Monday, January 28, 2013

What Works For Me When Outlining

Today I am going to brave the waters and talk about my own personal writing! (Something I rarely ever do here on the blog).

So I have this story... okay, book... that I've been working on, on and off for probably about three years. (Wow. It sounds really intense when I say that. Trust me, it's not.) I'm now onto my third draft, although I haven't actually started it yet. I've read over the second draft probably four times (probably more), and had people comment on it and help me by pointing out things they were confused about or needed to fix (especially Elle - she is the awesomest!).

That's when I came to the point of having absolutely no idea how I should fix all of the problems. It just seemed way too overwhelming, with all of the stuff that needs to happen, throughout each part of the book and each scene. I wanted certain characters to be spotlighted more, and certain friendships to develop but how could I just change all of that? How in the world could I change everything? I couldn't even comprehend how it could work.

I don't know where I got the idea, but one night about a month ago I just started writing down what was  happening in each scene. I wasn't writing the story, I was just writing a very in-detail description of events. I guess you could say I was just telling. The other helpful thing about doing this is that this book of mine is in first person. I'm writing the outline in third person, so I can write out what other characters are thinking or feeling or the MC's subconscious motivations behind his actions and thoughts. This is SUPER helpful, because then I know exactly what's going on under the surface of what I'll actually end up writing. I'm telling first, showing later.

I've never really done much serious outlining before, because how-tos on it on other blogs just don't appeal to me. This is definitely working, because I can tell the ENTIRE story, working out plot details and character development along the way, but I don't have to do the work of writing an entire draft and having to go back and fix it.

How do you outline, if you do? Or how do you fix a mess of problems in your drafts?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Stories That Create The Desire to Write

As you may have noticed on the sidebar of my blog, I have now committed to start posting every Monday. I wanted to do this so I won't procrastinate on writing blog posts, and also maybe it'll force me to write blog posts that I normally wouldn't write, stuff that turns out to be blatherings squeezed out on short notice. I also wanted to have a goal this year of talking more about my personal writing, which is something I normally shy away from on the blog most of the time. I thought that probably if I was scrambling for things to post about, it'd be more likely I'd fall back on talking about my writing (because that's basically what people do on writing blogs).

The other day I saw Les Miserables for the first time. It was amazing, and I'm fairly certain I was on the verge of tears for almost the entire movie. I love things like that, whether it be books or movies or any form of art, that evoke such emotion from you, and make such an impact on your emotions or your mind. I love how much story, no matter what form it's presented in, can affect a person.

When I feel affected by a story (like Les Mis), it inspires to affect other people with the stories I have to tell. @CostelloShields summed it up perfectly on twitter:

"I want to write things that matter. I want to write things that people will love."

That's exactly what I want to do with my writing, and brilliant stories like Les Mis, or The Fault in Our Stars, or Okay for Now, or Life of Pi, or even the Lizzie Bennet Diaries make me want to do create stories that matter even more. I want to write something that will affect others in the way all these other stories have affected me.

I love it when I come home from a movie or when I finish reading a book, and the first thing I want to do is write.

What kinds of things create a desire to write in you?

Monday, January 14, 2013

You Don't Have to Be Fearless to Do Scary Things

A few weeks ago over Christmas holidays I went for a hike to a waterfall with a group of about 20 other people. Some were in runners (like me), but most were in flip-flops.

The hike was fairly treacherous. There wasn't a nice gravel trail. We basically had to climb over rocks the entire time, and since it had rained the day before, the rocks were slippery. There was one part of the hike that was straight climbing up the side of a cliff. Then, once at the top, you had to walk on a ledge that was barely wide enough for your own foot. My heart was definitely pounding for the entire hike, in anticipation that I would slip and kill myself.

I figured I'd rather look stupid and be alive than the opposite, so I did a lot of crouching and bum-scooting on that hike. While I was bum-scooting my way along the path, the high school boys and tough hikers were way ahead, nimbly climbing over all the slippery rocks like monkeys.

There was one couple on the hike that I had heard lots about, mostly about how daring and adventurous they were. From what I'd heard, they loved to take risks and travel, and they had just backpacked around Indonesia for a month before visiting the Philippines for Christmas. Based on the things I'd heard about them, my perception of them was that they were tough, crazy backpackers who weren't afraid of anything.

Well, I was wrong. Once we'd arrived at the waterfall everyone stripped down to their bathing suits and jumped into the cool fresh water of the waterfall. The 20 of us were swimming or wading in the pool at the base of the waterfall. The girl of this backpacker couple was swimming near me, and all of a sudden she shrieked and held her tanned feet above the water. "Was that a leech?" she shrieked. "There better not be leeches in this water! I hate leeches." She shuddered.

I'm not really sure why, but in that moment I realized that, for one, I once again judged someone wrongly, but mostly that you don't have to be fearless to do scary things.

Sometimes I feel like I want to be at some level of bravery, where I'm not afraid of anything and I'm willing to do anything and everything in the world, no matter the risk. However, I still have tons of fears, whether they be big or just little things. It's definitely the act of overcoming those constant fears that is courageous, I think.

I definitely think this applies to writing. First, I'm too timid to try anything risky with my writing, for fear that it won't go over well with the people who read my work. Then I decide that I'll just wait until I get over this timidity and I'm fearless and have the freedom to write from anything to everything. But then I'm stuck in a rut, because I will never be fearless. I will always have doubts and hesitations about my writing. I just have to try to overcome those fears daily. I have to daily break out of my comfort zone, in life, but also in writing. I have definitely seen evidence that if you take risks and be unique, you or your writing is loved the more for it.

Maybe I'm afraid of leeches, but I can still backpack all over Indonesia...

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." -Meg Cabot

Monday, January 7, 2013

Review of All The Books I Read in 2012

Last year, I read 120 books. This year, I made it to 115. It's really interesting to compare the two years and see the different books I read, and the trends in my reading habits. For instance, once I started working in an elementary library this year I started reading a lot more middle grade. If I was savvy enough, I might make some charts or something. But for now, you just get lists, full of some recommendations for you for the new year (if you haven't already read them)! 

Best Books of 2012
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins - Sigh. She's done it again. Amazing.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - Read more of my thoughts on this achingly beautiful, wonderfully written book here. TFiOS is definitely his best book yet.
Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt - I'm pretty sure this is the only book that doesn't have a death in it that has made me cry. This is such a beautiful, beautiful book and it is now my favourite book of all time aside from Jellicoe Road. This is one of those books that just makes me go gaaaah sooo good, go read it pleaaase.
Savvy by Ingrid Law
True (...sort of) by Katherine Hannigan - Both Savvy and True I talk about in this post. They are both awesome, deep middle-grades that definitely made me think.
Books I Bought in 2012
Finally and Forever by Robin Jones Gunn - I love RJG, so I will buy anything new she comes out with. (Although I can't quite recall if I bought it, or if I got it as a gift... if you gave it to me as a gift, correct me if I'm wrong).

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - I knew it would be hard to get at the library, and I kind of had a feeling I might want to have it, and I was right. If only I would've brought it to the Philippines with me...
The DUFF by Kody Keplinger and The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta - Both of these I bought as eBooks. I figure that still counts, because now I own them and I can read them whenever I want! Yay!
Books I Reread in 2012
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta - Not quite as good the second time, but still awesome. I love Melina Marchetta.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke - The last time I read this I was in middle school, I think. It's interesting how just being a few years older changes my opinion of a book. I still love it, though, and Dustfinger is my favourite character of all time ever.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - So how many times is this now? 5? 6?
Harry Potter 1-6 - I will never tire of rereading these.
Divergent by Veronica Roth - I reread this for the sole purpose of remembering what happened so I could read Insurgent. It was still just okay, even the second time around.
2012 Releases I Read in 2012
A Million Suns by Beth Revis - I liked A Million Suns better than Across the Universe, but I did noticed that the some of the story elements were repeated. I liked it though, and am still looking forward to eventually reading Shades of Earth.
Insurgent by Veronica Roth - I enjoyed this much better than Divergent, although I haven't fallen head over heels for either of them. I liked the tension between Tris and Tobias, and I liked how it was unpredictable. I did not like all the mind-controlling drugs, as they seem to be used a lot in dystopians now a days and in my opinion they are getting old.

Article 5 by Kristine Simmons - I really enjoyed this book. It was a smaller scale dystopian than Insurgent or The Hunger Games, but that just meant it had a bigger focus on the two main characters, which I really enjoyed.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard - This is a good summer read, but it wasn't really anything special to me.
Worst Books of 2012
Wings by Aprilynne Pike - I read this book because of a recommendation from a friend, but I did not really enjoy it (sorry, Megan). The writing was good and the idea was unique, but there was a love triangle that was done absolutely terribly.
How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbaleister - I really, really did not like this book. It was very shallow, and I kept waiting for the characters to use something useful and become less selfish. They did not. This would probably be the only book I would ever encourage people not to read.  
So. What were some of YOUR favourite books that you read this year? I need some recommendations of things to read for the coming year. ;)
Happy New Year!


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