Thank you Tracee Ford for allowing me to be a part of your Spring Fever Blog Tour! Visit her website. See my interview AND check out some of Tracee’s books!!!
A Funny Thing That Happened
When I Was Writing Panoptemitry
By: Sarah Baethge
A funny thing that happened… well I’m not sure that’s exactly how I should describe it. The one incredible stroke of luck that changed everything was something nearly, let’s say cosmic.
The book got its start little differently than anything else I’d ever written. Just a random stray thought I had turned over in my mind a few times until enough of a story had evolved that I couldn’t resist trying to write some of it out. In fact I got to playing with the idea enough that I played with a little image program on my computer and produced that image up top that I’m now using as a book cover.
I stamped it with my made up word of Panoptemitry. Later I decided my fake word was probably misspelled (if anyone actually polices the spelling of fabricated words), but I liked my stars enough to refrain from trying to redo the picture. I did mean it to be a mix of the words pan- and -optometry so it would mean something like seeing everything.
The story ran its course and like most of the stories I begin trying to write out without putting any thought into some sort of outline, my inspiration dried up and the story petered out after little more than a week. I have heard more than one author warn that erasing what you’ve written is foolish if this happens, and I think my laptop has something ridiculous like 222 gigabytes of memory, so I have a couple of folders set aside for stuff I’m not currently working on.
It’s a good thing I didn’t just erase it because that’s when the ‘funny’, or more like miraculous, thing happened. I suddenly got an email from iWriteReadRate.com telling me that I had won a free MSS-editing report from Cornerstones for a story of up to 100,000 words. The only problem is that they wanted a completed manuscript right away. Looking at my abandoned beginnings of stories, I decided that either ‘Panoptemitry’ or a rework of my semi-failed ‘The Speed of Darkness’ were the only stories that I could realistically finish before the end of the year.
Now both ideas truthfully needed something I hadn’t yet thought of before I could complete them, yet the pressure of needing to have something became an inspirational tool. I suddenly had the idea of my alien, Caytal to carry out actions I couldn’t realistically justify. I put all my effort into trying to just run with my slightly changed plan for the story as the 2012 Camp NaNoWriMo started.
NaNoWriMo is a fun contest in which the contests try to pressure themselves into writing 50,000 words of a complete novel within a month. The summertime ‘Camp’ NaNoWriMo actually has two separate sessions, so I decided to try and use the concept and the support provided from this ‘contest’ to fill out my manuscript of Panoptemitry.
My final product actually only had about 62,000 words and I didn’t finish until around October, but what came of the hurry was really more enjoyable than I was really ready for. I am so glad that I wrote my book in this way because the process of writing just became almost fun.
I have said before that I would refuse to work at completing a story before I had a clear idea of the ending. Although the ending of Panoptemitry wasn’t solid in my mind more than a week before it was glowing back at me from the screen I wouldn’t change a thing about how I wrote it. The story may not be quite what I planned at first, yet I like it so much, I doubt I will try to rework it.
Please join me at Fiction By Phoenix where my guest blog post is shared! Happy writing or if the mood suits… happy reading!!!
“Excuse Me, Your Hair Is On Fire!” (And 3 Other Things You Should Always Be Thinking About When Writing)
Thank you to D.C. McGannon for sharing this awesome post also found on his blog!
Here are three things you should always keep in mind while you are writing.
And, oh by the way…
Your hair is on fire!
1. The Hook.
In the first chapter of every book, there should be a hook. Something that grabs you. Rips you into the world of the pages and doesn’t let go. It can be a quote, a newspaper headline, an action, a statistic, a question. It can be embedded in dialogue or a stand all by itself.
It gives insight into the unfolding conflict. It may be the conflict itself.
It’s what makes you want to read on. It’s the attention-grabber. It leads to the next chapter or scene (especially if you end your chapters with hooks).
It’s what makes you want to listen to your favorite song over and over again. (Don’t you want your readers to read your books over and over again too?)
*Speaking of favorite songs. Let’s break for a fun activity… See if you can recognize these famous song hooks and their artists (answers below):
“Hook me baby one more time!”
“Hook it, just hook it. Hook it, just hook it. Ow!”
“I still haven’t hooked what I’m looking for…”
“Purple hook, purple hook!”
“The hooks, they are a changin’.”
“Shake, rattle, and hook.”
“I’m comfortably hooked.”
“I hooked it through the grapevine!”
I was going to use Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” for this activity, but it just didn’t seem appropriate. Agree?
*OK, Back to our program…
Any book worth its salt employs the hook.
I’m not going to teach you how to write a hook in this post (that will be a post all by itself), but you MUST always be thinking about your hook when writing.
Oh, and do you smell that?! It smells like…
It smells like conflict!
Who wants to read about the guy who has everything going his way all the time, and lives happily ever after. BLAH!!!
Boring. Forget it!
We want conflict, writer. The juice. The fire. The stuff of legend. The stuff that brings the legend to her knees!
Conflict is pain, discomfort, struggle. It’s what your characters must go through, and in the beginning of a book it’s usually pretty bumpy. Bumpy is good. Bumpy is real!
Nobody navigates conflict easily. Nobody! I don’t care if the duck looks like its gliding across the water effortlessly. What you don’t see is that under the water, those little webbed feet are fighting the water at a hundred-miles-an-hour!
Show your readers what is happening under the water!
Conflict sets the story in motion. Whether it’s internal conflict (struggles with morality, desire, belief and so on) or external conflict (man vs. man, nature, society, destiny, etc.), conflict reigns!
We relate to conflict. It’s real. We experience conflict, both good and bad, and so it’s believable. We want to discover how this character is going to respond or react to the conflict, so we tune in.
I believe every strong character suffers the weight of both internal and external conflict. This layered complexity draws us in closely and whispers to our soul.
When you are writing, remember, your hair is on fire! Bring on the conflict!!
3. The Tension (Emotion).
Conflict creates tension.
If conflict raises the question, tension keeps us wondering what the answer is.
Tension (emotion) keeps us engaged until resolution. Just like our characters, we will experience the emotion as well.
Make me laugh. Make me cry. Make me angry. Make me pump my fist. Make me scream. Make me say, “I TOLD you that was going to happen!”
Whether positive or negative, human emotion drives a story. Your readership is addicted to it. And like the hook and the conflict, tension needs to rise from the beginning. Keep your finger on that pulse and keep it tight until you are ready to release it in your resolution.
So, excuse me, your hair is on fire…
Will the fire consume you? Will the fire go out? Do you even feel the heat yet? Is that person standing next to you going to catch fire?
As for writing, I hope your fire burns brightly and keeps getting hotter!
Writing for Adults vs. Writing for Teens
What do Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games all have in common? All of them are book series with mass appeal to both teens and adults. Many adults can find their teens reading adult novels. This often leave writers scratching their heads over the difference between genres. At first glance, one might assume the age of the characters, but an exploration of the adult fiction aisle leaves an array of adult novels that also focus on teens. As a result, many writers frustrate agents by not knowing which genre their novels fit into, and writers wind up frustrated because it’s not selling. Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of getting your novel in the right place!
So what’s the difference, really? How do you know whether to pitch your idea to an agent specializing in YA or adult fiction?
Read in both genres and pay attention to the following elements:
- Age of characters. While adult fiction often utilizes teens as main characters (see The Dovekeepers or Secret Life of Bees), YA fiction does not use adults as the primary character. Adults in YA fiction often serve as foils to the main character and help the main character discover his or her path—for better or for worse.
- Language. Words are usually simpler, sentences less complex in YA fiction. Not as much as it is in juvenile fiction, but it isn’t on the level. Like age, this is not always a sure sign. Popular fiction often does the same thing in a carryover
- Subject matter. While subject matter for YA fiction can be as dark as it is for adults, it is usually not quite as detailed or explicit. When was the last time you read a detailed sex scene in a YA novel? I can remember exactly one, and it was the book that had a huge waiting list at our high school library! Even then, it would probably make fans of erotic fiction laugh.
- Honesty. The voice of the main character is honest and straightforward. She says what she thinks and doesn’t sugarcoat or dance around the issues.
- Pacing. YA novels are quick and to the point. The fast-paced nature of YA novels is often appealing to adults because it makes for a quick, easy read.
- Themes. YA themes often center around coming of age issues: independence, autonomy from parents and friends, choices, and other problems teens must overcome in their quest to be happy, well-adjusted adults.
- Reading level. This isn’t always true, but generally, plot and sentence structure is often a bit simpler than adult novels. Note “simple” is not synonymous with “lazy” or “poor”.
Knowing where your novel fits will greatly help you publish and market it to the right audience. Whether you are publishing yourself or going a traditional route, make sure you have your book classified in the right category to help build sales.
Find Laura at http://www.lauramtalley.com/