Throw Rocks at Your Characters

July 30, 2010

Fact: I’m going through a stressful time in my life.

I have three of assignments, each one ridiculously large. All of them are due at the same time. I have two exams with in the next few weeks, one of which will stretch across an entire three periods. I have to work out what I’m going to do next year. Study business at university? Or humanities? Where am I going to live? On campus, or at home? I’m getting mountains of information for state-wide tests. I’m getting too much information on the different universities and the courses they have to offer. Will I get a good enough OP? Will I get into the university course I want? What university course do I want?

I’m under a lot of pressure, and I’m beginning to struggle under it all.

I’m not a hero.

The heroes of our books need to be tough. Really tough. Tough enough to take the weight of all the stress. The lack of sleep. The threat of death from the antagonist. The physical exertion. Trying to outwit and defeat the antagonist…

The list goes on.

One writer wrote on their blog that a story was the following:
Put your character in a tree.
Throw rocks at them.
Get them out.

As writers, we need to be mean to our characters. Don’t just throw pebbles at them. Throw big rocks at them. Set the tree alight. Put an enemy in the tree with them.

But the heroes can always find a way to keep the sanity through all the rock throwing, and come out on top when they get out of the tree. That’s what makes them heroes.


Fantasy Book Team

July 26, 2010

The inspiration for today’s post comes from Beth Revis over at Writing It Out. Beth created her fantasy book team, based on a fantasy baseball  team, and asked readers for theirs. I don’t read a lot of fantasy, but here’s mine:

Hero: Jack West Jr., from Matthew Reilly’s The Seven Ancient Wonders
Heroine: Lara Croft (yes, I know she’s a video game character, but this is my blog, so shush)
Sidekick: Eddie Chase, from Andy McDermott’s novels.
Villain: Lord Voldemort, from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter
Setting: Alegaesia, from Christopher Paolini’s world of Eragon
Plot: Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien

Why These Selections?
The purpose of a fantasy baseball team is to win, right? With that in mind, I tried to  choose tough characters, characters who could hold their own in a fight. I chose Jack West Jr because he’s intelligent, and always able to get himself out of tricky situations. I chose Lara Craft because… well, she’s Lara. Not only is she quick, witty, and sexy, she also kicks ass. And she’s handy with a gun or two.

So far, I have pretty tough characters, so I wanted to choose a guy who was funny as well as tough. Eddie Chase sprung to mind. He’s portrayed as a bit of a joker, while still being a fighter. He’ll contrast the other two serious characters.

Next, the villain. I chose Voldemort because of the magic aspect. You can’t expect me to put my hero’s up against anything less, can you? I can’t make it easy for them.

Setting: I wanted to have a beautiful setting, and I always thought of Paolini’s world as just that. Alegaesia is filled with many wonderful creatures, including Elves, Dwarves, and the beastly Urgals.

Finally, I chose Tolkien’s plot of Lord of the Rings, because, seriously: Powerful ring. Epic Journey. Enough said.

Outline:
Lara Croft’s dead father has left her a powerful ring in his will, one that Voldemort wants to  use to increase his power. The will warns Lara to destroy the Ring to avoid this happening. To destroy it, Lara must drop it into Mount Doom, on the far side of Alegaesia.

Lara sets off with her two friends, Jack West Jr and Eddie Chase. They pass through the Beor Mountains, where they are attacked by Urgals and Death Eaters. Jack West Jr falls from a cliff, and appears to die. Lara and Eddie continue on alone, using Dobby the House Elf to guide them to Voldemort’s lair at Mount Doom.

However, they trio learn that Jack Wes Jr is in fact alive, having used his Maghook. He slowly climbs out, and uses a Dragon to catch up to the others. From there, Dobby leads them all to Mount Doom, where, after a massive show down with Urgals, Death Eaters, and Voldemort himself, Lara destroys the ring. A giant dragon returns the trio home to Croft Manor.


That Thing Called Life

July 23, 2010

Ugh.

Here I am, working (slowly, but definitely working) on revising my novel. I’m working quietly, not disturbing anyone. But then, life gets in the way.

Suddenly, I have three assignments. Homework.

And suddenly, work has come to a complete stop on my revising. Which is hard work, by the way. Who said it was easy?

No one? Oh.

I feel that I was mislead into thinking that there would be a “Huh, this revision thing isn’t too bad. It’s actually kind of fun” stage before the “Argh! My writing sucks” stage. But no, I jumped straight into the “Argh! My writing sucks” stage.

Every time I look at my WIP, I cringe. I know my writing gets better somewhere, but it certainly isn’t chapter one. Or chapter two.

Well, back to the assignments. Revision will probably continue on the weekend.


Time to Revise

July 19, 2010

It’s been a whole month since I finished my WIP.

Longest. Month. Ever.

I though 19 July would never arrive. I’ve been itching to get stuck into revisions for what seems an eternity. But, 19 July is finally here, I can’t wait to get started.

I’ve been sick the past few days, and spent all Sunday sleeping. I’m still sick, but not as sick as yesterday, so I’m  staying home today. Perfect to start revising.

You can see my Revision Plan here.


Why People Like Wikipedia

July 15, 2010

Lately, I’ve been puzzling over why people like Wikipedia. What makes it so appealing as a research tool, even when people know any idiot can writing anything in it. Then, I cam to the conclusion:

Using Wikipedia is like eating McDonalds.

Why do people eat McDonalds? They know that McDonalds food isn’t healthy, but people still eat it.
Why do people use Wikipedia? They know that Wikipedia information can’t be guaranteed, but people still use it and quote the information as 100% fact.

So what makes Wikipedia/McDonalds appealing? First of all, the familiarity. No matter where you go, you can be guaranteed the same meal anywhere. McDonalds burgers are the same in Australia, America, and Europe.
All Wikipedia articles are the same. No matter what article you look up, whether it be Alexander the Great, Elephants, or Goldfish, you can expect that all the information will be there, and presented in a familiar format: clean white background, text in a simple font/size, no flashing adverts, and a few pictures. Wikipedia even has sources listed!

Secondly, McDonalds is available worldwide. You can eat McDonalds in France, China, India, Egypt etc.
Wikipedia has articles on everything. Readers and researchers can be virtually reassured there’ll be an article on the topic they need. There’s no need to go scrolling through Google looking for a page on  Topic X, which was referenced in Topic Y.

That pretty much sums up my thoughts on the issue. But, if McDonalds is so unhealthy, why do people eat it? The food is fattening, and if one was to eat it all the times, one would face serious health problems. Surely a salad sandwich is much better for you? But, as I said above, McDonalds the same throughout all the stores, and McDonalds can be found everywhere, and people like that.
Wikipedia is the same. Although the information cannot be guaranteed correct, and any old lies could be written in, people still use it. But, like I said, people like Wikipedia because of the familiarity of the site, and because Wikipedia has an article on everything.

I can’t really think of a conclusion, so I’ll leave you with this:

Did you know that from any page on Wikipedia, you can click on five links to end up on Adolph Hitler?


An Observation

July 11, 2010

What do JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Christopher Paolini and Rick Riordan have in common?

Their books (Harry Potter, Twilight, Eragon, Percy Jackson) became best sellers following the film adaptation of the books.

Who has James Cameron’s number?


The Proposed Revision Plan

July 8, 2010

While I’ve been waiting to begin editing my WIP, I’ve been busy coming up with a plan of action on how to revise, and I’ve listed the plan below:

  1. Initial Read Over: I need to read through the novel, chapter by chapter, and take notes of what needs fixing. Also in this stage, I’ll fix basic formatting problems (basic stuff really, to break myself into revision).
  2. Characters: First of all,  I plan to focus on the characters. In particular, the MC, Lily. I’m not sure about whether or not she could be considered plagiarized as Lara Croft. I’m wondering how it might work if she was an archaeologist. That would mean major cuts, and killing off minor characters.
  3. Plot: Secondly, the plot will need changing to reflect the changes made in characters. I want to increase the length of the novel, a wordcount higher than what I want in the end, so I have words to cut. I think that if my wordcount is already lower than 80K, it’ll be harder to cut.
  4. Rewrite! Now I put my changes to paper. Rewrite the MC, and kill off unneeded characters. Add to the plot. I’d ideally like to boost the wordcount towards the 90K mark – that’ll give me lots of room to cull words. Also, during the rewrites, I’ll make changes according to the notes I took during the rough draft stage (only the changes still applicable).
  5. Read and Repeat: I’ll conduct a second read through, and fix any problems still remaining. I’ll repeat this step until I can’t find any more.
  6. Waiting: After the rewrites, I’m going to let the story rest for a few weeks, maybe up to a month or two.
  7. Beginnings: I’ve known it for a while: My beginning sucks. SUCKS. It’s unexciting, contains too much backstory, and is a poor attempt to drawing the reader in. I’ll work on it during step 3, but really concentrate on nailing it here.
  8. More Waiting: I’ll leave the story to sit for a while, so I can come back with fresh eyes.
  9. More Rewrites: Fix any remaining problems with regards to characters and plot.
  10. Basic Spelling/Grammar Check: I want my spell checks to be done at the very end, because, the way I see it, if I check over the entire thing, then edit more, I’ll have to recheck spelling. But, I want the spelling and grammar receive a basic check before the next step.
  11. Another Read Over/Give to Readers: Now, I want to send copies to Beta Readers (or whatever they’re called) for their opinions, while simultaneously conducting another read over and take notes of my own.
  12. Compare Notes: After getting back notes from the readers, I’ll compare the notes with my own, and identify problem areas.Then, I’ll fix said problem areas with rewrites.

    From 8, I imagine I’ll be letting the story rest for a few weeks, then repeat 7 and 8 until done. Then… I guess I’ll be done with the major problems. Which means…

  13. Prose: Going through each chapter, I’ll fix the prose, and other language related problems here (overused words, modifiers etc…)
  14. Final Read Over: By now, I’m hoping everything will be complete. But, one last read over can’t hurt. Hopefully, I’ll find any remaining issues, and fix.
  15. Spelling and Grammar: Go through each chapter real closely, finding any words spelt incorrectly.
  16. Give out Family/Friend Copies: Let non-writers give read through, and give me their opinions. I’ll look at their feedback, and fix any problems present.

After family, friends, and the stranger off the street give me their opinions, and the problems are dealt with… I think I’ll be done!

Tell me: What are your thoughts on my revision plan? What do you think will work, and what wont work? What would you do differently?