1.25.2011

mid-manuscript crisis

I've been tripping over agent submission guidelines and Twitter-Agent discussions lately that say "No more mythology" or "Mythology is WAY PAST done."

This makes me go: :O

Mythology is the basis of my WIP. I haven't read anything YA mirroring my exact premise (or even comprising characters with the same Creature Affiliations), but still. Agents may have. That's worrying. But it's also a great push. I can just go at my word document and my outlines and FINISH the story! The sooner it's finished, the sooner I can make it shiny.

I'm thinking as long as the story grabs the reader, it doesn't matter so much if it's a "trend" topic. But that opens up a whole new set of questions. Which I won't go into, because of that "oh my gosh kafjkblnfjlzx ralxdnjda" face.

Does anyone else have trouble with trends? Do you write what your brain feels the need to write even if the market is saturated with efforts on similar topics? Or do you scrap it or set it aside and write something that you haven't yet heard of? Like, I don't know, Centaur Nymph Ninja Princesses who skip off to save the Loch Ness Satyr Prince from, um. . . Has that been written? Has everything been written? What hasn't been written??

Yep. Did I mention I'm having a mid-manuscript crisis? :)

1.20.2011

well hello, antagonism

One thing I’ve finally realized: I must stay far away from my sub-genre during the frustrating middle of drafting.

I LOVE paranormal/fantastical YA, but when I’m writing it, I can’t read it. Even if the book being read would be perfectly fine any other time, I feel the urge to edit the plot or the prose or the voice in the context of MY main character’s world. I’m completely antagonistic toward the story, and this doesn't exactly make for fun reading. Is this just me, or is this a normal writerly happening?

Now back to reading and writing! Oh, and tea-drinking. Can't forget all that tea.

1.10.2011

avoidance de jour

Oh exposition. (Nope, you don't get a “Dear.”) You’re the guaranteed blah of stories, but it’s not completely your fault. Sometimes we writers load up our first few drafts with you. This is fine, because this is how we get to know our stories and see where they're headed. Yes, we USE you. And then we must cut you; I’m sorry. Actually I’m not sorry. Whenever I read you my brain goes a little fuzzy. If you had a face, I'd punch it. Sincerely; etc.

Exposition – which is explained background information – is boring. See; I just explained what exposition was. Wasn't that boring? Readers want to be entertained, not bored, so treat explanations and background information like . . . salt. (Also, treat clich├ęs – like this salt one that is happening right now – like salt.) Sprinkle them throughout the story, otherwise “info-dumps” can happen, and those are NEVER fun. Especially in the beginning, when readers should be pulled in. And a heap of blah doesn't make for a great hook.

If you still find yourself going super exposition-y in later drafts, have a character SAY what you’re trying to explain instead. Twist an explanation into something more entertaining. Cut the explanation in half and see if it still makes sense. Give it personality. Save half of it for a later point in the story; intrigue is good. Succinctness is good. Exposition is not so good.

*Tip: Don’t make anyone read your very first draft. Just don’t. I’m pretty sure I owe my sister a kidney for making her read the Monstrosity of Terrible Writing that was my first draft (and, okay, the second one too). DON’T OWE ANYONE A KIDNEY. Or just give your first draft readers drinks and chocolate truffles and Chipotle and apologies. Whatever.

1.03.2011

"no one SAYS that, okay?"

Much writing is happening lately, so since I've got nothing WIP-related to go on about, I shall share writing tips. Just think of me as a (mediocre) Writerly Professor Person. . . Or not.

When we start writing, our dialogue can come out overly stiff or unrealistic. Along with: awkward, sappy, cheesy, cliche, cringe-worthy, terrible. . . If your character would really say "gonna" or "would've" or "settin'," LET THEM. Many people conjunct and speak informally in real life. I promise. Pay attention to the differences of the voices in your head (. . . yeah, I went there) so your characters don't all sound the same. Good dialogue stands out!

Here's an example from my OWN first draft of LAYLA AND THE HALF BLOOD HARPIES that I can ninja-kick apart. *flips through first draft* OH, THE EXPOSITION. (Tip: avoid exposition in anything you want people to read EVER.) Anyway. Snippet:
"Um, it's fine. Sort of."
He smiles a fraction at my lack of conviction. "Sort of, huh?" He thinks for a second. "Not a day goes by where I miss that."
I raise my eyebrows, and jealousy colors my voice. "Lucky you."
One: don't explain WHY characters are doing what they're doing.
Two: what the characters say and do should eliminate the NEED for any explaining.

Possible fix:
"It's . . . fine."
"You sound so convinced." His lips twist. "Can't say I miss any of that."
My eyes narrow. "You suck."
(Okay. That's still not awesome. My first draft is un-salvageable, I'm thinking.)

*Tip: Next time you're out, LISTEN to the conversations around you. No brainer, right? Yeah. Except it took me until a month into a creative writing class to do that actively.

*Always Tip: Read. A lot. You'll find out for yourself what's "good" and what makes you wanna smack yourself in the brain-region.

And First Draft will find it's way back into the dark, spidery file cabinet for now. Back to writing!