See Ya!

It’s time for me to leave.  Once again, watch the YAvengers blog for updates from me, which I wrote and scheduled this past month.  Enjoy your summers, and I’ll see you in November!

L

Rules

I am a fan of the TV show Castle.  I can spoil almost every episode for you right now.

I’m not going to, because I’m a nice person, but I thought I’d put that out there.  I can also spoil Elementary, Fringe, the three NCIS generations, JAG (although I’ve only watched a couple episodes), and all six of the Star Wars movies.

To be fair, though, I know Star Wars backwards and forwards, and the spoilers are already plastered over everyone’s eyeballs, so there’s not much surprising there.  The point remains that I can spoil a crime show, almost any crime show, almost any episode, with a little thought and the first eight minutes of the episode.

I’m not going to tell you how— this knowledge cost me enjoyment of all recent Sherlock Holmes adaptations— but I can tell you why.  Why can a mild-mannered student of writing quickly tell the who did it of any whodunit?

Because most fiction, especially serialized on-a-deadline fiction like a TV show, has rules. Read the full post »

Another Tag

Here’s another tag post, filled with fun, whimsy, and questionable interpretations.  I mean, interpreting questions.  Because I can’t answer anything straight.

This is the Would You Rather book tag, given once again by Katie.  Full disclosure from the beginning, I can’t stand either/or questions, because there is never a situation in which you won’t change your mind.  Would you rather have pizza or rocks?  Well, I’d probably pick pizza at first, but if I just spent the last eight months eating nothing but pizza while travelling around the magical and pizza-filled Pizzazia, I think I’d have to go with rocks.  All I’m saying is there’s always a possibility.  Thus, I’m not going to like any of my own answers, so definitely don’t read too much into them.  So, would I rather… Read the full post »

I’m Gonna Pop Some Tags

I guess I had this coming when I said I was open for tags for the next month.  I suppose I’m really lucky it took a week for people to get the ball rolling— I love hanging around here, but three weeks might be my limit on tagging sanity.  So cram them in if you want them answered, people.

Katie at Spiral-Bound tagged me with the Extraordinary Means tag.  Six questions full of high costs, and I have to decide which author or character or book is worth such a price.  I’m going to say right now, however, that I take issue with some of the questions, so I’ll probably spend more time arguing them than actually answering them.  Anyway, here goes.  Forgive me if I’m a bit rusty. Read the full post »

Another Project

I told you it wasn’t my last post.

That last post still applies.  Everything in it is true except the part where I say farewell.  I learned how much I missed the blog about 24 hours after posting that.  24 hours after that, I realized how much time exists in a month and how much fun we can have together.  And here I am, writing another blog post because honestly, if I really wanted to, I could write my 700th post before I leave.  (This is #669, so I’m not sure I really want to, but it would be amusing.)

In trying to be dramatic and serious and stoic, I accidentally gave myself a five-month absence instead of just four months.  Now I’m taking this month back.  (To be clear: July, August, September, October, I’m still gone.  June?  Nope.)

Let me tell you about a project I started a couple months ago, and truly got working yesterday.  I’ve been a pianist for a long time— it was my first musical instrument, at age 4, and I took lessons for a good ten years.  Since I stopped, however, I’ve kept noodling.  I’m particularly good at playing by ear, but I also enjoy improvising.  In fact, if I have sheet music for a song, I will still improvise, by ear, that song.  At this point I’d rather make my own version than be restricted.

If you think about it, that sums up my writing process too, at this point.  I make a story up as I go along, to fit imperfectly the image I have in my head, rather than follow a set outline, even if I wrote it myself.  I’d rather improvise an imperfect, but fair, solution than hammer down and get a perfect one that doesn’t allow for mistakes.  At least, that’s how I feel about it. Read the full post »

The Future

This is not my last post.

This post is a goodbye, and an ending to three and a half years of fun.  It’s a change.  But it’s not my last post.

First of all, some stuff about me.  I’m eighteen, and soon going to college at the United States Merchant Marine Academy, which trains officers for oil tankers, container ships, bulk carriers, and anything large that floats.  Essentially, it’s a school where I learn to sail giant ships around the world.

The Academy (USMMA) is modeled after the United States Naval Academy; it has many of the facets of a military academy as a result.  One of these things is the basic training at the beginning of the first year, and the boatload of restrictions for all students.  Also, it’s a larger school than the one I’ve recently been attending.  (As a homeschooler, that applies to just about everything.)  I have some idea of what to expect from all this, but still little of one.  During my time there, I’m going to need some time to figure all of this out.

Long story short, I’m going dark.

I need four months.  I report in July, the first trimester ends in November.  Between those two deadlines, you won’t see me anywhere except in person, saluting to someone important.  That means no blog, no Twitter, no social media of any kind.  It also means no chatroom and no NaNoWriMo site.  It also means no email.

It’s very dramatic, I grant you.  I could probably survive without cutting myself off completely, but it would make everything harder.  Even these days, I occasionally try to put social media or extracurricular fun stuff ahead of school.  I think most of us do that.  At a service academy…  Yeah, I’ll let you figure that one out.

I’ve thought about this a long time, and I think it’s the best way to go: I’m going dark for four months, and at the end of that period I’ll reassess.  It could be that I have too much time on my hands, so I reinstate noveling and blogging.  (Those two are priorities.)  It could be that I’m overwhelmed, and have to simplify even more.  Whatever happens, I will tell you all.  See?  This is not my last post.  The one in November just might be.

I’m hoping it isn’t, but we’ll see.

So all that is about me.  I have to shut the door for a little while on this part of my life.  That doesn’t mean I find it easy, or that I welcome the opportunity.  This blog has been a wonderful place for me to learn and to grow, and you as readers have made that possible.  I’ve been truly terrible at keeping it fresh these past few months, especially in comments, but you all are amazing.  I don’t expect many of you to stick around for the full four months, but if you do, I hope I can get you something new to enjoy.

I haven’t been very emotional on this blog since I found my style around year 1 (that style being dusty old professor with bifocals, which isn’t very conducive to much of anything fun), but I do want to stress this: I’m sad to leave you.  I’m sad that I have to let this stagnate.  I’d love to keep doing what I’m doing for another ten years, but that won’t be possible if I’m going to grow.  Thank you for being here, and thank you for understanding what I have to do.

Obviously there are still some more questions about this.  The biggest one is: Why would I go to a restrictive service academy when I enjoy writing and apparently want a career in that field?  Obviously there’s a 5k word reason, in-depth with multiple examples.  The shortest answer, however, is this: because I can.

You might not agree with it.  You might think the only way to success, especially in the literary career, is to drive straight at it until you achieve it.  But I haven’t found that to be true.  I’ve long held that I can succeed by knowing a little about a lot of different things.  Although I seem to be very good at writing, or at music, or at sailing, all of the qualities I learn there can apply to a million other things.  Everything on this blog?  It counts toward living life, making friends, or telling stories in any medium I want.  It counts toward being productive, being happy, being receptive to other attitudes and cultures.  The things I’ve learned from this blog apply to so much more than just writing.  That’s what I hope to do with the rest of my education.

I’m not going to a school that beats me down and teaches me a single, specific skill that I’ll use until I can retire, at which point I’ll dust off my notebooks and consider writing again.  It teaches leadership.  It teaches survival.  It teaches things that most easily translate into the shipping business, but with a little work can translate to writing, to music, to anything I want.  Could I learn all of it on my own?  Of course, yes.  Over the past three and a half years, I’ve gotten really good at teaching myself things.  But if this school offers those things up front, I might as well learn from them.  If it means giving up my blog for four months, or even four years?  I can live with that.  I can absolutely live with that.

Also, sailing.  You have no idea how much I love sailing.

It’s not going to be easy.  I’m going to miss all of you.  But this is what I’ve decided, and I hope you all can live with it too.

A little more housekeeping before I go: because of the miracle of scheduling posts, the YAvengers blog will publish a post per month during my absence, written by me.  I’m going to write those in the next couple days, so I don’t know what they’re about yet, but they’re going to be fun.  I’ll do my best to stick around as Captain America over there (especially now that I have personal experience), but if I can’t keep up this blog, that blog will have to go too.  You are my priority, and I will make sure you know what’s going on.

So, farewell.  This is not my last post— I hope to return triumphantly in four months.  Thanks for bearing with me.

The Confidence Arc

One of my favorite character stereotypes is the confident character.  Richard Campbell Gansey III, Dorian Havilliard, even Valerie Solomon from Tessa Gratton’s story on Merry Sisters of Fate.  There’s something about the character who has it all, who has an all-purpose mask they crafted for themselves over the years.  Of course, since we write crafted fiction, this mask never stays on.  Something will happen to tear it off, and there— that’s when you really enjoy the character.

Half of me wants to be such a character with such a mask.  Half of me just wants to write millions of those characters.  For the convenience of everyone, and especially me, here’s a step-by-step how-to on creating the confident character. Read the full post »

Romance and Friendship

Affection is the cornerstone of both romance and friendship.

Think about it.  Romance without affection is nothing.  Friendship without affection is two people hanging out together who have no reason to stick around each other.  Flirting without affection?  Basically just a cryptic argument.

Affection upholds both romance and friendship.  It’s the glue that keeps two or more people together even though one of them is Ronan Lynch or Tony Stark or Mr. Darcy.  Since both love and friendship deal with affection, we can manipulate both in the same ways.  Basically, a good friendship is two inches from being a romance.

You can use any romance plot line you find as a friendship plot line.  You can use any friendship plot line as a romance plot line.  And whatever you choose, someone will want to write a fanfiction based on the opposite choice.

Let’s look at a classic example: Pride and Prejudice vs. The Lord of the Rings. Read the full post »

Writers are the Best Speakers

When I was a little sprout, I joined a homeschool public speaking group.  I went every week, did all the assignments, and did my best to speak in public, as the class seemed to demand.  This was about three years before I began writing seriously, and while I had noodled around with fiction a couple times, it had never gone anywhere for me.  I was much more of a reader than a writer.

It showed.  I wrote essays and read them in class, calling it public speaking.  I wanted to be funny, but the speeches turned out boring.  I wanted to be enthusiastic, but the script never sounded as good as it did when I read it over.  I wasn’t a bad speaker, all in all, and I learned through the class, but I certainly wasn’t a good speaker.

Fast forward to this year, approximately five years later.  I’ve written seven novels.  This post is my 665th on this blog.  Whether fiction or nonfiction, I write a lot.  I’m sure you’ve realized that.  This year, I also took a public speaking class, because I’m interested in becoming competent in that area.  I can write for an audience, but I also want to speak to an audience— having that skill is important to me.  So I took the class.

I quickly discovered I was much better than I had been five years ago.  I’m certainly not perfect, but speaking comes almost naturally these days.  Stories flow easily.  When I write a speech, I can hear myself speaking it.  It doesn’t feel the same as something I’d publish here, or hand in as an essay.  Writing, I’ve found, doesn’t just help your writing.  It doesn’t just help your reading.  It helps everything you do that involves words. Read the full post »

The Equality Arc

We as readers like to be surprised, but not all at once.

Readers like to have expectations which are then turned on their heads.  I’m sure you know that.  That’s what plot twists are about, that’s what the gee-whiz factor of an idea is about.  We go into a book expecting one thing, and when we’re surprised, we get excited.

But not exactly.  We like to be blown-out-of-the-water surprised, in the sense that as far as we fly after the explosion, we’re going to land back in some water somewhere.  We don’t like to get blown-into-bitty-pieces surprised, or blown-into-outer-space surprised.  What do I mean by this?  We like to be surprised, but not all at once.

If you pick up a romance, read the first quarter, and decide that you’re enjoying it, that’s great.  If the beginning of the second half turns the romance into zombie apocalypse, it would be surprising.  It would also be blown-into-outer-space not okay.  You picked up the book expecting a romance.  You got a romance for about the first half.  Then it turned into a dark, raw horror story.  “Bill, you aren’t the man I fell in love with!  At first I thought you loved me for my personal charm and good looks, but it turns out you’re only after my brains!”

We like small surprises that subvert our expectations while still satisfying our desires.  That’s the basis of a good plot twist.  Even though the main character’s sister eloping with the local surgeon blows you out of the water, you’re still reading a romance novel— you land back in the water.

The same thing happens, in a character sense, with diverse characters. Read the full post »

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