Nov 18, 2015

The Process

It's November, which means I'm writing a novel. Which makes Write or Die's blog prompt perfect this week. They asked: What is your writing process?

Honestly, I hadn't given it much thought. My writing process is a little bit of a mess. I'm not as self-driven as I'd like to be. I'm probably somewhere in the middle, like I'm not totally unmotivated, but I'm also not so disciplined as to write at the same time every day. I wish.

I find that I write best when someone is holding me accountable, ergo NaNoWriMo.  Everyday, I have to update that little word counter and every day it shows me with a little bar graph where my word count is and where it should be.  I do not like to see my bar fall below the line.  If only there were more bar graphs in life.

I also know that I work best in small increments of time. I'd say about 88% of my novel is written in word sprints.  I set little word count goals for each increment of time and I try to attain those goals. This week, my goal was 1k in 30 minutes. I did it no problem. So now, my goal is 1,500 in 30 minutes. Whether or not I reach that goal, I've written a good chunk of a scene. And another one bites the dust.

As for atmosphere, that's where I'm a little inconsistent right now. I have an office, which is also a nursery-in-the-making. The chair doesn't roll on the carpet. My laptop doesn't fit on my desk. The lighting just isn't quite right. All the chi is thrown off. I've tried more coffee shops in El Paso than I've ever thought possible. I haven't found the sweet spot just yet, but it's not like I exactly have the time right now to renovate.

And tunes. I'm one of those weirdos who can't write without tunes. Right now, it's anything circa 1940-1948. The Andrews Sisters, Dinah Shore, Louis Armstrong, Doris Day, you get the gist. That should give you some idea of what I'm working on. In fact, the entire setting of the novel was inspired by 40's Junction on SiriusXM. How weird is that?

And lastly, the writing itself. If I've noticed anything about my process in these last three years, it's that I have little Jessica'isms. Little metaphors, phrases and sayings that just want to pop up in every book I write, no matter how different they all are.  That and first drafts are for story-purging as I call it. There are no poetic prose or deep literary metaphors at this stage.  The writing is pretty stale at this point, and characters are a wee bit flat, but all of that will be ironed out later.  This month is for those foundation 50k that will be dressed up Cinderella-style come January to March.

So, that is my process. Basically.

Now, revision process. That is another topic for another day.

Link up for Write or Die Wednesday here!

Nov 12, 2015

A NaNoWriMo-Life Update!

Hello there. It's been quite a while since I've laid down some words on this site, so I think it's due time for a little update.  Because a LOT has changed.  Ready...

Update 1. We moved from Germany to El Paso, Texas.  It was a very smooth move since the two locations are so similar.  That's a lie, obviously.  The move was extremely exhausting, and it's taking some time to get used to.  We're enjoying all of these creature comforts and American conveniences, high speed internet and spacious houses and all.  But at the same time, of course, we miss Germany dearly and all of our amazing friends there.

Update 2. Our family has a new addition on the way!  Surprise!  (to us all)  We're excited all the same. The new lil' bit will be arriving in April 2016.

Update 3. The writing is still going well.  I'm working on a new NaNoWriMo project this month. I'll be sharing more info on that throughout the month. It's a little different than what I usually write. So, stay tuned for that.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year?  I cannot sing NaNo's praises enough.  Without it, I would have never written The Hereafter or anything after.  I can't believe I'm about to finish my third full-length novel, and it's all thanks to this organization. Happy November!

If you are on NaNoWriMo, find me!  My username is Tangerine423…and if you do go over there, you can read a little synopsis to my project.  And of course, we can be writing buddies.

Well, that's all for now.  Just a little buffer to get back into updating this thing more often.  Hope you're all doing well!

May 14, 2015

The Secret to Good Sequels

It's no secret that sequels and series are a hit among readers these days.  Why? Because we want more.  Series novels give us more time to become invested.  It gives us more material to become attached to.  Generally, a win-win for readers and writers.

So, what do we want to see in a sequel?  What makes it powerful, without being redundant?  And why don't we want a book that's only an extension of the first?

As a rule of fiction, main characters are generally a little clueless in the first book.  If they had all the answers, the story wouldn't be as fun.  They have to learn something and struggle a little.  By the end of the book one, they've learned a little bit.  No one wants to read another book about clueless characters that still haven't learned a thing.  We don't want to see them make same mistakes again and again.
Obviously, there still needs to be conflict so they can't be a sudden know-it-all.
Exhibit A: Harry Potter  They grow (literally and figuratively, but still stay clueless enough to make mistakes.

Independent Story Arc
Cliffhangers are one thing.  Making me wait twelve months to reach the conflict or resolution of the first novel, not okay.  The thing about trilogies is that there are large conflicts and small conflicts.  Three tiny story arcs within one large story arc.  If we look at Twilight, it had three (four is arguable) books with their own (slightly weak) story arcs, and not much of a larger story arc.  People keep chasing them trying to kill them, basically.  ((Sorry to beat up on that series. I was a huge Twi-hard, but I needed an example)).
Exhibit B: The Lunar Chronicles, each novel, with its own story arc exists within one large story arc.

Something Old, Something New
I'll let you in on one of my biggest pet peeves…when everything I love about the first book is missing from the second book.  It makes me absolutely bonkers.  Sorry to beat up on another book, but The Daughter of Smoke and Bone was absolutely one of my favorites.  I could not put it down.  The conflict, the romance, the SETTING (it was Prague).  The cliffhanger.  Swoon.  But the sequel.  Ouch. Different setting, no romance, different story basically, and a completely different form of conflict.  Whoa, whoa, whoa.  What happened to the book I loved?  It literally took me so long to finish the second book, and I'll admit, I didn't even finish the last one.  I still feel bad about it.  The same thing happened with The Bronze Horseman's sequel.  It pains me so to even mention something I didn't love about that book.  It hurts.
Exhibit C: Throne of Glass.  It takes place in the same place, same character, but new romance, new conflict, new story.  Enough to make me happy and enough to make me interested.

Strong Characters
Let's face it, it's the characters we want.  Weak characters might not even get me through the first book, let alone pick up more.  And here's where Twilight redeems itself.  Hate on them as much as you want, but we all came back for the sparkly vampires.
There's that feeling we get when we pick up a sequel and we see the characters we love, and it just warms us.  
Exhibit D: Black Dagger Brotherhood.  Even if each book is about a new character, we still get to visit the old ones, and it feels like seeing old friends.

This sort of falls into the story arc category, but at the same time, it's something different.  I want to feel confident, as the reader, that the author knows where we are going. I want to know that there is direction and that he/she is not just making this up as he/she goes.  I hate to say it, but The Maze Runner did this to me.  As exciting as it was to follow along on that crazy adventure, it felt a little bit like the author had this crazy, awesome premise, but didn't exactly hash out the plan before he started writing.
Exhibit E: Outlander  She gave me confidence, from the very beginning, that the story was going to come back somehow.

You may have noticed by now that I am very critical of sequels.  It's rare for me to like a sequel as much as the first book.  But think about, if I'm picking up the second book then it must mean that I loved the original and it therefore, has large shoes to fill.  It's hard to make a worthy sequel (or series).  I get that.  It has to do so much more than the first one did, if you think about it.  But I think, if done right, the payoff is huge.

So, what do you think about sequels?  What do you love/hate about them?  Which ones are your favorites/least favorites?  What do you think it was that made you love/hate them?

If you'd like to join in on this conversation, link up here for The Book Chat!

Apr 30, 2015

The Real List of Kick-Ass Film Adaptations {the book chat}

It's just another day for book nerds when it's announced that your favorite book is being made into a movie.  I'm one part nervous, one part excited, and one part bitter that my favorite book is going to  be broadcast to the world like some mainstream trollop.  Terrible action figures and corny shirts at Hot Topic…end my torture.

And for the most part, the film adaptations are usually…okay.  Like, they're rarely mind blowing.  They're rarely original, creative or artistic.  They're just…the book…on screen.  And (book nerds, join me here) we don't need the book on screen.  WE HAVE IT IN OUR HEADS.

But pat on the back for you…making millions of dollars on something an author has already made popular.  I see what you did there.

It is possible though.  It's a truth universally acknowledged that a book in possession of film potential must be in want of an excellent director.

Sometimes, directors are inspired by fiction.  Sometimes, they make something artistic and original AND although different than the book, just as good in comparison.

Different and excellent.  Not different and just okay.  See the difference there?

Okay, enough chatter.  Here's the list:

5. Romeo and Juliet - Baz Luhrmann

It's basically my high school years, right here. Done. Teens get to understand Shakespeare, and it was pretty.  Well done, Luhrmann.

4. Clueless 

Fact: Clueless was the first modern teen flick based on classic literature. (No, don't quote me on that, I'm probably wrong) but the point is that most people walked away from this movie not even knowing that it is a film adaptation of Emma by Jane Austen, and then, whether or not they care, they just kinda learned something about Georgian England and youthful hubris.  Boom. Educated.

3. The Great Gatsby - Baz Lurhman

Maybe I'm biased, but B-Lurhmann could do no wrong.  I know this film was heavily criticized, but I thought it was fantastic.  It was everything the book was and more.  And I love that book.  The best part of this movie for me was the cast.  And the design.  Just all of it.

2. The Hunger Games

So, this was one of those insta-winner films that I thought was going to suck. Not sugar coating it.  It had a fan base to ensure blockbusters no matter the film's budget, talent or vision. (see: Twilight)  This is why I was most nervous about this adaption.  HOW were they going to recreate the games and really get it? How? Thank the J-Law Gods that they did not fail on any of those counts.  I knew from the shaky camera start that it was going to be amazing.  Artistic, not commercial.  Raw, not gimmicky.  Some of the people and scenes were too…pretty…but I'll let that slide on account of it being a teen film.  Still, it's a favorite.  (The sequels were…okay.)

1. Pride and Prejudice - Joe Wright

This movie.  Gosh, I just love this movie.  I get it…it's not the same as the book.  It changes some of the language and might not be what you envisioned, but what a vision it is.  It's so original.  The score alone gives me goosebumps.  I saw this movie before I read the book, true story, and I loved it so much that I actually read the book, cover to cover, after seeing it.  It made me love the book.  Everything was so beautiful and organic and real.
My idea of a perfect Friday night is book and wine in hand watching this movie for the twelve thousandth time and following along at my favorite parts.  I love, I love, I love you.


So, there's my list. These films just really went beyond "acting out the book." I should point out that I only included movies that I had both read the book and saw the movie.  Which is why you don't see any LOTR, loved the movies, didn't read the books.  Yeah, I know I suck.  I also didn't include movies like The Giver, The Maze Runner, or Divergent.  Read the books, didn't see the movies.  I'm sure I will someday.  Maybe.  probablynot.

So, let's hear from you!  What are your favorite film adaptations?  Do you prefer when they get creative or stick to the script?  Do you want true-to-life adaptations?  Do you get as upset as I undo when Hollywood messes with your things?  Tell me ALL about it.

Don't forget to link up!

(and forget the button.  I could NOT get the code right on that thing.  So, just link back to this post somewhere on your post so that people can join the fun.  I'm not sweating over buttons.)

Apr 23, 2015

Tell me what to read {the book chat}

So, I truly believe books make the best gift.  And I saw a thing somewhere (on Pinterest probably) that said:
"Next time your friend asks you what you want for your birthday, tell them you want their favorite book."
And I think this is just the best idea!  You can tell a lot about a person by their favorite book, I think.

So, that's what today's book chat is.  If someone asked you for your favorite book, what would you give them?  Even better if it's something in the past year.  Just something that knocked your socks off.  

And maybe start this tradition with someone.  A spouse, a friend, a family member.  Every year on your birthdays, gift them your favorite book of the year.  If you already do something like this, let me know!

Don't forget to link up!

Next Week's Prompt: Book to film adaptations!

Book Chat