Thursday, April 29, 2010

What to write?

I'm working on a new YA novel and I'm doing a few firsts with it. Fun, refreshing, but also a challenge. I'm not big on outlines, but I plan out the basic plot points in a notebook. Right now, I'm struggling to find a good way to get my characters from one point to another and I'm wondering, how do you decide?

**pausing this blog post to make a "red heart-shaped cookie" on a piece of paper for my tiny human**

Do you let your characters choose the path, or do you lay it out for them before they "come to life" on the page? Have you ever found that they just don't want to do what you've laid out?

That's a big part of the adventure of novel writing. You can plan it all out, but your characters are people too, for all intensive purposes, and they have thoughts of their own. You can't force someone to do something that doesn't make sense to them.

Yes, I realize that makes me sound crazy. But we're all a little bit crazy, aren't we? We are, right?

I believe Valerie had a post on characters and the choices they make. So at least I know she's crazy too.

Anywho, this WIP has a bit of a mystery in it and mystery is HARD! Making my characters solve the mystery in a progressive way is a pain in the asterisk right now. The Edgars are tonight and I am cheering for Saundra Mitchell, author of SHADOWED SUMMER! Visit Saundra on twitter @saundramitchelle and cheer for her too!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What Kind of Author Will You Be? (and more)

So I'm totally cheating today because I'm knee deep in critiquing and revising (because um, I started querying and I got some requests and now I'm freaking out. OMG.)

Anyhoo, if you're not following Veronica Roth's blog you totally should be. Today I'm going to share with you her latest post Equal Opportunity Preparation because it's awesome and she says a lot of things I would love to say, so much better than I could say them. So go check it out!

Also I'm typing up this post from my very own brand new 13" Macbook Pro! This is take two with the Macbook since the first one I ordered from the Apple Store arrived the day the new Macbooks were released. To say I was a little upset about this would be an understatement. Fortunately Apple was kind enough to allow me to return my Macbook - at my own expense - and then take over two weeks to refund the money so that I could buy another much better one! Ah, Apple, so thoughtful!

This is my dedicated writing computer. Scrivener you better be worth it! It's small enough that I can take it anywhere and I'm not going to put anything but writing software on it so that I don't get distracted doing other things. Wish me luck!

Any Mac users have any tips for me? It's all new to me, I'm still getting used to it. (Not to mention my eyes are adjusting to coming down from my 19" monitor!) I wish I could have widgets/gadgets on my desktop. Is this possible?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An Important Question to Ask a Potential Agent

I attended my first big conference this weekend (Pikes Peak Writers) and it was the Best. Conference. Ever. The faculty was incredible, I learned a ton, and I met so many wonderful peeps. I told my blog Sisters that I have material to blog about for the next year! One particular session that blew me away was one titled "Industry Climate Change," and no, it had nothing to do with global warming. It had everything to do with the topic that makes my eyes cross more than any other - eBooks and their effect on the publishing industry - which is why I forced myself to attend. I'm so glad I did. First of all, the panel was amazing: super-agents Kristin Nelson of the Nelson Literacy Agency and Scott Hoffman of Folio Literary, as well as lovely editor, Kathleen Gilligan. Donald Maass even came up from the back of the room to throw in his two cents. Yeah, pretty cool. Their competence regarding the issue was impressive, and Kristin's blog today highlights her views way more eloquently than I could. Read them here.

As someone who is about to jump into the query process headfirst, I wondered how I would know if an agent had a good handle on this subject? An aspiring author wants an agent who can negotiate a contract to the best possible advantage of the author, and this has many implications for an author's long-term career. Now, the three agents in this session were clearly made of awesome. But if you're querying someone that you researched online, it's harder to tell from an agent's listing or website if they fully grasp the complexities of industry change. NOTE: Nathan Bransford is another agent who definitely understands this issue - it's one of his favorite blog subjects and he makes my eyes cross on a weekly basis.

The question I'm adding to my "Things to Ask an Agent List" - What are your thoughts on reserving multi-media rights in a contract? Seriously, I added it to my list of questions for potential agents. I actually came up with this question and wrote it down while the panel was speaking, and then a conference attendee asked the panel something similar, so I know I wasn't the only one thinking it. If an agent gives you a comprehensive, knowledgeable response (even if you don't fully understand it), then at least you know the issue is likely something they've handled. If their response is "huh?" you might want to rethink choosing that person.

Here's the thing. As a writer, you want to focus on writing the best book you can. Yes, you'll also have to focus on marketing and publicity, but that's just how it goes these days. You want an agent who has your back and is uber-competent at their job, so that you can focus on what you do best. So, yes, my eyes still cross at this subject but after that session, it made me even more resolved to find an agent made of awesome. Much more PPW Conference wisdom to follow in the coming weeks...

I know it was a big conference weekend. Anyone else have any great tips to share?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Contest Monday and Melissa Marr

Upcoming Sisters in Scribe Giveaway:
First off, Melissa Marr rocks! Seriously. I went to her book signing at the coolest bookstore in Denver, The Tattered Cover, and listened to her speak about her books and writing journey -- and Vince Vaughn. NOTE: Anyone who talks about Vince Vaughn has my attention - I love hilarious people - and he's producing her Wicked Lovely MOVIE! The best part is that when she was told he wanted to produce it, her response was "Who the f*$k is Vince Vaughn?" Anyway, I digress. She's cool, smart, gracious, and funny which is my favorite kind of person. So, next Monday (5/3), I'm giving away SIGNED copies of her amazing Wicked Lovely series. Yes, the ENTIRE series. Her newest book, Radiant Shadows, will be given away here and her first three will be given away on my other blog, so enter both for the chance for all 4. I also have Wicked Lovely bookmarks and wristbands that I'm giving away too - don't you just love swag?

Cool Contest of the Week:
Querytracker contest with Chris Richman of Upstart Crow Literary. This is an awesome pitch contest for those of you who write MG and YA. It starts tomorrow (4/27) and there's no limit to the number of entries he's accepting within the specified times. This is great news for the technologically-challenged peeps out there (like a close 'friend' of mine), who maybe have been unable to enter contests in the past because the contest is full before they figure out how to navigate the system. Also, for pitch tips, check out my prior post on The 2-Minute Pitch. Good luck!

I also believe there's a contest out there on Twitter having to do with the incredibly talented author, John Green. It sounds amazing for those of you who Tweet or Twit or whatever, unlike my close 'friend.' :) Until tomorrow...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

100 Years--Gone But Unforgettable.

Obama is in town! And no, I am not braving the already insane traffic of NYC to go snap pictures like a fangirl. He's the president, folks. Not Mark Twain.

Speaking of Mark Twain, that handsome fella to the left, yesterday marked the 100 year anniversary of his death. I figured we could commemorate "the father of American literature" by talking about his life and his works a little bit today.

Mark Twain was born Samual Langhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri, November 30th 1835. He was the sixth of seven children, and normally I wouldn't boggle you down with that information, but I think it's interesting and sad that only 3 of his siblings survived childhood. One of his brothers died in a riverboat explosion. Crazy.

Anywho, his father died when he was eleven years old (pneumonia) and Twain went to work as a printer's apprentice. ELEVEN! Seriously, folks. Never to early to start following your dreams. Then he started working as a typsetter and writing articles for the The Hanibal Journal, a newspaper owned by his brother, Orion. Cool name, right? Ellen Hopkins' son is named Orion.

So he left there after a while and came to work as a printer in a few major cities, including NYC. He joined the union, and educated himself in LIBRARIES! That's right, libraries. Those very important things that are loosing lots of funding.


So, as the years went on, Twain decided to be a steamboat captain. He studied the Mississippi river for two years before he got his license. Never under estimate the importance of planning and research! It was Twain who convinced Henry to join him on the riverboat that caused his death. Twain says he foresaw the death in a vivid dream a month prior. I got chills writing that. Did you, while you were reading? Whew. So naturally, Twain held himself responsible for Henry's death for the rest of his life. Sad, but he wouldn't have been the amazing man he was had he not lived through the things he did.

He worked on the river until the Civil War broke out in 1861. After that he did a number of awesome things. He traveled west in a stage coach for two weeks, then he was a miner in Virginia City, Nevada, a job he failed at. Because he was a writer. Not a miner. He found work at the Virginia City Newspaper. Yay!

Moving along, Twain's first notably successful work was The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, published in The New York Saturday Press on November 18th 1865.

I don't want to list every detail of his life, so I'm going to close this post here with a few Twain quotes. I have an app on my phone. I get my Twain quotes daily.

"The public is merely a multiplied me"
"Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty, and gradually approach eighteen."
"By trying we can easily endure adversity. Another man's, I mean"
"Words are only painted fire; a look is the fire itself."
"Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered-either by themselves or by others."
"Part of the secret of a success in life, is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside."--Kristi, that's for you and chocolate.
"A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way."
"Golf is a good walk spoiled."
"Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been."
"What would men be without women? Scarce, sir, mighty scarce."

What are some of your favorite Twain works or quotes? Has he inspired you in some way? Share!
His house is awesome.
Photo and information provided by wikipedia.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

There Is No Competition

As some of you might know, I was stunned and thrilled to be one of the winners of Miss Snark's First Victim's Secret Agent contest! (You can read my entry here - #6 Imaginary Heart) But after jumping up and down and blogging/tweeting/facebook announcing my win I started to think about that word.

Winner. What does it really mean? How can you "win" a subjective contest. And that reminded me of a an idea I've kicked around since my acting days. The idea that there is no competition especially not when it comes to art. (And writing is art, just in case you didn't know.) How can anyone win anything that's based on personal preference? The ten of us selected in this month's Secret Agent contest appealed to that agent at this time in her life. Another agent might not have liked any of the entries she chose.

It's the same with the stories you tell. What resonates with some people won't resonate with others, but does that mean that the story that a million people relate to is better than the one that only five people love? No. Especially if those five people love that book with their whole heart and soul.

Sure you can look at things like how much money a book made, how many copies it sold, but even that doesn't mean much. Books don't start on a level playing field. Some will have bigger marketing budgets, or people who really "get" the story and who it's for.

The point I'm trying to make is that if you base your idea of success on the money you make, the number of books you sell, or the awards you receive, you're going to live a frustrating and disappointing life. Because there's always going to be someone with more opportunities than you, or who's "better" than you at something. And when you focus all your energy on distilling what the "winner" did into a formula and executing it just to beat that one person or thing, you rob yourself of the freedom to create what speaks to you most. The thing that could be your own personal biggest success ever.

Besides, a win for one writer is a win for us all because it means people are buying books!

With that, I leave you with two quotes I came across in the awesome book The Art of War For Writers by James Scott Bell

In the end, a first-class you is better than a second-hand version of somebody else. Write books that can't be clumped with a bunch of similar ones.
- David Morrell

Don't worry about trying to be better than someone else. Always try to be the very best you can be. Learn from others, yes. But don't just try to be better than they are. You have no control over that. Instead try, and try very hard, to be the best you can be. That you have control over.
- John Wooden, legendary UCLA basketball coach

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Birthdays and Brevity

My son had the remarkable foresight to come into this world on my birthday. His birth was by far the best birthday present I've ever had, and in return, my gift to him was handing over the birthday. That's right - I haven't aged in the last 6 years. It's a total win/win. Anyway, I realized that IF I still had a birthday (which I don't), I'd be a whole year older (which I'm not). Still, I'm so grateful for each and every day - even the hard ones.

So on Friday, in between cake, presents, and general mayhem, I looked back and realized that in the last 6 months, I've written my first YA novel and started two others. Crazy, huh? I've also met the most amazing writers, bloggers, authors, critique members, and Sisters - seriously, writers are the coolest, most supportive people in the world. Whatever happens, I know this year will bring great things just in time for my next non-birthday.

On that note, this post is a brief one as I'm off to revise (again) to get ready for the Pikes Peak Writers Conference this weekend. If you've seen the movie, A Few Good Men, and remember Tom Cruise's drunken scene where he questions everything he knows, you'll know how my revision night is going. Anyhoo, I'll post about the conference and my first live pitch experience in the weeks to come. Wish me luck! Happy Birthday to all the Aries out there - and may your next year be fabulous!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Contest Monday

Kristi has had a hectic week (with a double birthday for her and her son!) so I'm stepping in to post the Monday contest round-up.

I am still accepting entries for my signed BEAUTIFUL CREATURES book give-away on my blog.

And a new agent-judged contest for writers is coming up on Query Tracker Blog. You must be a follower of THAT blog to enter the contest.

The contest STARTS on Tuesday April 27th. We're telling you about it now so you have time to work on your entry-- a one line pitch of your YA/MG novel!

Entries will be judged by Chris Richman of the Upstart Crow Literary Agency.
There is no maximum number of entries. The contest will accept any entry submitted in the 24 hour period starting on April 27th!

A little about Chris Richman from the agency website:

More about Chris Richman

In his own words:

My love of books started at an early age. In the second grade I fell in love with the gross and wonderful works of Roald Dahl. On career day in third grade I carried a book and called myself an author. In the fourth grade I was sent to the principal’s office when the teacher discovered me reading Stephen King’s Pet Sematary in the back of the room.

After that first Stephen King book, I spent years reading books for adults until, in college, someone handed me the first Harry Potter and promised me it wasn’t just for kids. Within a handful of pages I was hooked.

Suddenly a new world opened up for me, a world full of wonderful books for children that I’d ignored since my own childhood. Here were books that appealed to adults, too. Lemony Snicket could take a weird old count and some orphans and make me laugh. Louis Sachar could take me to the desert so I could sweat along with the digging boys. Jerry Spinelli could introduce me to a kid everyone called Maniac and make me long for butterscotch krimpets.

It took a few years before I landed in children’s books. The opportunity to find the next big thing, the next work that will transport me to a Narnia or a Hogwarts or even to places that we’ve all visited, made it completely worth the wait. I want to work on books that inspire children like I once was inspired.

There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Book Recommendation!

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (March 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385736843

  • Shop Indie

Product Description

Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

Last week, I recommended THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, so of course I've got to recommend it's equally awesome companion novel this week. I think I may have enjoyed this one even more than FOHT. Lots of unexpected twists, thrilling action, great imagery. It's a big more *gross* than FOREST, but if you're like me you kind of like gross. I highly recommend this book.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Contest Monday

Is it Monday again already? Grab a ginormous cup of coffee, chug it, repeat, then check out these fab contests for the week. As always, if you have a contest to promote, feel free to add it in the comments.

My fabulous and lovely Sister, Lacey, is having a contest on her blog to celebrate hitting 500 Twitter followers. Confession: I still don't do Twitter, but I do know that 500 is a lot of followers! She's giving away a hard copy of Beautiful Creatures with an autographed sticker, so enter here. And if you're a follower of THIS blog, mention it in the comments of Lacey's blog for an extra entry!

The hilarious Roecker sisters (Lisa and Laura) are throwing a 'Totally Epic 500 Follower Contest' AND it involves arm-wrestling. LIVE arm-wrestling. You get to place your bet on who will win. I'm scared of both of them so I'm not picking sides! Head on over to their blog to enter. Hurry, the live arm-wrestling event is on Wed. NOTE TO MY SISTERS: As much as I love you, I will never arm wrestle you. I suck at it. However, if you want to have a coffee and Diet Coke drinking competition, I'm so there!

ADDITION: Anna is celebrating reaching 100 Followers-yay, Anna!!! Win a copy of Mockingjay or Linger!! 

Happy Monday to all! Now, I'm off to grab more coffee. :)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Book Recommendation!

  • Shop Indie
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (February 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385736827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385736824

An ALA Best Books for Young Adults
A New York Times Best Seller

In Mary's world, there are simple truths.
The Sisterhood always knows best.
The Guardians will protect and serve.
The Unconsecrated will never relent.
And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village....

Mary has always lived in the village, protected by the fences that keep the undead from devouring her. She's dreamed of a life beyond the fences, of the ocean in the stories her mother told her about life before the Return. Her hope has all but faltered until the day Gabrielle wanders in from the forest. Until the day the fences are breached.

Heart-stopping, eye-popping. This books is incredible! One can't help but feel connected to Mary and her world. To feel her yearning for the ocean and to solve the mysteries surrounding the Sisterhood and the Guardians.

The ending does leave something to be desired but have no fear, THE DEAD TOSSED WAVES is here!

Part horror, part romance, this book is impossible to put down.

Visit Carrie on the web at
and check out the awesome trailer!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rejection: Don't Quit!


Since both of my sisters had inspirational posts this week, I'll try to be inspiring as well. Last night on #yalitchat, we discussed queries and when you're ready, how you handle rejection etc. When being faced with rejection, it can be hard to keep up your spirits and keep pushing onward.

Does every "no" get you closer to a yes? Not necessarily. Every "no" should make you sit back and think, okay, how can I do this better?

Stepping back to rethink your work or maybe just your query is an important part of the writing process. And critique groups are vital! Feedback is a necessity! So don't be afraid to connect with other writers. Don't be afraid to allow another professional to take a look at your query. Even better if they know your book!

I've just recently started working on a query letter for FATED, my YA historical (and I'm not even sure if I should classify it as a historical, that tells you how ready I am to query), and one of my "sisters" made the comment that it is easier for them to tell me what my book is about, than for me to sit and try to figure out what I should put in my query.

But this isn't another post where we yent about the importance of critique partners, this is meant to be inspiring.

So what do you do when you're starring at your first, or your fiftieth rejection letter? Keep on keepin' on! Take a look at your work, your letter, your approach. Research the agents you are querying a little better, make sure your book is the best that it can be! Each rejection letter is an opportunity for improvement, so don't get discouraged. Some editors/agents on #yalitchat noted that they may love a manuscript but reject it because they've bought one similar to it last week, or maybe the higher-ups weren't thrilled about it. It is not a personal rejection. It just means you haven't gotten the right book into the right hands at the right time. You've got to keep trying until you do!

From Mandy Hubbard's blog--A published author is an amateur who didn't quit. Don't quit!


C.S. Lewis, creator of The Chronicles of Narnia was rejected 800 times before he made his first sale! How is THAT for inspiration!

C.S. Lewis Quotes: courtesy of Inky Girl

What you want is practice, practice, practice. It doesn’t matter what we write (at least this is my view) at our age, so long as we write continually as well as we can. I feel that every time I write a page either of prose or of verse, with real effort, even if it’s thrown into the fire the next minute, I am so much further on.

I am sure that some are born to write as trees are born to bear leaves: for these, writing is a necessary mode of their own development. If the impulse to write survives the hope of success, then one is among these. If not, then the impulse was at best only pardonable vanity, and it will certainly disappear when the hope is withdrawn.

William Golding's LORD OF THE FLIES was rejected 20 times.

Quote from one publisher’s rejection letter:

…an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Success - It's All About Attitude

Today I bring you a Note from the Universe to remind you that even when you're stuck in what feels like limbo, waiting for someone to request your ms, sign you as a client, or buy your book, you're not powerless. No matter how much it feels like someone (or something) else has all the control, only you have the power to create the life you live.

Here's what The Universe says about achieving your most daunting goals:

Invariably, when big dreams come true, and I mean BIG, there is a total metamorphosis of one's life. Their thoughts change, their words change, decisions are made differently, gratitude is tossed about like rice at a wedding, priorities are rearranged, and optimism soars.... Yeah, they're almost annoying.

You could have guessed all that, huh?

Would you have guessed that these changes, invariably, come before, not after, their dream's manifestation?

Isn't it amazing how sometimes things are so obvious but we never think about them that way? The Universe has spoken! Now, go! Dream BIG!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Short Story Path to Publication: Fact or Fiction?

I've read many things about how important it is to get published in short fiction if you ever hope to have a shot at getting a novel-length work published. Obviously, getting published in short stories can't hurt you and can even draw the attraction of other editors/agents. It also gives you something to put in that dreaded third paragraph of your query letter aside from "I love long walks in the park and I'm a Sagittarius with Capricorn tendencies..." I'm so kidding -- about being a Sagittarius and about putting a sentence like that in your query.

Why I'm Wondering About This? 
One of my amazingly talented Sisters is going to be published in short fiction and I'm so excited for her. She even passed along a short story opportunity to me that involves the exact same topic as a novel I recently completed. I even got a cool idea that would work as a short AND worked as a companion to my novel. Yet, I stared at my computer and all that went through my head was I.Don't.Want.To. I realize many authors love writing short stories but I'm not one of them. I'm completely obsessed with my new YA ms and am spending every spare minute working on it. I may still do the short story as a sort of self-imposed challenge but it will feel like work, not fun.

Hopeful Statistics
I've said many times what a research nerd I am. Seriously, statistics are like crack to me. I especially love it when research supports what I'm already doing -- like the studies that show how drinking coffee and eating dark chocolate are good for you. So when I came across this study conducted by author, Jim C. Hines, I got excited. Out of 246 published authors who participated in the study, 116 sold their first novel with zero short fiction sales! My takeaway is that while short story publications can help, it's not impossible to get a novel published without them.

So what are your thoughts? Any published or soon to be published writers out there want to give their own experiences?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Contest Monday

Happy Monday! We've decided that a great way to start off the week is with a contest or two. We'll have one of our own again in a few weeks but in the meantime, here are a few of our favorite contests going on right now.

The wonderful Shannon Messenger from Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe is having a huge contest to celebrate signing with her dream agent, Laura Rennert. She's giving away signed copies of some amazing books including The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher and Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (among others). Contest ends April 10th so head on over there.

The Fourth Installment of the Dear Lucky Agent Contest involves a 10-page critique by agent Regina Brooks from Serendipity Literary. The contest ends April 14th. Good luck!

This last one isn't a contest but I thought I'd include it anyway. Andrew Karre from Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing, is seeking completed YA manuscripts through April 30th. They normally do not accept unagented submissions so this is a great opportunity for YA writers out there.

Feel free to add any other cool contests in the comments. Have a great week! 

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday Book Recommendation!

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Dial; 1 edition (March 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803734956
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803734951

Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey's boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie's own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they're the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can't collide without the whole wide world exploding.

I LOVED this book! It easily ranks on my top 5 list of 2010. The characters in this book are so vivid and unique, and the prose is beautiful. Like Heidi R Kling said to me on twitter, "It's like diving into a poem."
The Sky is Everywhere is like diving into a painful, beautiful, epic poem.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Using Magic as a Free Pass

Kristi and Valerie both got me thinking with their posts this week. Kristi mentioned that it is human to act out of character, and Valerie talked about listening to your characters, and recognizing when something is too far out of character.

When you throw magic or paranormal elements into the story, does it change those things? Can your character do things without thinking, or do something totally out of character because magic makes her do it?


But how boring is that?

Look at Harry Potter. Sure, he uses his wand to get out of some pretty tight situations, but Harry's wand doesn't just do what he wants it to do. He has to learn how to use it. And he isn't always right and sometimes bad things happen as a result. But Harry learns from his mistakes and come mega showdown, Harry and his wand kick ass.

I'm guilty of doing this myself. Something awesome and scary happens to my MC, and yet she follows an awesome and scary guy into the woods anyway. As of right now, it's because A.) Awesome-scary guy used freaky-deaky powers on her and B.) she's got nowhere else to go.

Nowhere else to go is way more realistic, right? But if you had nowhere else to go, would you still go into the woods with awesome-scary guy? No. But maybe she would. It's up to you/me/the writer to decide. But, like Valerie said, whatever you/me/we decide, it has to make sense. It has to make the reader think "okay, that might be stupid, but I get why she did it."

If I would just have Awesome-scary guy use magic powers on her to make her forget everything and follow him like a drone, that's boring. And it makes me not like the MC because she's kind of pathetic.

Sure, you can just write something magic in there to make her do it. But would you want to read that?
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