Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Continually surprised

I've been thinking a lot lately about how stories can really just come from INSIDE. I got a beautiful comment about my current WIP. A new beta reader said, "Don't get too many opinions on this. You have a true story here, and you have to tell it."

That pretty much made my day. Well, that was last week, so I guess it made my week. Anyways, I avoided a lot of mistakes with this book, and I don't understand how or why. This character was going to be an only child with no friends. I just came across this post by Justine Larbalestier about why that would have been a bad idea (boring, unrealistic, etc.)

Lucky me: when I wrote the first draft, this character ended up having a sister who blames her for a lot of things and a crew of "friends." Not great people to be around sure, but they exist, and it is...complicated.

Also, this book was going to sci-fi and it ended up being an alternate contemporary. Not that sci-fi is a problem, but it just didn't fit.

This book was going to be in third-person. It wouldn't come out that way and it had to be in first. I'm so glad that it is.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, no matter how much we plan, we always surprise ourselves. I love not knowing what will happen, even if I think I've got it all figured out. I think writing is magic. I think it's a lovely mix of slow dedication and some serious impulse.

So, enjoy what you're working on and let your heart override any bad decisions your mind might try to impose on your characters.

I love that sister, BTW.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Releasing literary pet peeves

I came across this article today at HuffPost. Greg Zimmerman writes:
My literary pet peeve is readers who have pet peeves.
...a literary pet peeve becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, severely limiting your exposure to great books. That shouldn't be: There are exceptions to every rule, and every rule is made to be broken.
I've read posts lamenting all books told in first person when the main character wakes up at the very beginning of the book and has no idea where he or she is. Some people hate all first person stories in general. Some people don't like YA because they are convinced it is all full of colloquialisms and one-word sentences.

I've had my own pet peeves. Pretty much about covers. Like paperback fiction that looks like it was purchased at the grocery store. Blech, I thought. Never would I ever. But then my sister talked me into trying Twenty Wishes, by Debbie Macomber. I decided the cover was cutesy, but not embarrassing. I loved that book. I devoured it. It was my first time reading anything like it, and it opened me up to a world of chick lit that isn't necessarily romance--which I still struggle with.

Critique partners past have had such obvious pet peeves that I knew what they would comment on in my manuscript before they even spoke. This is not good. Predictability in criticism is not good, I think.

So, do you have any literary pet peeves? Are they keeping you from reading a specific genre or book? What pet peeves of yours have been broken?