Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Unexpected Inspiration

Aren't I regal?

Inspiration from the Internet (and Those Crazy Web Comic Creators)

As a writer, you can find inspiration in the most unexpected places.

I thought I'd share one source of inspiration today b/c I think it might inspire others (and it's hilarious, so it can't be a waste of time, right?)

My husband is a nerd (he's also very cute, very entertaining, and very wonderful), but he's an ex-World of Warcraft playing, spreadsheet making nerd. I love him, and I can't exactly claim not to be a nerd, just not in the same way.

Thanks to him, I got hooked on Red vs. Blue a while back, even though I don't play Halo.

I got him hooked on the web comic Girl Genius, but he's the real web comic fanatic. He's always followed Penny Arcade. Sometimes I understand Penny Arcade, and sometimes I don't, but today he was telling me about the webisodes the Penny Arcade creators put out that shows them brainstorming the strips. This, of course, was his lead up to conning me in to watching a few with him.

It is utterly fascinating to watch the creators take their lives and turn them into comic strips. This series shows collaboration at it's best. You can tell these guys have been working together forever. They have their system down pat. You watch them brainstorm, refine, and edit before your very eyes. There's some real writing there, but they have so much experience that they can just churn it out.
Plus, they're funny. I honestly find the webisodes to be much funnier than the comic strips, but maybe that's because I'm not quite nerdy enough.

I'm going to go ahead and recommend this episode (webisode, I guess) because it was completely hilarious. For the rest, they're under PA TV, but you have to look for the ones labeled "4th Panel." Warning: these are not for kids.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Vacation From My Brain

Oh, man, how did I get to be this cool? ;)

Initial Problems

Do you ever just want a vacation from yourself?

I'm posting this Wednesday (to be a good, reliable blogger), but I'm writing this post on Sunday, and I have just spent somewhere between two and three hours choosing a background for my blog. That's after I spent hours yesterday looking through downloadable blogger templates.

Let me tell you, I am driving myself insane:

"Wow, I love that pattern. Oh, but it's kind of distracting from the text."

"Oh! That's pretty, let me try that one out. . . Meh."

"Oooooo, that's so pretty. Hmm, but it's a little hard to read."

Secondary Problems

So finally, I settled on this pattern you see before you now (I thought it was cool but didn't distract from the writing), but my analysis wasn't done yet! Here is a sample:

"I don't know. It's sort of curliquey. Maybe that's too girly. Would a guy be ashamed to read a blog that was too girly? What if someone sees him and he feels like he ought to close out of the blog really quick because it's too girly?"

And then I debated header color! I love the red, but I'm still a little worried it's too goth with the black and red, and I am not goth at all, so it might send the wrong impression . . . . yep, I need a vacation from myself.

The Real Problem

And the worst part is that all this silliness has kept me from writing much today. Of course, I'm feeling a bit paralyzed by indecision there too b/c I cut my original first sentence, and I'm just not sure that's the right thing to do, and I don't want to mess up any submissions with the wrong first sentence.

As you can see, it's just one of those days, and I simply need to get out of my own head. Maybe I'll go for a walk and listen to loud music. Or call my sister.

Does anyone have any suggestions for what they do to get their brains to shut up?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Most and Least Favorite Characters

This is me. One day I grabbed some things out of the closet & had fun with my camera.

Wonderful Characters

Sometimes I compile writing notes for myself. I recently found myself thinking about the types of characters that really help create an interesting novel, movie, or TV show. I made my husband help me, and I asked him this question: "Who are your favorite or most hated characters?"

Here's my list:
  • Mr. Wickham (of Pride & Prejudice)-at first he seems wonderful, but then he turns out to be the villain. This type of character is most interesting if the main character discovers Wickham's evil ways before the rest of the characters, allowing the audience to know just what sort of a fellow he is while the other characters fumble along, trusting them like the saps they are.
  • Kronk (of The Emperor's New Grove)/Bolin (of The Legend of Korra)-this character is big, dumb, and loveable. He creates laughs and relieves tension and is truly a worthwhile character because he also has unexpected moments of brilliance or usefulness.
  • Dolores Umbridge (of Harry Potter fame)-she is just so darn evil, and she has the main character right where she wants him. The reader wants to help the main character but is helpless against Umbridge's pure evil. Her appearance is a contradiction to her evil nature. She is not even a powerful person in her own right, but because of the situation, she is all-powerful, and she makes the life of the main character miserable.
  • Hobbes (of Calvin & Hobbes)-he is clever and makes you laugh. He is the best friend who lives in the background of Calvin's larger than life persona. People relate to the way Calvin feels, but Hobbes can see the full truth of the situation and says something hilarious that puts the whole world in perspective. Hobbes is downright insightful.
  • Snape (of Harry Potter)-unrequited love is a very moving thing. Snape's love gives his life purpose, and, in the end, you feel so much for him. He's also interesting because he is a villain too. Even though he turns out to be a hero, I think he made Harry's life miserable enough to consider him the secondary villain of several of the books. Fascinating character.
  • Miss Havisham (of Great Expectations)-the twisted side of unrequited love. An obsessive, insane character who cannot get over past disappointments. For an insane person who lives in the past, she's remarkable good at plotting.
  • Elizabeth Bennet (of Pride & Prejudice)-ok, so I love Lizzy. I don't think she's quite so fascinating as the others on the list, but I needed one positive female character! She's sarcastic and smart. She's a great sister, and a woman who learns from her mistakes.  She also has a "fine set of eyes," and you love her so much that you're ridiculously happy when she gets her Happily Ever After. She is a flawed person, but you understand how she makes her mistakes and you love her for the way she tries to be a better person.
  • Fred & George Weasley-They're on this list, "Because they're f*ing awesome." My husband refused to speak to me if I didn't include them. (Side note: In our copy of the Deathly Hallows, it has been penciled in that the little known Weasley brother Sam died during the scene when most people seem to think Fred died. They're wrong. It was Sam.)
I know, I know. I'm a little Harry Potter heavy. So sue me. ;)

I'm sure I missed a few wonderful, archetypal character types. I'd love for some people to add to my list in the comments below.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Highs and Lows of Writing

Writing is a series of raised hopes and crushed dreams. Ok, so maybe I'm being dramatic, but some days it doesn't feel like it.

Just by it's very nature, writing is a very tumultuous process. Or perhaps I mean the process of getting published, but for many people it's much the same thing.

You write something. You think it's amazing. You read it again, and think it's crap. Then you do some editing. And maybe some more editing, and what the heck, maybe a bit more. And by the time you're done you can't help but think, "You know this is pretty darn good."

So you put together your query letter (and maybe synopsis). You agonize over it and edit the crap out of it. And then you put yourself out there.

You think to yourself, "I think I really have something this time."

And then you start to get the rejection letters. That's when you realize, "Maybe I just don't have it. Maybe this isn't something I can do after all. Maybe I should just curl up into a little ball and feel sorry for myself."

And then, of course, a few days later (or hours or weeks, depending on just how much spring back you've got in you), you put out a few more query letters and hope springs anew. Because if you don't keep trying you're never going to get anywhere.

Seriously, it's amazing there aren't more medicated writers out there.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Some thoughts on Copyrights and Copyrighted Images

To Infringe or Not to Infringe: It Isn't Really a Question

Well, if you're on this blog you know I want to be a published writer. And if I achieve that dream, I imagine I'll have quite a stake in this whole copyright business.

That's why when I read this article by author Roni Loren, I started to think really long and hard about copyrighted images.

You see, I have a Tumblr account, and I had rather assumed that if you credited the artist/photographer whose work you were posting, you were golden, and with re-blogged posts I was even less careful. Who knows where those things came from?

However, after reading Roni's post, I am now fully aware that that is insufficient, which lead me to some soul searching. Should I really be irresponsible with other peoples' images when I want to be able to be paid for my own work? The obvious answer is no.

So then what?

I don't have a huge number of Tumblr followers, so I considered deleting my account. But, you see, I'd just gotten my Tumblr to look exactly how I wanted it (that took forever & shouldn't be knocked-it looks so pretty!), and I do really enjoy procrastinating by reading through my Tumblr feed. Plus, I want to write books for teens, and reading the posts of my teenaged followers has helped me remember what it's really like to be a teenager. That's invaluable to a writer.

So today, I've been slowly but surely searching through the creative commons for images that their creators have given us all permission to use. I'm going to build up a number of 100% legal posts as I slowly delete my old posts. I've already lost a few of my followers, but I feel very good about this decision (although not so good about how much work it is-but that's what I get for not doing it right the first time around). But now I know, and I WILL do better.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!