Monday, December 24, 2012

Blogging Break

I'm taking these next two weeks off.

I need a breather and some relaxation time; what time better to get those than these two hectic weeks? I'm going to relax, hang with some cousins, and edit/write some more. It's going to be FUN! Annndd, I get to see what books my family got for me :D NO MORE SUSPENSE!

See you in January!

*</:0)3 (That's a sideways Santa. I made it, copyright and everything (not really, but pretend).)

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Secret to Strengthening Your Climactic Scene

Now, the world might end before this post goes up, but I'm going to write it JUST IN CASE. Look at me, going above and beyond. Be proud of me, anti-procrastination gods.

If you think your climax is missing that punch, if you feel your climax needs to be epic, or if you just want a darn good climax (I'm talking about writing, you perverts), heed this secret:

If you want to strengthen your climax, use preparation.

Preparation? What does preparation mean?

Here is one amazing example:

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry is enrolled in a tournament which has three parts to it. Almost the ENTIRE book is spent preparing for the last leg of the race; everything revolves around it. But, neither Harry nor Hermione knows what would really happen in the third leg. Rowling spends a good deal of the book simply gathering excitement for it.

The reader knows something will happen in the last leg. The reader knows something big and something unexpected will happen even if the characters don't know it themselves; this gathers nervous steam for the climax.

Now, making this work requires having your climactic scene coincide with a big event in your novel; the last leg is the climactic scene in Goblet of Fire. This coinciding trick makes the reader anxious for the event to come. It is like seeing a man far in the distance running towards you. Whether the man carries a knife or a gift, you don't know, but you are still nervous for his arrival.

Make the reader anxious for the arrival of the climactic scene. That idea is the base for this secret.

In my own novel, the climactic scene coincides with the 700th birthday of the most important person in the city. It is a huge, huge deal; this guy literally built the city. There is a good bit of the characters talking about this event and preparing, and this goes a long way; the reader begins to get nervous for the event.

That is what the writer has to accomplish. Make the reader nervous and excited for the climax and your book into a simmering pot. Make the reader unable to stop reading even if there are 'relaxing' scenes in your novel. Make the reader pick the book up again after putting it down.

And, make them excited/anxious.

Hope I helped, guys!

What are your favorite plot techniques?


Monday, December 17, 2012

A Great and Cheap Gift Idea for Writers/Readers

WOOO!!!!!! It's holiday time! That means music, trees, snow (please, please come, snow), and in general, happiness. But everyone gets in a conundrum when they think of what to get for their friends, family, and acquaintances.
I do not own this picture. But in a week or so, I MIGHT
own what is inside :)
Are you in a fix as to what you will give to that special writerly friend, that amazing reader, or your fantastic critique/book group? Maybe your family and friends like books as well (even if they aren't writers)? Here is an idea for you.

This was an idea we implemented in my family:

Everyone buys one book for the other! WOO!


No, seriously, it is actually quite awesome. Each person has to pick out that one amazing book for the other and has to think about what the person might enjoy. It is like bonding over books, and seeing just how well you know the other. And it is fun to put other people in suspense (except if it is me. I don't like being in suspense).

First off, it is cheap (it is usually less than twenty dollars for a book, and you get free Amazon shipping during this season for orders over $25 (or something)). Secondly, it is more personal. I love personal gifts more than impersonal ones; it's the thought that counts. You will remember the person who gave you a book more than you will remember the person who gave you a gift card. Gift cards, money, toys, and tools are transitory -- they lack an emotional impact or get used up. Books don't. Plus, we writers love books :) It's a direct shot straight into our hearts.

If you are far away from your critique partner or family, send a Kindle book or use Amazon shipping to send the book straight to the recipient. This idea is amazing because it will feel as if there is no distance between you guys at all. It will be more personal.

I, for one, can't wait to see what my family gets me (and I can't wait to see their expressions when I give them their books). I'm going to have a pretty darn good time!

Get shopping guys, you've got only a week or so left!

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Secret to a Great Book-to-Screen Adaptation

I do not own this picture.
I AM SO EXCITED TO WATCH THIS MOVIE!! I am going to see it tomorrow (Saturday) night, and I can't wait. Why? Because the Lord of the Rings movies are the best book-to-movie translation I have ever seen. I actually found the movies easier to get through and to comprehend than the books, and yet, the movies captured the Lord of the Rings spirit.

I'll give this Secret by having Lord of the Rings as an example, partially because it is an AMAZING example, and partially because I'm super excited about The Hobbit.
So what does make a good book adaption?

This mastery lies in the fact that a lot of the actors and actresses, and screenwriters and directors are big fans of the book. This is CRUCIAL to a good book-to-screen adaption, and it is evident in the movies.

The second reason the Lord of the Rings movies are so good is because of the director, Peter Jackson.

I paint, and you artsy people out there might appreciate this quote from my favorite painter: "One can freeze frame Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” at almost any point and see a master designer’s work." Basically, every frame of the movies could be made into a darn good-looking painting. That is INCREDIBLE. Whenever I watch the movies, I try to find a frame which does not show good design, and I cannot find it. This is why a good director (who matches the tone of the book) is so important.

The first thing I wondered when I heard of this movie (The Hobbit) was who the director was. If Jackson hadn't been directing this movie, I would have been incredibly wary (and that's an understatement). But he was the director, and all my worries vanished. This is the power of a good director.

If any of you worry (like I do) if your future books will be turned into a bad movie, remember two things:

1. The people who work in the movie should be big fans of your book and should share your vision. I can't tell you how important number 1 is. Just think: if the people working on the film do not share the book's vision or do not LOVE it, how can they make a good movie off of it? Try not to agree to a movie contract just because it is the 'only' offer. For me at least, no movie is better than a bad one.

2. Pick an awesome freaking director which matches the tone of your book. LOTR has an epic tone, and Jackson's style of direction depicts this. Each director has a different style; most would be able to pick Jackson's out of a line-up.
Think of the good movies based off of books (Perks of Being a Wallflower, Harry Potter, etc.) and then think of all the bad. There is a LOT of bad. Don't be one of those; remember the two tips above :D

As a caveat, do NOT go all totalitarian and try to control everything; books and movies are two separate mediums, and most directors know more about movies than most writers. If you trust the director you signed with (as you should....), then trust him/her. Give a few helpful nudges along the way but let the movies and the books be their separate entities.

Now, back to writing (so we can make movies off of them ;) ).

Any concerns about movies based off of your books? Would you, or would you not agree to make a movie off of them?

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Horrible Thirst of Publication

It is so, so hard sometimes. It gets depressing, hopeless, frustrating, trying to do this insanity which we call writing a book -- and getting it published.

It is SO hard.

Right now, I want to feel my book in my hands. I want to see the cover, I want to read the blurb, I want to crack the spine. I want my book.

It is hard to wait, and wait, and wait even longer. Is it so bad to want to have your book published?
It seems like the writer's life revolves around this prospect, and anything less would be a disappointment. My constant fear is that something will happen and I won't get the chance to publish my book or send a query. I can't handle that uncertainty.

If you self-publish, you go headfirst into it. If you plan to traditionally publish, you go headfirst into it. But it is so tempting to divert from your path and just throw together a slipshod manuscript, a disgusting cover, and publish it on Amazon (which gives the serious, constantly-badgered self-publishers a bad rep). It is so, so tempting.

How can you combat this thirst?

I feel better just writing this blog post; I've calmed down. But in the back of my mind I always wonder if all this hard work is for nothing; if I will have to write a different book and start this all over again. Why do we put ourselves in this industry where rejection and waiting are the norm?

We love books. We love writing. I think that is the answer; and for me, another motivator is this wonderful writer's community. You guys keep me sane. Truly. I can't imagine what I would have done if I hadn't met you.

The most that we can do is go on, write more, and move together in the darkness until we see a light. Control the one thing we can control -- our books -- and hold onto it like a life jacket. It will entail, usually, years and years of work, years and years of pain, but we will love it all when we see the light, because we love writing and we will do our most for it.

I dislike that answer as much as you guys, but there isn't much we can do but work on our books constantly, productively, and hopefully. It's the hope and the blind faith that gets me, but the thing more depressing than a rejected writer is a writer that has given up.

I don't want to be that writer. I will find my patience by working on my book and rekindling the spark that is being suffocated. Our books will give us patience, and our passion will guide us through.

Friday, December 7, 2012

#1 The HUGE Importance of "Show, Don't Tell"

This is post 1 of my new blogging series, Myth Busting Writerly Quotes. The point of this series is to evaluate just how "legitimate" famous writing quotes are. If they are the real deal, I will Validate them. If they aren't, I'll Refute them. If they are almost there, I will Mine them (like Mining for gold. Hehe).

Show, don't tell. This is arguably the most famous of all writing advice out there; even non-writers know about this (and if you know how isolated the 'mechanics' of novel writing is from the rest of the world's vocabulary, you'll understand this is a big deal).

Does it stand up to the incredibly weight it carries as the most important writing advice of, arguably, all time (apart from "Just write")? Will I Validate this quote?


If you want to make your books as realistic as possible, you will utilize this quote. This "if" is important for me to state because goal-reaching advice only works if, well, you want to reach that goal. 

The power of this quote comes from two very important ideas.

The first is basic science and logic.

When you walk into a snowstorm, do you see/hear/feel/taste/smell the fact that it is cold? No. You feel the wind and the snow stabbing into your skin.

When you taste a candy, do you see/hear/feel/taste/smell the apple flavoring? No. You taste the tartness and the sweetness, and then you realize, "Dang, that was apple."

When you see a building, do you see that it is a Greek temple, or do you see the pillars, the white marble, the steps, and then realize that it is a Greek temple.

People do not see/hear/feel/taste/smell abstract ideas. They sense details that LEAD to these generalizations. 

If the only things people could ever see/hear/feel/taste/smell are tangible, concrete things, how can your characters sense generalizations? 

The details lead to the generalization. So give the reader the details. Your reader should become your protagonist in order to be truly immersed in your story; let the reader make the generalizations by offering just the details.

The second reason this quote is so important is to get, well, good writing.

Good writing can send shivers down your spine. Good writing can make you feel the way the protagonist does. The best way to do this is to "Show, not tell." There is a reason I constantly put see/hear/feel/taste/smell above. One of the best ways to get good writing is to rely on the five senses, and that means showing.

Which of the following two quotes involve better writing?

"I recoiled when I touched his hand. He was cold."


"I felt his icy hand and recoiled as if my hand was plunged in snow."

APPEAL TO THE SENSES! It will lead to much more powerful writing.

Now, all writing rules can be broken and do get broken. But be cautious with breaking this one. Maybe only break it a few times when you need to rush through a scene... but even then, I wouldn't. Instead of saying (this is a fast scene): "I ran through the street and past the library, desperate to get to my dying child," how about, "I sidestepped screeching cars and pushed past a man who carried a stack of books from the building to my left."

Sight (man, books), touch (pushed), and sound (screeching). Taste and smell are always the hard ones, but appealing to the senses make your writing come alive.

When you are in an action scene, you actually will "see" less of the surroundings. You won't stop to think if it is a street or a library -- you will only see/hear/feel/taste/smell the cars, the man with the books, etc. You will rely on your five senses.

If you want to speed past a scene just to get through it without bogging the reader down with description, just offer choice description -- the unique details. Let the reader paint the rest of the picture.

"Show, don't tell," has earned its spot as one of the most famous writing advice of all time due to the logicality behind it (how can someone see a Greek temple without first seeing the pillars?) and the fact that it results in good writing.

"Show, don't tell," in my opinion, is VALIDATED.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Secret to Winning NaNoWriMo

A brief note before I delve into this post:


Moving on. (Actually, I'm still brimming with joy.)
HA! This picture I do own (or, I'm
allowed to use, anyway).
 NaNoWriMo is all about writing 50,000 words in a month. Ideally, this means a full novel, but most novels do go longer. Writing 50k in 30 days is no mean feat; to achieve it, one must write 1,667 words each and every day.

Or do they....?

In this post, I will share with you my secrets to beating this crazy thing we call NaNoWriMo, and if you didn't win this year, hopefully you can use this post for your journey next year (if you sign up again). Many people want to know how to win NaNoWriMo.

The 7 Secrets to Winning NaNoWriMo

1. GET AHEAD. This is the most important secret I have to share, and since I don't like extreme statements, that's is a big deal. Go for 2,000 words a day. If you have ever tried NaNo, you can atest to the fact that once you start writing, you can't stop. So why not write just one page more? There will be days when you do stop writing: bad days, lack of sleep, other plans, etc. November includes Thanksgiving, after all. If you get just an extra 333 a day, you will have a cushion of 9,990 words at the end of the month. This means you can take almost 6 days off! That is a heck of a lot of time; 20% of the entire month.

Because I usually did not get ahead and stayed with 1,667, I had days where I wrote 2-3K just to catch up. When my NaNo was down to the wire and I had 1,568 words on November 30th, I thanked my stars for the nights I wrote ahead. I finished my NaNo by writing 1.7K (which I wrote technically on December 1st after 12 a.m. Shhh.) Getting ahead is the most important thing you can do.

2. Write crap. And I don't mean crap like, "Oh, my writing is so bad but I'll shut my inner editor off just to write it." Not that kind of crap. By crap I mean scenes you will never put in your book.  Every word, every scrap, every sentence you have ever written helped you become the writer you are today. However, do make sure the crap you write in November has some purpose for your book: maybe back story, a love scene, a past event, or history (which is what I used, giving me about 4k). That way, it won't feel like cheating.

What this will do is invigorate your muse. My muse was exhausted, and I needed to write something new, something fresh. So I wrote this historical scene which plays a vital part in the structure of my world. I do not regret doing this at ALL. The scene I wrote gave me so much world building information which I plan to utilize. Use NaNo to make your world and its people as amazing, rich, and complex as possible.

3. Use the community. Check the NaNo blog and the 30 Covers, 30 Days. Participate in the forums (but don't waste time there). Update your word count every night. If you get involved, you'll want to win. You'll get inspired to keep trucking and to keep going. You'll realize you are not alone in this. The writing community is one of the best Internet communities out there.

4. Writing something. I wrote 300 words, but I still wrote. Only one night I wrote nothing, and that was to get sleep. I even wrote on Thanksgiving. If you write every day, you'll get in the habit of doing it. If you stop for one day, the next day, you'll think, "Oh, maybe this day too," and then it'll be a week in, 10k words lost, and you'll be in a rut to win after that. Force yourself to write. You control your muse, not the other way around.
5. Do word sprints. Word sprints are the fad in the NaNo community, and for a reason. If you are falling behind, want to get ahead, or want to make the most of your time, do the sprints. I usually took an hour or two to browse the Internet (as I must) and finish my 1,667 words. I wrote more than 3k in one hour during a sprint. With a deadline, you won't be distracted, and then you can spend the rest of your time on Twitter and stuff.

6. Don't give up. So what if you missed a day of writing? That just means a few extra words for the rest of the month. You can be the person who digs themselves out of a 10k rut. And, don't be discouraged if you are far away from 50k, because the main thing is to:

7. Have fun. Something realize is that NaNo is not only about reaching 50k; it is about writing. So even if you are at 1k on November 29th, keep writing! Everyone is a winner in NaNoWriMo, even if they only brainstormed an idea for a new book.

Winning NaNo was definitely something difficult, and I have to say, getting 50k was an amazing feeling, mostly due to the overwhelming realization that I could sleep now. If you did not win this year, don't feel down. Don't be upset, discouraged, or anything. You wrote. You participated. And that's all that matters. If you decide to do it next year (which I might), keep in mind the above points.

Hope I helped! If you did it, how was your NaNo experience this year, or in past years?

And don't forget to subscribe. It'd probably make my day :D