Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Over thought

Currently Reading: Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel


Oh how nice it would be to revert back to simpler times.  I don't mean go back to the 1900's or anything that drastic, but instead back to my childhood, when I was first discovering writing.  In middle school and the first parts of high school I could easily fill composition notebooks full of writing, on one particular story.  I had at least three composition books full, and although my handwriting has always been big, it was still quite the collection of words.

Now I trap myself, before I even get too far into the story.  Is this good enough to publish?  What did I read in my blogs about character trait X?  How will I write a query for this when it's finished?  How many hours worth of revision will this take?  How much world building should I do before hand?  Should the plot be predetermined?  Stephen King writes starting with a what if scenario and just writes.  Should I do that?  How detailed should my character be before hand?  Should I be keeping track of these details while I write?  How much research is needed to make this plausible?  You get the picture, reader.

I know that first drafts are allowed to suck, but I get stuck in my head, over everything.  When I was developing my passion for writing none of that mattered.  I wrote for myself first, and anyone who wanted to read it second.  I could spend hours writing without worrying about plot, or facts, or saleability.  If I want to get anywhere with writing I need to turn this over thinking part of my brain off for writing time.  I need to figure out what style of writing works best for me, but stop thinking about what I should be doing differently.

Reader, how do you get past trying to be perfect the first time?
Or do you, similarly, get stuck inside your head? 

Until next time,

Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Talk Friday: Catching Fire

Currently Reading: In the Woods


Catching Fire
by Suzanne Collins

In the second installment of the Hunger Games, all is not well in the districts.  The daring events that ended the first novel are sending ripples of dissent through the districts.  Katniss's one small act of rebellion is the spark, but how big will the fire be?

Why did I pick it up?  Around a year ago I read Hunger Games in a class, and fell in love.  After a year I finally was able to pick up and read this one.

Why did I continue reading? I couldn't stop.  I read as much as I could in the break room at work, and spent my shifts either upset that I had to leave the book, or looking forward to my next break to pick it back up.

Writer's Take:  The astounding part of this novel is the pacing.  Most writers struggle with pacing, and the differences between showing and telling.  If you show everything, you have an epic length novel with detail overload.  If you tell everything, you get a shorter novel that is probably quite dull.  The ability to hold a reader in limbo, turning page after page after page, is difficult to master.  Suzanne Collins has mastered the pacing in her novel, and the reader just eats it up.

I'd suggest this to: Valkyrie, and anyone else who loves young adult novels as an adult. 

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Currently Reading: In the Woods


Libraries are such wonderful things!  I'm sure as a writer I shouldn't condone using the library for reading, since it's a free service (so long as you aren't overdue), but I just simply can't.  

If you're anything like me, you have a list miles long of books it would be nice to read, books you should read.  Books may not be expensive on a one by one basis, but to buy all the books you want to read can get costly rather quickly.  Using the library lessens the wear and tear on your budget of buying every book you want to read.  It also allows you to buy only the books you really really want (and the ones you can't wait for 32 people to read before you can).

Even as a writer, I think libraries have a lot of merit.  It's not just about the pay check.  If it were about the money I'd have chosen a different major.  It's about people reading your work, enjoying your books, and connecting with your characters.  Not everyone can afford a trade paperback, let alone a $30 hard bound novel and libraries help readers connect with authors they would never pick up if they had to pay for each book. 

So feel free to browse your public library.  Find books you've always wanted to read, and pick up a few that you wouldn't necessarily have chosen off the bookshelf at Barnes & Noble.  Explore new authors, genres.  Just remember to support the authors you discover you like.

Do you use your Public Library to explore new genres and authors?

Until next time,

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Book Talk: A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That

Currently Reading: In the Woods


I've done it again.  They say you need to do things over twenty times before they become habits, so maybe in thirty weeks I'll be posting regularly without having to think about it.  Until then, I'm trying out a new calendar, so hopefully I'll stop promising to post more regularly and start actually doing so.

A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That
by Lisa Glatt

Rachel Sparks is in her thirties, a successful college professor, and her mother has breast cancer.  At the core of this novel is Rachel's struggles to cope with her mother's illness.  Surrounding Rachel's story are the stories of other girls struggling with men, sex, infidelity, and cancer. 

Why I started reading: I was wandering through the library looking for any books th at caught my eye, and this one did.  Not only is the title catching, but the image is the perfect compliment to such a catchy title.

Why I finished: The stories of different women drew me in.  I was intrigued by the connections made between Rachel and the other women.

Writer's Take:  One very interesting aspect of this book, whether you enjoy the story or not, is the choice of perspective.  Rachel Sparks' story is a first person narrative.  Breaking up her story are third person narratives.  This shift in perspectives makes for a very interesting read, allowing the reader to keep in touch with the main character's "I" while reading the third person "she"s.

Who I'd recommend this to: Women who don't mind a look at the grittier aspects of being a woman.


Until next time,

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Currently Reading: Dead to the World (Original MM Art): A Sookie Stackhouse Novel (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood)


Have you heard of NaNoWriMo yet?  National Novel Writing Month is a crazy writing event in which the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  The official rules call for this novel to be a new creation, and it is encouraged to write a beginning and end to the novel within the 50,000 words.  You are considered a 'winner' for hitting 50,000 within the month, but it is also encouraged to go above and beyond the call of duty if so inspired.  Thousands of people world wide participate towards the same goal, making it all the more exciting.

Why does this matter? Many people opposed to NaNoWriMo have claimed it does not encourage quality writing.  I beg to differ.  Firstly, it is a trade give in that first drafts are pretty much dribble anyways.  There has to be something salvageable to make it to a final draft, however the first draft is all about getting the story out, however you can.  Most people who participate in NaNo have no false hopes of seeing their NaNo Novel in print until extensive revision and rewrites.  

Secondly it helps teach many things key to becoming a good writer.  It teaches you to find moments in each day to write (or reminds you of why you should write daily instead of letting the work pile up).  It teaches you to write towards a deadline.  It reminds you that it's okay for your first draft to be less than perfect, by giving you that deadline.  It can show you that having a writing group makes writing more enjoyable.  And besides, practice makes perfect (or at least makes better than before) regardless of whether the novel is salvageable or not.

This year I hope to be the official Municipal Liaison here, meaning  that I will be the one helping get local meetings going for the region and be their cheerleader.  Also I'm planning on shooting from the hip this year, only creating one character in the week previous to NaNo, and at midnight Halloween creating a list of 30 random scenes to write a novel.  Why?  Because I want to see what will happen.

National Novel Writing Month starts at midnight on November first and goes all the way 'til 11:59 November 31st.  I encourage you all to try it, and not just try it solo, but also go to some of the NaNoWriMo events in your areas.  As daunting a task as it can seem, it helps to meet fellow participants who are in the same boat as you.

Had you heard of NaNo before? Have you participated?
Any questions and/or comments are welcome and appreciated.

Until next time,