Monday, September 27, 2010

Foreshadowing

When I think of foreshadowing I think of something simple happening in an early chapter and then later that simple thing becomes something more. However, according to one of my "help" book foreshadowing can occur from sentence to sentence. This has opened a whole new awareness for me. After reading that passage in my "help" book I realized that I use foreshadowing more than I thought I did.

Of course foreshadowing is also done chapters apart. I have a flower that plays a part in my novel. My protagonist has two romantic interests. They both give her flowers at different spots in the book, but they both give her different flowers. I make a quick mention of what flower she likes in the beginning without really coming out and saying that she likes it. It's just a quick mention, but when she receives the one she likes the reader will know it instantly. Before she even says that it's her favorite flower.

I also like the idea of foreshadowing in one book and then having it pay off in a later book. Since the book I am working on currently is intended to be the first in a series I hope to make use of this type of foreshadowing.

I am still working on this aspect. I don't want to use too many or not enough, so I tend to work on my foreshadowing during revisions. Hopefully, I will strike the perfect balance for my story by the time it's completed.

Till next time enjoy your day!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Quote #6

"Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum." ~Graycie Harmon

Friday, September 24, 2010

Showing vs. Telling

Telling:
It was a beautiful day outside. People were outside doing chores instead of sitting inside.

Showing:
Just across the street a neighbor was working on his jeep with a friend. Music from the radio and laughter from the men wafted through the air in my direction. Taking a deep breath I took in the fresh smell of recently mowed grass from yet another neighbors house. We wave at each other as he takes a break from his yard work. A child rings the bell on her bike as she rides past the house grinning as the wind blows gently through her hair.


It wasn't until I read one of my "help" books that I realized I had done a whole lot of the first, telling. I immediately slowed down the pace of my writing and began agonizing over each paragraph making sure that I was showing rather than telling. Then I realized that I had too much showing and no telling. I've learned, though, that I shouldn't agonize over it in the beginning. It slows me down too much and I really don't like that.

Now what I do is just write. Whatever comes to mind first is what gets typed. Then I go back over and revise my writing at a later date. I have found that the distance gives me a better perspective. With that perspective I decide what needs to be shown and what needs to be told. According to my "help" book both showing and telling are important, but I need to find a good balance.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Senses

Writing using the five senses, oh boy! When I read anything I try and picture it as best as I can in my mind. I really love it when the author paints the picture so clearly that I can either almost touch, taste, feel, hear, or smell what I am reading. As a result I try really hard in my own writing to do the same. I want my reader to feel something.

For example, a passage I recently penned I hope does this.
"I hugged my light sweater closer to my chest as [we] walked into the sunset. It was beautiful with warm shades of yellows, oranges, and reds. The air coming off the ocean was crisp and dry. A slight breeze creating a whispering from the trees high above. As perfect as the evening was, it was too quiet. [He] hardly said a word. I knew he was still upset about yesterday."

With this passage I wanted to paint a picture of fall on the shore. First, she hugs her light sweater to indicated the time of night and possibly time of year. Starting in September on the shore it begins to cool down at night. I also mention the air coming off the ocean, because it is different than that of the Texas Hill Country. Then she notices the colors of the sunset, which also happen to be associated with fall colors. Yet, in this passage it is September, so the leaves are still present on the trees. This is portrayed in the whispering tall trees. I also wanted to paint the night as quiet and somber. To do this I mention that one of the other characters with her is quiet and hardly saying a word.

In the end I hope I have created enough of a picture for a reader to feel as though they are either there or watching the scene unfold first hand. This took several tries just to get it to this point. And, I'm sure that I will still need to make revisions in the future to this passage.

Till next time, have an excellent day!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Quote #5

"No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous." ~Henry Brooks Adams, The Education of Henry Adams, 1907

Friday, September 17, 2010

Revisions - Modifiers

"Then I caught a scent on the breeze. It was a beautiful, clean smell. Like the clean smell after it rains in Texas. it was clean, pure, and I loved it. Despite the terror around me I was momentarily calmed. It was a good break from the stench of the cigarettes and beer [the offender] reeked of."

This is an entry from the novel I am currently working on. Of course this is not how it started out. When I first began I had several sentences that basically said the same exact thing, but in different ways. Then as I read back through it I realized one sentence contradicted another. After several rewrites this is what I have worked out.

My protagonist is trying to describe the smell of another person who has come into the picture during a dispute. When I wrote it the last thing I was thinking of was adjectives and adverbs. However, when I went back to revise the selection that was my main objective. I wanted to make use of those modifiers without using too little or too much and the right ones. I needed something that would paint the picture I wanted.

During a summer visit to Texas I noticed how the rain smelled different in my native Texas than it did in my adoptive New Jersey. I took a moment to really breathe in that fresh smell and was amazed at how fresh, clean, pure, and aromatic it really smelled. I remember that smell from growing up, yet here in New Jersey the smell of rain seems to be lacking.

For the piece my protagonist is from Texas, so she would have smelled the same aromatic rain that I smelled that summer day in Texas. Wanting to describe something clean and pure the Texas rain was the first thing that popped into my head. My goal is to describe the smell and have the reader smell it in their mind - if that's even possible.

I have many more revisions to do like this one. Hopefully they will all work out the way I hope they will.

Till next time have an awesome day!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Character Development - Empathy

Character Development seems to be an ongoing project for me. I don't think it will ever stop. I have a character in my novel who starts out one way and eventually through several books I plan on having him change a little. He will eventually soften. Anyone who has read Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse novels will understand this. Throughout the books one character seems to genuinely change. I would love to portray this character in my books as well as she has in hers.

As of now I have a character sheet filled out for each and every character that pops up as more than a simple mention. I still have yet to complete these character sheets. I feel that for an author I should know my characters inside and out. Even if I never mention that Character J loves the colors red and black I still should know this. Maybe it can be portrayed in the color of clothing Character J wears or the hat that sits upon his head is always red and black.

Creating a character that shows empathy is the main ingredient according to Robert McKee in Story. After reading his book I agree entirely. If my protagonist does not show empathy then the reader will not be sucked in. However, if I show that she wavers from indecision or that she feels bad for someone or true pain, then my readers will enjoy the book all the more. It makes sense that she would feel frustration at having a soda spilled on her by the snobbiest girl in school. Yet saying that isn't enough. I need to show that she is humiliated and embarrassed. I have to show her way of dealing with it and that of her friends that watch the scene play out in front of them.

I must create a connection between my protagonist and the reader. I know when I read I love the characters that I immediately feel for. I have tried to do this in my novel. In the very first chapter she suffers a great loss and immediately does something I feel that myself as a reader would agree with. She acts through her emotions rather than a level head. It's her friend that brings her back to reality and insists she needs to breathe and relax.

Hopefully I have done my job at creating an empathetic protagonist.

Till next time have a beautiful day!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Quote #4

"Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead." ~Gene Fowler

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sentence & Paragraph Length

Ah, now just how long is too long and how short is too short?

I just earned my bachelor's degree in history almost two years ago. I went to school part-time and full-time over many years. During those years I learned that my paragraphs had to be between 4-8 sentences long and each sentence had to be complete. That was a major requirement of most of my professors. I even had a professor who would measure the margins when students handed in their seminar papers. He would also take off points in all of his classes if the paragraph length and structure weren't right. Needless to say, I only took one of his classes and opted for the only other professor who gave the seminar class. My experience was much better than his students'.

However, when I read novels I don't see the same structure that was drilled into my head. I see partial sentences. Sentences that have a few words. The words "it" and "thing" are used. To never use those two words was also drilled into my head.

So, as I sit down to write my own novel I realize that I have no idea how to structure my sentences or my paragraphs. I try to pay as close attention when I read other authors in the Young Adult genre to see how they handle sentence and paragraph structure and length. Yet, no matter how much I read I still have drilled into my head just how many sentences a paragraph must be and that a sentence must be complete. Or else!

Finally, I have come to the conclusion that we don't always think or speak in complete sentences or defined paragraphs. Therefore, I write exactly what my character is thinking or speaking. Even if it's incomplete sentences. I don't have that one professor reading my books telling me I'm wrong.

Till next time, have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dialogue

"Great, so you mean that I have to write what someone else is talking about?"

Okay, so to be completely honest? I hate writing dialogue. I want to make my dialogue meaningful, yet sometimes it seems so silly what my teenage characters are talking about. Plus, writing dialogue means that I have to really know what each of them is thinking at the moment and what they mean by what they say. Some characters mean what they say and others have a hidden meaning. But, just how do I get into several characters minds at one time when I'm writing? This is my dilemma. it tends to slow me down slightly.

Then there is the style of the dialogue; tag lines, pace, author intrusion, punctuation, and something called in medias res. First, tag lines. Sometimes I feel as though I have over done the tag lines. My characters might be in the midst of moving or making a face or who knows what kind of odd gesture they're making. I want my reader to feel like they're watching a movie in their minds, without too many tag lines.

And I certainly don't want to be too intrusive. The more tag lines, the more intrusive I am. I have to try and hide the intrusion. I guess that helps with first person. My protagonist can make comments about the other persons behavior to herself. Yes, my protagonist is a teenage girl and is telling the story from her perspective.

I also have to worry about pacing the story. Somehow I have to get the story told and not too fast or too slow. There are scenes, though, that I want to either quicken the pace on or slow the pace. just my problem is in my head. Is it too fast/slow? Should I make it move quicker/slower? If I'm the reader reading this for the first time how am I going to react to this?

Ah, too many questions. Then there's punctuation. I don't want to have too many exclamation points or commas or periods. I try my best to only use exclamations where they are really needed. I have one character that I use them for a lot, mainly because she's super hyper and always squealing with joy about something or another. Then there are other characters that rarely need the exclamation point added to their dialogue.

So, I got a book on dialogue. Did it help? Yes and no. It gives great advice and examples. Yet somehow I end up having more questions than answers. One answer it gave me is in medias res, which is writer's jargon for starting a dialogue scene in the middle of the conversation. I like this. Maybe a little too much. This is how I started my second chapter off. Oh and chapter 3. Come to think of it chapter six is split into two scenes and I think I start off the second half in this manner, as well. Hmm? Maybe I ought to come up with something a little different before half of the book starts of in the midst of a conversation.

Wow, there's still so much to talk about with dialogue, but not enough time in this blog. I think I'll keep some of the other dialogue discussion for yet another blog later.

Till next time have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Word Count

My first thought is huh? I am a very wordy person. What you might say in a couple of sentences it takes me four to five. This whole word count issue has really become an "issue" for moi. I am on Twitter and I follow several authors. Occasionally I see that they mention their word count goals for the day or mention how many words they've written on that particular day. For me I never have really worried about the word count, but rather the content. I worry about whether I got down on paper what I wanted to convey and if it got me closer tot he finish line or not.

So I decided to do some poking around on the internet. That hasn't gotten me near as far as I would have liked. I thought if I found a general rule then I was good to go. Apparently, not everyone is on the same page when it comes to word count. If you are a new author you seem to be given a limit as to how many words you can use and then if you are a veteran you seem to get more leeway. One site even went through this ridiculous process of explaining that what my computer says is my word count and what a digital copy with say my word count is are two totally different things. HUH????

I found a website that claims anything under 60,000 is a novella - even in young adult. Yet, another site claims that most YA novels are between 40,000 and 60,000. I also found another site that claims that a new author for YA needs to keep their words below 100,000. And many others claim that is the same for an adult novel. My guess is that I am going to have to go with the 40,000 - 60,000 word count claim.

Now just how to do this? It scares me to worry about word count while I am busy trying to convey a message and get my story out. Therefore, I have come to the only logical conclusion I can for myself. I have decided to just write the darn book and not pay any attention to word count. When I finish I will calculate my word count and then try to trim it if need be. And I am almost positive I will need to trim my story. Without a doubt!

Till next time, have a wonderful day!