Reviews, rants, and tidbits from an overpassionate novelist

Posts tagged ‘writers’

Book 2 is Underway!

All I have time for today is a quick update. I want to get going on organizing my life for college. Finally I feel the drive.

I hit the 10,000-word mark on book 2 today. Hooray! It’s been a geniune struggle to start this one, so I’m over the moon. I simply can’t write this one in order. Just can’t.

Word Count:  10,225

Partial Requests:  3

Dream Diary:  Loving college.

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Pheonixes, Nightmares, and Anime

3 changes to discuss.

1)  Everything in my own life, as a few of my readers may know, is about to change. I’m about to uproot and reroot a little bit closer to the sea and everything else in my dreams. In 17 days, I will be moving to the new Honors dorm at the University of South Carolina.

Meh new homme!

Meh new homme!

Scariness. To me, this feels like a death–a phoenix death–and I’m looking forward to my ashy renewal. I’ve just got to get the dying part over with.

In honor of this new change, I’m going to change some things about my blog.

2)  Blog change number one:  I’m going to add a dream diary. At the bottoms of posts I’m going to update the number of partial requests I’ve received and my book 2 word count, but I’m also going to share one of my freaky over-imaginative nightmares : D

3)  Blog change number two:  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since I posted Studies of Storytelling, which shares my thoughts on using everything from Disney movies to anime to internet emails to help us writers improve our craft.

If that’s the case, why should I only review books here on my blog? I can share thoughts about anime and movies as well.

This sounds like so much fun to me. More later! ❤

Book 2 Word Count:  6000

Partial Requests:  3

Dream Diary:  I had a nightmare that a truly vicious classmate who tormented me through middle school and sneered at me through high school was in two of my college classes. (Cue shrieking violins) Have I mentioned I’m ready to be in Columbia? Change is nice.

Courtney’s Writing Nonfiction? What?

To be honest, I expect to get a bit of rap for trying to write anything memoir-esque at my age. I’m 18. What could I possibly have to say?

One of the best things I got from this last conference was a gentle reminder of the value of those years from Emily Sue Harvey. “It’s amazing that you write,” she said. “Not only that you have the drive, lots of kids have the drive. You have something to say.”

Her words surprised me. I’d never thought of that–having something to say–as my strength before. Then I thought about the number of nights I’ve spent lying awake just thinking about life, the times I’ve agonized about getting through situations without hurting others, and my uncle’s words about the emotional-literary power woven into my writing.

I thought maybe she was right.

So I’ve been looking for stories in my life, and I’ve finally struck gold. I’ve found a story I want to write so much it hurts. I’ve resolved to turn it into a masterpiece. It involves the World Scout Jamboree I attended in 2007. I’m dying to share it, even in its atrocious first-draft form, so I’m going to be an indulgent teenager and post the first paragraph.

The Teapot Boy

My first impression of the boy who would change me forever was as wrong as it possibly could have been. I remember sitting on the stage set up in that gymnasium, scanning the crowd and getting seized by a glare. That’s right. I was minding my own business, making drowsy conversation with the people lounging on the sofas where I’d been taking a nap, and a boy I’d never met before was staring me down.

On that creepy note, I must leave you for now. I’ll keep you update though. I’m very excited about it.

So excited that I didn’t feel like working on the reviews I should have written today. Sigh. Those will happen soon. I promise. The posts on the way are:

A review of In Odd We Trust by Dean Koontz & Queenie Chan
A review of The Uglies by Scott Westerfield
Thoughts on Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
& Thoughts on Song of Renewal by Emily Sue Harvey

Jambo Picture:

Sword dancers from Qatar

Sword dancers from Qatar

STUDIES OF STORYTELLING

I have a very unique way of battling writer’s block. When I can’t seem to make a story fit together, I go back and review the first fundamentals of storytelling I ever learned…by watching Disney movies.

Yes, this works! I’ve told quite a few other writers about it who’ve seen where I’m coming from. Classic stories told in ways that have caused people to love them all their lives. If you’re shooting to be a bestseller (though maybe not a Pulitzer), why not pay a little attention?

I’ve started making a study of storytelling in everything I watch. As an 18-year-old, I believe I am still entitled to my share of anime and That’s 70’s Show, not to mention movies with friends. I always try to pay attention to character development, narration as the way the story unfolds, the effects of setting and time. I suppose I can attribute it to my teacher Mr. Ford, who invented a class called Film & Fiction in the Fort Mill school district and taught students to appreciate film as art. It was one of the best classes I’ve ever taken.

Writing isn’t the only form of storytelling out there. It’s not even the most popular anymore. There is lots of room for writers to take advantage.

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PUNCTUATION IS LIKE SEX

This is taken from a worksheet I received at the SWA Conference last month, and I just had to share. Cheryl Norman’s Novel Writing Class, as you can imagine, was hilarious.

Punctuation is like Sex:

  1. Commas are not like kisses. They should not be scattered freely among your beloved words.
  2. Like spouses, exclamation marks should ideally come one per person, per lifetime. (Except in YA, I personally believe.)
  3. Parenthetical asides are like secrets between friends–not a good idea.

THE TOP 7 DOWNFALLS OF WRITERS

Again, I made this list with the help of a workshop I received in Cheryl Norman’s Novel Writing Class at the Southeastern Writer’s Workshop.

The Top 7 Downfalls of Writers:

  1. Lack of self-discipline
  2. Failing to use biological time positively (Ex. Are you a morning person? A night person?)
  3. Creating distractions/giving in to them
  4. Failing to finish individual pieces of work
  5. Failing to set goals that are high enough
  6. Not honoring one’s own unique material and VOICE
  7. Failing to acknowledge the duality within the creative person (Ex. Extend yourself! See what you can do.)

* THE WHITE DARKNESS BY GERALDINE McCAUGHREAN – FIRST IMPRESSIONS *

whitedarkness_web

I love it. Sym’s voice is one of the best I’ve read. The themes, patterns, and writing are all lovely and fitting for a YA audience. It even received the Printz Award–a high-level YA contest–in 2008.

And get this:  When I asked for this book at Barnes & Noble here in Texas, I was told that the store didn’t carry it. Nor did any of the stores close by. Looks like the major bookstores know of it, but no more.

Why?

I guess Sym is hard to relate to. The reader finds out that she’s unusual so quickly, it takes us a few chapters for us to relate to her. I think the complete click with her doesn’t come until the end. Perhaps Ms. McCaughrean could have done something about the narration of this book to bring the horrific moments that haunt the end home closer to the beginning.

That, however, is the only criticism I can make. I love the themes that flow so naturally through this book, the patterns. The end is glorious. Just thinking about a certain moment–and if you read it you’ll know which one–still gives me goosebumps.

Love & Peace!

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