I remember it like it was yesterday: It was 2005 and I was dead set on writing that 50,000 words in 30 days. I only let myself eat as a reward for finishing that days word count, and even then sometimes I forgot to eat or drink anything. Still for all my effort I only got to 25,000 before the slow burn of writing so much everyday got to me and buried my willpower under the gravy of Thanksgiving.
Now years later, I think I know what truly beat down my willpower: For all the talk of silencing my internal editor, writing with the unspoken dedication to whatever I produce being bad by default just wasn’t me. It’s one thing to have a first draft that’s not polished and pretty awful. (Goodness knows my dyslexia helps with that XD) But trying to shut off any remnants of critical thought to the plot and characters of a story just for the sake of writing it as fast as I was able felt off somehow.
I actually really love Nanowrimo in theory is the saddest part. I just wish more energy was put toward teaching participants that speed does not always have to come at the price of quality, salvageable writing.
There have been a number of published Nano novels in the past few years so I know it is possible in my heart of hearts to have more at the end of national novel writing month then you started with and something to be proud of at that. Here’s to 1667 words a day (even outside of November)!
PS. I’m very sorry for not writing an update in so long. From now on I promise to at the very least write two blog posts here per month over the holidays. My family is much older now and so I’m trying my best to spend as much time with them as I possibly can 🙂
I should have said before but these are just my favorite plots and plot elements, not the only ones I enjoy or think are good. When all is said and done we all look for different things in fiction :).
Now we come to some of my all time favorites:
I love symbolism. Back in the day when ‘Read! Read! It’s fun, we promise!’ was the tagline and undercurrent of every childrens show I joined the Fellowship of the Book (“And my bookmark! And My library Card!”) in a flash. It helped that my ma only bought me books as gifts of course, but that’s another blog post.
Anyway, the idea that books could take you to far of places without you needing to go anywhere and let you be anyone that could do amazing things was great (To little me, who lived in the middle of nowhere, didn’t mind reading as boy characters, and sometimes had my CP getting me down, it was especially therapeutic.)
But the idea that that book world might be alive and able to be affected by a reader character in their outside ‘normal’ world, spilling one into the other by books end? Those stories were, and still are, pure magic to me. As years have gone on from the days of The Neverending Story I’ve hunted for this plot and its lovable brother ‘Everything is Real Somewhere‘ tirelessly. Somehow, no matter how many times I read it, my love for this plot is neverending.
I remember when I got my first review that really hurt (as an adult). It was about a year ago on one of those online pieces that every member of an online forum has written at one time or another, and while it was nothing truly official, it still stung. My writing was called ‘pretentious’. Something about that word hurt more than a reviewer just saying my writing might be boring or sloppy. But why was that I wondered? I thought back to all my early english classes in grade school where my dyslexia was still so bad I could barely write a sentence the teacher could understand. I remembered the joy I found when things finally started clicking in college and I could express myself in academic essay format and tone.
And then it hit me : The word pretentious troubled me so much because somewhere in my mind it meant my tone was now getting in the way of my writing being understood in the same way my spelling use to. My writing was eating its own tail and I wanted so much to fix it. But what to do?
I still haven’t answered that question. Writing very bare bones doesn’t come naturally to me, but I also don’t feel like the John Green level of literary YA is in me either. Stylistically, I’m a bit stuck between a rock and a hard place.
What do you do to keep your writing relatable? Do you care about style? Would being called a ‘pretentious’ writer get to you at all or would you shrug it off?
I admit it, I’m a reader of habit. I try my best to read out of my zone of favorite themes and plots, but always return to them. Maybe it’s the warm and cozy feeling they give me of knowing how something might play out, maybe it’s because the new trend toward ‘the future is grim and then our great great grandchildren all die’ isn’t for me. But whatever the case here are some of my favorite elements and plots in no real order…
- The sympathetic (anti?) hero vampire that actually loves being a vampire.
There are vampires that spend their time crying about their fate into wine glasses of blood and vampires that want to go to high school for all of time. This vampire is neither of these and yet I can’t help liking them. Normally they are bloodthirsty monsters, but done with just the right balance and they are blood thirsty monsters who think humans are nice but wouldn’t want to be one (if they ever were human to start with). But they still have emotions, they simply don’t use them to mope about the hand they were given. Well fed and taken care of this interesting mix of old and new vampire myth is pretty rare, even in romance novels. Even rarer than that is them being the hero of a story and not the villain. Where’s the love?
- Main characters that react positively to supernatural and weird happenings in fantasy novels.
I’ll say right away that this favorite element did not come from a happy reader place for me. I swear if I had to read one more novel where the hero mumbles to everyone and her Aunt Bess about how she must be dreaming/going crazy/losing it/ she’d miss school/a date/she was so unlucky etc over finding a hidden magical world I was going to scream. Doubly so if the only one who reacts with joy at finding a magical world/discovering magic in our world/finding a talking unicorn is only the goofy nerdy sidekick of the book. For that matter why aren’t there more books about the goofy nerdy sidekick as the hero character? I feel like in this day and age we outnumber the sensible ‘I’d rather be in my nice boring world feeding my goldfish’ adventurers five to one 😉
Random Writer Rants #1
- No matter how much I write everyone always thinks it’s ‘just a hobby’.
1.1.These remarks always seem to happen when I’m working my hardest and getting more done than ever, leading to my being needlessly grumpy.
2. Somehow it is entirely possible to write most of a story in what I think is breathtaking detail only to find that I never actually told the reader important exposition that the whole plot doesn’t work without .
3. Writing five pages always feels longer than reading five pages….
4. Except when that five pages is one of the ‘fun parts’ I have been looking forward to writing.
5. …Yes I know, if I am a ‘real writer’ every part should be the fun part. But I’ve come to find out as much as many books on how to write say that every part of writing should be a joy, the day to day reality of it is that sometimes it *gasp* actually feels like the work it is, and that’s okay. That doesn’t mean I love it any less.
6. Sometimes I can put blood sweat and tears into a story and it doesn’t show on the words on the page…Or, maybe it is there and my own writing isn’t to my own reading taste? Wouldn’t that be ironic. Oh well, back to work…
While on one of my journeys across the internet for info into the inner workings of writing young adult fiction (which somehow ends just as often in Facebook as it does in my opening a FocusWriter document) I came across a few interesting articles. The common consensus these days seems to be if you are over 18, or worst yet, the dreaded 30, and ‘still’ read YA novels, you should have your ‘I am a sensible adult wise in the ways of the world having no happy endings’ licence revoked. Or, on the other end, that not liking YA novels as an adult makes you a member of the ‘Bitter, old, dusty literary book lovers and puppy kickers’ club.
I’m not sure if either side is totally right or wrong. As I get older though I actually feel like I enjoy young adult and even *gasp* children’s books more than I even did when I was their target age group. Part of that isn’t because I somehow grew up without learning how unrealistic these stories are, but really, because I did. The same goes for the other worlds in classic scifi or the happily ever afters in a good romance novel. Of course love doesn’t last forever, of course the hero doesn’t always get rid of a government that is corrupt and killing people. But for the short space of a novel or a series it does an adult heart good to believe in that impossible thing. Maybe, so if someday we get even a small bit of that impossible in our real life we will still be able to recognize it , and turn the page to something wonderful.
The orange mini-note is my traveling notebook since it’s built in pocket makes sure I always have something to write with on hand. I’m pretty sure needing to write but having nothing to write with is one of those dark circles of afterlife punishment. (Most boring DOOM level idea ever)
I don’t have a problem…
Okay, maybe I do. Today, since I am sick with a bug that is going around through my hometown countryside, I thought I’d do another small post. This time to share my notebook collection. This is only about half of it, but I think you can see my slow slide from ‘Writing must be serious every step of the way’ to ‘Darn it if I’m going to be writing for hours and hours I want something that makes me happy.’ Back to school sales always fill me with a renewed drive to write more, so those newest two sparkling silver and black books were just too good to pass up.
In my case, I use notebooks to get out certain scenes and bits of dialogue that need to come into being right this moment, and then my laptop to slap them into place in the bigger scheme of things, plotwise.
Do you have a favorite notebook? (Or if you don’t write on paper a favorite program or app?) What gets you fired up to write?
Do you have something you’d like to hear me talk about on my blog? Drop me a line below!