Thursday, February 24, 2011

Brainstorming to be had by all

I seem to always post advice from another author and then talk about it, instead of giving out my own advice... or something. And it bothered me while I was thinking about it. But you know, I don't exactly have bragging rights about my great writing skills, so I don't even care about giving you advice. I'm still trying to figure this whole business out for myself, I shouldn't be worried about helping you (no offense). Take it from the people who know what they are doing. In the meantime, I'll be taking their advice too. I'll be writing about it, and maybe watching me flounder will help you. That's the point of the blog.

My current obsession of literary advice: Lynn Veihl's Novel Notebook. I know forms like this help me a lot, I had created something similar to help me brainstorm the dreaded five paragraph essay back in high school. Having to answer questions forces me to think of all aspects of an idea, instead of just the obvious ones that keep showing up. Now that I have the general idea for my story, I want to work on getting some of the background outlined. I don't want to focus too much on the plot, because I know if I start thinking too far ahead I will get bored with the story. I need to discover it as I write. But, especially since I am ahead on this month's chapter (I'm already several pages into Chapter 3), I have some time to fiddle around with setting ideas.

This also leads me to these fantasy worldbuilding questions I discovered today thanks to Cassandra Clare's writing page. Most of them go way too in-depth for my purposes, but I especially like the section on Magicians and Magic, which I instantly had noticed Lynn's workbook had left out. Since my book has a magic system, AND I seriously need to work out the details of it because it's time for it to show up, I'll definitely be tackling this over the weekend. For more information about magic systems and their costs and why they need a cost, check this out.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Darkest Mercy

Barnes and Noble had it! I'm so excited. I'll be reading this all night, btw. It feels so good to get excited about a book! There's been nothing since Harry Potter finished. I was pretty excited about The Desert Spear, but I bought that on my Nook and it just didn't feel the same. Paper books are so much better. Well, french toast for dinner, then time to dive in!

Radiant Shadows

I just finished the fourth book in the Wicked Lovely series, just in time for the fifth and last book, Darkest Mercy, which officially comes out in two days but is likely already available because it's probably not a Strict On Sale. I'm still in awe, so it's probably not the best time to write a review. I can't decide if it beats out Ink Exchange for my favorite of the series, but it would still be a close second.

The Good: I love the maturity of Melissa Marr's writing. It's not just the OMG- doeshelikeme?- doeshenot? of high school, but life or death situations and realistic reactions for characters so young. Adults and teens can love this book because the characters are accessible to the teens, but the conflicts are mature. I'm sick of walking through the teen section and seeing books about spoiled, shallow, self absorbed, idiotic bimbos for characters. And we wonder why girls are so horrible... Books (and tv) should not be encouraging the petty games that girls play, they should encourage strength and confidence and intelligence. Melissa Marr makes me proud to be female.

I saw MM speak at my bookstore for the release of this book (yes, before I had read it) and she just struck me as the most interesting person ever. Normally, feminists succeed in nothing other than pissing me off. It's not that I disagree with their views, as a matter of fact I agree, but it's that they are so pushy and demanding. I don't appreciate anyone pushing their views on me. At all. Even if I have the same views, my annoyance blinds me to my own opinions. I must have just attracted the crazy ones, but I had never met a self declared "feminist" who didn't make me turn right around. Then again, maybe the stamp should have warned me in the first place. I don't appreciate people who wear their opinions on their foreheads. I guess I'm not a people person. (Who am I kidding, I know I'm not.) Melissa Marr made me realize that it's not girls I hate, it's the petty games. I'm actually all about strong females. Rock on, Melissa. I think you will change lives.

But I'm distracting myself from the view. Moral of the story, I love strong characters who protect the people and ideas around them they care about, and I love characters who don't put up with bullshit. Read: Melissa Marr = Awesome. I can't wait for Graveminder to come out this summer, and I'm sad there is only one more book left in the Wicked Lovely series.

The Bad: It was hard to get into Ani and Devlin's relationship until you were far into the book. It was there, I new the characters were connected, but because the connection was mysterious to the characters it was mysterious to me as the reader. And the fact that they were both trying to stay away from each other didn't help. They were separated for too long, and there was too much running away that didn't seem to have any consequenses until late in the book, when everything got rolling at once. When their connection finally becomes clear, when we found out why they were connected, it was just all kinds of awesome. The plot, the characters, and the relationship all exploded at the same time. It was awesome when it happened, but I thought it happened too late in the book. Everything was wrapped up too quickly.

I'm am making that sound like a bigger deal than it actually was. It just took me a while to explain it properly. The book rocked. Ani was such a strong character, and she tried so hard to keep herself from everything she wanted for the safety of those around her. It struck a chord with me. There are a few things around me that I will always protect, and it makes you think about how far you will go in the face of a threat. Plus, since Ani is a Hound she was just plain fun. I was a little disappointed that the crew didn't face Bananach after Tish's death. Yes, B showed up at the house, but it felt like an empty battle. I wanted to see revenge. It makes me even more excited for the next book. But evidently (and this is just hearsay) Ani and Devlin are left out of the last book. I can understand, because their plot threads were resolved, but hopefully their conflicts are resolved too.

Don't let any of this turn you off. The book rocked. If you haven't read the books, definitely start with Wicked Lovely, but I think it's okay to read them in order or to read Fragile Eternity next. That's how I read them. There will be a bit given away at the ending of IE if you read FE, but it's not the main thread of the book so I think it's okay. But you should try to read them in the order the author intended. IE and RS should definitely be read after another, though.

Conclusion: read the whole series, and support a kick-ass author.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

On to Chapter 3

Last night I decided I was going to move on to chapter three, even though I haven't completely finished writing chapter two. I had one more scene left, which was Eamon finding Anna in the alley. Pretty straightforward. And frankly I was getting bored with chapter two. It wasn't very deep because I hadn't spent a lot of time thinking about it, but just made it grossly straightforward. I still need the main plot points in chapter two to stay there, but everything surrounding them is going to need a BIG rewrite.

So I just moved on. What's the point of forcing yourself to write through a chapter, especially in the first draft, when it is boring you out of your mind? Do you think the readers are going to be interested enough to keep reading when you had to nail your ass to the chair just to write it? Nope. besides, if it's going that badly it's going to need to be rewritten, so getting the framework down was good enough for me. Besides, Eamon was just coming out too nice. He needs to be an asshole that you wouldn't think twice about running over with your car, no matter the consequences. Getting that feel right the first time around wasn't happening. Hopefully after writing a few more scenes with him I'll be able to get him better.

Chapter three is back in Anna's perspective, which I like because she's a girl, she's not a horrible person like Eamon, and she's the one the story is about, so why wouldn't I like her? Even though I started writing a bit of it last night, I still havn't worked out all the outlining. I know what needs to happen, but I don't know where I am going to cut off the chapter. The ending needs to be conclusive, and not just a stopping point. I'm also wary about how much trouble I am going to get Anna into, and I need to work out some of Eamon's reactions.

Excited to be on chapter three though, not to mention this puts me way ahead of schedule! (But that wasn't my motivation, I swear.) Two just wasn't happening for me, so I'll deal with it later when I know the characters better.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Resolutions

I am woefully behind schedule on this month's chapter. And look, it's only month two. *grimace* In lieu of this week's Writing Excuses episode, I am going to make a promise to my readers (all zero of them). I am going to write for an hour tonight. And don't get me wrong, I have a lot to do tonight. I have to label, tape, and bring all the boxes I packed last week with books down to the basement, put new sheets on my bed, and fold laundry I washed over the weekend. Ok, I probably won't fold the clothes. But, I do have other things to do tonight. And I am going to make sure that I write for a solid hour. This does not include any writing that I may or may not get done while on the train. Hopefully, this will be an hour with a respectable amount of actual typing, and not an hour of banging my head against the corner of my desk. I kind of like the shape it's in; it took me 22 years to achieve just this perfect noggin. Will try to keep you updated as the night goes on.

Update 8:45 pm: I made my bed, paid my bills, packaged up the boxes (but didn't take them downstairs), and I am now starting my hour of writing. Good luck to me!

Update 9:25 pm: Okay, so I didn't last the whole hour. But my mind hit blank. Now, granted my first chapter was way too long. But this second chapter is working out to be way too short. I'm winding everything up too fast. Part of this is that it is just a first draft, and hopefully while revising my second draft I will be able to fill it out a lot more with scenery and details. But that doesn't change the fact that everything happened too quickly. I'm not done yet, but I'll need to do a bit of brainstorming to write some more. I think I'm going to hop in the shower now, but I probably won't any more tonight. Don't even know how much brainstorming I'll get done. I'll admit, I'm tired from my day. It would be awesome to work out a way to write in the morning....

I thought discovery writing would help me out from outlining, but the chapters seem to get less planned out the further on I go. Dan Wells' method is to discovery write the first half and then outline the second half. I think this is a method that would work well for me. But I have to find a way to keep myself interested. If I already know what is going to happen, I lose interest and end up writing even less than I already am (surprisingly, such a thing is possible). It is also frustrating because I know this story sucks. It's derivative, and boring, and choppy, and there's nothing I can do about it because it bothers me, and if I were reading a book like this I would have put it down ages ago. I want to be able to see everything in my head and start fixing things. I live for the fixing! (So does Gail Carriger. I like justifying my methods with other authors, haha.) Hmmm... will need to work some things out. Hopefully I can do some thinking tomorrow. It also threw me off that I switched notebooks to something smaller and easier to carry, but I don't have any of my current notes. I mean, I have the general feelings in my head, but it is a lot easier to be able to see it written down on paper.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Moon

I'm a big fan of indie movies. They have better storylines with better writing, and even though many are very simplistic they have a lot more depth and meaning than the Hollywood flash-and-bang. We watched Moon tonight, which is about Sam Bell (played by Sam Rockwell) an astronaut serving out his three year contract for an energy firm on the moon. He unearths a conspiracy, and needless to say it's about him trying to find his way out of it. I don't want to say anything because I don't want to give away what happens. But I will say that it has a very satisfying ending, much better than Ghost Writer (which both P and I thought of, and had an awesome movie and then a totally lame last ten seconds that ruined the rest), and that you should go see it. And now, it's rockin Sunday, and it's time for Californication and Shameless. (Yay!)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Age-Old Question

Paper or plastic? I am all about being green, conserving energy and resources, walking instead of driving, all those great things, but I cannot keep to a single method of writing for more than a chapter.

I wrote chapter one with pen and paper. Now, I am writing chapter two on the computer. I could just go with it, use whatever method I fancy and then combine them all at the end, but no matter what that story will eventually be typed, and it is a pain and the ass to have to retype something you've already written. Not to mention boring as all hell. And, I want to have everything contained in one place. It bothers me that the whole thing is not all in the same medium. And this is stupid, I know, but it's a huge pet peeve.

Why don't I just type everything from the beginning, you ask? Because I like paper. A lot. I prefer my horrendous teetering stacks of books and my overflowing bookshelves to my Nook that sits neatly on my desk. And don't get me wrong, I love my Nook, but it has its place and I really only use it for hardcovers that I just can't wait for the paperback version to read it. I love turning the pages and the smell of books and I even love when the glue breaks down and pages fall out of the old books. I'm a super-nerd. But you know what, it's my thing. I know how to bind my own books and I make my own notebooks and journals because I like the feel of the paper and I think it's sad that it's a dying art.

But at the same time, I need to realize that things change and I just have to get the fuck over it. There was a Superbowl commercial (and of course now I can't remember what it was for) where everyone was walking around with a vanilla cell phone or sitting in a modern coffeeshop with a super old-school typewriter instead of a laptop. They looked ridiculous. And computers are freaking amazing! The things you can do and the information that is available is mind-blowing, and even simple things like connecting to my work computer from my laptop at home is super cool. The huge increase in speed between typing and writing should be the sole reason for me to switch. But there's just something about crossing my love for books with technology that makes me pause.

I'm trying to get over it, I really am. Look, I made this nifty blog. And I am going to write chapter two with a keyboard, see how I feel about it.

The other thing about computers vs. a notebook for me is I don't have a computer that I can carry around with me everywhere. The notebook went with me everywhere I went, so whenever a thought struck me I could immediately write it down. I'll lose that by using a computer, but I should be honest with myself, when do I ever do anything productive on the train anyway?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ugh...

Just... ugh. I haven't gotten anything done in the past week. I haven't written anything, I haven't edited anything... I did go through every single book I own and put them into boxes labeled "Books I will probably never read" and "Books I want to read but don't fit on my shelves," that sort of thing. I guess that counts for doing something, because I can finally see the books I have on my shelves instead of having to hunt through the piles balanced on the edges first. I also didn't go to the gym at all last week. I'm spending all that money for a membership, I have to get my ass moving. I was going to go yesterday, but ended up having to take my cat to the vet instead. Which I am NOT going to complain about because OF COURSE I am going to take my kitty to the kitty doctor, but that doesn't mean it wasn't inconvenient. Why can't there just be more time in the day? I'm sure everyone says that, but seriously, I'm out of my house from 6:30 in the morning to 6:30 at night for work, I get home, eat dinner, and then I have one or two hours to get everything done, including housework, gym, any errands I have to run (not that I actually want to go anywhere once I'm home) before I'm getting seriously tired. It would help a lot if I could be more productive during the hour and a half train ride I have. Talk about a rant... jeez! I just need to seriously get my act together, and really get serious about my time management.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ink Exchange

Since the fifth and final book in the Wicked Lovely series is coming out February 22, Darkest Mercy, I am finally getting around to reading the rest of the books in the series. I had read the first and third books in the series, which follows one plotline, but had put off reading the second and fourth, which follows a different plotline. Presumably, the fifth one will combine the two plotlines and tie them all up, so it's about time I got my ass moving. Here's the series (by Melissa Marr):

Wicked Lovely
Ink Exchange
Fragile Eternity
Radiant Shadows
Darkest Mercy
(out 2/22)

These books are about fairies, which is wonderfully different from all the generic vampire books out there (come on people--MOVE ON. I'm tired of even mentioning how tired I am of vampires) and not your typical Tinkerbell fairies but the honest-to-goodness, mischief-causing, from the old Irish lore-type fairies.

Ink Exchange is the second book in the series, and I really don't know why I was so loathe to pick it up. Probably because I really enjoyed the other two, and there's just no way a different character was going to be as entertaining and as interesting and I didn't want it to take away from the other two. =/ Whatever, there was really no excuse. I might even go so far as to say I liked IE better than the other two.

The Good: Melissa Marr's writing has tightened up and become much cleaner since WL. Even if it's a good story, if the writing is unpolished--either from new-author mistakes or from bad editing--I have a hard time keeping with it. The storyline of this book was darker (always a good thing) and had a much more mature tone. Where WL was light and fluffy and had an almost Disney feel to it, IE was more the dark nightmares of Disney, and I loved that. The different types of fairies and ranges of their powers (from the fun-loving summer girls to the death-obsessed I-can't-remember-what-they-were-calleds and the soul-drinking dark court fairies. Can you tell I liked the darker ones better?) I read it quickly, and I am excited to go to RS.

The Bad: This is more a fault of mine than MM's, but there was just too much time in between reading these books. There was a lot I couldn't remember, and the little things I could remember (such as: I thought Niall was the Dark King?) were given away/resolved at the end when Oh yeah, Irial gives his crown to Niall. =/ I was trying to remember what happened at the end of the third book, but honestly I can't remember much. Hopefully things will come back to me as I read RS, since I will finally be reading them in order again.

Melissa Marr is one of my favorite authors, ever since I saw her in person at my local Barnes & Noble. She is one of the most interesting people to talk to and I will be a huge supporter of her work, if not for the writing and the stories then for her and what she stands for. She is the only feminist I've met who didn't drive me up a freaking wall. I actually enjoyed listening to what she had to say, which is probably a good thing since I am also female and should be fighting for the same things, but as a whole feminists have bad attitudes and make me wish I did not belong to the same sex. I'm glad to have met at least one person who didn't make me feel that way. Her tweets are hilarious and sweet, and I would recommend following her blog but as of now she hasn't posted since January 2 and I'm a bit miffed about that.

All in all, Ink Exchange is the better plot arc of the two, but I would recommend the entire Wicked Lovely series (and I would also recommend reading them in order) to anyone who loves teen fantasy, especially the darker stuff. I love authors who aren't afraid to talk about the hard things, and I think this is especially important for a teen writer.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I always did try to ignore my homework

I didn't do Eamon's character history the other night like I wanted to. I thought about it, had a really long train ride, then some errands to run, and when I finally sat down to do it I thought it was a really dumb idea. Why would I sit here and just write down everything that has been floating around in my head, and has been appearing in bits and pieces in other notes, and just sounds boring? He is who he is because of the events that shape him, and I'm not sure of what all those events are going to be. So instead of writing his history like I had originally planned, I started working on chapter two, which is where we are introduced to Eamon. And I thought that was a lot more interesting and entertaining.

One of the huge things that finally got me writing was figuring out that I did much better as a discovery writer than I did as an outliner. It would have made much more sense for me to be an outliner, because that is how my personality works. I'm an extremely organized person, to the point where I even annoy myself. I would come up with a story idea, start outlining it to about the second act, then give up on it. I already knew who the characters were and what they were going to do, so why would I invest all that time to just write the story out? Now, I try to jump right into the writing, so I get the story out of my head soon after thinking about it instead of allowing myself to think too much and letting it go stale. I can always go back and revise later to make sure all the right bits of foreshadowing are included.