Monday, July 22, 2013

This is not Hogwarts and I am not J.K. Rowling

When talking about my hopes of being an author I often joke that I'm going to be the next J.K. Rowling. Most people take that to mean I'm hoping to write a series that gets as widely popular as Harry Potter did, which of course would be amazing, but that's not really what I mean when I say I want to be the next J.K.

When I think of Harry Potter I think of the whole world; the moving staircases and winding halls of Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, the four houses, the horcruxes, Godric's Hollow, everything. I am repeatedly amazed by how detailed and vast the world of Harry Potter is.

I also think of the characters I fell in love with, and a few that I didn't. I think of how much I admired Hermione. I think of how much more there was to Luna than many people could see or understand. I think of how tragic the life of Severus Snape was and how strong, bold, and sassy Minerva Mcgonagall was. I think of how infuriating Malfoy was, but I remember that he was put into such a difficult position because of his father's allegiances and that it wasn't all his fault. I think of how much I loved the Weasley twins and how devastated I was when Fred was killed in the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry might have been the focus of the story, but I still got to know so many other wonderful characters throughout those seven books.

Harry Potter is more than just a story. Throughout the seven books detailing his adventures we discover a whole new world that is every bit as vivid and real as the one we live in. We meet and fall in love with so many characters and we learn so much about them; Harry is far from the only important character in the series and to be honest he isn't even my favorite one. There is no end to the places and people we are allowed to explore throughout those novels, and that is what I love. That is what I want to create. I do not want to simply write a popular book or series; I want to create a world so complete and detailed that it must be real; I want to introduce my readers to characters that will become their best friends, who will make them laugh, and cry, and scream in frustration.

I want to write books that move and touch people as deeply as Harry Potter has touched me and countless others. That is my dream. And to be honest, I sometimes get very frustrated because I feel like its simply not possible. I feel like J.K. Rowling got everything so perfectly right that no story could ever do what Harry Potter does ever again. But I have to keep believing that more stories with that same potential are out there, just waiting to be written.

What do you strive for in your writing? Do you have any authors you really look up to?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Title: The Book Thief 
Author: Markus Zusak
Pages: 576 (Paperback)
Reason for Reading: Personal Interest
Synopsis: It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.By her brother's graveside, Liesel Meminger's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Grave Digger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. so begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-[laying foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever there are books to be found.But these are dangerous times. When Liesel's foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up and closed down.
I'm just going to come right out with it. No words could possibly explain how much I love this book. After I finished it, I did not want to start a new one because no book felt worthy to follow it, and I did not want to lose the feeling it had left me with.

Our lovely narrator, Death, is different, clever, and does just enough to lighten the narration of so traumatic a time in history without taking away from the pain and sadness. His narration is unlike anything I have ever read, and the style is one that gives you the need to keep reading even in the times when not a whole lot is going on plot wise.

The relationship between Liesel and the other characters in the book, which is of course one of the main focuses of the story, are so raw and real. Some people you will hate, others you will love, but none of them are 2-dimensional. I felt as if I could walk down Himmel Street and recognize each and every one of them. Her friendship with Rudy never feels forced. Her complex relationship with her foster parents is both difficult and endearing to watch. And, my personal favorite, the relationship she forms with the Jew her family hides in their basement is so beautiful it brought me to tears over and over again. 

The Book Thief is a beautiful story of family, love, and friendship. It is a tale that reminds us just how powerful words truly are, and just how much books enrich the lives of those who read them. You will laugh at times and cry your eyes out at others, but I assure you, you will not be disappointed.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Sketching Novels - What I Hate About Writing

I've come to a realization about my relationship with writing.

I hate sketching. I hate the trying to just type as many words as you can to get a gross, messy sketch of a story written.

Writing is an art. And like every art nothing is beautiful the first time. There are steps to creating a work of art. If you're an artist, for example, you might start a drawing of a person with something like this:

You can tell its going to be a person, but its just a sketch. You might be able to guess if its a man or a woman by the shoulders or hips, but there is nothing really to it. No expression, facial features, nothing. Its only a sketch.

For me, I think starting a novel is a lot like this. Writing the first draft is messy and ugly. You can tell the basics, like what type of story it will be, who the main characters are, what genre it is. But my style doesn't come through when writing a first draft. I am aware while writing it that a lot of the scenes will be cut when I start revisions, just like many of those early sketch lines are erased once the details start getting added.

I don't enjoy the sketching stage. I enjoy the details. I enjoy searching for just the right word to express what it is I want to say. I enjoy delving into my characters and fleshing them out into real people that I love and hate and cry over.

The problem of course being that when I try to do all the little details and perfect words on the first try I never get anything done. That is simply not the way its meant to work, I suppose. At least not for me.

I'm fighting it the best I can, but I'm definitely already losing steam on my NaNo novel, even though I absolutely love the story I'm working on.

Speaking of Hacked, I think I'm changing a few things...okay a lot of things. For example, its a good thing I hate most of the scenes I've written since with my new plans the novel will have to be in third person and right now its in first. And it will be getting quite a bit more complex so far as my characters go, but I love interweaving character plots. I have a bit of a soft spot for them. I'm really excited to keep working on it, and I'll of course be keeping all the words I already wrote because even though I won't be keeping hardly any of them the concepts will be helpful when I start revisions. I really really like my plans for this story, even though I'm still working out most of them.

Are there any steps in your writing process that you really enjoy or despise? How do you get through the ones you don't enjoy?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Camp Nano: Week One

We are now a week into Camp NaNoWriMo and I am like 4000 words behind target. But that's okay because I have a plan. I'm shooting to write 2000 words every day. I only need to write 1700 a day to finish on time so the extra words will give me some padding in case another unexpectedly busy day appears.

I thought I'd share a little of what it is I'm working on for NaNo. It is a completely new story idea and I have to say I'm really super excited about it. Unfortunately my current synopsis doesn't give you a ton of understanding of the general plot, but it does give a pretty good idea of the world I'm working in. For now, I'll leave you with that and let you imagine where I might take it :)


For most, <WORLD> is a perfect utopia. There is no crime. There is no poverty. It is a simple, peaceful life without want or worry.
When a person turns 17 they are Tested. Their test results determine their entire future: who they will marry, their job, how many kids they will have, where the will live, everything. Once it is all decided, each person has a chip implanted into the base of their neck. This chip contains all the knowledge and skills they will need for the life they have been designated.
But sometimes the chip doesn’t take. Sometimes a person will desire a life different than what they have been assigned. These people are called Hackers. They are a threat to <WORLD>’s perfect society. And when they are discovered, they are removed.
<WORLD> is a perfect utopia. It is a simple peaceful life without want or worry. Unless, of course, you are Hacked.

I should probably mention that the city is not actually called <WORLD>...I just needed a place holder until I come up with the name.

So, are any of you busy with Camp NaNoWriMo as well? What're you all working on? I'm dying to know!