February: It’s Been Crazy

In fact, it’s been so crazy that I don’t even have time to make an image for this post. It shall go image-less. Unfortunately I don’t have time to bestow any grand nuggets of wisdom on you today, but because I would like to keep up with this blog, you’re going to get an update on my life. Plus it’s the last February post, so I have to do something. You’re welcome.

So what have I been up to that’s kept me from posting? Well. Let me tell you. A research paper on the motivations of one Marcus Brutus; a Spanish presentation I forgot about until my partner so kindly reminded me; a Chinese character quiz; ordinary Linguistics homework; and the occasional Writing for Social Change reading that I keep forgetting to do.

Most of these trials are based on my own lack of planning but shh, no one needs to know that.

This week I’ve done a lot of thinking about Julius Caesar, for one, but also a lot about racism. (What?! Faith! We weren’t going to get deep in this blog post!) I’m sorry, okay! It’s just that my school had an awesome English symposium based on the history and present reality of race relations, and boy, were some of the speakers good. Especially Mark Charles and Dr. Kelly Brown Douglass. Look them up sometime.

And being the writer I am, I had to think about race relations in novels. Obviously every novel isn’t about race. In fact, the genre where it tends to pop up most is fantasy, because we have elves and dwarves and the like. Now I’m wondering, would enhanced awareness of race relations help write these stories? Is fantasy an appropriate place to work out these issues? Is it easier in a fictional setting? Harder? As part of the majority in my country (I am very white, no doubt about it), I feel that those of us who are considered the “norm” forget about the impact centuries of socialization has had on the world. Could THAT viewpoint be worked out in fantasy?

And look, I’ve hit on a controversial topic without even trying. Go brain. A more in-depth blog post is probably forthcoming. However, I have a test on Friday and a research paper due the Wednesday after, so you may not get another post until next Monday. (I’m sure you’ll make it through fine, tears of sorrow notwithstanding.)

So if you’re still with me, I have a quick question. What do you think about more blog posts about my daily life? Would you be cool with those? Should I give my “Life” posts a separate page, or just sprinkle ’em in with the writing posts?

Thanks for stopping by. Stay crazy, friends. 🙂

The Real Reason I Write

I was going to do another post about characterization and all those things we writers like to go on about, but I did homework instead. And through a strange chain of events, I got another idea for this post.

Event 1: I realized my English professor had graded the prospectus I wrote for my research paper.

Event 2: It was an awesome grade, with some really encouraging feedback.

Event 3: I was flooded with joy, sunshine, and flowers, and dashed down the hall to the water fountain for the sheer pleasure of sprinting 30 feet (I’m sure this is normal college behavior).

Event 4: The emotional release reminded me of last time I worked on something fictional.

Event 5: I decided to write this blog post to explain the correlation between Event 3 and Event 4.

For the last year, I’ve been busy. Really busy. College busy. Because I’m in college. And on the rare occasions I got to work on my fiction, I felt stilted and uninspired. Yes, I had a good NaNo season, but that story fizzled out during editing. (Not saying I won’t come back to it. Fingers crossed.) For a while I focused so much on plot, characterization, and all that good stuff, that I fell into the bottomless pit of perfectionistic procrastination, waving my arms in helpless terror reminiscent of the demise of Darth Maul.

Needless to say, I stopped writing for a bit and focused on my research paper. It’s looking to be a ten page paper on the motivations of Brutus from Julius Caesar, and I was sifting through pages and pages of scholarly journals. Honestly, Plutarch and Shakespeare are easier than some of those academic papers. It ate up all my time, and I nearly blew a blood vessel trying to get enough read and annotated before the prospectus deadline. (If you’re not an English major, please don’t run away. We’re not always this scary.)

One night I had it. I knew I ought to read some more articles and do another annotation — actually, I needed to write two annotations to stay on track — but I couldn’t. I’d had it. I needed to get away.

Drowning in rules and regulations, I shut off my project and turned back to fiction.

Uh…Faith. Didn’t you just say your fiction was full of rules and regulations?

So glad you asked. I didn’t work on that project. Instead of that, I worked on a high fantasy idea I’d recently thought of.

Um…isn’t creating a new project just going to aggravate the problem?

SHH! I’m an ENFP! Brainstorming and ideas are kinda my thing. And besides, I wasn’t focusing on rules and regulations. I was simply making up ideas I liked. Designing a culture. Coming up with a character. Possibly planning death and despair for millions of fictional minds. (That part may or may not have been influenced by Julius Caesar…just saying.)

I needed to get away, and that’s what I did. For an hour or so, I played in my mind, doing what I wanted, throwing rules and regulations to the wind.

When I think back on my writing life, the times I’ve written best were when I worried least about my project. As a kid, that came naturally. Kids don’t worry about these sorts of things. But as I’ve grown up, I’ve needed real-world stress to bring me to that point of not caring about anything except the world inside my mind. No three-act structure. No elaborate character arcs. Just me and my imagination.

Rules and structure are fine — essential, really — but there comes a time when it’s best to let it go. (Please don’t start singing.) Just write. Get away from the world for a while. Do what you want, how you want. The real world isn’t that accommodating, but your mental playhouse can be.

Then, of course, you can edit it, and I’ll beta it. If you want. Just saying. Contact info’s up there.* (Coughs nervously.)

Thanks for reading, guys. Stay crazy.

*Actually I’m really busy right now, but I’m assuming it’ll take you at least a year to write a novel based on my excellent advice, so…planning ahead, right??

 

Power Couples

So I’ve been keeping a list of tropes I like in fiction, so I can figure out what sort of book I might like to write. (I may or may not be having a writing crisis. Carry on.) Anyway, here’s a sample of my likings.

  • Awesome, meaningful death scenes
  • Life-ruining secrets
  • Amnesia
  • Power couples

What are power couples? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Given the above list, it shouldn’t surprise any of you that my writing isn’t exactly, um…fluffy. So if my definition of power couples is a bit disturbing, I’m sure you’ll understand. (Probably. Hopefully. Right?)

Okay. So a Power Couple is a romantic pairing that…

  1. Has equal power dynamics (surprisingly rare, actually)
  2. Has amazing chemistry (prerequisite to romance, really)
  3. Always has the other’s back (nice, right?)
  4. Kicks amazing butt together (this is really everyone’s fav, I think)
  5. Is usually evil.

Alright, fine. FINE. The “usually evil” part is my preference. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps I like to explore my dark side? There are nice, law-abiding Power Couples out there, but let’s start with my fan favorite, shall we?

Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett.

These two are my fav. Not an OTP, really, because they do deserve to crash and burn. But they’re still my fav. And let’s discuss equal power dynamics, shall we? This is 19th century London. Women can’t do squat. Unless they’re motivating a sociopathic barber to take revenge on an evil judge, of course. Mrs. Lovett does at least as much for this plot as Sweeney does, and if it hadn’t been for her, he would never have gone back to barbering in the first place.

sweeney-todd
Nothing says love like making people into pies, right?    Photo not mine.

And besides, what’s not to love about a pair of cannibals who constantly make puns about their victims? They bounce off each other and THE MUSIC IS AMAZING and I’m fangirling now.

Pro tip: When designing cannibals, include music.

Speaking of the Dark Side, let’s talk about a few evil couples that didn’t make the list. Joker and Harley Quinn are one. Although both of these characters are awesome, I think it’s pretty clear that Harley is nowhere near as in control of the relationship as Joker is. Maybe Suicide Squad changed this; I don’t know. I didn’t watch it.

Another diabolical duo that doesn’t make the list is (drumroll)…Anakin and Padme. And why does it fail? (Is that a question?) IT’S NOT ACTUALLY DIABOLICAL. Yes. I would like it better if Padme were evil. And here’s why.

Reason One. People constantly blame Padme for Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side, and I’m tired of it, okay? It wasn’t her fault! He did everything Dark-Side about this! The only thing she did was stick around when she should have left! So it would give me great pleasure if she actually had taken an active role in this Dark Side.

Reason Two. I like Padme’s character. I would have liked to see her do more (especially in Episode III) even if it were evil.

Reason Three. I want more morally grey Dark Side users. I want Sith Lords who can banter wittily together and maybe realize it’d be a good idea to have more than two of them alive at a time. I WANT A DARK SIDE REVOLUTION! But that’s a post for another day.

hahadarthpadmekids.jpg
I kind of just want this to happen. Drawing not mine.

But Padme’s lack of involvement brings up a good point. Perhaps the most important element of Power Couples is that both members are equally important to the flow of the story. It’s not enough for them both to be necessary to the plot. They both have to be protagonists, in a way. One of them might have a bit of an edge — Sweeney Todd is named after the titular character, after all — but in the end, they both have to have gone on a transformative journey, for better or for worse.

Take, for example, Tony Stark and Pepper Potts. I love this couple. Pepper is amazing. Personality wise, she’s just as strong as Tony. But there’s no doubt that Tony is the star of the show. He has all the powers, all the cool gadgets, all the attention…heck, the movies are even called Iron Man! Pepper Potts, awesome as she is, is really just a side character.

So what’s an example of a morally good Power Couple? Well, here’s my favorite…Mr. and Mrs. Incredible! Again, the story line tilts toward Mr. Incredible’s journey, but Elastigirl’s struggles are just as important. And you had better watch out if you get both of these supers teamed up against you.

incredibles
Forget Power Couples…we need more Power Families! Pixar outdid itself on this one.

I’d really appreciate it if y’all would let me know your favorite Power Couples in the comments. Did I miss anyone? Are any of you currently writing a Power Couple, good or bad?

Stay crazy, guys. I’ll see you on Monday.

Freestyle Writing Challenge

On Friday, Victoria Grace Howell posted the Freestyle Writing Challenge, and although I wasn’t tagged in it (boo! Just kidding), it was too awesome to pass up. So I am taking the liberty of considering myself tagged by default, and sharing this wonderful challenge with you.

What happens is this: I will give you a prompt. The second you see the prompt, set a timer for five or ten minutes (whichever you prefer) and write without stopping or editing until the time runs out. Then, copy and paste your response into your own blog post — without editing —  and include your word count.

Your prompt is at the bottom of this post, but WAIT! Don’t go there yet! Let me show you mine first. (So you can see how it’s done, obviously.)

Victoria’s Prompt: Moonlight.

My response:

Moonlight. Shimmering on the surface of the ocean, breaking into pieces as the waves hit the shore. I stand on the stone wall, fifty feet above the sand, and look down. Crashing. Crashing. The moon drifts behind the clouds – or do the clouds drift in front? I don’t know. Does it matter? Crashing, crashing, crashing…

The light reflecting off the waves is white. Pure white, unlike the heavy foam clogged with sand and shells. It glares into my eyes, almost painful. Searing, but unlike the sun. Like a ghost charged with murder. Crashing, waving, shimmering, dancing, killing, slaughtering, shattering. I shiver in the breeze and inhale the salt air. The sand wavers beneath my feet, beneath the wall fifty feet high.

I look up. The stars are out, interspersed between the clouds, twinkling at me. There could be little moons up there. Perhaps every star is a moon, reflecting the light of each other. I shake my head. That’s idiotic. No amount of light could ever reach all the way to each star, then get all the way back to me. And even if it were, stars and moons aren’t like mirrors, playing tricks on the eyes like a stage show. A cloud drifts in front of the moon and the stars shine brighter. The wind bites my nose, freezing. The moonlight reflects off the ocean like ice.

What else do I do while I stand here, looking down, clutching my nightgown around me? The sand whispers along the shore. I whisper back. Far down, at the bottom of the wall, is a small gate to let in the waters at high tide. Now, the moon casts shadows and eliminates it.

281 words in 5 minutes.

There you go! Make sure you don’t go back to edit as you do this…as Victoria says, it’s “only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow.”

I tag…

  1. Grace @ Writerly
  2. Miranda @ Dreams and Dandelions
  3. Nate @ You Write Fiction
  4. Maggie @ Maggie’s Musings
  5. Hannah @ Hannah Heath

Ready? Here comes your prompt…get your timer ready…

5…

4…

3…

2…

3…

(Psyched you there, didn’t I?)

2…

1…

Laughter

Too /insert/ To Write

Well, here it is…my very first blog post. We’ll jump right into the deep end.

Am I too young to be a really good writer?

Really good. Adj. Technical term. Of a story that leaves you so dang moved that you feel your life might darn well never be the same.

There’s an alternate definition of really good that means “has a dang awesome plot and is as exciting as spelunking in a volcano.” If that’s your definition, then no, I don’t think you can be too anything to write really good stories. You need skill and practice, yes, but anyone can master that.

But if we’re going with my definition…can you be too young? Or too old? Or too biased? Or — ooh, here’s a good one — too privileged?

The answer is…I’m not sure. To write a really good story, you have to know something about the world. Truth moves us, and the more raw truth a novel has, the more really good it is. (Really gooder? Realier good?) The problem is, that truth is hard to come by. Especially if you’re young or lead a fairly sheltered life. (Spoiler: I am both.) Logically, then, the best authors should have lived a rough life and have a considerable amount of years to their name, right?

However, there’s a second component to writing those really good-un’s, and that’s connection. You can have all the truth nuggets in the world, but if you aren’t connected with real people, you’re not going to move anyone. This is where being too old could be an issue. There are a million articles out there to help adults write teenage characters, because apparently once you grow up, you forget what that’s like. (I don’t blame them. I can hardly remember what being seventeen was like and that was just last year.) Then again, if you’re too young, you haven’t had time to make those connections. So where does the balance lie?

When it comes down to it, I think the only solution is to write as honestly as we know how. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. And don’t be afraid to talk to people. (Cue introvert screaming.) Really, don’t. I always assume people will be offended if I ask them about their lives — particularly if theirs are very different from mine — but then again, when someone asks about my life, I can’t shut up.

There’s my first blog post! From the very depths of my soul. (Alright, fine…we’re sort of in the shallow end. I have to get to know y’all first.) Write what you know. Write what you don’t. Write the questions that tear you to pieces at night.

Write your heart out, my friends. I’ll see you on Monday.

If you liked this you might like…

Why Writers Should Ask Real Questions on WriteForTheKing

This is not my post, but it inspired me. Go, and be inspired.