Monday, February 18, 2013

Starting Fresh

I guess...  Well, I guess it's somewhat true and somewhat not true.  I'm not really starting fresh so much as ridding myself of old projects that I know I will never complete and focusing on those that I think have the potential to be something more.

Frequently, you all have heard me speak about Bloody Lovely, the series that I was going to write with my best friend, Lorelai.  It was an interesting series - a paranormal romance that focused around the lives of 12 teenagers as they struggled to find their places in a world riddled with war.  Unfortunately, this project no longer has any potential.  LJ and I have been speaking less and less; she's very much so focused on her studies and trying to get everything for her future set.  She's confided in me how little she has the urge to write, or even read anymore, and how, even when she sits down and tries, the words just don't come out.

The settlement I've come to in my own mind is that I'll let the series sit for some time, and, in a few years, if I'm feeling up to it, I may write the series out on my own, though, of course, with no intention of ever attempting to publish it.  I would never go against LJ's trust and publish a novel with her characters, but without her input or consent.  That, I think, would be the ultimate in betrayal from what writer to another.

On the other hand, there is another series that I'm working on wtih a different friend.  She goes by the pen name Marie Delores Brennan (don't try to find her on Facebook; she's not there) and we're going to be working on The Nightwalker Chronicles together.  The first book,Bloodlust, I like to describe as being the anti-Twilight, as the whole premise was founded on the idea of a vampire novel that was based around the classic (or mostly classic) vampires that contains very little to no romance at all.  We've got a clear idea of how we're going to write it and what characters are going to be involved in it, and I'm pleased to say that, next hour (I'll still be on break then) I intend to write out the Prologue.

The most interesting aspect of the novel - for me, at least - is that it will be set in the year 1951, in Las Vegas, Nevada.  I've never tried writing a novel from so different a period before, and it will be interesting to figure out where it goes.

There are five main branches of The Nightwalker Chroncies - four independent books, and one sub-series.  We ended up coming to this conclusion, as Marie and I have decided to encorporate the general plotlines of our other Vampire/Werewolf books into the world we had developed from the very first book, and then created the fifth book based on a similarity between two of the books.  However, I can't give away any of the details, because, you know, SPOILERS!  I can't stand spoilers, but I'll try not to go off into a rant about them, as I'm sure I'll be preaching to the choir.

Other projects that I'm working on?  Oh, okay!

The Ultimate Powers Series: The Uprising - This is a book that developed over quite the expanded period of time from the original storylines of Bloodlines, a novel I wrote when I was 12 and finished when I was 14 that is actually being re-worked to be part of The Nightwalker Chronicles.  The entire series will focus around the Aberrants - a group of people who were "possessed" by Spirits and can now do fantastical things.  Anything from running at the speed of light to reading minds.  There will be at least five, and anywhere up to eight books in the series, but I haven't gone into too much details as to exactly how I'm going to break the series up, or even how it's going to end.  So I'm still wroking on that.  But it should be interesting.

Alyssa A's Sister - I actually, originally, got this idea from a writing competition that was all about having a title that you dont' want to have.  The ideas developed that this was a girl named Layla who went to high school the year after her sister, Alyssa, graduated and is trying to deal with everyone comparing her to her sister.  And while there are some things that she has to live up to, there are other things that you have to live down.

Other ideas that I have are still in too rough of stages to even mention, but one involves the Elements and is going to be...almost Hunger Games-esque (though I'm trying to make it as little like that as possible).  It's probably the closest to being ready to have the plot shared, though I'm probably going to be turning to Marie or some of my other writing friends to help me in getting that one up and running.

At any rate, this is the first post I've made in QUITE some time, so I suppose I'll say HELLO EVERYONE!  I'm back!  I want to try, once again, to get back into the habit of posting on the blog, but we'll se ehow that goes.  Gosh only knows, it's never really worked in the past.  Not for very long, at least.

So there's my little update there.  Hope to see you all again SOON!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lost My Muse

I feel as though I've lost my Muse, and not just in the "I don't feel inspired anymore," sense.  I feel that I've lost my Muse in that, since I've stopped speaking with one person in particular, I haven't been writing, and it seems as though the loss of that person may be what has caused this halt in writing.

Does anyone think that that's possible?  That, even though I was writing before I knew that person, not having them around anymore can have caused me to stop writing in a roundabout sort of way?  Or maybe you all just think I'm being melodramatic...?

Anyway, short post, but this is what I'm thinking, so this is what I'm writing to you about.  Let me know what you think in the comments!

Monday, October 1, 2012

NaNoWriMo '12

I'm so pumped for NaNoWriMo this year!  I think I say that every year, but this year I honestly feel the urge to get something done.  I've done so little writing over the spam of the last few MONTHS (I know, right?) and it's just absolutely killing me, so I'm determined to make the most of this coming November.

My novel of choice is going to be an older project that I was working on not too long ago that I'm going to rejuvenate a little.  It's called Everlast and it's, believe it or not, a vampire novel.  rofl.  But the good thing?  It's a single novel, not a series, so it's something that I can just write and be done with, because series, it seems, are going to be the end of me.  Every time I try to get into one, everything goes to hell.  XD

So I'm working on getting a layout going for the novel so that, when November hits, I'll be able to just write non-stop and know exactly what I'm going to be doing next, because I know that that's always been a problem of mine is not knowing what goes where and what to do between those points.

Is anyone else working on NaNoWriMo this year?  I really suggest it for all writers; it teaches some real discipline.

I'm really pumped about writing again.  I've been in a real slump that a lot of my friends have noticed.  I had one, just the other day, point out that, not only had I not been writing a lot lately, but my RPs hadn't been as excited as they usually are, which they saw as a problem as they RP with me often.  lol.  I admitted that I hadn't been writing and that I think it's starting to have an impact on my RPing, as well.  They told me that I had to start writing and just go with it, so I'm going to take this November as my opportunity to do so.

NO PROCRASTINATING IN THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER!  YOU MUST SIMPLY WRITE AND NOT STOP WRITING!

Sleep deprivation is an absolute must.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Information & Flow: Finding a Balance

In my last blog post, I spoke on how, as writers, part of our job is to tell a story in a captivating way, and I stand by that.  A good story is nothing without the right use of words.

But what a lot of people don't realize is that it can sometimes be hard to find the right balance between a good use of words and putting enough information into your story.

Recently, I've uncovered some of my old stories, and I assumed what all writers assume: that, when I read over my old work, I would find it horrible.  There was no possible way that my writing from three or four years ago was going to be on the same level as my recent work!  In some ways, I was right.  In others, I was not...

What I found, essentially, was a change in my writing style.  A few years ago, I was a flow writer: I thought over everything that I was writing and made sure I was writing them out in the very best way possible to try and get the best sound out of, so that, when people read it, they would be fascinated.  Now, I write to inform, making sure that all of the little nuances of the story are known so that the reader understand what I'm trying to tell them.  There's nothing wrong with either of these methods, but ideally, you should find a balance between them.

For each writer, this balance is going to be different, and can vary from piece-to-piece and even throughout various parts of a particular story.  When writing out an introduction, dream or love scene, it's not uncommon to fall into a more romanticized style of writing, because it reflects the mood of the scene.  When two characters are locked in a passionate embrace, a writer tends to write with more synonyms and metaphors and use less factual words.  The scene is heavily emotional, so so is the writing.  Suspenseful scenes also take on a similar quality, though in a more atmospheric sense, rather than personal.  

To the contrary, other areas that are much more based on the physical qualities of the scene and less on the emotionally will be based more on statements (though they should continue to be descriptive statements).  A heated conversation will rely more on the dialogue and describing the physical reactions of the characters rather than on using words to portray emotion.  

But all those other scenes require a balance.  A good mix between telling the reader what's going on and relaying an emotion and captivating them with your word choice.  Finding that balance is the tricky part.  When you're trying to get yourself through a story, it's easy to state, state, state.  The writing becomes bland; there's little captivation.  No suspense.  No emotion.  Your intense love scene became a simple kiss that lasted a strangely long amount of time.  When you over-think things, the words go into overdrive and you end up with a rather ridiculous-sounding piece.  Readers will wonder why you would use a word like "perplexing" when referring to an inconsequential trip to the bathroom.  

Information and flow are both crucial parts to story-telling; they're both needed to make a truly wonderful adventure for your reader.  The balance between that two is huge, as well as knowing when to give a little more or a little less of either.

How do you handle your flow balance?  Do you prefer to use a lot of sophisticated, fancy-sounding words, or do you prefer to just tell the reader what happens?  Is this the way you think works best?  Are you working to find your balance?  Let me know in the comments!

-MaddiJ.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Show Me How You Feel

It's easy to say "She was nervous."  Anyone can say "She was nervous."  It takes a writer to explain that her lip is caught between her teeth and her knee is bouncing up and down in her anticipation.  That her eyes were shadowed under her lowered brow as she stared intently at the door, waiting for it to open.  By now, all but a few of her fingernails were chewed to stubs, and the room around her was watching her as if she were a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode.  And in all that time, the writer never once had to say "She was nervous."

There's no challenge in explaining how something happened.  Anyone can tell you about their day.  Anyone can tell you about someone else's day.  As writers, what we do is not explain how something happened; what we do is tell a story.  And part of telling that story is carrying our readers along with suspenseful, entrancing words.  "She was nervous," isn't suspenseful or entrancing, and while it gets the message across (let's face: when you read "She was nervous," you can't help bu think that she was nervous) it doesn't really pull the reader into what you're saying.  It doesn't give them a clear picture of what exactly your character is going through.

So how do you pull out your character's feelings to make the reader feel with them?  I have a few tips:

More words isn't a bad thing.

As long as you're not droning on about something, it's far from a bad thing to go into a somewhat lengthy description of what your character is doing.  Tell us what shade of red the color of their cheeks are turning.  Explain that their hand is placed over their mouth.  Talk about the creases at the corners of their eyes when they smile.  I've never been able to express enough to people that more description in their work can do WONDERS!

Put yourself in your character's shoes.

Sometimes imagining how a character will react physically to a situation isn't an easy task.  You need to experience the emotion yourself.  For just a moment, allow yourself to become your character; to take on their mind and their quirks and their physicality.  Imagine that what's happening in the story is happening to you.  How do you react?  Even if you can't put yourself completely into your character's mind, your own knowledge of how you were react will give you a great starting point.

Don't just explain one character's reactions.

The reactions of those surrounding your character (assuming they're not alone) can be as useful a tool as explaining the character's reactions.  It's especially useful at the beginning of a chapter, where you can use a "zoom in," in which you start out explaining the general feeling of the room, zoom into explaining some of the characters and then zoom into the main character(s).  Showing the reader how the others feel about the situation will help to imbue some feelings into them.  

Words (or the lack thereof) can be expressive.

I'm sure this doesn't need much saying.  But a character's verbal reactions to a situation can be extremely useful, when used alongside a physical reaction, even when that verbal reaction is non-existent.  A character's silence can give off a lot of different emotions.  When partnered with a glare, it gives off a "Don't piss me off!" sort of feel.  When partnered with a blank expression, it says "I'm in deep thought and can't be bothered to respond."  And when partnered with a smile, well, they're just too happy for words, aren't they?

While explaining an event isn't a bad thing, it's not always the right thing.  Explaining a characters physical reactions is sometimes a better use of words than saying how they react.

AND NOW I HAVE A CHALLENGE FOR YOU!

Do a Google search and fine two different pictures of a person's face (it can be two different people).  Describe each one of the expressions without using words that describe their mood (eg. "nervous," "angry," "doubtful," etc.).  

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I'M IT!!!!

I GOT TAGGED BY JOE!  Joseph T. J. Eastwood  So here are my answers to your questions, Joe:

1. Tell me something about you that most people don't know. 
When I was a year old, I fell down a flight of steps in my walker and ended up with two scars on my face: one above my left eye from a cut and the other a dot smack in the middle of my lower lip where a nail pierced through.
2. Did you dream last night? 
I remember dreaming, but I don't remember what.
3. Type of music you dislike most? 
Either rap or country.
4. Is the glass half empty or half full? 
The glass is two times bigger than it needs to be.  ^.-
5. Do you touch-type? 
Heck yeah!
6. Do you sing in the shower?
I sing everywhere.
7. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
In Ireland with my best friend, Rory.
8. Do you believe in love at first sight?
Sadly, no.
9. What inspires you?
Music, other people, being outside, reading, sitting alone and thinking about my characters, watching the news...
10. What book are you reading at the moment?
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkein.


THANKS FOR THE TAG, JOE!!!


-Maddi J.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Who's Important?

Many people lead themselves to believe that the protagonist (hero) and antagonist (villain) are the only important parts of a story.  They're what make up the action, right?  But this isn't the case.  Not in the least.

There are so many more characters important to a story than just the "main" ones.  Let's take the example of Harry Potter.  Besides the "trio" (Harry, Ron & Hermione) there are tons of characters that are minor (though "Potterheads" may disagree to that term) such as Dumbledore, Dobby, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood...  All of these characters are perfect examples of minor characters that are absolutely essential to the progression of the books.  Alternately, beyond Lord Voldemort, there are essential characters on the opposing side: Draco & Lucius Malfoy, Bellatrix Lestrange, Wormtail.

In my mind, all of these characters should have had just as much thought put into them as the main characters.  Every character that is involved in the evolution and progression of a storyline should be well thought out and three-dimensional (unless intentionally made to be otherwise).

In my current project (currently unnamed) the main protagonist is a young werewolf named Sarina and the main antagonist is an ancient vampire named Elliot.  They're locked in a seemingly never ending dance of death, each trying to eliminate the other.  However, the evolution of Elliot throughout the story is dependent solely on Rikki, a girl he meets some decades after his first encounter with Sarina.  Oppositely, Sarina's courage and skill, as well as her drive to kill Elliot is led on by her human friend, Ethan.

While Elliot and Sarina are the key points of the story, Rikki and Ethan deserve as much thought, because they are so essential to the plot line.

There are a few things to keep in mind when you're deciding the most important characters in a project:

How Often Are the Characters Around?


Nine out of ten times, if a character is a constant within a story, that character is important.  Even if they aren't important, they should be well-planned.  A flat character that's always around is no good.

Examples of this are (going along with the Harry Potter example) characters that were in the same house as the trio, such as Seamus Finnigan.  Being around as frequently as he was throughout the series, it was important that he was well-developed and had a definite personality.

Does the Character Have an Effect on a Main Character?


Any character that has, will or is having an effect on the main character(s) of a story are important.  Characters that are parents/guardians or leaders need to be well-defined, because their personality has an effect on how your character(s) react to them.

An example of this is Dumbledore.  Though he himself is not a main character, he has a huge impact on Harry's life.  If he were anything other than what he was, things with Harry might not have ended up the way that they did.

Does the Character Have the Potential to Become Important?


This is a very vague question, but should still be considered.  At the point you're at in your story, you may have plans to make a character important.  But that doesn't mean that they can't.  What you have to ask yourself is, "Is there a good chance that this character can have a larger role to play?"  This is only a question that you need to ask yourself i you have very little of the book planned and you have a large group of characters prepared.

Developing your main characters is hugely important, but developing the characters around them is almost as important.  A story is flat if its characters are, and that includes the ones that your main characters interact with.

Hope you enjoyed and found this post helpful!
~Maddi J.