It has been awhile, but Mighty is back and ready for action (or at least to write a blog post). So as some of you may know Urban Fantasy is my poison of choice. Who wants Belladonna and Arsenic when you can have magic and goblins? Not this chick, we can save our discussions of perfect murder scenarios in the mundane world for another day. So, what is it that butters my bread in Urban Fantasy? Well there are too many things to count, but among the highest ranked is the romance.
I know, I know, typical chick response, but it’s also the lack of romance that gets me. Huh? Let me explain. Now in your typical romance there can be an amazing story with various elements but the relationship usually goes something like this: wham, bam, thank you ma’am. Nothing wrong with this, I enjoy a whammy as much as the next person but it may not keep my interest as long.
With Urban Fantasy typically you’re introduced to the ultimate love interest early on but it is played out over more than one book. So I have to continue to read through all of the badassery to get to the goods. I like this, I like it when my books play hard to get. Now because of this longer courtship we will often see an alternative romance. This is where I’m torn.
The “second male alternative” can be a very worthwhile plot element if done right. Sadly, it can also be bad, real bad. For me it goes bad when it moves the story forward but is the main force pushing the plot forward. Don’t get me wrong when my hero and heroine are going to take seven books to figure their ish out I expect them to date other people, I just don’t like the pity date. You guys know what I’m talking about. It’s the “I am handsome, intelligent, loving and giving and I worship the ground you walk on. Yes, I know there is no hope that you will ever love me back the way I love you but that’s fine. Let me be your love slave.”
Does this seem realistic to anyone? Also it’s freaking awkward, I feel bad for the dude and it’s a fictional character. Also these “seconds” are always highly desirable and could easily find someone else but seem to lack the self-respect needed to realize this. Okay… but the problem is these men are rarely written as the type of guy who would lack confidence, enough to pursue someone who wasn’t interested. So what I’m getting at is this, the heroine can have genuine feelings for someone other than “the one” so let’s stop creating these insecure meat puppets. I’m not saying the heroine needs to light up like an inferno for the “secondary male” but the entire “when he kisses me my loins turn to ice despite his obvious attractiveness” is a bit extreme. There can be a recognition of his place as Mr. Right Now while still acknowledging that he’s more than a cyborg.
Wouldn’t that be nice? Suzy (fake coworker) would get ten different reviews from ten different coworkers. Even if she was the best worker ever she likely would have rubbed someone the wrong way, and gotten a bad review from that person. Of course after that the working environment between those two would likely be icy. We see reviews in corporate America and even in the education system. Still most of the time we are not rating someone who has the same job as us, we are rating someone in a position of authority i.e. manager, professor, and those reviews are likely anonymous.
So to get to the point as writers we have a fairly solitary work life. We don’t have coworkers as we are likely independent contractors. Huzzah, I don’t have to wear pants to work! Back to the point, the closest thing we have to coworkers are other writers independently contracted as well. Yet unlike in other occupations you will often see other writers reviewing books in the same genre they write. So my question is: is this appropriate?
For me it’s not. I want to build a network of both writers and readers and I think that reviewing leads to ostracizing potential allies and readers. Fact is I don’t like every book I read and I don’t expect everyone to like what I write. I’m not saying I’m against reviews, reviews help authors but I’m not going to take a shit where I eat. I’m classy like that. I leave reviews to the readers. So what do you guys think?
Okay, it’s probably not evil, but for me plotting is evil. I am a panster at heart and I find it very difficult to force myself to have a cohesive plan. But after last week’s revelation I decided I needed to try something different. Now that I have Scrivener (plotters personal holy grail) I have no reason not to give it a go. For those of you not familiar with Scriviner it has a side bar where you can can put various chapters/scenes/notes/research all in a cohesive manner. This is difficult to explain so I highly recommend checking out a Youtube video or going to
http://www.literatureandlatte.com/ to browse a bit.
I also decided I needed to analyze my characters more and decided to see what the web had to offer me. I found this character worksheet
http://jodyhedlund.blogspot.com/p/character-worksheet.html and have begun the process of psychoanalyzing my characters which is both fun and tedious. I have to admit I am learning a lot about my characters. For instance I had no idea that Peg’s favorite color was orange or that she was a big Stephen King fan. She also collects tea cups (fun fact for all of you).
So far this journey has been fun and I have to admit my favorite part is finding all of these wonderful tools online. Writer’s are truly fortunate these days because we have so much information at our finger tips. That is if we have access to the internet (I’m going to assume that you do if your reading my post). I have found a lot of things this past week that I believe will make my novel rock my socks off and hopefully one day a larger audience.
Okay, fair warning, don’t eat while you read this blog because for some reason analogies of festering wounds have been coming to me regarding this topic. Well, this week I had an epiphany: I realized that whereas I liked the general storyline of my WIP, there were certain elements that I no longer felt were a good idea. Also, I realized that I had some of those pesky little holes in my overall plot. The other evil dwarves don’t seem to think “it just does” is a good answer when they question the dynamics of my world building.
I know that everything is fixable, but at the same time after being with the group for a few months, I realize there are certain things I would like to add to the story, and that my setting isn’t working for me. Plus those lovely dwarves have also been helping me with formatting (my current formatting skills are lacking). So with all of these various items weighing on my mind, it became a bit overwhelming. Cue the epiphany.
Time for a rewrite. This WIP is one of those I have gone back and forth to over the years because while I loved the story idea, I wasn’t 100% sure where it was going. In retrospect, after joining a critique group, I know why I wasn’t sure, because the story has issues. So as not to disappoint those who set aside their lunch: a good story is like a wound. The initial idea is when the injury first occurs and the closing of said wound is when all of a writer’s plotting comes together perfectly. If a writer has a deep enough connection with a reader, a nice scar may be left behind, and the reader will never forget your story. On the other hand, sometimes stories don’t close up well and they start to fester. You ignore them until you realize you can no longer deal with the infection,and at this point you can amputate (give up on the story if you’re sure nothing else you do can fix it), or you can tear off the scab, clean the wound, and start over. I’m choosing the latter.
So I bought Scrivener as I believe it will help help me with at least a general outline (I’m a bit of a panster) and organizing my research. So today is to new beginnings. I’ve got a fresh band aid so let’s close this one up.
Very few of us have the luxury of writing full time. We have jobs, school, kids (or at least I’m assuming some of you do), and general obligations that make finding time to write difficult if not a pain in the ass. Yet we’re here and we aspire to be that person who no longer works the nine to five or graveyard shift to pay the bills. I hope to one day be that person I also hope to finish my degree so I can set down the textbooks for a while. My goal is to not have to get out of my pajamas to work. I probably will get out of my pajamas but I want the option.
The past week with school back in session I find that I’m very stressed out trying to figure out when I can get it all done. I will admit I am not the best time manager and need to find a way to change my habits. I bought a day planner to try and organize but it is difficult as homework and my job as a server leave me with an erratic schedule at best. Then again many others have had the same if not worse schedules and have gone on to be best-selling authors; so please go ahead and have some cheese to go with my whine (I myself am a fan of goat cheese and gorgonzola.)
Since the stress has led to insomnia I have decided to ostrich a bit and pretend that writing a novel is easy and that the publishing world is all rainbows and ponies, at least for one more night before reality must again rear its evil head. To help me do this and so that you may join me on this magical journey I have for you the lovely and talented Jackson Pearce’s video:
I hope you all enjoyed that, and do take her advice and watch it while listening to “Do You Believe In Magic.”
Well school has started for me and I must admit this being my last year I have a case of senioritis (is this over yet?). In order to get this over with this year I have jam packed schedule full of fun literary classes. I don’t know about you guys but no matter how fun the material I tend to hate reading assigned texts. I think it has something to do with being forced to read it. Yes, yes, I know that it is within my rights to not read said texts but that would make tests and papers a bit difficult.
For me there is something about requirement that makes the reading much harder. This is coming from someone who can read for hours on end. I will admit that once said novels are read I feel quite accomplished. I get that whole “lookee here ma! I iz a literary genius!” I see value in what I am reading even if I don’t like it because it helps me as a writer. Still I dream of the day that the semester is over so that I may again browse Amazon to enjoy non-school texts.
In the meantime I have the same professor for two classes who keeps telling us that we should train ourselves to look at the class material as interesting as it is obscure and will seem boring (wonderful! You’ve already warned me that I will want to hit my head against the wall repeatedly while trying to finish your readings). Another professor who is overly aggressive with chalk, yep that’s right I am in a classroom that still has a chalk board. The other classes are online so thankfully there will be no screeching chalk. Fingers crossed everyone that this semester is relatively pain free.
I will admit to a minor obsession with food. I mean I’m not hiding it under my bed at night but when on vacation the first thing I’m interested in is food. When I leave school or work the thing I’m looking forward to is dinner. To top it off I don’t discriminate when it comes to food aka I am not a picky eater. Luckily for me I have found kindred souls in The 7 Evil Dwarves that involve monthly smorgasbords, thanks to Smoky. You guys don’t even want to know what we put away at our retreat but I will say I was both proud and slightly disturbed.
So, along with real food I have also always loved stories that described the food to readers. I mean who doesn’t love reading about the feasts in the Harry Potter series? One of my first great literary experiences was reading The Phantom Tollbooth and being mesmerized by how Juster described the way the alphabet tasted. Okay, okay, maybe I’m just a fat kid but tell me that the letter “A” tastes like a jelly donut and I’m intrigued (I don’t actually remember specifically what Juster said the letter “A” tasted like, so don’t quote me on this).
As a result of this food obsession I find that I put a lot of emphasis on food in my own works. I have characters who go out of their way to find the best food possible and I describe meals. I love it, but it’s a bit like Pinterest in that I’m starving by the time I’ve finished. So what do you guys think about food in literature? Are you a “I want my cake, and will read it too” kind of guy or gal? Or are you not a fan? Perhaps more of a “I will leave my cake in the bakery where it belongs, thank you.” Well I am off to get some enchiladas! Happy Saturday!
Taxidermist, Santa Clause impersonator, Waitress, Alligator Wrestler, Coat Check Professional, Pet Psychic, Supermarket Clerk, if you have read many author bios you have likely come across a list of former jobs that are both outrageous and mundane. As writers know, it is rare to be an instant bestseller and ride off into the sunset of financial freedom. We know that bills need to be paid, so we do what it takes. Of course there are benefits to the multiple job life, we get material.
I remember being sixteen working at a movie theatre making nacho plates. It was a very tedious task however it gave me an opportunity to think about my surroundings and come up with story ideas. I think that was the first time I recognized that stories are everywhere. Since then I have worked as a restaurant manager, legal secretary, gas station clerk, flight attendant, server, and in a call center helping people who were getting sued for credit card debt. Much of this work showed me the worst in people, but that’s fine. Life is not always sunshine and rainbows and my characters need conflict. Luckily along with the bad there is also the good, the crazy, the ‘oh no she didn’t,’ the ‘oh yes she did,’ the ‘did that really just happen,’ and of course the hysterical.
I think what it comes down to is that all of us ‘pre-published’ writers along with the published who have been through it as well have gained valuable insight into human nature and conflict. I think it would be difficult to understand if one never had a job outside of writing. Of course that being said I’m still waiting for the Powerball to make me an heiress. (Remote writer’s cabin in the woods anyone?) In the meantime I will continue to plow forward and look to my job as the inspiration it truly is.