Sunday, December 12, 2010

Audience: Is Anybody Listening???

I can sit down and write down all sorts of things in a diary. I can write down how beautiful I think our Christmas Tree is, how the snow makes me feel all excited about the Christmas season, how I love my family and other people I won't mention...... However, when I write those things down, who do I have in mind for my audience? Surely no one would be reading my deepest hopes and dreams! Surely no one would be so insensitive as to invade my most personal space! Those things are written with my own view in mind. Those things are said in the presence of my own mind without thought of what other people would think. However, with a younger brother in the house, I learned very quickly that, whether you desire it or not, you WILL have an audience. So no matter how personal it is, I always write it down as if speaking to someone who may be reading it, whether it be an unwanted invader or my own daughter reading a mother's thoughts and reflections when she encountered the same struggles. But diaries are not meant to be read by other people.

So here's my point: Who is my audience in this instance? My book is my baby. My book is my opinions. My book is my thoughts. My book is my beliefs. My book contains pieces of my own heart. How is this any different from a diary? Could it be that this book is the diary of the life I never had? In some ways.... a lot of ways.... I think it is. Therefore, would that mean that my audience is only myself? Obviously not, since I plan on publishing. But since this book was written with only the thought of self expression, how can I limit it to a certain age group? I've grown a lot since I began writing this book. And what began as a harmless fairy-tale has become more of a dangerous story, filled with romance and gore. I had originally planned it to be an elementary level reading... But with the progression of my age, I find it more difficult to keep it elementary. In fact, I believe my book has become more for the teenage era than anything now, yet I'm still struggling with deciding whether or not I would like it to be for the younger age group or not. What do you think? Do you like more mature novels with dense, dangerous plots, or do you prefer the innocent novels of the Chronicles of Narnia or the first Harry Potter books? Let me know what you think! I think it's a little late to change anything about it now, but I am curious to know what you think!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Character Sketches: Variety

Once more, I sit down on a late weekend night to discuss my mad habit of writing! Somehow the evening is the only time when I can accurately compile my ideas and dilemmas into a coherent message =D Tonight I have been pondering variety of my characters. I have found that almost all of my main characters of each book have the same basic personality: Book 1- pessimistic and self-serving; Book 2- selfish and serious; Book 3- deeply troubled and often confused; Book 4- (there's two in this book) both are selfish and self-seeking, each seeking to trump the other; Book 5- independent and bitter; Book 6- also very independent (although it's a bad thing in this book) and very guarded, to the point where she does not allow herself deep relationships..... I feel like so much is based on my characters' selfish characteristics, but I never intended that. The method I hope to use in teaching a moral is by creating my characters very sinful (isn't everyone?) and one negative characteristic, which will, in most books, be corrected as the story progresses.

Here's the problem: I feel like I'm not being creative with my characters. Even though character 1 comes from our world and uses modern idioms to add humor, she still has the same characteristics as character 2, whose complexion reflects moonlight (although, since character 1 is the mother of character 2, I guess that wouldn't be so much of a problem). But character 3, who is not at all related to either of the other two, has a troubling past, much like the first two. And even though I'm thinking about having one of the two main characters of Book 4 be ambidexterous, they are both selfish with a troubling past, just like the last three. The characteristics of the character from book 5 are very enclosed to open relationships and independent, with a disturbing present situation, which arises from poor past choices. The character in Book 6 is also independent and bitter, resulting from a poor childhood.....

I feel like I'm not adding enough variety in my books, like I want them to be completely different. However, I find a comical character, who never takes anything seriously, a very unattractive main character..... (A side thought [please forgive my randomness]- maybe that could be a negative characteristic of one of my characters that could be altered by the end of the book??? That she would learn that not everything in life is to be taken so lightly???)...... As you can see, I'm having difficulty creating a main character that makes an interesting main character, while at the same time not copying everything from the last book and slapping a new title on it.

One thing I thought about, except I find it very unimaginitive, is that my series could be about solving the issues of pride and selfishness. I could purposely make each of my characters selfish and teach the value of humility and selflessness in all its different facets and features......... What do you think???? Lame? Unimaginitive? Creative? Unique? Please let me know! Even if someone else has posted exactly what you were going to say, please comment and say so! I LOVE (and I repeat: LOVE) reading all the comments! They are so-sO-So-SO helpful!!! Thank you bunches!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The New Element

Everyone knows what a cliche is, right? Phrases of descriptions like "light as a feather," "cute as a button," "quick as lightening," are a few examples. Using particular words to describe nouns can be cliche too, such as "cotton" for clouds, and "waves" for windy fields. But even as these cliches can occur in writing, they can also happen in concepts. Perhaps the more accurate term in this case is simply "unoriginal." Allow me to explain....

Christopher Paolini is a great author. His first book is good, his second book is great, and his third book is outstanding, as far as good writing goes. He uses strong action verbs, vivid descriptions, and detailed concepts, which he explains well, throughout his books. I have also very much enjoyed the content of his material. The story-lines are gripping and exciting. However, there are a few flaws that irritate me. They are these: concepts. There are a few aspects of his book that very much resemble other writings. For instance, the main character's name is "Eragon"....... It doesn't sound very different from "Aragorn," from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings stories. His main female character's name, "Arya," greatly resembles the name "Arwen," also from Tolkien's LOTR. These are just two several concepts in his stories that sound vaguely familiar. I'm not going to criticize Paolini for plagarism, but these similarities verge on unoriginal.

The point of this blog is not to tear Christopher Paolini down. Like I said, I greatly enjoy his books and, I must say, these points of minor similarities dissipate in the second and third books. No, I am simply giving you an example of troubles I am undergoing with my own manuscript.

This may simply be a mad habit of my mind, but when I watch movies, read books, and hear stories from other people, my mind is constantly filtering it all, searching for ideas from my own books. When I do find an idea I like, I try to change it, twist it, and transform it until the idea becomes something different, more original, in a sense. However, these ideas where still not my own. I got them from someone else, and made them my own, like the artist who took Leonardo's Mona Lisa, repeated it several times, and published it as a "new" work. My dear brother, Thomas, who can always be brutal with my work, saw this flaw of mine and urged me to correct it. He had just been reading the book "Inkheart" and was struck by the newness of the concepts, how there was nothing else like it in the literature world. He told me that instead of getting onto the internet, perusing pictures of fairies and unicorns for a burst of genius, to habitually sit down and make myself think of something outrageous, something simply queer. The results have been more profitable than I could possibly imagine! And although I still turn to the back of my Art History notebook every time an idea strikes me in the middle of class, I find that trying to be original is very different from being original.

Now to the confessions.... When I first began writing, I didn't care about originality, and I loved Greek and Roman mythology. So I did something wreckless: I named several of my characters after Greek and Roman goddesses and tied their dieties into their names in my story. My main character's name, for instance, is Diana, the Moon Goddess of Ellendale. Her parents named her Diana because, in Geriona (the world in which they live), Diana is the name of the fabled goddess of the moon. And when her parents were naming her, the moon shone on her face and illuminated it so beautifully, they named her after the moon goddess.

Because of the attachments to Roman mythology so obviously drawn, I have greatly considered removing the conotations with the moon goddess. But these aren't the only ties! I would like your feedback with your opinion on this subject, and, depending on the responses, I'll decide what to do from there. Thanks for reading all this! It's a lot, I know... Thanks again!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Titles: The Most Difficult Part of Writing

By this point, most of you know that I pretty much adore writing fiction. I don't know if I mentioned in my first post that when I was still brainstorming the ideas for my first book, one of the first things I came up with was a title. I aptly entitled it, "The Moon Goddess of Ellendale." Pretty girly, right? For a thirteen-year-old girl, it was perfect! Elegant, flowing, and graceful, it had everything I wanted. This title conveyed a curious fact about my character (the way she shone in the moonlight) and was just as effluent as I wished to be....

However, I soon realized that I wanted to broaden my audience to not only girls ages 12 to 18, but boys as well.... and Thomas quickly informed me that such a title would NOT attract a boy of ANY age. So I set to the task of seeking out a title that would not only be beautiful, convey the right information, and fit my enigmatic puzzle, but also appeal to the male crowd. I found that "The World Forbidden" was very eye-catching, intriguing, and rolled off the tongue quite well.

I ran into another problem: this is not the only book. As you can see with my labels, the book I have written is book 2. I have a prequel I'm in the process of working on now and five sequels ahead of me which I already have the blueprints for. Being a series, I wanted the titles to connect in some way. For example, when I chose "The Moon Goddess of Ellendale" for Book 2, I also entitled Book 4 "The Daring Duo." I had decided that the titles of each book would also be titles that the main character themselves possessed within the book. When my first one changed, I wanted to be consistent with the other 6; I had to change them. So, when I changed Book 2 to "The World Forbidden," I hit a road block. The idea behind my main character "living a world forbidden" was that she went against the council of her wise friends for most of the book. How could I do something like that with Book 4? I thought "The World Broken" would be quite sufficient. However, "forbidden" conveys an outside force (aka: her family and friends) forbidding the main character. In Book 4, "broken" describes the two main characters. The methods which I was utilizing became suddenly more complex. I have found that this unique difficulty not only rests with these two books, but with the entire series. I have come up with alternative titles for them all, but I don't like the one for Book 2 as much as "The World Forbidden."

Here's what I'd like to hear from you: Am I over-thinking this? Being overly analytical? Too picky? What do you think about the titles I have presented? Are they too cliche? Too girly? Too..... something?????? Let me know what you think! I need your help!!!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Alive at Night

Perhaps this explanation of an odd author's mind will help you understand her habits. =) For as long as I can remember, I've had the hardest time falling asleep. It's not because I've been particularly troubled or restless, most of the time I'm just not tired. As soon as the world stops long enough to hear the silence and drift away, my mind awakens. If I'm not asleep by the time I'm finished analyzing and repeating my day, my mind drifts towards possibilities... Things that are impossible here in our world suddenly seem extremely possible. One thing leads to another and before you know it, I'm flying over the castles of France, speaking fluently in an ancient language, or riding on the back of a centaur. It's all nonesense, really. Most of the time, there's no plot or point. I simply.... think... I don't know if any of that makes sense to you all, but it is the simplest way I can think to explain it!

That's all for tonight! I hope to be posting in the near future specifically on my current work! Thank you for reading!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Word of Explanation

To forewarn any readers of my novel, I would like to answer some more inquiries that have been put to me as to the involvement of the Savior. As I said in my first post, I do not have any character in my book symbolizing the Lord, Jesus Christ, or of the Father, nor of the Holy Spirit. Many people have asked me why I call it a "Christian" novel if it does not include any of these figures of the trinity, and I tell them simply that I do NOT claim my book to be a "Christian" novel. My characters are moral, but they do not find their hope in the eternal Savior. Allow me to explain....

When I first began to write my book, as I said earlier, I had no intention of its being seen by anyone. Only afterwards when I felt the need and desire to share what I wrote did I feel compelled to add lessons. Being a Christian, I suddenly found a very difficult flaw: none of my characters had an everlasting redeemer to look to in their time of trouble. I have made them moral, clinging to one another in brotherhood and love, but that is all. And there came in another problem: my book that I am in the process of publishing is one of seven, listing as number two, if I were to list them all in order. I have set up the series in such a way so that each of my heroines come from different countries of the world that they live in. Now, we all know that in the real world, NO ONE agrees religiously and each culture carries with it a particular sect or religion. For instance, Arabs are predominantly Muslim and Ancient Egyptians had mythological dieties. Both of them are completely different. My plan was to make my cultures as diverse as possible. However, I could not- in good conscience- write a story about a young girl who worships something I don't believe in. And of course, I could not make my entire world believing in the same diety because that simply is not realistic.

I was caught in a corner, and still am, as I see it. However, I do not find it a sin to write about moral people. So I have continued to write, not simply to teach morality to the world of my audience, but to hopefully place enough arrows upward for them to see who I'm really pointing to for all of this: God.

That's all for now! If you have any questions, please post them! I haven't completely worked all of this out in my mind, but I welcome any questions you may have!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Themes and Theories

As I sit here watching the third Harry Potter movie I have seen in a week, I wonder to myself, "What is it about this movie that makes me excuse the fact that this movie is entirely about magic, which ordinarily disturbed me, forgive that factor now?" Well, it's interesting, if you watch something for yourself you can observe the pros and cons of it. You see, once I sat down and watched the movie and analyzed it a hundred times, I realized that in the end, good and evil are still in conflict here. And we're not just talking "good magic" and "bad magic." In the first movie, Sorceror's Stone, the only reason Harry killed the bad guy was because of the love he had for his parents, and vice-versa. In the second one, Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter was helped by the Pheonix, which was only called because he was devoutely loyal to his teacher. In the third movie, Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling returns to the love Harry has for his parents when he uses his memories of them to fuel his magic powers.

So what I find more attractive about these movies is not the intense entertaining features it holds, for indeed- it is quite entertaining, but at the end of each movie, J.K. Rowling continues to teach a positive lesson. I'm not saying in any way, shape, or form that these lessons can take place of Scripture or other more important materials. But for a secular movie, I really must say that it is well-done. Now, I must finish watching the movies and read the books to really be able to say that for sure, but this is my assessment so far.

As to how this has affected me as a writer, I suppose you could just say this is how a soon-to-be-authoress analyzes materials that are already in place to see how she can better her own. In my books, I plan on teaching, first, through negative example. Then as my characters reform, show what an imperfect human being striving for virtue should look like: humble and good. Harry Potter is a good example of a "good" character, and I suppose many people would look to him as an example. However, with the Holy Spirit residing in me, I cannot say I look to anyone but Christ for my example of perfection.

It's getting late now, but I hope you can make some sense of my nonsensical post! Goodnight all! God bless!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Beginning

To answer everyone's questions at one time, and for many of you, this may be the second or third time, I began writing out of sheer boredom. I was not divinely inspired or struck with some cosmic knowledge of the unkown; I was doing Math. It is as simple as that. Believe me, in my mind, 14 x 3 is not nearly as interesting as creating odd names that no one has ever heard before, like Garresh, Lenna, Nella, Tyron, and Galbraieth. The fact that Greek and Roman mythology was also the preceding subject probably did not assist the matter of my lack of attention to my mathematics. For those adults who are reading this (particularly my highschool math tutor), have no fear! I passed my college requirements for Math with no sweat. My writing, on the other hand, took an unexpected flight! What began as a list of interesting names and imaginary places turned into images and scenes in which my characters acted out what I wanted them to do and say. I must say, the power to manipulate characters in the hands of a 12-year-old girl may be a bit frightening to the adults who are reading this page, but to me, it was pure ecstacy! I delighted to have so-and-so turn and say saucily, "Don't think I've overlooked the priviledge!" while tossing her amber locks, in a rather mocking disarray, to one side.

Once my characters continued in their rather odd conversations and actions, everything formed itself into story-format. At 12 years old, I wondered whether it would be right to write a fairy tale, for at that time that was truly all it came to be. I asked my mom that very question one night, and I cannot quite remember everything she said. But the main point was simply that there was nothing wrong with fairy tales. They were nice stories for people to read and enjoy. At that very moment, I decided I wanted to write my own fairy tale. There were several fairy tales I wished I could rewrite or do my own way. I mean, seriously, why didn't Cinderella just smack that snotty step-sister across the mouth with a cinder-block and say, "Clean the fire-place yourself! You've got two hands!" In writing my own fairy-tale, I could do just that if I wished. In my original draft, my main character underwent such tortures and responded in a similar way, but I found it too close to the original Cinderella story, so I trashed that idea and came up with one a bit more original.

As things progressed, I must admit, I pulled a Lucille Ball when the bread grew out of the oven and pushed me against the counter: everything grew to a size I never imagined. In my second "draft" for the book, I had planned about 40 chapters. You should be proud of me! Upon being informed that such a novel would be much too large for my younger friends to read, I scratched and shaved my child down to 31 chapters. Even now, I feel like I could continue going and going, but out of respect for my readers' eyesight, I have abstained.

All the while, a desire to share what I had written slowly grew inside me. When it came time to begin actually writing, I was about 14 years old. And by that point, I had already planned to write a prequil. The obvious action, then, was to begin writing with Book 1. However, when I sat down to write, I just could not write a satisfactory beginning. I wrote nearly 50 different beginnings, but I trashed them all! None of them felt right. Whereas, I knew how I wanted to begin Book 2. With a renewed vigor, I plunged into my task. I finished the first draft of the first chapter of the second book in a single evening.

The rest, as they say, is history. More and more, I wanted to share what I wrote. But I knew if I wanted to share my writing, my stories needed to be meaningful. Craftily, I set my mind to implementing a moral into my story. I was successful, but as for the exclusion of a symbolic diety of my Lord, Jesus Christ, I will save that for another day. Let me be satisfied with saying that I have made it meaningful to the general reader for now. Once I had successfully added that, I did not feel so ashamed to share it.

Even now, however, as I near the time to show my work to the world, I grow more and more afraid that my friends will be disappointed in me. Don't get me wrong, I love what I write. My stories are a part of me. But perhaps that is it; I am afraid that by rejecting my story, I, too, will also be rejected. So please remember as you read my story that I am a sinner just like you and this story will by no means be perfect. It is only my feeble efforts at hoping to influence my world through literature and to further the glory of God!

For His Glory Alone,

Your Blog Author,

Heather Glenn

Pen Name: Gabriella Reed