Saturday, January 17, 2015

Making readers feel

So I had this epiphany.

It was too cold for me to work up the nerve to get our of bed to write, so I lay there, not thinking about my WIP, but thinking about a novel I'm reading for my work's book club. This isn't something I normally would have chosen for myself, but it was the first non-nonfiction book they'd chosen AND it was YA. As I lay there, analyzing it, I started to think about this one point where the main character is really just a jerk to the love interest. He doesn't intend to be--he's dealing with his own feelings about what's happening to his love--but he's being a jerk nonetheless, and he's really making me not like him.

I began thinking about why I felt so strongly against him. Here was a character that had been engineered for readers to like, and up until this point I had. Then I got it. It was because his girl needs him, and the more she needs him, the more he backs off. He can't deal with the stress--I get that--but that doesn't mean I need to like it.

Usually, when I read while I'm writing, I go through this phase of hating my own writing, a phase of insecurities so large that it backs my own manuscript into something black and deep. But then it hit me. I want my readers to think my main character is a jerk, too. I've always known this, and just yesterday I was speaking with someone about how I feel my WIP is falling short in this way. It's not as powerful as I want it to be.

So ready for the epiphany?

I could use this author's technique, tailor it to fit my novel, and make my readers feel the way I want them to. Why hadn't I thought of this before? There are a million excellent novels out there. Instead of letting them make me feel insecure, I should really focus on how they make me so invested in their characters.

I'm not talking about mimicking them or turning my novel into something tropey. The last thing I want is a pile of pages about mysterious boys and average girls. I'm talking about really discovering what these successful authors do to make their readers feel, analyzing it, and then looking for that thing in my novel, the thing that will make my readers feel, too.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Introducing Anne Margaret

I know this is going to come as somewhat of a shock for all of you, but I'd like to introduce you to a little girl who's going to be staying with us for a while.
Her name is Anne Margaret Stinch, and she's five years old. We're not sure how long she'll be living with us, but Hazel's already in love with her. Just to give you a good idea of the type of kid we're welcoming into our home...
Anne Margaret is a little tall for her age, and she's marvelously behaved. Hazel already says she's not lonely anymore, and last night, she preferred an Anne Margaret-snuggle instead of her usual Mommy-snuggle. Oh, and Anne Margaret was awesome; today, when we got home from day care, she made fried chicken with tomato soup. And it wasn't even on Hazel's kitchen set--it was on our very own stove. So you can see, she's already the perfect playmate for Hazel.
This evening, Hazel insisted Anne Margaret sleep on the floor in our bedroom like she (Hazel) does. I recommended to Hazel that maybe she can start sleeping in her bedroom now, now that Anne Margaret is here to keep her company. Hazel told me that wasn't an option because, "Mommy, she's not real."
From the way Hazel talks about her, you'd think she is.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Yesterday was a bad day

Yesterday was a bad day.

Depression is being Schrodinger's cat.

Today will be better.

I'm going to try to write today. I've taken a brief hiatus from writing. It's been nearly a month, and this is why. I've been battling with depression again. Like a lot. As in, twelve hours of sleep isn't cutting it. Twelve hours of sleep and then napping for three hours isn't cutting it.

That's not to say I haven't been trying. It just feels like there's something wrapped around my brain, slowing me down, preventing me from thinking coherently. It makes me forgetful. Mid-idea, I forget what I'm doing, what I'm thinking. It's like opening the refrigerator and forgetting what you went inside for, except worse, because you forgot to open the fridge in the first place. Then you stand in front of the fridge staring at it, trying to remember what it is the refrigerator does. Why is it you're standing in front of the fridge? Why is it you're standing? Where are you? What are you?

Not who. Never who.

That's not to say I haven't been trying. Yesterday was a bad day. It took me by surprise because my days *have* been getting better. I just couldn't function. I tried. I cleaned the bathroom. I did other stuff. I know I did other stuff. For some reason, cleaning that darn bathroom was so important. It's the first thing I remember from yesterday. Really, the only thing, now that I'm trying so hard to remember. But I did other things. I remember *trying* really hard. Trying to do something.

Oh, I took in wood, too. Five cart-loads.

I just looked over and my daughter was biting her lip. I furrowed my brows at her and she furrowed hers back. "Are you copying me?" I asked. She smiled.