What do I write?
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. :)
Tense and POV
I don’t know how much you have or have not experimented with tense. I haven’t that much. At least, not until this year.
We all know what tense is. It’s the time that the story takes place in basically. So right now, I would say, “Abigail types a blog post.” Whereas if I’m talking about something that has already happened, I can say, “This afternoon, Abigail role played online intead of doing her homework.”
The other element that I’m going to define is POV–point of view. POV shows up typically in first or third person. Yes, I know, second person can be done, but I’ve never even attempted that so I’m not going with that. First person is when you tell about something that happened to you. Third person is when you look at something that happened to someone else. Example can be, “I type a blog post,” versus, “Elianna plays the piano.” Same tense, different POV.
So why I am even bringing this up? Because both of these should be considered when writing a story.
When I typically write, I write in third person past tense. That’s probably because that’s how a lot of my books have been written it, it’s familiar, and it’s easy. I can then foreshadow and other things. Most importantly, I can easily bounce between POV’s of characters. (Write something from Nessa’s and then write something from Avi’s.) If I was going to help someone write, I would (at least up until recently) recommended writing in third person past tense.
However… I began writing in first person POV. And that has changed some things.
The first story I wrote in first person POV is Watching from a Distance. (Which I actually began as a response to the massive number of Paranormal Romance I saw. Not sure if that theme carried over though.) Anyway, I started that in past tense because that’s just what people write in, right? I mean, why not?
Then I began thinking about it. Reve, the main character, would have a totally different reaction to this story if he knew the ending. If he was telling this story later on, he would tell it differently than I had written. So I had two choices: I had to figure out how he could tell this story later (which I didn’t do until later) or I had to change the whole tense.
I changed the tense.
And suddenly the story began flowing like he was telling it as it was happening. It worked and I think it worked out well. This began having me tell all of Reve’s stories (I have three different ones, not including two I have yet to write.) in this first person present tense.
But, so what, you say? After all, many people write in first person present tense now. (I should abbreviate that to FPNT. First person now tense. :D )
What made the difference is that I wrote a story in first person past tense. Why? Because I wrote it in the manner that the main character is telling you the story of how he killed his wife. (Intrigued now, no?) Eventually, you (the reader) also finds out that he is asking you to marry him. Eventually this’ll all be moved into my novel, but for now, I’m working it as a stand-alone.
I don’t know if I’ve ever written something like this before. I actually think it came out pretty awesomely.
The other thing I should mention is that first person allows the reader to get closer to the character. I’m having a hard time switching back into third person and still showing the emotions, because I’ve been writing so much in first person.
To summarize, when you start writing your next story, consider the POV and what you can do with the POV. It’s not just something vague that means whatever. It’s something that you can use to further the story you have to tell.
Pixar story help.
I woke up today and determined to write a blog post. Unfortunately, this isn’t what I planned on writing.
Here’s a list of about 22 tips that writers can use for writing from Pixar. I think my favorite is 19:
#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
Changing POV changes everything sometimes.
I started playing with this new character. His name is Reve. Well, technically, it’s Reve sau Callingbordon but we’ll just call him Reve.
I’ve now written almost three stories with him as a character. He’s fun to write about. He’s very quiet, doesn’t get angry easily, and works hard. His race also has this mental ability for sense just emotions, but it varies and his rating is really high, yet he doesn’t care about it. His father is dead, his mother is blind from a work accident and he has four younger siblings.
I’d give you more history, except what I keep doing with him is writing short stories about him. It’s fun. It’s, like, how did he get his original job? Or, what happened with his first assignment? Those kind of things.
One day a couple weeks ago, I was walking across campus. It was the early morning time, when it’s cool and crisp and just beautiful. I began to think about how his character would respond to walking across campus like that and from there, developed a story.
The basic idea went along these lines:
- He sees a girl being mugged. Fights off the guy and kills him. (This is well within his personality.)
- Turns out that the way in which he killed him was totally illegal. He didn’t know.
- Meets his lawyer, who basically gives him no hope and is totally clueless.
- Meets a psychiatrist, who figures out how much he didn’t know.
- Gets free from everything.
Can you see the problem with that?
Maybe you can. Maybe you can’t. The problem is that Reve doesn’t do anything. For the majority of the story, he sits in prison. He can’t do any research, he won’t fight, and he’ll just do nothing.
I kept thinking about how I could change the story so that he does something but I couldn’t. He wouldn’t get mad at the decision of the court. and shout at them (or kill them). He wouldn’t try to escape. He would wait and see what happens. I basically wrote 5,000 words and didn’t know how to actually finish it in an interesting way. I was so stuck on this I almost wrote a blog post bemoaning my lack of inspiration in hopes it’d give me an idea.
I mentioned my problem in passing to my mom, partly because I drew an awesome pictures to go with it (that I was going to share but I can’t find my scanner) and it frustrated me I’d never get to use it.. She asked me what happens to the girl. What does the girl whose life he just saved do? And that started me thinking.
Now, I’d prefer to write it from Reve’s POV, because this will technically be a purple guard story. But Reve’s POV is boring. The girl, however, I can see her doing a lot. It’s a different POV, which makes it harder because I have to develop and understand a new character. Moreover, she won’t show up again that I can tell. Sure, they might develop some kind of friendship, but nothing lasting. Yet, by changing the POV, I can explore both a pivotal moment in Reve’s life, and the development of the mental ability that is found in these people.
It works. It makes it interesting. And, overall, I’m pretty excited about this development. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’ll be written for a couple weeks yet.
However, this reminds me just how important it is to pick a good POV.When people (okay, at least myself) started writing, I’d always go with the obvious POV. This story is about XYZ happening to Jane Doe, so obviously the POV is Jane’s.
However, the more I experiment with writing, the more become away that the POV isn’t something you can randomly assign. The story changes depending on what POV you use. And sometimes that means changing the story in the middle to get the right POV.
So, have you ever noticed a situation where changing the POV propelled your story to completion? Would changing a POV help right now?
Life with school and writing and poor time management and jobs and….
Indulge me for a bit. Please.
I know I haven’t written here in a while. I don’t have a good reason except that, for some reason, when I’m at college I can’t remember to or think of things to write about related to writing.
That doesn’t mean I’m not writing. in fact, this year has been a very productive year so far.
- I’ve written two short stories (that I consider complete),
- i severely edited one to make it more concise.
- I have three others in various stages of completion. (Well, sort of. Perhaps I’ll explain the problems I had with one of them later this week.)
- I’ve also been working hard on my mermaid novel, which I haven’t written from August until December, and I’m really excited about that. This past week I really focused on that and have edited four or five chapters. (Okay, they’re little chapters, but that is real progress.)
I think what ends up happening with almost all the novels is that I get stuck at a point, don’t really know how to move on, and I think (falsely) that by waiting I’ll figure it all out.
On top of all this, I have actually been reading as well. (Well, and listening. Librovox is wonderful for that.) So far I’ve listened to
- some Sherlock Holmes (I got addicted to the TV show Sherlock, which is awesome I might add, so I wanted to read the books. Unfortuantly, I think the show is better than the books. (Please don’t kill me Holmes fans.))
- Dicken’s Oliver Twist
- And am currently listen to A Princess of Mars, which may also been known as John Carter in movie form (I have not seen the movie at all though.). My dad told me he wouldn’t recommend it because it was a guy book. I’m quite annoyed by that, but I’m enjoying it a lot too.
That isn’t including the variety of other books I’ve read, mostly modern YA books, including Across the Universe, A Million Suns, Article 5, Deliurium and Ship Breaker within the past month. (If you want some awesome world building, read Ship Breaker.)
And yet with all these seeming time on my hands, I can’t manage to write a blog post. Bad Abigail. Bad bad bad.
But, see, I’ve also been scheming. Mwhaha. (< = little evil laugh) And this scheming hasn’t included just characters. It’s actually included my life.
First thing first. I began looking into making ebooks. It didn’t seem that hard and no, I didn’t do all the research that I should, but I did it anyway. Why? Two reasons. One is that I really do want to share my stories. I write so people can read them. That’s always been my goal. So why not? Also, my goal originally was to just charge, say, $.99 per story to see if I can make a little bit of money on the side. I don’t know if I will actually do that though. I’ve only gotten 70 downloads in a little less than two weeks. (Then again, I’m not in Ibookstore or on B&N, so that may help once that happens.) It probably also doesn’t help someone bashed it ( :( ) because of bad grammar and gave it two stars. (So if you want to be really, really nice to me, reviewing it nicely would be sweet.)
This is part of the reason why I said to indulge me, because I’m taking this as a moment to promote my story that you should download and tell your friends about. My page is here, but as of right now, I’ve only uploaded one story. (I planned on uploading another one on Wednesday, but I think I’ll wait until this story goes into all the bookstores before I release the next one.
The other thing that I want to do is to actually teach English. Now, I’m know; I’m in college going for an elementary education degree, but hear me out.
First of all, I learn things best by doing them. This would give me amazing teaching experience. But beyond that, I was homeschooled. My sister is also still being homeschooled and she’s in highschool. When it comes to her English, my mom gets stuck. She doesn’t know what to do or how to do it well. An example is that they struggled for a while to come up with words describing a sunrise and, in passing, mention it to me. I come up with more words than the two of them came up together. I also know what sounds good and what doesn’t and why it doesn’t.
If I taught this English program, I would develop it from the ground up. (Which I already have started working on.) I would then submit assignments, grade papers and provide parents with grades. It helps everyone involved because there are more people than just my mom who wants their child to have a good education but struggle with English. Oh, and best of all is that it’s a creative writing based. I would have jumped at the chance to do something like this in highschool, so why not?
The problem I’m having is how to start it. I have the idea. I have lesson for the whole year outlined, with plans for about two months developed. But I don’t have any clue how to put this out there to say I want to actually teach people. So if you know anyone, have them e-mail me. (Yes, I finally got an e-mail address too.)
Now this one, although I am promoting my own business, will actually benefit you as well because one thing I think I’ll be doing is posting some of my lessons from that on here, especially during the summer as I film the videos.
So, that’s pretty much my life, beyond the normal stuff of I need a summer job, I’m taking three college classes, I’m helping out at home and trying not to get too frustrated with my sister’s laziness. But, I am at home, so I should be able to write more at least over the summer and hopefully get a good stockpile of posts as well for the school year. (See, I might get ideas about what to write but I feel bad popping on here, writing something really quick, and then popping off for another couple weeks. It doesn’t seem that fair to ya’ll for some reason. And yes, I just used ya’ll.)
And if anyone remembers or wonders about the book I sent off to a publisher, no, I have not heard back on that at all, either positively or negatively.
(BTW, I really don’t like this new formatting on WordPress. It rather took me by surprise. :P)
World-building – an obvious google search
I don’t know how I have never found this before. I’ve been on the SFWA website before. (It’s actually pretty cool there.) I’ve even posted articles from there.
However, I found this for the first time.
It’s a world building questionnaire.
And it is totally awesome. It has everything, from how big is a town, and how did humans get to the world.
If you write sci-fi or fantasy, I would seriously check it out.
I would also check out this persons rants about what makes bad world building and the following comments. The interesting thoughts there that I saw are:
1) Rulers usually throw money at people who can heal people and people who can destroy people. So why don’t healers (magical of course) get more money?
2) If the magical people have magical power and can throw fireballs at whoever, why isn’t a magical person king?
Oh, and if you were wondering, my google search was world building questionnaire. Don’t know why I didn’t think of it before.
Typically jealousy turned to advice to a new writer.
If you’ve been around, you realize that I have recently seriously pursued publication. Seriously as in I actually did something about it. It’s been a long time coming and it’s been a really, really long time since I began writing.
(Just to recap:
- Began writing a stupidly Star Trek story in 2002.
- Began writing in February 2003
- Submitted stuff to a writing contest in December 2003. (Which gave me 3rd place.) First time I allowed pretty much anyone to see what I wrote.
- Started role playing in spring of 2004.
- Somewhere here I began seriously writing my first novel.
- Gave up on first novel in August 2008 as being too difficult to fix all the holes and I wanted to write another novel.
- Wrote second novel’s first draft between August 2008 and December 2008. Began editing.
- December 2009 began this blog.
- Submitted some stuff to the college writing contest in January 2010 and lost.
- Submitted Just Trust Me in January 2011 and came in 3rd place in Spring 2011.
- March 2011 began another novel, mermaids.
- Finally finished a synopsis in December 2011.
- Submitted Shad for publication in Feb 2012 along with Just Trust Me to Tor.com.
In between 2007 and 2012 I’ve also been writing so many other stories, both novels and short stories. This just mainly highlights the big things that happened physical, And why do I show this? Because I’ve been working hard. I’ve heard a lot since I began writing to get to where I am. To get to the point that I am pretty good.
So why do I bring this up?
Because a facebook friend of mine mentioned that she began writing in October an idea she’s had. Okay. That’s fine. I wrote Shad based off of an idea I had for over a year. But the problem I’m having, and where I’m struggling, is that she then says that she is going to do a read through to make sure it looks good and then submit it for publication. (Not only that, but she got a call for a publishing house. I have a gut feeling based on what she said though it’s a self publishing house.)
Still, it’s hard, because I read this and it’s like she might have it all figured out when she has only been writing since October really. And I want to justify why my stuff is better than hers but that’s not fair either. I don’t know. Maybe it is.
On the other hand, maybe we could help each other. I mean, after all, we both write. I have been dying for a writing partner. But does that do me any good? I don’t know. I would be so scared that I would assume a superior attitude unintentionally because everything tells me that logically, what she has can’t be good. And besides, I don’t know if, in the beginning, I would have been ready to tear apart my novels to the degree I do now.
You know, that’s an interesting thought. Okay, I am actually going to change the total tone of this post starting now. Why? Because sometimes it works better for me to brood and sometimes it works better for me to help. So I’m going to try to help.
Here are the biggest things I have learned from that past experience writing.
1.) Learn to write badly. With some stories (not all) it works just getting a brain fart on paper and fixing it up really carefully. I’ve done that with my last two stories and they’ve come out pretty decently. Sometime, especially beginning writers, get so caught up in making it look good the first time that they forget to actually edit.
2.) Editing is a long, long process: Nothing is good the first time. Good only comes from careful editing that often happens several times. In a short story, I went through one scene almost four times before I finally moved on, just because I couldn’t get it right. Then later I edited it another two.
3.) Sometimes editing involves deleting. Anyone who has done any kind of editing knows that editing isn’t pretty. It’s hard. It involves making decisions and sometimes those decisions require a delete key. I’ve combined two scenes into one, which involved rewriting both scenes. I’ve deleted whole sections. I’ve discovered after complete a story and editing it once that the story didn’t have a really good plot and I needed to fix that. It doesn’t involve just a read through.
4.) Characters need to talk. No story will be good unless you yourself can hear the characters. I have looked at scenes and said, “No. I don’t like that line. He won’t say that.” I’ve also written scenes where it felt like I could hear the POV character’s in my head. The more you get to know your characters, the more you will have to listen to them. And sometimes that means bad/annoying things happen. Sometimes it means pretty cool things happen.
For example, in mermaids I had problems because I wanted one character (Ronen) to kiss another (Avi). I got it so that it would. However, Avi’s reaction that I originally wrote didn’t work and instead, she banished Ronen from ever seeing her again. (Haha!) Problem is that Ronen was needed to 1) tell her she is going to be reagent and 2) make her eventually fall in love with her. (Evil author strikes again.) I could listen to Avi and allow her to banish him or I could make it easier for me. I chose the former and–tada!–the story actually came out better. (See why it’s important now.)
5.) Your first novel (typically) sucks. I don’t remember where I read that exactly, but the message is the same. The person said to write you first novel, learn everything you can, and then hide in a drawer because it really isn’t good. Though I still love the characters and the plot in Hope (my first novel), I did eventually discard it because it was so bad.
6.) If you can find them, find a writer support. When I first began, I had my brother. Then my sister kinda took over the place along with my friend, Alyssa. Now, I have no one and it is actually really hard. I would love to be able to sit down and talk with someone about this thing I should be writing instead of this, but I don’t have anyone. So find that special person and keep them close.
7.) Don’t ask yahoo answers for any help. They won’t help you.
That’s the big things I can think of right now. Writing is fun. It takes time. It’s hard because it is a personal activity that doesn’t involve other people too often. But if you really want to learn how to be a good writer, then go for it. Because nothing beats having hundreds of characters dancing in your head.
I love learning about different cultures, so when my friend wrote this comparison between her life at a college in Georgia (USA) to her life in Reading, England, I had to read it.
Since it pretty much covered all of my confusion, here is the article for you to read as well.
Dear RP* friend,
RP = Role play. We would both have some characters and they would interact to create a story freestyle on a message board.
We met because of a message board glitch. It allowed me to change my name to the evil twin of my name, and then hold you prisoner until you did something. I don’t remember what. But that is what began ETOLT.
We wrote ETOLT 1-4, then we began writing new stories. Even now, that we are both in college, we write stories over the summer while you “work” and I do nothing because I can’t find work. We even still reference our characters.
Did you know how much you helped m learn how to write though?
In some ways, I look at the time after we met to the time that I finally finished my first novel as taking such a long time. I would hardly do any writing because we’d be constantly RPing.
Yet, those weren’t wasted years. I learned so much about listening to a character and letting a character act as they want, and not as I want them to.
I also learned about dialogue and how valuable it is to have good dialouge.
In some ways, I learned about how how to cut out to boring stuff. Sometimes, when I read through our old stories, I hold my head in misery against the bad sections of just the characters doing literally nothing. We didn’t figure out right away to cut a scene if nothing happened. But that’s okay, because it went into my writing.
It’s also because of our RPs that I am now able to draw, although that has nothing to do with writing.
Sure, I do sometimes miss that we can’t do it all year, but that’s okay. We both have very busy lives now. I just thought you should know how much you actually helped me become the writer I am, because we all need help writing at some point in time.
What does a ruler do?
(I wrote this on May 12 and, thought I thought I published it, I guess I never did.)
We all know about the president, or the king of a country. However, as I begin to think about my characters, some of who are some kind of ruler, I wondered what do they actually do? What takes up all the time in a day?
This, obviously, sends me to google. Here is all I’ve found.
Starting off, I found this great website about the Queen of England’s schedule.
This isn’t terribliy helpful, although it gives a background of the presidental job history. The only good line of a schedule is found here:
This past Wednesday was a typical day. The record shows that Bush had breakfast at 7:15 a.m. with the king of Jordan. He had his usual 8 a.m. intelligence briefing. He held meetings with senior staff and the secretary of defense. At 10:40, he motorcaded to the Capitol, where, at 11:05, he participated in a ceremony honoring heart surgeon Michael DeBakey. Back at the White House, his schedule included a photo op with organ donors, Perino said. At 2:10 p.m., he had a meeting with some business leaders, and at 2:30, he met with Republicans from Congress. At 3:35, he briefly addressed the media about National Small Business Week.
Invariably, Bush has an exercise period in the mix, and almost invariably, he stays at home in the evening….
Then lights out at 9 p.m., or not much later.
Bush very rarely goes out on the town. He seldom appears before audiences that aren’t carefully screened in advance. By his own account, he is immersed in the war he began.
Here is the actual President’s schedule, just in case you’re ever curious.
This is an interesting article on the events of 9/11 and Bush actions during it. I actually only read through his stay at the elementary school. It is obviously written by someone who is annoyed at Bush, since his whole article seems to be written in order to cause people to demand why Bush didn’t respond. However, I’m thinking of it more from a writing perspective. A plane is highjacked one random day, what are they thinking? Oh, wait, a second plane is now as well. And how does a 40 minute delayed flight effect things? When the plane was highjacked at 8:13, would anyone have imagined it would be crashed into the towers thirty minutes later? Now, take that apply it to your writing.
This is just a cursory overview of what the president does. Not helpful to me, but maybe to you.
Here I have an interesting job description for a prime minister.