Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Am I Missing Something?

Hello, everyone. The temperature here is currently under twelve below zero and ten minutes outside can give you frostbite if you aren't careful. Welcome to Ohio, your new destination for the Artic Circle.

Looking back at my weeks apart from you guys, it got me thinking: why don't characters ever talk about this stuff? Not necessarily even weather (Although that's definitely something to look at) but how most things in life we consider normal, they lack. Choosing a shirt in the morning. Having an inexplicable sudden urge to pee. Even having idle conversation with strangers.  Characters in literature (especially YA) seem to be missing out on these parts of life. My little talk today is why I think that's bogus.

First off, adding these aspects to a piece makes it seem more realistic, grittier. Not including these things puts up a sort of pretenseful barrier between the reader and the character. That character doesn't accidentally push open doors to find someone on the other side. It's too mundane, right?  Of course it is, and that's why we need it in there. Dystopias have real trouble with this. Katniss and Tris never have people push by them,  or trip on something, or even brush crumbs off their faces. Taking out these subtleties makes their movements appear more regal, more predetermined. They seem somehow superior to the average teenage girl. And when books are trying to connect with their readers, that barrier can't be there. I sure as heck don't walk around with light feet and graceful movements. Why should every YA protagonist?

Why don't authors do this, you ask? I'm not quite sure. Part of it is certainly that we've been drilled into writing where everything has significance, and to leave the extra stuff out. The "if you put a gun on the wall, it has to go off before the story ends" mantra. And while this is a good rule, more writers need to realize we're pirates. Our 'rules' are more like guidelines, anyway. Slipping in random happenstance meetings, waking up with your hair a total mess and having your brush get stuck in it, heck, changing your wardrobe.

You would not believe the amount of characters I see who change their clothes all of twice or three times in the book. That's gross, get a washer. Ya nasty. Or we could talk about eating. A lot of characters apparently don't eat very much, if at all because they're constantly refusing food or not talking about eating at all, even though there's food aplenty and starvation is not an element of the story. Honey, you gotta eat. Go get yourself a bagel or something.

Especially for female characters. Do you guys have a medical condition? Cause months go by in stories and I have yet to see any piece of literature where a female protagonist gets her time of the month. It's not even mentioned. There's talk about male bodily occurrences (especially when it's sexual occurrences) all the time,  but apparently periods aren't worth mentioning, even when troubles with a person's cycle can be very indicative of their health, mindset,  and, obviously, their state of pregnancy. In Twilight, the term wasn't even mentioned. Meyer just slid past the whole thing by having Bella pull out tampons. Seriously? Females are not these mystical creatures that no one understands. Anyone over the age of twelve knows what that is.

Not everything in a story needs to be necessary. That's one of the things many Percy Jackson fans love (including me) about the characters of Percy Jackson and the Olympians and the teen-focused Heroes of Olympus. The characters all have aspects of their personality, of thoughts and dialogue, that aren't strictly necessary to forwarding the plot. Why do we like them so much? It makes the characters more real. You learn more about a person in how they handle a bad hair day than you do watching them fight monsters. It fuels fandoms, as well, knowing a character's favorite foods and colors and about the back story of the person even if it isn't relevant to the plot.

At the end of it all, it's ultimately the author's decision. If they want a character that stands behind a barrier from the reader, that's their choice. I find it a dumb choice, but there's nothing I can do about it. As much as literature strives to be regal and memorable and elite, we forget that there is perfection in the mundane things in life and beauty in the average occurrences of day-to-day living. Go about your lives, my friends, and see that the little things you take for granted are what make it real. Shouldn't we have that in our books, too?

Inexplicable finger cuts and bad hair days,

Monday, January 6, 2014

Why Writers Make Great Friends

We all know the stereotype. Writers are antisocial homebodies who just shut themselves in their house/bedroom/dorm room/writing office and do nothing but brood, sip tea, and write reverently on their favorite typewriter. And we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the mousy appearance, the huge glasses, and general cynical hipster attitude.

But, if you've seen any of my posts, you must be able to conclude that we are not all like this. Are some of us? Yes. And more power to them for totally rocking the stereotype and their awesome typewriters. I want.

Don't believe me? Oh, honey, pull up a chair and let me educate you.

Why writers make great friends:

We're weird. You're weird. And that's totally fine.

It's true, for writers and for those of us who aren't. We're all kind of strange. I like to burrow into big fluffy down comforters and watch movies, and during my AP Government class the other day someone was telling us that the White House now requires papers running stories on anything to do with the White House to use the pictures the government sends, and I almost-shouted "Smells like a dystopian government!" If you can believe it, I got some weird looks.

But you know what's great about writers being so weird? We completely accept your level of weird. Generally, we think it's pretty cool that people are different than us, and don't be surprised if we use you for character study. I know all of my friends are studies for me. We study people we think are super cool, and by being weird we don't only accept your weird but kind of want to just bask in it. Because weirdness is coolness.

We're pretty good with words.

Did you see that coming? Hopefully, you did. But I mean, it's kind of our trade: we're good at expressing what we mean in words, or at the very least taking something that we want to say and structuring it beautifully. You can go up to a writer and vent your problems, and a good portion of the time we'll have something to say about it. And if not...we're also good huggers, too. So there's that.

Not to mention we're actually not too shabby at giving advice. I love talking (haha, no kidding...) and if you let me I will talk to my friends for hours on end. I've done it. And I'll still have people come up to me and say, "You know, you said this to me once and it, like, hit me. Like...wow. It was really deep." Half the time I don't remember what I said (just goes to show you how scatterbrained I am) but hey, I said it. We're good for scoping out the important things in life and saying them in a way that makes sense. And apparently sometimes blows the mind.

We can be your biggest cheerleaders and fangirls.

It can be almost embarrassing. Writers are passionate people, and we like to see passion in others. That's what makes people different from another, and that's what we like. So when you're studying away for a test you're afraid you'll fail, trying on outfits for a first date, or even writing on your own, we cheer you on to the point of irritation, and fangirl over your accomplishments like you're the next Benedict Cumberbatch. And we don't ask for anything in return. You can see it most prevalently between writers, because we have a tendency to fangirl over each other. Even two authors of completely different genres can start a compliment war (and mean it) that lasts fifteen minutes before they accept the fact that they're both awesome and break for coffee. We're a pretty loving bunch, not much drama for us. Save that for the books. So if you're in need of someone to root for you, find a writer. We're gonna be your new cheer squad and fanbase. Accept it.

What do you think? 
Got any other traits that make writers great people to be around? Share in the comments below. I'm always open to hear from you guys!

Finger cramps and plot block,