Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Magic of Post-Its

I’ve discovered in the past couple years that I am an outliner. And though I’d like to outline by hand–because writing longhand gives my brain more time to think about the words I’m putting down–I find doing so extremely difficult. This is because, as an outliner and as a writer, I always put down less on paper than I want to, only to add more later. (This is why Revision Mode on Scrivener/Track Changes on Word are the BEST INVENTIONS KNOWN TO MAN.) But I always want to write by hand.

So. My solution?

Post-Its. Also known as Lifesavers. Not the candy.

With Post-Its, I can put the very, very bare outlines of my plot into my notebook, leaving a page of space or so in between each parts, which I usually divide into the standard three acts of storytelling. Then, the Post-Its go to work, and I can add or take them out easily without messy lines crossing out words and words on the lovely pages of my notebook*, and without running out of space in between plot points that need a little more UMPH to them.

Now, you might be saying, “Hey, Kristine. That sounds great. One problem, though… Post-Its are totally temporary. They fall off when you sneeze too hard. Or when you breathe.”

To which I say: Super Sticky*. Lifesavers. Still not the candy.

You can even use different colored Post-Its to indicate different things that you want to plop into your story. Looking through my notebook, I notice that all my “Plot” notes are on green normal-sized Post-Its, while dialogue I want to try and fit in goes on pink. Any questions I have for myself go on yellow, and any extra notes that I think of for any of my notes goes on the mini stickies. Everything’s hunky dory.

So that’s my Post-It schpeal. How do you use sticky notes?

*One of the reasons I find it very difficult to keep up a journal, mostly because I hate when I mess up my handwriting and have to cross things out. And I don’t want to type one. And I don’t want to use white out.

Sometimes I am much too stubborn.

**I swear I’m not getting paid for all of this. Post-Its are just wonderful for my sanity. I have a drawer filled with Post-Its of various colors, and some even with lines. I’m not kidding.

Why Write? – Repost

The next few posts are going to be reposts of blogs I’ve written on other blogging platforms in the past, because I’ve started and abandoned way too many blogs to count.

Why Write? – Past post 3/? – Originally posted at kristinekim.blogspot.com (which will be deleted in the future), August 26, 2010.

In my time roaming about the cyber world of writer/agent/author/editor/reader blogs, I’ve come across this question at least once: Why write if what we put into the world won’t be remembered past our lifetime?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think any true writer can say, at least when they start writing/are the the midst of selling of novel, that the novel they wrote will be “an instant classic” or something that teachers will shove at their students to understand the depth of “real literature.” J.D. Salinger didn’t sit down and say, “I think I’ll write a goddam book today that will influence tons of goddam teenagers and be taught in goddam phony schools everywhere.” Or, maybe he did, but I highly doubt it. No author expects to be the subject of school essays, and to even have a place in what book lists would call “great American literature”. Some aren’t even necessarily comfortable with flirting with the concept; after the success of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, Harper Lee never published another book. Heck, she had never even expected the book to sell, and was bracing herself for scathing reviews.

So… why write?

I write stories that might not be remembered past my lifetime because of the things that I’ll never expect. And because of the things I do expect.

People like stories. People like the feeling they get when they hear or read stories. Countless times, I have seen agents or literary interns posting on Twitter lamenting the themes and morals that authors throw around in their queries, while all the agents want to know is plot, plot, plot. They want to know what’s happening in your story, not what you want to teach the world. As a writer, my intent in eventually becoming published is to share something with the world, and have a voice in my take on things. I like to make people laugh and to feel. Whether that will be to an audience of five or an audience in a classroom fifty years from now that I may never meet, it doesn’t matter. I write because I like to share. I write because I love stories, and if I can add to readers’ stories, all the better.

This post isn’t really entirely coherent. I hope it is to you.

You never know what will happen. Why write something that won’t be remembered after you died, or even while you’re still alive? Because it’s there, and it’s happening. And you never know what may happen in the future.

So, lovely readers, I pose you the same question:

Why do you bother to write when your stories may not even be remembered in the future?

What’s Up Wednesday

We’ll return to our regularly-scheduled reposting of past blogs on Friday, but for today, we’re saying, “What’s up, Wednesday?”

Except not really. There’s no comma or question mark here. WUW is the brainchild of Jaime Morrow and her sister, Erin, and you can learn more about it here! I was introduced to this blog hop by CP extraordinaire Marika, and you should totally check out what she has to say this WUW, too. Because she’s awesome.

WHAT I’M READING

I have a big stack of books from the library that I’m trying to tear through now, though revisions are getting in the way–more on that later. It’s big enough that I’ll opt for listing them out:

  • THE ARCHIVED by Victoria Schwab
  • THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN by Holly Black
  • THE FIRE IN FICTION by Donald Maass
  • I WEAR THE BLACK HAT by Chuck Klosterman
  • SUPERVILLAINS AND PHILOSOPHY, edited by Ben Dyer

And that’s not even including the four e-books I have waiting in the wings. (For those who are curious: TAKEN by Erin Bowman, THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner, BRIGHTLY WOVEN, and NEVER FADE (The Darkest Minds #2) both by Alexandra Bracken.)

Now, I’m not reading all these books at once; for me, that’s a little excessive. But all of them are staring at me from my desk, waiting… waiting… waiting…

Meanwhile, I’m cowering under my revisions. Figures.

WHAT I’M WRITING

Right now, I’m reworking the first pages of my YA Fantasy ms so they can be ready for querying. I’ve gotten some reader feedback that revealed what I had been pretending not to see: my beginning needs to be better, and by better, I mean more accessible. It’s a matter of clearer world building, so I’m working on including some more observations, tweaking some descriptions, and putting more color and substance in overall.

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW

I found this stellar Finnish watercolor artist on Tumblr yesterday, and the artist’s work is amazing and fantastic. I even made one of her pieces my desktop background. Check out her Tumblr: http://tir-ri.tumblr.com/

WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO

Last week when I was writing at the library, I discovered that a little knitting group meets there every Thursday morning. I told my friend, and we basically danced around in circles together via text, so guess where we’ll be tomorrow morning? :)

I also saw DIVERGENT in theaters on opening day, and I have to say that the movie did the book justice. Though I’d still suggest reading the book first (I always do!), it’s definitely a movie you should see.

To check out some other WUW posts from this week, head on over to Jaime’s post here! Have a great day, all.

Cracking Open a Window – Repost

The next few posts are going to be reposts of blogs I’ve written on other blogging platforms in the past, because I’ve started and abandoned way too many blogs to count.

Cracking Open a Window – Past post 2/? – Originally posted at kristinekim.blogspot.com (which will be deleted in the future), August 22, 2010.

Many people have heard the joke of 1+1=window. Don’t get it? Move the two dashes that make up the equals sign to the top and bottom of the phrase (phrase?) “1+1”. Voila! Window!

The point is, there are many technical aspects to a story, some of which–such as grammar, punctuation, sentence fluency, blah blah blah–are the same in essentially every story out there. Most books follow the same rules that are out there for conventions; some writers and editors even use THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE by Strunk and White as a writers’ bible of sorts. The conventions and technicalities covered in books and articles the cyber world over are the parts that make up the “1+1”; they’re simple statements, and story essentials.

But it’s the window part that gets tricky. Because even though you’re using the conventions that are the same within every story out there, whether it be the unfailing cliches or stereotypical characters, it’s up to YOU to decide what your readers see in your window. What world will you create? Is it light or dark? How will you tell your story?

Through this journey of creating your window, however, you must also make sure that your blinds are up, and your reader can see outside. It’s not enough for them to know that they are in a different world. Show them the rolling green hills, and let them feel the soft taps of rain as it blows through the window on a chilly breeze. Let them hear the laughing children and the screech of a passing car–it could lead to your next conflict. Allow them to hear for themselves what your characters are doing.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: Don’t let conventions and mere technicalities get in the way of telling your story. The important part is to tell it, and to tell it well. Let people know that venturing outside, into your story, is worth it. If you’re an author struggling to get even your first story out of your fingertips, much like myself, figure out what you can find outside your window. Discern what you’re seeing. Even if you can’t, that’s okay; there are times when even the clearest window can be marred by the splatters of a rainstorm or by pranksters who decided that egging your house was the way to go. But even that can be cleaned.

If not, maybe it’s just a matter of getting a new window.

Writing can be as easy as 1+1. If they put their mind to it, anyone can do it. Anyone is capable of telling a story and putting it to paper. But to create a window is hard work. Opening one can be even harder. But people have done it before; through the opening of their own windows and the cracking of spines (books spines, that is), we have ventured into J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, felt the wonder of J.K. Rowling’s Platform 9 3/4, and known what it felt like to cry at the death of a harp that was the idea of Lloyd Alexander. Don’t give up; your own window is there, waiting for you. Once that sucker is open, it’s not just a window overlooking the story… it’s a portal into your own world.

The State of Unthinking – Repost

The next few posts are going to be reposts of blogs I’ve written on other blogging platforms in the past, because I’ve started and abandoned way too many blogs to count.

The State of Unthinking – Past post 1/? – Originally posted at kristinewrites.wordpress.com (which will be deleted in the future), June 4, 2012

There’s a notion shared by many writers (and dismissed by many others) that when you’re writing, your characters/story/pen/brain monkey take over, and you keep writing just so you can figure out what’s going to happen next in your story. I was just writing a bit of my Camp NaNoWriMo story, and I experienced something like it–maybe not exactly the same as what other writers experience, but my version of that writing state.

If you can’t guess from the title, I’ve decided to call it the State of Unthinking, because I’m all whimsical like that. Or whatever.

But I noticed when I write, things just happen on the page that I never realized would happen. I include a character I never knew existed, or I put in a minor detail with the potential of turning the whole story around for no reason known to me.

I’m not saying that I’m not writing this story, though. At a rational level, I’m very much in the John Green* camp, in that I am the person who comes up with my ideas, and no character randomly steals my keyboard from me and decides to do whatever he pleases with my story. I care too much (and I’m too much of a control freak) to let that happen. Typically, I know what’s going to happen in my story. I plot the basic timeline, I know most of the big things that are going to happen.

But I do believe in the State of Unthinking. When I write, I’m not actively thinking about the story–-my brain is strange, and I get engrossed in the image of black and white words appearing on the page***, rather than what I’m actually writing. (Somehow, most of the time what I write actually makes sense. Weird, huh?) But I’m still writing. The story is still moving. What I’m writing usually (or at least hopefully) impacts the future of the story**.

Anyway, nothing profound. I just like the name I came up with. Now going back to the State of Unthinking.

* I don’t think I need to explain just how much of a John Green fan girl I am. Yes, I’m one of those writers. Heh, what can I say? The man writes good books.

** For some reason, autocorrect wanted to correct “story” to “Osborn”. I just… What?

***ETA: This is necessarily true anymore. I am very conscious of what I’m putting down on the page, but my inner editor doesn’t have a tendency to butt in.