Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Writing Hint #15

Kiersten White, bestselling YA author of PARANORMALCY, tweeted a writing tip that is a valuable one to remember.

“Instead of starting where everything begins, why not try starting where everything gets interesting? Origins are overrated.” (link)

This got me thinking about some advice that Bree Despain, YA author of the DARK DIVINE trilogy, told me once when I talked to her in a conference call. Basically her words ran along the same lines as Kiersten’s. Bree said to start the story on a day in your MC’s (main character) life when something changes. Something fundamental that will set up the story to follow. In Bree’s first novel, that “day” for her MC (Grace) is the day that Daniel returns after his mysterious disappearance three years earlier. And that “day” is where Bree begins Grace’s story.

It is easy to get bogged down in backstory and flashbacks and info dumps. It is easy to fall into the trap of telling everything about your MC’s life.

Don’t. Do. This.

You may think you are fleshing out your MC’s personality, letting your reader really “get to know” your MC. But really, all the backstory is only for your own benefit as the writer. Info dumps WILL bore your readers, and your readers WILL lose interest in your novel.

Don’t focus on the ordinary. Focus on the extraordinary. What is it that really kicks off your novel? When do things get “interesting”?

Start there.

Then run with it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Vacation Post #1

Hey y’all!

So yesterday kicked off this summer’s family vacation. I promised to post as often as I have Internet. For the moment, the Internet is alive and well, so I thought I’d take advantage of this potentially rare opportunity.

We decided to vacation in our own lovely state of Colorado, but we are exploring the side of the state opposite to where we live. We live in the mountains, so we have descended from the high country in order to spend some time going to the big city and camping in the low(er) lands.

For this post, I thought I’d share a few pictures of our travels so far.


Rapids in the Colorado River

We were hoping to hike some of the paths along the Colorado River, but the snowmelt has overflowed the banks of the river and submerged the paths.

This is supposed to be an observation point.

Natural waterfall created by snowmelt

View from the top of one of the many mountain passes

 On one of the mountain passes we crossed, we came upon this sign:

I guess someone did not listen.

When we reached our campground, this little guy was waiting to escort us to our site:

"Follow me. Hurry it up, people!"
One of our city stops so far has been the aquarium, where we encountered all manner of sea creatures.

We even came upon Dory and Marlin.

And Nemo. He was still trying to locate his dad.

So what is everyone else up to?

I will try to do a Writing Hint post later this week. As long as the Internet holds out.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

In Which I Reveal An Award and Tell Seven Random Things About Myself

A while back, Lori M. Lee, awarded The Versatile Blogger Award to me. I am just now (finally) doing a post about it.

First of all, the rules for this award are:

* Thank and link to the person who nominated me.
* Share seven random facts about myself.
* Pass the award along to 5 new-found blogging buddies.
* Contact those buddies to congratulate them.

Since the rules say to award this to 5 new-found blogging buddies, I decided to award it to the following five people who I have recently connected with:

Now, without further ado, here are seven random facts about myself.

1. My analytical side was dominant when I started college  (went in as meteorology and chemistry major) but my creative side won out in the end (majored in history and took tons of English and music classes). Though I still have a love for equations, Lewis Structures, and turbulent weather, I think everything worked out for the best since I teach music and write like one obsessed. *smile*

2. I have moved twenty-two times. In fact, I have moved so many times that it is practically a hobby. Every year I go through this faze of feeling like I need to start packing. But it passes quickly. I have been enjoying the last several years in one place.

3. The number twenty-two is significant. I already said that I have moved twenty-two times, but it goes way beyond that. I was born on the twenty-second, but so were my mom, my sister, my grandmother, and my aunt. I even count my grandfather in there. He was born on the eleventh. Close enough right? (11 x 2 = 22)

4. I cannot write without music. Okay, technically I can, but I would prefer not to. Music puts me in the right frame of mind, and the words flow better. Here lately, my musical preference for writing has been rock. But I listen to a lot of different stuff: country, pop, classical, soundtracks,…. The list could go on.

5. I was sneaky as a child. But not a terribly bad sneaky. My sneakiness came from reading under the covers after being told to go to bed. Yep. Flashlight + book + cave of covers = great late night adventures. The best part when my parents would come to check on me, and I would try my hardest to pretend I was asleep. Were they fooled? No way.

6. I have a soft spot for all things pirate. Ever since I was tiny I have loved the villainy, the mutiny, and the swashbuckling of a pirate ship. I cleaned out the children’s section of my local library reading every pirate-ish book I could lay my hands on. You do know what this means, right? I will eventually write a story with pirates in it. Oh yeah.

7. I’ve never been outside the continental United States, but someday I would really love to go to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, England, Italy, and Ireland.

So, how is everyone doing? Are you enjoying the almost-summer? Any upcoming vacations? I will be leaving on vacation soon, but I will blog as often as I have an internet connection. I will probably even post some pictures. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Writing Hint #14

Today’s writing hint comes from the lovely Jenn Johansson. Be sure to stop by her blog and say 'hi'!

“I've been keeping busy with revisions for awhile and one of the things my agent suggested for me was so cool that I have to share it. She said to take a character from the last scene of your book (this should work with any character) and plop them into the first scene in your book and see how they would handle things differently now. This is a great way to see if your character has changed and grown and not remained stagnant. You can just imagine it, or go all hog-wild and actually re-write the scene with the character as he finished the book. It's incredible to see the differences and realize all the things you did right.” (link)

This is great revision advice. Give it a try!

I dare ya.