Sunday, February 12, 2017

Titles Before Words

Hello, lovelies!

Long time no chat!

Today has been one of my days of rest. Yes, you are talking to me from further in the past than usual.


Today I've spent avoiding politics--because I have been obsessing even by my standards--and Instagramming Tobey.

There have been movies today, chapters read, pages edited, PicsArt projects started. But as every night, I ended it with YouTube stories.

I am totally freaked right now but excited. I have been collecting titles for ages. I want stories to fit with them but I am, not surprisingly, uninterested in writing outside of my fave genres.

I can hold on to something for a very long time.

But anyway, the latest titles have been in a series and some of them too close to the titles of other already popular stories.

Again, not really worried. I am clueless and not in love with the story/idea yet. Except for it won't stop replaying in my head.

Fall For Me.

Reminds me of...

I haven't even finished this book and I already thought that FFM would be the same idea. I know, again, jumping to assumptions.

So fast forward to tonight. I am still hearing FALL FOR ME, FALL FOR ME, FALL FOR ME. I make jokes about what the pitch would be. The characters. Stupid things. Teasing the title because it will. Not. Leave. Me. Alone.

The Youtube videos, the narration of the scariest things on the planet, those are the types of things to push back insistent story titles. Most of the time.

Autoplay is on, because why stop a good thing?

And Darkness Prevails shows up with his latest upload. High school stories.

Ok.

And the story called My Last Girlfriend Died.

Oh my gosh. Hello. I wanna listen.


Long story short, I immediately pulled up a blank page and started typing.

This is the first stuff I got out:


“He’s gorgeous!” Lina whispers before gulping down the last of her boba. She’s talking about the boy across the sun splashed boba shop. The guy in the sky blue t-shirt serving drinks from a battered metal disc.
Isaac Espinoza is the typical blonde football player with a smile and small but sweet brown eyes. When he looks up, he looks at me, not for the first time. And for one second, it’s like he doesn’t recognize me, then he gives me that long, toothy smile.
Like a predator tasting blood in the water.

For Isabel Ramirez, boys have been a topic of mum in her house, but after an extravagant lime green quincea├▒era, she’s expected to have a boyfriend. At least according to her tias.
And she doesn’t have to worry about being Forever Alone, despite her lack of experience. Isaac Espinoza, the senior varsity football stud all the girls in her chem class want, has been talking her up. Like magic, he knows she exists and he’s attentive and perfect.
But Isaac has a preference for brunette freshmen girls. All four-foot almost five-foot. All Mexican like Isabel. All like his last girlfriend, who died under mysterious circumstances.
Now Isaac’s charming superhero rescues feel more like kidnappings. Every rose and chocolate, a check up, a thinly veiled fear that she’s forgotten he exists. Every phone call, every text more desperate than the last.
Every breathy plea to fall for him a hand closing around her throat.

I have no clue what's next but this is exciting already. We'll see how it goes.

Bonus round, I've had this since 2015.


My head-cannon about it is that the first, Settling for Molly is about this teen boy facing unrequited love when some rough and tumble girl who's never talked to him before confesses his love over the summer. Mowing Daisies is the sequel and I have no idea what it's about but me being me, I figure the boy from the first story goes on a rebound tour with anyone who gives him the time of day.

Yeah, not interesting enough for me to write stories. YET.

Have you guys ever experienced the titles before words phenomenon? What are yours?

--
Have you heard of the upcoming 100 Sentence Challenge? Get a partner! Let's write!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

100 Day Challenge: A Sentence a Day

Hello, my wild beauties!

If you're new to my blog, yes, I am always weird. Let's move on.

I am so excited to share and extend the invitation to you guys.

Yes. I am saying be my guest.


I was talking to one of my best friends the other night and posed the 100 Challenge. Which is a hybrid of her New Year 100 Day Challenges and my desire to get her into writing with regularity.

I got her as far as trying NaNoWriMo but she doesn't write every day. I told her write at least a sentence a day and that's how we start at 100 Days a 100 Sentence Challenge.

The basics. Every day a new sentence. A sentence to follow the one before. Max and min. a sentence.

The challenges: 100 days. Starts March. You can't read the sentence before it.*  Just go off what you think you wrote.



I would accidentally do this in high school. I couldn't take my laptop with me to school so I'd transfer to my notebook. Things were always strange but this is so much fun on purpose!

Now, this is the thing, to keep yourself accountable, you can pair up and email your partner the sentence OR you can email it to me. ebelleful @ gmail :)

*Obvi if you're emailing someone the sentence, you can't do it in the thread because you might see the sentence before it. So no cheating! Where's the fun in that?

At the end of a hundred days we'll leave the unedited mass on a post. Let's see what we come up with!

Here are some ideas if you don't know how to get started:


  • Work on that WIP you've been neglecting. (Again, you can't read what you wrote before but you can read what you wrote before the 100 Challenge.)
  • Keep the characters and basic situation the same but do those Writing Prompts. There's some on Reddit, Pinterest, you name it. They have it.
  • Tell a childhood memory. (Give me ALL your ghost stories.)
  • Rewrite your favorite fairytale.
  • Challenge yourself with a script or text message conversation. (I NEED to see these if you do them.)
  • Write an observation about a single picture. (If a picture's worth thousand words, I'm sure you can make a hundred sentences.)


Have fun. Spread the words. Invite more people!

And please don't forget to link back here when your post is up so everyone can see it.



See you March!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Practice Makes Perfect: Query, Pitch, Action! #5

Hello, my loves!

[Spoilers ahead!]

It's Monday!




For me, I have picked up the co-parent for my fur babies.


Cute, right? The white one has no idea what "no" means and the cat? Notice him digging his claws into the sofa.
Help me.

I have been doing much better. Especially since my last catch up post.

If you can believe it, this post has been in the making since the last post of my everyday posting (almost a month ago already.) But this post killed me. See link above.

Over the last few posts, we've talked copycats, plot points, genre, characterization, and foreshadowing.

Fairly basic. For some, the last few posts were more It's-In-Words type deals than something groundbreaking.

But with all that information and the expectation of brevity, it's hard not to be overwhelmed when it comes to pitches.

So let's take a step back. We can't edit a blank page.

So where to go?

The Snowflake Method actually has a good starting point.

From the website:


Yup.

Fairly basic. Heard it all before. Got it.

I went on the NYT Bestseller Young Adult section.

Actually, the lines didn't sell me except THREE DARK CROWNS.



10 words. Three sisters. Death. Queen.

Sign me up. Because I could never kill my sister. (Despite her leaving me a month with her horrible dog.)

What world are we in in TDCs? Because Rock-and-a-Hard-Place is my favorite kind of place.

Again, this is not the type of story I write. But it works.

It's brief. It's compelling. It's got the elements.

Word Count.
Description.
Stake.
Gain.

THREE DARK CROWNS actually tells you what the opposition/conflict's motivation is.

That's powerful. And actually rare.

Let's add Force for those of us who have person/ified conflicts.

Word Count.
Description.
Stake.
Gain.
Force.

It's the same as PMP #1. Just in different words.

Description is Background/Backstory→who the protag is
Force is Conflict→with who the protag is
Gain and Stake are Journey/Stakes→gain, Hard Place situation

If you look at the TDC summary, this is how it breaks down.

B: 3 sisters
C/OF: must fight to the death
J/S: to become queen.

I'm a little angry that this is so well done. Simple looks so easy, doesn't it?


Me, right now.

I know.

Don't be discouraged. Likely, you'll try and try and think it's a great sentence, go to sleep, wake up, and find yourself questioning why you think writing is for you.

It'll happen. Maybe a lot. But you can't edit ideas you haven't put down. That's all this is.

My attempt:

B: A wimpy teen
C/OF: must fight a time traveller
J/S: out to destroy her family

It's 13 words. That's very good, actually. It's not nearly as telling as say this pitch slimmed down from PMP #1:

An immortal man has a terminal tumor and decides to take up arms against the heavens.

But it's a start.

Keep reading sentence summaries.

Since I've been binge-watching Netflix lately, I learned more or less what they might say if my story was on there. Something like this:

A sheltered teen takes action after encountering a supernatural force impersonating a classmate.

Copycats have helped a lot with what I do and don't like. I'll probably obsess over TDC for that reason over the next coming days.



I have been agonizing over this post for weeks. WEEKS.

And I didn't know what was wrong with me or the story I loved. Long story short, the full story is here.

Today, as I finish this post, I have handwritten, loose-leaf papers sprawled about for a FLTs bible. My pitch sentence has sat pretty at the top, unchanged.

Don't overthink it. Tell the truth. Go on.

I didn't realize there was a problem until I tried to write this post. The original version, I mean, and when I figured it out, the pitch was a little easier. It still took me weeks, but I got it. Like I said, editing tool.

I will see you guys again. #6 is around the corner!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

This is What I Was Hoping For! Part Two

Hello, my lovelies.

It has already been one hell of a year. And don't you dare say it's just begun.

In fact, let's take a moment and get back on track. We're writers. Let's please go back to it for a second before I lose my mind.

My catch up post or as I'd like to call it my Ah-Ha Sleep Deprived Eureka Moment Post (but I guess AHSDEM post works too) was a little rushed.

I can only describe it as that thing that jerks you away from the gates of dreamland, forces you to sit upright and scrawl on the closest hapless napkin with a lousy mechanical pencil type deal. Seriously. I felt like if I didn't write it down, it'd be lost.

One of the absolute hardest things for a writer is to go through a story dry spell and the beloved series or project flatlining on the table. I think I speak for at least 80% of us when I say it happens.

It's happened to me so many times over the last two decades that you'd think I'd be used to it. But I'm not.

It's still like being emotionally dehydrated. You want to cry but you don't have anything to cry with.

You get it. Going through a dry spell is ugly in so many ways.

Over the course of the last ten years, I've been dealing with not being able to feel truly happy with stories I've written. One series I just could never figure out how to clean up and make it less icky.


You can read it here but I warned you

The series I'm trying to fix, I could never figure out the first book to.

Not being able to fix it never affected other areas of my writing life. At least I didn't think so. But it's my fault. I started an editing series on my blog surrounding it so what did I think would happen when I hit a snag?

This is the snag that keeps shutting the project down.

I thought all hope was lost for this story. I thought it was time to gather the pages of edited material, rest them in a box at the bottom of my recycling bin.

I'd allowed myself to cycle through the writer grief stages, which is mostly self-blame and acceptance.

Goodness knows denial had only taken me a few years.

But I missed something so vital to the whole story that I feel like ramming my head through the wall and shrieking with frenzied delight.


STILL LAUGHING

It's not a spoiler alert. Or an actual call for suspense, but I actually didn't stay true to the story or the character or what I would want to read. I couldn't tell you why I thought I needed to tug at the skeleton to stretch it into a massive volume.

At the time, I was watching The Vampire Diaries and reading Twilight, sure. And both are obviously long running, thick story things. My thought is that I probably wanted to build atmosphere and lost myself but looking at what I did, I have no real clue what the goal was or why I stopped after 100k words.

I think that in some way, trying to immerse myself must have had a hand in it. Not sure how much but it's a fragment.

The other thing, the reason I mentioned the series above is because the plot of one of the unpublished parts of the story actually rolled into this current series.

But Vannette and the other series' protagonist Ariel have nothing more than being girls in common. Maybe one moment where their lives intersect where their fates are handled by different groups, but they deal with that moment so differently, I really have no idea what I did wrong.

I treated Vannette like she was part of a paranormal romance pairing. And she never was.

Vannette was always destined to touch a world running close to her own. But her story was never going to be about falling in love with a supernatural person or any person.

I am notoriously terrible at romance. My idea of romance is laughing a little whenever I think of Jack sinking into the Atlantic.


Don't judge me. I can't help it. I think it's funny.

I can read romance. I can appreciate the kind that makes me swoon, squee, and giggle. Can I write it? No. Do I want to? No. Not particularly.

The same way I enjoy having a salted caramel hot chocolate without having interest in making it myself.

If the romance thing wasn't enough, I shoehorned Vannette into being helpless when that girl is part of the fearless daredevil neighborhood kids.

Ariel is notoriously screwed in the series. (Spoiler Alert!) What can I say? I like to see how close to dead I can get someone before my brain kicks in some magical Deus Ex Machina to continue the series.

I liked the thrill of having someone helpless to a great supernatural force and dismantling the gathering forces trying to protect her. (And not being enough.)

So I tried to recreate it (but better!—younger me) and forgot to transplant who the actual helpless person was.


I noticed problems.


Of course I did. She always wanted to be different. Too soon, I thought, and I'd erase all the things I wrote in my Vannette-fueled haze.


But of course that's why there's never any progress.

You guys wanna hear the irony?

The actual Vannette never wanted to move forward because the path she was on deviated from what she thought her future should be. In other words, she was like I was. Trying to force things to go a certain way.

I know. I know.

The worst thing is that the cherry on top was not even wanting to read the story myself.

I just kept making more drafts. Going one way. Allowing Vannette to change now that Book I was over.

I truly believe we write the books we need when we need them. The inside talking to the outside.

I think Dawn, my series before Vannette, was something I needed to escape unrequited love and fears of the future. And what I needed to say to myself I said.

And Vannette, I probably won't understand what I meant with Vannette until later. But this time around, I am willing to listen.

She wants to be a superhero. Save the boy. Be violent. Love her snarky friends and family. Be silent and content. Take photographs. And hear stories about stars.

And I want to go through all that with her too.

It feels like I'm talking to an old friend. It feels like a reconciliation.

As dumb as this sounds, I don't think I meant to cause myself so much harm. I think it was an honest mistake trying to keep feeling good about something and not wanting to let it go.

But as you all know, there are millions of ways to feel good.



TLDR: fuck it. Write whatever the hell you want to write. You will be happy you did.