Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Hope everyone has a fun safe night tonight! I'll be in class and studying for tests until the sunsets, and then I plan on dressing up and going down town with a few friends for an hour or two-nothing too exciting, but better than nothing.

Then I plan on coming home to finish reading a book of scary stories and maybe watch an episode or two of Buffy, and maybe prepare a bit more for Nano (National Novel Writing Month).

Any fun plans for the evening? Any cool costumes I should be jealous of?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Casting Call

I came across this blog hop co-hosted by MelodieLisa, and Carrie at So You're a Writer earlier today and it looked like so much fun, I had to sign up and participate. It's open until the 28th, so feel free to join in if you haven't already.

Vallanie (Val) Sharp

The spunky sixteen-year-old narrator of The Chronicles of Vallanie Sharp was genetically designed by her artist mother to embody the perfect balance of intelligence and creativity. She's about as tough to cast as she is to catch in her dystopian homeland, but after spending a good hour searching google images, I've narrowed it down to three strong contestants:

The first has the hair right, and the somewhat more innocent (yet possibly suspicious) gaze I'm sure Val mastered at a young age. I could see her as how Val starts out in the early chapters. 

The second is closest to what I imagined her to look like (her hair is dark, though she dies it blonde).

But if I had to cast one of these gorgeous young ladies as the heroine Val, I would cast the third-she looks almost exactly as I imagined Val to look in the end, and she has the attitude down. Just suit her up in some dark futuristic clothing and she's good to go!

So I finally got around to watching Twilight...

I'm going to start by saying I read the first book when I was in high school, and loved it. I read the second book, and hated it. Then someone told me to try the third, so I did, but I wasn't a fan. I made it half-way through the fourth and gave up. I'd seen part of the first movie before, but it didn't look great, so I never thought to rent it.

Over the weekend my roommate borrowed all three movies from a friend and had a mini-marathon. Twilight was OK, if not a little boring (I mean, half the movie is just Edward and Bella looking at each other). The book was appealing because of the whole sort of day-dreamy mood we got by being in Bella's head, but it just didn't translate to screen well. It was a book about emotions, which is hard to base a movie around.

I skipped New Moon because I disliked the book so much.

And then I tried eclipse because I'd heard it was much better and... it was much better! I was pleasantly surprised. It was neat to see more of the other Cullens and their backstories. Bella still annoyed me, but other than that, there wasn't much to complain about. It felt a little more balanced between the romance story-line and the supernatural plot, which I personally think made the romance part more valuable.

I'm curious to see what other people think. Any twilight fans? Twilight haters? I'd be curious to know what's so appealing about it, or what's so unappealing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Novel Attraction

What is it that attracts us to the books we love? Is there a difference between what stories males find attractive and what stories females do?

Over the past week, I've seen many questions raised over the issue of gender and novels. We all know women are more likely to pick up a romance book than men are, but what about a generic piece of fiction-are women more likely to read a book with a strong female protagonist or a hansom masculine hero? Are men likely to choose an action-packed plot heavy piece, or one that really delves into the characters?

From a psychological standpoint, it would make sense that females are drawn to more character-centric pieces, while men are drawn to more plot-centric works. Why? Because females, in general, tend to be relationship based (not exclusively in a romantic sense, but we focus more on emotions and interpersonal relations (think connection, friendships, gossip, etc)) while men, in general, focus more on activities and achievement. Whether these are innate or culturally infused, it would make sense that we carry these natural interests into the books we read or the movies we watch for entertainment.

This could, perhaps, also play a role in the characters we're attracted to. Men tend to want to read about the characters who show strength or accomplishment, while women look more towards the characters with emotional insight or turmoil? That's just my guess, but I've found it to be the case more often than not with my own acquaintances.

It would be an interesting topic to research, but I'm curious as to what you think: Are there differences between the types of books and/or characters males and females want to read about?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

High School

For a YA author, it's important to know a thing or two about high school, because chances are, that's where your characters will spending most of their time, or, in the case that they're from another realm in which school is outlawed, that's still where your readers are. 

The thing about high schools, is they can be so different. Not only can two schools be structured entirely differently, but two people in the same school-even in the same classes- can have two completely different experiences. 

For my next non-fiction piece, I think I might write about high schools, so I've been thinking about them a lot lately. It's been almost four years since I graduated (which seems WAY too long), so I thought I'd propose a fun few questions that can hopefully help anyone writing YA of any genre:

What was your high school like? Did you enjoy it? Did you despise it? Was it pretty, disgusting, or something in between? Best parts, worst parts, strongest memories? 
I was not a fan of my high school experience. We had over three-thousand students, but it was designed to hold about a thousand, so some of us had to have classes in trailers. I made some really great friends, but I met a lot of people I wished I hadn't. The lower classes were full of people who didn't care and cheated just to pass, while the upper-level classes had a few stuck-up snobby kids who called their parents in to argue for them if they made a B or lower. 

Have you ever read a book that really seemed to really capture high school life for you? 
For me, Perks of Being a Wallflower and Speak seemed to really recreate that feeling of a social environment more or less controlled by the students, who could be exceptionally mean, or incredibly nice. They captured the atmospheres of both being accepted and excluded (and how that could change a person dramatically) very well. 

Have you ever read a book where the school life was so off, you stopped reading it?
I feel like this has happened to me before, but it was so long ago, I have no idea what it was. I just remember reading something once where all the pretty teenage girls were complete brats, and yet everyone seemed to love them, and the main character who was nice and sweet was always a target by the other students and adults alike... wait, did I say one book? I meant a few...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pop Culture References in Writing

Want to make a reference to your character with a scar like Harry Potter, or a smile like Jennifer Aniston? When can we use them? In high school creative writing classes, the rule is generally: never.

But. What if it's really good? What if it's really funny? What if it's an important part of the character or the way people interact with them (a kid who looks like Harry Potter is bound to get a few snide comments now and again)?

Here are some guidelines:

  • Does it really offer anything? Move the story forward? Shape the character? If it doesn't have a purpose, it shouldn't be there. 
  • Will it be recognizable in ten years (or, as long as you expect the piece to be around)? Classic icons are usually a better choice than modern sensations. If a reference is too obscure, it's more likely to alienate a reader than anything else. 
  • If you choose to use a reference to describe or compare someone, don't put too much weight on it. For example, "his white hair stuck out in every direction, resembling Albert Einstein" is better than "he looked like Einstein" because the second one requires the reader to know who Einstein is to get the image the author is trying to convey, while in the first one, if you've never heard of (or seen a picture of) Einstein, you're not thrown out of the story. 
  • Know you're audience. If you're writing a short story for a teen music magazine, references to modern pop-stars are much more acceptable than they would be in a sports magazine.

How do you feel about authors referencing other works of fiction or celebrities in their work? Have you come across any that worked? That didn't?

Monday, October 3, 2011

October- a full month of halloween

It’s October :) Which for me, means time to drink up the pumpkin lattes and start preparing for Halloween. It’s supernatural time.

I love reading scary stories this time of year. It's when I catch up on my dark fantasy and read about all those vampires, ghosts and goblins. I'm planning a supernatural movie night with some friends, which will involve many (not too scary or gross) suspenseful horror films. 

I also love to make my own short films, and this month, we decided to step up to the occasion and do one about a demon fighter in true Buffy fashion. I’m writing the script, and so far, it’s pretty funny. We have a girl who was charged to protect the city, but doesn’t want to, and does everything she possibly can to get out of the responsibility, including trying to make deals with the demons. Then a ghost of a vampire hunter shows up asking for help, and she can’t seem to get rid of her.

So that’s more or less what I'm looking forward to this month, along with the usual school work.

Anyone else already preparing for Halloween? Planning on taking out the dark and scary books anytime soon? Or maybe you have a different October tradition?