Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Back to my roots...

I was at the library recently and on a sudden whim, went on a rampage through the YA section, dragging random fantasy/sci fi books off their shelves and stuffing them under my arm. Then I went home and spent hours binge reading that particular niche of fiction that first inspired me to write.

I went through a phase of reading nothing but fantasy and science fiction and I was just coming into the age demographic for YA when I first wanted to be a writer. I went through dozens of books a month, learning how to pace my requests to go back (my parents grew weary of taking me every day very quickly) and taking advantage of large bags to haul my supplies home.

It was in YA that I discovered how to put characters to paper, to attempt a plot, to experiment with setting. It was in YA that made me realize that maybe I could try to write my own stories.

Learning to drive gave me nearly unlimited access to the library, but as I aged, I gradually drifted into other genres and the older demographic. I learned to love mysteries and slice-of-life novels and discovered the joys of nonfiction. And I read a good deal of generic fantasy/sci fi, much of it formulaic. It was the dull pickings I found in the "grown up" fantasy/sci fi that drove me to other genres and their wonders.

So, feeling nostalgic, I went back to read some YA fantasy. And I'm liking it. It's kind of the "thing" right now, if the shelves of my library are anything to go by, and so I found quite a large selection. It makes me happy, rediscovering what first drove me to want to write and finding it just as wonderful as I remember it.

Here's hoping that remembering what got me into writing in the first place will help me with my writing now.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A new venture...

So, I started a vlog today... Very little about writing, actually, but it's a start.

Here's to a successful voyage?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Rambling to myself mostly. Sometimes just writing out a problem and potential solutions really helps work through the problem. 'Tis called "brainstorming", methinks.

It might just be me, but would you believe it's possible to write two characters who you intended from the start to be together, but who, the way they have grown and developed, might not be right for each other at all?

Clark and Laura have always been the romantic couple of my project. They were intended to be so from the beginning. The whole story I intended to tell sort of hinged on it.

Thing is, Laura is pretty much useless in the story as it stands right now. She just... is. And just... being and not actively kicking anything off makes for a pretty boring character. She doesn't do anything: stuff happens to her.

After having realized this, I thought about what I could do to make her more proactive. I thought about making her actually romantically involved with Gabriel, my angel-man. Originally, I didn't want them involved because then she would just have been jumping ship from Gabriel to Clark, a complete one-eighty, at the drop of a hat and who likes a character like that? Not me. 

So I thought maybe I could actually have her being in on Gabriel's schemes and whatnot. Right now, she is innocent of anything beyond harboring a fugitive (who she didn't really know was a fugitive). So what if I made it so that she really did know about it and was actively hiding it from Clark?

There are two problems with this:
1) Then why would she give up on Gabriel like she is supposed to? (Seeing as how my original intent was a deconstruction of the monster boyfriend trope.)

2) Clark is not the sort to fall for the enemy. I know, forbidden fruit and all that and there's the whole "good guy brings the bad girl to the light" or something, but that's not Clark. The femme fatale holds no attraction for him.

So, what does this mean? Well, the way she is right now (completely useless), I refuse to reward Laura with a relationship with an imminently more useful guy. I mean, she doesn't deserve it and he has no reason to fall for her anyway.

The way I see it, I have several options.

1) Give up and cry about what a sucky excuse I am for a writer. ("Outline? Planning? We have not these words in my country.")

2) Have Clark and Laura's relationship not be romantic in any way (because it seems like no matter what I do for Laura's development, it drives them apart).


3) Rethink my characters a bit. As I was typing this all out, I had the crazy idea of removing Laura as my main character and instead try out another female character as my viewpoint character. Maybe a policewoman or something. I want it to be a female because it seems like lately all my interesting characters have been male and I want to see if that's just a fluke. Plus, it would allow her to sympathize with Laura's situation a bit more, methinks.

(Now I have a whole rant I want to do on female characters - based on an essay on writing female PI characters I read recently.)

The only thing is that reworking the characters like that would have me lose some of my more favorite moments I already had in mind. However, it does open the door for some other situations, such as actual legitimate reasons for Clark and whoever to be together in some scenarios, where before it was difficult keeping track of both Clark and Laura's stories because they were apart so often.

Hmm, I'm almost afraid to say that I have finally worked this out (seeing as how I had thought that before and this is what came of it), but this has me more excited about this whole thing than I have been in a while.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

That one thing...

Don't you love how sometimes you are writing and you're really not liking what you're writing, but you're writing it anyway and your characters are being boring and your writing is boring and then all of a sudden, one of your characters does something that seems completely innocuous, but that gives you an idea for something else and then all of a sudden, you realize what you need to fix in those characters' relationship and this was all because you really hated what you were writing and one of your characters just did something boring?


Don't you hate it when you seem to have finally figured out how to fix your plot and your characters suddenly seem to make sense and everything seems to have fallen into place and then you realize that you seem to have completely lost sight of what you were originally going for in the whole project and your story seems to be a slough of cliches and you're doing all the wrong things and you're not sure if your characters are going to work and you're wondering just how you're going to get back on track?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Feet on the ground...

So I was watching Coraline for the first time today. Wow. The visuals were uh-maze-eeeeng and I constantly had to remind myself that was all done with stop-frikking-motion. Utterly blew my mind.

Anyway, as I added it to my mental list "Neil Gaiman books I've read/movies I've seen", I was momentarily discouraged. For a long, aching moment, I wished I could be the prolific literary genius that is Gaiman. I mean, how could I, a little girl not even quite twenty, even aspire to be as successful as someone like the Neilster? He is a giant and I am a nobody. He's written reams of award-winning novels/plays/comics/everything and I'm barely scribbling lately. How can I even attempt to write heartwrenching stories full of vibrant characters and rich plot when there are people out there who do it so much better than I do? How dare I even want to try?

Reality check, chicky-dee.

I am only nineteen. I'm barely an adult. It's not like you have to come out of the womb a genius. It's not like I have to instantly be a brilliant writer. Neil himself wasn't published until twenty-three. I have time to make a name for myself. You have to start somewhere.

Neil's been writing for decades now. He's had time to hone his craft and it took him years and years to build up the reputation he has now. It's not like he was an instant household name the first time he was published. I'm still just scribbling things, still learning. I've only been seriously writing for eight years, but half of that was mostly just learning how to build a cohesive story.

So, rather than be discouraged by the fact that I'm not Neil Gaiman or J.K. Rowling or Isaac Asimov, I need to just remember that I'm still young, they started out nobodies too and that just because I'm not famous doesn't make me any less of a writer. I have just as much potential as they do and it's my job to make something out of that, rather than whine about how I'm still at the bottom of the food chain. So, I need to get off my duff and start actually writing so that I can look Neil Gaiman in the eye and say,

"Hi there. I'm a writer too."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Writing magazines...

I was given a subscription to Writer's Digest as a gift a while back and it just expired last month. I was always excited to open the mailbox and find my copy of WD, but I can't say it always "spoke" to me as a writer. I think this might be a) because I'm not in the market trying to publish right now and b) it is not a discussion.

I have never tested the publishing waters, so I can't even say whether any of the dozens of articles of advice on the subject in WD will help me down the line. I'm only interested in the writing aspect of writing right now. Even reading interviews with authors, I tended to skip their "how I made my big break" stories, preferring to read their methods or silly little anecdotes. Not to say I never want to be published, but the columns and columns of publishing "how-to" is not what I want right now.

Instead, I've recently rediscovered the amazingness of writers' blogs. Besides being mildly obsessed with Two Swords, One Pen right now and trawling through some recent recommendations made to me, I've been searching lately for writers' blogs. Not necessarily published author's blogs (though not necessarily not), just people who enjoy the craft of writing.

I enjoy reading people's trials, tribulations and successes in their writing. I enjoy reading their musings about elements of writing. I enjoy reading the ramblings of a writer who can't seem to find the words to describe a particular concept and so forces me to try and put my own words to it.

I think I've been spoiled on Young Writers Society with its vast community constantly teaching one another. Rather than someone coming down all high and mighty to instruct us lowly scribblers on how to do something, I much prefer a group of people hashing it all out together. You don't have to take any one person's method as absolute, but can glean and modify it all.

I enjoy the discussion almost as much as the solution. And I love reading about writing. So, as much as I did enjoy digging into my latest copy of WD, I don't think I'll be renewing my subscription. I think it's time for some hardcore blog searching.