Dark Future, Darker Past

Today’s post was inspired by the Colvinator, as we call my English teacher.  American Literature.  Fun.  ACtually, today, it was fun.  I was attentive; you see dog’s ears prick forward when they hear you rustle their bag of food or offer them a treat.  I felt like I got a treat today.  That treat was Sylvia Plath.

I think the reason I adore Sylvia is because, as a writer, I look for small details in the craft of others to put away for later.  A writer’s style may seem consistent to a reader, but it is constantly changing, growing, evolving.  So, in order to supplement that change, I read frequently.

I first picked up The Bell Jar by Plath after watching 10 Things I Hate About You for the millionth time.  That millionth time, I was able to catch the title and author of the book Julia Stiles is reading in the movie.  I picked it up at the library because when I see the same book over and over again, I become curious.  This time, my curiosity paid off.  She is one of my favorite, if not my favorite, authors.  Plath tells it exactly as it is, not dulling it to make it more pleasant to the reader.  Truth seems to be one of her great focuses, even if it isn’t direct.

Now I am a lake.  A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is…
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her.  She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.

In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day like a terrible fish.

From “Mirror”

You can really relate to her writing.  Even some of the experiences in The Bell Jar–which are collectively depressing–remind me of some aspects in my life.  That’s why I find “Mirror” (or any of her writing to be accurate):  it’s real.  People look in the mirror in the morning and mourn over their lost youth.  “She rewarded me with tears and and agitation of hands…and in me an old woman rises toward her day after day like a terrible fish.”  That last line pretty much sums up the view the US takes on aging.  It is extremely insightful, even over 25 years later.

Sadly, after two attempts at suicide, Sylvia Plath’s third attempt was successful.  She did young, beautiful, and talented.  It’s unfortunate that she threw away her wonderful gift away.  To quote the Colvinator’s thoughts: “There are changes in life, natural chagnes all around you in society, family, and so on.  You can deal with it, or you can’t.”  Ms. Plath obviously couldn’t, but her life was full of sad events and people who were horrible to her.  This is my heartfelt ode to one of the most talented American writers of all time.

How did I know that someday-at college, in Europe, somewhere, anywhere-the bell jar, with its stifling distortions, wouldn’t descend again?
~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

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Meme: High School Daze To Praise

 I was tagged by Diane, and I have to say this is a really cool little meme.  This meme began with Paul C.  The rules are as follows:

1. Select and quickly review on teen novel, classic or modern, which is an antidote to the daze of high school.
2. Title your post: Meme: High School Daze to Praise
3. Include an image.
4. Tag four other bloggers.

This book is a sequel to All-American Girl, both narrated by Sam Madison, who is in love with and dating the Presiden’ts son David.  In Ready or Not, Sam Madison comes face to face to the world of peer pressure regarding sex.  Is she ready, or not?  Hence, the title.  In the end, after embarrassing events, she decides that having sex with her boyfriend is what she WANTS to do.  This is one of the more important questions that gets completely ignored. No one has ever told ME how to know if I was ready or when I should actually start thinking about it.  It’s one of the important things that happens in high school to A LOT of people, but no one really addresses it.  Except for as a problem.  I don’t think that having sex before you’re married makes you any less ethical than people who do.  At all.   I think this qualifies breaking through the high school daze.

I tag:

-Fluffy Fan at HP Groupies Connection

-Jalysa at Winged Ham Ham

-The Struggling Writer at Struggling Writer

-Taylor

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Character Development Through My Eyes

Today we did a character sketch and I did a sketch of my teacher.  It really got me looking at how I develop my characters.  So, I am going to post an example at an initial character sketch.  It starts out as a small little anecdote that will lead into a story. 

It all started when I was 15.  I was a street kid back then, stealing to live, living with a  gang that protected me; whether they protected me because I was an asset or a female was still a question, even a decade later.  While I stole to live, the guys would steal novelties for me:  books, perfumes, old tomes in Latin.  Before the War, I had learned Latin from an aunt—she wanted to “expand my knowledge.”  I don’t know if I was grateful for my second language; it was why Christian had brought me that book.  Even now I look back and know my life would be different if Christian hadn’t found that.  My life would have been better. 

I was a demon familiar for five years.  My years as a familiar began on a drunken night and a verbal contract that I was surprised was still being upheld.  I served five years as a familiar, never leaving his side; for the rest of my life, he was able to use me for tasks he couldn’t do himself.  All in return for knowledge and partial immortality.  Immortality would have cost more than I was willing to pay; fortunately, you could buy it in small increments.  I wouldn’t age—but I would die at the end of my human life span.  Which was a start; even if that probably wouldn’t last for more than 75 years.

As soon as my years as a familiar were up, my knowledge of demons led me to my days as a demon dealer.  I am the only one I know of, so my jobs weren’t specifically contained in the United States.  But it was amazing how many Americans dealt (or wanted to deal) with demons.  I had a feeling it was their lack of superstitions that the Europeans, Africans, and Asians had believed and developed for more than a millennium.  I, however, wasn’t going to complain.

The one thing I could complain about was the book.  The damned book Christian had stolen for me.  Because, as soon as I knew what it was, I knew someone would come looking for it.  And they did.  Ten years later.

Then, I go into an outline looking thing that I love to do.  Here is an example for the character I began today as a trial run:

Name: Mel DuPree

Occupation: Demon Dealer

Age: 25

Appearance: Tall, brown hair, blue eyes

Past: Lived with a gang before starting out in demon dealing, which has led her to an almost anonymous fame and riches.  Now lives alone.

Traits: Quick to anger, tries to hide emotion, prefers her freedom to any sort of good feeling. Translation of that is men are NOT appealing to her whatsoever.

My outlines are done very colloquially.  I will even have lols, and wtfs next to my notes.  They get the “creative juices” flowing so then I can go on from the small anecdote that you saw above. Since character development is about 90% of my story, I actually pay a lot of attention to the anecdote and the little outline-ish thing.  They look skimpy, but after three or four rewrites, a lot of ink, and some handwashing, it’s partially complete.  A character sketch is never complete:  because you cannot fully develop a character to the point where you can leave them alone.  Most of the time.  Unless you kill them.  I learn new things about my characters every day.

People say, “Well, don’t you decide what happens to your characters?”  Sometimes.  However, when I get a gut instinct that tells me, “You have to do this, Kaelie.  You CANNOT get around it, dear.”  That’s when I sit down to my computer, resigned to my instincts and pen (or is that type?)  the heartbreaking event projected my heart.  Such as the death of a character a few months ago.  I still mourn his loss.  I will put a memory up to him at the end, but his name is not to be revealed, in case I finish the stories…eventually…  I may be able to decide what happens to my characters, but the outcome is usually a lot more realistic if I don’t think about it. 

These characters a part of me that I allow to live in paper.  Killing one of them is like killing a family member.  I even get attached to my villains.  I also have a tendency to make the bad guys seem really normal; which, villains are normal people.  They  may have had a screwed up childhood, or they lost a pet when they were younger.  A villain didn’t start out as a villain.  Maybe I just side with the person who doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt

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The 90 Page Mark

With the new story, Welcome to Hell, everything has gone fairly smooth.  In the two weeks I’ve been working on it, I’ve written 90 pages.  Ninety.  90 pages of a story, a set of characters, and none of it irritates me–all in two weeks.  I usually have problems with my main character:  I hate her.  She’s a petulant bitch to be frank.  No matter which character I am working on (Haven, Rebecca, Andromeda), I usually dislike her.  While I like some of their aspecets (that I gave them), the majority of the their attributes anger me.  I solved that problem with Welcome to Hell.

Jeremy Haidarn, demon, solved my problems.  I love Jeremy.  He has good traits and bad, but I’m less focused on what makes him seem bad.  With my female characters, I can only see their flaws.  I use Jeremy’s flaws to play up his good parts.  He’s a very generous blend of light and dark, day and night, and I can honestly say I love it.  I look forward to writing Jeremy, every day, unlike the characters I dread visiting even if I only jot them down in my journals.  I thought that writing from a guy’s perspective would be really difficult.  Which doesn’t really apply to my life, because the majority of the people I hang out with are guys; just because I hang out with them doesn’t mean I understand them.  But, writing Jeremy wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was going to be.

When I first started the process, I assumed that Welcome to Hell was going to be a short story, maybe a hundred pages or more.  Now that I’m almost one hundred pages deep in the story, I know it’s going to be a novel.  But at the time, I was writing for time, not quality, and, while some of it was good, the characterization became a lot easier when I didn’t have to delve into the characters past and find reason for all of their actions.  I did have to alter some of the thought processes, because I was having to think like a guy, or somewhat like it.  I changed language, but I kept his thoughts at a bare minimum until I can plausibly write his thoughts.

While writing Jeremy motivates me, the story is told by two people.  Jeremy Haidarn, demon, and Madeleine Black, cop.  Strangely, enough, Madeleine hasn’t yet earned my hatred.  I don’t mind writing from her point of view, because I know her story supplements Jeremy’s.  Creating her was just a way to make Jeremy (and his story) more believeable.  There is, however, an extreme possiblity that I’ll reinvent Madeleine’s side of the story and transfer it to Jeremy’s story, so it’s only told by Jeremy.  I have yet to decide.  Until I get some feedback, the decision won’t be made.

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Comic Books: Revolutionary Reading

Comic books have been around for forever, but I haven’t been, so it was a pleasant surprise when Laurell K. Hamilton’s Guilty Pleasures was adapted into comic book form.  I am a total geek now, because I weave my way through the library to the comic book section before I head for the fantasy section. It’s one of those things that makes guys look at a chick with respect.  (Just another reason to love comic books.)

I recently went on a Neil Gaiman binge, and discovered that he had written a comic book series before he wrote novels.  Pleasant surprise.  I slowly collected them from the library and when I read them I realized that comic books weren’t dorky like many people had said, even in the movies.  Yeah, guys of all kinds read them, but I know a lot of people who attribute comics to nerds.  I think people should read more comic books–it might change the way people felt about reading.

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 You read them left to right, top to bottom, just like any other piece of literature (unless you’re reading manga; I can’t say I actually like manga) so why not read it?  While there’s more pictures that you study than words that you read, it is all the same.  Instead of pages of descriptions, you have a small section that contains the picture of the girl in the jacket with the disillusioned look.  Instead of five pages of narrative, you have yellow clips of the characters thoughts as they walk down the street, allowing the writer to simultaneously communicate the settings and then the characters thoughts without having to jumble things so they fit.

 sandman1.jpg

I think that you get more of the story from these comics, this colorful descriptions of the world that don’t use words to confuse or smudge the true image.  They are so rich in detail that you can’t help but pay attention as you turn each glossy page until you are finally done and you go to find a new comic.

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Atonement: A Review

 Atonement was written by Ian McEwan and they just recently turned it into a movie.  When novels are turned into movies, it usually spurs me into the reading of the novel.  Especially since most of the movies made from novels are rated R, reading the book is the only way I can see the movie.

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The most important thing about the novel was the characters.  They were so believable they sucked you in!  You either loved the characters or hated them, based on the whims of the writer.  He was able to make you hate characters more than any writer I have ever experienced.  Briony Tallis was the focus of the novel, although it followed Robbie Turner and Briony’s older sister Cecilia Tallis.  The way it was told bothered me–it flitted from part one which was divided by a few characters (all of it was third person) and then it came to part two where it specifically focused on Turner.  Part three was devoted to Briony.  That was the only part I didn’t like.

It was very suspenseful, to the point where I was holding my breath.  The plot is very unpredictable, shocking, and most of all, almost real.  It’s not far fetched at all.  The fact that it’s set in prewar London makes it all the more interesting to me.  The war scenes are very graphic, which was something that made me cringe.  I had to set the book down for moments at a time.  Then, I’d resume reading.  It’s hard to handle when you know that it happens–that war ruins lives.

McEwan is very lyrical, and the descriptions are in depth–often page length paragraphs at a time, but instead of boring, they are interesting in a peculiar way.  He’s painting an image so precisely that it makes you envision it in your head without filling in the blanks yourself.  It was amazing how well he was able to do it.  I have to say, as a writer, that looking at his writing, it is something to take example from. 

Atonement is one of the best books I have read this year, and I have to recommend it with five stars out of five; which doesn’t even begin to describe how wonderful of a novel it was.

The author’s website: http://www.ianmcewan.com

 

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For Starters

Starting off the new blog is exciting.  I write alot, and when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about it.  You should see the napkins at dinner when I’m extremely bored.  Stories have been written on the back of most restaurant’s napkins.  I thought I would start out with the explanation of my writing and how it all came to be.

I used to write these little stories in elementary school, because if the teacher liked it, she’d publish it.  It wasn’t much, because it would only be in the library of the elementary school, but for a ten year old, that was the equivalent of being a New York Times bestselling author.  unfortunately, my story was too long, and I never got it published, because we moved. 

I never wrote a full fledged story until sixth grade.  I don’t really remember it, because it got lost in one of the Great Moves made by my family.  But, my friends liked it.  Then, after we moved to South Carolina, I wrote my second book, called Monster City.  I loved it at first.  Now, a few years later, I looked back at it, and I cringe.  But, that just shows how much I’ve grown since that second novel.

I just recently completed my third, thanks to the help of the writing journals that I keep almost all of my creative thoughts in.  It only keeps me from going crazy from all the ideas that rush around in my brain.  The stories are usually two page clips from something else, like the novel I just completed, and they all attributed to it.  I am on my eighth writing journal.

This will help me in my writing, because the feedback always helps–it helps more than I realized.  I used to hide my writing, because I feel odd about sharing it with other people.  I worry that they won’t like it.  Lately, I’ve just reminded myself that there is a difference between constructive criticism, just plain meanness, and the fact that someone just doesn’t like it.  Luckily, I’ve gotten a lot of constructive criticism.  Some people don’t take criticism well, and up until a few months ago, I didn’t take it at all–it just made me angry.  I now realize how important it is. 

So, this blog is for my writing, because it is a big part of me, and I love to do it.

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