Thursday, September 27, 2012

How do we feel about the Bait n' Switch?

Hi, friends! Quick, informal poll/discussion today.

In one of my story ideas, the Main Character (MC) and the Bad Guy (BG) are both trying to get the One Thing (OT). The stakes are high, the tension is high, the setting is prime, everything is moving along nicely.

Okay, so what if a 3rd party comes in and pulls a "Bait n' Switch" on both the MC and BG, replacing the OT with a decoy? MC and BG still work to achieve their goals and all seems lost when BG "wins." But in the end, the BG realizes they've been duped and the MC realizes it was all a really long con this whole time, and they can still get the OT. MC isn't necessarily happy with this turn of events, but at least BG doesn't win.

There's more to this idea than the few sentences above, but you get the point. Is this "Bait n' Switch" idea too Oceans Elevens-y? Is it too easy for the reader to pick up on?

Overdone? Or can be used, if done right?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Where's Your Head At?

Please excuse the preposition at the end of the title. I'm from the midwest--we do that around here.

And yes, it's also a song. I've linked to the video at the bottom of this post. Turn it up and start chair dancing!

My head isn't in the game this week. I'm incredibly distracted by things going on in the real world and they are preventing me from focusing on my story worlds. I have a friendship in trouble, a budding relationship that feels like it's about to fade out, an ex who wants to be back in the picture, a diet that is just not working, and oh yeah...


Sound the alarm... (side note: Say what you will about Nikki Minaj. I'm a BIG fan of her new single...)

I have too many "real" things to sort out that I can't seem to muster the energy to look at my story stuff. In an effort to not totally fall off the writerly wagon, I've been writing out my interview notes by hand and I'm reading a new book that is somewhat in the same vein as my proposed NaNo story. So my creative side is still churning, just a bit slower these days.

I know some people who can literally "turn off" their brain and just write. They can push aside any stressors and focus on their creative pursuits. I'm not one of them. I try to run or do a strenuous workout when my mental hamster is really running in her wheel (ahem, like yesterday), but I can't bang out 3 miles every day.

How about you? Do you need to have everything 'just so' in your world before you can sit down and start creating?

As promised, your video, compliments of YouTube:

Monday, September 17, 2012

MMGM: The Cabinet of Wonders

(Disclaimer: I love the MMGM series, but trying to build "platform" came at the cost of writing, of which I should be doing more. So I'm going to try and get a MMGM post every other week, or even once a month and not feel regret about not doing more. Thanks for understanding!)

Book image from Goodreads
Title: THE CABINET OF WONDERS, The Kronos Chronicles: Book 1

Author: Marie Rutkoski
Date published: 2008, FSG

From Goodreads:
"Petra Kronos has a simple, happy life. But it’s never been ordinary. She has a pet tin spider named Astrophil who likes to hide in her snarled hair and give her advice. Her best friend can trap lightning inside a glass sphere. Petra also has a father in faraway Prague who is able to move metal with his mind. He has been commissioned by the prince of Bohemia to build the world’s finest astronomical clock.

Petra’s life is forever changed when, one day, her father returns home—blind. The prince has stolen his eyes, enchanted them, and now wears them. But why? Petra doesn’t know, but she knows this: she will go to Prague, sneak into Salamander Castle, and steal her father’s eyes back.

Joining forces with Neel, whose fingers extend into invisible ghosts that pick locks and pockets, Petra finds that many people in the castle are not what they seem, and that her father’s clock has powers capable of destroying their world."

Part steampunk, part magical realism, part history, THE CABINET OF WONDERS is a wonderful adventure set in the Czech Republic. Petra is a determined heroine who sets off to reclaim something the Prince took from her Father. In order to succeed, Petra has to navigate the depths of Salamander Castle and determine who she can or cannot trust.

Rutkoski's debut novel is a great adventure, complete with animated metal animals, a woman who can create color, and an astronomical clock.

THE CABINET OF WONDERS feels like it straddles the line between YA and MG. The protagonist is younger and the content is younger as well. But on the other hand, the first half of the book spends a lot of time explaining various mystical elements of the world, and I wonder if the extra information would keep a MG reader's attention. On the other hand, maybe this has nothing to do with MG or YA, and is due to the fact the story is fantasy.

I enjoyed this book, but I feel it would be better received by a upper level MG reader who is willing to take the necessary time to immerse themselves in the world. If a MG reader were looking for a quick paced story, I don't think this book would work.

I thought the astronomical clock was a wonderful premise, but it seemed "off screen" through the book. I wanted to know more about it! I'm interested to read the second book in the series, but I hope there are more steampunk elements than the Father who can move metal with his mind, and the pet companion, Astrophil.

Friday, September 14, 2012

NaNo 2012--who's in?

Hey gang, I hate to be the bearer of slightly panic-inducing news, but National Novel Writing Month 2012 begins in exactly seven weeks from yesterday. Are you ready to rock? Or are you still on the fence?

Last year, I featured two weeks of guest bloggers who participated in NaNoWriMo. I asked them to share their stories and experiences in a series I named "Write What You NaNo." You can find each entry here. Personally, I think it should be required reading for all NaNoers, but maybe I'm biased.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh, yeah. NaNo 2012. Coming soon to an internet near you... (cue movie announcer voice)

Last year's image. Expect a lot of the same,
but with a different year, for this years image
I'm ready. Ish. Ready-ish. I think. I mean, my story's going to be a massive pile of poo come Dec 1, but I'm okay with that. My goals for this year are simple:

1. Win.
2. Finish the story.

See, I've won every year, even last year when I went to Ireland for 10 days in the middle of the month and didn't write a single word. Winning I can do. Finishing the story, though? That's where I struggle. I usually quit the minute I hit the elusive 50K mark, leaving my characters and my story in limbo until I dare re-open the file after the New Year.

How about you--are you participating? What's your goal?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How do you write?

(Remember my previous post where I said I was going to clear my Google Reader feed and start over? Yeah, it didn't happen. My guilt got the best of me and I've skimmed it down to 9. NINE UNREAD POSTS, people. I just high-fived myself...)

I'm working on an outline for a story that I hope will be my 2012 NaNoWriMo. If I can figure out the point, I'll be in business. See, I have all the other stuff. The location, the plot, the turning points, character development, etc. But what I'm missing is the Big Why. As in, why does all of the stuff leading up to this point matter?

Working on this outline got me thinking about where I start and end chapters. In my previous WIPs, I would follow the outline, but my notes weren't so detailed that I knew exactly where one chapter ended and another began.

When it came time to work on edits, I was in trouble. I usually added a new chapter (or four) in the beginning, which left me screwed with my chapters throughout the rest of the document.

So how do you write? Do you write in actual numbered chapters? Or do you use hard returns and come back to it later? Or are you one of those fancy writers who have some formatting thing fired up where it automatically numbers the chapters? If you have that, please let me know what program you're using!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Welcome back!

I figure if the local coffee shop chains have unveiled their pumpkin flavored deliciousness, then it's high time I get back to into the swing of things.

But first, a confession...

I'm sorry. I didn't ever want it to get to this, but I don't know any other way out.

I'm going to hit the dreaded "Mark All as Read" button on my Google Reader. I know, I know. You all wrote BRILLIANT blogs in August. I'm sure of it. But at last check, it was over 1000 unread blog posts. It got to the point where I had so many to read and I was feeling like SUCH a fraud for not reading, that I stopped blogging as a result. Cuz that makes sense--just sticking your head in the sand in hopes that it all goes away...

So, I'm confessing my sin and coming clean. And I'm bringing my new, down-to-zero Google Reader with me.

Have you ever felt so behind in something that you didn't know how to get out? Have you ever cleared your Google Reader and started over?

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