Sunday, January 29, 2017

This is What I Was Hoping For!

Hello, my beauties!

Long time no chat! If you follow me on Twitter, you know how many road blocks I've encountered in writing these last few days. I mean, seriously, I haven't updated because I haven't been able to figure out what's wrong.

Part of my on-the-fly plan was to cycle Practice Makes Perfect: Query, Pitch, Action to pitch again. As part of the editing process, cycling makes sense. Go back, edit the bitch, strengthen the actual first pitch.

But as I drafted my pitch side by side with the examples of what was supposed to be #5 in the series, I realized that though I'd defined my story as urban fantasy, it wasn't reading that way. It wasn't translating or summarizing like anything other than horror.

The story is not horror. It has elements of horror.

After flinging papers


And watching Bubzvlogz to cope

And stressing


From my Instagram, about the same day.

And avoiding the issue


My teen years all over again.

I finally realized it wasn't about what I thought it should be or what I wanted to write. As a native pantser, I know that's never in my hands.

The first time Vannette showed up on my writing doorstep, she was the survivor of a car accident but had inherited a fatal heart condition. This closeness to death made it possible for her to see and communicate with Dalton, a boy long dead and long forgotten.

The whole point of the short story was being afraid of death and an active decision to live.

I wanted to expand because I was in a rut with another story but I lost interest when there was no action, death, or adrenaline. I mean, okay, there was death but not the kind I like.


Did I mention how I am not a serial killer?
Long story short, I added a second friend to the ones V inherited.

But I was also tired of ready-to-fight, smart heroines. You see where this is going.

Vannette is the most frustrating heroine to work with when you love action and violence.

One hundred thousand words for the first drafted. Abandoned. It was going well, But I didn't know how to finish it.


The ditzy/shallow girl, the stoner, the jog, and the smartie/virgin.

You see, in horror movies, the ones with the cast of friends and a force out to kill, most die. Not fun for me.

I HATE slashers.


Kill all the teens. I don't care.

So I couldn't have this.

So what is the difference between stories?

Little changed in the next drafts of the first stories. But Book II? III? XV? Easy peasy.

Book II, my favorite, has not changed throughout the years. Two reasons. First: the horrible emotional fallout of Book I.



Second: Vannette.

In the first book, V is, no surprise, cowardly. She doesn't change that until the last sentence.



Bad idea.

My big plan is to change her attitude slightly to fix my problem with her. Cowardly, of course she can be, but something to change her tune. Everyone has their limits, right? I made it so she was scared around everyone except people much younger than her.



Vannette has purpose now. She has a future goal—childcare. This matches her backstory too!

But oh boy. You cannot copy and paste a new personality into an old story. Much less an already standing series.

Yeah. I know. This doesn't sound like a step forward.

I set up the Practice Makes Perfect series to make sense of that first 100k that had flow and genuine emotions. (I was a teen when I wrote it so it sounds authentic to me.)

But as you've read, I ran into the same problem.

I was making preparations. I was going to lay this story to rest. I'd been super excited to add on to the series this last November. So excited I wrote the skeleton of 50k in a week.


More stress.

Until I picked up REBEL BELLE. The story involves, from what I gather, the protagonist, a teen girl, getting magical powers to protect a boy.

SOLD. SOLD. SOLD.

I have been reading really slow. Between work, life, and politics, my brain has been fuzz, but I've learned a few things. About what I like and don't like about writing fight scenes. Stereotypes I want dead. 2D characters.

But I got a familiar tickle in my insides. Once upon a time, Vannette was the kick ass, violent super guardian of a boy too.

It's a reoccurring theme in my favorite shows, movies, books, stories.

So what's wrong with Vannette?

Why can't she love herself enough to make the story about survival? (I mean because otherwise she'd be too lazy or cowardly or frozen to act alone.)

It's just that I've never really been into survival themed stories. Except THE HUNGER GAMES.

Katniss is in a death match with 23 other people. It's got violence. (BONUS for me.) But there's something else at stake other than whether Katniss lives or dies. We all die, don't we?



And fear that the death match will be too close to call is a real nail-biter. These elements are so basic but so easy to mess up. At least for me.

You know, usually, by the seat of my pants I can make someone uncomfortable in a plot. In a good way, I think. Rock and a Hard Place type thing.

But that's what the worksheets and books are for.

I can slink more personality into the 100k draft this way. Slowly but surely.

Now after realizing that Vannette has no mission, no boy to save in the first book, I can also treat the story for Runaway Plot Syndrome.

It'll take a lot of TLC. Probably a lot of time. And of course many drafts but at least the story can end. Whether the mission is successful or a failure.

--
I'm going to refresh my memory with the Hero's Journey. I will see you guys soon for the PMP: QPA #5 post.

Stay strong, loves. Donate to the causes that are close to your heart.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Foreshadow and Endings

Happy Wednesday!

I spent yesterday morning being a zombie in front of Netflix. By the way, if you like foreign horror, watch Under the Shadow.

After watching a good horror movie, I was searching for Rebel Without a Cause. My coworker worships the movie and told me to watch.

Alas Netflix is not streaming it.

I don't know how to watch normal TV anyway.

But Netflix is streaming Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Rebellion. Can you guess how I found the movie?

If you've ever loved magical girls, don't watch any of this series. I live, breathe horror. This cracked me like an egg.

Madoka Magica is basically the standard magical girl thing. Girls with superpowers only they are not Chosen Ones. They make deals with an adorable ferret-cat thing to gain powers and have one wish granted.

Cute, right?

Don't be fooled. PMMM is what lost souls dream of. Me being me, however, I decide a few years is enough time to heal wounds from the original series.

So I embark on the last adventure.


Lucky me. It wasn't horrible because of the horror, but because of the ending.

Foreshadow is a tremendous writer super power.

If you're any good at it, it'll be as if it's not even there. Or if you like suspense and torture, it can build tension and fear.

However, a foreshadow is not optional.

Bitch dear...sweetie. Gifs are hard to find, okay?
I'm sorry.

For example, Rebellion.

Major spoilers ahead!

PMMM is, as I've said, about teen girls who sign a contract for a free wish and magical powers. Their duty is to stop "witches" from causing damage to their city.

This f#cking thing is a witch.

But the story's pretty simple and clean cut and despite the appearance of the witches and the scary music box melodies that accompany them, it's not all that scary or traumatic.

Until you find out the mascot, that ferret thing, is an emotionless immortal alien who is actually harvesting the magical girls' emotions and eventually pushing them to despair where their souls break down into witches.

Yeah, harvest is about right. It has absolutely no care about human lives or feelings. It is chilling and relentlessly illogical.

One of the girls from the protagonist's team is a time traveler is bent on saving the title character Madoka from choosing this life.

Presumably because she's in love with her.

But Homura the time traveller fails an innumerable amount of times and starts losing hope.

Long story short, her time traveling gives Madoka a karmic collateral to have an insane wish granted by the aliens. She chose to be the goddess of hope, saving magical girls from the aliens.

Her goddess level was supposed to erase memories, even give Homura a chance at a good life, but it's clear that she hasn't forgotten Madoka.

That's the series.

The movie picks up in the same place but you never know it.

I'll spoil the twist. The aliens imprison Homura's soul to observe the goddess and potentially use her. Homura becomes a witch within the prison and in her despair builds a world where the magical girls are alive and healthy. When she realizes she's a witch and a trap, she tries to destroy herself so the aliens won't capture Madoka or find out how she works.

But the girls she's been hanging out with are real. They manage to save her but as Madoka attempts to retrieve Homura's soul, Homura somehow hurts Madoka to take some of her power. She becomes a super being as well, in her words a demon, and keeps the alien after he's given up on humans, then she recreats the fantasy world but has the girls powered down but alive.

That's it. That's the movie.

That's the end of the series.

It doesn't even make sense. Okay, one part does. With Madoka's karmic value going up, I imagine Homura's went up too. I can accept that.

But taking Madoka's wish? Become a demon? Make a fake world?

Why? She might have been tainted at first by being a witch but Madoka brought her mostly to her senses.

And Homura was going to spend eternity with Madoka. Makes no sense.

If they'd just ended the series with Homura seeing heaven or the other world, it would have been perfect. Because that's what she was working for and what was expected.

This other stuff? Doesn't even make sense.

It does promise at sequel but I'll pass.

When you set up expectations, they're promises the reader and watcher need you to keep.

You wouldn't trust someone after they failed to keep an important promise right?

A lot of the expectations we set up early on also persuade people to the end. Sure, in PMMM's case, I had no idea Homura's been trying to stop Madoka from becoming a magical girl. But after all the violence and bloodshed, I was definitely hoping Madoka wouldn't become one and couldn't see a way out.

The foreshadow for the series was good. The movie either was trying to set up the sequel or thought it was over and started the first quarter of the second movie.

After all that, I still recommend the series, even the movie if you have self control and stop as Madoka descends to pick up Homura. After that, it just doesn't make sense to the series.

--
If you've been following me on my query adventures, foreshadow is amazing to put into the summary. Maybe next time we'll talk about that, huh? *winky face*

UPDATE:

I found someone who broke down what happened in the movie and why it happened. This is why I hate sequels! Let it die, people!


Update #2: WHY DOES IT SAY I PUBLISHED IT TUESDAY GAAAAHHHHH!

Practice Makes Perfect: Query, Pitch, Action! #4

Hello, dears!

You have survived Monday!


I've been talking a lot about people watching and summaries/queries. We're doing a little more on this today!

Remember how yesterday we did copycat queries?

Remember how plot points and even some genres were right, but they weren't driving across tone?

One great way to do that is to bring out what makes the story different. The characters. It's not just the setting, at least in this case where there's magic in the real world, it's not. It's the people. It's never the same people with the same problems with the same solutions.

Readers get attached to people.

I'm blowing your mind, I know.

But it's true. People matter and what they care about and want and feel on what's happening is what makes stakes!

I should have told you sooner, huh?

If you haven't read The Nines, I'll summarize here. The Nines are, wow, nine elements that are the base of your story. There's Story, Theme/Big Idea, Goal, Conflict, Solution. That's just for your main story. But for personal story and motivation there's Want, Flaw, Need, and Consequence.

Those last four are our target today.

What the character wants should help build the tone for us. The Flaw should be stated. The Need should be implied or left out altogether. (One of those unanswered solution type deals.) The Consequence should definitely be implied or put on paper.

WANT

This is what the character wants before anything changes. This is the one thing that should change as the story changes or, in some growing up stories, goes away at the climax, or isn't exactly what the character thought he or she or shklee wanted.

Sometimes, the want is only altered a little bit by the end. It depends on age group (usually the older the protagonist is, the more likely the Want changes subtly whereas younger, still not sure what they actually want) and what kind of story you're writing (romance often the character knows what she/he/shklee wants but maybe not who they want or to what degree.)

You can tell a lot about a person by what they dream. My dream has all to do with storytelling. It's in my blood. It's in my soul.

I can honestly say I can't go a day without people watching or telling a story or breaking one down for the fun of it. And it's not that I've trained myself to do that. It's like stepping off a cliff and falling, I breathe therefore I tangle myself in stories.

It's an irresistible force.

I'd make a great protagonist, says the horror writer. Please don't kill me.

I have an obsession. I have a plan, so I don't notice or plan to change courses. I would be the perfect target for a Love at First Sight plot or Tragic Accident plot.

Or a Secret Agent/Chosen One plot.

I don't know about you guys, but when I read on a protag that has nothing going on until someone walks into their lives, I kinda black out.

Not that I've never been bored or had nothing going on, but the character must have dreams, hopes, wants, desires. Those sorts of things don't really leave us. Or, kinda.

I guess I should rewind the tape, because when my story opens, Vannette's only aspiration, from the moment her eyes open, is the moment where she can close them again.

But to balance it all, I keep her memories of wants and dreams and hopes and desires close by. Something is happening in her world. Something has just happened and is on the tail end of it when she's flung into something terrifying.

It's actually the way horror works.

But keep who the person is close. In a summary, you have to entice someone to spend thousands of words with this being. The protag should at least be interesting.

In the first version of my summary, Vannette's paranoid. Of every little sound in her house, of the way being there makes her feel. And it shows in the first lines:

Vannette feels like she's being watched in her bedroom. But this time it isn't her paranoia that makes her feel stalked.

To me, it presents her current situation, probably implies that she's been called paranoid before which means she's had trouble with people believing her, but this time she has proof someone's watching her.

FLAW

If the Want is the internal goal, this is the internal obstacle. Unlike the Want, this should be obvious to everyone. This is the reason why the protag's plans are failing. She/he/shklee just doesn't know it yet.

Honestly, the more we grow, the more the lessons that served us before outstay their welcome. Then we learn new lessons until we learn to objectively decide how to react to a problem or solve it.

So what was once the way to deal with things is not getting in the way of new situations and achievements.

Throwback really fast to my breakdown of The Dark Knight.

Bruce was constantly told by others that he needed to limit himself. This is how we know it's his flaw. He just doesn't realize it's a flaw because that's how he's been keeping up with the dangers of his city.

For him, it's not a flaw, it's how he survived before.

In the original summary for my character, Vannette is a paranoid crybaby coward. This is how she's avoided injuries when she and her friends are messing around. How she's avoided being a murder victim in their city. How she's avoided falling into a trap.

But now that that hasn't kept the new threat away, it's stopping her from surviving this danger. And it might cost her more than her life.


NEED

Need is both the solution to the Flaw and opposite of it. This seems simple enough. And it sorta is.

As far as comparison goes, this is probably where I get tripped up.

Vannette's made a persona for herself. This helpless girl and she follows it in order to control herself. She has no clue what's on the other side of the wall she's built. It won't be controlled once the wall comes down so she might just be the biggest danger.

But her flaw right now is that she wants to hide under the bed when someone starts painting her neighborhood in blood, looking for her.

She's probably got the power to stand a chance. She just doesn't trust herself enough to try.

CONSEQUENCE

Need and Consequence are tightly bound. If you haven't read about adding blood to the water, you'll probably still understand I don't want to leave anyone unscathed.

My favorite books and movies and stories are where the transformation is painful and difficult. I want everyone to have stripes and scars for who they are.

I think it's because some of the best lessons I learned, I had to learn them the hard way. Or just because I'm a sadist. Pick whichever reason you like. I think it's both anyway.

But back to Consequence. This is personal stake.

This is the selling point of every summary. What's the stake?

In Twilight, the personal stake wasn't told in the book copy but yes in the DVD. Personal stakes, they're in love, he wants to kill her, a group of someone elses want to kill her. It's up to him to stop them.

You'd think the Consequence was for her but she kinda just goes along for the ride. Whatever.

In I Am Not a Serial Killer, the personal stake is his own bloodlust against someone else's where his loved ones are involved.

"I wonder what these books have in common with her story."

In The Dark Divine, the personal stake is family and soul. She's risking it all to be close to Daniel.

Everyone wants to see what people would do in an uncomfortable or difficult situation. Everyone wants to see responses to danger.

Truth or Dare? Never Have I Ever? We play those games to put ourselves at risk.

The Consequence should be a lose-lose-win. What will the protagonist lose if she/he/shklee doesn't get the Need? Lose the Want for one. And depending on what type of story you're writing, the consequences can be much worse.

But then flip it. What will the protagonist lose if she/he/shklee does get the Need?

Everything has a light and dark side. The best kinds of stories, in my opinion and at least in the types of stories i like and write, the trickier the spot the more compelling.

Now how does that transfer to a summary?

You don't have to bullet point these answers in the summary. But knowing these things, it changes the tone of the summary completely, because the internal journey seals the deal.

Yesterday we copied plot point related summaries. Add this to that and bam. No room for the wrong kinds of questions. Everyone knows what you're talking about.

Keep these in the back of your mind as you work on your summary. It seriously changes the tone.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Practice Makes Perfect: Query, Pitch, Action! #3

Hello, my loves!

Welcome to another attempt to write compelling summaries.


Help me

I broke down Sea of Shadows and why I absolutely fell in love with the summary.


Browsing Amazon or Barnes & Nobles or your shelves for compelling summaries is both dangerous and fun. Dangerous because I am a few books richer but my wallet is like



Fun for obvious reasons. The summaries are often the reason you bought the book. Or, at the least, it shakes up good memories from the first time you read the book. For a few years, I let the first chapter sell me, not the summary.


And if you've purchased or read books like your novel which, hint! you should have, there's examples of what worked as far as hooks and summaries.


One of the reasons it's so important to pick books similar to what you've already written is because, well, it changes the tune, tone, and expectation of your story if the summaries aren't right.


While I was writing several drafts of queries and sending them to my CPs and TC and betas, no one knew what the story was about. One because I was withholding information.


Two, it was following the wrong elements.

Some drafts, following the flow of contemporary, blindsided some of my CPs making them forget about magic. Then I got asked if I was on magical realism? I wish I was.


Others focused on the two main characters so people thought it was a romance! Hint: it's not.


Every story has its own flow. Not saying every story is the same, but every story has about the same expectations.


Here's what happens if I imitate Sea of Shadows


Original:




Mine:


Eighth graders Vannette and Dalton used to be best friends in first grade, and despite not remembering why they broke up, that's how everyone in their town knows them. Forgetting their violent misadventures and avoiding one another, they lead separate but parallel lives in Weaver Texas's Future America program at their middle school. There, where a few have chosen a career and stuck to preparing for it since Kindergarten, the two have been seats apart and on all out-of-state field trips.


But this year, Dalton's guaranteed absence is unexplainably revoked.


See? I have no idea what that even means. They're forced together and she wants space but she doesn't get it? What am I waiting for? What do I care?


UNLESS I'm writing a middle grade. So cute. Little kid drawings and wild theories on why he's there. Oh my god, let's make it an MG.


I wish this worked because that's 90 words right there.


But because I'm not writing in a fantasy world, this was a bad idea to imitate. It's just the world's best summary.

Let's try with others. And I'm laughing at this next one.

TWILIGHT



Funny side story on Twilight. It was a hit when I was in high school and the movie was going to be out soon. I tried to pick it up but just by looking at it and scanning a few passages within, I thought it was about drug-taking witch boys in the woods. So I was like, meh, no. I'll pass.

If I'd read the summary, I definitely wouldn't have read it. Not even with peer pressure. Here's the Amazon summary:



Now, this is my problem with this summary. One, she goes by Bella. I think I hear her called Isabella all of once. Like, don't shove someone's full name down their throat. I know, petty, but annoying.

Two, it's so vague on the dangers. Because if Edward can keep a vampire secret in a small community, he's got self-control, right? So what are the dangers? And what desires are they having?

I don't know, vague. And just to be ultra picky, Three: story with bite? omg



This is coming from the girl who owns all the books (except the novella) and all the movies and who wants to watch them at least once a month.

But this summary? It would have kept me from this book, series, movie adaptation.

I didn't watch the movie or read the book on time. It wasn't until Wal-Mart released it's trailer for the DVD release that I really got sold on it. I remember it so clearly because I had to rewatch it immediately on the internets.

I can't even find that commercial anymore. I think whoever put it up took it down long ago.

But just to give you an idea, it dealt with the first chapters of the book. If you've read or watched but can't remember, it's the almost accident.

From the summary above, you'd never know anything of real consequence happened because all you know is that they found each other, she's pretty boring, he's a vampire and he cares about her.

But imitation time!

Vannette Lore's field trip to Gettysburg, a land haunted by the American Civil War, could have been the most boring trip she's ever been on. But once she runs into pale and hesitant Dalton Pierce, Vannette's fate is sealed.

Up until now, Vannette and Dalton have been sworn enemies, but now the imposter who came back from the field trip shields her from a danger she can't see.

Eh. I guess.

The Twilight summary was 73 words. Mine? 70.

As far as less words, we're actually getting closer.

Now, Twilight and my novel have something in common. It's magic in the real world. Unlike Sea of Shadows, there's no magic or danger or anything before the inciting incident.

As a bonus, though, here's the back of the DVD cover:



Way better summary.

I would read the book, I would watch the movie, I would stand in the rain to buy the DVD all over again if it had just started with this.

Copycat Bonus Round:

Vannette Lore doesn't expect much when she goes on the annual field trip, until she runs into pale and nervous Dalton Pierce--her former best friend who's hiding a dark secret: he's not the person she grew up with. As their private worlds and true intentions blur the lines of right and wrong, Vannette must battle the bloodlust raging within her as well as the darkness Dalton's imposter has brought them.

Theirs: 65. Mine: 70.

I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER

I'm not. But that's what a serial killer would say. So what would an innocent person say?

I watched the movie before I read the book. Sue me. I was sick, it was on Netflix, I watched it.

In retrospect, all the regrets.

The movie was awful. I wonder if the book...? But now I want less to do with the book than before.

But anyway, this is Amazon's summary:



I picked this one for obvious reasons. One, I've been dropping killer hints in the other query-tries. Yes, Vannette who seems like a sleepy crybaby coward turns out to be an actress with the same agenda John Wayne Cleaver has: don't become a killer.

And two, if you've read the book or seen the movie, there's a plot twist that isn't really a plot twist in my book.

Now for the copycat.

Vannette Lore is dangerous.

She's spent elementary school working on not living up to her fantasies.

She's obsessed with murders and the constellations they make in her community, but doesn't want to add her own stars. So for her own sake, and the safety of the young things around her, she lives by the rigid rules she's placed for herself, pretending until it almost becomes her first nature to be the helpless quiet girl.

Almost.

Rage is normal to Vannette. She loves it, actually. It doesn't ask or hesitate or compromise. That's what gives her the upper-hand when, on a school field trip, something unnatural takes the place of her former best friend.

Now, for the first time since she was eight, Vannette has to confront the violence raging inside her, which, as she stands ready to end the imposter, threatens to dismantle the fragile world she's built.

Mine: 148 words. His: 155.

I'm getting better at shortening summaries.

Now this accurately covers the Before the inciting incident. But misses the tone altogether. In the beginning of the story, Vannette's actually miserable. Her mom's died and she has depression she can't shake and is leaking out into nightmares, too much sleep and too little sleep. She's not at the top of her game like this summary would imply.

But it's not wrong.

Here's the movie version of IANASK, just for kicks and giggles:



Literally, I couldn't rewrite this because this is basically what my story is. Isn't that nuts! You can pitch something with the same words and the stories are completely different.

Well, not completely.

THE DARK DIVINE

Fun fact! While I was drafting FLTs, The Dark Divine came on my radar. Yup, years and years ago.

And have you seen its book trailer? Oh my gosh, beautiful.



I went out and bought the hardcover immediately. I really found the writing style refreshing and the fact that there's religion at its heart without being overly preachy was a nice change too.

Amazon's take on TDD:



There are so many reasons to want to read this. First, YA with family involved? Pretty rare in the magical world. I needed to know what would happen when she was trapped between two boys, one who is her brother and the other who is the crush.

Second, as I mentioned, the faith element.

Besides, this, coupled with that amazing book trailer? Sold, sold, sold.

Why I would ever copy it: the cycling person. The person who comes back and ruins things.

My copycat:

Vannette Lore always suspected that something horrible happened the day Dalton Pierce stopped being her best friend, but she has no idea what a truly terrifying chain of events that day started.

The wicked and vaguely magical memories she tried to bury resurface when Dalton unexpectedly shows up on an out-of-state field trip. Despite her paranoia that something's not right with him and her friends' increasingly calm behavior, she can't help but bar him out of her life.

The closer Vannette becomes to figuring the imposter, the more she blurs the safety of her life, and her actions stir a wicked secret the other people in her class have kept since the breakup. Vannette must play the dark and magical game she thought was made up in order to protect the fragile and unsuspecting world she lives in. But she might have to sacrifice the one thing she's trying to protect—her soul.

This sucks. I'd never read this book. It's too wordy.

Hers: 167. Mine: 153.

I'm getting less wordy, though, compared to what I'm copying.

So maybe that's good.

There are so many ways to describe one story.

It is so important to a) obviously get the genre right and b) set the tone.

Some of these stories, they have similar plot points, but not similar launching points or similar moods.

So be careful!

I've got more books to read in hopes of learning the right way to summarize this story. I'll see you for #4 soon!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

(Other) Reasons to Not Quit Your Day Job

Hello, loves!

Hope your week, despite the madness, has gone well.

My week has been odd.

But that leaves me open for other forms of entertainment.

For example, people watching.


Mostly, I've been noticing my coworkers. I've had  a lot of free time recently to pick up on some of their quirks.

And, boy, are there quirks.

I love the people I work with. I love the environment and where the job takes us.

There's so much to take in and so much, if you've even expressed a little interest in psychology, to trace back to reasons.

Example, one of the men working with us without fail dresses to the nines. Better than any of us do. Always has his hair done right. Always shirt tucked in.

But he passes by a mirror, sweeps both his hands up through his hair and puckers up.

Accurate.
It took the rest of us so long to figure out he was a narcissist because it took a long time before he noticed where the mirrors and reflective surfaces were.

There's a lot more than physical markers.

But I don't want to break down his words.

We're all products of things that happened to us.

For example, there's a girl who always sweeps the sights in every direction, scans faces, and is aware of the sounds of a parking lot as she leaves, clutching her keys like a weapon as she walks.

She had a stalker before.

People are products and don't generally hide their characteristics when they feel comfortable with their surroundings.

Some people are incredibly colorful.

People can be hammered out of their skulls and still conduct business like a sober person. People can be terrifying in person and be incredibly patient on the phone.

Being forced out of the house or your usual writing space is so healthy. Your brain has to figure out what it's seeing and what the body is experiencing. It pulls it off the same tired treadmill before it wears it down to nothing.

Seeing others, every person is a world all by themselves. How they see the world is so incredibly different than the way you see it, even if you don't realize it.

Real Life Jobs might get in the way of creativity sometimes, but it definitely makes you work with what you got. Believe it or not, it actually helps you start your creativity processes.

Think about it! You need to be clever to work sleep, food, and Real Life with creativity.

I have actually been writing AT work. Yeah. It's been one of those quiet weeks. Not even sure why, but I've been penning some notes about a story I did for NaNoWriMo and never finished.

So far so good. I'm really into it but it's the type of writing I've considered for years and never had the guts to do. Writing for visual entertainment. (I'm not sure if I'm going to fit into a movie or a mini series yet. Still in the development idea.)

I have no idea what will happen. I don't have even a 50% hope of actually making it to the written stage, but it's a change of pace. I'm all about resetting these days.

Now I've got to review a few movies. Some for research, some for curiosity's sake.

Have a beautiful Sunday!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Playlist! 2017 #3

Hello, beautifuls!

I know it's been so long. It feels long to me. I've tried to write today's post over the last few days but I've been struggling quite a bit.

Nothing new or to expand on. Just Real Life being Real Life.

I'll be spending my day tomorrow cleaning hopefully and organizing myself.

Tomorrow's post will be scheduled, hopefully, and I can dedicate myself to the new project I've taken on.

It's been such impulsive decision sort of week. It'd concern me if it wasn't my personality.

I'm so cool.

Among events like buying a new iPhone or deciding to work on a screenplay, I've done hilarious amounts of nothing but wishing to sleep.

But I wanted to share my delicious music finds because music. And I like to share.

IN TIME by Droeloe feat. Belle Doron





DON'T LET ME DOWN by The Chainsmokers (Illenium Remix)



I will see you guys soon!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Not Writing a Book

Trouble writing a book? Why not NOT write a book?


Enjoy the emptiness of your once dedicated work day, take in the sun and find FB a formidable excuse not to interact with human beings, lounge in the darkened living room and live in despair.



Yes, join us here at NOT Writing a Book, located on the corner of good idea and crazy idea.

--

Hello, beautifuls!

Last night, I went to bed thinking I could stay warm and finish writing a blog post for today and that's about the last thing I remember.

But I made it to Thursday.



I've got a few Real Life things causing me a little stress. I just want to shake people sometimes.

ANYWAY!

I've been working on the blog way more than the writing I talk about here. Which was the reason I started blogging again.

It doesn't seem productive. It was supposed to be, in a way. Give me a fresh take on the writing after a brief break. But instead, I've found that I got lazier.

I tried to write a story in the same vein as the one I'm working on. You know, get an idea what I mean to say, see if I can say it better.

But that is not productive at all. Because I've tried.

Also, I didn't get far.

But I learned I suck at summarizing something beforehand and going through with it. Surprise!

I think I really just need to reset with some kdramas, books!, and TV shows.

I have tons of books I've bought and haven't dedicated time to reading.


If you're having a problem, hitting a block, remember to reset. It helps keep you fresh.

Now I'm going to go reset and stop writing for just a few days. Just a few. Maybe I'll post reviews on the books I'm reading.

Or the movies I've watched.

Have you seen Moana yet? I am OBSESSED.


Have a beautiful Thursday! Talk to you on my other social media accounts!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Practice Makes Perfect: Query, Pitch, Action! # 2

Hello, my dears!

As you can tell from the title, there's more to the original post than the pitch.


Thought I forgot, didn't you? Well, I did.

Like I've said in previous posts, a lot of my posting-fuel has come from avoiding fixing a very old problem. There's a lot of structural faults in my story.

I think I just write too much.


Here's how to do 50k in a week

But anyway, that practice pitch/draft pitch gives me an idea for the query. It helps me expand into a query. Snowflake Method really does help organize thoughts.

If you look at the last writing post I did, I talk about the evolution and devolution of my query. You can also read the first critique of it here.

I am not the first to say query writing is hard.

You have to condense your story, sans the ending and possibly kissing parts, into something someone will actually want to read.

If inviting someone to look at something you put your heart and soul into isn't unnerving enough, now you have to convince someone that this is the thing they want to spend their time on.

There are so many requirements, in a way. Be concise. Stick to plot points.

Add personality! Be tasteful. Stay with the same tone as the story.




There's great advice out there too, though. Dig up queries that are similar to your story. Follow the flow of it. It helps the agent/editor/reader know what kind of journey you're taking them on.

QueryShark is incredible reading. Don't judge me, but I love Slushpile Hell for What Not To Dos.


But really I just need something to laugh about before I cry a river

The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment provides feedback too.

So many places to look!

But if you're like me, reading something and getting it right, totally different. Everything is harder when you put it into practice.

But like this Practice Makes Perfect title promises, practice makes perfect.


Wouldn't it be cool if at the end of this series I said I had rep because of my query evolution?
I know a ton of writers actually started writing by doing fanfic. Do you remember those days?

Because I do. My beginnings were actually in Sailor Moon fanfic.



Yeah! I know, right? I totally didn't know that either.

One of the things that's helped me a lot more than just winging it and putting severed parts together is actually copying other queries/summaries and changing the little details so it makes sense with my story.

It helps with flow and structure. The more you copy things that work, the more you learn from it.


You remember this, don't you?

One of the summaries that really caught my eye, and led me to buy the book, was from SEA OF SHADOWS by Kelley Armstrong. By the way, for a limited time, this ebook is $1.99! Go get it!

The Amazon summary reads:



This so freaking good! Do you know how many words there are here? Just in the body of the actual summary?

Freaking 76!

Not a word is wasted.

First line gives us characters, age group, sets up genre (fantasy if they were marked at birth sounds a lot like destiny type deal,) and gives us a taste of the world we'll be in with the words Keeper and Seeker, not to mention there's a name for this world. Edgewood.

This is so concise, so perfect, I seriously couldn't stop reading the summary.

The second line expands on this too, though, so you're grounded in what all this first line means. You get a feel for what the girls have to do.

Fighting? Clearly, there's something dangerous to being Keeper and Seeker. Secret rites of the spirits? Why is it secret? Does everyone in the town believe in spirits? And not knowing exactly the answer to these questions is what will compel readers to find out.

But in that same second line, we find out there's a routine. They've done this before. Leading an annual tripwho's going?to the Forest of the Dead. More places! More specifics without derailing anything.

This is just the background information, things already established and known at the beginning of the novel. The Ordinary World, as someone into the Hero's Journey would call it.

As if this world didn't already seem compelling enough. If you can summarize your world into two sentences, and establish a sense of the rules, your world is a place where I want to spend time in. Trust me.

Now the third line does what usually trips me up. It promises that something ritual/annual can be dangerous. Back to the fighting bit just a sentence before!

Third line talks about where the line between living and dead worlds is thinnest. The secret rites come back here too because this is where the girls come to pay their respects.

These three lines have done magic on a sense of world, tone, and genre.

But the fourth and last line seals the deal. With a promise of danger, eight words only say something goes wrong.

And that's it. With fighting training, with secret rites, where the veil is thinnest, after practice of years, something has gone wrong.

YES!


Take ALL of my money. I wanna see how this turns out!

Seventy-six words.

I can't find a single one that's a waste. Holy cow!



*stares at it for ten minutes* *tries to buy it again*

Don't ask me how the story goes. Sadly, I've been trying to trudge through the paperbacks I got. Hoarding books is a problem, people.

But that summary? It's made the book go higher and higher on my TBR. Because I need to know what goes wrong. They sounded so well trained! What happened?


I NEED TO KNOW!

Deep breath.

Anyway, this is how you do a summary. I know not everyone is writing a fantasy like Sea of Shadows, but this is such a great example, how could we not give it a try?

For me, my problem is that I try to cram too many details into my summaries, worried that if I don't mention this or that, someone will set the story down and keep walking. You know, virtually.

I think that's what first attracted me to Sea of Shadows. I could not believe how hooked I was by SEVENTY-SIX words.


This awkward baby is 182 words. :|

But this is also a good place to start. Because it's not a blank page.

Have you guys tried to do the copy method? I've tried it on DVD summaries, book summaries, with Netflix summaries. Still practicing until I love it and it's short like Sea of Shadows.

Just an idea. 😉

Talk to you tomorrow!