Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Discussion Post!

What I'm Listening To: Cinema Bizarre - Escape to the Stars

What I'm Doing: Reading Nightmare by Piers Anthony, and trying to decide between actual food, or more coffee.

Because I can't (or don't know how to) reply to comments, and some of you have left meaningful, interesting, and insightful comments on some of the things I've got to say about writing, and I just can't not start a discussion about them. (Mostly because, if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know this already: I like to talk.)

Point of View

tokidoki-muse: I was mostly ranting because I'd just seen thirty plus badly written, first person excerpts. First person isn't as horrible as I seemed to have made it out to be, in my own opinion. Mami said something similar, that once she starts working on a book, it'll tell her what it's going to be written in, and some of them refuse to be written in anything BUT first person, so I'm not going to rag on your book, simply because it's in first person, which would make me a hipocrite in any case, because the vampire-novel idea that I've got kicking around around in my brain is in first person, itself. Also, a bit of a nightmare is a bit of an understatement. XDD Instead of rewriting the whole MS, just try rewriting certain scenes in third person limited, see how they work, and if you could possibly do the whole thing that way, or if it would be better off as is, in first person.

marynoel: That felt weird. I'm so used to calling you Mami... XD Any way, I've already told you about the spine-creasing and whatnot. And I've always thought that I wouldn't be able to write in first person, and obviously, after thirty-fourty first-person, badly written excerpts, I was ready to tear first-person out of the book altogether, but then I found myself building the possible-vampire novel in my head, and the main character immediately started narrating in first person. I was actually tempted to post the first words that came out of his mouth in my own 'are you hooked' post, and find out if it would be decently eye-catching. AND PERHAPS I SHALL SUGGEST THAT TO THE ANONYMOUS AUTHORESS, AND YOU WILL GET ANOTHER CHANCE. ^3^

farfums: I don't think it limits possible dialogue, because I see it as instead of sitting on the shoulder of the main character, you are instead sitting inside the head of the main character; you'd still be hearing the same things that your MC hears, so it doesn't matter if you're outside or inside, if there's two people too far away from the MC to hear what they're saying, you're still getting no dialogue. And I HEARTILY suggest you find The Shadowy Horses and Sunshine, as they are, to me, the pinnacle of first-person, as well as altogether amazing novels.

Story Creation

Valerie Wangnet: Thank you for commenting! I love hearing about how other people write, because it's such a personal process. I've heard fiction described as 'pouring your soul out to complete strangers' but I consider it more like... making a pretty picture. With words, naturally. But I often compare writing to drawing. You're doing the same thing, in my opinion, only instead of presenting people with ready-made images, you're creating the images with words, and then giving people the option of creating their own pictures from those words. No matter how a character is described to me in a book, I form my own image of their appearance based on how they act, and on other characters that I've seen. Prince Josua, from The Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn Trilogy by Tad Williams, is described as having close-cropped hair (which I initially imagine to look like the stereotyped 'Roman' look) but after that first mention of his hair, when I picture him in my mind, he's got somewhat shaggy, ear-length hair.
And I suppose I lied slightly about creating a story, and then stuffing characters into it. Mostly, my ideas come to me as single-shot images, or ideas - a world where dragons, elves, and unicorns are the norm, a forest ravaged by a nuclear explosion, a 'vampire story' unlike most of the popular vampire novels out there. The stories come to me (I'd be fooling myself and everyone else if I tried to say I create these ideas) based on those initial images or wants, and then the characters to fill those stories arrive.

tokidoki-muse: Gladly taken. They own mine, too, but I refuse to allow myself to fall into the 'vampire romanticism' that has swept the nation with Twilight; if you get right down to the bare bones of it, there's nothing romantic about vampires. Someone said (and I forget who) that vampires are walking corpses who eat people.
No one romanticises zombies.

Inspiration (in the weirdest places)

moonrat: My friend told me about you commenting on my blog, and for a moment, I was terrified. Thank you for taking the time to drop by, though! I'm glad you think so. I'm excited, too.

Some Good Advice and a little more

jessjordan: I read this at nearly three in the morning last night, and it was your comment that sparked the need to create this post, because you raised some interesting points, and I couldn't let it rest without talking to you about it. First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a comment. It was incredibly heartening to know that I'm not just blowing smoke, and actually say things worth thinking about occasionally, and your comment gave me quite a lot to think about, myself.

I'd originally imagined Eversong to be three, self-contained books in which the conflict of each book is resolved at the end of the book, not the end of the trilogy, but what makes it a trilogy, a set, and not just three books in the same 'world' is that they follow Vicky as a person, going from a slightly-lost twenty-something with no aim in life, and few friends, to finding - and losing - her first love, to finding good friends, and growing as a person, to eventually become a powerful, important person with great inner-strength.

I believe what I'm trying to say is character-driven stories, not plot-driven. I use the same example as from my post here, in the LotR trilogy; characters drive the story anyway, I'm aware of that. Someone (my memory feels like a collander at the moment, and all the important bits slipped out through the holes and left me with vague ideas and memories of what people have said, but not who said it in the first place) said that if in LotR, Aragorn had been the one to take the One Ring to the volcano, then the story would have been much different, nigh unrecognisable. It's Frodo's journey to destroy the ring that makes it what it is, but there is no resolution of major conflicts at the end of each book. You've got to read all three, in order, in order to reach a satisfying conclusion, and as I said, the first book is interesting and attention grabbing because it's the introduction; you get to know your characters, get to see them starting out on their massive journey, and become friends with them. The last book is interesting, because you see how their travels have changed these new friends of yours, and you get to see them triumph in the end, but the middle book sags just a bit, because there's nothing really... happening. They're traveling a lot, and having mini-adventures, and fighting battles, but it just put me in mind of a rope-bridge - on either side of the chasm you're crossing, the bridge is tight and balanced, but in the middle, it droops because of gravity. And that's just my own opinion, and what I, personally, took away from them, and it coloured my desire to NOT fall into the same rope-bridge story, to instead make it a suspension bridge - it's solid and bends enough in the wind so as to not break, but without the suspension cables - the characters, in this case - the whole thing would collapse under it's own weight.

Also; longwindedness is a word if you say it is. x3 The stars and spirits know that I've made up enough words in my day (publishment, I think was the one I said in a previous post)

I value people's opinions, because in my own, Eversong can do no wrong, and I wouldn't see it from enough distance to know why people were calling it contrived, and not good enough, or whatever else you can think of to say about it. It's like being on a mountain, versus looking at it from afar. When you're on a mountain, the only thing that matters is what's right in front of you, but if you're standing at a proper distance, you can get a proper look at the whole thing, and make observations about it as a complete unit.

I hadn't thought of it that way, as in your examples of option 1 and option 2, but you made an extremely good point, and I'm going to try to work that in somehow in order to keep it flowing, introducing the conflict of the next book at the end of the one that precedes it. That would also negate the need for a prologue in book two, explaining how the Dragon problem got started in the first place, I can make an epilogue at the end of the first one, showing that despite the defeat of the Mir'naam (what I referred to as 'dark elves' up until the point that I actually started writing) all is not well in the land of Eversong, that someone is climbing a forbidden mountain, and no good will come of it.

That sets up the next book neatly, and gets people's attention, "OMG, what's going to happen next? I can't wait for the next book!"

I just realised that I'm talking my way through this to you, and somewhat apologise. It's just easier for me to talk my way through problems, rather than sit and think about it myself.

As for the characters, I could also begin set-up for the emotional conflict between Jesse and Vicky somehow; I'm glad you pointed that out. You've helped immensely. <3

And I couldn't get that out of my head all last night; "If you make me love Vicky, I'll follow her anywhere." It's reinforced my desire to make Vicky a likable, relatable person, and not just a 'hollow placeholder for fans' in the way Bella Swan of Twilight was described; someone you wouldn't want to BE, but someone you can sympathise with, and become friends with as you read.

Thank you SO SO SO MUCH for your huge comment. <333 You may find yourself mentioned somewhere when I FINALLY get myself to the point of publication, because you've contributed immensely to the way Eversong is going to work.


ReNu: Oh thank god. XDD Thank you for commenting! I am absolute pants at naming things (or rather, titling things, as names come to me as easily as breathing.) I was slightly worried that Eversong, despite it's aesthetically pleasing sound (to me), wouldn't grab people's attention, and that's the base of all books. It doesn't matter how well it's written, or how good it is overall, if it's got a bad title, no one's going to pick it up to find out if it's good.

Thank you again to everyone who's taken the time to read and comment so far, and a thank you in advance to anyone who feels the need to comment in the future. I absolutely adore your comments, and every little bit of good advice helps.


  1. Omi: I have the same problem with replying to comments. I know you can post a comment in your own box, but as far as I know, the original commenter doesn't receive a head's up that you've replied.

    Anywho ...
    First off, I'm flattered to spark the need for a post. I feel like I should wear my sunglasses at night and run around town like a rockstar :)
    Second, I love that you consider 3 in the morning to still be "last night" So long as I'm awake and the sun's absent, it's nighttime in my book.
    Third, I'm glad I decided to stalk your blog tonight (restraining order alert!), or I may have missed this post altogether.

    Now I'll get on with it already:
    It's funny: I haven't read much about Vicky until recently, and I just assumed she was a teen (between 16 and 19). Right now, that's how I see her, especially with the pictures of the Gossip Girl peeps you have posted elsewhere (even though they're 20'ish or maybe even older, I see them as high school kids). But I would love to see more books in the twenty-something genre, especially ages 20-25. imho, there's just not enough of books targeting this age group out there.

    I love the idea of Vicky finding and losing her first love (although I would want to know why, at the age of 20-something, she's never been in love before), as well as her growing and gaining confidence, strength, etc. So long as Vicky continues to make this type of progression throughout your series, then the audience (or at least the ones like me) will definitely want to be at her side from the beginning until the end of her journey.

    I appreciate and agree with your one-big-journey/bridge comparison. I can't think of a book 2 off the top of my head that doesn't fall short of books 1 and 3 in some way. But I'm okay with it, so long as book 2 leaves my appetite wet for book 3.

    What matters most to me (whether we're talking trilogies or single works) are the characters. Certainly, every story/book must have a plot, and the plot must move the story forward, but if the characters don't have enough going on, then I really don't care if they make it from point A to point Z.

    If your story is more like the suspension bridge you described, with the characters pulling the story forward, I think you--and future readers--will be satisfied with the outcome, no matter whether you choose 3 separate battles or a bunch of mini-battles leading to 1 big explosion.

    I love the idea of introducing the conflict of the next book at the end of the preceding one. It would also be kind of cool if the readers knew a conflict was brewing (e.g., the mysterious mountain climber), but Vicky wasn't quite aware just yet. If I was the reader, what I would also like to see is the author leaving a few open-ended, dangling threads that need to be tied up--for instance, the Vicky/Jesse thing that you mentioned. I know Eversong isn't a love story at its heart, but an undercurrent of love/sexual tension b/w your characters is never a bad thing. And, as a fellow twenty-something, I'd expect some sort of love/lust element to the story.

    So long as Book 1 doesn't reach that happily-ever-after moment that I talked about before, AND so long as I see that Vicky is changing as a character but still has a lot of personal growth left in her, then I'll stick with her through books 2 and 3 ... maybe even 4, if your mind takes you there.

    I admire your determination to make Vicky a likeable character--someone who is real, with the ability to be frustrating and likeable all at once. As you may remember from my last post, I shamelessly read the Twilight books. I'm not sure why I stuck with them, but I can tell you why I didn't: Bella. I hated her. She was whiny, weak, and one-dimensional ... and those were pretty much her only personality traits. She was the epitome of a placeholder. I am sad for anyone that wants the narrator to be an empty, personality-free shell.

    I love that you set your standard for Vicky higher. Vicky is not me. Even if I am immensely jealous of her, her journey, and her self-discovery, she has a personality, and that personality is not mine. Which is exactly as it should be. What is important to me, as the reader, is that you make me want to be her friend, so that I can tell her just how jealous I am that I'm NOT her. :)

    You are very welcome for the comment, and thank YOU for your reply. It puts a huge smile on my face to know that something I said, or technically, typed, made a difference in your story-telling. (And I'm not even going to pretend: a shout out somewhere down the road would be pretty freaking awesome.)

    I wish you the very best of luck on the rocky, winding path to publication. I'm on that road right now, waving at you from around a corner. See me there, between the trees? :)

  2. p.s. I'm not sure if you've seen this link before, but I thought it was interesting.

    The website gives you the likelihood of achieving bestseller success based upon the title of your book. If nothing else, it's entertaining!