Thursday, June 30, 2011

My Story Conundrum and a Little Food for Thought

Recently, I got sucked back into a story I started back in middle school and then abandoned.  I'm entering my senior year of college so a pretty good chunk of time has passed...yet I can't seem to let this story go.  I've done a lot of rewriting, shifted gears from 1st person to 3rd, created 3 new characters, and really fleshed out the whole the point that I don't know what it is anymore.  The two MCs are a seventeen-year-old boy nearing eighteen and his sixteen-year-old girlfriend. 

Originally, I intended this MS to be Young Adult.  There's nothing supernatural in this story.  With paranormal being such a hit in MG, YA, and Adult books, I know this story's a bit of a risk.  It deals with events like first loss, first love, trusting someone and being led astray, acceptance, growing up, etc., etc.  Those several themes I listed are not uncommon in YA. 

Here's the catch: I have a sex scene.  And it isn't some vague setup: "they fell into a tangle of limbs...passionate kissing" end scene before the good stuff.  I use words like "erection" and "breast" which are obvious no-nos in the YA genre.  I SHOULD just scratch the scene and rewrite some vague, glossed over idea of it...and yet I can't. 

I find the United States' stickler about sex so ridiculous.  We try to avoid it and scare the young population away from it (even though it dominates our music, movies, and television) by talking about the diseases.  As a result we have TV shows about pregnant 15 and 16 years olds.  And it isn't uncommon to hear through the grapevine about some middle schoolers having sex and winding up pregnant--at 13 or under. 

Sex is a natural thing.  By avoiding it--we end up with horror stories like these.  In Europe, they show an animated clip in Sexual Education that, along with the possible diseases and the necessity of using protection, actually shows how to touch the erogenous zones so that sex is pleasurable.  Another common incident here in the great US or A is that a large number of women fake orgasms.  Why?  Because people don't take the time or effort to learn about sex in today's busy world.  Europe's number of pregnant and diseased teens is also less than ours.  Of course, this video can't be found ANYWHERE online, but I had the opportunity to watch it in a special, one time class at school, and it was actually smart.  It made me think seriously about our country's Sex Ed choices, which I find lacking.

Now, I know that I can't change our Sex Ed, and fighting to keep the sex scene in my MS is a sure way to not get published, but I feel like it's important.  It's a very real part of growing up, trial and error, and first love.  I guess what I'm getting at with this little rant is that I wish there was a bridging level between YA and Adult where the characters could still be teenagers, but the sex scene could be true. 

And now that I've shared my thoughts on the matter--and I hope you'll share yours--I can get back to working on the story mentioned.

Monday, March 21, 2011

No writer strictly writes

At least, not that I've ever met.  I love doing art projects.  I enjoy drawing, making dream catchers, necklaces, and now I think I'm getting into masks.  I've always loved masks--I want to decorate my future home in fans, masks, and weapons--but I've never actually had one.  This past weekend, a friend and I decided to make masks and I love how mine came out.

This is me posing in my mask.  I think this may become my summer hobby.  I wrote some of my favorite words on it and I'll likely keep adding to it as time goes on.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Writing a killer Chapter One

If you're serious about writing--and succeeding with it--you know the first things that I reader looks at is the cover, title, blurbs, back description, etc.  But before you even get to that point, you have to pass the trials of editors, agents, and publishers.  And how you do that is with a really grabbing first sentence--and a killer Chapter One.

Today while getting lost in internet links and following the long line of suggestions deeper into the abyss, I stumbled on an article high lighting eight ways to write Chapter One Amazing.  I hope you find as much food for thought as I did; I can never find enough suggestions to improve my writing.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Muse has ADHD

Some authors can actually visualize their Muses: male, female, short, tall—all that good stuff.  I can’t.  My muse is a dark silhouette that dashes around the labyrinth of my mind and shifts shape and form constantly.  I’m fine with that, as long as it guides me straight, it can be a crow for all I care. 

So, a little while back a friend gave me the good advice of settling on 20 stories out of the hundreds I’ve started and dedicate myself to those 20.  Those 20 will be the ones I fight alongside until the end (publication, hopefully).  The list turned out to be 22 (including 2 manuscripts I’d already completed minus editing) and today it hit 23.  Why?  Because my Muse is ADHD.  Really. 

Most people can focus on one story and dedicate themselves to it….much like a relationship.  Not me.  Usually I’m continuously working on at least three with several on the back burner (I’m very committed in relationships though—I would never cheat).  Today, my Muse (maybe I’ll call it Crow) flew to an old story idea—one that I started, got several pages in, built a rough skeleton outline, and then left.  Well, now, not only have I been thinking about that story all day, and hearing the hero's voice in my head commanding an introduction with the heroine who escaped him, but I’ve got characters and a skeletal storyline for book 2.  Really?  Really?!  As if I don’t have enough characters in my mental army.  22—23 stories, each with a minimum of 2 characters (math is not my strong suit—bear with me!) puts me with about 46 made up people marching through my mind more or less on a daily basis. 

I may go insane before the end. 

Writing Tools, Galore

I don't exactly have my ear to the ground about anything.  I'm a junior in college, I'm trying to juggle writing, classes, working.  I'm an editor on my school's literary journal, I've been researching a summer writing institute that's oddly named after my MC (a sign??), picking workshops for NH Writers' Day....I've been crazy busy.  But on top of all of that, I've also been trying to pick back up on Twitter, Blogging (I started an account with Tumblr) and I'm told to check out WordPress.

Here's the thing.  As soon as I start again, I get overwhelmed.  There are so many links, so many suggestions, and I know I can't just pick one thing and stick with that--one isn't enough.  I need a better balance.  Blog daily, blog often.  Tweet multiple times through the day.  Check these sites out.  Write. 

Obviously these are all invaluable tools in the writing industry.  But I don't know how to use most of them.  Writing is like war, I can't stop, I have to keep moving forward, even when I feel like I'm just flailing through it. 

Anyone feel like sharing what works for them?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

an apology and a sample

Hi everyone.... I'm sorry I haven't posted anything in a few months, #writerfail as we say on Twitter.  I've been spending a lot more time online, looking at other writers websites and blogs and mine just looks so shabby and silly in comparison.  I can't currently afford to have a professional website designed for myself so I sort of lost my spark for my blog.  Like real life, first appearances matter, and honestly--when you first see my blog, it looks ridiculous compared to all the professionals out there.  It doesn't give the message that I'm serious.  I'll take this experience blogging as a warm-up for the website & blog I hope to be able to get up and running before the end of this year.  But for now, I'm still working away on my story, pouring almost all of my energies into wrapping it up, and very pleased with how it's coming along.

This morning I did a writing warm up on this woman's blog: and it was a lot of fun.  I'm posting my 250ish :) word 'story' below, but please go see her blog and her picture prompts and see what it does for you!

He stood beside her, silent, unseen, staring down with her at the ragged strip of orange rubber from an exploded balloon that sat so innocently on dusk-darkened blades of grass. Tears tracked shining lines down the centers of her cheeks and dripped from her jaw. She lifted her head, stared sightlessly into the darkening trees standing around her, and swallowed. Without another glance to the balloon fragment, she started walking.
He followed her like a shadow.
The night summer breeze kissed her hair and scattered her brown bangs across her forehead. She didn’t reach up to fix them as she walked through the darkening park and towards the river churning a couple dozen feet away. Her hands curled into the wire fence dividing the park from the water and she stuffed her sneaker toes into the holes as she began to climb.
He was waiting on the other side when she dropped to the ground and followed her as she followed the water. Ahead, it was louder, dropping over the side of a dam. They stopped together and stared down at the shimmering water, one of the brightest points of the park in this semi-darkness.
Don’t do this, he told her. Just wait. Your life can be like those happy peoples’ lives someday. You just have to make it that way.
“I am the balloon,” she murmured to the thickening darkness and climbed the fence that denied the dam to the public. Without slowing her steps, she stepped off of the concrete ledge.
A short while later she stood beside him and they stared together at the shining, tumbling water, and the dark obstruction broken against the rocks below.

Thanks for sticking with me!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Writing Difficulties

I've been struggling to do what I love for the past few months so naturally I've been wondering....what the hell is the problem?  I love the handful of stories I've been juggling and the stories' characters.  Friends and Twitter friends I've bounced my thoughts and ideas off of think that I've got some great stories.  Not writing makes me unhappy.  So why can't I WRITE my stories?  I mean I've been writing every day of my life since forever.  I still plan on going to college to better my craft and I still intend on seeing my books on the romance shelves in Borders stores someday.  So what the hell is the problem?  Over the past few days I've gotten a mild grasp on at least part of it. 

I'm losing my motivation.  Why?  Because I'm still writing for myself.  I want to share my stories, but there isn't anyone demanding them.  So I have no pressure to hit my daily word count goal.  Since I'm a Plotter and not a Pantser, I already know my stories.  Spending hours sitting on my butt typing is starting to appeal to me less and less as the sun shines.  Yes....I'm are too so don't be so judgmental. 

Published authors have agents and readers awaiting their next book.  Right now, I'm still writing for me.  I don't even have a critique group to snap that whip.  And it's a large part of why I'm so looking forward to taking writing classes at Southern New Hampshire University and joining the Creative Writing Club--I'll have deadlines.  I've heard before that deadlines are important for an author, but now that I've fallen off of the dream trail so to speak, I realize how truly important they are.

I know I want to finish two manuscripts for this October.  I know that I want to be published before I graduate college with a second manuscript accepted.  But both of those are very loose deadlines.  So I need to tighten up my goals.  I currently have a daily word count goal of 3k words that I've not even been close to hitting.  So--how am I going to find the trail again?  I'm going to whip my Muse and me back into shape.  Forget about the morning stretches, I'll get up while it's still quiet and dark and submerge myself in whichever one of my main manuscripts reaches for me first.  I'm going to start using Dr. Wicked's Write or Die website so that I definitely hit my daily word count goal.  I'm going to finally join the New Hampshire Romance Writers of America so I'm among my own kind and that should do the trick of keeping me en route until the fall semester rolls around.  Generally, all anyone needs is a little push, but we're usually pushed in too many directions by too many different things.  I'm an extremely stubborn person, I can push back.  I won't be lost.

"Don't be pushed by your problems.  Be led by your dreams."  -Anonymous