Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Stepping Stone

Well, I did it! Graduated. Not with honors unfortunately, I was one paper off. But I did graduate, and got to do that quintessential moving-the-tassel-from-right-to-left rite. The long slew of speeches and formal walking and standing was over. Our class had been told specifically not to throw our caps in the air because it was a health hazard. Of course, still being teenagers at heart, we threw them anyways.

I said goodbye to some really great people yesterday, and there are many more I didn't have the guts to say goodbye to. I guess all I can hope for is that they know how much I care for them. Now I am passing into unfamiliar territory.

In the fall I am heading off to college to study history and English. And this summer will be spent researching literary agents, publishing houses, as well as writing query letters. Before now I knew where I was going every step of the way. Write book - check. Get good grades - check. Get into college - check. Don't fall up stairs at graduation ceremony - check. Graduate - check.

Now what? It all seems so open and vague. My writing will fuel me of course, and I will be happy.
I just wish it wasn't so hard to say goodbye to people.

Friday, June 10, 2011

What a Character

A few days ago I introduced you to the story of Sarah Whitman and Jonathan Harper, characters in my recently finished draft on a book titled Deceptor. And then yesterday I ranted about my most recent story entitled Ujil, and the story of Lea Frederickson. Well this blog has made me think about characters, and how to make them interesting.

Something a little wackadoodle about me and my family is that we do not own a TV that has channels. It snows on every single one of them. Instead we buy movies or television series that we think will be interesting. My favorites include Friends, Frasier, Mad About You, Firefly, and more recently Gilmore Girls.

Senior finals are upon me, and of course I have no desire to study, although I did put in a few good hours last night for Spanish 4 and Calculus. So of course I put on Gilmore Girls in the background. And there is this one character, Emily Gilmore, who I admire and hate at the same time. Well more accurately, I admire the writer who did her dialogue. She is this rich old control freak who can't keep a maid in the house for more than a week, has issues with her daughter and grandaughter, and always always always thinks she is right.

What a character. You know that feeling when you read a good book or watch television, where something that happens makes you so angry you have to walk away? That is how good this character is. She infuriates you to the point that you want to wring her neck and the gold necklace that's around it. Man I wish I could write like that. How might it feel to create a character so believable with such good dialogue that it incites a physical reaction from the reader? Pretty damn good, I should imagine.

But enough of this, I have a physics final to study for and more Gilmore Girls to watch. Happy Friday everybody!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Story Time Part II

As it is stated in my profile, I have a full manuscript written, and another in the works. The concept of this new novel came to me in a flash after looking into a steamy shower window in a hotel in Oregon. I looked at myself, and the image was blurred so that my eyes looked completely off of their normal blue-green shade. And so a story was born.

Lea Frederickson is a high school senior in the last month of classes (much like me!). She has a few good friends, hates history (unlike me), loves to sing, and has an aptitude for learning languages. We are several hundred years into the future ( I haven't set on a specific year yet) after intelligent life has been discovered on another planet. The aliens from the planet, Ujil, brought a disease to earth in their travels that couldn't be handled by the humans' inferior immune systems. Millions died.

Now at this point in time, the governments of the world had disbanded, to form the Unity Council, which consists of about 60 of these former leaders. To combat this disease, the Council funded the development of a serum that prevented humans from contracting the disease. After everything was under control, the Council mandated that every child, once they turn 17, must receive this shot so that no more epidemics break out.

Lea gets her shot like the rest of the population, but something goes wrong. There is normally a period of two or three days when the serum leaves your body weak. But when Lea wakes up in the morning, she discovers that something else has happened - she no longer has pupils. Instead of their usual gray, her eyes are completely silver.

And the doctors say the effects are permanent. Even her own parents are disconserted by this development, and Lea must face the persecution at school where to step outside the norms means becoming a social outcast.

I have about 25 pages of this story written. So, what do you think?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Death of Poetic Appreciation

I have spent the last 5 mind-numbing hours analyzing poetry for my AP English class. Now I am the first to say that I am not a fan of poetry, for I believe the reader should not have to a) spend more time delving for subtext than it would take to get a major in biochemistry or b) be hit over the head with the author's ideology.

I have read some poetry (Shel Silverstein most notably because it's just plain funny), but have never been inclined to search out new poets. And I am pleased to say that this project for class has only underlined and boldfaced my opinion about poetry. A single-spaced page of analysis for 10 poems seems a bit extreme when there is literally a week left before we seniors graduate (can't come quickly enough).

However, I have found one poem that perfectly coincides with my view on poetry, and I couldn't help but share it with that handful of people who sparingly glance at my blog, so bear with me.

The Three Goals
By: David Budbill

The first goal is to see the thing itself
in and for itself, to see it simply and clearly
for what it is.
            No symbolism, please.

The second goal is to see each individual thing
as unified, as one, with all the other
ten thousand things.
            In this regard, a little wine helps a lot.

The third goal is to grasp the first and the second goals,
to see the universal and the particular,
            Regarding this one, call me when you get it. 

See? Now wasn't that worth reading? That is pure poetry write there. Art in word form. Magnificent. Thank you, David Budbill, for putting it so well.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Story Time!

I've been blogging for about a month now, and it occurred to me the other day that I have yet to tell the story of my book. This story is one that my father used to tell me when he drove me to preschool, and I have since made it into a 412 page book for my senior project. So, here it goes.

Sarah Whitman is a fourteen year old girl with a love of adventure in a time when girls are supposed to sit pretty and let men do all the big thinking. Her greatest wish is to be the captain of her own ship, and is determined to make it happen. She is a bookish sort, a love which she shares with her father who understands her wanderlust. Her relationship with her mother is strained because Sarah pushes the boundaries of society's expectations of young women.

Everything in Sarah's life changes when her father is offered a job on another continent. Soon she will be traveling on the ocean, trying to learn everything possible about navigating. Her mother is worried about pirate attacks, but Mr. Whitman assures her that the captain of the ship they are sailing on has charted their course around possible places where they could encounter trouble.

At the same time, Jonathan Harper is attempting to attain a ship from the Royal Navy to go on a quest of his own. After several years at a school in another country, and then several more years spent as an enlisted man in the Navy, he is using his connections to his advantage. But things in the Navy aren't good. Since the country is at peace, the government doesn't have much need for these men. Along the way he learns how to become his own person, without the influence of others which has loomed over him since he was a child, and finds a purpose in life that he lacked before.

That is a very condensed version of my story, but I didn't want to give too much away. I'll be posting updates later on. Hope you enjoyed it!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

You Had Me At Hello

Now for a rant about the most important part of a story! Yes, you guessed it, the opening. I don't know about the rest of you, but when I walk into a book store it's all I can do not to drool. All those crisp new books with stories to get lost in.... just thinking about it makes my mouth sloppy. But what is one thing that can turn you away from some of those precious books? Not the picture on the front, although those can be disturbing enough. Nope, it's the first page.

I can't count the number of books I've put back on shelves because they failed to interest me. Perfect example: in my junior year my friend loaned me the first book in the Hunger Games series. I had it for almost a year. Now, as a person who devours books, this was a disgrace to my good name. I wanted to read it, truly I did. But the first page did not grab my attention. It consisted of terms I did not understand (I know that this is a technique used by many authors to make you keep reading, but I've never been much of a fan), as well as a description of a decrepit old cat.

Now, perhaps if I was an avid reader of T.S. Eliot's poetry, I would have appreciated the description. But sadly, because of it, that amazing book sat on my desk for almost a year before I pushed past the first chapter. After I did that, of course I finished it within a few days, and my own copy now holds a place of honor in the book case (eye level shelf, basically the same clout as a Grammy). It is one of my favorite stories.

Now what is the purpose of this rant? Well, my own editing has revolved mostly around making my books more exciting. And the first page is crucial. There are several ways to do this. Beginning with dialogue, an already started action, a brief description of conflict, internal dialogue about something that happened. Anything to grab hold of the reader and shake them until they need to read the story. Without the grab, books are like pets, just waiting for someone to take the time to push past the annoying flaws and discover the pal beneath.