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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.

The ages.

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. :)

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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 SunsArticle 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.

You know you're curious.

Click to download my awesome short story for free.

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)

College takes way too much time. (And when is a story actually done?)

That’s pretty much my only excuse for not posting. I get distracted doing homework, classes and other things like that.

Anyway, the real reason why I’m posting (besides that I’m on spring break and have time to post) is because I “finished” two stories this week.

I know. Impressive.

What do I mean by finished though? Well, I wrote them, determined they had a strong enough plot (in one, I had to add more tension), edited them repeatedly and honestly don’t really know where to go from here.

The last time I actually finished something, I either came to the deadline or got bored with it. (That’s how I decided Shad was actually done. Bored. I think I read that advise somewhere.) But right now, I don’t have any deadlines. I’m actually really excited about the stories. (And I don’t have anyone to read them [RIGHT NOW!], because my sister, who used to read everything of mine, is so behind and lazy about it that I’ve pretty much given up on her reading anything. Even though she THINKS she’s doing me so much help. (Which she used to. Not anymore.))

So how do I know it’s finished?

I don’t know. The plot seems good to me. The writing seems good to me.  Overall, I think it’s done.

But I’m just waiting for someone to read it and tell me that “Erm, Abigail, this makes no sense.” or “Abigail, this is really stupid. I don’t get Reve at all.” (I know. I character I haven’t mentioned before. He’s new, he’s not demanding a novel, but I still have written two stories about him and intend to write a third maybe someday.)

And (though I have used Critters in almost a year), if I used Critters, it’d take me a month to get feedback. Who knows what I’ll be doing in the middle of April?

Basically, I’m impatient. I want to be done with it but I want to work on it while I like the story. And I know. Everyone says to let a finished story sit and see how it looks in a month. But–I get so distracted that may mean I never actually finish it.

So I suppose I should just say it’s done and post it here.

Anyone else have any thoughts on when a story is actually done? 

The benefits of creating my own world. :D

Yes. I did just use a smilie face in my title. Because I’m happy with myself.

Here’s some background: Sagi, a character in my mermaid novel, has some serious relationship issues involving some serious wife betrayal. He’s been angry at her and kept that anger for much of the past twenty-some years since her death. He’s done is best to avoid any relationship in that time, focusing instead on getting himself into a position that will permit him to be elected when the time comes.

Here was my problem: Within the matter of about a month and a half I think, he meets Chava, begins to have a serious relationship with her, and proposes. For someone who wanted nothing to do with marriage or a family or relationships at all, that seemed really fast. (Okay, maybe I really shouldn’t be writing about any complicated relationships since I haven’t ever HAD one period, but oh well. They demanded it and who I am but the writer to argue with my characters? )

No matter how I looked at it, that seemed FAST for Sagi to move.

Then I came up with a brilliant solution. What if the mermaids don’t really date? They meet someone, go out a couple times to see how things are. Probably at this point in time, there are some good personality tests they take to see if they would be compatible (that’d be basically what people would call “the next step”) and if so far there hasn’t been any major problems, they are engaged.

I don’t know if an engagement would be long, like the idea that we are still learning, or short, since most non-religions people seem to be under the opinion that you should live together for a while to fully get to know the person before marriage.

I also would need to create into this society the fact that divorce is frowned upon. (Society drives a lot of what people do after all.) Possibly even highly taxed.

However, if I have it set up so that Sagi’s relationship with Chava before she even mentions that maybe they should take a test has been going on for a long time, then that would explain more with Sagi. (It also would explain why he married his first wife even better.)

Overall, I am very pleased with this plan. Obviously, it needs some ironing out, but not only does it solve some minor plot issues I’ve been having, but it creates the mermaid world as a world separate from the human world, which I like.

Now I just have to write today. Haven’t for two days now. :(

EDIT: This also fixes my problem of why it is culturally acceptable to have a wedding within a week, though the forcing part is still a bit vague. I must work on that. (It’s a political marriage, if that makes any difference.) Oh, and I did write today.

Have any of you ever changed a part of your society to make your plot work better? Did it work for you? 

When it just doesn’t work out.

I started my spring semester this week. I’ve also wrote this week. That’s a good start.

As I said earlier, I’m working through all of my Avi chapters because my mermaid book has multiple POVs and this is the best way to keep them all straight. So I get to this scene where (Yes, I’m spoiling the story. But this won’t be published for at least two years so I doubt you’ll remember it.) Avi is sworn in as the monarch, much to her dread, she meets this diver we’ve been following named Matthew and he tells her her boyfriend is a spy and her father offers to help her rule. Yeah. A lot happen in this chapter.

It’s also a pretty big chapter for me. Right now about 5,000 words. So I’ve been working on that chapter all week.

And it’s still flopping.

Now, this is the chapter that gave me writer’s block for about two months and I finally just said forget it and moved on. I actually just finished writing it this week. But still!

I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. It might be because i don’t understand Matthew and I don’t understand Avi’s father. For whatever reason, I can’t seem to get inside Avi’s head in this one. No matter how much I try, she is still insist that Matthew has to stay in the prison (she was freeing them in the prelude. Actually, she frees Matthew’s son.) Matthew is coming out as whiner because I can’t get inside the head of a man who is being threatned to being held prisoner under the sea for the rest of his life. And Avi’s father is coming across as a very nobel person, which he might be. I don’t know.  I just can’t get in anyone’s head.

On top of it all, my sister is talking. And talking. And talking.

I am on the computer. I am trying to edit this chapter well. And she is wanting me to pay attention to the hat she just knitted for air 1. Sure, I want to be a nice sister, but I also want to write.

I did end up finishing the chapter. I do kinda like how it ended. I’m tempted to go back and see about editing it yet again. (making it time number three) But, part of me is saying that I should wait until Matthew and Ber talk to me more. And Avi too.

Which, this is totally off topic, but talk about character change. Avi started out in my head as an impulsive, reckless, brave girl and she is turning to have a very timid part underneath her thick outer shell. I love it when characters do that, though as I write that, I’m wondering if it reflects what I feel right now. Could characters reflect what is currently going on in our lives?

I bet so.

Anyway, I get to move onto my really bad chapters. I think it might not be all that bad once I fix them up though. (Except for Nessa’s story. She needs a lot of help.) I really need to figure out a more effective way to write but until then, I’m just going to have to go with this. (I keep threatening to share how I write. Maybe I should do that tomorrow.) It just means a LOT of rewriting.

I think I’ll always be learning how to write.

So, I’ve been working on the mermaid novel. There’s two things that make this a learning experiance for me.

1) My first novel I planned for a year before I wrote it. This one, I started planning for it about a year ago.

2) Multiple POVs.

I didn’t expect multiple POVs to make a difference. Boy, am I wrong!

The biggest one that it makes a difference in is AVi, because Avi doesn’t have a consistent appearance. I have about 45 chapters and of those, she only gets about seven. I need then to still be consistent but even when editing, I see her so inconstantly that I don’t get a good feel for her character.

Last night, I figured out the obvious solution. I edit them in order of character’s POV. As such, because I like Avi right now, I edit all of the Avi scenes. Then I move onto another character and another until I’m done.

I got this idea because while I was editing a scene involving Ronen intentionally ignoring her, I realized that when Ronen decides he’s going to actually show he likes her, he’s going to kiss her. This makes me really excited. Now, normally, I couldn’t do anything about that until I go from chapter 8 to chapter 25. Instead of having to wait that long, I now get to jump ahead and edit chapter 24 and 25 where that happens. Then I get to jump ahead to when Avi discovers that her real boyfriend betrayed her.

For once, the story doesn’t seem so completely overwhelming. And though I know that I used future scenes to motivate me to write current scenes, I have a new plan for the boring scenes. I ask myself a few questions.

This scene is boring.

1) Is this scene needed? Why? If no, delete and move on. If yes, go to question 2.

2) Would it be better to rewrite the scene how that I know the point or try to salvage what I wrote?

Typically, I find that if I’m finding a scene to be boring to edit, it’s either so badly written that I should just restart or, more likely, it isn’t even needed or can be combined with another scene. (I did that with Shad and the resulting scene was sweet!)

It’s funny, because even though I can skim the books in Barnes  and Noble and say I know most of it, I can still discover things that I still need to learn. It’s partly what makes writing fun. Maybe that’s actually why I like it so much.

I finally submitted something.

This past week, I put everything together to submit something to tor.com. Then, I got sick, so I didn’t actually send the e-mail. I’m a wimp. Okay. I’m honest with that one.

Just need to press send.

It's all ready to go.

Then, on Friday, I sent the e-mail out. And I already got a response–see!

Yes, you're seeing that right.

Yup, that’s right. The e-mail address isn’t any good.

*sigh*

So, I need to find the real e-mail address, but I’ve been to tired to do that. I’ll probably do that next week actually.

Until then, it’ll wait.

But, you know, it was rather strange just sending off that e-mail. See, I sent an e-mail earlier this week that I did not really want a response to, in which I informed a parent that their child needed to behave better in Sunday School. This time, I sent it, and I don’t even expect a response. Not really. So it was rather surreal, which surprised me.

Second books: the writer’s perspective

I’ve always thought second books are weak. They never carry the momentum of the book as well as the first or third book in a trilogy. As such, I found this article about writing a sequel very interesting. My favorite line is:

Although I didn’t technically write an entirely new book like Bacigalupi did, I was still making major plot changes in my eighth draft, and my final novel bears very little resemblance to my original story. In fact, my earliest draft was such a mess that it frightened my editor, Nancy Mercado. Wisely, she didn’t tell me so at the time. She merely said in her kind way, “You might want to take a closer look at the first one hundred pages. And the last one hundred pages.”

How I wrote my synopsis

This is just totally awesome and I must share it now. Disney Princesses in real life. I know; it’s making it’s way around the internet, but I still love it!

Anyway, the real thing that matters is the synopsis. That’s why you’re reading this, right?

I know that I said I would send out my manuscript by New Years. That isn’t happening. Why? Mainly because I need to use the school printers since my printer is really sloppy. My dad was there and the school ran out of paper, so I never had a chance to print it before I left. That being said, I will have everything ready to go by next year and I will submit something somewhere. (Okay, I’ll submit Just Trust Me to Tor.com.) Won’t get a rejection letter but it’s a start.

Another big reason why I didn’t submit my manuscript this year is I decided to rewrite my synopsis, and it turned out much better. My novel is 88,000 words; my original synopsis was 9 pages. The publisher wants 3-10. Then I saw this tip about how the best synopses have two sentences per chapter. (It was written by a publisher for the publishing house I am submitting too. BONUS!) I worked out the math and this is what I came up with each chapter is roughly ten pages.

Keep in mind that I write in Times New Roman at single spacing. When I refer to pages, I am in font size 12. (Though I normally write in 13. Not like you care.) So you want it close to that with these numbers if you decide to copy me.

So, how did I write my synopsis?

–I went through my manuscript and, every ten pages, I wrote two sentences about what happened.

–Since I already had a nine page synopsis written, I marked all of what I considered “important” sentences. The ones that I liked the sound of the best. Next time I’ll just write the sentences right in my outline.

–I combined all the sentences into one document and edited. At this point, so long as I did not add more than a few words, I allowed longer sentences to break into shorter sentences. The idea was to keep the word count close to the same, not necessarily the sentence count.

–I allowed myself one well-integrated paragraph that gave background information, since I’m writing in a different world than we live.

That’s it. If you want, I can post what I’ll be sending out as an example. Keep in mind (this is my disclaimer) that I have not ever been accepted / been published, and I don’t know if it is going to work. But this is what I did, so it might give you an idea of where to start. I realize that there isn’t a lot out there about writing synopses, especially in writing books.

Oh, and if you care, my final page count was about 3 pages, so I’m happy.

Music, music–banished!

I wrote a story for my creative writing class. No surprise there. I liked my story a lot too and I’ll probably post it here within the next couple of days. It’s really good actually (At least. I think so.).

Here’s the problem. This story revolves around the idea that a girl, Marie, basically hates her life, finds Johnny Cash as an artist and begins to really listen to him. Through his songs, she ends up saving herself. (It sounds morbid. Maybe it is a bit. I’m not sure.) Anyway, part of what I did here is integrate lyrics of Johnny Cash music into the story.

Did you know there is serious problems with that? I didn’t.

Apparently, you can’t just cite the songs as a source like a research paper and all is fine. People apparently want money from the lyrics, even if the person has been dead for 69 years.

This involves writing letters for each song, asking to use the lyrics (even if there is just two lines used). On top of that all, just because they were all recorded by Johnny Cash doesn’t mean that they all need to be written to whoever owns the Johnny Cash music. I looked at two songs, Flesh and Blood and Hurt, and both of them are owned by different people.

So basically… this means that the story I wrote either a) needs to get them completely edited out or b) is just another story that I can use to build my skill and not do anything else besides post it here.

*sigh*

Well, I’ll actually correct myself. After reading everything in this thread, well, most everything, it basically comes down to that you might or might not get help and you might or might not get permission. If you really, really, really need the lyrics in there, then you should include them. If not, then don’t. (Someone went as far as to say avoid poetry of all kind, which I typically agree with.)

There is the chance that having two copies work out well, because then if permission cannot be obtained, then the story can be submitted through the backup

Unfortunately, that doesn’t help me, because my story relies on my lyrics. She almost has a conversation with them.

So, I’m back down to one short story. That makes me sad. I really need to get better at writing.

Here’s another article about reprinting lyrics if you’re highly curious.