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?