A Writer's Journey

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

Maya Angelou

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.

Victor Hugo

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fun Friday: X-Factor Snippet

For anyone who truly knows me - okay, even those that don't know me all that well *laughs* - it's not a big secret that I'm really into music. This, of course, includes any and all singing competitions like American Idol and The X-Factor. So, there I was...sitting on my bed, watching last night's two hour episode, rolling my eyes at all the cocky, self horn-tooting, wannabes...when this girl took the stage. Let me tell you, girl's got it going on. I had tears streaming down my face by the time the song ended and I wasn't the only one. But don't take my word for it...see for yourself. I promise you won't be disappointed. :D (p.s. You might wanna turn up the volume a bit *kicks crappy YouTube sound*)

Melanie Amaro - Listen (Beyonce cover for X-Factor audition)

And now for our regularly scheduled pretty... (another Disney edition! *grins*)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Writing Wednesday: The First Draft Finish Line

Today's Writing Wednesday topic focuses on finishing that first draft. If some of you are like me, you fight the overwhelming need to revise as you write as opposed to just getting the whole story out first and then tackling the dreaded revisions after. This was the case with the first couple of writing projects I started and you know what? Those are the ones I never finished. After scoring a few awesomesauce critique partners for the current project I'm working on, I've learned that the revise-as-you-go thing really wasn't working out so well for me.

With their help, a new discipline in me was born. Visualize the story. Get a feeling for it. Get to know my characters. Help them fit into the story that I'm trying to convey. THEN FINISH THE STORY. After I've finished, then and ONLY THEN should the revisions begin.

Don't mind that it sucks the first time around. Push back the thoughts that no one except your mother who's obligated to tell you how awesomesauce you are will read the pile of crap you've just unloaded on that unwitting MS Word document. Or that grammar, syntax, plot holes, and general vortex-inducing mistakes are all over that bad boy.

Forget it all.


Keeping that very simple, very focused goal was what helped me to overlook the suckery of the first draft blues. I found this method worked better than my previous revise-as-you-go strategy because of two very important reasons:

1) All writers are their own worst critics and there will always be room to revise SOMETHING. This makes finishing that first draft milestone seem highly unreachable.

2) Stopping in the middle to change something may prevent further development of something already existing.

How do you know scene x wasn't going to work? Does the flow really work well if scene y was taken out, only to make sense because of a future scene yet to be written? I'm sure there are other questions that could totally point out how valid the aforementioned reasons are, but I'll try not to write a novella of a blog post.

What brought on this sudden clarity? This A-Ha! moment, so to speak? Well, besides my previously mentioned stellar CPs. *laughs*

I'm currently writing the last, yes folks, the LAST chapter of my current WIP. *insert totally excited girly squee here* And let me tell you, it didn't come without much ass kicking and chapter bribery *cough*LORI*cough* from my critique partners! But I'm on the horizon of a great milestone in my feeble attempt at trying out this I-wanna-be-a-writer business. My very first completed manuscript. Okay, not totally completed because the ridiculous amount of revisions is just beyond that horizon, but hey...let me enjoy the pink sparkly moment, will ya? *throws pink confetti just because*

How did you finally make it to that first draft finish line? Did you revise as you wrote or wait until the end?

And now for our regularly scheduled pretty... (Disney-themed! *grins*)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Writing Wednesday: The Handy Book of Villainous Dialogue

Today's Writing Wednesday post was inspired by one of my critique partners, Lori, and some very well-worded critique for a recent chapter I had just gotten back (the title above was also a brainchild of hers and it was too awesome not to use *shifty eyes*). Anyhow, jumping right in.

One of the danger zones when fleshing out characters is the overuse of cliches and cliche-like dialogue. The heroes talking like heroes, the damsel in distress talking like damsels in distress, and the villains talking like, well, the villains. *laughs* This creates a one-layered depth to the character - something that would either:
a) incite some eye-rolling from the reader
b) make them stop reading completely because the characters seem so predictable or
c) wonder what the hell they're still doing reading something that feels like it's been overdone loads of times when they could be watching the new episode of True Blood instead.

All those aforementioned things = BAD

So how do you, as a writer, break those cliches so that your characters are multidimensional? Maybe insert a scene where the main antagonist shows a weakness that might make the reader sympathetic to their cause or to them in general? Or how about a quirk or a past indiscretion in the main character that isn't so heroic or even likable?

For example, instead of the hero jumping in to save the someone from a fire and then coming out unscathed with that heroic glow and ta-da! pose, they can stumble inside, maybe break a limb or two, go into a dialogue or monologue scene where their fears and anxieties would be displayed for all to see, and then stagger out after having saved whoever they were jumping in there to save. And holy cow, that was a long sentence. *laughs* Anyway, I digress. But you get the point, right?

Let me share the little snippet that got this train of thought rolling (and also made me snort out coffee that I was drinking at the time *glares at Lori for making me laugh while liquids were in my presence*):

"It is you who shall burn. Your God cannot save you once the Great Three have been awakened." William’s expression was triumphant, his sneer revealing long canines. "The time has come for a new order."

Don't laugh. Okay, I did, but yeah, don't laugh. *wiggles an accusing finger at all the laughing people* I already knew this was going to get some heat from my awesomesauce CPs just because of the very fact that I pictured a very sinister-looking, mustache-twirling cliche villain when I wrote this. Granted, this snippet was an excerpt from my first draft, but still. That character - SO not the sinister-looking, mustache-twirling cliche villain. At least not conceptually. But the way he came out on paper gave him that air of "one-layered dimension" and I can see how it would make someone blurt out "OMG, did he really just say THAT?". *crickets*

Moral of the story? Try to think out of the box. The villains don't have to all be completely evil and the heroes don't have to all be completely good. There's a battle between good and evil in all people (in my humble opinion) and that should show in all characters in some form or another. Which means, actions AND dialogue. I always try to read back dialogue out loud just to see how it sounds outside of my brain, but I do have my moments when the cliches sneak in there all stealthy and ninja-like. It's especially hard when you're trying to show that part of a character that marks them as either the protag or antag without going full out cliche.

How do you feel about dialogue cliches and have you ever caught yourself writing them?

And now for our regularly-scheduled pretty...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fun Friday: nigahiga - Agents of Secret Stuff

Today's Fun Friday post is another nigahiga favorite. It's a little long, but I promise - totally worth the watch! Enjoy!

And now for our regularly scheduled pretty...