Monday, May 14, 2012

Donut Pirates and Repetive Words

  At this very moment I am procrastinating editing Manipulated. The reason I stopped was this... 

  Repetitive words and actions. 

  How many freaking times do I have to say that Kya gulped, or that her eyes are blue green, or that she shakes her head a lot, or that she sighed.

  Blah, just BLAH!

  These are the very things that get on my nerves in books, and I am a hypocrite because I do the same thing. But seriously, what am I thinking when I type out the words, My blue green eyes peered around the corner

  Sheesh! I already know that your eyes are blue green, Kya! Don't tell me again! 

  See! This is what happens when I get frustrated, I yell at the characters in my head, even though it's not their faults I make them think those words, I was the one who wrote them down.

  So, as you can tell this blog post is about refraining from using repetitive descriptions/ words.

  We must face the truth. First drafts are messy, they always will be (unless you edited while crazy when you were writing, which I don't suggest because that is another story for another day.) In those first drafts there will be crap, and then you write the second draft which I dedicate to plot and character structure, (which I just finished by the way) And, maybe by then you can start doing the third draft which I call the magical-turn-crap-writing-into-beautiful-sparkly-like-Edward, draft.

  But alas, the third draft is usually working on things like the above, repetitive words and descriptions. In some parts of the book my MC is tired, or sad, or happy. But, I don't have to write about the physical reactions she has every single moment because she's feeling those emotions. 

  "I gulped and let out a sigh, seating myself on the bed. My blue green eyes traced the side of of Jet's hands, cold and unmoving." - Excerpt from first draft. 

   I hope you can all see that this line is not going to make the cut. Do I care that she sighed, do I care that she gulped, do I give a crap that her eyes are blue green (I cannot stress that enough, I don't care!) 

  One of the things that is extremely important it to make sure the reader will care about what the sentence has to say. As an example I am going to post a Julian Smith video (and if you don't know who Julian Smith is, shame on you!) It's mostly just an excuse to post a hilarious video, but it does help. A lot of the video doesn't really have anything to do with writing, but feel free to laugh anyways, I'll explain the significance when your done watching.  
  Oh so hilarious! Anyways...

  Near the end of the video the little boy screams out "I do-nut care!" (yes he said donut.) Readers will feel like this, when we write repetitive words and phrases down. Nobody cares that your MC has raven hair if you've already made it clear, nobody cares that she sighs every single time they sit down, nobody cares how hot the summer sun was if you've already mentioned it fifty-bagillion times. And just like Jeffrey, you will be dumped in to the sea and eaten by the sarks (yes sarks) if you don't learn to stop it!

  How do we resist these types of words/ phrases, though?

  In the first draft... we don't. At least I don't. Usually in my first draft I just let myself write what I write, whatever comes out. It's the editing that this comes in to play. 

  Take a look at your writing. Make sure everything you've written the reader will care about, or needs to know. Take the example from above. I can edit that to say "I seated myself on the bed while my eyes traced the side of Jet's hands, cold and unmoving. " In that sentence, we only know what we need to know. That Kya is eyeing Jet's hand and that she's sitting on the bed. 

  That doesn't mean though that you can't mention if your character did something that may seem useless. If your character is sad, it's all right to mention that she/he sighed, or if their aggravated they rolled their eyes. Just don't mention it repeatedly, once you've already set up something there's no need to say it over and over again. Use things like that in moderation. Like desserts!

  So, even if you feel the need to mention how your character ran his/her fingers through their hair ten million times in a single chapter, resist the urge! Because then your readers will not care, and for lack of anything better to do, they will gorge on donuts made by pirates on a house boat, and the pirates will then turn on them and throw them in to the sea to be eaten by sharks. And it's all your fault that all of your readers died a horrible and tragic death!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Show, Don't Tell, like icarly and Harry Potter!

  Showing and not telling. 

 This, is something extremely vital that most first time writers don't get until their halfway done through a novel thinking to themselves, this is so good, I'm amazing at writing. Not that I'm... you know... guilty of this or anything *laughs shakily*

  But, what exactly is showing and not telling? 

  Well, we can learn what it is from the show icarly. "It's like T.V in your head!"-Sam Pucket. 

  In that one episode Sam was reading a book, and if you don't watch the show, she is not the type to read. She comments on how new reading is to her and how it's like a T.V in your head.

  You know what made her say that? Showing and not telling. 

  Here's a good explanation to what I'm trying to say. I assume we all have seen all of the Harry Potter movies. If you haven't... then you've been missing out on pure life for the past like, 13 year is it? Something like that. Anyways... In the Chamber of Secrets, there's a part where Voldemort's younger version of himself, Tom Riddle, writes to Harry through his magical journal. He decides that instead of just telling Harry about the Chamber of Secrets, he can show him through dragging him in to memory, and reliving it with Harry watching. Wouldn't it have been boring if in the end Tom Riddle decided to write this lengthy paragraph just telling us about how moaning myrtle had been killed and blah blah blah, *flips pages* talking to Dumbledore... something about Hagrid and a spider... Snore! You would lose readers.

  As writers, our goal is to make the reader feel like their there with you. That their in the moment of the scene. You want them to have a movie playing in their head. When you read a book, you don't want to have to exert any effort. Reading should be effortless, just like watching T.V, and you make it effortless by capturing their attention and making them feel like their actually there. 

  The basic concept of showing is describing how something feels, or how something happened, without really saying exactly what happened. 

  Ex: Telling;I was sad, so I cried.
        Showing: My hands shook and I could feel my eyes brimming with tears.

  Which sounds more appealing?

   Here's a great example of the terrors of telling instead of showing. In our English class we had to read a book that I will not name here, because I don't want to seem offensive, but let's just say this book was extremely guilty of showing and not telling. I'm not joking when I say one of the lines was, "I fell, it hurt real bad." 

  Um... no. That's just not how it works. When you fall, yeah it hurts, but the things running through your mind aren't I hurt. You feel the pain. A scrape in your shoulder that stings. A pounding in your head. A shout of pain ringing from your throat.

  Remember, you want your readers to see themselves falling, hitting the ground, sucking in a breath of pain , thumping their head against a rock, or catching their foot on a tree branch and tumbling to the ground. Instead of saying, "I fell," saying something along the lines of "The air was rushed past me and I could suddenly feel the dirt smearing on to my skin and the sharp pains etching their way on to my body," would sound better.
   Don't just feed your readers words. It makes them look bad, like their not smart enough to figure out that someone just fell and it hurt when they can clearly see that dirt smeared them, and pain was involved. 

  Show don't tell. 

 Be like Tom Riddle, dragging Harry in to his past and showing him instead of just telling him about the Chamber of Secrets. That's where things that start getting interesting.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls and Discourage

  I haven't blogged in forever... 

  But that changes today! 

  So, as you may see from the title above, this update is about Cinnamon Rolls!... and discourage *sigh* Cinnamon rolls bring me a lot of joy, actually there are some in the oven right now, but there is a reason why I am making cinnamon rolls. 

  I was discouraged. 

  As a writer, it is healthy to be discouraged from time to time. We are human, it's just in our nature. There are days I'm left staring at the screen with a blank look on my face thinking, I am such a terrible writer, why am I even doing this? Who'll read this junk anyway? It's these days that I get discouraged. When I can pin point everything that's flawed in my writing, and then get overwhelmed by the immense amount of work there's really left to do.

  In order to not obsess over the work, the only healthy thing to do is take a break. 

  Walk around, go running, drink some water, don't just sit there and start developing author-itise (a disease I made up in which authors spend too much time on their work, or too little and say their working but really going on facebook)

  And so that is why cinnamon rolls are in my oven. I took a break, something we all need to do if things get overwhelming. 

  Breath in and out, close your laptop, and take a break, because I can assure you, in a few minutes, hours, or days, you'll be itching to get back to work, and as a plus, you can reward yourself with some delicious cinnamon rolls!