Showing posts from March, 2011

Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Plot vs. Character

Today I thought I’d post a bit about my writing process. Right now I’m in the developing stage of a project that I’m super excited about and this is what’s been going through my head this week.

When you’re writing do you start with character, plot, setting? Something else?

For me it’s mostly simultaneous—a vague wisp of an idea. I see a character in a certain situation (usually bad) and wonder how she/he got there. From there I start asking questions. Who is this person? How did she come to be in such a situation? Why is this situation particularly bad for this character? What about the setting works against my character?

I start sketching out the idea in my head long before anything ever makes it to paper (even in note form). Usually if I go to sleep with a thought or question in my head my subconscious will work on it and by morning I know the answer. Nothing is ever set in stone, and I often have to go back and change details, but at least now I have a basic idea of where I’m he…

Dreams as Inspiration

As a psychology minor I've always been facinated by dreaming.  Dreams are often messages from our subconcious and interpreting them can be fun and useful.  I keep a dream journal where I jot down the more interesting or unusual dreams that I have.  I like to underline keywords or phrazes and title each dream so I can find what I'm looking for when I go back to it.  In fact, my dream journal is highly annotated with notes on symbols and potential plotlines, locations, ect. 

Some people have a hard time remembering their dreams.  It helps to lie in bed after you wake up from a dream and think about the context.  Think about what the dream could mean, about where it would have gone if you hadn't woken up, and about what you could do to make it into a story. 

In my college psych classes I was instructed to keep a notebook by my bed in case I woke up from a dream in the middle of the night.  This helped me to start remembering my dreams.  These days I use my cell phone so I…

Book Review: Radiance by Alyson Noel

This week's book review:

Radiance by Alyson Noel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Twelve year old Riley Bloom (younger sister of Ever Bloom from the "The Immortals" series) is dead. She's been dead for awhile now, but has only recently decided to fully embrace it. Before she was spending time in Summerland and occasionally haunting her older sister for kicks. It's time for her to go the school in Here & Now to learn about being a spirit.

In the Radiance world spirits have jobs, or callings. After Riley's disconcerting introduction to the school she is put in front of a council who is to decide where to place her. She's to become a Soul Catcher and a geeky guy named Bodhi is to be her guide/teacher/leader.

This book covers Riley's first assignment. Bodhi isn't everything he seems to be and being a Soul Catcher is much harder than just leading souls over the bridge to Summerland.

I really enjoyed reading Radiance. I consider it more Mid Grade than Young…

Fellow Author Soulmates?

In relation to my last post on No Original Ideas, have you ever found your writing soulmate?  The author who has such similar ideas as the ones that you've planned; who says things the way you'd say them; who uses the same descriptors . . . Within the first few chapters you can guess (and be right) about exactly where the author is going with the plot?
One of my "soulmates" is James Patterson.  I swear it's like he and I are always on the same frequency.  For example: this morning I was reading Witch & Wizard, it's dystopian plot is so similar to my current work in progress Smolder except mine is pre-implementation of the Order and his is post, which makes mine less dystopian and more conspiracy, but still.  He called his baddies the New Order and mine are the New Harmony Order, I suspect we're both playing off the New World Order conspiracy.  AND (this is what particularly weirded me out this morning) he named the pet in the book Feffer . . . the fe…

No Original Ideas

My first university English professor told me that there is no such thing as an original thought or idea. Every thought that I'll ever have will have been thought before.

The most disheartening news lecture. EVER.

BUT that doesn't mean that you can't have an thought (that may not be as original as you'd like) and put a truly unique spin on it. People are unique even if their thoughts aren't. If you can immerse yourself in the idea then it will end up being unique in the same way that you as a person are.

Characters (good well thought characters) take on a life of their own. They become three dimensional and as unique as a living and breathing person. Authors who truly see their characters, who feel them, know them inside and out, can tell you the exact way that they would respond to a situation, will always write unique stories because their characters are unique.

One of my BIGGEST pet peeves when reading books is stock characters. Flat. Perfect. Mary-Sue charact…

Mistaken Surgery

Here's my response to a writing prompt posted on the Writer's Digest forum.  The prompt was called "Mistaken Surgery."

... The Surgery
By K.V. Briar

I came out of the anesthesia slowly. It felt like swimming in thick black water, treading it, struggling to break through the surface only to be pushed under again. Finally I manage to pry open my eyes. The harsh glare of the fluorescents seers into my retinas. I blink, try to focus.
“Mr. Gibson?”
My tongue is thick and swollen in my mouth. I nod instead of attempting a reply.
“You don’t respond well to anesthesia,” the nurse remarks. She’s a young girl close to my own age. Very pretty. In any other situation I’d flirt with her, mentally keep track of how long it took me to make her blush. Right now I don’t feel like flirting. I feel sick. Something’s wrong.
“My name is Jenna, I’ll be your nurse today. If you need anything just let me know.” She smiles at me, but there is something missing there. Normally when girls smi…

Revision Madness

Today I thought I'd post on revision since revising my YA novel is my number one focus at this point. 

It's a supernatural thriller with a conspiracy.  So much fun to write!  Smolder: A Knight's Children Novel has been in the works for two years now.  I wrote the entire thing in about six months and have been through about seven drafts.  I just can't seem to let it be.  It did really well in last years Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest and the expert reviews I received were extraordinarily helpful.  Since then I've been tweaking and picking at the book.  My latest decision to change it from first person past tense to first person present has made a *huge* difference.  I love the way it's reading now.

Onto the tips/websites I've come across that have really helped me with revision/edits.

Edit Minion  I bet my fellow writers have heard of Write or Die especially if they NaNo, The Edit Minion is from the same creator and is hugely helpful in pointing out flaws…

Plot Bunnies Ahoy!!

Eep, I'm being attacked by giant man eating plot bunnies!!

Soooo how do I choose what I want to work on?? I know that I want to do a mid grade novel. I had one idea almost ready to go, I actually thought I'd be able to start the first draft sometime this week. . . but now an old and dear (but evil) plot bunny has snuck up on me. It has me cowering in the corner as it threatens to make writer stew of me if I don't choose to write it next.

I wont go into many details but . . .
Plot One (nice bunny): Its about a young girl who's training to become a Paladin but gets thrown into a conspiracy that could ruin her dreams.
Plot Two (evil bunny):  Takes place in a different world with elementals.  A young water maiden's world is dying (turning into an uninhabitable ice place) because they've banished the destructive fire elementals (whose world is now void of vegetation).  If they can't find a way for them to live together their world will be destroyed.
Plot Three (…

Book Review: Firelight by Sophie Jordan

As promised I thought I'd share a recent book review that I wrote on goodreads.  Enjoy!

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Firelight was a good book, but I felt like it had so much potential and only lived up to a fraction of it. The writting was good and the characters mostly believable. I enjoyed that it was written in first person present tense.

Jacinda Jones is a draki, descended from the dragons of legend. She's the first firebreather that her pride (draki community) has seen in ages. As such she is the object of curiosity and notoriety. She is destined to marry the future alpha of the pride. When she and her best friend Az sneak off to fly during the day (a strict no-no) they nearly get caught by a group of hunters. Except one of the hunters, a boy named Will, sees her in draki form and lets her go. Jacinda's mom freaks and that night she takes Jacinda and her twin Tamra away from the pride. They move to the sweltering desert to wait for Jacinda's …


Wow my first blog post!  It’s all shiny and new here now, but before long it'll be full of ink splotches and senseless blabbering.

My motivation for starting a blog . . . I'd like to share my thoughts on writing, the struggles and joys, things that I've found helpful to my craft, on my quest to become a published author.I’d also like a place where I can be held accountable for staying on top of my writing (as much as I love to write, parenthood often gets in the way).  In the past I've been shy about sharing my work.  It seems so personal.  The things that I write come from my soul.  I guess I'm hoping that blogging will be the first baby step towards being confident enough to submit my work to agents.Even if no one reads the blog at least my words will be out there in the cyber world!

I'll also post thoughts on the latest books that I've read (because I LOVE reviewing new books and talking about books with others) and share the progress of my latest writin…