August 14, 2012

Trailer Park Tuesday (6): ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

Blood, Sweat and Books hosts the Trailer Tuesday meme and you can check out their awesomeness as well. Since I live in Middle Tennessee, I decided to country-fy my meme and go the trailer park route. *snortle* In my home away from home, I will spotlight some of the awesome book trailers out there in the world. Since the bigguns don't really need my meager help with anything, I will focus mostly on the little dogs...unless something bright and shiny comes along.

This week I'd like for y'all to take a peek at ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. Not the Beatles song or Beatles inspired movie, but the book by Beth Revis. The book, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, is a super cool space Odyssey of sorts. I don't know about you, but I'm a total Sci-Fi geek. Oh yeah, big time. Star Wars anyone? Anyway, this book looks awesome! I read an except from the book website and I tell ya, damn. Check it out.

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE was released in 2011 and the second installment A MILLION SUNS was released this past January. The third, and final, book SHADES OF EARTH will release in 2013. Below is the trailer I stumbled upon and I was instantly hooked after watching. I had to share it with all you lovelies! Aren't I a peach?

Also do yourself a favor and check out the book site. There's all kinds of cool features to play with. Emphasis on the 'play.' *wink*

Author: Beth Revis
Publication Date: 1/11/2011

Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed. She expects to wake up on a new planet, 300 years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed's scheduled landing, Amy's cryo chamber is unplugged, and she is nearly killed.
Now, Amy is caught inside an enclosed world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed's passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader, and Elder, his rebellious and brilliant teenage heir.
Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she? All she knows is that she must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again.

August 08, 2012

Playing with characters and voice

There’s been a common theme in blogs posts I’ve seen lately. That theme being Voice. The ‘how-to” and “what is it” of writing, crafting, finding the all important Voice. This got me thinkin’. How do I find, use, write, craft Voice?

Bear with me as I get a wee bit fragmented.

I’m sure you’ve surmised by now that I haven’t had any real writerly training. Not sure if you can count high school English as that was a looooong time ago. Not gonna tell you HOW long. HA! Anyway, I HAVE read loads of bits on finding Voice and how to make the best of it and all that jazz. The problem is, I learn by doing. Yeah, I’m one of those people who have to DO IT to get it. I can read instructions till I’m blue in the face, but until I do it, I’m lost.

So how does a learn-by-doing lass learn how to craft Voice? Depends. I firmly believe that an Authorial Voice will just happen. It’s like finding the perfect pair of jeans. You’ll try different styles on, but either the hips are too snug, the hem too long, the thighs too loose, blah blah blah… until you scream in the changing room. But once you find that elusive pair of jeans, it’s like the clouds part and angels begin to sing. Everything just….fits.

Now, a character’s Voice… That’s a little trickier. Characters have to feel real, speak real, laugh real, sigh real, burp real. I may have thrown that last bit in there, but hey, if your characters DO burp, it has to be real!My compadre Alisha has a great post on doing character studies here. Check it out! She’s awesome. And I’ve tried the character studies and/or profile worksheets. They work for me on the technical stuff like hobbies and physical traits, but I cannot (for the life of me) glean any sort of TRUE personality from a worksheet. It feels too stale and flat to me.

So I reach back into my theater roots and create my character’s Voice by ACTING them out. Yup, you read right. I get all Martin Scorsese or Quentin Tarantino up in here! The basics are exactly the same: Who, What, Where, Why and How. Thank you, Mrs. Jordan, for beating these into us during class. The difference is in the implementation. Sure, you write out the basics (just like a character worksheet) but instead of the character coming alive first on paper, the character comes alive in YOU. They don’t just SPEAK through you, they ARE you.

How to achieve this sort of multiple personality disorder loveliness? Preferably alone. Writers are known for being a little off-kilter, but no reason to confirm it for anyone. *wink* Seriously, grab a scene from the mini-movie already running in your head from your new bright-shiny WIP and get into character! The scene is there so pick your character, whether it’s the MC, the best friend, the love interest, the postman, and roll with it!

The best way for me to Voice-out a character is to ‘play act’ them during the scene. Speak the lines, use the gestures, roll the eyes, flip the hair, frown with them, smile with them, cry with them! DO IT! I’ve found this to be the best way, for me, to get a real feel for my characters and HOW they act and react. Does that gesture feel right with that dialogue? Yes or no? While speaking in their Voice, does my character have a tendency to do certain things? Like rub their chin, pick at their fingernails, chew the inside of their lip? Yes? Write it down! That is your character. Does your character place emphasis on certain words while speaking? Do they have an accent? Do they pace when frustrated?

If you’ve truly gotten into your character, all of these things will happen, because that is who they are. It will come natural. And when you’ve found the first Voice, the others will follow suit. Once you’ve established how character A says something, character B will have a natural reaction. It’s a lot like reading your MS out loud, but with the action in there as well. And many times you’ll find that certain actions during the dialogue will solve random issues you have in your writing. Do your CP’s mention something feeling awkward during the dialogue, like John Smith’s chronic collar-popping? Act it out in your character’s Voice. Does it feel natural? Yes? Maybe tone it down a notch. No? Ax it.

Scared to try it? Don’t be! You already have voices in your head, right? Well, now give those voices legs, arms, movement and swagger. Let them LIVE through you.

Still nervous? Try a dark room. Then you won’t feel so “in the spotlight.”

Besides, if anyone asks what the H-E-double-hockey-sticks you’re doing, you can honestly say you’re REHEARSING. And dramatics (aka theater folk) have a worse wrap than us writers. *snortle*

Now go get your schizophrenic on!

August 07, 2012

Trailer Park Tuesday (5): LINGER

Blood, Sweat and Books hosts the Trailer Tuesday meme and you can check out their awesomeness as well. Since I live in Middle Tennessee, I decided to country-fy my meme and go the trailer park route. *snortle* In my home away from home, I will spotlight some of the awesome book trailers out there in the world. Since the bigguns don't really need my meager help with anything, I will focus mostly on the little dogs...unless something bright and shiny comes along.

Like this week.

Many of you may already know the wonderful Maggie Stiefvater. I, for one, do not. I have yet to read any of her books. Not purposely, of course. Just haven't had the chance. But this week's Trailer Tues may change my mind. 

Have you seen the trailer for LINGER? Holy cheeseballs it's awesome! LINGER is the second installment of the SHIVER series and I seriously have to get these books now. This trailer is so unbelievable and creative and different and compelling and...and...and [insert multiple adjectives here]. I watched it THREE TIMES before I decided to do my meme bit on it this week.

So without further ado, please feast your eyes on this trailer by Miss Maggie. 

Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publication Date: 7/13/10

Once Grace and Sam have found each other, they know they must fight to stay together. For Sam, this means a reckoning with his werewolf past. For Grace, it means facing a future that is less and less certain.
Into their world comes a new wolf named Cole, whose past is full of hurt and danger. He is wrestling with his own demons, embracing the life of a wolf while denying the ties of a human. For Grace, Sam, and Cole, life is a constant struggle between two forces--wolf and human--with love baring its two sides as well. It is harrowing and euphoric, freeing and entrapping, enticing and alarming. As their world falls apart, love is what lingers. But will it be enough?

August 05, 2012

Whose POV is it anyway?

Perspective is an amazing thing. Depending on where you set that perspective, you can completely alter a story. Those of you who are writerly types know what I'm talking about: the question of point of view.

Generally, when hashing out ideas for a story, you come to a point where you need to decide what point of view (POV) in which to write. Will your story be in 1st person? What about 3rd? Will there be alternating POVs? A single POV? Or will it be some mish-mash of POV? This decision is just as important to the story building process as say plot or voice or even setting.

When writing in 3rd person (limited or omniscient), you have the ability to show more of the world around the characters. For instance, Cassandra Clare writes in 3rd person for the uber awesome Mortal Instrument and Infernal Devices series. Why is this important? Because Miss Cassie can share details of the Shadowhunter world that we may not see if limited to 1st person. Being that she also writes in alternating POV, if we're looking at the world through Clary's eyes, we will only be able to experience things as Clary does. This isn't always a bad thing, especially when trying to build tension, but when you have such a rich world, like the Shadowhunter world, why limit yourself?

On the other hand, when writing in 1st, you can get into the character's head more. When dealing with conflict, it's sometimes harder-hitting when seeing it through the MC's eyes. If your MC is totally freaked by something going on, you have the ability to really play up the emotional side of things in 1st person. Sure, you may be limited to what's going on around the character, but if your story is more of an internal conflict for your MC, then you don't need all the outside forces explained.

So which do you choose?

It's up to you and how you want your story to be told. At UtopYA Con, there was a panel discussion about this very subject. Raine Thomas, LM Davis, and Willow Cross were all panelists discussing how it's all about breaking the rules with POV in YA these days. There's no cut-and-dry way to write YA, no standard template that MUST be followed. This is a great thing!

Many authors are testing the boundaries of POV in their writing. I think this is awesome! As long as there's a reason for the way it's done. If you just go about it all mamby-pamby style and write a POV wonky just for shits and giggles, then you need to be punched in the face. Well, maybe not that extreme, but your readers may want to. And that's not a great thing.

So whether you write solely in 3rd person like Cassandra Clare, or if you alternate your 3rd person per book like Raine Thomas, or alternating 1st person like Marie Lu, or even alternating 1st per book like Myra all works. As long as it's the right decision for your story.

Which do YOU prefer? Which side of the POV bubble are you on? Love 3rd person, but hate 1st? Work best when connecting to your characters through 1st person? What POV rules are YOU breaking?