Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Learned my Lesson

What is the theme of your story? Do you know what theme is? Every novel should have a theme. And no, it’s not the plot. Writers often confuse the two. Plot is what the story is about – what happens to the characters. Theme is why the story happens. The moral lesson(s) learned by the characters in the story. And yes, you can have more than one. So, what counts as theme and what doesn’t?

I’ll use one of my favorite novels, The Flowers in the Attic, by V.C. Andrews as a basis for the answer.

What is the Plot: Four children are abandoned in an attic awaiting the death of their grandfather.

What is the Theme: Family relationships (mother and child relationship/abandonment), struggle against societal pressure (the mother’s place in society was far more important than her children), man’s struggle against nature (greed, sexual desire, inner demons)

Theme is not preachy and in your face. Even Christian authors can write great fiction without preaching to their audience, think Dekker, Peretti (see below). All fiction should have a theme but that message should never be shoved down the reader’s throat. It should be intricately weaved into the plot of the story. The reader should read the entire story then realize, “Oh, what she/he was saying was …”

My examples of great themed books:

House by Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti (Christian supernatural) – Man’s struggle with divinity, family relationships (Jack and Stephanie are going to counseling and considering divorce), Death (Jack and Stephanie’s daughter died and they are struggle to understand), man’s struggle with nature (they must kill one of the people in the house or the crazy serial killer, Barsidious White, will kill them all and they struggle with the decision)

Twilight by Stephanie Meyers (YA paranormal) – never judge someone based off stereotypes (all vampires are bad- per Werewolves; all werewolves are bad – per Vampires – until they have to work together), love can come in many forms be willing to accept it (Edward’s struggle against the love he felt for Bella), man’s struggle with divinity (Edward’s refusal to believe he has a soul).

Common Literary themes:

Love; unrequited love, forbidden love, love conquers all…

Family relationships; mother and daughter bonds, abandonment by family, failed marriage …

Man’s struggle against nature; the struggle to remain youthful, sexual struggle, inner demons, death…

Struggle against societal pressure; peer pressure, unfulfilled dreams, the American dream…

Yin and Yang; something good happens then something bad happens to balance it all out

Can you think of more themes? What is the theme of your story? If you don’t know how to answer that, you’d better make some changes to your MS. Every story needs a theme.

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Another Award and some Inspiration

I received the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award from LisaAnn at Kicked, Cornered, Bitten, and Chased (Isn’t that name totally cool).

Thanks, LisaAnn you’re awesome. She’s amazing. Visit her site to hear about all the great things she does. She’s an adventurer, an animal lover, and a book writing manic!!! LOL No, she’s not really crazy, but you will be if you don’t head over there and check out her blog.

I just received another award where I had to reciprocate to another blog, so I can’t choose the blogs to give this award to now. I try to choose blogs with low followings and/or great informative posts to offer that blogger some exposure. Not that there aren’t hundreds out there but I’m swamped today so, how about a little inspiration instead.

Keep dreaming. Your dreams will come true...

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Blog Award

Sorry for the lateness of my post. Life caught up with me today, but in a good way.

I received the Stylish Blogger Award from LMPreston.

Thanks, LM, you’re great!!! Now I have to pass on the award to other deserving blogs. I also have to list seven facts about myself that most won’t know.
1. I’m in school getting my English degree. I have an Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies and started a business degree right after that then stopped. I hated business. It didn’t hold my interest and I knew I didn’t want to work in an office my entire life. So English is perfect for me. While I wait for my writing to take off, I’ll teach. I love kids so the choice was obvious. However, it didn’t occur to me until the company I’d work at for years closed. If it hadn’t closed I’d probably still be there – I was just that loyal. I’d still be writing but I’d be there doing it…on my hour lunch break with my company phone ringing off the hook and my email flashing.

2. I love being home with my family. Why hadn’t I done this before? Oh, yeah, reality says, “you couldn’t afford it.” Right. Well, I love it now.

3. I’m not an animal person. I love to look at them. I’ll swoon and say how cute they are, but I won’t touch them. And I don’t have any pets. We tried a dog but when I did most of the upkeep work, I told the kids never again. I meant it. I think?

4. I’ve written two full manuscripts and I’m almost complete with a third. None published. The first novel I wrote was so bad it ought to have a disclaimer: do not read while operating heavy machinery. This thing’ll put you to sleep faster than NyQuil. Yeah it was that bad. Great plot. Great characters. Horrible writing.

5. I loved the characters from my first novel so much. I miss them like I miss an old friend. I’m never going to give up on it (I mean making it shine. I only sent it to a couple agents so I’m good on querying it still). I am going to work on it as soon as I finish my current WIP.

6. I am the biggest nerd I know. I love the history channel, science channel, - well, anything not Reality TV.  One huge exception, American Idol. This is my first year watching it and I’m so excited. I loved Lauren from the start and hope she wins. I haven’t seen tonight’s episode and I’m anxious to see who went home.

7. The very first book I ever read was The Flowers in the Attic by the late V.C. Andrews. I was in the third grade ***too young, I know*** and I haven’t been able to stop reading since.

I’m passing the award on to four deserving blogs that I discovered just recently:

Tabitha Olson @ Writer Musings
Suzanne @ Suzanne Writes
Please go check out these awesome blogs.
Have a great day, LOL, tomorrow. Read a book and laugh.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What's in a Word...or your story

I am the proud recipient of two awards. I received the Stylish Blogger Award from LM Preston. I’ll reciprocate this award on Thursday of this week. Thanks LM, you’re great!!!

Next, I received the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award from LisaAnn at Kicked, Cornered, Bitten, and Chased (Isn’t that name totally cool). I’ll reciprocate this award on Friday of this week. Thanks, LisaAnn you’re totally awesome!!!

I hadn’t posted any substantial writing tips, so I thought I’d post something today. I thought about the Literary Devices we could employ as writers to ensure our audience’s full attention would be on our book.

What is a literary device? A literary device is a method of story telling that expresses ideas through language and can be analyzed or interpreted. Simply put, it is the manner in which writers tell the story. You probably use some of these techniques in your own manuscripts but didn’t know the technical terms for them:

Cliffhanger - The story/chapter ends unresolved. This device is used to keep the reader reading. Example: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Witch and Wizard by James Patterson are great examples of this device at work. Almost every chapter ends with a cliffhanger.

Foreshadowing - To give the reader a sense of things to come. Example: You hint at a past love or a thought of a past love right when the MC’s boyfriend proposes to her. The reader automatically thinks that there might be a connection or that she still has feelings for this other mystery guy. Later at a crucial time in the story, you introduce this guy and wham – instant tension.

Hyperbole – this device is used in poetry but can be used to sprinkle your dialogue with. Not too much though, it can weigh the MS. It is exaggeration and not to be taken literally. Example: My stomach had started eating my surrounding organs I was so hungry. (Bad example, but you get it, right.)

Narrative hook – The elusive “hook” we hear so much about. It is the opening sentence of your MS and must grab the reader’s attention and make it impossible for them to put down your book. Example: (this is from my MS) If the Twilight Zone was a place, then I was there.

Plot Twist – this is an unexpected shift in what happens in the story. No *dues ex machina here, though. The twist must make sense and be apart of the logical clues and points left throughout the plot. Example: The Sixth Sense with Bruce Willis had a great plot twist. If you hadn’t seen the movie, shame on you. Go rent it and you will understand what I mean. There are a number of clues that led up to the conclusion and it made total sense but we were so enthralled with the main plot that we forgot everything else. This is genius if pulled off correctly.

Ticking clock scenario – This device has to do with pacing. You up the stakes for your protagonist by making him/her have to accomplish the goal (they must have some goal/desire for a compelling read) within a specified amount of time. This device can be employed throughout the story or in a particular scene. Example: Nick of Time (movie) with Johnny Depp or Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyers

Irony – this device presents a difference in what is expected and what actually occurs. Situational irony is where a discrepancy between what is expected and what is actualized occurs, Example – Your MC has a lifelong fear of flying at night. So he/she avoids the red eye flights at all cost, but is in a plane crash on his/her noon flight. Dramatic irony occurs when a character is unaware of important information already revealed to the audience Example – Horror films are great for this one. We know Michael Myers is behind the MC and we wish we could scream for her/him to run. The MC however is not aware of him lurking behind, waiting to spring. (This is also a third person point of view device. First person perspectives couldn’t do this, as the MC is the head you’re in – unless this was done to a secondary character) Lastly, Verbal Irony is irony in dialogue. It’s when someone says one thing but mean another. (No explanation necessary, right)

Setting – a richly imagined setting can act as a third character. And setting does not simply mean where the story takes place. It is the car the MC drives, the bed that they sleep in, the period of time the story takes places…Examples – The Hunger Games and Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling are great examples of richly drawn settings.

There are more, many more devices. Can you think of more? Did I get a detail wrong? Leave a comment.

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!!!!

***deus ex machina - is a literary device that is evidence of weak writing. It is when the story/controversy/plot is resolved by some random act not associated with the story. Example: The villain has beaten the protagonist and an act of God rescues the protag - yeah this sucks and is a clear sign of a weak plot and writing. Don't do this!!!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Thankful Thursday meme...Teachers

It is Thankful Thursday and this weeks meme is, Teachers. Those teachers who inspired your love for writing or just inspired you in general.

The teachers that I'm most thankful for are: Mrs. Green and Mr. Demecurio.

Mrs. Green was a teacher that made learning fun. She was not an English/Writing teaching though, she taught Social Studies. Her method of teaching gave me an insatiable desire to want to learn and that desire has not dissipated in my adult years. Aside from her creative teaching methods, she listened to me and was almost like a second mom. I'll always appreciate her educational guidance, but it was her friendship that meant so much to me.

Mr. Demecurio was my drama teacher. He cultivated a love of books and writing in me. Well, I already loved to read but he introduced me to new literary works I had not discovered. He, when we weren't working on a masterpiece for the school theatre, worked on his own novel. After I'd made a suggestion once, he started enlisting my help on a regular basis. He told me that I had good creative instinct and that I should write a book one day. He said that he'd dedicate his book to me for all my help. Not sure if that book ever got published but he inspired me and I never forgot his words.

Do you remember that teacher that inspired you? Tell us about them. Leave a comment here and a link to your site with your favorite teacher that you're thankful for. Grab the badge and post on your blog.

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Girl's Night in...I'm having a Sleepover

It’s my oldest daughter’s birthday. This post is inspired by her. She’s having a sleepover so I thought my blog could have a sleepover also. The things listed below are what her and her friends would do but also what we could do/talk about at our sleepover.

So get comfy and slip on your PJ's. Enjoy the night!!! But be warned, don’t be the first to fall asleep – you may get smacked in the head with a book!

                                                         Azia at five years!!!!

                                                                  Azia now!!!!

What other blogs would I invite to my sleepover? I limited it to 7 blogs because I told her only 7 for her sleepover. It was hard to decide!!! Can you think of more? Leave it in the comments.
Kelly @ Kelly Hashaway's Books
Jessie @ The Daily Harrell
LM @ LM Preston
Jennifer @ Serendipity’s Library
Adrian @ The Mother Centurion
Aimee @ Seeking the Write Life
Christina @ Kafe Castro

What movies would we watch at our sleepover?

Twilight: Eclipse (to get ready for Breaking Dawn part 1)
Devil (gotta have one scary movie)
Her movie: The Hot Chick
X-Men: First Class

What books would we talk about?

Abandon by Meg Cabot
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
If I stay, Gayle Foreman
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

What music would we scream the lyrics to?

Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”
Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records”
Cee Lo’s “Forget you”
Miss Independent by Kelly Clarkson
Waka Waka by Shakira
Her Choice: Rihanna, Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Fergie, and Alicia Keys and …. ‘s  “ All of the lights”
Azia's choice: Casey Abrams version of I put a Spell on You

What hot guys we’d talk about?

Channing Tatum from The Dear John
Idris Elba from “Takers”
Ian Somerholder from “Vampire Diaries”
Paul Walker from “The Fast and Furious”
Josh Duhumel from “Life as we Know It”
Azia's choice: Taylor Lautner from “Twilight”
Azia's choice: Zack Efron from Charlie St. Cloud

Items of Discussion

Beiber Fever – Do ya’ got it?
Team Edward vs. Team Jacob
What new books should be movies
Writing, YA or MG

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

To: Writing, From: Dawn

I have a love, hate relationship with writing. I hate that I love it so much. But honestly, I can't live without it. If I stay away too long, I feel lonely, sad, depressed. I'm lost and abandoned sometimes by it, but I know that it does not do it on purpose. I forgive writing for making me cry and making me feel inferior to others. I can get pretty jealous at times too. Does this sound like your relationship with writing. Yeah! Funny huh - how it feels like a real relationship sometimes. Writing makes me cry more than my real husband. I thought Kelly Clarkson  put it perfectly. "My Life Would Suck Without You"

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!!!