Getting Back to the Beginning

Currently Reading: The Tale of Genji (Volume 1) by Murasaki Shikibu

Current Writing Project: Outlining, Questioning, Back to the Characters of Her Testament to Life

My NaNo 2008 has been causing me endless problems. When I first edited, the manuscript went from 60,000 words to 30,000 words. I never realized how much dribble I put in there until I started cutting it out. West Wing rants, talks about whether Kiwis really like being called Kiwis and if was really just a British attempt at making fun of those from New Zealand. Seriously, some days during that month I just wrote dribble.

It is my goal for that manuscript to see a literary agent before the year ends. 220 days left, according to the newspaper. I know I've mentioned it before, but a young adult novel should be about 65,000 words. And that's where my problem came.

I needed to add 35,000 words that wasn't drabble. I tried thinking of scenes but that wasn't linear and they ended up in a file named "Additions" that just sat and sat.

So I reached out to the friendly people at WriYe. I started asking questions - how do you define a scene? How do you make a proper timeline? Is a timeline a substitution for a plot outline? How in-depth do your character sketches need to be? Is it important to know things like if your Main Character (MC) likes oranges or is it more important to know they can't stand the sound of chewig?

As I got answers I realized that being a pantser (working without an outline) may work for my History Day papers and other school papers but it's not going to work with my novel.

And now, I've got to get back to the beginning. I need to re-examine what I have written, what questions are in my mind when reading it so I can answer them. I need to relearn every little detail about my characters so that when I'm writing about them, it's like they are an extension of myself, not something my mind is making up on the spot. In the end, I think it will make the book more consistant.

Here's to getting back to the beginning, almost like I had never written the novel before.

When you have to add significant wordage and don't know where or what needs to be added, what do you do?

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Feeling Accomplished

Putting things into prospective I realized a few things this week.

There will always be better writers than me.
That does not mean I am a bad writer. -- It just means I have more to learn

I have written a novel. That is more than most can say.
I am proud of my novel. Even if Her Testament to Life never sees the light of a bookstore, I am proud of it.

I may never publish. And somehow, I think I'm okay with that. Because....

I have a huge amount of passion for the writing I do. I put my heart and soul into my writing.

Fan fiction is not a worthless pursuit because it teaches me how to build plot with characters I already know.

Sometimes you have to take a step back from your writing to see what is really important to you.

Writing will always be there - even if Real Life tells you it won't if you can't write x number of words every day.

I can learn and while I may be stubborn, I am willing to learn.

And while the publishing blues may hit me every once in awhile, just knowing I'm a writer who is proud of her own work, is an accomplishment in itself.

Opinions? What makes you feel accomplished?

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What They Neglect to Tell You: YA Authors

As both a Young Adult writer and a high school student, I know what the other, published, authors are talking about. I understand the drama of a first love and the pressures of school work. However, I believe YA authors leave some parts out of their novels.

Finals: The stress of finals is something every high schooler has to deal with, and yet, is rarely mentioned in YA books. Why is that?

Prom: God, someone could write a book just on the prom drama llamas. This is another topic I don't see written about as much.

The cliches of high school: We, as high schoolers, are not trying to be cliched. We're just trying to be the best people we can be under the circumstances. Ask a freshman in my high school what popularity is and they'll say "having lots of friends." By the time they're a senior they'll say popularity is "over-rated."

Honestly, I wish sometimes a YA author would take the time to let their own high school experiences guide them. We still struggle with the same things - for example, my high school is known for its drinking and every year we lose someone to drunk driving (normally around graduation). We still worry about getting into college. And there's still loads of drama.

Two of my favorite authors, Laurie Halse Anderson and Sarah Dessen, focus on the teenage psyche. And they do a wonderful job. But there are parts still missing.

And if someone were to tell me this wasn't good fiction I woud have to remind them, "This is our lives. We're experiencing this drama and stress and life. So don't forget to put it in because you think it doesn't make good fiction." I want to see a teenager I can relate to in a YA book. And when they not only struggle with the aftermath of their rape (Speak or Just Listen for example) but with dates to prom or finals.

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