"Plot Surgery"

A favorite tweet of mine came across my screen today: "I'll be in plot surgery all afternoon."

It was an interesting comment which made me think of my own novel.

My NaNoWriMo 2008 novel has turned into a dragging project I never thought it would be. I never understood how much junk I wrote during a WriMo until I was editing that baby. I went from 65,000 words to a litte less than 30,000. A marketable novel for Young Adult, I've been told, is about 80,000.

So I knew I needed to add more to my novel. I started a new Open Office file called "Additions" and just started writing scenes, figuring I'd add them in later. Now, I'm realizing that isn't going to work. I am never going to get the extra 50K I need by doing that.

Therefore, I know I need to take the Twitter author's suggestion - have plot surgery. Realize where the gaping holes are and stitch them closed. Maybe then the vital organs will survive.

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Books, Books, Books!

The book postings for my Intro to Creative Writing class are up. I've got to buy four books ranging in price from $10.00 to $35.75 in addition to the other books my other professors haven't announced.

Regardless of the fact I'm going to have to pay quite a pretty penny for my books to be without highlighting, I'm so excited.

I love textbooks that interest me. So sorry Mr. Newmeister, that doesn't mean I voluntarily read that Biology textbook.

And part of my obsession (healthy? I have no clue) with books is that I can't mark them up. I feel like I'm damaging something sacred. Even when I really needed to highlight things for my cultural anthropology class two years ago, I had issues. It didn't matter I wasn't going to keep the book. I thought that I was defacing a book.

So now, as a to-be college freshman I wonder - how does one get over this? Can you actually get over this feeling or do you just have to feel everytime you put the pen (or highlighter) to paper that you are damaging something precious, almost like a little soul?

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The Drama Llamas in YA

It is prom season in the high school world. While the girls have had their dresses for months, suddenly it's a mad dash to get shoes, accessories, figure out how to do their hair and what color to paint both nails and toenails. And if we females weren't obsessed enough with appearance, there's the date aspect. It's enough to drive someone mad.

For all writers of YA who aren't a young adult themselves, take a look at prom. Ask a senior girl about prom planning and you could get half an hour on what she thinks, is feeling and is worried about. Prom introduces a whole new set of drama llamas into the household. For the girl seniors, this is the event they'll probably remember for the rest of their life (or want to forget) and they want everything to be perfect. Prom comes with the sudden realization that graduation is only three weeks away and then it's off into the real world (or something slightly like it - college).

It's a scary, fun and emotion-filled time.

So next time a YA author wants to make their novel realistic, talk to a girl about senior prom. Take those bouncing, struggling emotions. Take those drama llamas and drag them home to live with you while you write the novel.

Both the girl and the novel readers will appreciate you.

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Soccer As It Applies to Writing

Sitting, freezing with a dead camera battery at a varsity soccer match tonight, I realized a few things about writing that also pertain to soccer (at least at my high school).

* The Crowds
While soccer is a popular sport to play at the high school level, it is not well-attended. At the soccer game I went to, it was all parents or siblings. Unlike football where people will weather 20 degree weather and sleet, nobody shows up for the bad weather during soccer season.
In the same way, writing can be a very lonely profession. Many people don't "get" writing or why you would want to make a career out of it. And when those sleeting days come, it gets even harder. Ever met someone who told you to just "write" when you had writer's block? Ever want to hit them over the head? (They may have a point but that's a different point for a different post.) Writing is spent not in collaboration but in the room with a locked door without anyone - including the cat or dog depending on your level of distraction tolerance.

* The Rules
Just when you think who the call was for in soccer, the ref changes it. Of course, the parents get outraged and the players want to talk back to the refs. There's lots of internal and external yelling.
The publishing world is like that. You think you know all the rules and they go and change them. Two spaces after a period? One? Courier or Times New Roman? E-query or SASE? And that isn't even getting into tenses, point of view or the nitty gritty writing aspects.

* The Exhaustion
High school soccer is two forty minute halves, FIFA World Cup is 60 minute halves. And soccer has very few substitutions leaving the players dead after a game. It's a game of endurance, to say the least.
Writing requires just as much endurance - if not more. But it's a different kind of endurance. You have to have the ability to get through a novel, a short story, a poem - to see it through until the end where it's either a well-edited piece for yourself or a published piece in some form. You have to be able to know that there can be times when you get ahead of yourself and then promptly run out of steam because of overwriting. Like any endurance athlete learns, you have to pace yourself.

* The Yellow (or Red) Cards
A yellow card is kind of like a warning for players. Two yellow cards and they're out. One red card and they're definitely out.
Writing has its own yellow and red cards. Maybe they come in the form of someone trusted saying a piece is unressurectable and you don't listen, ignoring their advice. That's a yellow card. The biggest offense for writers, at least in my opinion? There's two.
1) Sending queries that are badly written or sent to an inappropriate place (or both *cringe).
2) Not staying true to what your writing style is - while always knowing you can improve.

So maybe come this June when the FIFA World Cup comes on in South Africa, you'll see more than just soccer. Maybe you'll see your own little writing world.

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Every so often I will go through my bookshelf to see what books would be better served at the library or the Book Rack. I love my books but sometimes I realize I don't need as many.

I started with two large oak bookcases full (5th grade) and now I am down to one row. Yes, that's right. One row not including my journals or writing help books.

About 3/4 of that row is taken up by both the Harry Potter and Laura Ingalls Wilder collections that I refuse to get rid of. The others are a (tiny) mixture of Sarah Dessen, Laurie Halse Anderson, Ann Rinaldi and a few others.

As a writer, I should, according to popular belief, hoard books. Love them, adore them, do nothing short of build an altar for them.

And yet, it is very therapeutic to only have maybe 20 books. Especially since I can't take all my books to college. Plus, having less books makes me truly examine why I like certain book and why they are my favorites - always something I believe a writer should do.

So what else is on my bookshelf?

On the top, top are two pillows I made, a stuffed lamb animal from my grandmother's preschool days (when she taught, and my American Girl doll.

The next two rows are cards from friends and family, reminding me I'm loved.

Then comes a row of books.

Then comes my CDs, writing books and journals.

On the bottom floor are my portfolio or reference binders and some index cards.

Regardless, I don't think the bookshelf is the important part - it's the knowledge imparted by the books.

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