Friday, February 24, 2012

Your Writing Should Grab You!

Photo used with permission of Photographer Raman Sharma.
Check out his other gorgeous photos here!

     Here's a quick bit of advice I use all the time.
     If you write fiction that you actually want the market to read and like, the writing needs to be exciting! Any sort of mainstream fiction needs excitement.
     Therefore, a good way to tell if your writing needs revision is if it bores you. When you read your work, it needs to grab you.
Like The Claw in the picture! If, when you're doing light revisions, you find your eyes just skimming down the page, not really interacting with the text...there's a reason. It probably needs some heavy revisions, not line-editing.
     Let is simmer in the back of your mind for a while. Take a break from revision and create something. Then come back to work and rip the boring writing apart. Make it exciting. Make it jump out and scare/inspire/excite/inform you. Open up a new document and paste the writing into it. Look at the word "revision". "Re" means redo. "Vision" is what you want your work to look like. So, re-vision your writing! Rework it, make BIG changes; if you don't like it, you can always scrap it and change it back.
     Happy re-visioning!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Relax: The Importance of Play

     Some days feel like "the daily grind." At night, when I'm not dreaming about work, it's because I'm too stressed to sleep. You know that feeling?
     As important as it is to cram in time to improve our craft, it's also important to make time for playing around. I've heard this from several writers. There's a time for pushing through the apathy/tears/writer's block, and there's a time to breathe and have fun. Otherwise, our writing can become "blah," and our creativity dries up. I relax for a few minutes little while every day using these techniques.
     Here are four ways to play:
  • Instead of reaching for War and Peace, try reading an old favorite just for pleasure. A love of reading is where we all started. If you've practiced any creative reading, or reading like a writer, you'll automatically pick things up from those fond passages. This can give our overworked minds a break while still feeling productive.
  • Anticipating a heavy day of work? Take a few minutes and try this: Ask yourself what you'd really like to be doing/writing about. Let your mind go where it wants...then write a focused free write about it. Pick an image, or a nice thought, or an interesting idea, and go with it. Don't grab--pluck. Say please. When your time is up, something, which is better than nothing, will be on the page! You might even like it! Keep it and look at it in a week. Is there any gold sifted in with the the soil?
  • Sometimes, our mind needs rest. Call up a friend (or your significant other). Chill with them. You love them, they love you. If you can, do something nice for them, and you'll feel nice, too!
  • Do something else you enjoy. Like to bake? (I do.) Do you run, or bike? Garden? Exercise especially can give you a much needed reprieve.
     These four techniques keep my shoulders from rising to my ears through the day. I hope they help you, too!
     For more fun, inspiring advice on writing, I recommend the book, "No Plot? No Problem!" by the author Chris Baty. This same creative genius created NaNoWriMo. The Lakeport Library has two copies of this book.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Book Review: The Hunger Games

     So, I know I'm not the first person to talk about The Hunger Games, but I couldn't just not do it. So here's me doing it! My review for my fellow Book Bandits:
     "Picture the future, not long from now, in a war-ravaged Panem (America). Food is tough to scavenge, and the government keeps it that way. Starvation is not uncommon in the Districts (states).
     Watch this girl. She hunts illegally to feed her family. She'll volunteer herself to save her younger sister. She'll even fight to the death in a government-mandated murder match, because otherwise she'll be killed herself. She's Katniss Everdeen. Her biggest problem, though, is not what she expects: Peeta, a boy who once saved her life, is one of the 23 other tributes she must murder. Brutally. On national television. Who is the real enemy, here? That's the question she has to answer before she's faced with life or death."
     I gave it my personal 5 star rating.
     It sounds brutal--and it is brutal--but it stays PG13. It's written for a young adult audience, which is approximately 13 and up. I don't recommend this to readers younger than that.
     I read the whole series about, oh, a year and a half ago. I originally heard about it from this awesome organization called YALSA, which stands for "Young Adult Library  Services" (I'll have to post about it sometime). This organization hosts a yearly book competition called "Teen's Top Ten (TTT)." The second book in the series (Catching Fire) was one of the nominees for TTT, so I read both the first two books.
     They left me in a haze for days. I couldn't stop thinking about them. I eagerly awaited the release of the third and final book (Mockingjay), and devoured this one equally as fast.
     I'm not sure I've ever anticipated a movie so much before. On March 23, I'm pretty sure I'll be watching it. Immediatly. Here's the official movie trailer--it's really cool! Check it out.

     Tip: If you're running low on reading time, you can download free audiobooks from the library's website. I listen to these books on my ipod whenever I drive or go for a walk.
     For Scribblers: these books taught me a lot about pacing my story line. Once we're introduced to Katniss and her world, surprises pop up practically in every chapter. The plot twists are fantastic! The author made detail count, as well. Every sentence creates a believable war-torn nation suffering under the thumbs of a 1984-esque government. These books are fantastic for learning how to keep a reader glued to the page.
                                   Christy Dares you #2:

     I recommend reading this series (or even just the first book) for the story, at least.  Then, I recommend studying the plot and structure. Every page on which a plot twist occurs, stick a sticky note. By the end, your book will look like it's a preschool bird project. By doing this, you can learn to pace your own writing. Take it from the master--Suzanne Collins.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Love Your Library! & Reading Tip


     It's hard to overstate the importance of libraries to writers and readers alike. The library is a mine of inspiration and a free bookstore. Free novels, yes, but also free manuals, free information. Also, free movies, music and classes!
     It's love month at the Lake County Library! Show them some love. Make an extra trip, say an extra thank you, donate an extra dollar!
     Okay, on with today's tip. You've probably heard this before, but I'm going to say it again because it's so important.
     I KNOW you've heard that reading is equally as important as writing for the creative mind.
     Some people say, "Read in your vein," or, "Read what you write." While that is important, I think it's far more important to read anything and everything. Seriously. If you write Sci-Fi, go read a western (I met someone once who was writing a western sci-fi novel)! Do you write Young Adult novels? Go find a popular adult pick and devour it, for a change of pace.
     Because I write for young adults, I read a lot of fiction for that age level. It's often a struggle for me to pull myself out of my comfort zone (Dessen, Collins, Cashore, etc). I need to, though!
It's good for us writers and readers; it opens our minds to new possibilities! By possibilities, I mean new content, new styles, new endings, etc. So!

                             Christy Dares You (#1):
     Go to a new section in the library and pick up a book you usually wouldn't. Read it through to the end. Maybe you'll like it! And even if you didn't, you did learn something. What not to write. :D