Monday, August 30, 2010

My MC is Not Me!

This is something I've had to remind myself of lately. Mary Kole posted a recent vlog (also part of WriteOnCon)on characterization. She laid out a few questions for us writers to ask ourselves. One was:

Your character can't sleep. It's late at night, and everybody else in the house is wearing sleep masks and ear plugs and can't be woken up. In the very, very middle of the night, very privately, what does your character do?

The first thing that popped into my head was..."Leave the house and go for a run!"

Then I thought, "No! Too dangerous. What a stupid, stupid thing to do."

Then, "Wait, that's what I would think. Not what Tess would think."

Yes, let Tess run at midnight at her own peril, but she is bold and brazen and a teenager whereas I am cautious and thirty and a mom. Tess is not me. I am not Tess. We think differently. We do differently. I don't write my feelings and thoughts, but hers. Yes, she is a figment of my imagination, but one that I've created distinct from myself, and therefore she has her own distinct feelings and choices. And I must let her be...herself.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Regarding Pieces

Good news: I think I finally discovered my MC's voice!

Bad news: I think I finally discovered my MC's voice. So, all that I've written so far needs some serious revision.

As I read over my book (my unfinished book), I feel like my writing is...nice. That's all. It's also stilted and drab and dry. I was trying so hard to write pretty that Tess came out sounding NOT like herself.

I've spent four hours the last couple of days revising a chapter and a half. And I think I fixed it, but that's it. Did I say my book would be done this fall?

I also have a couple of major scene revisions I'm working on. I want to move forward, but I feel like I can't right now. I don't want my new scenes to sit on scenes I know now are going to change significantly.

Also, I feel like fixing a particular section will help me understand my boy better. He confuses me, and I want to be unconfused.

How are your books going? Do you feel like you have to "fix" things sometimes before moving on?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Read Harry Potter Like Nobody's Watching

My husband and I met at a youth conference (called EFY for those who may know) in Texas. No, we were not youth, although that would have been very romantic. He was a counselor. I was the nurse. (Still romantic, right?)

Well, during the first week we mostly said a few words here and there, like "Hey, flirty flirty flirt flirt!" or "Flirt! Words are only coming out of my mouth so that I can flirt!" However, at the end of that first week we finally did TALK...over Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. (Outside of the blogosphere this may be considered nerd-territory, but for the record: we are both very hip except when we're not.)

We were at one of the youth dances, chaperoning and saving lives. I was passing through the foyer outside the dance hall (it was really a university gym, but I'm telling my love story and 'dance hall' sounds much better) when I saw my husband-to-be (no those words did not go through my head...yet) lounging under the stairwell. He was reading the aforementioned HP novel. I think I said something really smart like, "Why aren't you dancing?" followed by a conversation about his reading choice.

A handsome young man secreted under the stairwell reading Harry Potter! How could I resist? Plus, he was reading a book I'd read and enjoyed. Had he chosen to dance that night, maybe things would have ended differently. I'm just glad he chose a book.

Friday, August 20, 2010

One Smart Cookie

Just before I met my husband, I sat in a Chinese restaurant with a couple married friends. I told them that I was SURE I wouldn't marry for a long time, that I had LOTS of plans before such an event took place. Then I opened my fortune cookie:

Confucius say: Top of ladder nice place. Can be very lonesome.

I don't eat Chinese food often, but when I do crack open a fortune cookie, it seems it's somehow applicable to my life. (Maybe it's because I'm a writer and have a GREAT imagination.)

Here's the latest:

These fortune cookie writing people? Brilliant. Although, I'd change it just a little (if I'm allowed to do that, which I'm sure I'm not because much bad luck will follow me if I do) to say:

Write a novel--and learn more about life.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Literary Memory

I have this memory...

I am a child, maybe nine years old. I am wearing an over-sized tee shirt. It was my dad's before he died. I am living in a narrow, two-story farmhouse, old with white siding. My family is in the backyard, lounging on lawn chairs one evening, and I am walking through the grass to join them. I can almost hear the crickets again, see the fireflies.

The funny thing is this memory isn't mine.

It's from a book I read a long time ago, and I don't even remember which book. But it was so real to me, it's stuck in my mind. A literary memory.

Do you have any "memories" from books you've read, so real you can almost believe they are your own??

(For the record, my dad is alive and well.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Silly Me

Silly me who thought that I'd actually get things DONE on vacation. I mean, what was I thinking? I brought my laptop and a stack of paperwork. I didn't even bring a book. So what did I do when I had spare moments at my in-laws' in Texas? I (re)read my mother-in-law's copy of Catching Fire.

So, between traveling and Suzanne Collins, I've been blog absent much longer than I anticipated. So much for my smashing return two weeks ago.

However, I am back to normal life. Summer-that-I-don't-care-much-for is almost over and autumn-that-I-love is around the corner. I think my muse works better in the autumn weather. Last autumn I wrote my rough draft. And this autumn...

I am going to finish my book.

This isn't a goal. It's just a fact. Am I being overly optimistic? See, my son is starting preschool this fall. That's three mornings a week to write...assuming my baby girl remains the easily appeased, tranquil, and content person she is. (Seriously, if she's an easy baby, does that mean she'll also be an easy teenager? Hmmmmm? Anyone?)

While I'm excited for the open mornings, I am a little anxious about sending my son off into the world. (A little over dramatic perhaps?) But I've always been there to explain things to him. How will he ever manage alone?!?

Okay, he'll manage. I know. He's a smart kid. He did just tell me that he had four speeches in his tummy, and he needed to talk them out.

I told him I had one book in my tummy that I needed to write out.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Rough is Tuff

When I wrote my first draft of Pieces of Moon last fall, I finished it in two months. I thought I was pretty awesome. Thing is, I've barely looked back at that draft. All it really did for me was 1) increase my writer-esteem because I could say I finished a book 2) establish some sort of loose outline for my book.

Well, I tried to draft quickly again this last time. But I could not do it, and it fizzled out after about 7,000 words. Do you know why? When I started drafting Pieces of Moon, I really only thought it would need some editing. And that's all. (I did reach the acknowledged point of truly awful, and then it was all downhill from there, but I finished it because I was on this writer's high of cranking out words.)

I read over and over that writing a bad first draft is a good thing. Who writes a good first draft? Well, I learned something about myself last month (while drafting Book 2). I slowed down, and I wrote about 3,000 more words that weren't the greatest, but they weren't the ugliest either. (I say so now:) ) The only thing that kept me going last fall, when I cranked out so many words so fast was that I believed they were good.

I know everyone is different. In the end we all have a book, but to get there...well, it's just a unique journey for everyone. I have a book in my head, and when I write it's like building a wall. I need to make sure each brick is in place before adding the next layer. I need the scene to be strong and intact before moving on.

Don't get me wrong...I am all about revision. I've gone over what I've written in Pieces of Moon and made some pretty heavy notes on what needs to be changed (mostly based on reader feedback-invaluable). However, I don't want my wall to topple over because I threw it together too fast.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Very Clever Title

I'm back from my July break. I think taking a break from my book was just what I needed to jump start its completion. (This is me thinking optimistically because IT WILL BE FINISHED.) As I mentioned before, I've been playing with another idea, which I love and want to return to when MY CURRENT BOOK IS FINISHED. (I'm very determined. I don't want a bunch of unfinished books (and dreams) filling up my hard drive.)

As for my previous post in which I mention that my July book started as a book about magic and flowers and turned into a book about cancer and slavery. (What in the world?) Well, here it is in a few words.

(Idea redacted at a later date.)

(Yes, paranoid me was much more persuasive than rational me.)

(But it was a REALLY good idea, okay??)

(This might be one of those moments I feel like I'm talking to myself.)