Monday, May 19, 2014

Struggle with One Shots: A Follow-Up

I spent all day on Sunday hanging out in a reading room with some awesome people working on The Homecoming Court. I finally got to the point where I really could not continue without at least working out the major elements and main plot points of the story, so I took a break from the computer, took out my journal, and started the process of working out all the details.

About an hour later I had an elaborate outline of the world outside of the academy and the political tensions that were rising that would eventually lead to the military acting in a way that made my MC question everything about her future plans and her dedication to the academy and the military as a whole.

And then I scrapped all of it.

That is not the story I started with. It is not even close. It is a story worth writing and a story that I might play around with later, but it is not this story; it is not Devon and Jared's story. I wanted this to be a book about a crazy (and in my opinion vastly more interesting) version of the Homecoming competitions we are all so familiar with and that are quite often written about. It is a simple concept that will become, I believe, a fantastic story when some complex characters are thrown into the mix.

It was a productive hour and I'm glad I took the time to work it all out because now I have a very good understanding of what I do not want this story to become, which led me to working out a direction I like much better.

Moral of the story: don't be afraid to plan out an idea just to see where it goes and then to completely scrap it if it isn't was you wanted after all. If you have multiple ideas plan out all of them and see what works best!

Happy writing!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Struggle of the One Shot

Do you ever start a project intending it to be a one shot story and then as you start writing it find it moving towards a series? This is a problem I have. I think I might be incapable of writing a one shot.

I'm working through The Homecoming Court (my current WIP that you can read about HERE!) and I had envisioned it initially as a single book story. This was the story that was going to be told and this was the story that I would tell and that would be it. Except now as I'm writing the story is growing. Little side stories are introducing themselves, the world is growing larger than the little island the academy is set on, and the conflicts are growing far more complex. And I'm just watching it all happen like

Am I just incapable of imagining a story that can be summed up in a single book? I don't know. I think perhaps part of it is that none of my stories take place in this world, or at least not completely. The Homecoming Court for example is set in a future where much has changed as a result of The Great War, which leads me to want to further explore that world.

This is not the first time this has happened. I have another story idea working in the back of my mind that also was a one shot when I first imagined it, but the more I thought about it the bigger it became. I'm not 100% certain that it will become greater than a single book story, right now I think it still works in a single book, but who knows what else might happen when I start working on it.

Have any of you ever noticed something similar to this? Do you consider it a problem ever or do you just sort of run with it?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Book Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

Title: Panic
Author: Lauren Oliver
Pages: 416 (Nook)
Synopsis: Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a poor town of twelve thousand people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.
Heather never thought she would compete in panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She'd never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.
Dodge has never been afraid of panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game; he's sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he's not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.
For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

I want to start by saying the synopsis of this book is not particularly fantastic. It makes the novel sound very close to something like the Hunger Games and it is really nothing like that at all. The story is far more contemporary than that. Panic is not a societal creation; it is a under the rug competition that the teenagers in town started for their own entertainment.

I personally loved this book. I think it is a fantastic twist on the usual contemporary YA novel. It has romance but its not about romance. It is completely realistic but also a wild ride of a read. You never know what is going to happen next and I became just as eager as the characters to know what the next challenge would be.

One of the biggest critiques of the book I have seen regards Heather's character. That it was hard to read because she was annoying at the beginning and they couldn't get past that. That's all fine and if that is enough to turn you off from a book than okay, but it seems to me that books would be really really boring with characters that start off perfect, not to mention it makes them impossible to relate to. How are you supposed to create character development without first creating flawed characters? So I'm not going to say that Heather is not annoying. I'm not going to say she isn't acting impulsively because of a bad break up. But I'm also not going to say this is a point against the book. She's 17 years old (18? I'm not 100%) and has just experienced what I am led to believe is her first major breakup; it is rather unfair to expect her to just get over it with a snap of her fingers. Heather, and all of the characters really, are often impulsive and immature, but they grow over the course of the story, which if you ask me is kind of the point.

Personally I loved the characters. Not in the sense that I loved them like I love Daenerys or Sherlock, but in that I love them as characters. I'm not sure, for example, if Nat and I would get along well or be best friends, but I loved her as a character. They are real. They are complex and thought out and have strengths and weaknesses and hopes and fears and personalities. And I really appreciate that in a book.

The biggest complaint I have about this book is the character development of Dodge. I feel like the ending wrapped up too quickly and even though all the external conflicts are resolved we miss out on seeing any resolution to his internal conflicts, of which he has many. We do not get to see his reaction to how things turn out or whether or not he grows and learns from the experience. I feel like this was definitely missing from the conclusion of the story and I was pretty disappointed when I was finished to have been left wanting it.

All in all I really enjoyed this book. I read it almost entirely in a single sitting and I did read it all in one day. I would most definitely recommend it!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Goals for May!

Happy May everyone! Summer weather is getting closer and closer every day.

Or at least I have to assume it is. I mean I hope it is....its been raining here all week..

Its the first day of the new month which means a quick check in on my goals from the previous month and officially deciding my goals for the next month! Lets look at how April went:

Goals for April

Read at least one book (lets try this again...)
  • Made this one just at the very last second! Yesterday I read all of Lauren Oliver's new novel Panic and I cannot recommend it enough! Review coming soon.
Write another 10,000 words of my WIP
  • Okay so if we're being super technical I did not actually make this goal I fell about 100 words short. However I have a good reason: I finished the draft!! This is super exciting for me, as I have never in my life actually finished a draft of a story. It is 125 messy, ugly, terrible pages that I will never let anyone else even think about looking at until it has undergone extensive revisions, but it is a draft with a beginning and an end. There is still an awful lot missing in the middle to be sure, but this is still much farther than I have ever made it before so I'm gonna celebrate this little bit of progress!
  • You probably all noticed this fell through in the last weekish. Finals got the best of me, unfortunately. But it was still fun as far as I managed to go and I met some awesome new bloggers, so really it was a success even if I did not manage to complete the challenge.

All in all I'm calling April a success. Now we start moving forward to make May even better! Here are my goals for May:

May Goals:

Write 10,000 words of my NEW work in progress: The Homecoming Court. I've had this idea building in the back of my mind for about a month so I'm excited to finally get to dive in! This is going to be a bit of a challenge I think since I am experimenting with writing by hand instead of typing.

Read the first 2 books of A Song of Ice and Fire

Post to the Diaries at least twice a week

How did your goals for April go? And do you have anything exciting planned for the next month?