Monday, May 31, 2010

First Draft Happy

Okay, I have a confession to make. About a week or so ago, I was tired. Not body tired. Brain tired. Heart tired. All the spark had gone out of the writing for me, and I didn't know if I wanted to keep doing it anymore. I felt like the rewriting process was sapping my will to write. (Forgive the emo-sounding-ness there. I'm sleepy as I type this. That makes me sound emo sometimes.)

But, on Friday, I decided to shove all the other stuff that had been on the front burner onto a back burner. It could wait. I was going to bend to temptation and start writing something new. And I feel better. I feel great.

The creative juices are flowing again. I'm thinking again, feeling again, discovering new characters again, finding a new world again. It feels good to sit down with a story-problem again and figure it out instead of rooting through my notes to remember what the official answer is in accordance with the rest of the plot.

Yesterday, I sat down and sketched a rough family tree for four characters. Yesterday, I figured out that my MC didn't look anything like I'd originally thought she did. Yesterday, I got to call my villain a "total pretender to the throne" and know why that was an accurate description of him. I'm learning about my story again. I'm having fun with my story again.

To blatantly steal a line from Jack in the Shutterbox, something is right with my world and I'm loving it.

In the comments of my previous post, D.L. Hammons referred to my rough drafting right now as my happy place. I think that's the accurate. Because first drafts, I've found, always make me really happy.

Now, to blatantly steal a line from a Disney World ride that scared the living daylights out of me when the talking vulture automaton said it: Everyone has a happy place. Maybe this is yours.

Yep, this might be mine. What's yours?

Memorial Day

Today, let us honor the memories of the brave men and women who gave their lives in the service of their country and what it stands for. Without them, this country wouldn't be what it is, and we probably would not be here today.

To those who have served or are currently serving in the armed forces, thank you.

Have a great Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

At the Beginning Again

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, I am once again starting fresh. Not at the beginning of The Thief Book, thank the powers that be of the universe. No, I'm writing again. Something new.

As I finished the rewrites on The Thief Book, I also finished a quick edit I'd been doing on Miss Snitch. And, when I thought about jumping right in and putting them into the book, my heart sort of sank, because it just made me think that all the writing I've been doing lately was rewriting and editing, rehashing and reshaping old ideas and characters instead of creating new ones. This made me sad.

So, I opened up a word document, pulled the idea that's been stewing for a month or so up to the front burner, and started typing. And you know what, I'm enjoying it. I'm enjoying it a lot. I'd forgotten how much fun writing a first draft could be.

I'm back at the beginning, and I couldn't be happier.

How are your writing endeavors going?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Thief Book 2.5

That's it. I'm done. Well, done-ish.

Yesterday, I finished the rewrite of the Thief Book, the draft which I have dubbed version 2.5. Yes, 2.5, because my process is just special like that. And by special, I, of course, mean, in need to intense assistance, lots of moral support, and a strong cup of coffee. Except I don't like drinking coffee, so maybe I'll just offer it a strong mug of tea.

This would be more exciting for me, if I didn't know it were going to soon be followed by The Thief Book 3.0. /headdesk/ But, I'm not going to think about that fact or the three scenes in need of major rewriting at the moment. For now, I'll just let it sit on it's flash drive (long story, that), and wait while I pretend to work productively on something else.

Okay, I'm just going to say this. This draft got long. The first draft came in about 10k longer than I thought, and I cut a bunch of stuff from this draft, so I figured it would cut down to the intended size. Nope, it's shot up to 120% of its original size. That draft ate its Wheaties. That and two of my minor characters were gifted with a subplot during the rewriting process. What can I say, it happened while my back was turned.

But, in the mean time, I have plenty of other revisions and rewriting I can devote my time to. (Okay, now I'm rather wondering if it's just been too long since I pulled out a new idea and wrote from scratch. It's been a lot of rewriting lately. But, then again, this could be the fact that it's the middle of the night talking. So, please ignore the previous for the moment.)

Anyway, I hope you are all having a fabulous day. Hope the weather's lovely. It's actually been remarkably sunny here lately. It fills me with guilt, since I can't type outside so I'm indoors all the time. But, enough about me. How are you all doing?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Have People Lost Their Minds?

It's occurred to me lately that some people are bonkers. I know, most of you realized this a while ago, and I thought I knew it. But, every now and then I get surprised by the sort of things that push people over the edge. I'm talking about things like books and television shows.

That's right, people have threatened murder of books and things on TV.

Are they kidding me?

These people realize we're discussing things that occur in books and on TV, right? These, almost invariably, are not real, or, at least, aren't real enough to get this worked up over. So why are people contemplating murder because of them? I haven't the foggiest.

Now, because death threats will invariably be linked in my mind to this man, I'm embedding a video of Russell Brand. It's definitely worth watching. (WARNING: This movie would, if there were a Ratings Board patrolling it, probably weigh in with an R-rating, because of the cursing and some minor sexual references. I, personally, would call this more PG-13, but I'm told I'm not the one who gets to make these decisions. So, you have been warned.)

Okay, for those of you who haven't/wouldn't/wanted to but for various reasons involving monkeys and screw-drivers couldn't watching the clip, I'll pull out the main bits:

"How do you get riled for something on the telly? 'I'm not enjoying this. I'm really not enjoying it. I don't like him. I don't like him at all. I'm gonna kill him!' What's the tipping point? It's silly. Turn over, or turn it down, or look over there. There are so many options. I mean, take murder a bit more seriously."

I've got to agree with Mr. Brand. People should take murder a bit more seriously. (Pause: I am not, in this post, condoning any sort of murder. However, I do believe that murder should, by and large, be taken seriously. Which means, people, that I think it should be committed for good reasons. Not, say, because you didn't like someone's joke, or you thought their book was in some way sacrilegious, or really any motivation involving Carmel Machiattos. I take murder seriously.)

This thought process all came about because of a post I read online, which contained an article about two authors who are adapting Little Women by Louisa May Alcott to include paranormal aspects. While I have no specific feelings about rewriting older novels to include paranormal creatures, I was absolutely stunned to hear that these authors had received death threats.


Seriously, people?

These authors are actually in pretty good company. J.K. Rowling has received threats. (Because, you know, when she wrote love is the most powerful form of magic, what she obviously meant was, 'Okay, kiddies, let's go worship Satan.' Yeah, I think not.) I'm told that Stephenie Meyer is not immune either. (Regardless of my opinion of the series, it's certainly not something I'd ever die or kill over.) And a bunch of people apparently threatened to kill a reality TV show star because they thought she was dating Justin Bieber. What gives people? What happened to moderation, self-control, and priorities in life?

I have, in the past, been seriously riled up things I read in books or on the internet, heard on TV or the radio, or realized were actually comments made in earnest and not amusing parodies of win-nut crazies. And, despite this fact, I have never sent someone a death threat.

Why? Because, as mentioned above, I take murder seriously (most of the time). Oh, and because sending people death threats because of books or jokes they tell on TV is pretty freaking stupid. There's that too.

So, a shout-out to, well, everyone. Please, don't kill anyone, and, I beg of you, reserve your death-threatening for truly deserving situations.

Okay, minor rant over. Have a charming day, all. :-)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Hi all. I'm back. Yes, I know I vanished for a while there, though I'm pretty sure I said I wouldn't. My bad.

Though, I did have some good reasons. One of which involves me being in Chicago visiting The Other One (by the by, I must be the only person in the world who can go to the third largest US city and run across a acquaintance from That Small Place Somewhere Near the Twenty-First Biggest US City. The odds on that have to be really, really, long, but I don't know what they are, since I'm not too good at math and that answer probably isn't on the Internet.) The other reason involves two different computers experiencing two entirely different sets of difficulties. In the past week, I've spent at least 2 hours in contact with customer service and tech support representatives from Company That Will Remain Nameless Because I a) Would Feel Bad Dissing Them Online and b) Also Don't Want To Give A Free Advert To Them. (The other day, I think I fixed the more worrisome problem on my own. Then I felt really tech-savvy for fifteen minutes before double-checking to see if I actually fixed it. Jury's still out, but I think yes, so I did an internal victory dance anyway).

So, basically, I was away from the Internet and the blogosphere for about 96 hours. I know, I'm surprised I'm still alive too. But, I'm back. :)

Anyway, enough about me.

How've you all been? Very well? I hope so.

So, do tell, has anything interesting happened around the blogosphere lately? Any interesting posts, new blogs, fantastic gossip? (Side note: I'm actually not sure what kind of crazy potential drama there could be breaking out all over the Internet, but if I missed it, I'll be very sad, so please, let me know.) (Other side note: In case this was in any way ambiguous, this is definitely an invitation to slam me with tons of linkage. Yes, feel free. Please do.)

Have a fabulous day. :-)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and the Uninteresting

Sorry to vanish. Life intervened. Back. Miss me?

Over the weekend, I went to see a movie, which will remain unnamed, since I have a code against dissing things on my blog. (If you can guess the movie based on my remarks, I might not confirm it, but you should feel very pleased.) I'm not writing a negative review; but, I feel like I compelled to mention the movie anyway.

This movie had both an antagonist and a villain. They were separate individuals with separate reasons to hate the MC and work to counter his motives. They occasionally worked together, but they were not the same guy.

One thing I noticed half-way through the movie was that the antagonist really bugged me. Not just his personality, which was somewhat annoying, but all of him. Every scene he was in made me roll my eyes and consider ducking out for Sour Patch Kids.

It took me a only a little while longer to figure out why. He didn't change. Ever. Throughout the whole movie, the antagonist was always the exact bloody same.

That. Got. Old.

I'm sure, if you've been working on writing for a while, someone has told you that characters, over the course of a novel, need to grow and change. They cannot remain exactly the same. Readers will find that uninteresting.

When it comes to bad guys, I don't ask that they have periods of great moral development or that they experience some sort of deep internal change or that anything really meaningful and emotional occur with them. But, they cannot remain the exact same bad guy the entire time. Things need to change.


Because, for the MC, things must change, stakes must rise. And one of these ways in which stakes can/should/must rise is for the bad guys get more powerful. Otherwise, the MC is making steady progress against an unshifting enemy, which leads to the feeling that the MC is sure to win. That's not good.

The reader should not feel like the MC is certain to win. The reader should be sitting there thinking, "Oh, sweet sugar cakes, the MC is doom. There's no way they survive this." Stakes should be up there, or there's no reason for the readers to keep going.

During the movie in question, the villain changed. His motivations increased, so he acted more dramatically, which made him a more interesting and threatening villain. That makes me happy. The antagonist did not change or develop any new motivations. He had one goal throughout the whole movie and continued to approach it in the same manner and with the same level of tenacity. That makes me not happy.

In books, a similar situation would be equally frustrating. Characters need to have increasing motivations. They need to become more dedicated, more threatening, more determined. There should be more.

How do you feel about motivations over time? How do you feel about characters who do not grow?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Primal Scream

Primal Scream is something that people do in my area. Actually, it's Primal Scream time right now. I'd actually forgotten until I heard the shouting. (Yeah, Primal Screaming is just what it sounds like. Everyone yells as loud and as long as they feel they need to.)

A friend of mine asked if I was going to do it. I nodded, stood up, walked outside, and emitted what I, if I were writing, would call a loud, piercing cry. Then I walked back inside and went back to what I was doing.

You know what, I feel better now.

I am officially in favor of Primal Screams. I think the concept is based on some psychological theory that was popular in the 70s. I don't know why it's not in vogue anymore, but it's fun. :)

I think we should all express out emotions. Just a little bit. Okay, just a lot. I think a little emotional honesty makes us all feel a little better.

So, today, I would advocate expressing your emotions, even if it's just in the form of a loud, piercing wail.

What's your primal scream?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

So, I've been working on The Thief Book a lot lately. I'd hoped to have this draft done by the end of April, but outside forces changed things up. But, I made good progress, and by May 1st, I only had five scenes yet to go. No problem, right?

Well, it wouldn't have been a problem if I'd just been able to write those five scenes. The problem? Things just kept getting worse. Not for me. For my characters, I mean. I'm fine. But, in the process of rewriting the book, I'd upped some of the stakes along the way, which meant I had about three more problem strands for my characters that need to be resolved and otherwise dealt with. So, I can't just wrap things up super fast like I'd hoped.

Starting point: 5 scenes to go.
5000+words later: 3.5 scenes to go.
The currently very tired part of me wants to introduce my head to my desk repeatedly.

That's the other thing. My first typed copy of this book weighed in at 70k. Since I'd been imagining this book as more of a 60k story, I was quite surprised. (Well, it turns out I was a bit of an epic failure at estimating the length of my handwritten draft.) But, I'd assumed that during the rewriting of the end, I'd pare down 7-10k.

Guess what else I fail at. Making this thing shorter. It's already at 70.5k again, and I still need to write in 3.5 scenes. Minimum. (Head meet desk. Desk meet head. You two are going to be great friends. +_+) (Sorry about my humor. It's late and I didn't sleep too much last night.)

I guess this is the part when I'm happy I get more than two drafts. So, when I finish this draft up, I get to look forward to yet another round of slash and burn edits. **half-hearted fake cheer**

How is everyone else's writing going? Having fun with your WIPs?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

My mother is a seriously fabulous human being. She's way smart, but she's too modest to run around telling everyone about it. She's got a knack for getting on with people that I probably didn't inherit. And she's an incredible cook.

I don't tell her this often enough, but I love her. She's a great mother, and I'm lucky to call her mine. I hope one day to be more like her. (Supposedly, there's hope. "All women become their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man becomes his. That is theirs" -- Oscar Wilde. Though, becoming my mother wouldn't be a tragedy.)
I love you, Mama. Happy Mother's Day.

And, to all you other mother's out there, a happy Mother's Day to you, too. I hope you're able to have a great day with your families.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tortoise Kitties

Earlier this week, I read an interesting post on the theme that everyone's journey is different. It's very true.

Just to remind me of that, I've found this very helpful kitty cat. :)

So,we just have to remember, kitties aren't tortoises and we aren't everyone else.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Word of Advice

Still thinking about the fellow aspiring writer I met the other day. (You can tell how rarely I meet these in the real world. Yet another reason to love the blogosphere.)

During the conversation, she asked me for advice. I passed on some information I thought might help her, but I didn't want to get into the nitty gritty, because ...
a) This was a quick, informal conversation, so there was a limit to what I could tell her
b) I haven't read any of her work yet, so there was really a limit to the specifics I could give her
c) There are some things I don't feel I can tell her without being super, super discouraging.

Still, despite this, I tried to give her some information that I thought would help, and we're planning to stay in touch to keep talking about writing. I think we can grow a lot together as writers, and it'll be really great for both of us, I think, to have corporeal fellow-writers with whom to speak. (Y'all are great, but I do find there's something to be said for flesh and blood.)

This made me remember when I started writing almost two years ago. There are a few things I wish I'd had someone around to tell me.

1) Oh, honey, that book you're writing, well, A for effort, but that thing is seriously flawed. I wouldn't start mailing out queries on it yet, babe. You've got a lot to learn.
2) Make sure you figure out your characters and try to keep them consistent throughout the book. That thing where your characters do stuff that isn't at all like them, that's just confusing for your readers.
3) Motivations, characters should have them. They can't just go around doing things and saying things without any apparent reason or cause, because then they just look like irrational psychos, instead of people that the characters feel connected to.

What do you wish you'd had someone to tell you when you started writing? What have you learned since you started writing?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Why I Social Network

Yesterday, a girl asked me if I had time for a conversation. I did, so we sat down and had a good, long talk. It turns out, she heard me mention writing and books, and as she was an inspiring writer, she wanted someone to talk to about it.

You know what, it was a really great conversation. We talked about plot and I passed on some stuff I've learned in my year and change in the blogosphere learning about the craft from you fine people.

It made me feel really good to communicate with another aspiring author. It reminded me of how I got into this blogging thing. I remember how happy I was when I first 'met' all the funny, interesting people there were on the Internet, people who, like me, had somehow found their way into the writing. It was nice to know I wasn't the only one doing it.

Yesterday reminded me of why I'm involved with this social network.

How did you become involved in blogging? Why do you stick around in the blogosphere?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tp of the Hat 2

Because, I couldn't do just one.

Senior year of High School, I got bored, and my health teacher released me from class to get a book from the library. (In hindsight, teachers let you wander the halls a fair bit at my HS.) Well, in the library, I discovered My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger. I decided to check it out.

Problem: It was just about the end of the year, and all the library books were technically due back to the library that day. See, the school believed that they couldn't check that book out to me and expect to get it back in time. It wasn't anything personal, since they had this policy for all students. (Though, they could've made it personal and had a fair point. I had their copy for Of Human Bondage for about 9 months -- 3 of which were summer vacation. But that book was just really dull.)

So, I did what any self-respecting nerd would do. I went and had a nice chat with the head librarian who was awesome and with whom I had a pretty good relationship. (What can I say, being on the competitive reading team gets you some sway with the people who care about books.) She let me take out the book if I promised to get it back within a week.

I finished that book in about 36 hours. It hooked me by page 4 and I couldn't put it down.

Quick Summary: Three Boston HS seniors recount their freshman year, which they consider the most excellent year of their lives. Ale just moved to Boston with her father, the retired ambassador to Mexico, her mother, and her perfect brother. She doesn't know how to tell them that she doesn't want to do International Relations. She wants to perform in musicals. T.C. is helping his father reenter the dating world after T.C's mom's death a decade prior, helping Augie with his relationship issues, and helping a young, deaf boy with his obsession with Mary Poppins. Augie finally realizes he's gay (something T.C.'s known for years) and falls for a player on the school soccer team who can't seem to come to terms with his own homosexuality.

I probably didn't do such a great job summing it all up there, but this book really is fabulous. There's baseball, musical theater, and young love, not to mention magazine clippings, transcripts of strange convos with guidance counselors, and IMs. Trust me, you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll fall in love all over again.

I love this book.

Tip of the Hat 1

Okay, this is me, totally jumping on the Spread the Love bandwagon. I recommend y'all jump on it, too. We have cookies. ;-) Anyway...

Senior year of High School, my philosophy teacher decided that for our final project, we had to do a ten minute presentation on our personal philosophy.

My presentation: "Okay, my personal philosophy is pretty much Ender's Game by Orson ScottCard. Yep, that's it."

Then, to stop my teacher from failing me on 15% of my grade, I expanded that into 15 minutes. But, yes, that's how much I think Ender's Game rocks. It's my philosophy, (and the subject of my English 12 Final Term Paper. Can we say obsessed-much?)

But, in time, my love of Ender's Game turned to a healthier level, where I no longer reference it so often my friends want to throw things at me. But, when people ask me what book I think anyone in high school should (and can) read, I always say Ender's Game.

Quick Summary: The world has already been attacked twice by the malevolent alien "buggers," and they're massing for another strike. To save the world, the government recruits top children to train as battle commanders. Ender Wiggin, a third child bred for this purpose, seems the only hope of finding a military leader smart and strong enough to defeat the buggers. At Battle School, the early military training takes the form of complex war games, and Ender always wins. He's smart enough to win any game, and he's smart enough to know that Earth is running out of time if they want to win against the buggers. But is he smart enough to save the planet?

What's not to love? Sports (in zero-gravity, which just makes them that much more awesome), great life advice (the enemies gate is down, people), a morally troubling but lovable main character, and an interesting cast of supporting characters.

I don't normally go for sci-fi, but this book made me give serious consideration to the genre.

What book do you totally love? What books have impacted you?