on the right track.

 He said he pulled me out of line because I was special, so unless you want to argue with David Sedaris, my life’s in pretty good shape.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday wants to impart aesthetic arrows and advice

Hello, dear YA-Lit-Six-ers!

(We need to come up with a better name for you.)

I thought I'd share something I just posted to my blog, because I clearly put a lot of effort into making these arrows aesthetically pleasing:

I made this a while ago for a Career Day presentation (that had to be rescheduled due to snow, so spoiler alert for anyone who will see this presentation in the future). It's my attempt to explain the first stage of what happens between the initial lightbulb of a story and that story becoming a tangible, book-shaped item in your hand.

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thursday's Keys to Amazing Relationships

Key to amazing relationships

The characters must KNOW each other-
I love Elizabeth and Darcy in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice because how well they grow to know each other. Darcy is rich. He could easily have gone to Elizabeth and said "here's a mansion. Love me?" He knows that won't make her love him. He knows how much she values her family which when he *insert spoiler* helps Lydia *ends spoiler*, it means so much more than a house.

The characters must TRUST each other-
I love Adrian and Sydney in Richelle Mead's Bloodlines series because of a gazillion reasons: the main one being of how much they believe in each other. Adrian is a little bit crazy. Everyone kinda chalks up his actions as him just being his usual crazy self. Sydney trusts him to know he can do more than what people expect him to be.

The characters must FIGHT for each other-
Alex and Brittany from Simone Elkles's Perfect Chemistry because of how much they are willing to do for each other. No matter what happens, they find a way to make things work. I hate when a love interest says they can't be together in order to protect the other. I call bull. If the love is worth it, they fight for it no matter the circumstances. You don't give up on love.

The characters must UNDERSTAND each other-
I love Hazel and Augustus in John Green's The Fault in our Stars because of how the understand each other. They both have cancer which bonds them together. They both understand what the other is going through because they went through it too.

The characters must BE THERE for each other-
I love Veronica and Logan in Veronica Mars because they are epic. Sorry had to say that. I don't know what I love most about them. There is just something so magical about their relationship. I guess I love how they are there for each other. In the beginning of the second season, we see Veronica comforting Logan. At the end of the second season, we see Logan comforting Veronica. I love the cycle of it. In both scenes, they weren't even "together" (I put air quotes because I fully believe that Veronica and Logan are always together forever. They re that epic), but they are still there. No matter what happens in their relationship, you KNOW that they other will face hell to be there for the other.

Other notable relationships:
Anna and Etienne in Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Carlos and Kiera in Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkles
Emme and Ethan in Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg
Courtney and Jordan in Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt
Buffy and Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I love Spike too, but...)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thursday's Old Work (Scary Stuff!)

I know I should probably do my homework, but I'm procrastinating. In my procrastination, I found old writing ideas. My goodness, they are bad. I put them into a file called "not so good", but I think I need to change it to "This Stuff is So Bad My Dog Wouldn't Even Eat My Words"
I am going to share this little gem with you because this blog is about sharing our writing journey, so I won't sugar coat it. Nothing was added, cut or edited, so sorry for spelling, grammar, or hives caused from reading this plot summary. You have been warned.
Please note that my "journey" started when I was 12 in the beginning of the vampire craze.

A new school. A new group of “friends”. A new crush. And many new jugulars to drink.
Mogan Beck is new at school. After sucking her prom dates vein at PROM in front of everyone it’s time for a new change of scenery. It wasn’t hard either. After her last foster parents found out she was “showing unholy behavior in public.” More like you can’t give a guy a hickey in front of the pastor’s daughter and everyone else at school. Which didn’t happen FYI. It was worse. She was … drinking his blood. Gross. Very gross. So why did she like it so much?
At her new school she has to deal more challenges than ever. Like wanting to drink your best friend’s blood. Or falling for a vampire HUNTER. Or maybe the fact that maybe just maybe her geometry teacher knows more about her than anyone else at school. 

BTW that beauty was titled "Blood, Boys and Brownies". I'm pretty sure the only way I could have made that work was if my readers were eating pot brownies while reading. 
Yes, I want to stake MYSELF for that writing. I can think of a gazillion books with that premise. 
At least I included some poor excuse for voice, but my other stuff was just BAD. I mean I wrote YA even though I wasn't even a young adult yet.
Some of the premises are okay. Need a little face lift but workable. I can remember my thoughts when I had those ideas which really surprised me. I really love my footnotes.
Keep it PG, PG-13 at the MAX 
(yeah my current WIP isn't PG. It's PG-13 at the MIN)
I was definitely feeling some nostalgia. 
The thing is I learned something. 
While I was organizing my ideas into good ideas and not so good ideas, I realized I still want to write some of these stories.
Most importantly though, I learned which stories I need to tell.
I have 76 files of story ideas with varying degrees of completeness (some basic like boy likes girl others were thousands of word garbage), but only three stories made me think "only I could write this".
I love all of my ideas. They are all a big part of my life during the time I wrote them, but now I found the stories that I can see being a big part of my future. 
Those are the stories I will write.
What stories do you feel that you MUST write? Have they changed over the years? WHat were your early ideas like? 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday on Removing the Main from Main Character

This will be a quick post, but I want to highlight two seemingly unrelated things with a common theme. I'll start with the theme: Not everything that happens happens to the main character.

Important plot points may actually occur to a side character, but will still cause a certain reaction or present a plot hurdle for the main character. For example, a friend can end up in a car accident that has the main character's heart clawing its way up his/her throat, which can turn into the friend being irrationally angry towards the main character or perhaps moody and withdrawn. The crash didn't happen to the main character, but the main character can still feel the fallout.

The second thing is, sometimes characters hear things that happen in another room. Thin walls, echoey hallways, something. It's a nice, suspenseful way to have things not happen to the main character.

That seemed way more important when I thought of it, so take it on faith in me as Tuesday that echoey halls is good advice.

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thursday Wants the Hard Stuff

I once had to write a children's book for school. I wrote the story and realized my theme was that sometimes sorry isn't enough. Horrible lesson for elementary school kids. I remember being so glad I wrote YA instead of children's books because I could write the hard truth and know that my future readers could handle it.
I think little kids can handle the hard truth, but they shouldn't have too. I think once you reach YA books, you already know about some of the hard stuff and have too.
The thing is YA readers can handle the hard stuff, but where is it?
Tons of writers argue over sex, swearing, drugs/alcohol, diversity in YA because real teens deal with that stuff on a daily basis, but there are other issues we should be fighting to include in YA.
In one of my SNIs that I really want to make into a WIP, my MC is in an abusive relationship. For some teens, they deal with abuse on a daily basis.
I know some people are reading this and are about to yell at me in the comments listing book after book with abusive relationships, but most books don't. I will admit contemporary does a good job at portraying abusive relationships, but most of the other genres don't. If those genres do portray an abusive relationship, it's normally from a guy before she meets her real love interest or from a past relationship that bumps into their life with their real love interest.
Why isn't the real love interest the abusive one?
Because it isn't romantic or pretty.
In my SNI turn possible WIP, my main character's real love interest is abusive. There isn't another guy in the shadows to catch her.
I'm not here to rave about my wonderful idea.
My point is YA is such an amazing genre because we CAN talk about hard stuff like abuse, but most people don't.
Where are the girls in dystopian books with a RECOGNIZED eating disorder (none of this "I don't feel like eating" stuff. I'm talking about not eating for the sake of being thin) like anorexia or bulemia?
Where are the girls in fantasy novels in RECOGNIZED abusive relationships?
Where are the girls in historical novels with a RECOGNIZED drug addiction?
Why aren't we recognizing these HUGE topics in YA books?
YA readers can handle these topics.
Stop trying to make these genres pretty.
The truth isn't pretty neither should YA books.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wednesday Goes Back to the Beginning

Do you remember the first time you read a book? What about the first time you read a book, put the book down (when you were finished, of course) and thought that you wanted to do that; wanted to make people feel and think the things a book made you feel?

I made my parents write down the stories I made up before I could read or write. I would draw pictures on the back of each sheet of paper and act the story out.

And I remember, when I was three or four, hiding under a table so my mom wouldn’t make me leave the bookstore. I couldn’t read, but I guess I wanted to.

The first time I remember actually thinking that I wanted to write was after I read the Harry Potter books. I was nine, and I read them out of order. And then in order. Then backwards again (I repeated this cycle for the next several years). I decided at some point in between “It is our choices, Harry, that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities,” and “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” that I was going to be a writer if it killed me, even if it aggravated everyone else around me.

(I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize anyone who I have ever forcibly read aloud to because “it was just a really good sentence” and especially to the people who I have handed twenty pages of single-spaced nonsense and demanded that they read it by tomorrow and tell me their “honest” opinion).

I feel really lucky to have always had books in my life. I honestly have trouble imagining what it would be like to grow up in a family where no one read, or to have needed reading and writing to leave poverty or difficulty behind instead of just loving the activities for their own sake.

I would not write if I didn’t read and for me, the two will always be connected. What is your first memory of reading? How have the things you read influenced your writing?


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tuesday on Letters

...No, not as in a, b, c, d...

As in things you write on paper and fold up and stick in envelopes and lick a stamp (except they're just stickers so you don't actually do that) and drop in the mailbox letters.

In stories today, letters function as either a mysterious, ancient plot device arriving from one's great-great-great Uncle (guilty of this one), a romantic plot device (also guilty), or physical evidence when explaining how a certain character doesn't understand the e in e-mail (not guilty....yet).

BUT GUYS. Despite holding down the cliche fort, letters are incredibly fun to write. Because you can't backspace on a letter. Which allows for possibly the only time (aside from journal entries) to use the STRIKETHROUGH.

Deleted thoughts are amazing. Incredible. Kind of like the blooper reel of life. My favorite part of reading handwritten drafts of my stories or essays are the crossed-out words, phrases, and paragraphs  (One story had an entire page crossed out and rewritten in the margins.) But this really only happens on paper, and the best deleted scenes occur in letters, because letters have a more significant purpose than even essays or (some) story drafts or grocery lists. Letters are a specific message in a revelatory style, and the strikethroughs of fumbling for words can be heartbreaking adorable suspenseful fascinating.

(See what I did there?)

(Yeah...of course you did. Now go do your own!)

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Talks Classic Literature


I'm sorry I've been so distant. Though, it looks like Jewels has really been the only one posting regularly. Busy lives, eh?

Well, a new college semester has begun for me and I'm taking two literature classes. Which are both American Literature (1 and 2, basically).

This past week I had to reread Huck Finn and we discussed it in my class today. And, of course, as we probably all know, this is a book that has been banned again and again. Since the time it was published, it has been on of the most controversial books ever written (in the United States, that is). As we were discussing it today in class, someone (I cannot remember if it was a classmate or my professor) brought up the point that it's a classic piece of literature because of its controversy and because people are always talking about it. And I think this can be applied to all literature that is considered "classic." It's classic because of the themes and controversies written into them and brought up when published.

I personally think that's pretty fantastic. And as dense as some classic literature can be, it's hard to shove it aside and discredit it because of the issues and conversations it drives. Those are the kind of things I really want to strive through in my writing, too.

I'm not saying that I want to write the next Great Novel, or have my works become classics. But I want people to discuss them. I want them to resonate with people and perhaps spark a little controversy. Personally, I find plain storytelling that doesn't exactly challenge anything to be uninteresting and extremely lacking in a way. I like morals and challenges and controversies.

What about you?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thursday Hopes Her Parents Never Read This

Since the new year started, I have been writing 100 words a day. I know it's not a huge word count, but it's small enough that I can do it everyday in a few minutes and still have time for homework.
In my current scene, my MC is recounting how she lost her V card (which is for thematic purposes) in first person. I really like this scene because it's so funny and awkward. Not the all consuming sex in most YA.
It's hard writing this scene because I keep thinking what if I die and my parents read my WIP and think it's a diary. This scene is no way erotica but still. Not exactly something I'm showing my whole family.
Some things are just things that are awkward to show the people you know. It's like telling the guy that sits next to you in math that you barely know about how you are on your period. It's awkward.
After that moment they may change their opinion of you. At least strangers don't know you well enough to look at you differently.
This kinda goes with what I said last week about telling people you don't know over people you do know.
Anyways this scene is very awkward, but I definitely wanna keep it.
Do you ever write anything that you hope your parents never read?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tuesday on What Day Is It?

Sometimes days blur together.

A lot.

This is especially true in school, and I noticed it last month because I was not in school--I was in Melbourne, Australia, a completely new location with endless possibilities each day. Possibilities I took advantage of. I went into the city. I walked in the bush. (Yes, it's called the bush.) I went shopping. (A lot.) (Hey, I had holiday presents to buy.) I met new people. I got over the what-are-we-doing-on-the-left-side-of-the-road thing.

And then I went back to school. And today I didn't know what day it was.

School repeats. Home life repeats. And that'll be true for your characters, too, which, if portrayed accurately, will make for some repetitive stories. So because I'm all for accuracy but all against needless repetition, my advice is this: if your story seems stuck in a loop, drop your character in a new location. It could be across town or across the world, but have him/her GO somewhere. DO something. Take a train. Drive on the wrong side of the road. Adventure is out there, to quote Up.

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thursday about Criticism

Lately, I have been testing the waters with telling people that I write. No one close to me yet. Just strangers.
The other day I was asked in class what I liked to do. I said writing. I probably should have said plotting, coming up with ideas that will never make it to paper, or something; but I don't think anyone would have understood the angst mixed in those statements. No one else in the room said they liked to write. When I said I liked to write, a few guys laughed. I don't know if it was a laugh like "what is this girl thinking. she can barely string thoughts together let alone words" or "wow didn't see that coming". Honestly I don't care.
I know I'm not the best writer. Y'all have been deciphering my writing on here for almost a year now. I don't stay on point. If my writing was a driver, people would think I was drunk. My grammar is pitiful. Some of my sentences don't make any sense. I know all that.
If I was reading all of my posts, I wouldn't think I was a good writer either.
The thing is there are a lot of bad writers out there. I might be one of them. That doesn't stop me from loving writing. I hope I can still say that after I start really showing off my writing.
People braver than me have shown off their writing. A few have even shown their writing to me.
I remember this one guy who I barely even knew read me his WIP. Some of the kids next to us were making fun of him and his story, but he still kept on reading.
I don't know if he ever finished writing his WIP, but I hope so. It takes a real love for something to keep doing it after people you know don't like it. Reading reviews online are from strangers, but people you know? That's personal and take lots of love.
People are mean. Not everyone is going to under stand the tiny pieces of ourselves we share in our writing, but in a passion that requires sharing pieces of yourself to your readers, criticism hurts. It's not just your writing they are criticizing but the tiny pieces of you that you included in every word.
So next time you are reading a book, looking at a painting, listening to a song, watching a movie, etc, please remember someone gave a piece of themselves into that work of art. Everything in this world is a work of art. It's time we start appreciating it instead of trying to tear the world down.
I know it's easy to read a book and wonder how that garbage could possibly been published when your  story isn't, but someone shared a piece of themselves with you. Appreciate that if not for the actual book.
Honesty is great, but there is a line between helpful honesty (constructive criticism) and saying something that can destroy the other pieces of a person.
I know I'm not the best writer, but I'm trying. Everyone is trying. Please don't make them quit.
It's a new year. I hope I can be more supportive to other writers and people in general. As always, if y'all need someone to talk to, I'm here.
Like I said, I'm not the best writer, but I just shared a piece of me. I hope y'all understand it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Tuesday is BACK (sort of)

Hello all! I'M BACK. And not just back to YA Lit Six, but back from Melbourne, Australia, where I was the last month. I will post more about my experiences later, but for now I wanted to wish everyone a happy New Year!