Monthly Archives: April 2014

What’s Up Wednesday – April 30

Hello, all! I hope you week since the last WUW has been fantastic. Can you believe it’s already the end of April? IT’S GONNA BE MAY. *insert N*Sync gif here* *I’m not sure how to get gifs to work in blog posts, so I’m not going to insert one today.*

WHAT I’M READING:

I just finished Gillian Flynn’s GONE GIRL this morning, and I basically exploded all over my keyboard when emailing my CP about it, haha. It’s really good! I’m not going to spoil it for anyone, but it was definitely an interesting read. There were points when it made me extremely uncomfortable because… well, like I said, no spoilers. But just… AHHH.

I was reading the book as an ebook borrowed from my library (borrowing ebooks, by the way? SO COOL), but there was a point last night when, 85% of the way into the book, the app I was reading through suddenly couldn’t connect to the servers. And then the app crashed. And it did that every time I opened the app. And did I mention I was EIGHTY-FIVE PERCENT done with the book?

So yeah. That was pretty torturous. The app got working again this morning, and I finished the book from the comfort of my bed. Sigh.

I’ll likely read Marie Lu’s PRODIGY next, the next book in the LEGEND trilogy, since I also borrowed that on ebook, and it has a shorter check-out time for some reason (two weeks instead of three). I’ll also be trying to finish the other library books that I’ve had for like two months, thanks to renewals. Here’s a promise to myself: no borrowing new books until I finish the ones I have. Also, no more renewing.

WHAT I’M WRITING:

Still working on the revisions I started last week. Nothing much on this front that is of interest, haha. I guess that’s chalked up more to the fact that I’m relatively private about my writing than about my reading… but yes. Revisions. Rereading. Critiquing. All that fun stuff. :)

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW:

Reading a lot–and this week, GONE GIRL especially, has made me look even more closely at character motivations, which I’m currently weaving in more for secondary characters in my revisions. People are very interesting and strange, but there is an element of truth in the fact that truth is stranger than fiction. In stories, everything has to make sense to some extent. It gives you a lot to think about.

WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO:

The usual. My friends with whom I started the crafting day the other week (the oobies, remember?) have decided to basically make a club out of it, featuring us three, and possibly a couple more people when summer comes around. Planning that has been ridiculously fun, so hopefully that continues!

How has everyone else’s week been?

Check out this week’s WUW posts here.

What’s Up Wednesday – April 23

Another week, another WUW post. Let’s get right to it!

WUW1

WHAT I’M READING:

Please excuse me while I remove the foot in my mouth to say that I loved LEGEND by Marie Lu, and that I am slightly more open to the dystopian train. To be honest, somehow, LEGEND felt more like a fantasy to me than a dystopian. It totally isn’t fantasy, though, so I’m not sure where that feeling came from. The world building was solid, and I think that helped submerge me into the story.

Many of the emotions and circumstances within the story seemed much more visceral than some of what I’ve been reading lately, and it helped pull in my reader mind a lot more than it engaged my writer mind–which is a good thing, as it means I am unconsciously thinking more as a reader who enjoys the story, instead of as a writer who picks up things that could be written better. Thinking about it, I feel like my immersion has to do with the characters’ roles within the world, as both are (sort of) in positions of power in their social classes. Lu also created a world that I feel like is a lot closer to ours than other dystopians I’ve read, at least when it comes to the concept of free will. Even if the government could be in control, many of the actions of the citizenry can be classified as being in their hands, rather than being dictated by rules and the like.

I’d definitely recommend this to anyone. It’s a really great book. I borrowed my copy from the library, but I’ll be adding it to my collection the next time I go to a book store.

WHAT I’M WRITING:

I’m working on revisions for one of my stories, and starting to plan another one. Because the other book I was planning for the last couple weeks is a sequel, I’m still on the fence about actually writing it. It could just turn into one of those projects that I turn to when I need a break from what I’m working on at a particular time. But still… more writing! Pushing on!

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW:

Reading books like LEGEND is definitely up there. Also: video game lore.

I started playing World of Warcraft back in November, and it seriously amazed me how much lore there is within the world. Though I haven’t been playing as much for the last couple weeks, all the storytelling still fascinates me. WoW has been around for years and years, and people don’t pay as much attention to the world as they used to before the expansions, but if you take it slow–and with all the WoW expansions, you’d be playing the game really slowly if you want to get all the lore–the game is really built around an entire story that encompasses years and worlds. It’s seriously amazing how much work goes into just the storyline, and kind of saddening in a way that so many players grind through all the story to gain levels and items–which is fun, but it kind of seems like a waste of the story.

However, there are books and things published about the WoW world, and some YouTube people have compiled video playlists that go through the world and explain the lore, so it’s not like the story is lost on those who grind through the game. I still don’t know most of it, and it almost makes me wish that I’d played with years and years ago, when it was still “vanilla”–basically WoW version 1.0, without all the extra expansions. Back then, everyone was in it for the story as well as the gameplay. It would have been fun to get a better understanding of the world from the beginning, and even more enjoyable to do it in the company of everyone else discovering the game for the first time.

WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO:

I’ve been consistent with my exercising for the past week, which is fantastic! *flexes muscles* *deflates* (I don’t have flex-able muscles.) I’ve also been watching anime, sewing Oobies (little plush monster things), and avoiding cleaning my room. The Oobies are especially fun–my friend and I are planning to make an entire army of Oobies in different costumes. The first one I made is wearing a haz mat suit with a green visor. It is super cute.

Oobie Haz Mat

I mean really.

Check out other What’s Up Wednesday posts here. If you’re interested in my outlining/writing prep process, take a gander at my post that compares outlines to ghost hearts. Ghost hearts are seriously awesome.

Have a great week, everyone!

Ghost Heart Outlining

Before you get any farther, read THIS. Seriously, read it and be amazed at science and also because otherwise, unless you have previous experience with ghost hearts, what I’m saying will make less sense. It might still make sense, but depending on how successfully I convey what I mean… well…

How about we move on. After you check out the whole ghost heart phenomenon.

As I mentioned in my WUW post a few days ago, my method of outlining isn’t chapter-by-chapter, at least not before I actually start the book. I have to outline my stories completely, from beginning to end, but not on a deep level. In fact, outlining each chapter paralyzes me. It puts me under too much pressure when I barely know what’s happening in the first place. It’s like dropping me on a map and telling me to go when I don’t even know what my final destination is supposed to be. (I am not a fan of driving without directions.)

I, for one, would rather not resort to going in circles before making an informed decision. It’s just not how I roll. Drive. Travel. Whatever.

Instead, I build a ghost heart.

My method could be likened to the snowflake method, but with a lot less pressure to know exactly what’s going to happen. That is, it starts small and builds up and up until I have a one-page synopsis that I pieced together from my previous steps. The benefit for me is that I have a one-page synopsis when I’ve finished (albeit a bad one), and I also have a much better idea of my plot and my characters.

One of the things I find absolutely paralyzing about the beginning of the snowflake method is how much the method demands from the beginning. It’s hard enough to come up with an elevator pitch–that is, one to two sentences detailing your plot, ideal for snagging people’s attention on short notice–after you’ve already written the book. To do so before I’ve even started, before I’ve truly discovered my characters and plot, has never been something that I can accomplish in a way that I find satisfactory. The best way I’ve found to combat this is to *not* put the condense-your-whole-book-in-twenty-words pressure on myself. Instead, I figure out everything about the story instead of the entire story by itself.

My first step is 99% mental, 1% maybe writing things down if I don’t want to forget them. Here, I let myself percolate on plot points I think I know, letting them simmer until I have enough to tease out into an actual story.

Next, I figure out what I’m writing on the more technical level–Do I have a title? What’s my genre? What are my themes? How long might this be? (I usually have a pretty good gauge on how long my first drafts are going to be, so it’s useful for me to think about this because it tells me if I have a viable novel-length story with which to work.)

Then, I move into the specifics that I know. Who’s my protagonist? Antagonist? Secondary characters? Tertiary characters? And then I figure out what kind of people these characters are. What are their motivations? Why should the protagonist have the book told from his/her POV? The antagonist has to have a better reason for being MUAHAHAEVILLL than being mad. So what’s his/her deal? And who are all these other names, and why are they indispensable? Would they have a tendency to slow down the MC, or are they good catalysts to get the MC moving? (Both types are useful and necessary.) Are there too many pushers? Are there too many pullers?

After that, I figure out setting. For the book I’ve been working on outlining, I put a very vague description here and skipped it for a while, filling it in as I figured out more of the plot. Since the story I was outlining is set in a world I’ve worked with before, I didn’t need to put a ton here; however, for books in a totally new world, I’d put a paragraph or two about the magic system, what kind of people live in the world, any aspects of politics that I know, and other elements that tell me what my characters will be dealing with in the environment.

Then it gets fun. (Also more difficult.) Because now I’m at what I call the bare bones. On the surface level, it’s pretty simple because I only have to identify five aspects of my plot: The introduction, Disaster 1, Disaster 2, Disaster 3, and the Denouement. They’re all the parts that move the book from exposition, to Act 2, to Act 3, and to the end. If you’re not mentally in tune with your plot, this part can be really difficult. However, figuring out these plot elements at this point is important to me because it gives me scenes to move toward and away from. Whatever those disasters are, they have to be BIG; otherwise the book lacks a good balance of tension (not the case for every book, of course, but generally). So the only pressure I have is figuring out those BIG parts–which is easier to do than piecing together the lulls, because the disasters are often what gets me excited to write a story in the first place.

Once I get the bare bones, I tease out more of the story with the Save the Cat “beat sheet” by Blake Snyder, recommended to me by my lovely CP, Marika. You’ll be able to find plenty on the beat sheet if you do a quick Google search, but it’s basically a fill in the blank with these criteria:

  • Opening image (The first thing readers see, whether that be emotionally or visually)
  • Theme stated (What’s the theme?)
  • Setup (Backstory–but not too much!)
  • Catalyst (What changes things?)
  • Debate (Character faces a conflict and makes a choice)
  • Break into Act 2 (After the choice is made, there’s a big change)
  • B Story (Subplot)
  • Fun & games (“The promise of the premise,” the fun stuff)
  • Midpoint (Could be a false high or low; stakes are raised; things are not as they seem; the fun is over)
  • Bad guys close in (things getting worse)
  • All is lost (The opposite of the midpoint, but it is another apex, and motivates a change in direction)
  • Black moment (self explanatory)
  • Finale (The climax)
  • Final image (the opposite of the opening image)

Once I have all those pieces, I have all the parts of a synopsis. From there, it just comes down to putting together the different parts in a cohesive way, and I have an outline and synopsis.

And then I’m ready to start drafting.

Now, you’re probably wondering why I made you look at that ghost heart at the beginning. Well, it’s pretty simple, really–while I’m outlining, I’m putting together all of these pieces, all of the parts that get to the heart of the story. With my outline, I’ve constructed the ghost heart of my story. I have the structure, and everything is present to make the story work–all the veins, the motivations, the chambers. I have everything.

Except the blood. The life. Those comes with the actual drafting, and then my heart will be red and pumping.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you used a beat sheet while outlining or during revision? Let me know, and tell me how you liked it!

Be sure to check back on Wednesday for my WUW post–I’ll be talking about LEGEND by Marie Lu!

What’s Up Wednesday – April 16

I’m late today! So we’re jumping right in:

WHAT I’M READING:

I just got back from the library to turn in my copy of MATCHED by Ally Condie (which I borrowed from the library… yesterday). Suffice to say that I enjoyed the read. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite read, since I, like a lot of people nowadays, have gotten a little tired of dystopian, if only because they come with many similar themes (most often the horrifying notion that not everything in the characters’ lives is under their control), and pretty much always lead to rebellion. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing… but it does start to feel like you’re reading the same thing over and over, despite the beautiful, diverse, and feel-inducing situations of each book. Maybe I would feel differently if it had been a while since I read/watched my last dystopian. (Looks at DIVERGENT, THE HUNGER GAMES.)

I’ll probably be totally throwing away that whole last paragraph by admitting that after I returned MATCHED, I checked out LEGEND by Marie Lu. Sue me.

WHAT I’M WRITING:

I’m currently planning out my next book! Hoorayyyyyy! I am totally an outliner, no question about it, and I love this part of the process. What I like about the planning stage is that I have the freedom of discovering my world right away. There are some writers who love the joy of discovery while writing first, and I love that, too… but somehow, knowing some of what’s coming and exactly what I have to look forward to helps keep me going, and keeps me excited about my projects. It also helps me write scenes with much more impact from the get-go, and I can be more precise about how much emotion should be shown in a particular scene, and just how much of a future plot point I can give away/foreshadow in an earlier bit.

I don’t outline chapter by chapter, but I do work with a synopsis and the bones of the work. I saw a post on Tumblr the other day with the picture of a heart that is translucent white–it was a whole heart, but all of the blood had been–actually, I’m going to stop talking about this here and start drafting a post about outlining. I hold you in suspense! *clings*

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW:

If you can find it, check out Delicate by Kina Grannis. (Music). There’s also another song of hers, but it won’t be officially released until May 6. I’ll probably write up a whole post about Kina someday.

WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO:

Basically I’ve just been doing a lot of reading and some writing. Attending baseball games, though I won’t be going to another one for another month. (GO MARINERS! Hometown pride! I hope they actually do well this year!) (cough) Not much else. I should really do some cleaning…

Anyway.

I hope you’ve all been well! If you want to leave a comment, I’d love to hear about some of your favorite recent reads, and whether you have any book recommendations for me–any genre. If you haven’t read them, here are books I recommended to my friend just today:

– CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein (YA historical; very good and feel-inducing)
– ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins (YA contemporary romance. Lovelovelove. It was published in 2010, so if you haven’t read it, get on that!)
– ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell (YA contemporary set in the 80s. Amazing.)
– GRACELING by Kristin Cashore (YA fantasy. Fantastic. And not just because it’s fantasy.)

Pretty much all of these have already been published for a while, which is all the more reason to check them out. Maybe you won’t even have to wait on the holds list at your library when you put in a request! Oh man. I love libraries.

As always, check out the other WUW posts HERE.

Excitement and Disappointment

It has come to my attention that the past couple weeks have included a lot of *flailing* from me. I’ve noticed it in my emails, in my Tweets, in my conversations, and even in my real life actions. I lift my arms and wave them around. I dance in my chair. I get up and rock side-to-side, spinning in a circle with my arms hanging loose.

I flail.

I guess all that means is that I am finding reasons to get excited. Not even necessarily about exciting things–maybe it’s just that I’m easily pleased. I’m not as easily disappointed.

Publishing is fraught with rejection, but you don’t hear about it all the time. It’s not just authors who get rejected while querying or proposing an idea to a critique parter–or, for that matter, in trying to find a critique partner at all. Rejection is part of every stage. Agents could reject edits. Editors could reject agents. The top banana at publishers could reject the editor who loves your project. Writers could reject an offer that isn’t right for them. Readers could reject the story.

So yeah. Lots of rejection.

But for me, keeping the outlook of easily-excited-and-not-easily-disappointed is healthy. I’ve been keeping an eye on publishing ever since I became serious about it as a sophomore in high school. It’s changed since then, and it’ll keep changing, and I’m okay with that. I know it’s what I want to do, in some form or another. But as an observer and hopeful participant in the more bookish side of the world, I know I have to have thick skin going in. I rejoice at the happiest of happys and take the disappointments as they come. They’re never going to stop coming.

But that’s okay. I’m a lot happier to be happy with what I have. And I’m excited to keep adding to that happy pile.

What’s Up Wednesday – April 9

It’s been another week! (And I totally didn’t post on Monday like I said I would. Sadface.) This week I’ll just jump right in.

WHAT I’M READING:

I finished THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN (Holly Black) and THE ARCHIVE (Victoria Schwab) in the past week! They were both splendid reads, and I recommend them if you like your fantasy with a little grit, a little gloom, and a lot of wonderful.

I wasn’t expecting to like COLDEST as much as I thought I would because I’m not a huge vampire person, as I shared last week. But really, for this book, it was easy to go with the vampirisms. They’re not overt, they don’t romanticize being a vampire (or not being a vampire!), and it’s a good read overall. My thoughts align pretty exactly with Veronica Roth’s on this book, so rather than rehash all that, check out her review here.

As for THE ARCHIVE, I went in knowing I’d like it. I’m a fan of Schwab’s work (and I’m a fan of Black’s, too, for that matter), but check out the hook: Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books. I mean… YES times a million. It’s definitely a great read, and very twisty, which I loved.

Next up are my books on villainy (hehehe) and the assorted books I’ve accumulated on my Kindle app. That is, as long as I can restrain my fingers, which love placing holds on library books.

WHAT I’M WRITING:

I’m still working on the same story I was working on last week, but I’ve added on 3ishK in the last week! Not a ton, by any means, but still. More words!

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW:

Nice weather. Rainy weather. Windy weather. Weather. Our world is so cool.

WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO:

I received my SCBWI packet in the mail the other day, so I’ve been poring over The Book that came with it, basically just exploring anything I can get my hands on. I’ve also started exercising again, which is something I sorely needed (keyword here being “sore”), and I’m working on making exercise part of routine. Because if you’re sitting at a desk all day writing words, you need something to make sure your body doesn’t deflate due to lack of muscle.

I hope everyone else’s week has been great! Check out other WUWs at Jaime Morrow’s or Erin Funk’s blog.

#brbcrying

Today’s post is totally going to be a cop out because I’m crying over a minor character. I’ll be back Monday, and hopefully I’ll be more coherent.

Here is a picture of some pretty trees to tide you over:

SAM_3006

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great weekend, everyone!

What’s up Wednesday – April 2

April, you guys! Can you believe it? And even though I live near the Seattle area, it’s sunny outside. Psh, April showers? More like… like… you know, not. *twiddles thumbs* (I’m a novelist.)

I hope April Fool’s Day wasn’t too brutal for anyone. Personally, I caught 68 Pokemon on Google Maps. I’m putting that in the bank as a win. (More info here.)

I’m a bit antsy because of one of those writer things, but I’m undecided about exactly how transparent I want to be at this point, so I’ll remain vague for now. *twiddles thumbs some more* *chews nails into oblivion*

Anywho. For something I’m not talking about, I’m talking about it a lot. Let’s move on, shall we?

What I’m reading:

My list on this end is the same as it was last week, because that’s what happens when I read many books at once. I’m farthest in Holly Black’s THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN, and I am enjoying it significantly more than I thought I would, given the subject matter. I adore Holly Black, but vampires have never been a strong point of interest for me. She does a great job with them, though. It almost makes me want to read more vampire books. Almost.

I also started the first pages of THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner–by the way, am I the only one who finds it amusing that MAZE was written by someone whose last name included the word “dash”? Yes? Okay. I got the book because I’d heard tons about it, I just found out (during the previews when I went to see DIVERGENT) that it was coming out as a movie, and because it was on sale at the Kindle store. When you gotta jump, you gotta jump, right? So I did.

What I’m writing:

I’m currently revisiting my NaNo novel, which I abandoned in favor of working on my main story, WISPY, and studying for my last week of being an undergraduate. When I left it behind during that first week of December, it was sitting at a cool 54k words. Now, I’m close to crossing the threshold of 60k, thanks in part to the NaNo writing sprints that have (re)taken over my Twitter feed with Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m a competitive soul, though I like to tell myself I’m not. Either way, I’m making progress, and I’m happy about it.

What inspires me:

Even though no one would deign to call me a music buff–this, despite the fact that my brother is a musician and my best friend makes a point to participate in singing things amidst college life–I’ve been pretty hung up on music for the past week. Kina Grannis in particular. (If you click her name, you’ll be taken to her YouTube page.) I’ve been subscribed to her for years and years, and her songs always, always end up working their way into my book playlists. The resemblance her songs have to some of my characters’ situations/mentalities is uncanny. Plus she has a new album coming out this May, and I am just flailing all over the place.

What else I’ve been up to:

I went to the knitting circle last week with my friend, and it was delightful! The group is made up of a bunch of very welcoming ladies, and it was nice to finally make some progress on the sweater I started in December. Even if I only finished one more row. And might have messed up at some point.

Unfortunately, we won’t be going back to the circle for a long while because my friend has school, and I’m not brave enough to venture into that circle regularly all by my lonesome–especially considering the fact that I’m at least a decade younger than the youngest of them. They are lovely, though.

Other than that, baseball season started up again! Boyface (that’ll be my boyfriend, because for some reason I like adding “face” at the ends of words) and I went to the stadium on Monday to watch the M’s first game of the season. Of course, it wasn’t a home game, but our team does this great thing where fans can pay $1 to come to the stadium and watch the first game of the season on the big screen with a bunch of other people. It was fun. Also, mmmmm, garlic fries. Delicious.

(It has come to my attention that I should really start taking pictures so these black and white blog posts can get a little more interesting visually.)

That’s it from me this Wednesday. Check out some of my other recent posts, including Monday’s post, wherein I declare my love for Post-It notes and explain how I use them for outlining.

Head on over to Jaime Morrow’s blog to read her post and wander through some other What’s Up Wednesday posts.

Have a great day, and happy writing!