Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Lot Going On, Not A Lot To Say

These last couple weeks have been crammed full for me, not just in the writing department. If anything, I think my muse has taken a short hiatus.

I've mostly been thinking about my soon to be WIP: the characters, their reactions, how they might behave in scenario X or conflict Y. I've been doing a lot more planning for this story than I did for any other WIP.

My hope is that this will help focus my writing, that I'll be less of a pantzer, and that the scenes and conflicts will come across clearer and truer for my effort.

My fear is that I'm subconsciously delaying the writing process for fear of messing it up due to my impatience and not knowning my characters or story well enough.

With my first WIP, even after several rounds of heavy edits, I simply don't think there is a way to streamline the scenes and events into one cohesive whole. The story is still fun to read, and many people have said they liked it a lot, but it definately lacks some fluidity that I'd like my future work to contain.

And wow, for not having a lot to say, I seem to have been rambling on. Never trust a writer to be lacking for words, I guess.

Well, my planning period is over, so I must go teach class now.

Happy Writing!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


The experience of creating an interesting, multileveled, possibly unique (if there is such a thing) villain is quite simply thrilling.

Some worthy opponent for my hero to show her skills and character by besting.

Some entity that is not cardboard, but a living, breathing person.

My favorite part is that my villain is not evil incarnate or seeking to rule the world or destroy it. I grow so wearing of those types. It is thrilling and entirely satisfying to have created a believable, if not lovable, monster. :)

It's alive!

Has anyone else had as much fun creating their antagonist?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Two Streams of Thought (Part II)

Alrighty, I'm back!

Yesterday I blogged about my first recent revelation. In it, I talk about setting your goal too low (even if you already think its high) and about the persistence of successful people. There are several inspirational quotes at the bottom of that one, so if you're feeling down and need a little "pick me up," see the last post. :)

And on to the second of my two streams of thought...

I read and write fantasy, specifically YA fantasy. As a genre writer, I've been writing my stories as if to an audience of fantasy addicts like myself. Makes sense, right?

Well this week I realized that that's not a great mindset. It pigeonholes my stories a bit. They read in a way that a non-fantasy reader could be easily lost and not too keenly interested to begin with. This in itself is not a terrible thing. The pool of fantasy readers is broad and deep and there are plenty of successful fantasy books that do exactly as I've just described. I'd even go as far as saying that MOST science fiction stories are written as if speaking only to an SF reading audience.

But I'd like my stories to be available and interesting to more than just that one pool. Most, if not all, stories are ultimately about the human experience. Even if a story is all about aliens, it's really telling about how humans are NOT.

Therefore, I suspect if I shift my focus ever so slightly from the fantasy world and focus more on the human experience, a broader range of people might be able to enjoy my stories. No, this is not a gimmick to get more readers, but rather a means to let people, like say my grandmother, to enjoy a story that wouldn't fit in her typical reading list.

I see it more as an opportunity to introduce non-genre readers to fantasy without so much shock of the unfamiliar. Will it work for everyone? Certainly not. I myself cannot stand most murder mysteries, but occasionally an author delights me. This delight is without exception having to do with how I relate to the characters. The human experience.

So what do you think? Do you prefer to write a genre story focusing on the general human qualities, or to dig deep into genre, out of reach to the general audience (ex: high fantasy, hard core science fiction)? Do you target a genre specific audience or the world at large?

Happy writing!

Two Streams of Thought

This week I've had two important realizations that I think will help my writing immensely. Perhaps they are things which have already occurred to you, and in that case, you can tip your hat at me and say "Thank goodness you finally caught up." To which I would reply, "Glad to be here. It's better than back that way yonder."

These ideas aren't even entirely new to me. But rather than fuzzy vague images, they have been brought into sharp clarity in my mind.

The first is that I'll be lucky to achieve what I aim for, and will never surpass my goal. Therefore I need to set my sights higher in order to go further. Oddly, this realization came while bowling with my husband.

In the not so distant past, I went bowling every Sunday with a friend. I knew I was capable of bowling a 130 game on average. So I would say to myself, "If I break 130, this would be a successful game." Sometimes I did better than 130, but rarely did I go much higher.

Flash forward a few years. Having fewer chances to bowl these days, I now say "I'll be satisfied with this game if I break 100." An average of 10 pins a frame is not so unrealistic a goal is it?

The problem with this train of thought is that I know I only have to make so many good throws to meet my goal. I get sloppy. I don't try as hard. I realized that if I said "I want to reach 150" or "Let's try for 200" I'd likely bowl a lot better. Yeah, I'd be really lucky to ever reach 200, but I'd also do a lot better than "just breaking 100."

This same principle applies to my writing. For the last couple years, I've been going alone with the mindset that I'd like to write a book worthy of publishing. A daunting goal all by itself, but I have just come to realize that its not good enough. I'm not striving to write an amazing, epic, can't put it down, your-eyes-are-burning-from-lack-of-sleep-and-you've-had-to-pee-for-the-last-hour kind of story.

And while, yes, I'd be extremely lucky to produce anything so awesome, it's this higher goal, this striving for not just good but excellence, that will improve my writing. I personally don't care for literary stories. I find them slow, heavy, and needlessly wordy. So my main goal is not to write a beautiful, poetic story, but one that delights the reader as so many stories have delighted me.

So let me not sell myself, or my reader, short. I don't want "publishable." I want extraordinary. And I'm determined to work my tail off to reach that goal, because (and I don't remember who said this or the exact phrasing) "Success isn't the absence of failure. It's having failed 1000 times without giving up."

This blog post is getting longish, so I shall save my second revelation for a "Part II." In the interim, here are some inspiring quotes I came upon while looking for the source of the one above. Bye for now!

Success and failure. We think of them as opposites, but they're really not. They're companions - the hero and the sidekick.
- Lawrence Shames

Not failure, but low aim, is crime.
- James Russell Lowell

Thomas Edison viewed each setback he encountered in making a light bulb simply as another way NOT to make a light bulb.

Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit.
- Conrad Hilton

Persistence is what makes the impossible possible, the possible likely, and the likely definite.

The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.

The Model "T" - Why "T"? Because Ford had gone through A-S before being successful in producing and marketing the "T".

Breakdowns can create breakthroughs. Things fall apart so things can fall together.

When you fail, don't give up. These people didn't:
- R.H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York caught on.
- Novelist John Creasy got 753 rejection slips before he published the first of his 564 books.
- Thomas Edison was thrown out of school in the early grades when the teachers decided he could not do the work.
- Harry S. Truman failed as a haberdasher.
- When Bob Dylan performed at high school talent show, his classmates booed him off the stage.
- W. Clement Stone, successful insurance company executive and founder of Success magazine, was a high school dropout.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Wow! Over a Year (and not an empty one)

Hello all!

It's been over a year since my last post here. Life has been busy, but I haven't stopped writing, though it may appear that way from all the blogging I've been doing. I got married and moved to Korea with my military husband. But I'm back in the groove, so hopefully you'll see me more often on here.

First off, congrats to Lady Glam for her first self-published book. I am very keen to get my paws on it. I saw the book trailer for it and am very excited.

Second, I've finished editing AUC and have set it aside for the time being. I have three projects I'm currently working on (a short story, a children's series, and a YA novel) that are far more pressing. I won't go into details here, for this is mostly an "I'm back!" blog post.

Third, I took up a couple suggestions on books to read: The Hunger Games and City of Bones. Both came highly recommended by fellow bloggers, but I must say that Hunger Games FAR outstrips City of Bones. I wasn't all that impressed with the latter story, but the Hunger Games is now sitting on my "favorite books" shelf. If you haven't read it yet, do yourself a kindness and go pick it up. :)

Lastly, if you read this post, drop me a comment. I'd really love to see who still haunts these parts. I know Glam is still alive and kickin, but how about everyone else?


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Spark, Spark

It seems I've neglected blogger for a long time now. Hmmm... updates: I'm querying Angel Undercover. I finally wrote a query letter with some spark to it. Kristen Nelson has some great advice on that. Head on over to her website / blog for more on that.

On another note, I'm starting out on a new project! I "pitched" my idea (i.e. read the 300 word preface) to a few friends and they are super excited about it, as am I. It's still YA fantasy, but leans more toward slipstream, whereas AUC was more high fantasy. I don't want to say much more than that just yet for fear of jinxing it. Once it's all plotted out and I'm well into the draft, I'll give more details (though no spoilers!). Super excited. With everything I've learned from editing AUC, I feel like I'm going into this project with a much better head on my shoulders.

Ah, and before you go for the day, I suggest you check out the querytracker blog post up for yesterday. Top ten writer mistakes, uncensored. Very detailed.

Happy writing / living!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Seven Basic Plots

Holy Moly, gone for all of May, then two posts in one day! I assure you, that rhyming was unintentional. :)

From Christopher Booker's The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, the seven storylines are:

Overcoming the Monster - A terrifying, all-powerful, life-threatening monster whom the hero must confront in a fight to the death. An example of this plot is seen in Beowulf, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Dracula.

Rags to Riches - Someone who has seemed to the world quite commonplace is shown to have been hiding a second, more exceptional self within. Think the ugly duckling, Jane Eyre and Clark Kent.

The Quest - From the moment the hero learns of the priceless goal, he sets out on a hazardous journey to reach it. Examples are seen in The Odyssey, The Aeneid, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Voyage and Return - The hero or heroine and a few companions travel out of the familiar surroundings into another world completely cut off from the first. While it is at first marvellous, there is a sense of increasing peril. After a dramatic escape, they return to the familiar world where they began. Alice in Wonderland and The Time Machine are obvious examples; but Brideshead Revisited and Gone with the Wind also embody this basic plotline.

Comedy - Following a general chaos of misunderstanding, the characters tie themselves and each other into a knot that seems almost unbearable; however, to universal relief, everyone and everything gets sorted out, bringing about the happy ending. Shakespeare’s comedies come to mind, as do Jane Austen’s perfect novels.

Tragedy - A character through some flaw or lack of self-understanding is increasingly drawn into a fatal course of action which leads inexorably to disaster. King Lear, Madame Bovary, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Bonnie and Clyde—all flagrantly tragic.

Rebirth - There is a mounting sense of threat as a dark force approaches the hero until it emerges completely, holding the hero in its deadly grip. Only after a time, when it seems that the dark force has triumphed, does the reversal take place. The hero is redeemed, usually through the life-giving power of love. Many fairy tales take this shape; also, works like Silas Marner and It’s a Wonderful Life.

This post comes to you from pure curiousity. I believe my novel AUC is a Voyage and Return story. Since so many of you are fellow writers, I'm curious... where does your story fall?

Secondarily, does anyone refute the notion of seven basic, all encompassing, never ending plots? If so, please share your reasoning. :)

P.S. Don't miss the first post of today, below. Or miss it if you like. :) So long as it's intentional missing rather than accidental.