Monday, February 25, 2013

Do What Feels Natural

When it comes to writing (and probably other things, but it’s not like I’m going to be talking about those here), it’s sometimes not a bad idea to simply do what feels natural to you, to give in to your strengths. I've recently come to the realization that I tend to write best in first-person POV. I have no idea why, but I noticed when I write in third-person, I tend to pull away from the protag a bit, be a bit distance-y. And, in general, that's something I always try to avoid.  I want to be right there in the protagonist’s direct thoughts and feelings, so readers feel like they’re perceiving the world and story through the protag’s eyes.  For me, that tends to lead to a stronger reading experience, and for me that’s best achieved in first-person.  Maybe when I write in third, the very fact that I refer to the protagonist as a “he” or “she,” rather than “I,” naturally starts to pull me away from the protag and things only get worse from there.  But either way, I wind up having to do lots of revision to make the POV tighter and closer when I write in third-person POV.  So now, I think I’m not going to fight it anymore, and just plain write in first-person POV. 

That’s not to say I won’t write in third-person if the story calls for it.  If I happen to think of a story idea that involves multiple POVs and it simply makes sense to go for third-person, then I will.  But I figure, why purposefully go for third when I tend to write better in first?  Why fight my nature?

I realized this same type about myself a while ago regarding the audience I write for.  At first I wrote adult stories, then realized very quickly I’m naturally better suited for a younger audience, so I wrote in the young adult genre.  But turns out I have more of a natural middle-grade voice, so now I write middle-grade, and I love it.  Why fight it, you know?

But again, that doesn’t mean I won’t write outside my natural comfort zone(s) should the occasion arise.  I plan to start writing my adult superhero story (now that I’m nearing pre-planning completion), and we’ll see how that goes.  But I’d say that, in general (as there are always exceptions, of course), write to your strengths and what feels natural to you.

Monday, February 11, 2013


So it appears I'm at a crossroads, which happens to writers all the time (or so I suspect) - one of those times when I'm really not sure what to work on next. Queries for my thesis for my Seton Hill Writing Popular Fiction MFA program are out to agents, my new middle-grade dystopian book is out with critique partners, and, well, I'm not sure what to do right now.

Part of that is because I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with my MG epic fantasy story. I don't even want to count how many times I've considered just trunking this story. I still love it, but I'm not really sure what to do with it. There are some revisions I could do, but part of me wonders if I shouldn't just chalk it up to a practice novel and move on. Especially since that new story idea (the adult superhero one) has been knocking on my door. That being said, I'm really not quite so sure the new story is the "real deal." Perhaps if I did some brainstorming for it, I'd figure that out. But then again I've worked so hard on the epic fantasy...In a way it seems like a waste not to keep plugging away on that one.

Argh! Don't you just hate times like these! And meanwhile, time passes and in the back of my head I wish I'd just be productive already! But I guess the fact of the matter is this is just part of the writing process. Figuring out what to work on next. So I guess I shouldn't let it get to me too much.

Well, wish me luck. Hopefully the answer to this mindbogglingly perplexing problem will solidify sooner rather than later.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Brand-spanking New Story Idea!

So within the past week I was bombarded with a new story idea.  It just hit me one day, and I was completely obsessed with it for two days straight.  It’s been only a few days since I first thought of the idea, but I still can’t stop thinking about it.  There are quite a few funny things about this (cue the nifty bullet points).

1.      Story ideas are incredibly rare for me.  So many writers are constantly bombarded by story ideas—usually with so many they get distracted and don’t know which one to write (or so I hear).  Not with me.  Story ideas that I’m genuinely excited about hardly ever come around.  The last one that did was the idea for my MG dystopian story, and that was about 8 or 9 months ago.  Yeah…it’s been that long since an idea pounced on me with its sharp, clingy claws (how's that for a metaphor?).

2.      This story idea is for an adult novel.  WHOA!!!  Seriously, at this point I thought for sure I was a children’s book writer (particularly within the science fiction/fantasy genres), and would be forever.  So now...maybe not.  This poses a couple problems for me, however.  Such as writing with an adult voice.  I’ve been trying to master a children’s voice (particularly a boy’s) for so long, it’d probably be quite tough for me to transition to an adult’s.  That, plus the book will have to be adult-length, and as I’ve said, I’m an extremely sparse writer.  So another whopping difficulty/challenge (not that I’m one to back down from a challenge; just sayin’).

3.      This story is a superhero story.  I’ve never written a superhero story before in my life!  I take it that makes this an Adult Fantasy novel, but I’m not even sure.  Something I will have to research, but it’s kind of wild that I’ve never done this type of story before.  But that’s also a part of the reason why I like it—it’s unique—to me, that is.  I’m sure there are a couple other superhero stories out there (OK, there are millions).

4.      The story idea was entirely built around a theme.  This is another first-time affair for me.  Usually I have to write the whole story, or at least most of it, before I even begin to understand what the theme/the whole point of it is.  But I literally built this story around the theme, so the theme is a massive reason why I’m really excited about this story idea right now.
So, yeah, a lot of firsts there.  It’s still way too early to know if I will go through with this story, but each time I think about it, I get goosebumps.  Of course, that’s happened to me before with other story ideas that wound up not panning out.  (One time I had an idea for an adult contemporary novel—even more out of my typical zone—but it wound up not panning out.)  Sometimes you just gotta cycle through a few ideas until you weed out the gold ones from the fake-gold ones.  Good thing is, I have a lot of time to figure that out about this one.  I’m still hard at work on my dystopian story, which has a long way to go before it’s done, and I’m still not entirely sure what I’ll do, if anything, with my MG epic fantasy story.  Either way, I’ll be sure to keep you posted about whether this new idea vanishes, leaving a green stain behind, or if it turns out to be the real thing.
How about you?  Do you cycle through story ideas a lot?  Are you constantly bombarded by ideas or does only the rare one entice you?