Friday, January 28, 2011

Books that Should be Adapted for the Screen

I just received my copy of Stephen King’s newest book, Full Dark, No Stars (purchased on the Literary Guild site, great prices)…I love it! Of course, I knew I would. I began to think of his books that have been adapted for the screen. And, that got me to thinking of other books that I would love to see adapted for the screen.

The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) – I’ve heard that this book is in the process of being made into a movie. I hope so. I couldn’t put this book down. The pacing of the story was great; you had to turn the page to find out what was going to happen or it would eat at you.

  • The Hunger Games tells the story of Katnis Everdeen and her journey through the most dangerous game any kid has ever played.

The Flowers in the Attic (V.C. Andrews) – This book was made into a movie in the 80’s. I remember going to the theatre the day it came out. I was so excited. This was the first adult book that I read. When I learned that it was made into a movie, I was ecstatic. Seated in the theater my little innocent heart pounded with anticipation. I was sorely disappointed. This movie left an indelible mark in my child mind – books should never be made into movie…ever. I have rescinded that opinion. However, I am aware that when I complete a book and hold it reverently towards heavens and announce, “Oh, this should be made into a movie” that I never expect the movie to be as satisfying as the book. 

  • Flowers in the Attic is the story of four children who are stowed away in an attic for three years, with no contact with the outside world because of greed and a lie.

The Witching Hour (Anne Rice) – This is an epic 1038 page novel (paperback copy) but it is a great story. It is very much an adult novel but the story is superb. The characters are rich and you’ll feel you know that at the end of the story. Caution: You may have to sleep with the lights on for a few nights after this read.

  • The story follows a family, The Mayfair’s, through the generations as they cope with a demon spirit that wrecks havoc over the females (and some of the males) intent on destruction.

Gerald’s Games (Stephen King) – I read this book some years ago. Then recently re-read it. This book is great. It is classic Stephen King with physical and mental torture. I wish I could read his mind for an hour. How does he come up with such great ideas for stories? The protagnoist in this story is a woman and he captures her voice well. You will root for her from cover to cover and afterwards.

  • Gerald’s Games is the story of what happens when a husband and wife have not communicated properly.

Rose Madder (Stephen King) – I know, I’m a little biased. I adore Stephen King. This heart-pounding book is a masterly written piece. Full of tension, great pacing, characters you love to love, and love to hate.

  • Rose Madder is the story of Rose Daniels' supernatural transformation from abused wife of a psychotic cop to independent woman.

The Servants of Twilight (Dean Koontz) – I believe this book was made into a low-budget movie some years ago. Hated it! This book deserves some real big money Hollywood attention. The pacing of the story and the characters are superb. Long after you have finished the book, you will be contemplating the questions raised in it. Undoubtedly, you will glance over your shoulder a few times.

  • The Servants of Twilight is the story of a religious sect bent on eradicating the world of evil; they relentlessly pursue a young boy and his mother. The story culminates with an ending that will leave you questioning what really happened.

Did I miss your favorites? Think I should have had someone else on the list. Let me know. Leave it in the comments.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Revive that Story

I was just over at The Blood Red Pencil and was inspired by a post by Maryann Miller. She hadn't abandoned an old manuscript and it worked in her favor...she recently got the story published. I too have a manuscript - my very first to be exact- that I have hidden away. Embarrassed by my lack of skill, I quickly realized the manuscript lacked something...actually, it lacked many things.

I have as of late taken on the notion that all my work is a "Work in Progress" until it is published. So, yes that means my current piece that I posted to this very blog. Since posting it here some weeks ago it has undergone some changes...especially the first chapter. I say all of this to say that we shouldn't abandon manuscripts. In my humble opinion, any manuscript is salvageable. The key is to know what to keep, know what works for your MC, and don't be afraid of criticism.

I was terrified of criticism! I said I wanted readers/friends to critique my work but what I really wanted was for them to say they liked it. They didn't even have to tell me why they liked it, just that they did. Boy, I was in for a wake-up call. I let a neighbor read it and she gave it back with a detailed list of my errors. Some of the things she mentioned went over my head...I had no idea what she was talking about. That was embarrassing! I got smart though. Quick.

I pushed myself to learn the craft. I bought books on the craft of writing. I subscribed to writer’s blogs, writer websites, Facebook pages...anywhere I could think. And, I listened. And read. And listened more and read more. Am I the perfect person to write that manuscript now - I think so. However, it’s not because I think I'm the best writer but because I think I'm a great "learner.” And any learner will tell you - you never know enough. There is always something to be learned.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Editing Tips for Writers

I've been working on editing my novel, the Chloe Chronicles and the Rebirth for some time now. So, I’m constantly discovering new tips on how to edit my manuscript. There's a plethora of information available. It can be quite intimidating.

Therefore, my post today will be for writers. Of course, anyone can use the tips I've discussed here. I’m not a published author and know that my tips are not all inclusive. However, I’ve implemented the following editing techniques to my manuscript. I find it reads much better, clearer. The tips will allow my readers the capability of delving into my book without the distraction of messy, clunky, disconnected writing.

First Editing Tip:

The very first thing you should do once you complete the first draft is to put your manuscript away for at least two or three weeks. This will give you the opportunity to look at it again with fresh eyes. This waiting period is meant to give you the ability to look at the manuscript you've pondered for months (sometimes years) in a different light. Many writers differ on the length of time needed to produce these “fresh eyes,” but all agree that it’s necessary. 

Second Editing Tip:

Once you’ve waited for your “fresh eyes” to appear, the next step is to do a thorough read through. I read my entire manuscript from first page to last. I try not to make any corrections during this step. This is very difficult to do. I see so many errors at this point and want to make changes to them. Don’t! My goal during this step is to:
  • spot gaping holes in the plot – your reader should understand what has happened, not scratch they’re head in confusion.
  • ensure character arc – your protagonist should be different by the end of the storyspot dialogue errors – know your characters, would they really say that. 

  • look at sentence structure – sentence lengths should vary within each paragraph.
  • Your villain is well thought out – your villain will provide much of the conflict in the story so must not be weak. He/she/it must be strong enough to survive the entire story. If the villain is weak, your story will be also. The same thing goes for your protagonist.
  • Ensure your story has enough conflict to propel it to the end. Conflict is what keeps your readers, reading. No conflict = boring story = no readers!

… I make notes on the hard copy of the manuscript, with notes in the margins and underline or highlight things I need to change. Alternatively, I use a notebook with notations of changes that I need to make by notating page this, page that and paragraph this, paragraph that, beside it so I can find the things I need to correct later.

Third Editing Tip:

In this next round of editing, I’m looking to seek and destroy. Meaning: I'm going to have to cut a lot. What am I looking to destroy:
  • the endless back-story (back-story is info that gives the reader details of what happened before the story began). This should have been spotted and notated on your read through
  • All the other things you noted in your read through. Anything that does not propel the story forward – especially dialogue that does not push the story forward or reveal anything about the character(s) that the reader must know/understand to understand the plot.  
  • Repetitive use of words – never use the same word in the same sentence, if possible, not the same paragraph (this mostly refers to verbs) Use a thesaurus to find new words to replace the repetitive ones. Nevertheless, remain mindful of your audience – you’re not trying to prove your intelligence but stimulate a reaction from your audience.
  • Cut down on the use of adjectives and adverbs – especially those words ending in – “ly” like, suddenly
  • Cut down on fillers, words that add no meaning and if deleted from the sentence does not reduce clarity, examples: just, then, probably, usually, almost, there was, there is, had, mostly…

Fourth Editing Tip:

Once I’ve deleted all the unnecessary things from my manuscript its time to ensure that my spelling, words, and sentence structure are correct. Sure go ahead and use your spellchecker but it will not catch all the errors. You must do a line-by-line edit to catch any redundancies or awkward sentences, misspellings, and proper word usage.

Fifth Editing Tip:

Don’t push that send button!  Do not think under any circumstance, that once you complete your first draft it’s ready to send to agents. It’s not. Even if all your friends tell you, your story is great, flawless, and perfect. It’s not. Wait. Follow the steps in this post…nobody ever gets it right the very first time. Even the authors on the best-sellers list have to do a thorough edit…or pay someone to do it for them. Scour the Internet for editing tips. The easiest places to look are blogs. Blogs by other writers are filled with tips on editing. Keep looking until you keep finding the same tips or you can say that you’ve implemented almost every tip you’ve come across.

Sixth and Final Editing Tip:

This is actually two tips in one. ***no need to thank me*** Read then write. Read more, and then write more. I’ve never personally met anyone who loves (you must “love” to write to do it or else you must be insane, in my humble opinion) to write but does not like to read. I LOVE reading. I read quite a bit in my genre…actually anything I can get my hands on. My bookshelf is overloaded. I also read outside of my genre…to keep me on my toes. And, of course, I love to write. I feel sad when I don’t write. I miss my characters and feel as if I’m neglecting them.

Those are all the tips I could think of right now. I’ll gather more information and post more editing tips later. This should suffice for now. I should know…their keeping me awful busy.

If you have any editing tips please let everyone know in the comments section below.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Spare Time Activities

With my children home for the holidays and a slew of nieces and nephews visiting, I had little time for writing. I’ve not written anything new in my ‘The New Kid’ installments for some time and don’t have a topic ready for this week. So, in light of my unpreparedness, I thought I’d share with everyone what I have been doing.

Watching movies (some new, some old)

Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Lightening Thief – Okay, I’ve watched this movie a gazillion times. I love it each time. It has everything I love: intrigue, great characters – especially a donkey boy, Medusa, and Greek Mythology. I love the scene where they are in the casino. All- around great movie that can be seen with all the kids in the family.

Salt – This movie is action packed. Angelina Jolie kicks major butt!!! Great acting, great story and a great twist that I actually saw coming ***ahem*** I guess it’s that great writer instinct I have. Would recommend in a heartbeat.

Resident Evil, After-Life – I couldn’t wait to see this movie. Unfortunately, it was not what I expected. Alice is usually kicking booty but this story-line is too unbelievable. I believe that conflict progresses the story but come on!!! Some of the things that happen just don’t make logical sense. “There is no way that she should have survived that,” I kept yelling at the TV. I wouldn’t recommend this movie to anyone, unless they were looking for a great laugh.

Easy-A – I must admit I am not the biggest fan of the comedy. I love action movies and science fiction but not comedy so much. Until now. This was the best comedy I’ve seen in a very long time. It was well written, smart, and funny. The lead character, Olive, played by Emma Stone, is a sarcastic, intelligent, caring high school student with a huge lie that she can’t contain. I highly recommend, but due to the subject matter I’d say no one under 13.

I actually did get some reading done over the break also:

The Hunger Games Trilogy (by Suzanne Collins) – I know I am well behind everyone else in America on this one but I adore the Hunger Games. I read all three books and let me tell you, it was full of surprise moments, great characters, and action. No wonder they’re selling like crazy. I loved each book equally and am biting my nails trying to figure out when the movies are coming and who’s going to play Katniss Everdeen. My daughter is reading the second book now, Catching Fire. I think I may re-read The Hunger Games, just for fun.

How to Write a Selling Screen-play (by Christopher Keane) – It’s a great tool for any writer. It helped me to develop my characters, the plot, the dialogue…and so much more. It was amazing the incite I gleaned from his words. I read it like I was reading a fiction book. It had great exercises at the end of each chapter too!!! Would recommend to any aspiring author or screen writer. It’s awesome!!!