Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Revisions and Goals update

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving.  I didn't eat nearly enough mashed potatoes but that's probably for the better...

Anywho, I did get a fair amount of revision done over the holiday.  Picking lofty goals actually makes me strive to complete them.  I'm not one of those people who set the goal low just so that I can make it; I want to push myself and if I don't make my goal every time, I'm okay with that.  So I got more revisions done than I thought I would, but I did less than I wanted.  And I haven't done anything since, lol.  Work has been hectic, trying to catch up with the holiday vacation/time-off, so every night so far this week I've been left exhausted and just wanting to veg out with the TV.  Plus it was The Sing-Off season finale, so I got a little distracted...

It's always nice to be able to cross things off your list.  Tons of lists are strewn about my apartment and my office about everything.  Sometimes I add stuff I already did just so I can cross it off.  (I know you all do that too...)  So it was nice to be able to cross off a bunch of chapter revisions.  I'm about 1/3 done so I think I'll be able to make my goal of the end of the year.  This weekend is looking relatively free so I'm hoping to buckle down and finish what I wanted to finish over Thanksgiving plus a few extra chapters.  I may even be able to sneak in a trip to the movies since I still haven't seen the latest Twilight... but only if I finish my goals, right?  Maybe...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Revisions and Goals

Revisions are hard.  My goal for revisions was to be done the first set by the new year, that way I can let the story sit while I work on something else for awhile.  I plan on taking some bass lessons in the Spring Semester, instead of more writing classes, so I thought it would be the perfect time to let it sit.  Plus I have another idea for a story that I figured I could work on while I'm letting my brain take a few months off of the current project.

But revisions are going sloooowly.  Life always gets in the way and I have little time.  (Happens to everyone).  I know I have to MAKE time for writing and I'm trying, truly, but I'm taking a writing class and I keep getting bogged down with the homework.  Juggling the HW and my novel is not working as well as I wanted it to.  The term project for the class is the first 10,000 words of our novel, which I already have, but they need to be revised.  I've realized that my first drafts are terrrrible, which I'm okay with because I know first drafts are supposed to be terrible, but they're definitely a lot worse than I'd like them to be.  So revision for me is basically an overhaul of everything.  And this WiP is especially hard because I started it before I knew anything about writing, before I took any sort of writing classes; I was a science major in college so the only writing I ever did was lab reports.  I always liked creative writing but I never got around to taking a class on it because I had so many labs that needed to get done.  So now that I know a little bit about the writing process, I know where I went wrong (which is good!) and know where I can change it, but it's a massive task.

Thanksgiving right around the corner gives me a little hope since I basically do nothing but read during the holidays anyways.  So this holiday I'll just be reading my own stuff :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Top Chef Fantasy

So this post had nothing to do with writing, just a fair warning for everyone.

Last year, some of my friends and I were really excited for Top Chef: All Stars.  Seeing all the old chefs back in the kitchen competing made everyone giddy.  Would Blais finally win?  Would Angelo win since he was just coming off a finale loss?  Questions were flying everywhere and since we were all familiar with the chefs, we already had predictions.  One of my friends had the brilliant idea of doing a fantasy league for Top Chef.  I'm used to a lot of my friends doing fantasy football and fantasy baseball leagues but I could never participate since I am really only familiar with the Philadelphia teams.  (Why would I care about anyone else?  Never really made sense to me...)  Anyways, this was an awesome idea because I could actually participate in a fantasy league with a show I already watch.  Plus I love competition.

Last year, I had first pick (woohoo random ordering!) and won the whole competition, having bragging rights for the whole year.  Now that a new season is upon us, it is once again time for Top Chef fantasy.  This season is a lot harder since none of us are familiar with the cheftestants (the show's word, not mine...).  We decided since the first two episodes were just narrowing down the contestants from 29 to 16, that we would watch the two preliminary episodes, get a feel for the chefs, and then pick.  So, fantasy started last night and I'm excited.  I don't get to watch it live because I don't have cable so I have to wait til it's up on the website.  But I think I picked some good people so hopefully I have a chance to win again.  Have I mentioned I love winning?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Trends in Titles

There has been a recent craze with one-word titles.  Most probably because of Twilight and the sequels (thought the last is two words.  I can only assume she ran out of one-word ideas).  Everywhere I look, they're popping up.  Twilight, Envy, Evermore, Divergent, Possession, Levithan, Graceling, Evernight, Hourglass, Delirium.

So what makes a good title?  A good title is something that hooks you, pulls you in and has you asking questions, making you as the reader want to, well, read on.  The best title I've heard in awhile was Anna Dressed in Blood.  That title is soooo intriguing.  Why is she dressed in blood?  I just have to knooow.  It hooks me even before I've started reading.  I haven't been able to read it yet but it is on the tippy top of my to-read pile.  I was also really interested in The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  It's really great imagery, leaving such a clear picture in my head.  Also an amazing book.  The sequels, The Dead-Tossed Waves and The Dark and Hallow Places are awesome titles.  I wish I knew how she came up with titles...

That's why I'm not really into the one-word titles.  Possession, which is probably the most interesting to me of the one word titles, is still vague and doesn't give me any kind of picture of what the book will be about.  I want something a little more telling and a little more hooky.  My WiP is called Code of the Firefly.  I've had a few people say that they liked that title and I've had a person say it sounded too Middle Grade.  Originally it was called Fireflies but in my novel group, everyone kept mixing up which book it was or forgetting the title; that was when I knew I had to change it to something that would stick better in people's mind.  I'm not sure if I'm completely there yet but I'm also told not to get too attached to titles because they always get changed anyways :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pop Culture References

So I have a lot of pop culture references in my WiP.  Most are lyrics or allusions to bands; I'm heavily influenced by music so those types of references always seems to crop up.  The thing I'm worried about is those details dating my storyline and making it not "current".  I tried to keep most of the bands obscure or semi-unknown so that it won't just be a fad that goes out of style too quickly but it will still be exciting to those who know those bands.  (I hope that makes sense).  Recently I read a excerpt that had an allusion to Ian Curtis and got really excited.  It's not something everyone would know but to me it made the story better and that's what I want to do with my stories.  It's a fine line trying to include pop culture without making the story dated.  There are some pop culture icons that I think will never be dated like The Beatles or Aerosmith.  To me, I include Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift in that category also.  (I hope for my WiP's sake I'm not wrong...)

I've heard the flip side, that authors make up their own bands in order to not date their books.  This is okay in my opinion but if you're trying to convey a really popular band or singer in the story, it's hard to make up the name and have that same connotation (since the readers have never actually heard of them).  I'm thinking about this for my next novel because I'm toying with the idea of featuring a lot of bands/singers, some who I want to be really popular, some that I want to be on the cusp and one that will be the MC's band (which will be easy).  I haven't come to any good conclusion yet on how to show instant popularity without going the pop culture reference route.  The other thing about authors making up their own band names is, I can always tell when they're made up.  They just don't flow as well.  This could be because I was in a band, so constantly coming up with band names is something very familiar to me.

Anyways, that's the idea I'm struggling with right now.  Coming up with a band that has to be obviously huge will require a lot of detail and probably a lot of backstory but it's the decision I'm leaning toward in order to not date my novel, even though using an already very popular band or singer would be so much easier.  But writing isn't supposed to be easy :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Insights from Glee

Oh em gee glee.  Okay, now that I've gotten my inner high schooler out I can actually blog about this.  I'm a glee fan; it reminds me of my time in a cappella in high school.  Sometimes I could do without the plot lines and just have them sing all day 'cause really that's what I'm interested.  But every so often, there's just a few lines that always get me.  (Not to mention Darren Criss' voice... swoon).  And the lines always seem to come from Blaine (played by Darren Criss, as we sensing a pattern perhaps?)  Anyways, last night's episode had a really good line that I couldn't stop thinking about.  It was a brief scene when Blaine and Kurt were at their lockers.  Blaine asks Kurt if he thinks they were too sheltered to be artists and that they should try to live outside their little world, that they should wake up every day and be adventurous and experience everything in life that you can.

Oh man can I relate.  I've always wanted to do everything.  In high school I played sports, danced, sang and played multiple instruments.  I had little down time during the week and that's how I liked it.  In college, I couldn't do as much naturally but I always tried.  And I still want to do everything I can.  My weeks are filled to the brim (obviously leaving time for Glee and a few other shows) and I'm constantly wondering how I can fit everything in that I want to do.  It's all these experiences that I love and trying to experience everything possible.  My dad once told me, when I was trying whether to go to some activity that I was a little ambivalent towards, that most people regret not going to something more often than they regret going to something (if that vague sentence makes sense...)  So I've tried to do as much as possible.  And then I can take from all these experiences and put them down on paper, turning them into something everyone can relate to, hopefully.  I definitely think it's important to experience a wide range of things, so that you can pull out an emotion or detail from your bag of tricks when you need it most for you story.  Anyways, Blaine's words just kind stuck with me so I had to get my thoughts out.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Can you hear me now? (voice)

I've been reading a lot of blog posts about voice.  Supposedly it's the part of writing that sets writers apart from authors and I can totally see that.  Books with a good voice can really make the story so much better.  I find that a lot of times, the voice of the character echoes the voices of the author.  Now this is where I come into a problem.

I've been told before, that I don't have a personality.  This is obviously not true; everyone has to have a personality but I used to be extremely shy that it seemed like I didn't.  I've made a lot of progress with this (I am still shy but no longer quiet which sometimes confuses people because they don't understand the difference) but when I was a freshman in college I still didn't really talk much.  At the end of the year, the ultimate frisbee team gives people "paper plate awards".  They're usually funny awards that tease people about things they did, whatever.  I was so shy that I got nominated for the "no personality" award.  I didn't win.  I was so shy, that I wasn't even unique enough to win a no personality the award.  It was like an anti-personality.

As I've said above, I've pretty much outgrown that but I still tend towards a serious personality.  How is this going to come through in my voice for writing?  Am I going to have to find a voice that doesn't come naturally to me?

Yes, there are all kinds of voices and it depends on the story you're writing.  Sometimes a serious voice is needed.  Sometimes a humorous voice makes it a better story.  Either way, I'm going to have to find something that is right for my story.  I think it's going to be a mix between serious and throwing in a few jokes every now and then to lighten the mood (because I mean, saving the world is serious business).

I've been told finding your voice is the hardest part of writing so I'll continue to work on that until I can find something that is me.

Friday, November 4, 2011

In Time

So I went to see that new movie In Time yesterday.  I thought the premise was really interesting.  In the movie, everyone is genetically engineered to stop aging at 25.  When you hit 25, you have just one more year to live unless you can get more "time" which people do by whatever means possible: working, stealing it, beg whatever.  Time is literally the currency.  The rich can live forever.

Cool premise, right?  Justin Timberlake was the main dude and he was fine at the acting.  (Obvi I would prefer him singing instead but he's pretty much given that up).  I'm not an Amanda Seyfried fan but I love Cillian Murphy, who was the villain.  Over all the movie was okay; there were waaay too many "time" puns so the writing could have been way better.

Why I wanted to see In Time was because it was a very original concept.  I thought maybe it was a book first, it seems like it would be a sweet book, but I haven't been able to find anything about it being based off a book.  There was definitely a lot of world building since it's kind of uptopian (or dystopian depending on which part of town you were from) so I could totally see it as a book.  So I was pretty impressed with Hollywood and coming up with such an original concept.  If they could have just made the writing better it would have been a much better film.  But it was a good try.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Gratitude for books

Holy shenanigans! Beth Revis' has a crazy giveaway on her blog so go check it out!  19 free books!!

Picking the book I am most grateful for is pretty hard; there are so many great books out there.  But ultimately it has to be Harry Potter (I know that's actually 7 books but whatever).  People might say that's an obvious choice because of it's so acclaimed but really, when was the last time you read the first HP?  There is a reason why everyone loves it.  I read HP probably once a year and every time I read them they are still amazing.  J.K. really knows how to entice the reader.  And she has such great little details, like how Dumbledore loves lemon drops; it really gives it a fantastic feel.

She's the type of writer I want to be.  (hahaha, sorry, that was funny.  Like I could ever be like J.K.).  Every single chapter in her book does double duty for plot or character or world-building, whatever.  It is just so clever.  For example (if for some reason you haven't read HP1, you probably shouldn't read on since it will contain spoilers), when Harry first gets on the train to Hogwarts he buys chocolate frogs.  This scene alone shows a million different points.  1) It's world building.  Shows the different types of candies in the wizarding world.  Plus the trading cards which have photos that move.  Super cool just itself but that is not the only thing.  2) Character building, shows Ron not having enough money to buy said chocolate frogs but Harry shows generosity and sharing with Ron.  Harry's also not used to having money to buy anything so he's happy to share.  It shows how loyal and kind Harry can be toward his friends.  But again that is not all!  3) It foreshadows to the end of the book.  The chocolate frog card that Harry gets is Dumbledore and on it the card says Dumbledore is friends with Nicholas Flammel.  So by introducing just the chocolate frog cards you get that scene doing triple duty on the book.  Ridiculous!

And she does this in. every. scene.  ohemgee.  Really when I reread this book for like the 15 millionth time, I was still blown away.  And this is just the first book!  It gets better with everyone.

I'm grateful for HP because it shows me how clever a book really can be and a fantasy one at that!  It's even a THEME park now.  Wow.  Just wow.