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The Writing Glasses and Other Habits of Mine

This post is for the April Teens Can Write Too! blog chain. This month’s prompt was:

“What are your writers’ habits and eccentricities?”

As far as young writers go, I’d say I’m pretty normal. There are very few things I do that most other writers don’t. There are some things that might make me seem a tad eccentric, though–and here they are.

I have a pair of clear-lens, non-prescription glasses that I like to have on when I’m writing. I originally bought them for cosplay purposes, and I’ve gotten rather attached. I put them on whenever I need to focus; it’s as if an alternate frame of mind goes along with putting them on. Wearing my glasses basically tells me, “Enough with the distractions. It’s time to get to work.” I put these Writing Glasses on for my fiction, for schoolwork, for blog posts–I’m wearing them at the moment.

I strongly prefer music to silence when I’m writing. For some reason, listening to music curbs my need for further distractions. If I don’t listen to music while I’m writing, without fail, I will jump online and waste about an hour, starting checking my email and ending up watching kitten videos. Music helps me live inside my head a little more, which is somewhat contradictory, since music is yet another layer of information coming into my mind from the outside. Logic aside, this is extremely helpful to me when writing fiction. I sometimes put together little “soundtracks” for whatever piece I happen to be working on, and this helps to keep the ideas flowing.

When working on my novel, I have to give myself little pep talks on what I’m going to write about. I mutter to myself as I open the Word document, select the proper music, and don the Writing Glasses. “OK, Allegra. She’s going to go into the library now and discover the book on the creation of the monarchy. She has to be really interested but morally disgusted by her findings. Don’t leave out those mood-setting details. All right. Deep breath. Remember to make the text sound archaic.” I often have to pause for these little soliloquies in the middle of writing, as well. It’s not the best for when other people are in the room, so sometimes I just assume a meditative air and address these issues internally.

I often spend my hours lying awake at night constructing “trailers” in my mind for my various planned and in-progress works. I try not to make the “actors” (all of my own invention) look exactly like my characters–usually they’re a bit older, since nowadays it seems that 20-somethings are playing teenagers more often than actual teens. I pick the action-y scenes, a humorous line or two, and of course the all-important romantic moment, and mash them together into an artistic montage. Then I pick some soundtrack music and play it back to myself a few times. At the end, that really fast voice says “comingsoonratedPG13.” I suppose all of this is just a product of my own over-active imagination and unrealistic hopes and dreams.

That’s about it for anything that be considered strange about my writing life and habits. Why don’t you see how eccentric everyone else is now?

April 5– http://correctingpenswelcome.wordpress.com–Comfy Sweaters, Writing, and Fish

April 6– http://towerofplot.blogspot.com — The Leaning Tower of Plot

April 7–http://lilyjenness.blogspot.com–Lily’s Notes in the Margins

April 8–http://weirdalocity.wordpress.com– From My Head

April 9–http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com–This Page Intentionally Left Blank

April 10–http://thewordasylum.wordpress.com–The Word Asylum

April 11–http://rachelsbookreviews.com–Rachel’s Book Reviews

April 12–http://noveljourneys.wordpress.com–Novel Journeys

April 13–http://delorfinde.wordpress.com–A Farewell to Sanity

April 14–http://swordofink.com–Sword of Ink

April 15–http://thedreamersadventures.blogspot.com–The Dreamers Adventures

April 16–http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com–The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

April 17–https://herestous.wordpress.com–Here’s To Us

April 18–http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com–Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Writing

 

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A Supporting Character Speaks Up

This post is for the March Teens Can Write Too! blog chain. The prompt for the month was:

“Choose your favorite of any of your own characters. Conduct a ten-question interview with him or her.”

Let’s welcome a certain young lady by the name of Jennet to the blog! Jennet isn’t my protagonist–in fact, she only appears in two chapters of my novel. However, she is by far one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever created, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to interview her before a captive audience. (Someone did remember to lock the exits, right?)

Allegra: Well, I’m happy to have you here, Jennet! Why don’t you say hello to everyone?

Jennet: You seem nice enough, for your complete strangeness. You all talk like you’re from the north or something. So hello. But, the important thing here is, what in gods’ names am I doing here?

A: I’d just like you to answer some questions. Nothing too personal or political. Why don’t you start by describing yourself?

J: If you insist. I’m a dwarf and I’m fifteen years old. I’m from a cesspool of a village along the tunnel systems. I’m not really into politics, mostly I just try to get along and not break my neck, but if you wanted to know, I’m a royalist. I had a real close tangle with a bunch of rebels and some young folks from the capital a few months ago. That was the most exciting thing that’s happened to me in a while.

A: What was your impression of these “young folks”?

J: Oh, they were lunatics. *laughs* Well, one of ’em was a dwarf, maybe half-blood. The other two were humans–tall as trees and pale as milk. All about my age. The dwarf girl, see, she was wanted by the rebels or something, so she had her face plastered like it was burned, as a disguise. The humans were dressed like street performers, I’m not sure why. All three of ’em were damn shifty. Not bad folks, really, just trying to lie low. The human boy was attractive.

A: Speaking of that. What do you look for in a man?

J: Just that: a man. Someone who can do work, and who’s capable of defending himself. I can’t stand boys who soil their trousers at the thought of a fight. But if he thinks that I need defending, he’d better think again. I need respect, too. *pauses*  I do rather like cocky, rakish sorts.

A: What’s your main goal in life?

J: First, to get out of my village. Once my younger brothers are settled and all…I’d like to see some other countries. The crowned heads. I’m handy enough with a dagger that I’ve thought of becoming a mercenary. There’s money to be had in crime. My ma would pitch some fit, though.

A: I can see why. How is your relationship with your mother?

J: It can be a bit difficult. She just wants me to help her around our house–my dad ran off when I was just a little bit–but I’m always going off doing this-and-that. But most of the time she’s just looking out for me, I think. And I…look, do we have to talk about this?

A: Um, no. Moving right along. Has anyone ever compared you to an animal?

J: *rolls eyes* Yes. It’s always a crow. Jennet, you’re such a crow. Are you sure you’re not a shapeshifter, Jennet? Oh, you must be a crow the gods punished to become a dwarf. On and on. It’s because my laugh is all harsh and I have this beak of a nose. Also, I really enjoy shiny things.

A: I wouldn’t mind being compared to a crow. What’s wrong with it?

J: It’s damn tiring. You wouldn’t know about that, Miss-Fair-Skinned-Silver-Tongue. And I don’t see a single shiny thing on you. Oh, wait. Pierced ears. Bah.

A: Well, what’s your favorite thing about yourself?

J: Definitely my street smarts. There’s no city I’d want to avoid, and no scum I wouldn’t take on. If I can’t fight ’em, I can outwit ’em or outrun ’em.

A: Impressive. How about your flaws?

J: Over-confidence. So maybe forget about what I just said, eh? Also insensitivity. My looks could stand a polish, too.

A: What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you?

J: This. Right now. Who are you, what am I doing sitting in this room, and what is that glow-y contraption you’re tapping on?

A: Never mind that. Uh, thanks for coming, Jennet! Any parting words?

J: I didn’t have much choice in coming, did I? No parting words. Except, don’t call me Crow Girl, don’t insinuate I’m from the north, and never make me change a baby’s napkin. Now can you please unlock those exits?

That’s all for now, folks! Any questions you may have for Jennet, she will happily  answer.

Want to follow our blog tour? Here are the participating parties, day by day

March 5 — http://kirstenwrites.wordpress.com — Kirsten Writes!

March 6 — http://www.maybeteenauthor.blogspot.com/ – Struggles Of A (Maybe) Teen Author

March 7 — http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com –This Page Intentionally Left Blank

March 8 — http://www.thedreamersadventures.blogspot.com/ – The Dreamers Adventures

March 9 — http://lilyjenness.blogspot.com — Lily’s Notes in the Margins

March 10 — http://www.journeyofascholar.blogspot.com/ – A Box of Letters and a Cup of English Tea

March 11– http://weirdalocity.wordpress.com –From My Head

March 12 — http://thewordasylum.wordpress.com –The Word Asylum

March 13 — http://oyeahwrite.wordpress.com –Oh Yeah, Write!

March 14 — http://delorfinde.wordpress.com/ – A Farewell To Sanity

March 15 — http://noveljourneys.wordpress.com — Novel Journeys

March 16 — http://correctingpenswelcome.wordpress.com — Comfy Sweaters, Writing and Fish

March 17 — http://oopswasthatoutloud.wordpress.com/ – Oops Was That Loud?

March 18 — https://herestous.wordpress.com — Here’s To Us

March 19 — http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com— The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

March 20 — http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com –Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)

 

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On Love Polygons and the Big Kiss

This post is for the February 2012 edition of the Teens Can Write Too! blog chain. This month’s prompt was:

“What are your thoughts on romance for your typical genre? Do you tend to have a little, a lot, or none at all?”

 

Undoubtedly, my typical and favorite genre in both reading and writing is fantasy/sci-fi and its various derivatives, including but not limited to dystopian, steampunk, paranormal, epic fantasy, and macabre. While it is most certainly possible for these types of storylines to stand on their own merits, I always find them most enjoyable when there’s an element of romance lurking somewhere in the thick of the plot.

In reading these types of stories, I find that a touch of romance in the background–or even a broad brush of it in the foreground–adds that much-needed sense of humanity to the outlandish plot, particularly in YA. Even if a group of teenagers gets involved in a supernatural event of some sort, are they honestly expected to drop all hormones immediately and for all time? Let’s face it–it’s not going to happen. My taste for a bit of romance in reading is also fed by my own secret inner idealist (or hopeless romantic). This is the girl who doesn’t like animated Disney films. And you thought I was soulless!

Writing romance, however, is a whole other evil empire to be overthrown. Reading about love is easy–all you do is soak in someone else’s words. When one has no experience in these matters, as I do as of the posting date, it is decidedly difficult to write about it oneself. How are you expected to write about that fabled Big Kiss when, to yourself, it reminds just that–a myth? It’s like the Forever Alone guy handing out relationship advice. On the other hand, if I could only write just what I know, I would only be writing stories about single high schoolers who are told by their elders that their “intelligence is intimidating” but are probably just awkward weirdos.

So basically what I’m getting at is that the best I can do when writing romance is to take all I’ve read, watched, and heard from others, put them together in a big mental jumble, and use modified versions of the pieces that work best with the rest of the story. In a few years, I’ll probably read back the so-called romantic moments I write now and spray some beverage across the room from laughter.

The one thing I am confident about when writing romance is cliche avoidance. Love triangles featuring two badass guys and a weak-minded central female character have no place in my story, and neither do trouble-free InstaLUV tales. Love polygons of other sorts are acceptable, and two characters can fall in love quickly as long as there’s some amount of conflict later on. I’m chill with it as long as vampires and werewolves don’t both get involved.

Oh no! A Twilight reference! Everyone run for cover before she starts ranting!

All right, I can take a hint, you guys. Why don’t you check out the rest of the blog chain instead?

February 5– http://noveljourneys.wordpress.com –Novel Journeys

February 6– http://lilyjenness.blogspot.com –Lily’s Notes in the Margins

February 7– http://kirstenwrites.wordpress.com –Kirsten Writes!

February 8– http://correctingpenswelcome.wordpress.com — Comfy Sweaters, Writing and Fish

February 9– http://delorfinde.wordpress.com –A Farewell to Sanity

February 10– http://thewordasylum.wordpress.com –The Word Asylum

February 11– http://weirdalocity.wordpress.com –From My Head

February 12– http://estherstar1996.wordpress.com –Esther Victoria1996

February 13– http://alohathemuse.wordpress.com –Embracing Insanity

February 14– http://greatlakessocialist.wordpress.com –Red Herring Online

February 15– http://goteenwriters.blogspot.com –Go Teen Writers (Honorary Participant)

February 16– http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com –This Page Intentionally Left Blank

February 17– http://oyeahwrite.wordpress.com –Oh Yeah, Write!

February 18–http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com –The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

February 19– https://herestous.wordpress.com –Here’s To Us

February 20– http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com –Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)

 

 
5 Comments

Posted by on February 19, 2012 in Writing

 

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The Trivial Typewriter: An Ezine Run by Myself and Some Other Guy*

*Also known as John Hansen, the perpetrator of The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer and several published short stories, and that guy who got me into Teens Can Write Too! and now this.

Those of you who follow my blog and/or John’s blog loyally undoubtedly already know about Teens Can Write Too!, a site and blog chain dedicated to showing the world that, yes, teens can write. We’ve been working on spreading our influence through some hardcore publicity, mostly on John’s part, and now we have an ezine associated with the project: The Trivial Typewriter.

We’re now open to submissions and are seeking original and odd fiction by young people–primarily teens, but we’re accepting work from 12-year-old prodigies and folks in their early twenties as well. We want the kind of stuff that will surprise us and the readership–strange and entirely unexpected plot twists are our favorite.

Speaking of the readership, this isn’t one of those lame teens-for-teens magazines. Although this magazine is being put together by young people and is designed to showcase young writers’ talent, we want it to be read by all, adults and teens alike.

In addition to fiction, The Trivial Typewriter is also accepting artwork for the cover contest. We’re seeking articles pertinent to teen writing as well, but we have very strict guidelines on that, so please read those carefully on our site if you think you have something we might like to feature in the zine.

At the moment, we’re unable to offer payment, seeing as the zine will be distributed electronically for free and we’re all-but-broke teenagers ourselves. We can’t guarantee that everything will be accepted, either–but as John says, every rejection is another step closer to a publication. Submissions are now officially open and will remain so for infinity.

So what are you waiting for? Young writers and artists, be sure to check the submission guidelines and send us your work! Just a reader, or out of the age range? You should definitely considering following/subscribing for free to show your support and receive a notification when our first issue is available.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 2, 2012 in Thoughts and Announcements

 

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Triumph

My eyes are tired. My fingers feel like jelly from all that typing. I have finished The Novel, with a few days of NaNoFiMo to spare! I have rarely felt this accomplished in my entire short life.

I could write a magnum opus here on the neccesity of persistance and dedication in writing, yadda yadda yadda, but honestly, I don’t feel like it. A proper non-mind-numbing post is coming soon, I promise you.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 29, 2011 in Personal, Writing

 

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How To Make a Monster

This post is for the Teens Can Write Too! blog chain. This month’s prompt was:

How do you develop and relate to your characters?”

To come up with characters, I have a fairly static system. I call it P.L.A.N., the criteria being placed in order of importance, like so:

  1. Purpose: Why does one come up with a character in the first place? So he, she, or it (I’ll be using “she” for ease of typing for the rest of this post) and can carry out the action of a story, of course. The first thing I need to think about when developing a character is her purpose in the plot. Whether it’s to fulfill a long-lost prophecy or bully the protagonist in the cafeteria, a character’s reason for being is always the most important and easiest thing about her to come up with.
  2. Looks: A character’s physical features help determine what readers think of her. They can tell a lot about her background and can add to the story’s atmosphere. They also give readers an automatic evaluation of the character. Even a reader above stereotyping is going to have a different opinion of a character, who, say, has died-black hair and a nose piercing than of a character wearing a cheerleading uniform and pink eye shadow.
  3. Attitude: Basically, this is a character’s personality, but I call it attitude so the character development system forms a coherent acronym. This is fairly self-explanatory.  It includes how a character reacts to a situation, her morals, how she acts with other character, how she speaks, and her interests. This is the most likely to change element of a character. I revise character’s personalities constantly, almost obsessively. Is she turning into a Mary Sue? Or is she so flawed that readers won’t give a crap about her? I’d even go so far as to say that I’m usually insecure about my characters’ personalities.
  4. Name: Although I often come up with a character’s name before numbers two and three, it is the least important thing about a character, at least to me. Names can be interpreted in different ways. Say this arbitrary character I’ve been talking about is named Antoinette. Maybe her parents are French, or maybe they’re just francophiles. Perhaps they’re professors of history who were studying the French Revolution at the time of her birth–though if this were the case, I would be convinced that these parents must also have a love of the macabre, considering the lovely Queen’s bloody fate. My favorite resource for names is this–it provides the most comprehensive name search I’ve found. I also have a baby names book that I use for instant reference or when the Internet is down.

All of this is a rather dull and commonplace explanation of how I invent my characters. The second half of the question, relation, is where things get very interesting. I’m sure you longtime readers have heard the following tale multiple times, but for the newbies stopping by for the chain, here it is once again:

I was in the midst of one of my hardcore multi-thousand word writing sessions usually taking place on weekends. The hour was late, nearly 11 PM, but I was really into the groove, and the momentum my fingers had picked up on the keyboard would probably have been difficult to stop anyway. My handy plot map now directed me to set my merry band of characters on the run from The Bad Guys, and I complied. As I wrote of their desperate bid for freedom, I found myself noticing how tired they must be getting, how cold, how thirsty. Their boots would be soaked through, because, like in any good fantasy novel, it was snowing. I was bone-tired myself, but I could not bear to let the gang suffer. Therefore, I stayed up past midnight getting them safely to their destination. Only once they found a proper tavern in which they could have a bit of mead and get some shut-eye did I go to bed myself.

All this may sound like I’m over-indulgent of my little creations. In fact, I’d like to say quite the opposite, because there’s rarely a moment in my stories during which the protag or one of her sidekicks is suffering emotional and/or physical pain. As Gail Carson Levine writes in her handy guide for younger writers, Writing Magic (allow me to detour briefly by saying that, years after procuring this little volume and following its advice religiously, it still holds a treasured place on my bookshelf), making your characters suffer is what makes the story interesting. Don’t accuse me of not letting my characters suffer sufficiently, because they sure as Hades do.

It’s just that those perfectly annoying little figments worm their way into my mind, my soul, until they’re more than figments. They become real to me, more real than any character whose story I’ve read or watched, and, in a strange way, more real than myself. Creating characters puts my mind on a whole other level of reality. Sometimes I feel like the suffering I put them through isn’t exactly my fault, because it’s “part of the story.”

But that story came out of my head, and so did the characters! My characters are monsters, each and every one–from the evil overlord to the barmaid, they become a part of me, and refuse to let go. It’s a love-hate relationship. They suffer, I feel bad about it sometimes (I cried when I killed off a certain character), but feeling for characters so deeply, and in such a complex way, sure makes for a good story.

Want to follow our blog tour? Here are the participating parties, day by day

December 5– http://correctingpenswelcome.wordpress.com — Comfy Sweaters, Writing and Fish

December 6– http://taystapeinc.wordpress.com — Tay’s Tape

December 7– http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com — This Page Intentionally Left Blank

December 8– http://alohathemuse.wordpress.com — Embracing Insanity

December 9– http://noveljourneys.wordpress.com — Novel Journeys

December 10– http://sporkattack.blogspot.com — Crazy Socks and Ninja Bunnies

December 11– http://kirstenwrites.wordpress.com — Kirsten Writes!

December 12– http://herebefaries.wordpress.com — The Land of Man-Eating Pixies

December 13– http://delorfinde.wordpress.com — A Farewell to Sanity

December 14– http://estherstar1996.wordpress.com — Esther Victoria1996

December 15– http://thewordasylum.wordpress.com — The Word Asylum

December 16– http://teenagereader.wordpress.com — Teenage Reader

December 17– http://biozarre.wordpress.com — Missy Biozarre, Young Adult Author

December 18– http://greatlakessocialist.wordpress.com — Red Herring Online

December 19– http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com– The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

December 20– https://herestous.wordpress.com — Here’s To Us

December 21– http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com –Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)

 

 
5 Comments

Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Writing

 

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Why I Am a Complete Failure, and also, Why I’m Not

Just change around a few letters, and my November is summed up right here. I even wore a horned helmet once, but that’s another story.

This year, in lieu of NaNoWriMo, I came up with my own month-long writer-ly event: NaNoFiMo, or National Novel Finishing Month. I resolved to finish my current novel by the end of November. I was totally pumped; I was going to DO THIS THING. There was no possible way I wouldn’t win.

Long story short: I didn’t win.

I’m at least 5,000, if not 10,000, words short of finishing, which is an epic fail. Just when I thought I was drawing near to the climax, I went back through my first-draft notebooks and remembered that there was a whole bunch of important stuff that happened between my current point and the actual climax–and then after the climax, there’s an anticlimax of around two chapters. I panicked, leading me to not write much. Thus, I am a failure.

But this doesn’t mean I’m never going to finish The Novel! I’ve set another goal for myself–bear with me here. I’m going to finish it by the new year. At the very least I have winter vacation in which to write. I think–think–I can do it. In the fashion of many NaNoWriMo-ers, I’ll be updating you all along the way, whilst-and-at-the-same-time not revealing the title or any excerpts, because I’m that paranoid, and hopefully I won’t be using as many run-on sentences as I am in this post.

Oh! Right! I promised to tell you why I’m not a complete failure. *I shuffle forward shyly, clearing my throat.* Some of you may have heard this already from Teens Can Write Too!, but…a short story of mine was accepted for publication over at Black Lantern Publishing, and is scheduled to appear in the February issue of their online and print literary magazine. I’ll be sure to tell you all when the magazine is available, so you can read some lovely macabre fiction from your favorite blogger, because I am your favorite blogger, right? Right? Well, even if I’m not, I still encourage you to check out the current issue of BLP, and the future issue in which my work will appear.

A month full of fails and wins always makes for a nice combination, doesn’t it?

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Thoughts and Announcements, Writing

 

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