July 28, 2014
When I was a kid, I thought meeting a real live published author would be the ultimate experience in the universe. I have met real live published authors now and even had the privelage to work with them I discovered that they’re just normal people like the rest of us. They are a lot of fun, but they aren’t these perfect, all-powerful beings who get everything right the first try. Which is very encouraging.
I discovered that my favorite thing about meeting real live published authors is hearing them read. I love to hear an author read in his or her own voice (especially if singing is involved—I still occasionally break into rendentions of “Delaware” as sung by M.T. Anderson). Then, when I pick up that author’s book, I can hear the words in his or her own voice. I could hear Kathi Appelt’s sing-song voice as I read The Underneath. When I read Strange, Sweet Song, I got chills hearing Adi Rule’s eerie pauses and lyrical tone as she read almost like a ghost story (though I have never heard her read from Strange, Sweet Song).
So if you get the chance to hear an author read his or her work, I would recommend listening. Although, a fair warning, I have heard people say it annoys them to hear someone else’s voice because they would rather hear their own inner reader. :-D
July 25, 2014
Have I mentioned this before? I once read a book recommended to me for its amazing world-building. The world-building was pretty awesome EXCEPT for the metaphors. The book was written in 3rd person, but even in 3rd person, the metaphors should be appropriate to the characters and world. The author kept comparing things to situations the character would have known nothing about.
Annemarie O’Brien recently posted this on the awesome blog Quirk and Quill (possibly my favorite writing blog):
“Highlight # 7 – Nikki Grimes Metaphor Tip
Metaphor comes best from the images and words of your character, setting, or world. Be sure to use words and images related to the environment and the time-period of your own story.”
We should keep that in mind as we write, and believe me, it can be a challenge!
July 21, 2014
Characters, Epic Novel, Drafts, Description
Okay, okay, I think I know what part of the problem is. I’m terrible at description. That’s the main glaring problem with highschool draft of Epic Novel. It’s all very terse, very telly, all action and dialogue. In my current draft, I have really focused on description. Perhaps too much. One compliment I always get is that my characters are good and I know them well. Except, they don’t seem very engaging in Part 2. I spend so much time trying to make my description good that I’m neglecting my strengths—the characters, the plot. In highschool draft, the characters were friends, geniune, and funny, too. They seem awfully drab in current draft. Maybe I can pull some of my stunning lines out of the mess that is highschool draft and insert them into current draft. Maybe they will inspire me.
July 18, 2014
Drafts, Epic Novel
Da da da da! Last night, I officially finished typing the rough draft of Epic Novel Book 1 Part 2!! Except for the last page which may be hiding under the couch. . . .
I haven’t exactly met my self-imposed deadline of submission ready by the end of July, but I feel certain satisfaction from having a draft ready by the end of July. Massive revisions must now ensue, but I’m getting a handle on the emotional arcs. More on that later (I hope).
July 14, 2014
Characters, Description, Drafts, Epic Novel
Argh! Is it possible that I was a better when I was 17 pre-MFA—pre-any-kind-of-creative-writing-class-ever? I keep looking back at my highschool draft of the Epic Novel. Yes, in many ways it was terrible. Yet, the characters seemed more real, more authentic. They certainly seem more like teenagers, which I suppose shouldn’t surprise me. What really shocked me was when I compared eulogies.
The current draft, I had so much trouble knowing what to say for this memorial that I finally just put in a placeholder, something along the lines of. “Today, we lost one of our own. A brave, bright, hardworking soldier. The squad won’t be the same without her. We now honor her sacrifice.” O_O I mean, it’s a placeholder, but that is really, really bad.
Contrast to the eulogy I wrote in highschool: “We all knew Jen and loved her. Jen was not only a great soldier, she was a great friend. Her spirit kept us all uplifted. When we got down, Jen always had some joke or encouraging word to cheer us up again. When times got tough, Jen got tough right along with them. She kept us going. I can’t say how much we’re going to miss her. She never flinched when going into battle. Jen just held her head steady and took the blows as they came. She stayed brave to the last, and she died a noble death.”
Um, why can’t I write that today? I’m beginning to despair. What happens when I finally finish the Epic Novel and write something new? Something for which I do not have a highschool draft? Sigh.
July 9, 2014
I’m not exactly jealous, I just wish I could be there, too. This week is the Writing for Children and Young Adults summer residency at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Oh how I miss those days!The comraderie, fellowship, and breadth of knowledge/experience are a winning combination. Plus, these people are a lot of fun. One of the administrators once told me she could always tell when the Writing for Children program was on campus because of the laughter.
I would definitely recommend this program and hope that perhaps next year, I will make it to the residency.
June 11, 2014
It sort of makes your day when a highschool English teacher tells you, “With the way you write, you won’t have any trouble getting published.”