Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You Know, I Don't Even Have A Wardrobe...

Today is Wednesday, which means it's YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday... a "Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic."

Today's topic:

If you could live within the universe of one book, which would you choose?

I was thinking about all the books I've been reading recently, and I got to thinking. So many of these books have awesome universes surrounding them, like in Harry Potter or The Knife of Never Letting Go or The Hunger Games.

Yes. They are awesome worlds. But those worlds are fruitin' scary.

Alright, maybe if I was a courageous hero like Harry, Todd or Katniss, then I could fly with living in the world of Harry Potter or on New World or in Panem. Except I'm not. I would be terrified having the threat of the Mayor of Prentisstown on my back, or Voldemort or whatever. That's the nice thing about books, you see. You can be a part of those worlds, except you don't have to worry about being stabbed to death by a crazy priest or even just being killed in general. (Except we do anyways, because we're so into the story...)

But Narnia. Now, Narnia is pretty cool. And I don't see Narnia as really scary, either. I think it's Aslan. Aslan has this way of making you feel safe, I think, in Narnia even there are evil things in Narnia. The beautiful scenery helps, too.

My dad used to read the the Narnia books to me and my brother and sister when we were younger. The idea of a magical, beautiful place where you could go to get away from the normal world was awesome. Not only the place, but the people there too -Mr. Tumnus and Aslan and all the other Narnian folk that are so pleasant. Narnia is definitely a place I'd like to take a book to and lie on the countryside, with a beautiful view in front of me, and just read while the gentle breeze stroked my skin... (okay that's kind of ironic... going to a book-universe and reading a book? But that's what I imagine doing, honestly.)

Now, if only I could find a wardrobe...

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Number One Worst Answer to "How Was It?"

Okay, so, you know the feeling you get when you've just finished the first draft of  your WIP and even though you know the first draft sucks you just have to send it to your best friend to look over because well, you finished your first draft. And that is an accomplishment. You are one step closer to being there. (And a million steps away, but you try not to think about that).

And then, they've read it and said they love it because they're your best friend and then you ask, "How was it?" (or even "Did you like it?") hopefully looking for constructive critcism/feedback and they answer with a brilliant, flashy...

It. Was. Good.

I don't know about you, but I find that when I am looking for helpful, constructive criticism the phrase "It's good" is something I never want to hear.

Since I've been writing ever since I can remember, I've grown up with people reading my writing, and because they are family and/or friends, they say it's good. Yes, they mean well, but after awhile you just want to know how you can improve. Because you know that you aren't perfect, there are always ways you can improve.

One of the things that I'd most want to hear when asking, "How was it?" is the whys. Why did you like that part? Why is he your favourite character? Why did you think that shouldn't've happened? Why, why, why.

I want to know what I did right, and what I did wrong, so I can keep doing the right stuff and start fixing the wrong stuff.

All this stuff applies to constructive criticism, too. It's hard to take criticism, especially "negative" criticism, no matter how hard we try not too care, we will, even if it's only a little bit. But think: is it really negative? If it's good criticism, then it'll help you to make your work better. Is that not a good thing? (If it's bad criticism, it won't help you and then you shouldn't be taking that advice anyway.)

What's your take on constructive criticism?

**Oh, and an extra note: the beautiful Sarah Enni is giving away a copy of Across the Universe by Beth Revis. Get details here. You should also follow her.

Ta-ta!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Character? What Character? That's My Best Friend You're Talking About!

What is it, exactly, that keeps us reading through every book in a series? What keeps us reading books at all, even if they may not have extremely twisted plots or deep metaphorical meanings to them? People have said its because of overarching story arcs, like the threat of Voldemort in Harry Potter. Others have said it's because of the cliff-hangers that are present at the end of many books in a series (Hunger Games, anyone?)

You know what I say? It's love.

Okay. That sounded way less cheesy in my head. But I hope you overlook the cheesyness and see my point.

We fall in love with characters. I don't know about you, but I wanted to read all seven HP books because I wanted to see what happened with Harry, Ron, Hermione, and the rest of the HP cast. Although, it's not even to see what happens to them. It's just to spend time with them. That's why we're so devastated when good books or good series are over even if all the plot elements have been wrapped up and there is no cliff-hanger. Because that's the end of our little stint with those characters.

Like my post title says, those characters, for however long we have spent reading their book, have become some of our closest friends. We love them.

I think it's the same with your own characters, too. You've probably heard that characters are one of the driving points of a story or novel. It's true. But your characters can only take the wheel when your readers love them. In order for your characters to be lovable, there are some things that have to happen.

Alright, maybe just one thing. The other things are mainly just suggestions.

But overall, to have your readers love your characters, you have to love your characters. I think you can probably follow what might happen if you hated your characters. It wouldn't work out well.

But how do you even make lovable characters? Let's make a list, shall we? ("Yay! Lists! Organization!" says my Left Brain.)

1. Imperfectness. People hate perfect people. They are not only not realistic, but people generally like people that are on the same level as they are -with faults. Everyone has them. Your characters need to have them too.

2. Humour. I don't think this is a necessity, but some of my favourite characters and books are ones that make me laugh. Fred and George are two of my favourite characters in Harry Potter just because they're always so hilarious. This means you have to have a sense of humour too, mind you, but I have faith in you!

3. Oddities. Oddities. Interesting-ness. Uniqueness. Whatever you want to call it, your character must stick out. If you think that's not realistic, you're wrong. Everyone has something weird about them. Besides, people like interesting people. It's common sense. Whether your character turns his lips green from making fireworks (Eliot in Scrambled Eggs at Midnight) or is the Boy Who Lived (guess where he's from. Yeah. Knew you wouldn't figure that out) they need to be interesting. Even if it's something as simple as they are missing a toe.

What else makes you love a character? Who are your favourite characters and why?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Greatest Accomplishment Ever Made in the World of Words

Okay, fine. My accomplishment isn't that great. Although I'm almost positive the things I'm going to tell you in this post (if you are a super reader or writer) are going to trigger quite a range of emotions.

REVEALING OF SECRET #1:

I had never read Harry Potter.

My prediction on your reactions: Shocked. Then confused. Then pitying. Then angry. Then dizzy. Now, before you faint, drink some water! Eat some chocolate! And notice my use of past-tense.

And that leads me to...

REVEALING OF SECRET (though not really secret) #2:

I had never read Harry Potter... until about a month ago.

My prediction on your reactions: Happy dance of joy. Squealing. Clapping. Sighs of relief. And scooching up the edge of your chair and screaming, WHAT DID YOU THINK!?!?!?!?! (Let me know if my predictions are right or not... I know that this is how my HP-fanatic best friend reacted)

I am 16 years old. Everyone else I know has pretty much grown up reading and watching and taking part in the epic massive take-over that is the wonderful wizarding world of HARRY POTTER and his hilarious partners in crime.

Rewind to ab0ut a month ago. I had read exactly zero Harry Potter books, and watched exactly one HP movie (the first one). *Note that I only watched the movie when I was like, five, and being the abnormal child that I was, I was terrified of all that evil stuff!

Okay, fine, fine. I'll get to what I was really planning on taking this whole post to talk about.

REVEALING OF SECRET #3:

MY THOUGHTS ON HARRY POTTER.

I loved them. :) OK, well, except for the epilogue ending of the last one. Ugh. But. Yeah. 

At first, I have to admit, I was hesitant to love them. This is only because usually things that everyone else in the world is obsessed with I very much try to steer clear of (most of the world's popular music, Justin Bieber, Hannah Montana...) so I didn't want to be sucked in too much.

But...but... but... Harry, Ron, Hermione and every single other character in HP are much too lovable! I love them, and that is why I love the books. I think my favourites are Fred and George, who always make me laugh the most. My favourite books are the ones that make me either cry or laugh. 

Well. I've finished all the books, and I'm planning to have an extreme HP-movie-marathon with my best friend (who is a Harry Potter freak fan, in a good way). Do you have any other suggestions/advice for someone who has only recently stepped into the world of Harry Potter?

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