When I was a teenager, I remember clearly looking at the adult section of the library and imagining all of the wonderful books that must be hidden there. They had to be good–right? And long. And wonderful. I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to go there.
Then I became old enough and I discovered that many of the books were too long, especially as I got older, and much duller than I thought. (They also have tiny font which, when you have difficulty seeing, is important.) About a year ago, I began reading YA again and don’t regret it.
In the same way, when I began writing, my goal was adult science fiction. Teens were silly and flakey and (well, honestly) they didn’t seem to be much science fiction going around when I was a teenager. So therefore, I had to write for an adult audience.
Now, I acknowledge that I do not have that much experience with novels. I’ve barely written two. I have submitted (and received a rejection) on one of them. But I typically try to have my stories end pretty happily. I do not like depressing endings. And yes, I’ll kill characters, but only if I must.
Which brings me back to my question: What do I wrote?
I’ve always thought I write adult fiction. However, especially with some of the things I’ve seen in teen fiction right now, I can just as easily, if not more, be writing for a YA audience. I try to keep stories concise, clear, and focused, with enough action to make it interesting. I’d be fine with that too if not for one little detail.
I don’t know about you, but half of the things that I seen going on in YA stories is too big for a teenager to handle. Let’s take Across the Universe for an example. (tiny SPOILER, as in, you know it’ll happen but I don’t want you to hate me) In the story, the seventeen year-old kid becomes the leader of a ship full of about 3000 people. He is responsible for everything, from strikes to food shortages. Not to insult any seventeen-year-olds that might be reading this but kids that age can’t handle that.
Shad would fit into a YA category, except for the simple fact of his age. He’s 23. Everything else is really great. He has big dreams, thinks he can conquer the world, finds out that he can’t, but that the world he wanted to conquer isn’t what he thought. But, emotionally, I can’t drop his page to below 20. Maybe 21. I can maybe justify that somehow. But I can’t make him a teenager…
Well, why? Because a teenager shouldn’t have the responsibility of flying the whole ship. Yet, I have it written that he was main pilot since he was 17. I don’t know if I can actually see him sitting around six years waiting.
That’s just one story though. I don’t know how to justify it in every story. That’s my single biggest argument with YA fiction in fact is that teenagers do things that they shouldn’t. But perhaps that’s the point of YA fiction. I still find it hard to justify. Though, going through my stories… can I create my own genre? :D Modified YA. Or college level YA? Some work; some don’t. Some would need changes. I mean, how far can you go in YA?
So then my question becomes: am I changing my audience because I had the wrong audience and I should or because it is easier? That’s one think I keep thinking about right now. If I change this, well, then that deals with this problem and makes this problem easier in my mermaid story. I should not write something though just because it’s easier. Not a whole genre change.
Then, I also go back to the idea about whether or not I should even care about publication. I have one brother who would say that self-publication in ebooks is the way to go, all the way. But I don’t know. I’m not good at self-promotion. But if I want to create a new genre, that would be the way I’d have to go I think. :)
In many ways it shouldn’t even matter. I should write for pleasure and not money. But when I want to be published… it is important. It is a factor of where I send the story after all. :)
I realized today that I have actually started three separate books. I’m stunned. And worse, I don’t know what to write.
- Mermaids: This story revolves around a political turmoil in a mermaid world. Nessa is the youngest daughter of the king but wants to be queen. Under their government, she can be elected as queen. However, it is only through the Adamahs, humans who have been changed to mermaids, that she can do this. In this I have the election, and the result afterwards, and it’s really awesome. :)
- Intentional Accidents: This story revolves around two characters, a pirate and an assassin. They’re stories interweaves into smiliar threads and storylines but I only know about the pirate. She is feeling lonely, hurt and wants off the pirate ship but doesn’t see a way to get off. A police man unknowingly gets on the pirate ship and encourages her to find her own way. The assassin is also tired of her life, wants out, but doesn’t know how to leave. I haven’t dealt with the assassin much, focusing on developing the pirate story, then the assassin, then merging them at the end.
- Mindskill: In mindskill, a doctor develops telepathy as an implant. He implanted his daughter without her knowledge, understanding that soon it would be a necessary skill to survive. He dies though before he can tell her, in an “accident” and she must discover the truth for herself, along with a plot to take over the world and a plan to keep those with this skill safe. This was going to be my shot at writing a trilogy (Which is a huge task, let me tell you.)
I’ve written 36 words of Intentional Accidents (9,455 words), 93 pages of mindskill (25,000) and 61 pages (16,000 words) of mermaids.
Here’s the problem: I like them all. I stopped mindskill because I needed to develop it more. I stopped Intentional Accidents because I needed to skim and I didn’t know how to. (I’m playing around writing the ending scene to that.) And I’m currently writing mermaids (which may not end up being mermaids, which makes me sad, but that is fact.)
I have every intention of finishing all of these. All of them are probably good. But how? I’m mean, seriously, I probably have enough to write about for three years (at least), not to mention that I need to write synopses to send these books out, and I want to write Sagi’s tragedy (short story), and I’d really like to write one of the stories my friend and I write out (novel), and I’d like to edit Hope (or at least make a logical decision whether to toss it), and edit Giant’s Wife and–
*stops for breath*
I just have too many ideas I think. How do I choose?
What’s sometimes really hard to remember is that people don’t do things the same in all parts of the world. I have two separate posts related to things that are different from South Dakota versus the East Cost America. That’s just in one country. (I also hope to maybe someday write a story about those differences. I know, it’s been done in many movies, but all from people in Hollywood, and I think it’ll be really funny.)
One of these examples is that the ten children my teacher went to kindergarten with were also in his graduating class.
Anyway, that being said, my sociology professor likes mentioning similarities between other cultures. I’m not sure how much I trust him on this. I don’t like him for a number of reasons that I don’t want to go into at the moment. However. I’m going to post these here with the idea that it can help the creative juices flowing on what you can change in your world.
• In North America, if you raise your eyebrows, it indicates doubt. However in Peru, it means you should pay me. In the pacific, it merely means yes.
• Movies from America aren’t shown in the Middle East because they are too sexie.
• There is no internet in Cuba. (Rather reminds me of the situation last I heard in Egypt.)
• In Saudi Arabia, it is a sign that the agreement has been settled and both parties are content when you hold hands, even if both parties are represented by men.
• In Europe, both men and women greet each other by kissing on the cheek.
• Here’s a strange one and I’ll actually tell you a story to illustrate it. Someone from my school went to visit Asia. He went to the bathroom and started doing his business. As he stood in front of the urinal, someone came up from behind and began to massage his shoulders. (CREEPY!) It turned out there are some places that pay men to stand in restrooms and massage people’s shoulders in order so they relax while they go.
• I had one more note here that caused me to search the internet. And I found this on Answer.com (which, I know, not very reputable but they are supposedly quoting oxford dictionary.)
The quintessential British offensive gesture for most of the 20th century, formed by holding up a hand with the middle and index finger upright in a V shape, the thumb and other two fingers curled into the palm; the palm facing towards the gesturer. If asked, most people would gloss the meaning as ‘F—you’ or something similar, and it was certainly a very potent offensive gesture until recent years when it seems to be losing its ability to offend.
• Especially in the midwest of America, adulthood is obtained when someone turns 21 and can drink. (Supposedly.)
Now, if I have any of these wrong, please tell me, because I don’t like being wrong and I do question my source. (I really don’t like this teacher.) Do you know any other differences between other countries as far as gestures and the like?
Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.
–Orson Scott Card
This quote made me think that I’m missing something. And because of that, I’ve decided to start Prompts of the First. The basic idea is I’m just going to bounce out with a bunch of random ideas for writing. Anything that comes into my mind that oculd possible, with some delicate writing, be made into a story.
Understand I’m not asking you to write the story for me. I am merely recommending story ideas for you to write and make your own.
Why am I doing this?
Two reasons. First of all, when I started looking for writing prompts, they were all too specific. Examples:
- You have been captured by cannibals. How do you try to convince them not to eat you? If that fails how do you attempt to get away?
- In the middle of the night, you get an urgent call from a friend you haven’t talked to in years. Something terrible has happened. What is it and why is he/she calling you? (Okay, that one might be fun.)
- You’ve left town—ditching your old, miserable life—hoping to start a new life for yourself. You’ve given yourself a new name, fake background and style. Write about your first encounter in your new town.
- Storms have knocked out the power. You find the flashlight and make shadow bunnies on the wall, but you can tell the kids are not amused. So instead you decide to tell a scary story. Create a story that would scare even the toughest of teenagers.
I didn’t like that. I wanted something a little more vaguer, that doesn’t involve me.
The second reason why I’m wanting to do this is I want to notice more of the plots in every day life. I want to notice seven or eight of them a day. Right now, if I can come up with thirty prompts, I’ll be happy, but this’ll be an ongoing goal for me throughout the month.
At the first Monday of the month, I’ll share them with you. Feel free to post your own however. The more the merrier.
That being said, here we go.
- What can you hide in a tooth?
- A death ray that feels like a gust of hot air. Once someone crosses it, they’ll die, but no one can see it.
If you stop feeling a part of your body, it stops existing.One word– Shape shifters.
- By now, everyone has secrets–the kind of secrets that’ll cost a man his life.
So, there are my five ideas. Hopefully, I’ll get more next month. And maybe…. i’ll remember to write more down, because I know I had more.
So, I have recently been attempting to try something called the snowflake method of writing. (Forgive me absence of a link. I have very poor internet at the moment so finding it is difficult. If you are very curious, look at previous Friday posts.) Basically, you write small summaries of your story, and summaries of characters, and you continue to expand them until you have a good enough synopsis of everything that you can just write.
So, I tired it. I got as far as step three, where I write a synopsis of a character, and got stuck. First, I’ve never actually seen a synopsis of a character and second, although I have upward of ten characters, the story I think is mostly only told from Daria’s POV. Third, some of characters were stubborn and didn’t tell me what I wanted to know when I wanted to know.
So i resorted back to my old fall back. I went back to paper.
I don’t know what it is about paper or why I can operate better with paper, but ever since I started writing, I have almost always done my brainstorming on paper. Just scrap paper with my microbiology notes works well enough. And I fill these pages with tiny, tiny little letters and sentences and thoughts.
And it worked. Mostly.
I figured out some of the characters’ names. I figured out what kind of scenes I need. I figured out a lot of plot holes. I figured out almost everything that i couldn’t figure out on paper. The only thing, that I know of, that I haven’t figured out yet is what happens to one of the character’s sisters.
So the only other question I have is if I want to change the POV. Orginally I was going to write this much like I wrote Shad, with only there being the main character, Daria’s, POV. But now that I’m looking at it and I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, I want to put in more POVs. Particularly, if I can do it, the captain’s, because that would add a lot of tension if the reader knows why Daria suddenly got a promotion, but Daria doesn’t know why. (If you have any thoughts about putting the antagonist’s POV in a story, I’d really like to hear them.)
My only problem is it might make things weird, but I think it might be worth it to have it weird.
Anyway, lesson learned: If you know that something works, sometimes that is your best bet when you’re stuck in a story. Sometimes something new works, but sometimes the way you’ve always done it works too, and we have just stopped it for whatever reason.
I’m going to start working on the outline, and maybe I’ll be writing it by next week. (This is a real time post, if you care, so next week is really next week.) No such luck with Shad though. These synopses seem harder than I thought and I’m lacking the motivation to write it.
Somewhere, my mom read that rain in a book is important. And myself, being a writer, is thinking, “Seriously? I can stick rain any old place and who cares.” Now, I almost want to, but that isn’t the point.
The point is that for the writer to actually think about what the weather is like outside, it has to be important. And this is true. Rain we often associate with sadness, which makes it very strange that I like rainy days because, when at home, I feel like I’m wrapped in a nice warm blanket. Oftentimes, when I write in rain, that is because the scene is meant to be sad.
On another hand, it might not just be that I want the scene to be sad. In Hope, I needed a snow storm to keep the aliens from checking on one of the characters to confirm he was dead. (Aliens were from a hot planet, and a snowstorm in November would be a perfect plan.) It served a purpose, but that purpose wasn’t sadness, it was to advance the plot.
But normally, us writers don’t give a second thought to the weather because in real life, we don’t give it.
Except in Shad. I’m thinking in Shad he made quite a few comments about the weather the first time he went onto the planet. That makese sense though. He’s hardly been on a decent planet in his whole life. So, when thinking about the weather, if you do, remember to put yourself in your character’s shoes too.
Here’s another thought about putting weather into your stories. Let’s say I was to write about a culture that typically has 0ºF days. The character shouldn’t mention anything about a typical sunny 0º day because it’s normal. If, say, I had a heat wave however, I could mention the characters is sweating on her morning run when it was 10ºF outside that day. (Yes, the difference between 0ºF and 10ºF is noticeable. By that time, 15ºF is hot.) I must remember that one.
Last thought. Why is it that rain is sad and depressing and snow is beautiful and romantic?
I have often lamented the fact that I am having difficulty plotting, and the higher my stress level, the less I can plot.
That isn’t to say that there are some places that I can plot very well in and as such, I will share them with you because maybe you’ll be able to use some of them.
1) My dad’s green chair. My dad has this giant, green chair that is in the TV room of our house, and, especially on lazy days, I can sit in that and daydream easily.
2) My Bed. Weird, I know, but sometimes I get the best plots early in the morning, when I still have a chance to lie in bed and stare at the ceiling or while my sister is reading before bed and I can’t fall asleep because the light is on. This is perhaps the best times for me actually.
3) On walks. Recently, I’ve taken to walking to school, because all I need to bring is my computer and a lab book. And these quite, random walks are sometimes the best to plot on. (I actually figured out to write this blog post on one of those walks.) Walks are sometimes the best, because usually you can talk to yourself aloud while walking and no one can hear you well enough to think you’re crazy.
4) Staging a conversation: I will start off random conversations in my head, and let them go from there. I got much of my idea for Shad from this and Samuel Brackborn based on a line I kept saying to myself.
5) Any quiet place: I suppose this is a catch all, but it is the truth as well. Many of these places I listed work best when it is quiet. It is also why places like swings, trampolines, around the creek, ect, work out well for me. Sometimes, things like malls might work, but not often.
So, maybe this’ll help you too if you are struggling for something to write because of your lack of plots.
To aid all writers in their pursuit of distractions.
- Play a new game, either on facebook or download a freebie from the internet
- Check facebook.
- Clean that room i’ve been putting off cleaning, like the bathroom.
- Read blogs telling you about how to not be distracted while writing and other fun writing things.
- Do internet searches to help you with the topic you must write about.
- Read a book.
- Talk to someone on the phone or in person.
- Work on homework
- Run spell check
- Play with my hamster.
- Make a snack.
- Make coffee.
- Take the dogs on a walk.
- Design a header for the blog.
- Check my blogs’ stats.
- Check my friends’ websites
- Write blog posts for the next three weeks. (Just in case I don’t have time one day)
- Watch TV or movies.
- Do both 19 and 20 at the same time.
- Look up knitting patterns.
- Wash dishes
- Read old blog posts.
- Check weather forecast.
- Find wallpapers for the computer.
- Play video games, with and without siblings or friends
- Play games with siblings friends.
- Read amazon review about a book I plan on buying maybe.
- Study another language. (Or two, or three.) (I want to learn Hebrew and ASL, not like that matters.)
- Take a nap.
- Go on a walk “for inspiration.”
- Stop the dog from getting into mischief.
- Stop dogs from barking.
- Make dinner.
- Check school email.
- Check personal email.
- Click on ads for money.
- Debate about commenting on a friend’s blog post.
- Take profile pictures for facebook.
- Edit profile pictures.
- Watch Siblings play video games.
- Memorize medications for nursing test.
- Figure out my classes for next semester.
- Check my grades.
- Go on a bike ride.
- Encourage my mim-garden to grow.
- Go to Wal*mart to pick up something “important.”
- Find itouch apps.
- Draw pictures of my characters.
So there you have it. Fifty ways that I manage to distract myself from writing. I’m ever so sneaky. :D