Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Leaving your characters hanging

I always feel bad when I stop writing. I have this image in my head of my characters waiting around wherever I've left them, waiting for me to come back and give them more to do.

Right now my MC is standing in the woods. She has her arms crossed, looking up at the trees with a bored expression on her face. She's tapping her foot. She's giving deep, heartfelt sighs. She is, after all, a rebellious teenager who does not particularly want to be where she is.

A few feet away, her five year old cousin is crouching down and playing in the dirt. She's writing her name with a stick. She's kind of glad to be stuck in the woods, because it means she isn't at home being made to do chores.

My MC's future love interest is up the path through the woods, waiting to be introduced to the MC. They haven't met yet. He really wants me to hurry up, but I'm not sure how exactly it's going to work. He doesn't care. But so far, all I know of him is his name, so he's going to have to wait.

My MC's grandmother is waiting for MC and little cousin to get home from school so she can make them do chores. She gets antsy without people to boss around, and her husband and son are out working in the fields.

And I feel sorry for all of them, because I'm stuck. And therefore, so are they. Let's hope I figure it out before they freeze or are eaten by wolves because they are standing in the woods at night.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pacing a teenage romance

I recently finished reading a highly anticipated YA novel, and while I enjoyed it, I had a problem with the pacing of the romantic relationship. It took fooorrrreevvveeerrr. Yeah, just like that. And on top of that, their interactions were extraordinarily brief and somewhat shallow, in my opinion. (Well, they were teenagers, so I suppose that is realistic)

On the other hand, I've read YA books where the romantic relationship moves at light speed. Ten pages in and they're in love and ready to run away together.

In my opinion, real teenage relationships fall somewhere in between. Yes, teenagers have intense feelings and tend to rush into things, but they are also for the most part incredibly insecure and afraid of said intense feelings not being reciprocated, so they tend to make absolutely sure of the other person's interest before admitting their own feelings.

The following steps apply to romantic relationships in modern day America, and may have to be adjusted for dystopian/sci-fi/fantasy genres.

1. The crush. The initial awareness of the other person's existence. Usually one-sided. Noticing of desirable physical or personality traits.

2. The "accidental" meeting. In high school, I memorized my crush's schedule so that I could casually be standing in a spot I knew he would pass on his way to his next class. Or made friends with guys on his sports team as an excuse to go to his game. Or happen to show up at the same after school spot where he hung out. If all goes according to plan, at this step the crush will become two-sided.

3. The first hang-out sess. Usually in a group setting, although some one-on-one time can be created. At this time, phone calls and texting are initiated.

4. 3rd party intervention. Friends on either side are made aware of crush and possible long-term interest and seek out confirmation of reciprocated feelings from other party, either directly or indirectly. This is the most important step, as the rest of the relationship hinges on whether or not both parties receive confirmation of like feelings.

5. The date. This can include simply sitting together at lunch if actual first date is not possible, or can include a one-on-one trip to the movies/mall/ etc.

6. Making it official. Facebook, that is. After this, public displays of affection and possessiveness are acceptable. Hating of jealous exes is appropriate, complete isolation from friends often ensues as the relationship gains in intensity and importance.

7. Complete and utter devotion

Friday, December 10, 2010

Obsessions in your writing

I think that all writers have certain obsessions that without fail appear in their writing. I know that mine come from things that have happened to me in my life and that I'm still (and will probably always) be dealing with or thinking about. My obsessions? Here is the list:

1. Death. Especially at a young age. If you missed the reason behind that, you can read my Thanksgiving blog post.
2. Forgiveness.
3. Betrayal.
4. Honesty.
5. Grandparents.
6. Missouri.
7. Florida.
8. Tattoos
9. Teenage romances that aren't perfect and don't end in happily ever after but teach you a lot about yourself.
10. God/religion/the afterlife
11. Puppies

So, what are your obsessions?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Is this glass half full?

Hope everyone had great Thanksgiving. Mine was lovely, with the exception of the bruises. You know, from trying to wrestle my MS Hellbound into submission. We fought, bitterly, for many days, until the merest thought of the damn thing made me so nauseous I almost turned down seconds of apple pie. Almost. Yeah, it got bad.

Therefore I have come to the massively gut-wrenching decision of shelving it for the time being. I desperately wanted to finish it before taking a break from it - I have been working on it steadily for almost a year. And itisthisclose to being done (well, the first draft, anyway). But I am so sick of looking at it that I can't bring myself to open it.

On the bright side, I have had a lightning strike of inspiration for my previous WIP, crappily titled Banished, which I shelved to work on Hellbound. The rough draft of Banished was completed and I was religiously editing when I realized that the plot was not working. I've come up with an idea to fix it, however....

It requires almost a complete re-write.

Sooo....I'd better get to work.