Tuesday, August 31, 2010

When ideas run amuck

I always find when I start a new story idea that the idea changes several times before I come to the one that will make up the story (which means that I'm constantly rewriting the first chapter). My new idea hasn't been any different. I wrote the first chapter, thought it was so-so, so I rewrote that... better.

Then, my mind just kept working and I've had several more ideas (lucky I haven't had time to write the chapter), but now I'm sure I've landed on the final idea that I'll be sticking with.

First idea: a girl gets accepted to a high school that is actually a reality television show.

Final idea: a girl gets into trouble with the law (actually her friend committed the crime), and she gets the ultimatum of going to juvie and having a record of the crime, or going to a behaviour management school that is actually a tv show and one of the most popular soap operas (a reality show that no one knows is actually reality... and no one knows that a bunch of delinquents are the main stars).

So, does anyone else have this problem? How many times do you rewrite the first chapter before you're happy with the direction it's going?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Looking for Inspiration

Wow, I never knew writing a story that doesn't involved mythical creatures, magic or evil demons could be so hard... I've been trying to find inspiration so yesterday I took a trip down to the local video store and picked up a handful of teen movies... don't know whether they're doing the trick, but it's definitely a way to procrastinate.

I find that movies are a great source of inspiration when I seriously require it. They also let my mind relax after it's been working to hard, that's a great way to free up your mind so new ideas can come.

So, what do you do when you need inspiration?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ghosts of the Past...

About 1 year ago I did not see the point of social networking, I had never even thought about starting up a facebook page. I mainly did to keep contact with people from my old job when I left it, and then it became a place to meet new writers from all over the world.

I have recently been contacted by people I have not seen or spoken with for over 10 years (wow, I was surprised they still remembered me). And then, yesterday I was tagged in a photo, it was my class picture from year 6... wow, that was a long time ago.

The internet is such an interesting place where pictures from over 15 years can crop up without any notice.

I guess the same can be said about things that are written and uploaded to the net. Even if they get deleted, they still remain as a ghost... that could come back to haunt you. I'm very careful about what I place on the internet, I know that it's not just me who's going to see it. But, it's also very hard to monitor photos or other information that include me that others upload.

How do you decide what information to post online. Are you a part of an online social network?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Review: Vampire Rising (Alex Van Helsing #1)

Vampire Rising (Alex Van Helsing) by Jason Henderson
Synopsis (From Goodreads): A descendant of legendary vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing, fourteen-year-old Alex is stuck at boarding school near Lake Geneva, Switzerland, when he finds himself drawn into a web of paranormal intrigue. It turns out that Lake Geneva is also home to a secret school for vampires called the Scholomance—and now to a dangerous vampire clan lord known only as Icemaker, who’s using the Scholomance for his own dangerous endgame. With the help of his friends and of special agent Sangster, it’s up to Alex to fulfill his family destiny and stop Icemaker’s frightening plans once and for all.

Alex Van Helsing is a showstopping hero set to leap off the page—stake, naturally, in hand. Drawing from centuries of actual vampire lore and literature (and with a nod to zombies, too!), Jason Henderson delivers a breathlessly paced thriller that will captivate vampire fans as well as readers who loved Alex Rider.

Jason Henderson has created a unique twist on a legendary character. Alex Van Helsing is a descendant of the legendary Van Helsing, but doesn't know it. All that he knows is that his dad sent him to boarding school because of a fight. Now, he's sharing a room with the resident twin bullies who would rather make his life a living hell. After a series of attacks occur just outside of the school and he chases one of the attackers (something that resembles a vampire), Alex stumbles upon a secret organisation which his father was apparently a member of. He gets drawn into the centre of the action when a dangerous vampire shows up with frightening plans. It's up to Alex along with his friends and Special Agent Sangster to stop these plans and save the world... as long as Alex's father doesn't find out.

Henderson has breathed life into unique characters that jump off the page and Alex has a genuine and interesting voice. There is plenty of action in the pages that will keep you turning to the next, with lots of twists and turns as the story progresses. Some of the action was a bit unrealistic, like how Alex is able to kill a vampire so easily without even training for it, but that can easily be forgiven because it is just a fun story and it really draws the reader in amongst the action

Cover: The cover is interesting. It offers a hint of mystery and introduces the reader to the main character.

Plot: 4/5 stars
Ending: 4/5 stars
Cover: 4/5 stars
Overall: 4/5 stars
Recommend: Alex Rider novels
Debut Author Challenge: #8 of 12

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What Genre do you Read or Write?

Well, I feel like a time for a change. I usually stick with paranormal. Actually, I love anything paranormal. But, I've had a strong impulse to write something contemporary (along with an idea). I have read other contemporary stories, but I always find myself moving back over to the paranormal side.

So, what sort of stories do you read or write?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wonders of a Nice Car Ride

I love driving. In the car is probably where I get the most ideas and I can think them through without many distractions. Well, yesterday I spent all day in the car. I drove for 13 hours to get home and help my sister prepare for her exams... big exams.

On the trip I was able to plot out an entire story, and this was an idea I didn't have beforehand. The only problem is, I really couldn't make the necessary notes (or I would be stopping every five minutes) so I'm hoping I can remember everything I had planned.

So, when do you find ideas come to you the most?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Review: The Chosen One

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
Synopsis (From Goodreads): Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated polygamous community without questioning her father’s three wives and her twenty brothers and sisters. Or at least without questioning them much—if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that Kyra must marry her 60-year-old uncle—who already has six wives—Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family.

Carol Lynch Williams has created an emotional journey as we follow one girl who must make a hard decision between her freedom or her family. Kyra is only 13, but she's seen more than what most people see in their lifetimes. She's witnessed beatings of babies, young girls being married off to old men, and woman being murdered for reasons she does not know. Kyra had never thought anything of it, it was what she had grown up to know and except, but when she's chosen to marry not only a man 50 years older than her, but also her uncle, she starts to see the world differently.

Kyra's story is full of emotion and the reader comes to understand the world she lives in, this is a story that was hard to put down from beginning to end as she tries to make the decision whether to escape or give up her freedom for her family. Williams has painted a vivid picture of what this polygamist society is like, and the way Kyra feels is easy to imagine, especially when she keeps thinking she's sinning for reading and hiding books in her tree, or when she wants to be with another boy which she knows is not allowed.

Kyra's journey is wonderful and it was great to see her strength grows as she comes to truly understand the horrors of her society, and understand that if she stays she will never be safe.

Cover: The cover is beautiful. It shows a sort of isolation, which paints th scene so well. The only thing that didn't fit with the cover was the clothing that the character on it is wearing. No girl in the society would wear something like that.

Plot: 5/5 stars
Ending: 5/5 stars
Cover: 4/5 stars
Overall: 5/5 stars
recommend:  For those that love emotion packed stories

Friday, August 6, 2010

Your take on Originality

Well, yesterday I gave the question of whether you write for the audience or yourself... today is along similar lines. It's already been established (I hope) that to be a writer you've got to read and write as much as possible. That being said, how can you make sure what you write is your own idea, or even original?

I've been working on Haven for way too long, and every now and again a novel with similar elements crop up (like one called 'Haven' which is being released next year... Now I know I've got to change the title). I guess that everything's been done and nothing's original anymore, but how come people are still devouring novel after novel? I believe it's the spin they put on the familiar.

Here's a quick (and just totally made up) formula for creating an intriguing story:
  1. Start with the familiar - the audience has to be able to relate, and having something that they know will help hook them.
  2. Add a spin - something that's never been done, even if the character just has a quirk that will make them stand out from every other character out there.
  3. Populate the world - more of the familiar, make the characters stand out and break from stereotypes (I hate stereotypical characters, but love the quirky ones)
  4. Make them suffer - hey, this is where the interest lies (I often think my characters are going to mutiny against me because of the amount of pain I put them through)... it's all worth it
  5. Enjoy what you write... you can't write a good story if you don't like it.
I believe that originality lies in the spin, the one thing that differentiates the story/novel from all the others on the same topic. But, that just makes the story even better reading something from an angle that I had never thought about before.

Do you think there's anything original these days?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Writing for an Audience

I've been doing several university classes that are mainly based on personal opinion (politics of the education system and such), and there have been a lot of complaints about the marking of assignments not being the fairest. I've also been called a 'sell out' because I'm giving the marker exactly what he wants to hear... just because I'm getting top marks for it.

But, this got me thinking, when writing are writers aware of what their audiecne wants? I can say that when I write, I write for myself... but, I also induldge in a lot of YA's so I know exactly what's out there and what's interesting, so I guess I know what the audience wants.

How about you? Do you write what for an audience or do you hope there'll be an audience for when you finish?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Practice makes perfect...

While doing a uni assignment (something that has nothing to do with writing, but more with funding of schools), I stumbled upon a reading that said something like, just as musicians can't perfect their instruments without practice, neither can the artist and the brush, but when it comes to writing a lot of people believe that they can just put pen to paper and create a story.

Yes, anyone can create a story, but it's the ones who take the time to practice and continually write whenever they get the chance who's the one's to perfect their own craft. I had never thought of writing in the same way as being a musician (I play guitar, and when I'm practicing that my fingers are almost raw from the strings, writing doesn't feel like that), but I do spend time to work on my stories.

What are some ways to practice writing?
  1. Reading as much as possible (how can you write if you don't read? Yes, I have heard people say they don't read).
  2. Write as much as you can, whether it's a short story, novel or even a daily entry in a journal... everything helps.
  3. Participate in critique groups... not only do you get valuable criticism on what you can do to improve that story, but reading and critiquing other's works is good practice at developing your eyes at spotting slight mistakes.
  4. Take a writing course... this is where you can learn different skills and strengthen your weaknesses.
I gather the pen (or computer) to the writer is like the guitar to the musician, and only practice will help to perfct the craft.

So, what do you do to practice your craft?
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