So…last week I mentioned my desire to gain some more personal writing time, and my journey of PreWriMoMo began. I had a plan. I was going to write different parts from every project I had running in the background of my head.
There were some complications. Because there are always complications.
Day 1: I started out strong.
772 Words – My blog post announcing PreWriMoMo.
43 Words – Landmarks. I absolutely love this fanfic, and yet, after I wrote a large chunk of it, I’ve been dragging along. This was a two line dialogue exchange. But it was something.
117 Words – A Light So Dim. As I work on my edits for the first half of the story so I’m comfortable moving forward, I’m adding bits here and there. This was a descriptive paragraph, fleshing out scenery.
103 Words – A Light So Dim Outline – Adding bits of plot and dialogue ideas, so I can flesh out the remainder of the story.
A wonderful start! 1035 wasn’t the typical Nano 1670, but I’d take it. After all, I knew I couldn’t do the classic Nano word count.
Day 2: HA HA HA HA HA. That didn’t last long. I didn’t write a word. Between appointments for Logan and a visit to my friend’s house for a party congratulating my friend on passing the Bar Exam, the day went on.
Day 3: Well, I started out early and wrote about 182 words of dialogue for Nightmarescapes. I squeezed it in while waiting to leave my house. Then, I went out, got into a conversation that triggered my depression and anxiety majorly, and got absolutely NO WORK DONE. Nothing. What a waste of a day. For multiple reasons.
Day 4: And I’m not getting much better.
101 words – Jagged Shards Cut Deep. I’m just starting the outlining of this fic. A couple of plot points added.
175 words – Landmarks. This fic is going to be the death of me. I can only write so much of it at a time. *bangs head on desk*
44 words – Living in the Past – This outline is killing me. I’m still really figuring out the plotline. I keep writing one plot point or two and then leaving it alone. *shrug*
Day 5: After thinking quite a bit about some of the edits I got back, I realized that my book needed a new opening and I worked towards crafting one today. Still awaiting edits on my new opening, which I adore.
1201 words: Order Edits.
53 words: I was on a roll, so I added a plot point on Jagged Shards Cut Deep.
225 words: Landmarks. Added a decent chunk to the next scene.
Day 6: I was completely slammed at my day job today, which meant I never got a chance to write on downtime or breaks. So the fact that I pulled off as much of a word count as I did was kind of miraculous.
155 words – Superhero Rom Com Outline. I just added the perfect character attribute for my new sidekick. This adds so much to the plot. I’m excited.
327 words – Blog post. I wrote 90% of this blog post on day 6. The rest is getting written up on day 9. You’ll see why next week.
39 words – A Light So Dim Outline. Added a teensy line of dialogue.
245 words – A Light So Dim Draft. Cleaned up a few lines and added a few explanations to make things make more sense. I think I’m almost ready to start writing new material for this one.
52 words – Jagged Shards Cut Deep. Added a plot point. I’m starting to get a stronger idea of the places this story may go.
Day 7: Oh booooooy. My day was super difficult at work and I was super tired. So when I got home, I fell asleep almost immediately. This amounted to:
59 words – Landmarks – wrote a line of dialogue.
25 words – Living in the Past – literally added one plot point.
Hopefully, next week is much better, but it’s not off to a great start. At the very least, I’ve written more? Baby steps…
Pardon my hyperactivity. I am very excited today, this is a spontaneous post, and I haven’t edited it. Bear with me.
In September, those of you who follow me on social media may have noticed I was gearing up for NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. My plan was to use the website to track my progress, but to be a rebel. I would work on the second half of a YA dystopian novel I started a while back, A Light So Dim, something that I’m starting to believe may be the best thing I’ve ever written. And I’m not joking. I stepped away, walked back and was impressed and in love with my opening pages. I even started workshopping them in the attempt to get myself back into writing mode from the edit/query mode I was stuck in.
And then, something SPECTACULAR happened. At the end of September, I got the news that Black Rose Writing had accepted my novel (another YA, but this time Urban Fantasy), The Order of the Key, for publication. And I got swept up in the edits requested of me by my publisher and I’ve just finally handed them off to my editors last week to await another round.
And then I sat back and did nothing. Well, no. Not nothing. I began working at establishing connections or re-establishing connections in the writing world, because I’m rejoining the published part of it (which I had left after my last publisher for Order crashed). But I wasn’t writing.
It bothered me. I’ve got a ton of projects waiting in the wings, and I’ve been cycling through bits of work on all of them, and now I had to wait to get my edits back, which are due in January, and there is no way I can possibly start writing A Light So Dim again in earnest, because I’ll get thrown off by the return of my edit letter.
So. What to do? How could I keep going and stop myself from feeling dormant on the writing side of my writing career? Because you probably have figured this out already, but in order to promote things you’ve written, you have to write them first.
Therefore, I have declared this Personal Write More Month, or PeWriMoMo. Yes, I’m aware this sounds ridiculous, and yes, I giggle every time I read it out loud. But if you don’t realize I’m ridiculous by now, you need to pay closer attention.
The rules of PeWriMoMo (heh, heh) is as follows. I work on any one of my list of pending projects and get a word count on any work I’ve done. I try for the standard 1,760 words a day that come with NaNoWriMo, but don’t cry if I don’t make it, and I do it across all projects.
And I get myself moving again. These stories ain’t gonna write themselves.
So here is a peak into my mind, aka all the moving parts I have going in my brain at once.
Order of the Key Edits A Light So Dim Edits and Additions A Light So Dim Outline Blog Posts – Because you still deserve to hear from me. Nightmarescape — that multi-chapter fanfic I’m working on (fanfic is art too, people) Landmarks — that adorable one-shot fanfic I’m working on (sshhhhh I know these won’t make me money, but I want to work on them.) Jagged Shards Cut Deep — that new fanfic I literally dreamed up on the train today that won’t shut up so it might as well make this list. The Lost Key reread/comment for edits — An Order of the Key sequel? It could happen…if I can make what I wrote of it work after completely overhauling chunks of Order. We’ll see. The Lost Key Outline — Or maybe I can rework the entire thing? Lucy Dies in the End Outline — my weird YA Fantasy Noir Detective story. Living in the Past Outline — could this be an actual Adult Supernatural tale? Superhero Rom Com Outline — sort of New Adult, sort of funny, definitely superheroes, no title to speak of. Reality Check Outline – I’m still not sure what the hell this story is. I have spectacular ideas for it, and no structure at all, but I refuse to make this once Adult Rom Com, now maybe NA Rom Com die. SHRUG. At some point, I’ll figure it out.
I’m going to be using this blog to keep me accountable, so join me on my weird journey. And feel free to actually join me and write all the things!
While you’re at it, for the love of all that is holy, somebody get me a coffee. Or take away the Halloween Candy. Something.
Not like my usual reviews, but I was so in love with this book and it’s message, and it was so deeply personal to me, I had to share my thoughts here. Trigger Warning: Depression Ahoy. Like, hardcore.
Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.
There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution—Roman, a teenage boy who’s haunted by a family tragedy, is looking for a partner.
Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together.
This was a difficult one for me. You may wonder why someone who struggles with depression, whose preteen son struggles with depression, would choose a book about two teens who make a suicide pact, but there’s an easy answer to that. I have been picking books lately by literally eeny meeny-ing my way through my TBR. Surprise! The book you put on your list years ago, when it wouldn’t be nearly as emotionally jarring for you, has you nearly sobbing and eating your nails off on the NYC subway!
This book was gorgeous. So many beautiful lines on such a painful subject. So much hope hidden in the pages. The author’s use of principles of physics to highlight the potential energy in living and the relativity in how we each see our lives was just so beautiful, and ended up being discussed with my son who may be too young to read this book without turning it into a reason to be more depressed, but is actually intelligent enough to understand these two principles of physics. I loved the inherent hope in these universal principles.
While other readers thought the romance between the two main characters was trite and obvious in a YA book, I found it refreshing. The best part about it being that it’s not what saved them. What saved them was finally talking to each other about what they were going to. It was opening themselves up. Aysel and, we find, Roman, was not speaking to anyone about her internal life. When she opened herself up to Roman, she slowly began unburdening herself. It happens slowly, so slowly you may miss it (and many readers seem to have missed it) but you can see Aysel freeing herself the minute she starts speaking to people more, acknowledging this feeling inside of her, embracing her potential energy. And Roman is doing the same, even though we don’t see it outwardly, we can see it in the way he keeps trying to convince himself that nothing about their plan can change, in the way he holds Aysel tighter, in the way he tries to do it on his own before Aysel can stop him. He’s made himself this mission, and he feels it slipping and he’s grabbing on even harder because he’s afraid to let it go. In the end, when they both decide against it, it feels real. And it doesn’t feel like a solution, like an ending.
It is safe to say that we’re in the era of the Young Adult genre. More and more people, not just adolescents, are starting to read and write YA novels. There are hundreds of sub-genres within it such as fantasy, horror, thrillers, coming-of-age, romance and science fiction, and even more within those such as epic fantasy, futuristic, and chick flicks. However, the one thing they all have in common (as it is the main feature of YA) is that the main characters are teenagers.
I love the Young Adult genre, not only because I see myself and my age group in books, but also because being a teenager is no longer being regarded as a time stuck between childhood and adulthood, but a unique stage of a person’s life. However, something that frustrates me in YA novels is when teenagers aren’t portrayed realistically. So, I’d like to point them out in the following list.
Some of the things I’ll say potentially apply to the New Adult genre as well. I also want to mention that since most young adult novel characters are from the middle class, I won’t touch on issues such as criminal neighborhoods and heavy financial problems. So, my notes may not be relevant in these cases.
Let’s jump right into it!
Whether your teen character is in a fantasy world of powers and magic, in a moon colony after a nuclear disaster on Earth, or has an ordinary adolescent life, chances are, there is an educational system they have to attend. I realize that there are exceptions to this, but the moment it is established that a character goes to school… wait for it… they must go to school. There are entire contemporary novels of the typical life of a high school teenager, except they’re never in school, but always at parties and sleepovers, and the only school-located scenes are in homeroom an the cafeteria. Even someone who doesn’t care about school and skips lessons will get detention, be called to the principal, or parents will be contacted. Even though this is different in all schools, most have some kind of record of absences.
On a related note, something I’ve noticed is that characters who go to school never seem to have homework, or need to study. There are tests. Exams. Pop quizzes. Projects. After-school clubs. How do YA teenagers manage not to repeat grades or drop out?
Having a character mention that a professor was being unfair, or that someone got detention, or that Trigonometry will be the death of them isn’t an info-dump or useless dialogue. It is only adding depth to the story, as well as making the story more realistic and closer to the readers experiences. For example in KEEPER, the story starts with Lainey annoyed because her best friend Maggie made her go with her to a noisy store, when she has to study for SATs. She resolves this issue by reciting the vocabulary while waiting for her.
It is no secret that in YA novels, adults are usually distant, nonchalant, or simply nonexistent. I understand the use of this, to a certain extent: most YA novels focus on the growth of teenagers, making their own decisions and finding out how far they can go to solve whatever obstacle the author has thrown in their way.
But aren’t parents or guardians worried? Say your main character is a superhero, who was given special powers by the Gods but must practice them in secret. Where are their parents in all this? While the kid is going around preventing war and destruction, aren’t the parents or guardians frantically searching for them? Doesn’t the kid have a curfew? An example of a story where this is addressed is in the movie E.T.: the main character is always trying to hide the Alien from his mum: faking a fever, sneaking food, the phone call where he pretended to be sick… and even then, the mum still kept a close eye on him.
Parents don’t usually abandon their children, and if they do, there’s got to be some sort of psychological reason: even an absent parent always on their phone will realize if their child is never home and happens to have a pair of wings.
Even in books where the teen character is homeless without a family, there are always adults somewhere. I can tell you from personal experience to what extent nosy neighbors can factor into a person’s life.
It should be fairly well-known that teenagers wonder about the future, constantly trying to figure out what they do and don’t like. Whether they’re daydreaming about the perfect house, their journey in life, a job, and partner, or wishing they could be different, adolescents try to figure things out. Then why is it, that teens in YA novels always seem to have everything under control, never hesitating? Even the most determined adults can have doubts, and even the couples most in love feel insecure. It is incredibly rare that teenagers know everything they want to do in their lives.
This also applies to teenage relationships, as most don’t make it past six months, let alone staying together after high school. I’m not saying teen relationships cannot work out because some do. But teenagers are in such a chaotic and emotional stage of their lives: call me a cynic, but it’s unrealistic for so many teen couples to think they’ll be together forever. So no, Bella from Twilight, I don’t think you and Edward will be in love for the rest of your immortal lives.
In my opinion, Bebe Rexha perfectly summed this up in her song Call You Mine: “You said, ‘Hey, whatcha doing for the rest of your life?’ And I said, ‘I don’t even know what I’m doing tonight’ ”.
There’s also the issue of teens knowing how to do all sorts of thing. Teens flying spaceships without a second thought, leading entire kingdoms, and murdering expert killers. Too many times are there stories with main characters who can’t even handle running after the school bus for ten seconds, but suddenly they can beat up a thief or fight armed police guards, getting out without a scratch?
When talking specifically of sports, most adolescents fluctuate between being absolutely unfit, doing sports only because Physical Education is compulsory, or they are obsessed with sports and the gym. If your character falls into the former category but then does something incredibly athletic, there’s got to be something huge justifying their newfound fitness.
And last but not least, language. Once again, in my experience, there are two extremes many authors fall into when writing teen dialogue: either really sophisticated, or over-slanged. Unless there’s a way to justify this, a teen isn’t usually going to call up a friend saying “Hello, how are you? I was wondering if you were free for dinner tomorrow evening?” or “Yo man what’s up dinner tomorrow you down?”. Chances are, they’ll fall somewhere in the middle depending on their culture, class, circumstance, up-bringing, and the universe you’ve created for them. In conclusion, “Hey, wanna go out to dinner tomorrow?” can be a good compromise.
Next comes a personal pet peeve of mine: texting. I adore books where characters text. However, I can’t stand when authors make characters text absolute gibberish abbreviations to sound ‘cool’ and ‘modern’. Trust me when I say, nobody ever texts “Hiya how r u, hw rn I got math 4 tmr dyinggggg, cyou 2night @7 yah?”
No. Just no.
Writing teen characters is really difficult: I’m a teen writing YA, and I struggle. This article actually helped me reflect on my own novel, and while writing I made a number of changes regarding schoolwork and parental presence. I added scenes where they were doing schoolwork (or complaining about it), and I removed some scenes with secondary adult characters, making my main character’s parents be there instead.
Of course I realise there are exceptions to my list: it’s merely a general overview of some things I’ve noticed in Young Adult novels. My best piece of advice for authors wondering if their teenage character is accurate, is to give it to some beta readers in the same age group. If they approve of it and say it is accurate, then I wouldn’t worry.
Lucia Brucoli is a high school student, aspiring author and freelance writer. She is now working on her Young Adult sci-fi novel, GOODBYE. In her free time, she enjoys watching t.v shows, reading, and of course, writing!
Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to guest post on the blog of Jeni Chappelle, editor extraordinaire. I spoke about the agony of the edits.
As a writer that has been edited and an editor that has worked with writers, I’d like to paint you a picture.
You’re a writer, and you just received a massive developmental and line critique from the editor you hired. You open it up and gaze into the glaring image of comments and track changes that have made your once monochrome document into a rainbow of color. Your heart gives a little squeeze. Tears poke at your eyes. You haven’t even read what the editor has to say yet, but you see that rainbow and it evokes memories of literally every test you ever got back from a teacher to find it marked in red. Then you start reading the comments and suggestions. Some make you nod. But some cut to the bone. You want to hurl explanations at the editor. Couldn’t they understand? Why weren’t they getting what you were doing with your words! You’re caught somewhere between anger, sadness, and a sort of numb defensiveness, and you don’t know which direction best serves you as a writer.
And that’s okay. Getting edits should hurt.
To read more of this post, and to check out the rest of Jeni’s blog, click here.
My son and I both suffer from clinical depression. After years of dealing with strange misconceptions about the illness, I’ve begun to fancy myself a mental health advocate. Logan and I have agreed–if sharing our stories with the world help people, we’re happy to share them. This openness with our mental health has caused problems in the past. People do not understand. When you say you struggle with your mental health, people either think you’re dangerous, or your credibility becomes shot through with holes. It’s extremely frustrating. So, every now and then, I use this little platform I’ve developed to simultaneously attempt to dispel a misconception, while also providing help.
Now, firstly, there are levels of depression. There are depths of depression that nothing can dispel short of medication, therapy, and time. But sometimes, we feel ourselves dipping low and can pull the reins before we get that far. Sometimes we can’t, but when we can shift the trajectory before we get too deep, it’s good to try. I tend to use music to try to lift my spirits when I’m in this headspace. This obviously won’t work for everybody, and if I’m honest, it doesn’t always work with my son, so this is hit and miss. But if music helps keep you from spiraling, or if you just want a mood pick-me-up, here are the songs that turn my mood around.
Life In Color by One Republic
A song about feeling dejected but finding a light at the end of the tunnel? Well, it certainly couldn’t get more on message than that, could it? With lyrics like “Well this is life in motion/And just when I could run this race no more/The sun bursts, clouds break/This is life in color” how could you not feel uplifted?
High Hopes by Panic! At the Disco
We play this song every morning to get Logan in the right brain space to take on the world. “Had to have high, high hopes for a living/Shooting for the stars when I couldn’t make a killing/Didn’t have a dime but I always had a vision/Always had high, high hopes/Had to have high, high hopes for a living/Didn’t know how but I always had a feeling/I was gonna be that one in a million/Always had high, high hopes.”
Battle Symphony by Linkin Park
Sometimes you just need a reminder that sometimes things are bad, but you can get back up and keep on moving. I sing this one to my baby when he feels overwhelmed by bullies. “I’ve been searching for the courage/To face my enemies/When they turn down the lights/I hear my battle symphony/All the world in front of me/If my armor breaks/I’ll fuse it back together.” A little reminder to keep fighting never hurt anyone.
Best Day Of My Life by American Authors
This one is basically a self-fulfilling prophecy rolled up in a song. How bad can your day be, if you start it singing that it will be a good day? Well…probably worse than the BEST day…but, you can lift your spirits with HOPE! “But all the possibilities/No limits just epiphanies.” And don’t forget the Woah-oh-ohs. This song is just fun times.
Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars
Whatever, this song is just fun. No uplifting message, just a fun beat. Don’t @ me.
Sharp Edges by Linkin Park
Yeah, another Linkin Park song. And we’re not even gonna discuss the fact that their more uplifting songs were on their final album with Chester Bennington. We’re just not. Either way, you can’t deny the hopeful nature of lyrics like “We all fall down/We live somehow/We learn what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” Motivation to keep moving, provided by someone who knows damn well what a struggle it can be.
The Climb by Miley Cyrus
Another one that motivates you. “There’s always gonna be another mountain/I’m always gonna wanna make it move/Always gonna be an uphill battle/Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose/Ain’t about how fast I get there/Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side/It’s the climb.” Now, sure, it sounds just like my eighth grade valedictorian speech (I’m not joking), but half the joy of listening to this song is hearing how country Miley gets when she says “get there.” Trust me, it’s adorable.
I Love Myself Today by Bif Naked
Because you should. Always. “I’ll stand right up/Spit shine my soul/I’m gonna be proud and loud and outta control.” Hell yes. Sometimes, you just have to lose control. And the scream after the chorus makes that line even better.
Shake it Off by Taylor Swift
Yes. I, too, am ashamed of myself. There went my whole effortlessly cool vibe.
Good Life by One Republic
This one is fun, but it’s less about the lyrics and more about the fun background music that brings a smile to my face.
Second Wind by Kelly Clarkson
Another great reminder that even when people have something to say about you, even when you can’t get things right the first time, there’s always another chance to get it right. “You can’t forget about me/While you weren’t looking I was gettin’ even higher/ Say what you want about me/Your words are gasoline on my fire/You can hate me, underestimate me/Do what you do ’cause what you do don’t phase me/Just when you think I’m at the end/Any second I’mma catch my second wind.”
It’s Time by Imagine Dragons
A song about rising above your past and growing, while always remembering where you came from? It doesn’t get more in tune with my personal inspiration buttons than that. And with lines like, “The path to heaven runs through miles of clouded hell right to the top/Don’t look back,” you could bet on this one being on my list. A poetic retelling of my life story? I’ll take it.
Crazy by Meredith Brooks
Most people remember Brooks as the person who sang all about being “a bitch,” but this is my favorite song of hers. It’s so much fun, and all about encouraging you to be exactly who you are, and how everyone tells you to do that, but only on their terms. “You say don’t change a single thing/but your list is longer than my day/I can’t help wondering/When all is said/And all is done/Am I the crazy one?”
Machine by Imagine Dragons
This one serves as a reminder that I’m not trapped. Sometimes, when the world is raining down on you, or life keeps throwing you one responsibility after another, or the establishment is just getting you down, you need a reminder that you’re not just a cog in the machine. You are the machine–just as capable as running things and causing trouble as anyone and anything else. Or maybe that’s just me. Either way, between its deep meaning and its rollicking beat, this is a new favorite. “Cause I’ve been wondering/When you gonna see I’m not for sale/I’ve been questioning/When you gonna see I’m not a part of your machine/Not a part of your machine/I am the machine.”
Rough Draft by Sarah Solovay
It could be that this is writer or artist specific, but this particular song tickles that part of me while also making me generally happy. A reminder that every person is a work in progress, this song plays with that idea with references to common issues with early drafts, and how changes can create masterpieces. It’s just so cleverly written and has a wonderful message. “So if you want me you got me/Granted I’m scattered and sloppy/But you can’t send me back/I’m just a rough draft/So cut me and crop me/And when I’m ready make copies/And one day/The real thing might blow you away.”
What are your favorite pick me up songs? Post them below. Maybe you’ll lead me to some new favorites. 🙂