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Archive for September, 2010

I’m stealing borrowing this idea from Writing Like Crazy.  She posted ten reasons why she writes and it got me thinking, why do I like to write?  Of course there are the obvious reasons: living vicariously through another person, control, and simple pleasure.  But I wanted to figure out why it is I find so much joy in this one simple act that can be down right frustrating and depressing (depending on the writing day I’m having).

1) One day I hope to make money at it.  Now any writer knows, if this is your sole purpose behind putting pen to paper, then you aren’t going to last long, but, on the other hand, I would enjoy making a decent living off my writing alone.  None of this working a whole other job just so I can make ends meet.  I mean, another job would seriously cut into my writing time.

2) I’ve been told I’m a brilliant writer.  It may sound petty, but it’s true.  My Psych 102 professor actually announced this to the entire class, thus embarrassing me to no end.  Whenever I’m feeling down or want to give up, I remember this.  It was the moment when I made the turn from just daydreaming about becoming a writer, to seriously considering it.

3) I like the clickety-clack noise the keys make when I hit them.  My brothers and sisters make fun of me because I type so fast.  One of my sister says it sounds just like the fake typing in the movies, but nobody else really sounds like that.  I thought this was funny because I thought everybody sounded the same when they typed.  I guess it shows what I  know.

4) I get to spend a vast part of the process alone.  This may not sound very appealing to others, but for me this couldn’t be more perfect.  I don’t really work well with others and not in the I don’t-get-along with them sense.  I just don’t bother sharing my thoughts or opinions.  I have a terrible tendency to keep to myself, plus I’m painfully shy.

5) I get to be creative.  I cannot stress just how important this is to me.  Even though I had no trouble in school, I never really enjoyed it and I think it’s sad we don’t put more emphasis on creativity.  After all it helps critical thinking skills, something we want college graduates to have, but most importantly, being creative helps me feel less like a robot and more like a real person.  Sometimes I forget what feelings are until I start playing with my characters.

6) After hours, days, weeks, months and years of working on something, when it’s finished I can print it out and hold it in my hands.  This may not sound important to some people, but when compared to all the work I do at my office, it gets kind of depressing that I’m not really producing anything in the end.  At least nothing worthwhile.  A story can always be read and has beginning, middle and end.

7) The warm fuzzy feeling I get when people connect with my characters.  Nothing feels better than somebody telling you that they cried when so-and-so died, or they laughed when your MC discovered the large rat in his room was only doggie toy.

8) The challenge.  Anybody can write a book.  It takes another type of person to write a good book and an even different type of person to write a great book.  A novel is never perfect, but the challenge of finding as many plot-holes, character inconsistencies, and passive verbs makes writing even more fun.  Sometimes, out sheer frustration, I come up with an even better way to solve the problem than I began with.  Philip Pullman said he isn’t done working out his plots until the MS is on the shelves because then it is too late. I have a feeling I’m gonna be the same way.

9) I don’t think I would be very good at anything else.  No, seriously I don’t think I would.  My mind doesn’t focus long enough for me to be effective at anything, plus most professions I’ve been interested involve far too much stress, think doctor, attorney, or school teacher.  The only other thing I think I would be successful at is being a mother and my mom is one of those.  I don’t think she likes it.

And the final reason on why I write…

10) I like taking other authors characters and have them do what I want.  Don’t look at me that way, you know we all do it.  We’re writers, we can’t help ourselves.  I actually enjoy starting a story out with a set of characters from other things, like anime, manga, novels, movies…anything.  Then I place them in a world of my creation and see what happens.  Eventually, the characters grow and morph into entirely new beings, but in the process, I get to explore some of the themes the author may have touched on, but didn’t really go into too much.  It’s actually a great jump in starting the creative process.

So now that you all know the controlling, manipulative, introverted monster that I am.  Let me know what kind of monstrous writer you are.  What are some of the reasons you write?  Is it for love? The pure joy?  Being able to kill that frienemy without going to prison?  I would like to know.

You know what, I’m actually feeling a bit inspired.  I think I’m going to find my pencil.  I think I left it in the middle of my t.v. after Glee ended their Britney episode with a Paramore number.  Blasphemy I say.

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Okay, it’s Road Trip Thursday, where the lovely ladies of ya highway provide a question and I answer it.  Today’s question is:

If you went to high school with your characters, would you be friends?

This is an interesting question for me, since my ya novel isn’t quite as contemporary as some of my writing counterparts, so my story doesn’t revolve around any type of school setting.  With that being said, there is a “high school” and some of my characters do (did) attend it.  But in the spirit of things, I am going to pretend that all of my characters have landed in the middle of my old school.

First I’ll start with my MC.  He is dark, mysterious and keeps to himself.  I would like to think we would be friends, but remembering how anti-social I was during those four years of my life I probably wouldn’t have started a relationship.  Plus, he’s not really the kind of guy who seeks out new people to hang out with.  So sadly, I would have to say no, we would not hang out, but rather I would have crushed on him from afar; although the whole Angel of Death thing may have freaked me out a bit.

The second person is my MC’s love interest who used to be human, but was turned into a vampire.  I know everybody roll their eyes.  Now that you’re done, I would have to say that I think we would be friends.  Not BFF’s, but casual acquaintances.  We probably would have a few AP classes together and would be study buddies.  Every once in a while we would venture to a party, where we’d only speak to each other.

There are a few other characters I could see myself being friends with, such as Lysander, the man Selene (my MC’s love interest), is in love with, and who harbors a secret demon within him.  He’s outgoing, charming and athletic.  All the qualities of my best guy friend in high school.  For some reason I seemed to get along with guys better.

So there is a short list of who I would and who I wouldn’t hang out with.  I have many others, but I figure I’ve bored you enough.

Now it’s your turn.  Would you hang out with your characters in high school?  Why or why not?

Let me know in the comments, while I rescue my pencil from my seven month old nephews mouth.

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So today’s Road Trip Thursday question is, If you could travel back to any historical era for research purposes, which would you choose?

For me, this is a no brainer.  Ever since I was little, I’ve been captivated by the Elizabethan age, and pretty much the whole Tudor reign.  I’ve actually participated in the Renaissance Faire.  I’ve gotten to the point where I want to experience the time so badly, I’ve resorted to historical make-believe.

My second choice would be Greece, during the time when Gods and Goddesses ruled mythology.  Having this information upfront, instead of searching books and the internet, would make it far easier to finish my novel.

While there are some great eras in American history, the fact is, it bored me stupid when I was in school.  Maybe it’s because growing up most of my father’s reading material revolved around one theme-the civil war.  Whatever the case maybe, I’ve never really been that into American history.

So there you have it.  The places I would like to research.

So where would you go?  The hippie-sixties?  The day Mexico gained their independence?  Or would you sail the seas on the Santa Maria?

My pencil’s caught in Zeus’ beard.  Excuse me while I fish it out.

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Scorpius

So I’ve been re-working my novel.  Going back over it chapter by chapter.  Currently, I’m editing/revising/rewriting chapter three.  Originally in this chapter, my MC overhears a conversation between one of my protagonists and the leading female.  Well, in the changes I made to the beginning chapters and the way my ending chapters stand, this scene just didn’t work anymore.  So, in an effort to salvage as much of the chapter as I could, I changed the circumstances in which my MC overhears the conversation and now, instead of just overhearing it, he actually participates by killing the “bad guys” off.

The problem with this, is the original protagonist in the scene is suppose to reappear in the next book, plus he’s suppose to be something of a bad ass because he’s the leader of the demon world, so my story would definitely fall dead if he died within the first three chapters of my first novel.

To fix this I inserted two lower ranked demons who had no names, but as I continued to write, one of my no-name demons morphed on me.  Suddenly, he wasn’t just an evil hench-demon, he had a name, Scorpius, and distinct powers.  In fact, as I continued to write, he revealed he actually knew my MC before this and used that knowledge to inform the reader of how “soft” my MC is, despite my MC’s unparalleled dislike for demons.

Now my manuscript has me wondering how Scorpius knows Azrael and, what happened when they met before?

But for now these answers can wait; although it wouldn’t hurt to write another back story.

Has your manuscript suddenly introduced someone or something new?  Did it make your manuscript better, or just create bigger mess to clean up afterward?

It seems I’ve lost my pencil, excuse me while I look for it.

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One Of Those Days

I’m having one of those days each writer inevitably goes through. The day when you wake up, read everything you’ve written and the critiques others have given and just give in to the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness.

That is me today. Today if you asked me if I was ever going to become an author I would tell you no. My writing isn’t good enough, my grammar is weak and my characters just don’t work. On top of all that, I’m tired and my ideas are uninteresting.

That is my day today. To top it all off I think I may have a head cold.

I hate days like this. The only thing they ever accomplish is nothing, which I’m quite capable of accomplishing on my own and in a much better mood.

How do you deal with your inadequacies when it comes to writing? Do you wallow? Or do you pick yourself up and force yourself to continue?

I guess I shouldn’t have tossed my pencil into the closet, now I have to get out of bed to look for it, sigh.

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I may be an exception here, but when I see people comment on another author’s works I cringe when I see the critiquer claim, your mc is too insightful for an eighth grader, or your conversation doesn’t sound like a fifteen year old speaking.

Not to be too harsh on YA novels or children’s books, but I think most people give children too little credit.  As a young adult I never read YA literature, with the exception of Harry Potter, because I always thought the voice of most works sounded forced, and most of the time the characters were far too shallow for me to care about.  I’m actually amazed to discover a children’s author I was forced to read when I was eight years old is a celebrated and widely known author.  She currently has a movie coming out based on one of her works, but as an eight year old I remember distinctly rolling my eyes and putting the book down because the main character wasn’t real to me, even though her body was going through the same changes as mine at the time.

I concede that adolescents are, in general, more self-centered than adults, but that doesn’t mean that they do not grapple with deeper issues than friends, their hair, or love.  Many of my classmates dealt with the loss of a parent, one or both parents on drugs, being the only one able to care for their younger brothers and sisters and/or abuse. 

Currently I have a younger sister in high school and a brother in middle-school, while they aren’t always insightful and worldly, when tragic events occur, or one of their close friends is upset, they have enough knowledge to recognize that something significant has ocurred, and know the people they care about enough to offer insightful advice.

I fear some authors confuse immaturity with lack of intelligence.  Just because a character is immature, doesn’t mean they aren’t intelligent, it only means that when tragedy does strike, the character either deals with it in a healthy way, or a non-healthy way.  Either way, just like people, a character can mature greatly at fourteen years old, or stay stunted until they are ready to face their issues and mature.   

If a character is like a person, than it shouldn’t matter that my character is only seventeen years old.  If she is intelligent, and that’s the way I’ve alway portrayed her, the fact that she knows Saddam Hussein was part of the Ba’athe party shouldn’t be an issue when she brings it up in conversation.  This should only be an issue if I’ve established my mc as a person of average intelligence and nothing before hand has prepared the reader for the sudden leap in intellect.

I would advise any person writing for YA to be wary when  a critiquer comments on your dialogue.  Ask yourself if it fits in with the character you created.  Adolescents are people too.  Not all of them fit into the stereotype that has been created and perpetuated in this genre and not all of them are geniuses, but each one has the ability to be insightful, coherent and most importantly the capacity to grow.

Do you really remember how you were as a tween and teen?  Were you really as shallow as some of the YA characters out there?  When you write about your YA character do you only incorporate the surface issue teens face, or do you try to add a deeper set of issues for your character to deal with?

Oops, my pencil seems to have gotten away during my rant.  Perhaps some nice teenager will find it and return it to me.

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