Friday, December 23, 2011

New Goals

I love making goals. Much like my affinity to list-making, they follow kinda the same principles.  It's so satisfying, crossing something of your list, the same way it is with meeting a goal, especially if that goal was really challenging.  (Striving!  Pushing through!  Pep talks!)  I think I'm going to make my goal, though I've been feeling pretty burnt lately.  I have about 20/30 pages to revise before the New Year.  Hoo-rah!  

The only thing is, I rewrote so much in the last 1/4 of the book, I think I have to revise those again.  I am a little bit of a perfectionist (if there is a such thing as a little bit of a perfectionist...) and I want to make sure everything gets a real revision before I send it to CPs.  Seeing as I rewrote about a 1/4 of it, it didn't get any revisions; it was just new writing.  And the ending is the most important part so I need to make sure everything makes sense and that I answered all the big questions.  So I'm going to set another goal.  The end of the year is still the goal for 1st pass revisions, but I'm going to give myself until the start of the new semester, Jan 15th, to revise the last newly written part.  I think this is doable, since I have time off between Christmas and New Year's to get a head start on everything. 

This will be my last post until the New Year.  (I will be stuck without internet for most of break, oh the agonyyyy!)  Hope ya'll have a happy holiday!

PS. For some reason, the clock on this blog is wrong.  It keeps saying I post at like 6 am, which is definitely not something I would do.  My computer clock is the correct time though.  Anyone have ideas on how to change it?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Characters, Plot or Setting

Someone once told me, that writers are usually exceptionally good at one thing (characters, plot or setting) in writing and then have to work on the others.  I can totes see this; in your mind, you might have one great idea, whether it's characters, plot or a different world, that sticks, which makes you want to write that novel; you just can't get it out of your head.  Or maybe it's just a natural ability to see that part of the book really clearly, and therefore you're exceptionally good at writing the one part.  

For me, I think it's setting, which to me is kinda the lamest, lol, especially if I were to write contemporary.  Readers usually care most about plot and characters rather than setting; it's almost an after thought.  Readers remember great characters and interesting plots and twists.  Done correctly, readers don't think about setting because it should flow so naturally that they don't notice the world building.  But having that be my one forte is lucky because I'm writing a fantasy novel, so setting is a BIG deal; I'm trying to create a completely different world so having a strong sense of setting really helps envelope the reader.  Maybe that's why I chose to do a fantasy world in the first place.  

As for characters, in my head I know what I want them to do, but they don't always come across that way on paper.  I find myself revising and editing them a lot, trying to get the right voice and the right motivations for all of them.  I think I get it eventually, because at the outlining stage, I usually have the clearest sense of the characters.  Plot is definitely the hardest for me, which is ironic, because I like plot-driven books the best.  I usually have a premise, but then finding a problem or something that needs solving, takes a lot of brain-storming.  And then the plot holes!  ugh.  I don't think my brain works linearly, so it constantly goes off on plot tangents that I find myself having to reign in.  Revising is definitely key.  For now I think I'll stick with fantasy world building.

What do you think?  Which part of writing are you the best at?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gossip Girl - A Study

So I just started watching Gossip Girl.  (I know I'm a little late to the party, which I'm sure no one from Constance would allow...)  People either love or hate Gossip Girl, and I can totally see why.  At the superficial level, it's like ugh, why are we watching a bunch of spoiled melodramatic people and their rich people problems?  Yes, I can totes understand and that's probably why I didn't start watching it til now.  (Why did I start watching?  I don't really remember).  But I just finished season 1 and I am enthralled; I really can't get enough.  I think, as writers, there's actually a LOT of things we can learn from GG.  (This is purely from the TV show -- the book is actually quite different).

1) DIALOGUE - The dialogue is amazing; the writers really did a great job with it.  It's teenage without being over the top.  Everything seems true to the characters and flows naturally.  I find the only character who kinda gets a little cliche sometimes is Jenny.  She is super melodramatic (too much in my taste) and then has these ridiculous quips.  I guess because she's supposed to be 14, that they wanted to make her more angsty than the others, and I don't know if it translated as well as the others.

2) PLOT - The plots are ridiculous!  They do the old adage "make it worse" perfectly.  Just when you though something was awful, something even worse happens; they add another plot twist or another character to mess everything up (*cough* Georgina).  It keeps you on the edge of your seat and every episode keeps you wanting to watch more.  And boy do I wanna watch more.  (I've only finished the 1st season, but that's what I've seen so far).

3) CHARACTERS - ohemgee are they flawed.  Everyone has a flaw they have to work through which makes the characters feel like real people.  You can believe that people in that society would act that way and have those problems.  No one person is completely bad or completely good; everyone has different facets of their personality.  Plus SECRETS EVERYWHERE.  Secrets are part of what makes characters and shows intriguing. You're just wondering when that secret is going to get out and mess everything up for the characters or when a secret is going to be revealed to the audience; it makes you want to watch more.

So there you have it.  Everything you need for a great story.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Best Fix-it Ever

Ever have a day where you're plugging along in revisions -- you totally know how you're going to fix that annoying plot hole, and then realize you just created another plot hole?  Ugh, that was me two days ago.  I was so excited to fix the first plot hole; I had it all planned out in my head.  Then when I actually got to my computer I realized I would have to change everrrrything.  It just didn't flow with the story.  So I took the rest of the night off to just think.  I kept thinking, throwing around a few ideas in my head but nothing seemed right.  I decided to just go to bed and figure it out in the morning.  When I woke up, I had the perfect way to fix it!  I feel like a lot of times, I just need to sleep on it and the I wake up and *poof*, perfect explanation.

On the other hand, it's been a bunch of weeks since I've started thinking about how to fix my magic system and I haven't figured out anything perfect yet.  I probably just need to sleep on it for a few more days.  (Sleep until it's finally vacation?)  Zzzzzz.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Building Realistic Magic Systems (lol)

I'm starting to think trying to tackle a fantasy book as my first book was probably a poor choice... lol.  There's so much world building, which is my favorite part and probably why I wanted to do fantasy in the first place, but that on top of writing a plot line that doesn't fall apart and characters that come alive, it's a lot.  I don't mind; I'm really enjoying it.  But I am getting stuck with the magic and it's limitations.  Magic can't be endless, otherwise everything can just be solved by magic, and I'm having trouble setting realistic boundaries.  (haha, ironic right?  Realistic magical boundaries...)  There has to be a reason for why certain people can do specific magic and why others can't and how magic runs out or what happens with too much magic.

Let's take Harry Potter.  First, wizards have to be schooled in magic otherwise they can't really do much.  A untrained wizard could potentially be dangerous, or they just don't have defined/focused powers.  If HP loses his wand, he can't do magic, so losing his wand is a real potential problem.  Plus his magic isn't endless and something has to facilitate it.

Now let's take The Seven Realms novels by Cinda Williams Chima.  Her wizards are highly dangerous and destructive if untrained; they basically have to go to wizard school or they're a danger even to themselves.  They don't have wands, but they have flashpieces, where they store up their "flash", basically the energy that let's them do magic.  If they have no flash saved, they can't do magic, making another real potential problem if they find themselves in need of magic and they already used up their flash.  And the more flash they save, the more powerful/greater magic they can do.

Both magic systems have a way of creating problems (losing wand or using up flash) and a defined way of increasing power (going to school to train to be a wizard).  I haven't defined my magic to that degree but in order for the story to work, I have to make sure I know all the rules.  Which I don't.  Which I have to create.  More stuff to edit, hooray!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Once Upon A Time

Okay so I said I was going to post about how much I loved the Snow White/Prince Charming story-line in the TV show Once Upon a Time.  Anyone else watch it?  At first, I was unconvinced; the first 3 episodes dragged and the alternating worlds was a little disconcerting.  Plus there were two fairy tale TV shows coming out at the same time.  (Anyone watch Grimm?)  Also, two Snow White movies are coming out next year.  What's with everyone liking fairy tales again all of a sudden?  I figured I'd give both shows a try (I do love a fairy tale) and see what they were all about.  Grimm is more of a detective show, with the fairy tale characters committing crimes.  It's interesting but after the Snow White/Prince Charming story-line came to the surface of Once Upon a Time, I was hooked to that show.  (Though I still watch Grimm because of Monroe, the reformed "big bad wolf", but its on the low end of my TV-watching cue).

If you don't watch Once Upon a Time, it's a show about fairy tale characters who are trapped in the modern world, specifically one two in Maine (I think it's Maine.  There has also been a trend in books of having the setting in Maine, but I won't get into that).  It alternates between the fairy tale world and the modern world where they have a completely different story in each because they don't remember the fairy world at all.  (Think Wizard of Oz where the people who show up in Oz also show up in Dorothy's reality).  The fairy tale world is a little over the top (as are most fairy tale worlds) and the modern world is a little boring (which I guess is also true).  BUT the story line of Snow White and Prince Charming in both worlds is awesome.  Snow White is a badass in the fairy tale world; think Snow White and the Huntsmen (which is one of the Snow White movies that is coming out).  She's daring, adventurous, not afraid to get a little dirt on her clothes.  A very cool twist to the story of Snow White.  She's not the damsel in distress which I like.  It's about time there was a princess who could defend herself!

I'm not going to give away what happens, but Prince Charming also has a very cool and original story line.  The episode about him is what really cemented me into watching the series.  Plus I guess I'm sort of a sucker for a love story (as long as it's not over the top) and this one was very believable.  This could also have something to do with it...

You'd have to get through the first three or so episodes but after that, I think it really takes off.  I haven't watched yesterday's episode yet (I don't get ABC... I have no idea why (it's a basic cable channel!) but I just watch it on hulu as always) but I'm excited to see where it left off!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

emotional dialogue

So I've made it to the halfway point of revisions for CotF, woohoo!  There are still a few major things that need to be changed in that first part, so I'm kind of ruminating about how to fix them.  I have some ideas, but I have to make sure they fit with the story.  I think I'm still on track to finish by Dec 31st, but it's still going to be challenging (which is good!  I like challenges!  Bring it on!)

One problem I'm having is emotional dialogue.  I think I do okay with emotions and how the MC is feeling in her head (she can be at bit dramatic at times...) but when it comes to believable dialogue that still has a lot of emotion, it seems a little forced to me.  (It could also just be me because I'm the one writing it, so I think it's forced).  Everyone loves kissing scenes (supposedly) and I think one of my romantic scenes is good, but there's hardly any dialogue in it.  It's more like looking into each others eyes and all that nonsense.  One of my scenes in the beginning is between the MC and her potential love interest; they're bonding over similar losses and I'm trying to get the emotion they feel into the dialogue but I just don't think it sounds real.  I'm like come on!  I know how you're feeling; why can't you just say it??  It's not that hard.  Yet for some reason, it's not sticking.  I think I need to let it sit for a little while and then come back to it with fresh eyes.  Maybe I'll have an epiphany moment and then everything will be fixed...

I'm also having problems with a romantic scene at the end where the love interest finally tells the MC how he feels.  I don't want it to be cheesy or cliche but the problem is, I usually feel like parts like that are cheesy or cliche.  Especially when dealing with teenage protagonists.  So I'm still thinking about on how to get a unique way for them to get their feelings out in the open without sounding too teenage.  Songs?  Sign language?  Actual signs?  *grumbles*

Who ever knew love would be this hard?  (haha).

Friday, December 2, 2011

Plugged In - photo story

I updated the photos page if ya'll want to check it out.  There are four stand-alone pictures from various projects I did and then the bottom four are from my semester project, also posted below.

The pictures are titled "Plugged In", as I made it into a photo story.  All of the pictures have people plugged in to objects that aren't usually plugged in.  Everyone can interpret it differently, so I'd love to hear other people's opinions of what they think.  (It's not the best scanner so some of the plugs are kind of hard to tell.  Sorry about that!)

"Plugged In"
Listening to a sandwich.

Surfing the internet bathtub.

Singing in the shower.

Rocking out to a stop sign.

Also, after I had taken the above pictures, I was surfing the internet and just happened to find these pictures of Darren Criss.  I wasn't looking for pictures of him or anything...  I just happened to find them.  riiiight...

I do not own these awesome pictures.

Kinda similar, right?  I think that means we both have good taste.