Thursday, October 29, 2009

Character Inspiration, Part 4

Are you writing a middle-grade or young adult story with female protagonists dealing with self-esteem issues? For an intriguing source of real girls talking about beauty and self-esteem, look at Dove's campaign for Real Beauty at . The Reality Diaries they posted two years ago were great (gone now, what a shame), featuring compelling video from young adults that was both heartbreaking and inspiring. The current campaign leans towards the younger set. For provoking thought on the beauty and self-esteem subject, watch the videos "Evolution" and "Onslaught"[cp-documentid=7049579]/. "Evolution" TOTALLY makes me think of Scott Westerfield's "Pretties" series. Scary.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Character Inspiration, Part 3

For a truly inspiring young adult character, go here: to see the ever interesting Tavi Gevinson. She's thirteen and she blogs about fashion- even skipping school to go to NYC Fashion Week!!! Someone, please, write a book about a character like her- I wanna read it, and I'm too lazy to write it. How cool is she? If you're thinking she's a Gossip Girl wannabe, think again- she is 100% unique, and not what you expect. For a taste of her unbelievable realness check out her dance video on 10/9/09 to ABBA.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Character Inspiration, Part 2

People of Wal Mart. Looking for a freaky neighbor/crazy science teacher/carny to interact with your character? Look no further. This is no celebration of individual fashion, it's a "satirical social commentary of the extraordinary sights found at America’s favorite store". Random stealth photos taken of patrons of the mass merchandising giant end-up here. Hysterically funny, revolting, horrifying - you can't tear your eyes away. As you might imagine, this site is not for those who are easily offended.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Character Inspiration, Part 1

We all know that reality is the best place to find characters for fiction, but what to do as a writer when you spend most of your day sitting at home glued to a computer? When your only human contact in a day may consist of "do you want fries with that?" and "sign here, please", you can spot your protagonist, villain or other supporting characters in photo blogs on the web. I will post some interesting resources in this next series of posts starting with:

The Sartorialist I am an armchair fashionista - like many a football fan, I partake from the sidelines having neither the physical attributes nor the stamina (or bank account) to actually participate. The Sartorialist, a fashion photo blog meant to "showcase the wonderful and varied sartorial tastes of real people", fills my fashion cravings with photos of real people, gives me vague hopes of fashion redemption, and provides interesting people to turn into characters. Yes, many of the people are young, pretty, thin adults (many make me think of Scott Westerfield's character, Tally). But there are also those who are older, have intriguing faces or are even (gasp!) pleasingly plump. They may not be kids, but with every person I look at, I wonder what they do for a living, why they wear what they wear, and how they would relate to a child. As of August 2009, Scott Schuman (he who IS the blog) had a book published, so you can thumb though and have a copy for your writing reference shelf.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Elana Roth Wrap Up

I frequently say (more like ALWAYS say) that this is a business of opinion. Seems like we as writers often forget this. Do you love every book that has ever been published? Do you read every genre? Of course not, and editors and agents are people like us, and therefore, no different. They have opinions and preferences, likes and dislikes.

This was readily apparent in Elana's "Be An Agent for a Day" presentation. She took twenty real query letters she has received (identifying info. removed), including some from authors whose books she decided to rep and sold and she gave us fifteen minutes (!!) to read them and pick six we would follow-up on. This technique was borrowed from Nathan Bransford by her own admission, and it was an eye-opener.

Once you've read through an agent's eyes for even only fifteen minutes, you get how sometimes arbitrary the selection process is. In our group of twenty some odd participants, we were all over the board in terms of opinion, and were also surprised at what Elana revealed to be letters that caused her to request more samples.

For me, this was both depressing and hopeful. Sometimes a submission may be the sixth or sixteenth or six hundredth "whatever you think makes your story unique" story that the agent has seen, and she's just plain tired of them. Or maybe she's just plain tired- you know how things all seem uninteresting when all you want to do is sleep? Yikes! Yet sometimes, despite the query letter having a high degree of suckiness, some little thing tickles an agent into requesting more info. Woo-hoo!

My point is, this is a subjective business. This may work in your favor or not. Get used to it, get rejection, get over it and try again.

Friday, October 2, 2009

NaNo Hamlet

It's that time of year! National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) will be here in less than 30 days, and any interested writer needs to decide in that time to do or not to do.

A writer friend feels the way that I do-the "years participated" section of a NaNoWriMo profile looks neat and tidy if there is a pattern-consecutive years, every other year, two years on, one year off... Of course, this means I have to do the first or the last, as I have now completed it two years in a row. It's silly, but there it is.

I can't decide.

On one hand, I'm a firm believer in Anne Lamott and Stephen King's "sh#tty first draft" theory of writing, and NaNoWriMo is a great way to unload those burdensome ideas that clog up my brain.

On the other, I don't have a particular story in mind this year-a first. And once I start NaNoWriMo, I must finish it.

Do I face a blank page without any ideas on November 1st, or do I take a year off?