Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

On Banning

We're approaching Banned Book Week and by now I think everyone and their grandmother has heard about Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson being challenged. Get the full story on Anderson's blog here.

I'm not going to rant about how horrible I think book banning is, because it will just get me worked up, and I don't want to yell at a computer screen, that's not productive. And I don't have a story about how Speak helped me. My childhood and adolescence are thankfully free of horrors like that which Melinda went through.

This blog post is about giving thanks.

First, to the writing community, for being so vocal and open and jumping right to the aid of a very powerful novel that has helped and will continue to help so many people.

Second, I have so much appreciation for my parents, who never restricted my reading material, and who always encouraged me to read. What I've read and how I've chosen for myself what to read has helped shape the person and the writer I am today.

And third, I'm so very thankful that my high school library had a wide selection, and to my knowledge, no one ever tried to remove books from the learning curriculum or the shelves. Even some books I couldn't beleive they'd carry in a school. But those were the ones that really got us talking. Those were the books my friends and I checked out and passed from person to person, then we'd discuss the characters and events during our lunch breaks. Those were the books that got us reading, and kept us reading.

So thank you. I feel so lucky that I had the chance to read these books, so lucky that I had the choice.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Writing Plans

So, we're only halfway through September and I'm already thinking about NaNoWriMo. Last year was my first year participating in NaNo, and I really liked it. I got A LOT of writing done, because crazy me decided to work on two books during that time, writing 1K/day on a Blood Ties, a book I started in September, and writing the NaNo 1.7K/day on a new project called Plural of Love. So, yeah, I was writing 2.7K words a day and I got a lot done.

But... I kind of burned myself out. I stopped working on Blood Ties about halfway though the month, and that book currently stands unfinished at 60K. And even though I got to 50K (and won NaNo!) on Plural, I ended up deleting the last 30K words or so because they were just all wrong. That book currently stands unfinished at 20K (But I really love the 20K words I have there.)

So this year I want to do NaNo again but I'm going to write a more outlined book. (I was pretty much pantsing Plural, and I am so a plotter. I need my order and structure. I need to know what happens next.) I'm still debating which idea I'll write for NaNo, but it's between a YA historical fantasy, a YA contemporary, and three different YA fantasies. Ha. Yeah, lots of ideas, no clear favorite yet.

I also have a goal before NaNo: I want to finish the draft of the current story I'm working on, The Cure. I have about a month and a half, and it's only at 7K words so I do have a ways to go. But I'm trying to "train" for NaNo by writing everyday (trying to write 1K/day) so it's not too hard to get into the habit of writing 1.7k/day in November.

Lately I've been doing timed writing sessions. (I totally got the idea from the awesome Beth Revis.) Basically, I set a timer for 30 minutes, write straight though for that time, and when the timer goes off I stop. Then I get a 15 minute break to check twitter and blogger and email and grab a snack or whatever. Then when the 15 minutes are up, I do another 30 minute session. So far my writing sessions have been really productive, I've been trying to turn off my inner editor and just keep writing, and in each 30 min session I average about 800 words. So, an hour of writing with a 15 min break between and there's my 1.7K words NaNo goal right there.

With that in mind, these are my writing plans for the rest of the year:
Sept & Oct: Write The Cure
Nov: Write as-of-yet undetermined NaNo novel
Dec: Finish up The Cure and/or NaNo novel and decide which to revise next

I still have a goal of finishing three drafts this year. Temper is done, so that's one down. Hopefully I can finish these two drafts and meet that goal. Otherwise, come December, I'm going to sit down with Blood Ties (at 60K words) and just finish the thing. Hey, maybe I'll do that anyway.

What are your writing plans for the rest of the year?
Are you doing NaNo? Do you know what you want to write about yet?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Word Collection

Some people collect postcards, or stamps, or coins. Some people collect rare video games, or out of print books, or anything a favorite celebrity has ever touched (you can find all sorts of weird crap on eBay).

Well, I started collecting words.

Reading through some of my earlier writing, I didn't use a lot of variety. Characters walked. Characters shouted. Characters were afraid.

So I started reading more books and flipping through a dictionary and a thesaurus to find words I liked that I hadn't previously used. I saved these. I wrote them down and I held onto them and I waited for just the right moment. And with the collection of words at my disposal, the right moments came faster and more frequently.

Characters no longer walked downstairs, instead they stole downstairs.

Characters no longer shouted, instead they shrieked.

Characters were no longer afraid, instead their hearts hammered against their chest.

The thing is, I love words.

And I think that's why my word collection is the first successful collection I've ever had. When I was younger I tried to collect coins. I tried to collect postcards from every state. I tried to collect pens from all the businesses around town. I tried to collect coasters from different restaurants.

But none of these collections went anywhere. Because I just didn't care that much.

My collection of words is different. I collect because I'm passionate about it.

And now I get why my desire to collect all the special state quarters went nowhere. To some people, those state quarters are magical. To me, those state quarters were pretty cool, but on a hot day a soda from a vending machine sounded a whole lot cooler. And to some people, words are just words. But to me, words are magical.

Have you ever tried to collect something?
Successful or not?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Name Scheme

I've always liked picking out names for my characters. My favorite baby name site is this one. I love it because you can search for names based on meaning, or origin, or popular names during a certain year, or by categories like Musical Names, British Names, or even Disney Names. Very cool stuff.

But my favorite aspect has to be the similar name search. See, I like my character names in any given story to mesh well. I don't want to have a Christopher an Elizabeth and a Bud. That's just... strange. And the similar name thing is great, because often I'll start with just one character name and get all the rest based off it.

All of my stories have a different feel for them. For Untouched I didn't use a name finder, and I ended up with Gwen, James, Glory and Dante for my main characters. For The Temper, I had a lot of fun coming up with the superhero names, but all their real names are totally normal: Connor, David, Seth, etc.

Some of my other MC/love interest pairs include: Claire and Alexander, Elle and Tristan, Allison and Peter, Audrey and Shane, and Kady and Josh.

Another aspect that fascinates me about choosing names for characters is the name schemes I love are usually different from what anyone else would come up with. Usually.

Here's my current naming dilemma. In my latest WiP, the main characters are William and Tessa. The name Tessa came to me right away, so I can't imagine that character being called anything else. And now that I've named William, it just feels so right. So what's the problem? Well, I was reading the synopsis for the new book Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare and guess what? Two of the main characters are named William and Tessa. Arrggghhhh.

So what do I do? Stick with the names, because I like them, and hey, it's not like I named them Bella and Edward? Or change one of them now before I get too attached?

I'm not opposed to renaming William, I just can't think of a better name that would go well with Tessa and fit the character. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know! Other characters are named Graham, Jason, Kiera, Drew and Riley, if that gives you an idea of the name scheme I'm going for there.

How do you choose your character names?
Feel free to share some of your name schemes, I find it so interesting!