Friday, April 30, 2010

The Slippery Slope of Slides

Please take a moment to read the very enjoyable comic to the right before continuing on to the rest of the post.

You don't have to. It's optional really. But, if you want to understand what this post is about, it's highly recommended.

Now, as you might know, depending on whether or not you read the comic, this post is about stories that as you to 'bear with them a moment.'

All books ask you, at some point or other, to bear with them for a moment. It's inevitable. Because that's how books work. They build suspense by keeping things from you and saying, "If you'll bear with me for a moment, you'll see how this all works out."

And, you know, that's perfectly okay. After all, we all read because we're interested in having things kept from us and having to ferret the information out. It's fun.

But here's my thing, I don't like it when people keep saying "Bear with me a moment" over and over again without throwing me so much as a bone of an answer. (Seriously people, all I'm asking is for one clue how all this stuff you've been telling me blends together.) It gets frustrating for the reader when things keep happening but the reader doesn't know how it's all supposed to link together and the writer isn't giving any clues on that front.

I've read some quite complicated books in my time, ones with many subplots that all weaved together or had a lot of back story that mattered but the reader didn't know it. And the writers who pulled this off had two things in common: they kept things interesting and they threw info to the reader so she felt in the loop.

When introducing new complications, don't just say, "this is going to get a bit more complicated and I'm not going to clear it all up just yet, but bear with me." Make it interesting for the reader, so you'll have something shiny to distract them with while you don't clear up the rest.

And keep passing on new information. Clear some things up as you go along. I don't mean you have to give up all your mysteries up front but give some things up as time goes on so the reader isn't spending the last 2/3 of your book going, "Wait, what in the name J.K. Rowling is going on? Who's that guy and where did that bloke go? Wasn't he incredibly important two chapters ago? WWHHAATT?!!?" So, if you've had a question burning for the last five chapters, maybe fill in that gap if you're planning on opening another one. In other words, if you're opening a window, please, I beg you, shut the door first.

So, ladies and gentlemen, if you'll bear with me a moment....

Just teasing.

Have you ever run into a novel that told you to 'bear with me' a few too many times? How did that make you feel? Do you ever worry you might be doing this to your readers?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Further Fidgeting and Fretting

As I said yesterday, fidgeting is something distinctive and unique to each person. The hard thing about having distinctive fidgets when one is pretending to be someone else on stage is that your character, being a different person, is not going to fidget the way you do. I know I'm having some difficulty removing my particular mannerisms and frets from my characters so that they can each be unique. And this got me thinking, I've got to do the same thing with my writing.

When I write, I need to get inside my character's heads and find out how they think, speak, and move. They obviously won't do any of these things just like the other characters. They're their own people. They're not each other, and they're certainly not me.

One thing I've noticed rewriting The Thief Book is that a lot of the main characters are sharing a particular mannerism of mine. Arching an eyebrow.

One of the things that frustrates Captain Film Major about me is my incessant use of my eyebrows. My friends in high school used to tell me that I'm fluent in Eyebrow. They might have a point. Using my brows, I can communicate, "Are you serious?!", "Would you please get over here now!", "What? I'm confused," "I am intrigued. Tell me more," "You're so totally into him/her." It's an expressive language.

But, here's the deal, Charlotte isn't me. Leo isn't me. DiSpirito isn't me. So, unlike me, they're not all going to be communicating with Eyebrow. (Unlike English, it's not a widely spoken language. The other fluent speakers seem to be The Other One and my best friend, though others I know are conversational. Which means, unlike English, I can't reasonably expect my characters to know it.) They're unique individuals, and I have to respect that and let them communicate as they would.

Writers must expunge their own characteristics from the book. While some of oneself can fall into the book, not every character should look like a replica of the author. The characters need to develop into full personages on their own, with their own fidgets and ticks, not the author's.

Do you ever have notice yourself or your mannerisms randomly appearing in your work? How do you deal with that? Do you ever find the author or his or her ways sporadically appearing in his or her work?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fidgets and Frets

Right now, I'm acting in a play. The play is an interesting and intriguing experience, and acting is certainly different for me. But, one thing's that I've started to notice now that I have to look at the acting, instead of standing in the wings and looking at costume pieces or properties, is the fidgeting. It turns out, people move. Sometimes, they move without meaning to or without realizing what's going on.

What this got me thinking is that, since everyone fidgets in real life, characters must fidget in books.

People don't all fidget the same way. Most have a specific fidget that they use all the time. I play with one of the rings on my left hand or I fasten and unfasten my watch. (I'm sure other people love my fidgets, since they both produce a tiny clicky sound.) Those are my fidgets. One of the girls in the play has a habit of playing with her skirt, bunch it, smoothing it, tangling her hands in it. That's her fidget. Another girl is in the habit of moving her feet, generally shifting from one foot to the other and playing with them. That's her fidget.

All fidgeting is distinctive. So, character's fidgeting should be distinctive too. Those tiny things they do when nothing is going on with them or when their nervous or when they're bored, those things should be something they do and no one else. Because those things tend to be a part of a person that are just theirs. It should be the same for characters.

In The Thief Book, one of my characters tends to flip a certain coin when he's nervous or has a free moment or is thinking. I like the use of the coin in the context of the book. I like the flipping motion. And I really like that he's got a fidget. I like it.

Do you like fidgets and frets in book characters? Do you like writing them in your own characters? Any particular frets stand out in your mind in books you've read or written?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Bill

William Shakespeare was born, well, we're not quite sure. But he was baptized on the 26th of April, so he was born right about now (probably on the 23rd). I'm celebrating today. So, Happy Birthday, Bill Shakespeare. :-)

Talk about crazy prolific. To his name, he's has 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two narrative poems, and several other pieces of poetry. I'm in awe, really.

You've got to love Shakespeare. (No, seriously, you have to. I'm making it a law.) There're few things I love more than the cross-dressing romantic comedies. Gotta love the dramatic irony of them all. What Shakespeare do you love best?

Bill: "I do love nothing in this world so well as you. Is not that strange?"

Oh, and, for The Other One: Shakespeare is my homeboy. ^_^

And, for your viewing pleasure:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Basement Kitty

I don't know why, but this really amused me. Maybe I just have a thing for the randomly appearing black in the sea of white. Plus, I sort of relate to Basement Kitty here, though I don't know why. Maybe because it's late and I'm short on the REM sleep.

So, for you're viewing please, Basement Kitty. Tell me what he makes you think of.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Violet is Going Green

I'm making my blog carbon neutral. :-)

carbon neutral coupons and shopping with

If you'd like to as well, here are some steps.

1) Click on the pretty lead image above.
2) Copy the code into a post or your sidebar.
3) Email the link to
4) They plant a tree. This makes your blog carbon neutral.
5) Feel happy. :-)

For more info on how this works, click here. Have a great day.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Process

I totally absconded with this survey from Sex Scenes At Starbucks. I thought it seemed interesting, and I'm really interested in seeing in what y'all say when you borrow and re-post it (as I hope you will).

If you asked 50 writers to describe their “writing processes,” you’d probably get 75 different responses. Some writers stick to a set of inviolable rules, others “meander across the meadow,” while others invoke voodoo dolls and incense, heavy on the incense (substitute “alcohol” for “incense” as required).
I have never invoked a voodoo doll in my writing process. Though, I can't deny, I do sort of meander at times.

Do you write daily or whenever you can grab a chance?
I grab a chance. I try to write daily, but that's usually not how things work out. Yes, darn it, I'm inadequate.

Are you an outliner or a “seat-of-the-pantser”?
I'm pretty much an outliner (though they're loose outlines), though I don't deny that I'm not above following an idea to the end of the rainbow.

Do you revise as you go or do you plow through?
I tend to plow through and then come back. Sure, I sometimes duck back and make notes, but I like to get to the end of the deal before taking it all apart.

Do you write what you want or what you think has a shot of selling?
I'm a lot better at writing what I want to write, mainly because I haven't the foggiest how to determine what sells. But, as the wall I'm currently looking at says, "Be real to yourself and everything else will follow." I'm going to run with that.

Do you listen to music when you write?
Yeah, pretty much always. I listen to music always. Well, not always music. Sometimes, The West Wing or shows involving the investigation of violent murders. Because, I'm like that.

Now, my merry-men, please go forth. Recreate the survey so I can know more interesting things about you. Enjoy. :-)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pulling the Pieces Together

You ever get the feeling where you're looking for something and you know it's there somewhere but you can't quite get your hands on it but instead keep grabbing a similar yet not quite right thing? (I know there were a lot of conjunctions in that sentence, but that was the only way I could really describe my thought process at the moment.)

It's sort of how I feel right now about ideas.

See, I know I don't have the right to be getting distracted by pretty ideas. I'm working on The Thief Book right now, and I need to focus on that and not loose focus. Especially not to toss that focus over onto some gossamer whisper and breath of an idea.

But that's what's toying with me right now, the whisp of an idea.

I don't know quite what set it off, but somehow my mind came to the conclusion that it could fit together these scraps of idea that I had lying around and turn them into a full idea. Seriously, I don't know what brought this on, but now my mental self is scavenging around my head for these bits and pieces that I know are in there somewhere. The only problem is, I haven't the foggiest where I left them.

I do, however, keep finding other scraps. Ones that are similar to the ones I want but not quite. It's like looking for a pair of black high heels. (Sorry, male readers, I'm about to embark on an analogy to something you've probably never experienced, though probably witnessed.) Most girls, I've discovered, own more than one pair of black high heels. And, lots of girls, I've discovered, own shoes that, to me, look a lot alike. (But that's probably because I'm not a shoe person.)

Anyway, when you're looking for a pair of black shoes and keep finding the wrong pair of black shoes, the close but no cigar sort of black shoes. It's a little frustrating, and it's a tad confusing, if you're uncovering a bunch of stuff you didn't know was also down there, or up there, or wherever you keep your shoes.

I'm reverting from the shoe analogy and the scraps of cloth analogy to the actual world. I'm still sort of kicking this idea around in my mind. I want to get it into something a little more cohesive and ... congealed is really the only word to describe this mental picture, but I doubt it's a pretty visual in anyone else's mind. Anyway, I'm trying to pull the whole deal together in my mind before I put it down in the newly formed Big Book of Ideas. (Okay, since it's newly formed, it's just the Average Sized -- okay Teeny Tiny -- Book of Ideas.)

How do you pull your ideas together? Do you ever have a problem trying to find an idea you have a while ago? What's your though process like?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Thanks Karen

Today, I'd like to thank the charming Karen Gowen for giving me the Beautiful Blogger Award. Thanks. You're much too kind. :)

Now, I'm not entirely clear what the rules are, but I believe I'm supposed to post seven interesting things about my life. Not sure how easy that'll be, but I'll give it a go.

1) I have a twin. Okay, you probably already knew that (I call her The Other One when I mention her on the blog). Still, I consider it interesting, and it's what I've got.

2) I have a thing about languages. I like being able to speak them, and I definitely geek out about grammar, implicit meanings, that sort of thing. We've heard me geek out about Chinese.

3) I aspire to one day read the all the plays of William Shakespeare. The Other One has, but I have not, and I feel like a somewhat deficit English-lit-geek if I haven't read more, so I plan to get right on that soon. Besides, Shakespeare's my homeboy. ;)

4) Once, in my younger days, I went to Chile with my parents. Whilst going through customs, I set my purse on the floor and forgot it. I didn't realize until we'd passed through. So, without my passport, any knowledge of Spanish, or a word to my parents, I sprinted back through customs to get my purse and then ran back to my parents. No one stopped me, but my parents were less than pleased.

5) My mother's side of the family are Canadians, so I've been there a lot. I'd characterize Canada as the much more chill version of the US. I love America. But Canada will always have a special place in my heart, and near as I can tell, it is more chill.

6) On the Canada side of things, I have, at least once, convinced people of all the following things: Canada used to use the 25 hour clock but recently switched to 24 hours, which makes my life easier; in Canada, on July 1st, we all come together as a nation to heard beavers into the Plain Provinces, where we club them on the head, and eat them; in Canada, people get around on bobsleds, and the cars you see people in are borrowed from the government to go south of the border.

7) Despite never having worked as an actor professionally, I have appeared on stage in three states, and I hold membership in the International Thespian Society.

Sharing the Love:
Susan Mills for her funny blogs and fabulous shoes
Tamara Heiner who makes me smile. :)
Elana Johnson for her entertaining style and informative blog
Nicole Ducleroir who keeps things interesting
Stephanie Thornton for her creative and entertaining posts
Lisa and Laura Roecker who are one of my favorite sister-sister teams.
Tiana Smith for being interesting, sweet, and awesome enough to make pink seem cool.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

ASL Dance Music

Okay, I love dancing and dance music, and I have some sort of irrational fascination with ASL. So, all in all, this video made me super happy. Enjoy. :-)

Friday, April 16, 2010

The First Take

Continuing the other day's thoughts on drafts, today I'm going to talk about the importance of first drafts. Not because I think they're magic, or perfect, or brilliant. They usually aren't. Often as not, they're awful as hell.

But, that's okay. It really is. A lot of pretty things aren't pretty before they're formed. Paints aren't always pretty before they go up on the canvas. Thread isn't the most alluring thing in the word, but it can form brilliant and beautiful tapestries. And unsculpted clay isn't really my idea of visually appealing.

Again, it's okay. Nothing needs to be beautiful at the start. It can grow into being lovely in its own time. (Insert reference to The Ugly Duckling.) (And, I hope everyone got that reference, because if I'm now living in a world where people haven't heard of The Ugly Duckling, I might just have to cry.) It can become pretty.

The first draft doesn't have to be pretty. It can suck. It can be god-awful. That's okay. Really. It is. Let yourself do it. Let yourself write it. Let yourself blow it. All it takes is getting it done. Getting the first draft out there. Get it written.

Let it go. Let it be awful. Let it be.

How are your drafts coming? How do you feel about your first drafts? When was your last first draft?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Good, Better, Best, And Yet...

Much to my chagrin, I am not a top-geek. I'd guess I'm about a 6 or 7 out of 10 on the Geek Scale.
I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of Star-Trek, Star Wars, or Rocky Horror Picture Show. I haven't read Tolstoy, and my knowledge of Asimov is strictly a persistent (and correct) belief that people shouldn't design robots that can violate the three laws. I also haven't played chess in months. So, yeah, geek fail. But, if there's one thing I can geek out about is languages. Well, ones that I know, at any rate. (Sorry, my klingon and Elvish are both abysmal.)

I'm currently studying Chinese, and Chinese has these funky things call RVC verbs. Now, I've completely forgotten what RVC stands for, but it's basically an attachment to the verb to explain the state of the verb.

Now, I get it, this probably does not sound like something fun, interesting, or worth geeking out over. But, a while ago, I learn this RVC ending ' wan,' which means 'to finish' and another ' hao,' which is 'to finish properly and to satisfaction.' And these endings can be attached to the verb 'xie' which means 'to write.' When I learned that, I stopped and geeked out in my mind for about five minutes. I got pretty happy, because I'd learned a verb construction, a word, that we don't have in English to describe a common concept in my life.

Whenever I write anything, a report, a poem, a novel, there's going to be more than one draft. I never get it just right the first time. Tragically, I am a mere mortal. But, usually, if someone asks how it's going, I'll say, "Well, I've got something I can hand in." You know, failing all else and all efforts for improvement are barred, I've still got a complete. 完. There's something done.

But, let's admit it, first drafts are never perfect. There's probably weak character motivations, plot holes, and scenes that don't make sense because of changes you made later in the process. And once those things are done, there's probably writing that needs to tighten, factual consistencies to check, and other minor edits. It takes many drafts before a project can be close to 'finished.'

They say DaVinci carried the Mona Lisa with him all his life, because he never considered it truly finished. He was still working on it always. That was a man who understand the difference between a potential stopping point and being properly finished.

The Thief Book is currently in draft 2.5. It's still got quite a ways to go before it'll be 'finished.' I don't know if I'll ever consider it properly finished. But, that's always something to look forward to.

Okay, geeking out over.

How do you feel about your drafts? Do you think it's ever possible for a project to be 'finished'? When do you let a project go if it isn't 'finished'?

What do you like to geek out about?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bye, Bye, Bye

So, I've been working on the end of The Thief Book. I've tapped out several scenes. Some are basically old scenes just retouched to fit the new details, others are accomplishing the same objectives as old scenes but are not the some, and one or two are entirely new scenes to blend it all together to fit the new ending.

But, the other day, when I flipped through my old draft to recapture mentally the objective of that scene, I noticed something. The two characters in the scene were Prince Leo (Love Interest Guy/Chief of Police) and Prince Drake (Heir to the kingdom/Leo's elder brother). That's when it hit me, Drake was redundant. See, Leo already has a little brother, Fisk, who is philosophical and special, and who had already been introduced into the story. And, quite frankly, they were filling the same role: sounding board for Leo's ideas/make Leo smarter than he is, because sometimes he's stupid and set in his ways.

Okay, in my mind, Drake and Fisk were not the same guy. Drake is a traditionalist, so he doesn't understand Charlotte (MC girl) either, but he's also highly pragmatic, which sometimes goes against Leo's insistence on obeying the rules no matter the cost. Fisk is philosophical, which makes him more likely to understand Charlotte's perspective, and he's more likely to think Leo's strict adherence to the rules is a bit cracked. So, they both counter Leo in a way I like.

But, they're both countering Leo. They're both achieving the same objective. Which means I don't need both of them. And, since I've already introduce Fisk, and I enjoy his moral flexibility (if I'm not a fan of his name), I'm keeping him.

Sad for Drake.

Okay, I've snipped characters from stories before, from this story in fact. However, this time feels like the first time, to me. Probably because this is the first time I cut a character who played a large part and who I'd actually envisaged in the tale and intentionally wrote in. I'll miss Drake. He was a nice bloke, in his way. Unfortunately, I'm playing Master of the Universe, and I have to be brutal.

This is going to sound a little cold, but characters in books must serve a function. And, it should be a unique function, otherwise they're not just taking up space without adding anything to what's going on.

Now I'm going to draw a comparison to Harry Potter, because I really like Harry Potter, and I've discovered it's an almost universal point of comparison and understanding. Hermione and Ron are both Best Friend characters. However, they don't fulfill the same function, even in that role. Hermione is the smart one who gives Harry wise advice and information that he wouldn't otherwise have but really needs. Ron provides camaraderie, support/back-up, and the male perspective on all issues. And they both, at one point or another (and often at the same time), provide conflict and drama. They fulfill different functions, so they both belong in the text.

Do you guys have much experience cutting characters? How did it make you feel? Have you ever run across characters that you found redundant? How did that make you feel?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Lawyer Joke

Okay, first of all, I don't hate lawyers. I really don't. Really. I'm related to some very nice ones.
And, if any of you are lawyers, please don't take this personally. It's just that this joke was so amusing.

One Monday morning, a man named Richard called a law office and said, "Excuse me, I would like to speak with Mr. Smythe. He's my lawyer."

The receptionist replied, "I’m sorry, sir; however, Mr. Smythe died last week."

The next day Richard called again and asked the same question. The receptionist replied, "Sir, as I told you yesterday, I am very sorry, but Mr. Smythe died last week."

Wednesday morning, Richard called for the third time. He asked to speak with his lawyer. By this time the receptionist had become quite annoyed. She snapped. "Sir," she yelled, "I keep telling you, your lawyer died last week. Why do you keep calling?!!"

Richard laughed. "Because I just love hearing it!"

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bring the Funny

If you were ever a fan of the TV show The West Wing -- and if you weren't, start watching, because it's more awesome than apple pie--, you might remember an episode in which Sam gathered together everyone he could find to revise a speech, because, as he said, the speechwriters "forgot to bring the funny." When it comes to writing, that's sometimes been my problem.

As I looked back over some parts of The Thief Book, I felt that I was going too long without being amused. Maybe it's because I'd seen it before, but things weren't amusing me as much as I'd like. (Admittedly, I'd kind of like the people reading my book(s) to be falling off their beds laughing, though I accept that might not be the case.)

Here's my thing about the funny, it's important. It's the grease on the wheels, the butter on the baking dish, and some other metaphor about smoothing things out to ease processes. The humor helps make parts of the story that would otherwise be unappealing to the reader, or not as interesting or important to the reader.

One place I like to make sure there's humor is descriptions. A while back, I read a description of pacing that basically said that during description, the pace slows to pretty much zero. For all the words there are on the page, there is no real action occurring. Description is, in comparison to just about everything else that's happening, slow. So, if I'm asking my reader to read words in which nothing is happening, I can at least make sure that the words are amusing and interesting. Wouldn't you rather read "Rebbecca weighed the chances of surviving a jump from the third floor window. Minimal. But if her choices were the window or continuing this conversation, she'd have to pick the window," than read "she didn't want to continue this conversation"? I, personally, would.

Another place to inject humor into your story is to use it as means of filling out your characters. I mean, let your characters be funny. They're allowed to tell jokes and be amusing, in between giving out useful info and doing interesting things and, in other ways, saving the universe (or contributing to its downfall. Villains can be funny, too). A character's humor says a lot about them. Not all characters are funny in the same way, just like all people aren't funny in the same way. Some characters might not even be funny at all. (I admit it, I hope to write a character who cannot tell jokes or tries and fails to be funny. I'd love that.)

Sure, there are times when humor isn't appropriate. Have you ever watched a sitcom and a really dramatic or emotional moment is occurring only to be cut short by a joke? Doesn't that just make you want to throw a pillow/soft drink/cat at the set? My personal response tending to be along the lines of "May a swift and Ebola-like death come unto you! Why can't you just let things be?" All of which is my way of saying that sometimes humor has a time and a place (much like warm weather, despite what my current environment seems to think. Anyway...)

How much humor do you try to include in your writing? Do you like funny books, or do you tend to the more dramatic genres? Any humor-related pet peeves?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ideas Are Shiny

That's how I see it. Ideas are shiny. Really shiny. I could be sitting in a room of tinfoil reflecting sunlight, and ideas would win out 9 times in 10. I don't know where ideas come from or what they're made up of exactly, but whoever makes ideas must put in a lot of glitter.

Now, I say this, because I recently became rather distracted by an idea and wondered off from where I was meant to be going. What can I say, it was a seriously pretty looking idea. Too bad this was one of those times when I really needed to get a specific something done and not wander away.

Moving on...

I feel reasonably sure that I am not the only person who gets distracted by shiny ideas. Because, well, I'm not that special or hyper-distractable.

This sometimes happens to me in my writing. In the previous draft of my WIP, Charlotte (happy, happy MC) was supposed to be meeting Alberto (Close friend). Instead, she went off on a trip under the bridge to hang out with Luca & Co. (Other friends). A nice shiny idea that came with some interesting characters. Too bad that following the shiny took me so far from where I needed to go that it would take thousands of words to resurface on the path Charlotte needed to be on and to manage the related complications. So, it would seem, following the shiny doesn't always work.

However, sometimes, it's nice. One time with this WIP, I followed the shiny from Anna-Maria (a.k.a. the porcupine) to a minor invasion of her privacy (because, well, those things happen) to her boyfriend and her fabulous little subplot that I now really enjoy. The Shiny, it would seem, can sometimes lead us down some very interesting paths.

I guess what I'm advocating is giving the shiny its fair chance. It might lead to the witch's house of candy and cake, or it might lead to the big rock candy mountain. The shiny might be a risky bulb of light leading off into the marshes of death, or it could be that light at the end of the tunnel leading some place really awesome. Give the shiny its fair chance. Think about where it wants to lead you. It might be somewhere you want to go.

How do you feel about the Shiny? Do you get distracted by it sometimes? Where has it lead you in the past?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The F Word. Really?

Once upon a time, when my friends and I had consumed much too much soda and consequently decided we were the most amusing people in the world and understood the secrets of the universe (seriously, what do they put in coke these days?), we got around to talk around people who really bugged us. Not specific people, just certain types of people. Topping the list were people who cussed for no apparent reason. You know, those people who, when a pencil point breaks, say, "Oh $*@#."

(Second on the list were people who, whenever someone curses would say, "Oh, you said the $*$#-word." Because a) yes, indeed, they did, we all heard, why do you feel compelled to repeat it? and b) yes, you git, and so did you. But those people are mostly besides the point. Except that I knew one and he bugged me.)

Luckily, such people, who cussed all the time and for no apparent reason, were relatively rare. Otherwise, I probably would have gotten in a lot of trouble in my past for slapping people silly. Because, sometimes it's just really hard to resist.

If you're wondering what inspired this little rant, well, a while ago I saw several blog posts about the use of the f-word in YA and cursing in general. There were a lot of good thoughts brought up, such as whether or not the word is appropriate in the context, whether using the f-word might be being edgy for the sake of being edgy, and what the swearing does to the size of one's audience.

Well, I admit, some of my characters in my contemporary works curse sometimes. That's for a couple reasons:
~Teens swear these days. It's true. It occurs. So, sometimes, it just feels like the way the character might have reacted, felt, or spoken.
~Sometimes, the situation calls for it. (You don't almost run someone down with your car and so, "oh my goodness." At least, I wouldn't. If I thought I'd almost killed someone with my vehicle, I'd have to be bleeped out. Unless my mother were in the car. No, maybe even if my mother were in the car.)
~Yes, some people are just like that. They curse. Even if I'd have wanted to slap them in real life, some people are the sort of people who will curse, just as other people are the sort that won't. So we have to let them do that.

Still, my characters don't swear all the time, and they don't chuck out the f-word, and they don't curse for no apparent reason. This is also for several good reasons:

~There's a time and a place for such language, and a large part of YA events occur in places that are not the time and place. Last I checked, most teens won't use the f-word or sundry other curses in the presents of a teacher or their parents or their boss. Situations may vary based on relationships involved, but a lot of people have some list of places where they can't/won't swear. Since those places probably include schools, houses, and work, that's a real limit to where a character in a YA can curse.

~It's annoying. This is probably a belief more related to my views, but I can't stand people whose vocabulary would entirely need to be bleeped out on the radio. I just want to slap them upside the head with my thesaurus and say, "Don't you know any other words?" Seriously, it gets old.

~Not everyone cusses. Some people don't. So, one can't just have every character swearing everything six ways to Sunday. It won't make sense from all of the characters. Also, it could alienate or discomfort readers who don't like a lot of cursing, or, in YA and MG, readers whose parents don't like a lot of cursing.

How do you feel about cursing in your writing? In other people's writing? In real life?

Friday, April 2, 2010

To Plug In or Not to Plug In?

(Okay, I hope you've all noticed the shameless effort to maintain the title pattern over the week. I didn't start the week planning to do that, but after day two, a pattern seemed to be emerging, and I'm a slave to patterns. So, there it goes. I hope at least some of you were vaguely amused.)

So, some of you might have noticed that I semi-dropped out of the blogosphere lately. I haven't been reading and commenting on blogs this week. I've just been popping on once a day to respond to blog comments and create my next post. And I feel really bad about that, and I'll totally be hitting all you're sites and commenting, I promise. **crosses area in general proximity to heart**

This was not a planned event. However, due to forces entirely inside my control (read: my inability to read and comprehend a schedule and thereby understand a deadline) things came up that I hadn't properly foreseen, and I had to make time to meet those responsibilities. Something had to give, and, since I didn't want that something to be sleeping or eating, that something turned out to be blogging.

I'm very sorry you guys fell to the lower end of the priority spectrum. I promise you all beat out TV. And, don't worry, next time sleep will hit the bottom, okay?

Anyway, now that I've some time to think, I got to thinking about what how we decide to manage our time. And, since I've been talking about blogging lately, and since this is a blog (you know, in case you hadn't noticed that already), I'm going to keep this on the issue of time and blogging.

In the average week, I probably spend about 14 hours in the blogosphere, between reading, commenting, and writing. Of those hours, probably 10-11 go to the reading and commenting portion. And, I like this time. I get to read a lot of interesting things, learn a lot of useful things, hear about really fascinating things, not to mention hang out with all of you fine people.

Still, no matter how you spin it, 14 hours is a pretty large chunk of time. And, when something's gotta give, it's tempting to shave some hours from that particular chunk. Sorry about that, guys, but you do happen to be one of the few time requirements in my life that aren't associated with marks, contractual obligations/things to which I've given my word, and the keeping of body and soul in something resembling proximity. (Said with love, I promise.)

But enough about me. Wouldn't want this to become an ego-kick. Let's talk about you.

How do you prioritize your blogging time in the scheme of things? How much time do you spend in the blogosphere? How does that time break down? Do you wish you spent more/less time here or more/less time on certain aspects of your blog experience?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

To Post or Not to Post?

(Yes, I'm reusing the post title. I acknowledge that and am moving on.)

Okay, there was some sort of thing in my life or a book or something that inspired the post you're about to read (assuming you continue, which I hope you will), but I honestly can't remember what it was. So, I'll be making one up.

The book Extras, the fourth book in the Uglies Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld (or, really, I think of it as a spin-off, but that's a different conversation), there's a lot of discussion about the sort of things that people kick (post on their blogsites). In the fame-based world, there exist a population of people called ego-kickers who post mainly or entirely about their lives. Others post about other things, but even the MC, who posts about a lot of things, admits to having put pretty much her entire life online. [Good book, by the by. Highly recommend the whole series.]

So, here's my deal. What sort of things do you post about on your blog? By which I mean, do you talk a lot about your life?

I, personally, don't talk a lot about my life on the blog. (You might have noticed.) Usually, I limit the references to comments on how the post idea came about, or maybe an amusing anecdote. That was a personal decision. I didn't want to go splashing my life all over the interwebs. So, yeah, I'm not an ego-kicker. It's not all about me. (I mean, it sort of is, but not in quite the same way. Oh, you know what I mean...)

Sometimes, I admit, I'm surprised about the sort of things people are willing to post about themselves online. I've read some things in which people talk about medical conditions or other people's personal lives. You hear all sorts of stories about people blogging their intimate relationships with other people, as it were. And part of me thinks, "Why would you do that?"

Please understand that I don't intend this as a judgment on people who post a lot about their life. I'm just a somewhat private person, so I wouldn't dream of posting that sort of thing on the Internet for the consumption of people I've never met. I mean, if that's what you prefer to do, that's your business, and I hope you enjoy. I just don't share the impulse.

So, how do you feel about posting things related to your personal life? Why do you feel this way? How do you make the determinations about what to post?