Thursday, December 26, 2013

Clothes not required

For as long as I can remember, the library's been one of my favorite places. Every time I walk into one I feel full of hope and possibility--all the lives to live and worlds to visit fill me with excitement. In high school, my genre of choice of regency romance. Fewer, um, intimate scenes and loads of romance--especially the reformed rakes. I'd close the cover on the paperback novel and daydream in my head about the story. Frequently, my imagination would take it other places. I'd grab my notebook and pen and start writing. Then I'd get to the part where the MC was heading to an elaborate ball (practically required in regencies) and I'd get stuck. I would skip those words in the book because I know nothing about fashion--silk, I understand; lace, I understand. The complicated details the authors would get into detailing the woman's dress, even the colors, were way beyond anything I knew. Short of plagiarizing a book or a fashion magazine, I had--still have--no clue how to describe clothes. So instead of pursuing any writing, I kept my stories in my head and continued to read other people's. 

Then, as it happens with many writers, I had a character that would just not shut up. She plagued me, telling me her story all the time and I finally gave in. I described with ease the hospital room she was in, the drive home, the smell of the ocean off her back porch. I had no trouble describing the horribly tacky hospital gown she wore. And, as my story required, my character had to go shopping. I could see her in my head easily. Transcribing that image onto paper was another story. So I glossed over it. And probably went into too much detail. Seriously. The fact that she bought five pants, four shorts, socks, undies, t-shirts and button up shirts...snore. So I decided I would be one of the authors who wouldn't document every detail of my character's clothing. 

For all I cared--they could go naked. Now, I wasn't writing that kind of story, but I think you get my drift. For years, I let my perceived inability to write about clothes keep me from writing at all. Moral of the blog: Don't let that happen to you. Gloss over it. Leave a large space there and get a fellow writer to help you with it. Don't let something you think you can't write about stop you from writing at all.

Part 2: Book review time. I was born a Rebel. Literally. Best last name ever. I tried to get my husband to take it when we got married, but he wanted to stick with tradition. Boring. Lol. Fortunately, my brother has two sons so the Rebel name will continue. And, to the point. If there's a book with Rebel in the title, I'm naturally intrigued by it. I'd see the first book in this series everywhere and the cover caught my attention every time. So when the second book came out and I saw several authors I follow on twitter promoting it, I decided to jump in and read it. Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes was hailed as Game of Thrones for YA. I can see why--she kills people off frequently and has borderline incest between two siblings who end up not being related anyways. Rebel Spring was the whole reason I decided to read the series. I almost did-not-finish the first book, but I hoped, really hoped, the second would be better. Nope. Maybe it's personal preference--I didn't like the frequent POV changes. This may sound weird coming from me, but how frequently the characters fall in love with each other, and how fast they do, absolutely drove me up the wall. I'm all for romance. But two characters meet and two chapters later they're in love. Beat my head against the table. I found the "history" confusing--I think the story would have been better without the Watchers. I guess Morgan Rhodes is setting it up for more intrigue in future books, but in these first two it confused rather than contributed to the story. The only reason I gave the books 2 stars on Goodreads was because I masochistically plan on reading the third book--only because I'm curious about Jonas. But I figure that's enough to warrant 2 stars rather than the 1 I wanted to give it.

Okay, that's all for now. Time to write--or get sucked into the internet and procrastinate a few hours. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Finding your voice

The more you write the better your craft. Everyone knows this. Something else I've found that makes me a better writer is reading other writer's WIP. My very first critique partner and I started at a local critique group on the exact same day. I handed my pages off, arrogant and waiting for the exultant praise for my pages I knew they were due. Um, yeah, no. That was the day I learned all the rules--we all know the rules. Watch your -ly words, don't repeat the same word too many times, show don't tell. I pretty much got my ass handed to me. Fortunately they weren't mean about it, it wasn't malicious. And I needed to hear all of it. Then came my CPs pages. I was immediately jealous. Snarky, witty, and fun, her pages were everything I wanted mine to be. Of course there were problems with them, but they were still good. I went home that night and began working on a new project that had been nagging me for a little while. The whole time I heard my CPs voice in my head. And it helped me find my own.

Cut to two years later and I was working on another round of revisions. Maybe all my positivity about doing another round of revisions was gone. For whatever reason, I lost my voice. I wasn't writing badly, just the magic of the very first version was gone. And I couldn't find it. For months--months--I wrote and rewrote and rewrote. I found a new opportunity to submit to new agents and sent them the beginning of my new version. I liked it, thought it was good, but I knew it could be better. Still, there was some of my old arrogance there. Then one agent responded and told me some of it read like "Sci-Fi parody." Ouch! That hit me where it counted. And it woke me up. I turned off my laptop, pulled out my notebook paper and began to write again. This time, I didn't write my story, I wrote facts about my story. Details about each character, details about the world, details about the enemy. I expanded on them and reminded myself of all the things I fell in love with about my story.

Maybe I needed the hit to my pride for me to find my voice again. Whatever it was, I feel like I found it. I actually woke up today wanting to re-read my pages because I love them so much. That hasn't happened in a long time. I once read--If you don't want to read your pages, why do you think other readers would?