Monday, March 23, 2015

Maniacal Mondays: The Blind Leading the Blind

This blog is meant to give people some new perspective on writing, a place for me to talk about some of the things about the YA industry - and writing industry in general - that bother me. It was a place for me to shout into the void and have people at least see. Understand, maybe. I'm supposed to have some sort of experience and some sort of handle on things enough to talk about things like this.

And the reason that I haven't been blogging so much? Because for the past three weeks, I haven't. It's been a wild roller coaster ride of stress, doubt, and all those other delightful emotions that I love writing and actually hate experiencing. I couldn't even think about writing a blog post or really even stomach reading any from others. Every writer has Impostor Syndrome, the nagging feeling that you're a fraud in what you've worked so hard to build for yourself. Mine went into full overdrive to the point where I was considering if I even belong where I am right now. Even the first few days of classes, even on move-in day, I never even considered it.

So that's what's been going on with me. I've haven't written much of anything all semester, I feel like I've been ripped apart and sewn back together really terribly just for my stitches to be pulled out again. And so I'm going to take a break from blogging for awhile and relax, unwind, and maybe refresh myself before going back to class for another six weeks. We'll see what happens.

Hoping your month has been better than mine,

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

WTF Wednesdays: Going Like the Weather

Hello everyone!

You might see that my Wednesday post is sporting a different name today. Bear with me, like the title says I'm changing things up a bit. If you didn't know, where I am right now the weekend was balmy with sunny 50 degree days, only to drop back down to the low 20s earlier this week and become sunny and around 40 today. Typical for where I live, unfortunately. I'm taking a page from Mother Nature's book today, because with a different me there's going to be different things going down on here now.

First off, I'm no longer going to be blogging every single day. Clearly that just doesn't ever work, and half the time I think 'oh, I have time today. But it's Wednesday. Might as well wait until Monday.' That spirals viciously out of hand. So I think that Monday, Wednesday, and Friday posts are okay. Enough for a post about what's going on with me, a post about craft and whatever advice I can give, and a post about various things, book reviews, industry things, or whatever else. Sound good?

Good, glad you're still with me.

Since today I've spent all this reading space telling everyone what's going down, my writing advice is going to be short and sweet. I'm sure you'll all be glad for a short post for the first time in forever. Friday I'm finally responding to the lovely Rae Slater's nomination for some blog questions I'll have to answer. I won't nominate anyone, being so late (what else is new?) and knowing everyone else has done this already.


In the vein of change and transformation, I'm talking a little on how characters go through small changes - something that I think can make or break a character.

So you've got the big character arc: Darcy learns to be humble and Elizabeth learns to not be so hung-up on first impressions. Harry accepts his Chosen One status and makes the ultimate sacrifice.

But the thing is, these characters aren't awesome because they're the protagonists. Trust me, I've seen a protagonist or two in my day that makes the hero's journey or overcomes something huge, and at the end I still don't care about them and don't think they changed.

What makes these characters so great is that they go through many small changes in order to enact the big change. Some changes are completely extraneous, like Ron's eventual support of SPEW and Hermione's other magical welfare initiatives. Those are just as important as the ones that make the big arc. Because writers, especially newer writers or writers who have just had an idea and have fallen passionately in love, make sure these all work out. Harry obviously has to become more selfless in order to sacrifice himself if he's going to go up against Voldemort. No more kicking and screaming. Those are almost always in place.

But the thing is, guys, we have to think about the readers.

Your reader wants to love these people in this book. They want to join your book's fandom and fanfic all over tumblr and go into metas about how wonderful these characters are. No one reads a book to hate it. No one whose opinion is worth paying attention to, anyway. But they meet your character in a way that  you will never have the pleasure of doing - with no back story. They don't know that you agonized over this character's family tree for days or that you have a whole reason for why they're named how they are. They just meet them. They're waiting for them to blossom before them and give them a reason to keep reading and fall in love.

The point is, all the little nuances that you know your character has need to be communicated to the reader. All the little changes. Ron's tolerance, Elizabeth and Darcy's pride, all these things. Not every character is perfect, and you can't make someone a likeable rogue forever. They need to have depth, have little changes based on what's happening in the plot or with the people around them, like a real person. That's where the life in characters come from.

Example: Isaac stands whenever a woman enters the room. Truly gentlemanly, a good guy. Not even the fedora-wearing kind. But whenever Laura comes in, she yells at him for standing. She doesn't like it when he stands and makes her feel awkward and uncomfortable. She feels like he's giving her too much importance because she came in. So whenever people come in, Isaac stands for the ladies. Then he locks eyes with Laura and sits back down.

Do you know a little more about Isaac now? I know I do. Do you like him more?

The answers you give show that the little things really do mean the world. Don't be afraid to nitpick, because that's where the real life, and the real love, come in.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Maniacal Mondays: Diamonds in the Rough

Happy 2015 guys! It's been...haha only two months since the ball dropped?

Ay ay ay.

Actually, it's kind of good that I took a bit of an unintended hiatus from the blog - I got a chance to give it a little bit of a facelift that's infinitely easier to look at, and the few months I went blog-silent really have given me some new perspectives on what I'm putting on here.

Here's a quick rundown of what's been going on with me since you last heard from me:

1. I reconnected to my friends back home during winter break and spent a good amount of time with my crazy family. If that isn't just a bag full of writerly people-watching research I can't tell you what is. Between working the Christmas season, playing the awkward catch-up game between everyone who went off to college and is afraid to like being back home, and realizing that your entire family is a whole other level of bizarre, it's not even like you're going home. It's like you got off two exits early from the highway and you're in a city that seems to have all the parts of yours but just isn't your home.

2. I officially decided that I will be going to Spain this summer from May 15th until late July to finish my minor in Spanish and become truly exposed to a nation and culture that is so close to my heart. VIVA ESPA√ĎA.

3. One of my favorite things from break - I took a course over winter break for two weeks that was an intensive novel writing course. Me, fourteen other people, and non-stop reading and writing. The Artist has since blossomed from the dying plant it had been last semester, and I am now incredibly lucky to be closer to the people in my English frat.

I'm not sure it was a divine thumbs-up or not, but who doesn't love Atlantis? And who doesn't love Vinny?

Finally, I thought I'd just throw out that I'm not only a brother but a sister, too! Yesterday I officially accepted my bid to Alpha Delta Pi, one of the sororities on my campus. I'm excited (SO excited, as the sorority community apparently says as a giant sarcastic joke about recruitment), and hopefully it brings good things. I spent about an hour accepting friend requests, responding to welcome messages on my wall, and mutual-following new sisters on Instagram.

(c) 2015 The Embroidery Shop
This week, I'm talking a bit about some of the things that I learned in my classes, experiences, and just about everything else that happened over the winter. As one of my frat brothers would say, living life is the best thing for writing. Queen Bey would say that the rough times are what buffer you until you shine. Can't argue with that, huh? Lest we end up like Andrew Garfield.

Until tomorrow,