Thursday, September 29, 2011

This post serves no purpose

An actual conversation with my sister via text messaging:

Sister: I forgot to ask, how was your birthday?

Me: Just about the same as last year, except replace drinking loko with slowly dying at work.

Sister: You're almost done!

Me: No. I still have 50 years.

Sister: Noo retirement is 65, you only have 42 left!

Me: That's assuming I can retire at 65

Sister: Why not?

Me: There are many reasons. Social security collapses, identity theft, the zombie apocalypse...

Sister: If there is a zombie apocalypse and you don't quit your job to fight zombies I will be seriously disappointed in you.

Me: Obvi I will fight the zombies, but I still won't be able to retire.

Sister: That's the next best thing!

Me: I suppose so. I'd rather fight zombies than vampires.

Sister: Well duh. Vampires only have two weaknesses. You can kill zombies in a bunch of different ways

Just another day...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Speed Dating your Characters

I do most of my story planning once I've already written my first draft. Kind of backwards, right? As a pantser (as in, I write by-the-seat-of-my-pants, a very technical term) I really only have a vague idea of where my story is going when I embark on the journey with my characters. So, in my second round of edits, I'm forcing myself to sit down and flesh out the minor characters (major characters got their own one-on-one time with me already). So I figure it's appropriate to share my procedure with you kind folks. Everyone has a different system so who knows, you might like something about mine :)

Inspiration from

Without the supporting characters, the main character in your story is just wandering around alone talking to him/herself. Even in a movie like Cast Away, where Tom Hanks is stranded on a deserted island for almost the entire movie, there are supporting characters that make him more relateable and further the plot (namely Wilson).

He's more than a little creepy.

So, when I'm trying to figure out my characters, I go speed dating.

1. Main Character (1)
2. Major Characters (3-5)
3. Minor Characters (3-10)
4. Two-Sceners (2-3)
5. Everyone else mentioned by name

Wait, what? Speed dating? Yes, speed dating. I use the categories above and work from the bottom up. Check it:

5. Everyone mentioned by name gets a brief, one-sentence summary of motivation and relevance to the story. Like the first few crummy dates at a speed dating table (or what I assume they're like). "Yeesh, get me out of here."

4. Two-Sceners are the characters that appear in only one or two scenes but are still important to the whole story (i.e. the sympathetic cop who gives the hardened criminal a break that gives the criminal the opportunity to do x or z). They get 2 sentences. "You're kind of interesting, but I'm still not into you."

3. Minor characters are usually a part of a major event in the story or are in the story for a significant period of time. They tend to be more in the background, but still interact with the MC enough that they're not just Two-Sceners. They get a whole paragraph about motivation, significant personality traits, and relevance to the story.

2. Major characters are the buddies. The best friend of the MC, the enemy of the MC, the guy who follows the MC around the entire book until he just becomes useful. These are the characters that can make or break a story. As a result, they get 3-5 paragraphs on personality, appearance, motivation, brief background (usually not included in the story but helpful to the author), and anything else that seems important. 

1. MC - obviously take all of the time in the world for this guy/girl.

Everyone has a different process, this is just the way I get to know my characters. The main point is to not forget them. The supporting characters in someone's life story are the ones that help to move the life story along or change the life for better or for worse. They make a huge impact on the story either way so please, no cardboard friends.

How do you get to know your supporting characters?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Virtual library - the ebook takeover continues

I love libraries. It's impossible for me to run in, grab a book and leave because I get so caught up in... well in the books I guess. My sister actually refuses to go to the library with me if we have something to do after because I will lose her in the stacks of mysteries and YA and true crime books and.... I could go on all day.

There was even a campaign to save one of the two libraries in my town and I don't think I've ever gotten so riled up about something. It wasn't even the library I go to. The second library is closer to my house, bigger and all over better. But you know what? They weren't depriving the kids who were unfortunate enough to live on that side of town. Not on my watch!

There it is. In all it's glory.

Libraries are wonderful things and I've already bookmarked a significant portion of my millions that I'll get when I win the lottery to keeping them open.

Pop Quiz time!

What is one thing standing in the way of everyone who loves books purchasing an e-reader?
(Hint. It's all I've talked about so far)

You got it! It's libraries!

See, the economy is bad (obviously) and there are people who aren't willing to shell out money for every single book when they can just traipse on over to Kennedy and pick a free one off the shelf for two weeks. So the smart people over at Amazon just said, know what? Why the hell not?

Go ahead. Click the link. I'll wait.

I KNOW RIGHT?  Free books? For those of you who didn't want to read the Wired article by @tcarmody (follow him, he's great) Amazon is partnering up with libraries to offer book rentals. From what I understand, it's exactly like a library rental, you use your card and everything. Only catch is that you can do it from the overly crowded train that inexplicably stopped on the tracks due to "train traffic ahead of us" (Don't you guys schedule the trains so there is no traffic??).

It's still not going to be the same as a library, just like an ebook is never going to have the same feel as holding a physical book in your hands and turning the pages. But I'm glad to see that Amazon realized the importance of libraries and teamed up with them instead of stealing their thunder and releasing their own free model. I'm just hoping libraries are making money from this. I'll be really pissed if they all close down before I can give my giant donations once I win the lottery.


Monday, September 19, 2011

A New Obsession on My New Toy

Hello, lovely readers. Happy Monday!

Ordinarily I would cross out the happy because I almost always come down with a serious case of the Mondays each week, but today is a special day.


That's right. It's my birthday. I have two rules on my birthday. I am not allowed to get angry (deep breaths and pushing it to the back of my mind might make me explode tomorrow, but not today!) and I am allowed to repeatidly request that other people do what I want because it is my birthday. Maybe I go too far (I've said "Please, it's my birthday 4 times today and it's only 10:30) but it's one day a year and screw you if you don't like it.

So this weekend, I received a laptop from my wonderful and newly employed boyfriend, hereafter referred to as Boyfriend. Unfortunately, I have to wait for my discounted copy of Microsoft Office (Boyfriend's company has AMAZING perks like discounted software) so I went ahead and downloaded Storybook, which I heard about through another writers blog, forgive me that I forget who told me about it.

3 hours later, I still hadn't made any forward progress on editing Arieties (which I have saved in portions that I can access online) but I was having so much fun playing with Storybook that I didn't even notice. See, when I write, I'm a Pantser. You tell me to plan out a story and I'll give you a detailed outline that ends up in the bottom of a drawer somewhere probably never to be used. But if I have an idea that I let marinate long enough to have a substantial beginning, middle, and end, I'm on it.

My problem is, once I get everything written, I have a hard time tackling 80,000 words to edit it down into a coherent manuscript. My mind is very methodical and I like organizing things out, just not when I'm writing. Now, I already see weaknesses that I missed on my first two edits and plugging in a story thread gave me a totally new direction to take a portion of the plot (not the whole plot but it clears up one of the weaknesses). I'm kind of a little bit obsessed.

My only issue right now is that I have a job that I need to pay my billz and it's totally getting in the way of my storybook time. Do you think my boss will accept the "It's my birthday" excuse?

Yeah, me either.

How do you get through editing walls?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have returned.

Thank you, thank you. Yes, I have finally made my triumphant return to the blogosphere. I'm too lazy to go back and check but I'm pretty sure it's been about a month since my last post. The good news is that I have been writing, even if it hasn't been as consistent as I'd like. The even better news is that I hit most of my main goal for ROW80, which was to get Arieties ready for beta readers. I still have about a week left to get it all revised, but I have a few minor tweaks I still want to get done.

On a non-writing related note, well I guess it's a little related to my writing, I've been doing some serious life reflection. The death of my friend over a month ago, plus the recent 9/11 anniversary really hit home the point that life is really short. If I died today, I mean I've lived a good life but what have I done? So, I'm going to push myself. I'm not going to create a bucket list or anything, but I am going to make some changes.

First is my job. Working on it.

Then we have my writing. Step one here is to buy myself a laptop. I have a monetary goal to hit before I allow myself a big purchase like that so I've got another month to go, which puts my laptop purchase right in time for NaNoWriMo.

Then we have my little goals. I want to rebuild a car engine. It's going to be pricey, so I'll have to save up, but I really want to do it. (Side note, I told my mom this last night and her reaction was "Why don't you just marry a mechanic like I did?" Oh thanks mom, I'll get right on that.)

I'm going to try and keep up with my blogging now that I'm back. I'll start at twice a week. I'm going to work on revamping my blog schedule a little bit so there may be some changes. I'm also going to start reading more, so hopefully I'll be able to get a book review up every 2 weeks or so.

EDIT: Is anyone from the WD forum having trouble getting on? I keep getting an error message saying that the website is forbidden. I tried to get on my phone because I thought they finally blocked it at work, but I had the same problem there, too.