Friday, November 7, 2014

NaNoWriMo Day 7: The End of Week One

One week down, just over four more to go. It's an hour until the end of Week One of NaNoWriMo, and I am resting comfortably at nearly 12000 words. A quarter of my novel is done, or just about. 

Between school, our fall musical, and NaNo I have been working nonstop. Most of my classes are so mind numbingly easy that I just sit and write through most of them. So, most nights I hit my word goal before 10 PM. 

Week One has been the beginning of a whirlwind adventure. I found a novel idea and went with it, letting it take me where ever it pleases. Sure, my characters need a little more oomph, and the plot is slowly (but surely) unfolding, but, hey, I'm writing my butt off. I know where I want to go and I'm getting there. My main character, Rowan, the name sake of the book, still isn't sure exactly what she wants, and some of her opinions aren't clear, but the sass is strong with her. 

And from that we segue directly into the main topic of this post: Books on Fiction Writing. 

I avoid "How To" books about writing like they are ebola and I am America. Sorry, too soon? Most books about writing are so bad that they are not even worth cutting down the trees used to make them. I would rather eat razor blades than read some of the books about writing that are out there. 

Some people say, "Those who can't, teach."
Writing Magic
 By Gail Carson Levine

I say, "Those who can't, write books about how to." 

The first book about writing that I ever purchased was by Gail Carson Levine, the lovely author of Ella Enchanted. Her book on writing was titled Writing Magic, and I bought it because I thought it was an actual novel. To this day, it is one of the most well used books that I own. What I loved about it most was the way she talked about how she wrote and the fact that she didn't try to shove her way down your throat. To middle school me, it was a godsend. 
No Plot? No Problem!
By Chris Baty

A few years later, after two or three years of doing NaNoWriMo, I asked for No Plot? No Problem! A Low Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo. Even though I wasn't in the middle of NaNo, I read it anyway. The book is specific to NaNo, but offers tons of helpful tips and trick for any kind of writing. 

On Writing
By Stephen King

Probably the best book about writing that I have ever read is On Writing by Stephen King. On Writing is half-memoir, half-writing advise and completely and utterly fascinating. I've never been a huge reader of Stephen King, but I heard that On Writing was a must read. When I found it randomly at a Barnes and Nobel, I knew I had to take it home. I consumed the book in a matter of days. King tells his story beginning to middle (because he's not dead), describing how he became a writer and the events in his life that influenced his choice. In the second part, King tells how he writes, some rules of thumb for drafts and editing, and advise on writing and showing your work. On Writing is a little more strict about how writing should be done, but at the same time King understands that not every story will follow every rule and not every writer is the same. King is intelligent, witty, and downright hilarious at times. Read it. Read it now. 

So, moral of the story is: There are some good books on writing out there, they are just hard to find. Watch out for imposing bastards who try to shove their "correct ways of writing" down your throat. 

I hope you guys take a look at some of these. And, if you read them, comment below about what you think about them! I'd love to hear more. 


Saturday, November 1, 2014

NaNoWriMo Day One: Diving In

It's just past 11 P.M. where I live, and the great first day of NaNoWriMo is drawing to a close. The only reason I'm writing this post instead of my novel is because I'm exhausted and I put 2033 words in already. So, why not blog about it?

Last night, I decided to scrap the "first" idea that I had for my story. Something about it just felt off. However, I kept at least two of the characters, the title, and one character description: Rowan and Petra; Rowan; and Thief, respectively. I made myself go to sleep after fretting for an hour about not having a plot. I told myself that I would find one today, and I have.

I'm diving in. Nothing planned. Just an inkling of an idea. And, it's scary. It's nothing I've ever written before. It's something I know very little about. I have complete control and no control at the same time. And, it also makes me say this: take the phrase "write what you know" and set it on fire.

Writers who say "write what you know" are just afraid of the unknown. They don't have the guts to take an idea and jump right in. Nope, they prefer to stay in the safe zone, perhaps poking a toe outside the line when absolutely necessary.

Do you think that J.K. Rowling knew everything about Wizardry when she wrote Harry Potter? No. Did James Patterson know anything about human-avian hybrids when he wrote Maximum Ride? No, probably not.

I guess what I trying to say is that writing is an art. Art is what gives life meaning. When you write about something you don't know, you are helping yourself as a writer and a person, and you are adding your own little twist to something that might have been written a thousand times before.

Experiment. Expand your mind. Expand the mind of your readers. Write what you don't know.

Have a Happy NaNoWriMo!


Friday, October 31, 2014

Biting the Bullet: NaNoWriMo Begins in 3… 2… 1...

People often ask me why there's a picture of a bird as the header for my blog about writing. Actually, no, they don't. I ask myself that, and then I tell myself it looks badass. But really, I'm too lazy to change it.

It's been a while since I have posted anything, and for that there is no excuse. However, as November 1st draws near, and I get more excited and nervous, all I want to do is blog about it.

For those of you who don't know, this is my sixth year of National Novel Writing Month. By the end of the month, hopefully it will be my sixth year of winning. Unlike the last two years, this year I had no clue what to write about. This scared me a little. Last year, I wrote City of Stone, a dystopian tale that I am pretty proud of. The year before that I rewrote my baby, The Night Stalker. This year, I feel that I have some high expectations which is intimidating. This NaNoWriMo will be my last NaNo in high school. Next year in college, everything will be different.

So far, I know my novel will follow a girl named Rowan. I had something planned out, but now that I look at it, I'm not sure if what I had is Rowan's story. Yes, a buddhist futuristic Robin Hood-type character sounds awesome, but since the day I first thought of that idea something always felt off.

There are two types of writers: the ones who have to plan every single detail out and the ones who don't. I fall into the later category. I have always believed that there is no write or wrong when it comes to writing. Writing is the one place where the rules of language can be twisted until they are unrecognizable, as long as it is done well. What works for one writer may not work well for another. This is no different.

Both types of writers have their pros and cons, just like everything else. Detail oriented authors have less writer's block because they know exactly what happens next and how to get there. However, this type of writing can be very restrictive.

I prefer to not plan out what I write. When I write, I feel like I am reporter watching the action and writing it down in vivid detail. I have an idea where the story will lead, but I'm not quite sure. Characters, scenes, and plot develop and often have surprising and amazing outcomes. I like to use the analogy of an archeologist. I'm digging up bits and pieces, uncovering them, and I sort of know what will be there, but there's always a surprise or two. I found that the more I plan out a story, the faster I get bored with a story. I don't want to write a story where I already know what's going to happen. That's why I can't read the same book twice.

But, like I said, just because I do it doesn't mean you have to. Every writer is different. Every mind works in a different way. It's taken me years to figure out how I write, and even now I'm still not sure. It's all about experimentation. Don't let "experts" tell you what to do. Find your own way.

There is no write way to write. You just have to write.

Happy Halloween and Happy NaNoWriMo!
Let me know how your novel is going in the comments…


Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Snow Letter

Hello to all!

This is a short film my friends and I made for speech this year. I hope you enjoy it!


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Creative Writers United 2014

Hello, hello, hello!

And welcome to the annual Creative Writer's United convention where coffee is king and adverbs don't matter. My name is Emily and I shall be your wonderful, amazing, stunning, perfect, and ever humble host. 

On a more serious matter, writing is nothing to be trifled with. No, no. We are the few and the mighty who truly understand how words shape the world. Writers create worlds and people and new ideas. Writers can influence what a person thinks of the world. Writers inspire imagination and innovation and other 'I' words that escape me. Can any other profession say all of that? 

No matter. But, we must not let our heads explode with how awesome we are. Because above all, we writers must stay connected to humanity. Can we bake a beautiful cake? Probably not. Can we hold our breath underwater for more than thirty seconds? Probably not. Can we run a full marathon without walking once? No. We can not. But we can write about it!

My dear, dear writers. That is what we can do. We may not be able to climb Mount Everest, but we can stay up writing until four a.m. And we may not be able to figure out how to do our taxes, but by golly, we can fix a plot hole like that. We can whip up a short story in two seconds flat and make our reader's cry at two in the morning. 

Why? Because we. Are. Writers! My dear friends, Writers! Writers! Writers! Recorders of the world. Thinkers of the universe. We can make you believe that a giraffe is exactly like a teacup, that couches can talk, and bookshelves have feelings. We know why a raven is like a writing desk. We are grammar nazis, typo terrorists, and plot bunny collectors. And our only arch-nemesis is the dreaded Writer's Block. 

Oh... Writer's block... Thou unmuzzled base-court measle! You leave us staring at a blank page for hours watching that little line no one knows the name of blink-blink-blinking. You are the reason we don't write for months at a time because we simply can't. Because of writer's block, we are up at four in the morning surrounded by empty cups of coffee, staring at that silly white page with the blink-blink-blinking. We are so desperate to write something that we will do ANYTHING. And by anything I mean anything. My go to is always a cat-eating taco, sorry, a taco eating cat. And, trust me. The worse the writer's block is the crazier things we do. I had this one friend who once hung upside down for an hour because she believed the extra blood in her brain would kill her writer's block. That did not end well. 

So, when you are curled up in a ball at four in the morning, know this dear writers, that you, indeed are awesome. As awesome as light-up socks and glow in the dark tic-tacs... If those exist. 

Before I let you go to better yourself and your writing, I leave you with this. May your word counts be large and your characters believable. And above all, have a wonderful Creative Writers United 2014!