Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Never forgetting to enjoy reading

Sorry for the blog delay. I've been in serious edit mode so I could turn in GRAVITY to my awesome editor this week. *Breathes easier* And if you’re interested in adding it to your TBR list, you can click this little link and add it to your Goodreads list. No pressure. ;o)

Now in addition to the hair-pulling edits, I've also been storing up books to read as soon as I turn in these edits. I started perusing the list today and realized something. I tend to organize my TBR list by "fun books" that I could careless about the writing and then "educational, why-the-hell-can't-I-write-like-that books." I thought that was a bit odd, until I realized why.

See, at heart, I am always going to be a reader first. I love reading, and I don't have to appreciate the writing to enjoy a good story. I think this is important for us as writers. If we start analyzing every single book we read, comparing the writing to ours, or even *gasp* putting down the writing/book/author, then to me, eventually our writing will suffer.

It's like on Saturdays when you're watching your favorite football team and over and over the announcer (or your husband) screams at the players to settle down. Those players are overly hyped. They’re analyzing everything, thinking too much, and in turn, are playing like crap. I think the same goes for writing. This isn't to say we shouldn't educate ourselves. That's a given. But I really pray that I never stop appreciating a good story, even one that has less than perfect writing, because I know that day my own writing will turn to crap, just like those over-hyped players.

~ Melissa

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Do you have a "go-to" song?

I have found that with each project I have a "go-to" song that becomes my theme song for the book. For my first novel, called SECOND SOUL, which was loosely about a boy who learns his father is possessed by a powerful demon and to save Heaven from the demon he has to kill his father. Well the demon ends up slipping from his father and into the boy's girlfriend. The book ends with the MC, a boy named John, looking into the Fall of Man (a fortune telling waterfall within Heaven) and seeing his girlfriend bearing the tell-tale white scar of the demon he thought he had killed when he murdered his father. So of course, my theme song was Lady Gaga's Bad Romance.

Now, that book was my practice novel so it'll never live outside of my computer. But it started a ritual for me--every novel must have a theme song. It's my "go-to" song for the book that no matter what brings me back into the story.

For GRAVITY, my song is this:

So tell me, do you have a "go-to" song?

~ Melissa

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Factual: Our quirks=character quirks

So you know how you often remember a particular character's tics or quirks? Well, I'm here to tell you that you have weird quirks, too. Don't believe me? Ask your husband or wife or sister or mother. They'll tell you. I thought it may be fun to disclose a few, so here goes.

Quirkies about me that I could work into a character:

  1. I kind of think, especially when I have the music really loud, that I sing exactly like Lady Gaga. I know! It IS cool. :)
  2. I really dislike wearing the same pair of shoes the next season, which is totally stupid, but still it bothers me. I’m pretty sure this means I have some serious form of OCD. Yeah...I'm okay with that.
  3. I was a make-up artist all through college, training with lots of different people. So now, when I meet someone for the first time I often think about how I would do her makeup. Of course, I would never tell the person I’m thinking this, but sometimes it takes all of me not to scream—“Violet eyeliner would look amazing with your eyes!”
Now tell me a few of yours. You know you have some!

~ Melissa

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Writing style and avoiding imitation

I’ve been reading Laini Taylor’s fantastic DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE. It’s a delicious novel full of everything a reader/writer loves—well-developed characters, a fully imagined world, and rich, beautiful language. I adore this book and I'm only a few chapters in. If I weren’t under
deadline, I would have already finished it. It’s that good.

But reading it got me thinking about style. See, I tend to analyze what I read, especially if I love a novel, in hopes of learning a thing or two from those that I admire. I’ve been told my writing reads slightly lyrical, and while I would describe Laini’s writing as lyrical, I recognize immediately that our styles are very different. (Now, let’s take out of the equation that Laini Taylor may be a genius and I certainly am not.) She has sentences that are as long as some of my paragraphs. But it works for her, and it works for this novel.

And I think that’s the point. As writers, we have to find our own style and our own way of conveying our story. We can’t simply copy or mimic the style of others. It’s obvious when writers do this, and I think it makes for an unnatural read.

So, how do we find our style? We write. And read. And write some more. Before you know it, your style will become very obvious to you. It’s easier to write in your own personal style than to try to adhere to that of others.

Have you found your style? I hope so. It’s a wonderful thing—embrace it.

~ Melissa

Friday, November 4, 2011

What book would you like made into film?

Sure, we all know plenty of bestsellers that are either being made into movies or optioned. Some of them would make fantastic movies, but what I'm curious about is which books that you've read and loved do you feel would make great films? I'll admit, I only have one adult title on my list. Why? I rarely read adult work, though that is about to change so expect this list to prosper over the next few months. :)
Any who, here's my list:
  1. THE LITTLE STRANGER by Sarah Waters
  2. ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins
  3. TYGER TYGER by Kersten Hamilton
  4. TOUCH by Jus Accardo (Just read this one so it's fresh in my mind.)
  5. STARCROSSED by Elizabeth C. Bunce
What about you? What would like to see on the big screen?
~ Melissa

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Revision madness for a pantser

I'm a pantser. It's important for me to say that upfront. My best ideas come during the writing process when I zone out and just start writing. I type sickly fast, so often I'm typing way faster than I can think through what I've written. Hence the need for revision. But I've found revision to be the most difficult part for me as a writer and I believe that's because I'm a pantser. It goes against the grain. So I've created a method that helps me to revise quickly, but to also maintain my pantser roots. See what you think.
First: I prefer to write and revise chronologically. This means that when I receive edits from my editor, I map them out based upon which Act and chapter the scene resides. If the edit is something more basic like "need to ground the reader" or "more worldbuilding" or "need to introduce Joe earlier," then I make sure that change is implemented across several chapters. This allows the change to flow more naturally with the rest of my narration.
Second: I open an Excel file (you could do this with Scrivener if you have it) and list out the chapters within Act 1 and what needs to happen in each chapter.
Third: I open a new Word file (yep, a brand new sparkly doc) and dive in, rewriting as necessary and pulling from my old draft as necessary. I will say that I have to tweak everything (even solid old material) to ensure the story reads organically.
Fourth: I print out the revised Act and read through before moving on to the next Act.
So that is how I revise. How about you? What is your process?
~ Melissa