Sometimes, when I’m not writing, I get the best ideas…

So, let’s face it, Christmas is a busy time of the year.  I also had a family funeral a few days later.  Consequently, I haven’t hardly done any writing in about a month.  It was probably good.  I was at a point where there were a few things about the book that were bothering me, but that I didn’t quite know how to fix.  And so the title for this post.  Sometimes, when I don’t know what to do, it’s better if I do nothing at all and let the problem sit in my brain for a bit.  I usually think about it as I’m falling asleep at night, and more often than not, the problem sorts itself out. 

In my current case, I think I know exactly what I’m going to do, and I think it will make it better.  It just kind of came to me one night.  I had a scene in the very first chapter where I needed certain things to happen, but the way they were happening just seemed a little forced to me.  I knew I couldn’t really cut something, I had to present it differently.  And now I know what to do.  The second section that was bothering me was  a scene where essential information was presented in dialog, but it seemed to drag.  Again, everything that was there needs to be there, it just isn’t presented right.  And now I think it will be.  So…long story short.  Although I haven’t gotten a lot of writing done, I have solved two problems that have been bothering me for months.

Anyone else ever feel the same?

Character motivation

I was reading over at Diane Gallant’s blog about the frustrations of character motivation.  It seems that others have the same problem I have:  the characters do things that totally make sense to me and I assume everyone else will totally get it, when in reality, there needs to be a little more explanation.  This has been pointed out to me quite a few times by one of my beta readers, who is always telling me to show what my characters are feeling, to get into their heads.  I have to admit, it has made the book a lot better to show my readers what my characters are doing, instead of just watching them do it.  I think it provides a lot more character development, and it lets the reader identify more with the character — because they can feel with them, instead of just watching.  And as an additional bonus, I’ve added quite a few “showing” scenes that weren’t in any of the first drafts.  Some of those scenes are actually now included in my favorite scenes catory (if there is such a thing).

What do you think???

As I’ve been researching the YA fantasy market over the past year, I’ve run across a few interesting things.  First, a lot of fantasy in the “children’s” section is focused on middle grade.  Yes, there’s YA also, but it seems to me that a lot skips from middle grade all the way to adult. 

The second thing I’ve noticed as I’ve read agent blogs is that a lot of them want fantasy, but some only want urban fantasy, which really seems to be almost all the YA fantasy these days.  There are quite a few who don’t rule out the traditional quest fantasy, but then they stipulate it has to be new or different.

That leaves the question:  what really is new or different in traditional fantasy?  Many of these same agents, or others like them, also make comments that there are really only five or so different basic storylines.  What makes one book stand out, is the way that age-old story is told.

That leaves me to the question I’d like to know (and I used the cool new poll feature on wordpress).  For those of you who like fantasy, does it bother you to see the same story over and over again (you know, magic, overcoming the evil ruler, kingdom is at stake, etc.)?  I personally don’t mind it.  I mean, you always know the good guy is going to win, but how that ends up happening can be so different and if it’s interesting enough, I keep reading.

A few thoughts…

I know, I know, I haven’t posted for…well, for forever.  I’ve had a couple of reasons.  One, my kids are on year-round school and they’ve had the last three weeks off.  I just don’t get as much done when the kids are home all day, everyday.

Another reason I haven’t done much is because I’ve been on a school boundary change committee.  We have so many kids in my area (my kids attend an elementary school with an enrollment of 1224!!!), that they’re building a new school.  A group of parents are on a committee to decide where the boundaries of that new school should be.  It’s been hectic, and honestly, a bit ridiculous.  Sometimes I feel that there just aren’t enough logical thinking people in the world.  But…that’s not really that important to this blog.

Finally, and this is a good reason not to have done much, I’ve finished my query letter.  I’ve gone through dozens and dozens of drafts.  I’ve submitted on AW.  I’ve asked other authors to read it.  And I think I finally have a great version that not only gives all the pertinent details, but also sounds good.  Yeah!!!

For anyone interested, I’ve added a brief summary of my book.  It’s under the book tab, or listed on the side column on the left.

I’ll post more later, and sooner, next time.

“Brisingr” — Christopher Paolini

I don’t know how many of you have read Christopher Paolini’s books, but I personally like them.  Sometimes I think he gets a little long-winded (and I seriously wonder why his editor didn’t cut more material), but the story is great!!  I read “Eragon” after it had been out for about a year and “Eldest” right after it’s release.  I’m excited to get “Brisingr” tomorrow.  I hope it is as good as I want it to be.

Anyone who follows this series probably already knows that this third book was originally supposed to be the last in the series.  Not any more.  Paolini decided he had too much story left to tell and he added a book.  So…there’s still one more to come.  I sincerely hope he doesn’t wait another three or more years to release the fourth book.  I honestly think that because it’s been so long since the release of “Eldest” that some of the hype has died down and that people aren’t as interested.  I may be wrong, but I just don’t know very many people (besides those I’ve give the books to) that have read this series.  Maybe I just know the wrong people, though, because it’s been a New York Times Bestseller.

So everyone go to your local bookstore tomorrow (or Wal Mart, in my case) and pick up a copy of “Brisingr.”  Hopefully it will meet expectations.

A new author…coming Summer ’09

I’d like everyone to check out a new author, whose first book, Wings, is coming out next summer.  Her name is Aprilynne Pike.  She actually lives pretty close to me and I check out her blog frequently.  She even read and critiqued my query letter.  Wasn’t that nice of her?  Anyway, I already have a link to her in my sidebar, but here’s her blog, and here’s her web page.  Go check them out, especially if you like YA, or want to see how her writing process, getting an agent, and finally a publisher, went.

My First Paragraph…

In the last week I have read opening paragraphs from two of the blogs I read daily:  Diane and Ken.  I decided I’d post my own.  The only problem is that my opening paragraph is really more of an opening line, so I’ll include a little extra.  Happy reading.

Simon sat rigid, the firelight casting strange shadows over his harsh features. Only when someone entered did he betray any sign of life.

He glanced up at the newcomer. There wasn’t much remarkable about Lord Rupert, at least physically. But from the glint in his eye to the sword hanging casually at his side, there was no doubt he demanded respect.

Simon returned his gaze to the fire.  “Are they dead?”

OK, OK, I love Chapter 8, and the revisions were definitely worth it.

Because I’d worked so hard on chapters 7 and 8 I was feeling a little edgy on whether or not they were good.  I mean, did I really fix the problems my betas had pointed out?  Would they still have concerns?  Trying to get a clearer answer, I sent the two chapters (fully edited) back to one of my betas and asked her to skim through and see what she thought.  It was great news.  She really liked the changes, thought the scene and characters were a lot better developed, and even pointed out a few particular details she really liked.  So now I’m happy again and confident that things are going well.

I’m sick of chapter 8!!!

I’ve decided the set-up part of writing a story is one of my weakest.  I see the connections in my head and I know they’re there, but I don’t tend to show them enough that a reader feels connected.  Anyway, I addressed this problem in the first few chapter of my re-write, and I think it was very successful.  Now I’m addressing it again in chapters 7 and 8.  The problem being:  my MC (main character) moves locaitons, meets a whole bunch of new people, and starts falling in love.  In other words, set-up.

I’ve been pouring over both of those chapters for almost a week now, and yesterday I finally finished.  I think they’re better.  In fact, I think they’re good.  I changed a lot of stuff, even how some characters act or react.  I added a whole new scene and changed 70% of what was left.

Was it worth all the work?  YES!  And now I’m ready to move forward to less intimidating sections.  Hopefully, it will go much quicker.  I don’t really have any more huge set-up sections.