Poetic Beginnings and Sad Endings (TCWT)

“What are your favorite book beginnings and/or endings?” 

Thus begins my TCWT post for September, because I couldn’t think of anything cleverer to say.  Since I still have nothing, I won’t bore you with it— right into the beginnings.

One of my favorite beginning is that of The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss.  It’s an epic fantasy that doesn’t begin with a battle between the Dark Lord and the few ruggedly handsome who dare to stand up to him.  Instead, it begins with silence.  A silence so layered that you can feel it through the pages.  It’s called poetry, my friends, and it’s beautiful.

It was night again. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.

Another excellent, poetic beginning is that of The Book Thief.  Poetic, and hypocritical— the narrator tells you the truth no one wants to remember, then talks about colors to help himself forget about that same truth.  It’s a pretty amazing character moment as well as a great hook. (more…)

Bending Over Backward (TCWT)

The Teens Can Write, Too! blog chain this month tackles heavy topics all the time, but this month’s is particularly difficult.  They ask:

“What are your thoughts on book-to-movie adaptions? Would you one day want your book made into a movie, or probably not?”

It’s a hard topic.  Fans are rarely happy about how any adaptation turns out, but they still buy tickets to their favorite book’s adaptation without question.  It’s difficult to tell who to side with: the literary world, or Hollywood.  However– and don’t stone me– I believe that it’s a problem created by the literary world.

I see you picking up rocks, but let me explain.  The novel has been around for centuries.  The motion picture has been around for one.  Its predecessor, the stageplay, was around long before that, but even then very few novels were put into plays.  Occasionally a narrated piece could be performed as a play, but as for novels… it wasn’t done.  Perhaps a scene here or there, but it was generally understood that a book could be enjoyed over a long period of time, with as many breaks in the middle as anyone could want.  A play, on the other hand, could only be enjoyed as long as the audience’s seats were comfortable– once someone needed a bathroom break, they lost interest in the play.  Books were for long-term enjoyment.  Plays were for a single evening.

Once the screenplay came along, however, the idea of mass entertainment was revolutionized.  Books already reached enormous audiences, and motion pictures were beginning to do the same– how about take popular books and make them motion pictures?  Great idea, except motion pictures were bound by the same restrictions stageplays were.  Although a hefty book deserved good representation, all the cinematic excellence in the world couldn’t combat the stupidity of the man who drank half the Atlantic before coming to the theater.  Thus, truncation in the name of time constraints was begun. (more…)

Fun with Lists (TCWT)

This month’s TCWT blog chain asks:

What kinds of published books would you like to see more of? 

I’ve seen a big push for diversity over the month so far (so much that I posted about it), but personally, that isn’t what I look for in fiction.  Sure, I’d love to see equal representation of all different styles of life, but I read books for two reasons: entertainment, or studying the craft of writing.  The main character’s ethnicity doesn’t ultimately affect her emotions, and while occasionally it comes up as a plot point, my favorite stories featuring diverse characters are the ones that don’t mention their diversity.  It isn’t that I prefer to be blind to their differences, but humans are humans.  Unless the main character isn’t human at all, they’re going to move through the story the same way any other character would.

Thus, when confronted with this prompt, diversity is not the first thing that comes to mind.  What would I like to see more of?  The first choice is extremely broad: well-written books.  And I don’t even have the right to wish for that.  I don’t want more books in the world– I want more time to read all the books in the world.  But if I’m sticking to the prompt, I might as well make a list. (more…)

I am a Leaf on the Wind (TCWT)

Isn’t it great to realize you’ve put off your mandatory TCWT post until the day before it’s scheduled… two months in a row?  I’m so glad TCWT is back, and with it that wonderful feeling of horror.  (EDIT: and I also left this a day late.  I apologize.)

Anyway, the prompt this month is an interesting one: “If you could co-write a book with one author– living or not– who would it be and what would the book be about?”

When I was young(er), I often dreamed about coauthoring.  Not because I liked the idea of writing a book with someone, but because, infallibly, the person with whom I chose to coauthor would be rich and famous and I would be a longtime fan.  With this in mind, I fantasized about coauthoring Redwall novels with Brian Jacques, because let’s face it– his plots got a little formulaic near the end.  He wrote beautifully, but I could come up with a better story than “Villain with bad teeth attacks the Abbey, but a small group of intrepid travelers escapes and brings back help at the last moment.” (more…)

Ducks, Explosions, and Ducking Explosions – TCWT

So in fact I was just about ready to write an apologetic post about how I couldn’t fulfill my promise for a TCWT July blog chain post, when suddenly I realized that the time I spent writing that post could actually be used to write the promised post and none would be the wiser (except that I’m writing this introduction).  Truth be told, I hadn’t given this post a thought since I signed up, except for a few moments of heart-stopping panic when I thought I had already missed the date.  I thought I had no characters to use; I thought I had no ideas for it.  Then I remembered my cardinal rule.  The cardinal rule of writing is this: when you can’t think of anything to do next, add a duck or some explosions.  Preferably both.  Following that logic, I wrote my therapy session with the one duck character I have, who coincidentally also explodes from time to time.  Allow me to introduce the stellar, the scintillating, the slightly bald Mack! (more…)

The Flaming Sonic Boom (TCWT)

This post came upon me like an eager puppy with a jet pack– not unpleasant, but it arrived a bit too quickly.  The prompt for this month’s TCWT blog chain is this:

“What are some of the coolest/weirdest/funniest/most disturbing things you’ve researched for a story?”

To be honest, I don’t remember.  I often forget the results of my searches just after closing the browser, prompting a second search that may just stick in my head long enough for me to write about it.  But the wonderful thing about Google Chrome, run by that bunch of evil spies, is that it saves every single part of your history. (more…)

I Want a Pony… And a Puppy… And an Exploding Kite… (TCWT)

I’m going to be frank.  For the Teens Can Write, Too! blog chain this month, I must answer the question:

“What is your ultimate goal as a writer?”

I know my ultimate goal pretty clearly.

I want to be published.

Not once.  Not twice.  I want to get as many books published as I have ideas.  And that would be a lot. (more…)

A Diversion! (TCWT)

The prompt for the Teens Can Write, Too! blog chain this month is: “Write a letter to an antagonist.”

Some people might find this easy and pick an antagonist in a matter of minutes.  Not me– I spent half a month trying to think of a suitable antagonist.  Not just any will do, of course– it has to be a special one.  Special antagonists, however, are very hard to find.  In fact, I realized as I was thinking of this prompt, that I don’t enjoy antagonists half as much as protagonists.  The more interesting they are, the more they contribute to the fame of the protagonist.

After a very long time, I finally settled on writing to Sauron, an old friend.  Figuratively speaking.  However, one does not simply write to the Dark Lord.  Normal mail wouldn’t work.  The mailman, Nazgul Five, is notorious for losing things– maps, expensive Morgul blades, his mind; you name it, he’ll lose it.  (Not to mention the fact that he’s pink.  They conveniently left that out of the movies.)  Normal mail was out of the question.  Thus, I had to settle on a more complicated and slightly outdated means of communication: telegraph through the palantiri.  Pardon its slight awkwardness.

* * * (more…)

TCWT

As anyone who reads (or writes) teen fiction knows, “Young Adult” covers a wide breadth of genres, from comedy to romance to horror.  Should YA fiction be broken up into categories as adult fiction is?

This is the first “debate” prompt the Teens Can Write, Too! blog chain has given, but I think it’s a really good idea.  There are a lot of questions about YA fiction that its readers are very outspoken about, and it’s nice to see what others think about them instead of letting yourself get carried away to far.

The answer to the question is no.  YA fiction should not be broken up into categories.  I’ll explain exactly why not. (more…)

The Future Won’t Make Up Its Mind

“What are you writing for NaNoWriMo? Briefly explain how this book idea come about. Then write a mock first page for the novel.”

This is the Teens Can Write, Too blog chain prompt for this month of October.  At first I balked at this, because I’m dead set against outlining right now, and this is pretty close to outlining.  Last year, I hadn’t settled on an idea until November first.  Sure, I had a primary idea and a secondary idea and no idea how to do either, but I didn’t know which I was going to do until I actually began writing.

The novel I wrote last year sprang from half-a-year’s worth of random ideas jotted down in a notebook.  This year I don’t have that luxury because I’m writing so much more that any idea I get will be used almost immediately.  I haven’t let things stew for very long before trying them out. (more…)