Thursday, March 28, 2013

Blog Chain: The Non-Fiction Round

Blog chain time! For this round, Sandra asks the following:

We all know it's important to read fiction if you want to write fiction, but what about reading non-fiction? How much non-fiction do you read? What kinds of non-fiction books do you read, and why? Has reading non-fiction influenced your fiction writing style?

Confession: the only non-fiction books I read are either for thesis research or for WIP research. On the thesis front, there's a lot of Emily Bronte going on, since I'm focusing on her poetry. I've read biographies and critical analysis books. On the WIP front, I'm delving into the Dark Ages. Customs, clothing, food, combat techniques. You name it. I'm doing my best to absorb as much as I can. I'm also studying the Gothic language in order to put some Germanic words into the story. You know. Easy stuff like that :)

The non-fiction books on medieval times have influenced my fiction writing style. I'm paying attention to details that are helping me build a stronger, more believable world. This includes word choice as well. Sometimes I feel tempted to write things like "For reals" or "Shut your pie hole" and I stop myself. PEOPLE DIDN'T SAY THIS IN MEDIEVAL TIMES, YO. So yeah. It's a constant learning experience and struggle, but I'm confident it'll pay off in the end. 

*crosses fingers*

Thanks to Sandra for this topic! Check out Cole's take on the topic, and don't forget to see what Margie has to say!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

In Which I Confess My Solo Dance Parties While Writing

So. Writing. Hard, isn't it? 

I find it impossible to write for more than an hour at a time. Sometimes, if I'm REALLY pumped up, I go on for longer stretches. But this is rare, folks. Like, is-that-a-Yeti-with-a-chimichanga? rare. My creative juices sound the alarm and slam those breaks like nobody's business. I feel exhausted and bored. 

Which is why I have solo dance parties.

I put on songs that drive me to brink of dancing madness, then run headfirst to said madness. 

Note: I am a terrible dancer. But I do it anyway. 

It's my excuse to have fun and laugh at my ineptitude for a few minutes. It's also a great way to recharge those creative juices. Dance parties make me happy. Therefore, after the dance party is over, I will still be happy. This helps me get back to writing with a smile on my face and, hopefully, a believable way to end that pesky scene or chapter. 

Just don't ask me to record myself dancing. You don't deserve that kind of torture. 

How do you recharge those creative juices after a writing session? Do you throw solo dance parties, too? Or do you prefer something less embarrassing? 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sparklepires And Pretty Monsters: On Reinterpretation

Monsters. Myths. Urban legends. Fairy tales. These are some things that have been adapted in a bazillion ways. Storytellers take the original material, then infuse it with a shiny new twist. They could even change genres in order to explore that original material in a different setting with different rules.

Which leads me to this:

AWFUL grammatical errors aside, I am bothered by this, folks. Not because I am a rabid advocate of sparklepire rights (even though I believe they should have their rights both acknowledged and respected). Not because I prefer my monsters pretty and CGI'd all the time. This isn't why I cringe whenever I read or hear someone berating authors for their "lame" and "not scary" versions of once-feared creatures. Hell, I might find some of those new versions lame and not scary, too. 

But I have no problem with lame and not scary. I choose not to engage with these reinterpretations, and my life goes on.

I have a problem with clinging to one version of anything

Variety is the spice of life, but it's also what makes literature worth reading. Imagine if all vampires were sparklepires who watched their romantic leads while they slept. Now imagine if all witches were super smart with weird hair and poor social skills. Now imagine if all aliens were blue and had six-packs and flew on pterodactyl-looking creatures. Would you be excited to read books with this version offered to you over and over? Or would you be excited to discover new ways of looking at the same archetype/monster?

I know which boat I'm floating on. Long live reinterpretation, even if I don't like how that reinterpretation plays out in the end. 

What about you? Where do you stand on the reinterpretation spectrum? Are there any reinterpreted monsters/stories you prefer to the original?  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Blog Chain: Tropes, Tropes, Tropes

Blog chain time!! For this round, my buddy Michelle wants to know the following:

What elements in your favorite genre make it your favorite? For instance, if your favorite genre is romance, what elements do you like in a romance story? A tortured hero? A spunky heroine? Steamy love scenes? Sweet romance? If your fave genre is sci-fi, what elements do you love the most (the characters, the science, the possibilities?), etc?

So. Tropes. I like a few of them. Problem is, my favorite genre (to read) is YA contemporary realism. I'm still a huge fantasy fan, but it's the contemporary stories that have my heart. Here is le list of tropes I can get behind:

  1. Cliques (because obviously).
  2. Mean girls who are more than just mean girls (a la Courtney Summers' books).
  3. An underdog protag who beats the odds.
  4. The awkwardness of falling in love for the first time ever (personal faves are Stephanie Perkins + Sarah Dessen + John Green).
  5. Vivid settings in the everyday world (Kirsten Hubbard wins at this).
  6. The bad boy with a heart of gold. This one is easily found in other genres, but to me, the contemp bad boys feel more accessible due to an extra focus on their character development. And extra character development = a happy Amparo.

I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot of tropes, but for now, these are my faves. :) Make sure to check out Cole's post, and stay tuned for Margie's!

What about you? Are there any tropes in your favorite genre that you're head over heels with??