Saturday, July 31, 2010

Placeholders: The Literary Version

So. Placeholders. There are several meanings for these babies, but the one I found pretty dead-on was this political version up on Wikipedia: a person appointed temporarily until a permanent replacement can be chosen.

Why is this definition dead-on? 'Cause I use a lot of placeholders in my first draft.

Think about it: you write for hours at a time, coming up with cool ways to describe things/events/emotions, and then...

You're stuck.

You know something awesome goes on that page, but what it is, you can't figure it out. Brain death sucks. So what do you do? Whip out that placeholder!

I write a lot of: "he/she glared", "a shiver ran down my spine", "my brow furrowed", "my jaw dropped", and tons of "almost as if". Do these make the final cut on further drafts? Not all of them. But they're my placeholders until I can think of something more original. They're my first draft weakness--I can't shake off the itch to punch in a "whatever, I'll fix this later" type of sentence.

Lazy? Yep. Never said I wasn't :)

How about you? Any literary placeholders you cling to during that first draft?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Fess Up Friday: Sirens Galore!

I'm still kicking myself for not reading any YA books regarding this mythological creature.

*head hangs low in shame*

BUT I'm making up for it by asking you this week's trend question: do you enjoy reading about sirens?

And here's where I cheat: Can you recommend me any YA books with sirens, please???

Thanks! And have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, July 26, 2010

My Brainstorming Stages a la Kristen Stewart's Face

So. Kristen Stewart. *gives standing ovation for badassness*

Since I already broke down my writing stages using Robert Pattinson's hair, I thought it would be appropriate to borrow Kristen's face for a similar analogy. You see, that girl's mug always reminds me of what I look like when I brainstorm for a first draft.

Cue obscure indie music:

1) The Spark- This is when an idea bursts into my brain. It could've been a song, another book, a quote by a random stranger--something inspired me to not have a social life for the next three months. And once The Spark arrives, I get all giddy and shameless, like this:

2) The Who, What and Where- The main character speaks to me. The problem he/she needs to solve begins to take shape. The world he/she lives in seems to build itself. Everything falls into place without a hitch. I do not hate The Spark for one minute. I feel like the Queen Of The Badass Universe, and walk around looking at people like this:

3) The Plotting- I have the premise figured out, so I sit down and write like crazy. Since I don't outline my stories before I write them, I usually make more wrong turns than I care to admit. I might've blown past Plot Point A, but get stuck on Plot Point F. The story starts to look like the lamest thing ever pondered by a life form. Nothing makes sense. The world is stupid, and you hate everybody. This is when I start doing this:

4) The Boost- I stop writing Lamest Story Ever and focus on getting fat. Ice cream, chocolate--nothing is off limits. The world is sort of okay again. I pick up a book by Bestselling Better Author Than Me, and I drink in every single word, studying their craft. Then it hits me: Bestselling Better Author Than Me is successful for many reasons, but the one that matters most is that he/she never gave up. Only pansies do that. And in publishing, there's no room for pansies. So I plop down in front of my laptop, open that manuscript again and come up with stronger, better ways to tell my story. Maybe I write a brief outline. Maybe I just think and write scenes as they pop into my head. What matters is that I stare at self-doubt in the face like this:

5) The Sigh- 300+ pages later, I have a completed manuscript. This involved tons of glaring at self-doubt, as well as flipping off those plot holes I couldn't seem to get right. And of course, other drafts will bring more headaches and plot issues, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there. The one thing that runs through my tired mind is this: all that hard work finally paid off. *sighs* All that brainstorming got me through a first draft, no matter how rough it is. *sighs again* I could grin like an idiot all day long, but I have a reputation to keep. I flash the widest smile my badass nature will allow:

There you go, friends--Kristen Stewart's face mirrors mine when I'm drafting.

Lucky me.

How about you? Any examples as to how you survive the brainstorming process? Is it just as tough as it is for me, or do you cruise right by the finish line?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fess Up Friday: A Whole New World

Yes, folks. It's another edition of Fess Up Friday.

*roaring applause*

I've been hearing about this trend for a couple months now, and I'm excited to finally get your take on it. Without further ado, here's this week's question:

Are you a fan of dystopian fiction?

Confession: I haven't read a single dystopian book besides The Hunger Games series, which is actually considered more of a post-apocalyptic world.

Yes, I need to get out more.

I'm definitely craving these books for my library, though. Just have to tear myself away from all these paranormals first. *evil grin*

What say you? Like it or not?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Veronica Roth Is A Genius

I've chosen to be lazy with my blogging this week. That means no new material from me, but doses of brilliance from others. My previous post was all about writing a breakout novel. Today, I want to share a link to another piece of awesome.

Veronica Roth, an upcoming YA author you should be on the lookout for, blogged about something she learned in college. Thankfully, she's not only a genius, but was awesome enough to share the lesson with her readers.

And save my drafting life in the process.

What did she blog about? Find out here.

Your welcome, buddies. Your welcome.

Now tell me: do you have any other advice for me this week?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Wanna Write A Breakout Novel? A Literary Agent Shows You How

Attention all writers! Literary agent Sarah Davies, of the super awesome Greenhouse Literary Agency, took to her blog to offer tips on writing a breakout novel.

The tips are split into six different elements every story should have:

Run over to her blog and enjoy. I did, and I don't regret it.

What do you think of these six elements? Does your story have all six, or just a couple?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Why Not Writing Every Day Is Okay

Let's face it. Sometimes life gets in the way of your writing goals. I sure as heck know. For my current work in progress, I've been aiming for 2k a day. I have a deadline in mind, mainly because I'm starting my Master's in the fall and want to only work on editing during my classes. So far, I haven't even reached 30k. Pathetic, huh?

Or is it?

Most writers beat themselves up if they skip a writing day. I can understand their determination to get things done, but I also encourage them to have something that's essential to the writing experience.

A life.

Go shopping. Hang out with friends. Jog for five miles. Travel the world. That's what summer's all about--being free to experience something new and exciting. Sure, writing is exciting for most, but so is that life you keep neglecting.

My advice? Write when you can. If that includes every day, so be it. But try to do it in reasonable amounts, i. e. two hours a day. That way, you'll be accomplishing a writing goal and have plenty of "life" time. Trust me, I've beaten myself up for not writing my 2k a day, only to realize the time I spent away from the computer wasn't wasted at all.

Why? 'Cause I was having fun. And as long as it's fun, it's not wasted time.

How about you? Do you berate yourself for not writing every day? Or do you have a more mellow approach for your writing goals?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fess Up Friday: Gender In YA

In light of this post, I decided to tackle the same issue for Fess Up Friday.

Here goes: Do boy protagonists in YA novels interest you more when there's a romantic element in their story? Or do you prefer them dealing with other issues, such as identity/family/evilwarlockfromHades?

Sound off below!

P. S. I dig boy characters, in any way they're presented to me. As long as I care about the boy and about what happens to him, I'll read the whole book. Even if not a single page deals with him falling in love or getting the girl.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Go All Out, Or Don't Go At All

I talked about The Big Idea earlier this week. Now I wanna talk about what it takes to tackle The Big Idea.


How do writers get them? Why are they so easy to find for some and super tough for others?

*shrugs* Don't ask me.

But I recently read a book in which a character says this: "Go all out, or don't go at all."

Writers. Athletes. Scientists. Everyone has goals, small or big, that they're dying to achieve. 2k a day. A Super Bowl championship ring. The cure for cancer. Doesn't matter what it is, only that it drives us forward.

In a way, I don't think people have balls until they want something. Sure, some leap before they look, but most gather courage after identifying what it is that fulfills them. And I invite you to do the same.

Go all out. Your future will thank you for it. *fist pump*

Now back to that WIP...

Monday, July 12, 2010

You vs. The Big Idea

My little brother recently informed me that our diva dog is in love.

With a male three times her size.

And a very loud bark.

*face palm*

Naturally, I likened my diva dog's infatuation to writing. I'm currently working on a manuscript that's challenging me in more ways than one. The genre isn't my forte, the voice is too dark for my funny bone, etc. Why am I writing it, you ask?

Because I wanted to take on The Big Idea.

Let me explain. The Big Idea is that project you can't stop thinking about, but prefer to leave behind for a much more comfortable story. Let's say you write contemporary YA, but a dystopian slips through your mind's cracks and won't let go. You think it's out of your league. It is the toughest thing you will ever plot in your life. Everyone always says to write what you know, anyway. Because of this, you convince yourself you can't pull it off. Only Cormac McCarthy and Suzanne Collins can do it, but not you. You're not as talented as they are.

But The Big Idea looks so good in your head. All those scenes would be great on paper. To you, they're the very definition of awesome. You're just not up to par with it.

Here's a tip: you're wrong.

If you can dream it, you can do it. The Big Idea is in your head, and only you can write it. Literature is not about being safe. What's it about, then? Way too many things to mention here, but one of those things is balls.

Yep. I said it. Writers need balls.

And apparently, chocolate. But that's for another post.

I encourage every writer out there to be like my diva dog--stop comparing and start embracing. Trust me, she'd embrace the heck out of that T-Rex if I let her, and the threat of being eaten by him doesn't faze her in the slightest.

So tell me, have you ever had The Big Idea? Did you put it aside, or did you face it with your head held high?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Confession: I Like Fake Men. A Lot.

Just in case I haven't made myself clear, Jensen Ackles is my husband:

I am Mrs. Jensen Ackles. Not anyone else. Period.

But even though I am committed to my stud muffin, there are times when my eyes wander. A LOT. And it seems as though I can't control myself. The power of male hotness is too strong for me to fight.

Male hotness = 50 points.

My will = zero.

Male hotness takes the championship. *face palm*

But here's the kicker: I am unfaithful with guys who don't exist.

*double face palm*

TV characters. YA bad boys. YA good boys.

I am a pile of schoolgirl mush whenever the Fake Other Ones appear.

The more I travel the blogosphere, the more readers I find spilling details about their unfaithfulness. It's as if everyone has that one stud muffin (or stud muffiness) they come home to, but there's THAT FAKE OTHER ONE their main squeeze doesn't know about. Well, in some cases, they do know, and it can actually make the relationship more tense.

Just ask this guy--he knows what I'm talking about.

Anyway, that Fake Other One makes you squee whenever he comes up on TV, or when you turn the page and he spews an awesome one-liner. He blurs the line between your adult self and that fifteen-year-old you thought you'd gotten rid of. Forget till death do us part--the Fake Other One swoops in as soon as your main squeeze turns the corner. Why, oh, why is the Fake Other One torturing you?!

Help me out here: is this normal? Do you crush on guys who don't exist? If so, what about them makes you swoon so much?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fess Up Friday!

I'd like to take a moment to give a GINORMOUS HUG to my new followers, and to those who loved my Rob Pattz post!!! I never thought it would actually be funny! Or that YA Highway would share the link so other people could read it! *brain explodes*

Okay. Back to Fess Up Friday.

This week's trend question: Are you digging fallen angels?

Confession: I've read two fallen angel books, both YA. With one of them, I enjoyed the plot, but hated the characters. With the other, I hated the plot, but enjoyed the characters. Who said I was difficult?

I know these books will continue to get published, and I'm all for them. As long as writers remember to keep a healthy balance between story and character, I'm down.

Now it's your turn, buddies. Love 'em or hate 'em?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Slang In YA... and why I like it

Last week, I promised to tackle an issue regarding adult authors choosing to write for teens.

What issue, you ask? Slang.

Wikipedia defines slang as: the use of informal words and expressions that are not considered standard in the speaker's dialect or language. Slang is often to be found in areas of the lexicon that refer to things considered taboo (see euphemism). It is also used to identify with one's peers.

Many readers complain about the overuse of slang in YA novels. I get it--it's annoying. It looks forced and a tad cliche. The author's attempt to capture teen speak can fall flat with the intended audience, but it can also be a bummer for adults reading YA, too. They won't relate to the characters or the dialogue. In some cases, people put books down because of this.

Confession: I would never do that.

I'd finish that slang infested book even if it costs me my sanity.

Oh, wait... I don't think I have any left...

Anyway, back to the point. Slang doesn't have to be used all over the place, but it is important to show the reader who the main character hangs out with, what he/she does in their spare time, and how he/she sees the world. Some authors illustrate this through the way their character describes setting and emotions. And sometimes, slang fits right in with those descriptions. Think about it: most teens don't talk to their parents the same way they talk to their best friend. Some do, of course. I don't believe in absolutes. But the truth can't be ignored--young adult lit should capture... wait for it... the young adult spirit. OMGs included.

A YA book shouldn't be bashed because it's slang infested. The same thing can't be said if the book talks down to its teen audience, or if it tries to teach them a lesson in an obvious way ("and the moral of the story is..."). Authors should simply be careful with how much slang means to a certain character in the books. Not everyone should be a fan of OMG. That would be a bit unrealistic, don't you think?

So. Slang in YA. I like it. I would read an entire book with it, but only if it adds to the characterization. Using it just because that's what you think teens like to read is a mistake. Just saying.

What say you, blogging buddies? Is slang your cup of tea?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fess Up Friday!

This book review got me thinking about something that's been criticized lately. I promise to delve deeper next week, but for now, I'll only give you a taste.

This week's trend question: How do you feel about authors who write for adults choosing to write for teens?

Me? The only author I've read who writes for both audiences is Kim Harrison. I haven't read her adult books, but I enjoy her Madison Avery novels. Guess it just goes to show you: talent is talent. If you can capture the audience's voice, go for it. But nobody should write a YA book just because it's hot right now. Young readers can spot a fake from miles away, and they won't be too keen on buying your next book if the first one didn't do it for them.

What say you, peeps?