Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What JK Rowling Can Teach Us about Picking a Genre

Have you heard that every author should pick a genre? It's been mentioned on Go Teen Writers and I agree with it--it gives your readers a good idea of what to expect. I, for example, write YA speculative fiction. That said...
JK Rowling shaped my childhood so much, I don't know who I'd be if I hadn't read her books.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)
Source My favorite J.K. Rowling book. :)
But, I have a complaint. Now that she's done with writing HP, she's willy-nilly writing whatever she feels like--adult novels! Children's books! While she has the right to publish whatever she wants, as a reader, this is kind of disorienting, because I don't know what I'm getting from her anymore. A book about dentists? An epic fantasy? A historical? It's far more comforting as a reader if I know the author will be writing something in the same genre, or a similar one. Kami Garcia, for example, after writing the Beautiful Creatures books, for example, is writing another YA paranormal romance--though I think this one is darker that BC. Her writing partner, Margaret Stohl, while she's venturing out and writing a YA scifi--which I can't wait to read!--she's still staying within YA spec fic. I have an idea of what to expect from both of them. (Or at least I think I do, lol!)
I'm not saying that you have to write the same exact genre and again. I'm not suggesting if you write historicals, you can only write about WWII forever. You can write about other periods in time. But it would be weird to see you write a fantasy.

What do you guys think? Should an author be able to write whatever comes to mind, or should they pick a genre, even if it's a general one like speculative fiction?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

What BC can Teach Us About Originality in Writing

So, y'all know that I am big fan of the Caster Chronicles by now. Like, it's my second favorite series out there. (First is Harry Potter.) Anyway, the release of the movie trailer has gotten me wondering: Why do I like this series so much?
BTW, before we get too far, here is the trailer:
If that premise doesn't get you excited, I don't know what will. :P
Anyway, as you can see from the trailer, Lena doesn't get to chose if she's good or evil. It will be decided for her when she turns sixteen. I mean, that's revolutionary for a book. I've never read a book where the MC has no choice if they get to be good or evil. I mean, what? That's totally new. I mean, even in my own books, the MC gets to chose if she wants to be good or evil. Anyway, aside from the amazing characters, beautiful setting, I think what I love most about those books, is how original they manage to feel. I've felt things I've never felt before while reading this series.
Source. Englert and I-can't-spell-his-last-name don't really fit my mental picture, but this does fit the tone of the book a little. I love Ethan/Lena. I don't care how many people say she's emo, she's having a hard time. *Restrains self from going on an EthanXLena defense rant.* I WILL GO DOWN WITH THIS SHIP!
Anyway, my point here is, is that the authors take risks. They're willing to do things are the reader won't even consider in order to make their story a bit more original. Ugh, I really wish I could go into this deeper without spoilers--and trust me, you don't want the plot spoiled, but I can think of off the top of my head... Uh, five times that they did something that absolutely stunned me. And now I feel like they've challenged me as a writer to always ask... How can I take this plot further? How can I shock the reader, deepen the stakes? Make things even harder? Make the reader's heart break a little more?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

More Romance Thoughts, with help from the Doctor

*spoilers from Doctor Who, mostly first two seaons*
Okay, so if you follow my tumblr then you know that I have been watching a lot of Doctor Who lately. It is an awesome show and one thing that I have grown to love is the pairing 9th/10th Doctor/Rose.
Source (I think... You never know with the internet. But yeah, thanks to whoever made this!)
Okay, so major spoiler alert from the end of season two: What makes Doctor/Rose a great pairing is that they don't end up together. The show starts with Rose accompanying the Doctor on his journeys through time and space and along the way, they fall in love. And it's a beautiful, wholesome love because they never even really act on their feelings for each other--they're just there and it's obvious they would do anything for each other.
Then stuff happens and Rose is trapped where the Doctor can't come get her. They have to say goodbye for good. It's a beautiful story:
Source (Mostly likely. Like I said, you never know. Once again, thanks whoever made this!)
Yes, I know those who like happy endings are like "What, are you kidding me?" right now. And while I think some stories can work with a happy ending, sometimes, if you want your story to really stick with people, you gotta do something that will make them cry every now and then. The Doctor and Rose wouldn't really stick with me as much right now if they didn't have a sad ending. The fact that they want to be together and can't because of where she is... So heartbreaking! Whereas if they flew off into space and stayed together for the rest of Rose's life? Boring, and very forgettable.
That said, this tactic can backfire if you don't use it right. The writers of DW give the Doctor plenty of time to grieve Rose after she's gone. He doesn't find someone else right away--as far as I know, he doesn't find anyone else romantically for a season and a half or something like that. (River, right? I'm only on season/series 3.) They show the Doctor grieving Rose: Wondering what she would think about things if she was there, imagining/remembering himself dancing with her when a crowd of people are dancing, finding some of her stuff on board the TARDIS. (aka his space ship, for those not in the know.) He doesn't move on right away, and if you're going to do the sad route, you have to make sure you get the pacing right, or it makes the whole storyline for nothing. If the Doctor had a new love two episodes later, it would have cheapened his and Rose's love story, in my opinion. 
Oh, and if you're going to bring in a new love interest afterward, make sure they have personality. I don't want to spend the whole new romance thinking, using the Doctor as an example, "I hate this new person, bring back Rose."  That is the last thing you want your readers thinking, so please make sure the new person is as enjoyable and has as much chemistry as the old couple. Just make sure that they are different from the old couple. I don't know about everyone else, but I don't want a repeat of what I just saw, but with a new face.
Anyway, that's all, hope you found this helpful. :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What Evie from Paranormalcy Can Teach Us About Character Voice

Okay, so I've been rereading Paranormalcy to prepare myself for Endlessly. (I tried to read it and I couldn't remember any of the plot, lol.)
And anyway, one thing I've always loved about Evie is that she has a great voice. Here are some things I love about her:

  1. She has flaws that repulse even her. (Can't go into what, spoiler.)
  2. She feels hurt and lonely at times. For example, she often feels hurt that her guardian, Raquel, isn't her real mom, and when Raquel reminds Evie that she is an employee, it hurts her feelings. 
  3. Despite those things, she is happy, and blubbly; something I love. She chooses to be happy and not negative. 
  4. The best things about Evie are the little details, like her love of pink, her pink-and-rimestone taser, the fact that she has a favorite TV show(Easton Heights.), how she says "bleep" in place of cuss words. Those little things make her feel so real and three dimensional to me. I mean, how do you not love a character who fangirls at lockers?
  5. Just seeing Evie going about her routine is great--like when she meets with her tutor Charlotte, and hasn't done her homework(And writes in Spanish "I am dead meat." :D), to her going on a bag-and-tag (aka her job) and going to talk with her best friend when she gets back, and then chill after that by watching Easton Heights. White took the time to get to know her MC that is for sure. 
So what are some things that we can take out of Evie?