Thursday, June 28, 2012

Character Arcs

So, I was writing yesterday, and I realized that my MC had changed. In a good way. She's still Roslyn, but now she knows what she wants and she's going for it no matter what. Some of her views have changed, some of her values, her outlook on her own life. And immediately I thought: She's arching!!

Yes, my darling little MC Roslyn is cresting her character arc. It's like character puberty...or something. I'm so proud!

Which led me to realize that I didn't plan her character arc. I thought I did, but what I actually planned was how her situation changed (plot), not how she as a character changed. Big, big difference. Luckily, Roslyn decided to change as a character all on her own. And I love her for it<3

My favorite characters are those who change in some way. It doesn't have to be monumental. In fact, gradual, subtle changes move me the most. I'm currently reading Delirium by Lauren Oliver, and I LOVE the MC Lena's character arc. She's quite a different person from the beginning to the end of the book, but reading her journey along the way is so, so satisfying. (It also helps that Lauren's prose is DISTURBINGLY pretty.)

When I go through editing, I know I'll want to solidify my character arcs. So I started thinking of what kinds of questions I need to ask.

1. Who is this character at the beginning of the story? What are his/her values? Views? Personality traits?
2. How does this character's past effect who they are? Did any specific events happen to instill certain character traits? WHY are they the way they are?
3. What is his/her goal?
4. What is his/her motivation?
5. Who is this character at the end of the story? How did he/she change?
6. What/who caused the change? Is it believable?
7. Were other characters affected by his/her change? Which characters? How?
8. How does his/her change effect the plot/climax?

This is just a short list, but definitely some things to think about.

What about you guys? Did you plan your character arcs, or let them happen naturally while writing? Are there any questions you ask about your characters before writing, or plan to ask later? Have you read any books lately with great character arcs?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

WIP Update

Hi friends!

Is it just me, or is the blogging community kind of quiet lately? I mean, I know I'VE been quiet lately, so maybe it is just me. Or maybe everyone else is going on vacation/busy with summer things too, I don't know.


I have made myself a new deadline for finishing my WIP: Tuesday, July 24th. Why such a random day, you ask? Because I'm going on vacation on the 25th, and I'd really, really like to get the draft done before then. Really. That's assuming the final word count of the first draft will be around 80k. So who knows, but that's the goal. And I'm SO EXCITED to get this thing done with. It's like the neverending draft. And it's tried to murder me more than a few times (it's still making attempts when I'm not looking), so it'd be cool to wrangle it into submission sometime soon. And then I can add a "What I'm Working On" tab to the blog and be all official and stuff, because for some reason I won't allow myself to do that until the draft is complete. Because I'm weird like that.

I've also decided that I'm going to have a totally different approach to my next project. I'm going to...

wait for it...

wait for it...


Yes, outline. Serious, hardcore outlining. Because I haven't tried it yet, and I want to see if I work better that way or worse, or if it doesn't make a difference at all. I'm pumped!

But first I need to finish this WIP and stuff.

Do you guys have any goals for your WIPs? What are they? How are they coming along?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mid-Week Motivation

So, late at night when I'm reading or writing, I keep the Disney Channel on in the background. Don't ask me why, because I really don't know. It's a comfort thing, I guess? Or I just really love Disney that much? Anyway, these commercials are always on at night, and it just adds to the reason that I love Disney!:

I know I'm totally corny, but these always make me think of writing. They're so motivational! And even though they're intended for kids, the messages can apply to anyone with a goal or a dream. It's never too late for that. Hope I didn't freak you out too much with my intense love of Disney! :D

Friday, June 8, 2012

Novel Inspiration Pictures

On Saturday, I went into the city (Manhattan) with my sisters in law to the place that inspired my WIP. It was super fun to go back and see all the details that made me want to write the story. The coolest part, though, was realizing that the place in my novel is way cooler than the actual place :D haha.

Here are some pictures from the real place that inspired my novel :)

The door. How cool is that handle?

Chandelier above our table inside. Creeptastic and I love it!

This is actually from another place that we went to, but it has the same vibe. It's a crappy picture but that mirror was so eerie!

I wish I could have gotten more pictures, but it was really dark inside and hard to see. And, also, I don't think I was supposed to be taking pictures anyway. Heh.

Are any of your novels inspired by real places you've been to? Or even places you haven't been to? Have you had a chance to visit? It definitely helped to get me even more excited about the story, seeing the place that started it all!

Have an awesome weekend!

P.S. I'm going to St. Martin next week on vacation with The Husband! So I may not be around for a few days, but I'll try try try to get online if I can!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Short Story: Man Lost At Sea

Hey ya'll! So, I've mentioned that I was in a writing dry spell, and last week the lovely Cristina suggested that I write a short story to get my writer brain working again. So I did. And it totally helped! I wanted to write one short story per month this year, but this is only my second one because I'm a slacker. Sigh. Here's the story.

Man Lost At Sea

I stand by the sea and wait.
The water is dark and tumultuous, crashing at my bare feet. The bottoms of my jeans are cold and wet, sticking to my ankles and up my calves. Rocks and sand give way under my feet as the water pulls back, claiming the land, taking it away because it can. Just like it wants to take me.
I run a rough hand through my briny hair. I don’t want it to take me, but I’ll go willingly. I’ll go on my own terms when I’m ready. I’ll leave Brit behind. She won’t care anyway. She never did. I reach down and pick up a rock, smooth and cool from the ocean, turning it over in my hand. I want to throw it but it won’t skip in this choppy water. It warms as it steals my body heat, rolling over and over in my palm.
       The sun is lost behind thick, grey clouds, turning the horizon into an angry infinity. I know they’re watching me from the water. They’re waiting for their chance, or for me to make a choice.
My cell phone jingles in my pocket for the seventeenth time and I know it’s Brit again. The electronic tune grates on my nerves, like it’s Brit’s voice nagging and pulling at me, and I yank the phone out of my pocket and throw it long and hard out to sea. The exertion feels good, really good, and I thrill as I watch the device soar through the air and plunk down under the water’s surface.
I can almost feel them laughing at me, knowing that I’m close. I’m so close.
“Ha! Cade!”
I’d know that voice anywhere, even obscured and disembodied in the howling ocean wind. I stuff my hand in my jeans pocket, holding tight to the rock, mildly amused that I keep the rock but chuck the phone. I keep my back to the shore and glance toward the sound.
“Cade Johnson, man lost at sea!” Hank Donnelly gallops down the shoreline like a damn fool, hair flapping in the breeze. I know it’s because he’s in love with Shannon Moore, and I bet he’s just been to see her and that’s why he has that dunce grin on his face. He’s oblivious to the world but somehow manages to make spot-on observations.
I grip the rock in my pocket. Not lost at sea yet.
He stops a few feet behind me to avoid the breakers. “Where’ve you been?” he asks, panting, and I can hear the grin still plastered on his face.
“Here.” It’s suddenly stuffy on this vast beach now that I’m not alone. I take a deep breath of ocean air, and when I lick my lips it tastes like salt.
“Brit’s been looking for you. Said she called you and you never picked up. I knew you’d be here.”
“And here I am.” My tone is mocking, but Hank knows I don’t mean it at him. I don’t even know who I mean it at. Brit, probably. I can see her catlike green eyes squinting at me, judging me, always wanting me to change.
The sea is inviting in its wild thrashing—dark slate water churning, urging me to come forward. I keep my ground, feet planted in the sand and in the sea. I’m on a precipice, in between, and I’m not sure what will sway me one way or the other. Jolly Hank Donnelly isn’t helping.
“Everyone’s coming for the bonfire. You’ll stay for it, right?” Hank says.
“Did you come all this way just for that?”
“Yeah?” He says it like a question, like I should know that he’d come down to the beach just to find me.
I do know, because he’s trying to stop me but won’t say it, and I won’t acknowledge it.
“It’s supposed to storm,” I say. The darkening sky confirms my words, and the wind blows icy shards of seawater into our faces for good measure. I don’t wipe it away—it might be my home soon.
“Cade…where are your shoes?” Hank takes a step toward me, still out of the way of the greedy water.
I step deeper into the surf, my jeans soaked through to my knees as the waves hit. My shoes are in the water with my phone, but I won’t tell him that. It’s a dead giveaway that I’m practically signing my life over to the sea.
Practically, but not yet. Not yet, I shout in my mind at the eyes that are watching.
“Come on, man. Let’s get the bonfire started.” There’s a shred of desperation in Hank’s voice. He knows. He definitely knows. Damn, I don’t want to do this with him here.
I take a minuscule step back. I know they’re watching me. “I’ll be right there,” I say, turning the rock over in my pocket.
Hank just stands there like he doesn’t know what to do, staring between the ocean and me. “Brit’s coming soon. I told her I was looking for you here.”
I rake a hand through my hair, then two hands when I let go of the rock, breathing loudly through my nostrils. I want to be furious at Hank but it’s not his fault he’s an idiot. It’s Brit. It’s Brit I’m furious at. I don’t want to see her, don’t want her anywhere near me. And I sure as hell don’t want her to see me go under the water. Just the mention of her name drives me forward into the waves.
“Shut up, Hank!” I yell as the water hits my waist, chilling me to the bone. Dammit! I didn’t want it to be like this. I’m halfway there and I haven’t even made up my mind yet. At least I can be sure that Hank won’t follow me. He’s too scared.
The rush of wind and roar of the ocean is loud enough to cover my breathing and my pounding heart and any attempts Hank might make to stop me. I’m deaf with it, with the sea, and as a wave builds before me and water sprays into my eyes I’m blind with it, too. My sensation is lost, and all I know anymore is cold, freaking cold and wet and numb.
Numb is what I’m after. Numb erases her name and her eyes and the sound of her voice when she lies to me.
I can hear them now. They’re laughing, jeering. They’re coming to take me if I don’t move quickly.
I make up my mind. I go willingly into the sea, plunging deep into the water and away.
It’s like ice to my bones and a heavy veil over my body as I swim to them. I can’t open my eyes yet but I know they’re close, and I know they see me, and I know they’re angry that they didn’t take me themselves.
This was my choice. Nothing from before matters anymore, null and void in the face of what’s to come. Cade Johnson the quarterback is dead. The only son, the failing student, the drummer, the boyfriend. He’s gone.
I brace myself and I open my eyes.
I am Cade Johnson, man lost at sea.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Beautiful Blogger Award

The lovely Jenny Morris gave me this awesome award! Yay! Thank you, Jenny!

Here are the rules.
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Share 7 random things about yourself.
3. Nominate 7 fellow bloggers for the Beautiful Blogger award.
4. Inform the bloggers of their nomination.
5. Include the award images in your blog post. goes. 7 random things about myself:
1. I really, really love freshly vacuumed carpets, and laying on said carpets.
2. I got married when I was 21, and everyone thought that I was super young and made it a point to tell me. Obviously, I went ahead with it anyway. It was an excellent choice :)
3. I leave my laundry sitting around in the baskets for days because I hate folding laundry. I also hate putting it away. (My laundry, at this moment, has been sitting around for one day. Let's see how long until I cave.)
4. I used to love cooking until I started writing. Now it's just a freaking nuisance that stops me from writing! Incidentally, I now love baking. Treats are wonderful writing motivators.
5. I crack my knuckles. It's a bad habit that I hate, but I just. can't. stop!
6. I am going to join Lucille Roberts this week. Wish me luck.
7. I hardly ever wear heels because I can't walk in them. At all. I'm one of those idiots you see teetering around on high heels and you think "Why did she even wear them if she can't walk in them?" So yeah, I try not to. :)

And SO. Apparently I'm supposed to nominate 7 fellow bloggers, but seriously, I HATE choosing people for these things! I think everyone is a beautiful blogger! So, anyone who reads this, consider yourself nominated. I know I'm totally cheating, but seriously...consider yourself nominated. I would be delighted if you posted about this and said that I nominated you :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Dry Spells and Perfectionism

Hello, lovelies!

Oh man, I've been MIA on the blog for a while, haven't I? I've still been around, commenting and on Twitter and such, but I've just felt kind of dry in the blog department. I think that has to do with the fact that I've been kind of dry in the writing department, too. I was chugging along through the rewrite, and then I got to the part where I got stuck last time...and I got stuck again. And I said to myself: Damn you, Amanda! Why, WHY didn't you outline?! And instead of pushing through and just writing, I stopped.

I didn't realize it at the time, but it was/is a serious case of perfectionism that stopped me. I didn't want to write something that I'd have to delete later or that isn't the best way to tell the story. Since I didn't know what came next, I just didn't write anything in fear that it wouldn't be the right thing. My brain was coming up with a million possibilities and I couldn't decide which one was perfectly right. It felt kind of like this:

Well...that's stupid. I'm not going to lie, I'm still really scared that I'll write a load of crap and have to rewrite everything, but the thing is, I won't KNOW it's a load of crap until I write it and the story is finished.

Part of me thinks that this is what I get for partially pantsing this thing (I pants the middle--worst part for me!), but part of me thinks that even if I had an outline, I'd struggle with this anyway. Perfectionism doesn't discriminate between Pantsers or Planners.

So tell me, dear friends, have you ever had a writing dry spell due to perfectionism? Or any other reason? If you're pantsing a particular part of the story, do you just try to let go of the perfectionism and keep writing no matter what, or do you  have to stop and think things through for a while until you feel more confident moving forward?

Thanks for bearing with me during my dry spell. I really love all of you guys!

Oh, oh. Also. The awesome Steph Sessa introduced me to an AMAZING website. It's a bunch of writers who make 15 minute pod-casts on all different writing topics, and it totally helped to get my writing juices flowing again. It's called Writing Excuses and you can go through the archives and even search by topic in the Tags section. The link is here if you're interested. Thanks, Steph!