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his/her throat, which can turn into the friend being irrationally angry towards the main character or perhaps moody and withdrawn.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!