I Wrote a Novel, Now What? Episode 3 – Confronting Privilege

This is perhaps one of the most important videos I will make about my revisions to my novel moving forward, in which I admit that I made some mistakes about plot lines left aside but how I plan to address this in the future! Even the best intentioned plot lines can be left undone if the writer does not constantly confront and interrogate their own writing as they go, and even what I’ve discovered so far is probably just the tip of the iceberg for me. As Mad Eye Moody would say, CONSTANT VIGILANCE!

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I Wrote a Novel, Now What? Episode 2

I did it, guys! I did more work on my novel. Please bear with the camera lighting/technicalities for this one. My camera died this morning and I had to use Michaela’s, which was all sorts of interesting. However, if you bear with the weird sound in this video, there is a super cute surprise at the end. Like. Seriously. Super cute. Also, like, you know. I do novel stuff and talk about how I’m going to fix some of the weird tics in my first draft writing.

Thesis Thursdays: Why I Signed Up for NaNoWriMo Even Though I Plan to Lose

Thesis Thursdays is a weekly(ish) feature where I rant, love and talk about young adult books I’m reading because I’m conning my college into thinking this is all for academia! Find out more here!

I know what you’re thinking: why is this a Thesis Thursday post? Well, if you click that link above and re-read that again, you might remember that I’m writing TWO thesis: one is an academic paper and one is a novel.

Er. Well. “Novel.”

Basically, I need a minimum of 50 pages. Technically, once I hit 50, I can stop. But–and this is going to sound so conceited but hang in here with me–50 pages is peanuts to me. This is because I write with a bunch of short paragraphs and a bunch of snappy dialogue in my first drafts. That, plus double spacing, means that I am ALREADY under ten pages away from the 50 page minimum but I just topped over 11,000 words.

So, if I’m that close, why NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), you ask?

I could tell you that it’s because I’m committed to this book idea (I am) and that I savor the challenge (I do). I could tell you that it’s because I miss NaNo (I do) and I want to be a part of that again, even if I’m not really competing (I do). But there is one very distinct reason, above all others, pushing me to compete:

I’m out of plot.

You might have been thinking, “Ew, why would you take a already started novel into NaNo you cheater!” or just “CHEATER CHEATER PUMPKIN EATER!” That’s fine. But, trust me, it’s not like that. I just wrote my eighth chapter last night, which exhausted all of the planned plot that I had for this idea. (It was a very spur of the moment idea.) So I am going into NaNo with a set of characters I love, a few things that have happened and NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT.

That’s what’s beautiful about NaNoWriMo. It doesn’t allow you to say, “Well, I’m stuck, better put this down.” You have to soldier through and make things up on the fly–no second guessing.

That’s what I need right now. I’m so committed to this idea that I have, but I’m so confused by it. I don’t know where to go. Even if I can’t make 50,000 words (which I probably can’t), I need the drive that NaNoWriMo will give me. I mean, I once won NaNo in eight days. I get COMPETITIVE, even if it’s just with myself. (That was the year I wanted to beat my record of eleven days.) I need that to keep going.

If you’re on the NaNoWriMo journey yourself, feel free to friend me–adkwriter15 is the handle. If you are on the fence about it, DO IT. Join me in enjoying the journey but not intending to finish the race. Who knows what’ll happen?

nano

Dear YA Authors: I’m getting sick and tired of love triangles!

So, this post has been almost a week in the making, ever since I posted up my review of Jodi Meadows’ Incarnate. I felt almost ridiculous that I had to say I adored this book half because the main character had a real relationship, and not a love triangle. Then, OTHER people started agreeing with me, saying that they had been caught on the book when I made a point of saying that there was no love triangle, but an actual couple who falls in love for real reasons.

Wait, I had to say WHAT?

Okay, cool your jets, I’m fully aware that there are some YA authors who rock this love triangle thing. I also read plenty of love triangles myself. I don’t want to start burning every one of them that includes a love triangle, I just want to ask … why?

It’s probably horrible for me to blame Twilight, but I’m going to blame Twilight just a little bit. Love triangles certainly existed before Twilight, but not in this quantity. After all, love triangles ARE a great way for interaction with fandom. “Team That Guy” and “Team This Guy” competitions can get pretty heated. I’ve been known to engage in one or two myself, and HELLO. I think I ship a couple hard, and then some other person on the internet scares you with their ferocity. So, okay, I get why publishers want to publish it after Twilight‘s success, but the better question is why is it being written?

Okay, I’ve seen it done well when it’s essential to the plot. That I can get. When it’s done well, I don’t even mind it. But I always thought that one of the things that makes YA novels so successful is how well the reader can connect with the protagonist. Perhaps I’m an anomaly, but I have never once in my life had two guys ready to battle to the death over my heart, as seems to be the norm these days in teen lit. Having believed myself to be extremely lucky to find myself ONE guy, female protagonists who spend the entirety of a book (or, worse, multiple books) taking away precious time from the actual plotline to fret over which guy to choose can come off really vain. Also, This Guy and That Guy, if the girl is taking that freaking long to make up her mind which one of you to choose, chances are she’s not really in love with either of you and there are plenty of other fish in the sea who actually might like you. When the love triangle is written to the point where the girl seems ridiculously vapid and the guys feel like doormats, I can’t take the book anymore no matter how good I think the book is.

Call me old-fashioned, but sometimes I think that the real reason I can’t stand love triangles is because I really want to read about a real romance. Sometimes it feels like love triangles are shoehorned in to cause tension in a relationship, and there are so many other ways to do that. People can fall in love for REAL REASONS, not just see each other and be instantly attracted to each other. I understand that a lot of people shortcut that bit because it takes TIME, but when authors do take that time I love them forever and consider the book to be a cut above. It gets even better when these relationships begin to have real issues. Trust me, if there is any level of age where freaking everything has issues, it is the teenage years. There is no way that the only way authors can think to throw in romantic tension is to add another guy to the mix. Love can be REAL, the issues can be REAL and the couples can be REAL.

Let me say, once again, that I do read and will continue to read love triangles. I adore several series where that occurred, and I’m not ashamed to say so. But I AM getting tired of them, just because I miss the real romance of a real couple with real issues. Publishers, teens WILL read that, I promise. Authors, I SWEAR it’s worth the time. Maybe I’m an anomaly, but hey! I can’t be the only girl who doesn’t have two hot guys fawning over her all the time. …right?

My New WIP: A Mental Challenge in Not Thinking and Having Too Much Fun

Well, if you guys know anything about me, it’s that I’m always, always coming up with new ideas and writing too many books at once. (Right now, it’s four. I think. Are we counting thought processes?) Anyways, after a fifty billionth breakdown over “WHY I HAVE NO PLOT?” and “WHY THESE CHARACTERS NO WORK?” and “WHY IS THIS THE SUCK?” I finally called it quits. Not on writing, mind you. THINKING.

Yes, I’ve talked about this before, especially during NaNoWriMo. But this is a level even I’ve never reached before. As it turns out, this is the first book I’ve ever written where there is a certain time when I can write it: when I’m flat-out, drooling, giggly tired. Sound whacked out? Possibly. But I bet you’re jealous of all the fun I’m having.

If I were to read this WIP while sane awake, I would know–as I know now in the back of my head–that this book is rather plotless. In fact, the entire beginning of the book doesn’t make any a lot of sense. Best part? At the moment, I don’t care. I introduce two new characters in situations where I can’t name drop without making it sound force, and in all seriousness they go through the chapter being called “Scaly-face” and “Gandalf Guy.” My MC is actually crazy enough to make that work for me, which is awesome. I’m not even 3 chapters or 10,000 words in yet, and she’s already referenced Disney, Pocahontas, the Wizard of Oz and the Lord of the Rings. She says things that I doubt are going to be funny to anyone but me. But I DON’T CARE.

Maybe this book will never be anything. That isn’t the point here. The point is that I’m fed up with taking writing so freaking seriously. This started as fun, didn’t it? So I want to keep it that way. Sometimes you just need to break away from your real, serious WIP and write something that makes you laugh at yourself. I think of it like a writing exercise–and also somewhere to store all those jokes that I think are hilarious but no one else seems to. The greatest thing is? My short attention span is actually remaining excited about this project. So at least if I’m not writing anything that will ever get me anywhere, I’m WRITING. And that’s the important thing.

And who knows? Maybe this’ll turn into something that is better than any WIP I’ve ever tried to think about!

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.