Thesis Thursdays: An Introduction

Okay, nobody panic. This feature sounds kind of pretentious and crotchety, but it isn’t. In fact, this feature (which may not always be weekly) will be a combination of book reviews, tirades against academia, writerly panic and frustration, rants about book tropes and fan girl freak-outs–usually about Sarah J. Maas, probably. Let me explain.

I’m a senior this year. *INSERT PANIC HERE* I have chosen to inflict upon myself the year long English Honors Thesis course that my Department offers here. Now here you might expect me to say that I’m studying Shakespeare or some post modern writer or something.

Well, you might. But you’ve been following me on this blog and you know that that isn’t my style.

First things first, remember that post I wrote about being an English and Writing double major? While I’m writing this English Thesis, I’m also completing my Writing Senior Project, which is a novel. This will come into play later.

16034235The topic of my English Honors Thesis, broadly, is YA publishing trends and female assassins. It’s conception came from me saying HOW CAN I JUST KEEP REREADING THRONE OF GLASS FOR CREDIT? Turns out, my thesis adviser really likes what I came up with. I’m not going to bore you with the academic details, I’m just going to say that I’m going to be writing about the tropes of these books and therefore reading a bunch of books like Throne of Glass to make my point. Which is where the rants about annoying tropes and the book reviews come in. I’ve actually got a short list on Goodreads about what books I’m considering.

The YA publishing trends component of this is going to mean that there are some books on there that don’t make sense, but don’t fret. I’ll explain that all in due course whenever I figure out what the hell I’m doing.

Don’t forget that novel I’m writing! It occurred to me, rather late in the game, that if I was doing all this work talking about tropes of female assassins and what they do well and what they don’t that maybe I should WRITE the book that destroys all the tropes I hate and is actually more like what I want to read. So far I’m two chapters in and while I’m way rusty (more on this later), I’m making myself laugh so that’s about the best I can expect.

Still with me? If not, that’s cool. I honestly don’t know if anything remotely interesting will come out of this besides amusing rants and more book reviews, but that’s okay. At least it’ll help me sort out my thoughts.

Tune in next week when I discuss Poison by Bridget Zinn, why I can’t tell if I like it or not and why I’m confusing myself as to whether or not to consider it for my thesis!

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Update: What in the World is Going On Here?

I know, I know, it’s the second Wednesday in a row without a Worth It Wednesdays post. I haven’t run out of worthwhile reads.

Though I’ve been doing my best to keep up with Nostalgia Junkie, the return to school has basically wiped out everything else. For now, anyways.

I’m about to start up a couple of projects very near and dear to my heart, and hopefully you guys will be able to follow them here. One is my thesis. The reading list for this has a list on my Goodreads, and I’m really excited about it. If I get my stuff together, hopefully I’ll find a fun way to incorporate all the books I’m reading for that into this blog.

The second is my senior project for my Creative Writing major. This is my first novel attempt in years–damn you, college!–and it promises to be a wild ride. Again, if I can find a witty way to incorporate that here, I plan to.

Last but CERTAINLY NOT LEAST is a project hopefully coming to you soon from me and my Bibliomancer gang. It has several facets. One is that me and Michaela from The Pied Piper Calls want to start doing some shorter videos to entertain y’all. Second is that me, Michaela, Taylor and maybe even Casey from The Drunk Librarian are thinking of doing one book a month while school is in session. Except sitting around the SAME TABLE and imbibing alcohol. Because we’re 21 and we can do that now.

All this amounts to some more blogging that will hopefully be going on! I know, I’ve promised that before. But this time I’ve got teachers and friends all looking at me to git’r’done so maybe–just maybe–I’ll actually do it. Fingers crossed!

My character did WHAT? – Lessons Learned from NaNoWriMo

(Yes, I’m blogging during NaNoWriMo. So listen up, because these words are words I can’t count into my word count. :P)

Anyways! As previously discussed, NaNoWriMo is the time when EVERYTHING can happen. No matter if you wrote up 50 character sketches and a color coded outline before beginning or you just ran with it, no one is prepared for what NaNo can do to a story. Seriously, no one. It’s only day five, guys, so don’t think that because this hasn’t happened to you yet that it won’t. Because it will.

I write…fast. My friends will tell you that this is an understatement, but I’m just going to stick with fast. That means that I’m already at 12-something thousand. For the first time in my NaNo history, I went into NaNo with an outline and a pretty good idea on who my character was. After all, this is the 3rd book in my Mind Evolution series I’m writing here. I was probably one of the most in-tune with a character around the NaNo-world. But, guess what?

NaNo got to my character.

None of what I just wrote out was supposed to happen. My MC was supposed to be my innocent one. Girly. Possibly kind of airy. Funny like that. AND THEN SHE UP AND KILLED SOMEONE.

Character sketch? No good. And then the sweating starts, because I’m thinking, “MYPLOTMYPLOTMYPLOOOOT!” 5 days into NaNo isn’t a good time to be trashing that already, even at 12.5 k. Plus, I hate writing them and I’ve got a series to further, here. This is how it HAD TO GO. But with NaNo, there isn’t time to go back and fix it, so I had to move on. And do you know what?

I realized that what had happened WORKED. Believe it or not. I couldn’t myself, not at first.

As it turns out, my MC knew what was happening to her better than I did after character sketches, plots–the whole nine yards. With one action that I believed to be completely beyond her, she added layers to my plot and deepened some of the most serious plot points of her story. My plot before was good. Now, it was better. All because my character had apparently gotten out of character, and I had allowed myself to run with it.

Whether you’re doing NaNo or not, there’s something to be learned from this. There is a difference between events that happen that are out of character. Some writers think that they know their character so well or they’re so attached to their plot that the characters can’t make up their own minds. Some people might have backspaced my MC killing this person and let her be the damsel in distress she was supposed to be. I probably would have, if I had the time. But the thing is, when you’re writing, you’re telling this character’s story. This is their life. If something just all the sudden happens that just seems totally out of character, maybe–just maybe–it actually isn’t. I’m not saying, of course, to let everything fly. Some things you write that you just know aren’t right. But for just a second before you hit backspace, think about it. Experiment and see where it takes you. It might not follow your plot or be in character, but it still might be the best thing that ever happened to your story.

What is NaNoWriMo? *gasp!*

It’s November. To any normal person, it is a dreary month, a boring month, that month before the month that brings holidays and the New Year. If you are me and a bunch of other writers worldwide, November is none of those things.

November is National Novel Writing Month.

If you are unfamiliar with the event (or as it is commonly called, NaNoWriMo), then you should know that it is basically a challenge in the month of November to write a 50,000 word novel. Beneath that, it is so much more.

As writers, we’re so caught up in making our writing perfect. Some of us are such perfectionists that we can’t even finish a piece because we get stuck trying to edit it before we write THE END. We work laboriously, trying to come up with something that maybe—just maybe—doesn’t suck. Nine times out of ten, we can’t help but disappoint ourselves. After all, the second you start thinking you’re the next Shakespeare is the second you need to find a new hobby.

NaNoWriMo is a time to throw all that out the window. If you work like a perfectionist, you’ll never be done in time. Nothing irks a perfectionist like not winning, right? Everybody can be a winner if they try hard enough. However, winning requires that you stop caring about quality writing. You stop caring about discrepancies, clichés and even spelling sometimes. You have to learn how to stare into the eyes of writer’s block, because you literally don’t have time for that. You need to be able to kill off a character just to get things moving, or yank the story in another direction because your plot just isn’t working. The challenge of NaNoWriMo goes far beyond just finishing.

Have I scared you? I hope not. Everything I just outlined above might just possibly be some of the best writing lessons you ever learn. Mostly because, above all other things, NaNoWriMo is fun. You push yourself, you push your characters and you have a blast. NaNoWriMo isn’t a thing you have to do, but I certainly recommend it. Don’t worry about if what you’re writing is sucking. It probably will be. Everybody’s will be. And it’s going to be amazing.