Friday, August 30, 2013

Young Adult Literature Today: Love Triangles

You hate them or you love them. Either way, they seem to be dominating all different genres of Young Adult Literature today. In love triangles you have three different people. The main point or usually the main character who is torn between person A and person B. You read about a girl who can’t decide about what guy they like more, the sweet cute one or the dangerous rebellious one. Yeah, they can be annoying and repetitive, but some of them can be brilliantly written. From the Twilight series where the love triangle dominates most of the books’ plot, to The Hunger Games where it takes a backseat to the action in the book, the love triangle is a theme that is being seen more often in Young Adult Literature.
I even saw myself beginning to recognize love triangles in works I read in my English class. For example, I didn’t even hesitate to see the love triangle between Hester, Dimsdale, and Chillingworth in The Scarlet Letter, nor did I fail to recognize the tension between Brett, Jake, and Mike in The Sun Also Rises. As I began to point out these love triangles in famous works of Literature, I couldn’t help but wonder if the love triangle was something that was new and creative to this century or if it was something that has always existed, but we have just recently placed a name on.
Although I can’t really say either way on my opinion on love triangles in general, I do however begin to ask myself one question: How will critics in the future view love triangles?
I ask myself if they will be seen as a new plot device that are phenomenally written? Will it go down in history along with the great plot elements like Freytag’s Pyramid? Will they been seen as a common theme in the twenty first century? Will they be seen as “fluff” writers use when they have nothing else to write about?
When asked this question, I can only come up with one answer: it depends on the author.
Some writers can write a love triangle brilliantly while others can do a poor job. I have read many novels and short stories both famous and unknown that include love triangles.
The one’s that border on cheesy and boring tend to go off on a more repetitive route where the author picks out certain qualities of the two others and constantly repeat themselves about how “so and so has nice hair” but “so and so has great eyes”. They continue to think in this mindset while it is obvious to the reader who they are going to pick in the end.
The ones that are brilliantly written are the ones that continue to find levels upon levels in a person’s personality which constantly make the decision so much harder for the main character. As soon as they begin the lean towards one person, they discover something about the other that leaves them questioning their decision, always keeping the reader on their feet.
In the end, we don’t know how future love critics will define love triangles. However I can predict that if any love triangles get recognized by future critics, they will be the ones that are brilliant written.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ask The Author #1

Today's question was a rather long one so I decided to only answer one question this time.

Elly Marks: 

“Tell us about The Year of the Elephant. Where did you get the ideas for that? How did you motivate yourself to stick to it? How long did it take to write, from its conception to the final edit? Finally, what's your favorite thing about your first novel?”

I really don’t think I can answer this question without giving quite a lot of background info on it. For those people who don’t know, The Year of the Elephant was the first ever novel I’ve written, and actually one of the first creative writing projects I’ve ever done in the first place. I actually got the idea to write it when I was in seventh grade. Our grade had to participate in battle of the books, and one of the books we had to read was Alex Rider: Stormbreaker. Now, before I read this book, I was really into girly books like the Clique series and Secrets of my Hollywood Life.  I really do consider reading this book as a life-changing moment for me, and it really got me into the action-adventure genre, which is what ultimately got me into reading more kinds of books. After I read this book, I went and researched all of the spy books that existed. I read the rest of the Alex Rider series, read the entire Young Bond Series, and practically order the entire CHERUB series off Amazon since a majority of those books aren’t sold in America. However, I was very disappointed to find that none of them really had any female characters. The only series I found that had a main character as a girl was the Gallagher Academy series, which ended up boring me to death in the first chapter because it was just overall too girly of a book for me to take seriously as a spy novel. This is when the thought occurred to me, if there are no good books about girl spies out there, why don’t you write one yourself. This is what really inspired me to write this novel, and that was when The Year of the Elephant was born. It actually was not called The Year of the Elephant at first. The original name was Jade Tooth, but as the plot progressed the name no longer made sense. The title The Year of the Elephant didn’t really make all that much sense either, so I had to add something into the plot line to make it make more sense. What really motivated me to stick with it, was just the fact of finishing it. Another one of the things was that a group of boys in my grade had self-published a book when I was in seventh grade and I figured that if they could do it, so could I. This book took me about three to four years to finish. I started it in seventh grade, and self published it in the summer before my sophomore year in high school. I actually wrote a majority of it during freshman year of high school, because before freshman year, I only had about 36 pages written and when freshman year was over, I had about 60-100 pages. In all honesty, I really don’t like my first novel all that much. Compared to my writing now, the writing in it is terrible, and a lot of the plot seems over dramatic and doesn’t really make a lot of sense. I also didn’t edit it that much, just because since it was my first book, I wasn’t really sure what to do about anything. If I had to pick something that I liked the most about it, I really liked the prologue I wrote because I think it’s some of my best writing in the book, and it is also very interesting. 

 I hope you enjoyed this answer! Comment with any more question you would like to hear me answer! 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Unusual Isles: Meet the Main Characters!

In honor of me finishing the fourth round of editing, I thought I might introduce the main characters of my novel The Unusual Isles. So, here they are: 

Josh Allen
Age: 19
School: Monroe High School
Appearance: average height (5’6”), slender build, black spiky hair, eyes so dark brown they’re almost black
Personality: intimidating, manipulative, powerful, street smart not book smart, wants to be in charge, spontaneous, acts without thinking
Fun Facts: captain of his school’s football team
Biggest Fear: water

Tyler Giles
Age: 17
School: Monroe High School
Appearance: skinny, has short to medium length dark brown hair, wears glasses, about 5’6” in height, non muscular
Personality: book smart but not street smart, won’t stand up for himself, easily manipulated, has an irritating attitude, non athletic,
Fun Facts: Josh hired him to be his personal assistant
Favorite subject: mechanics and computer science

Cole Wilder
Age: 16
School: Jackson High school
Appearance: fairly tall, about 6’1” in height, red hair, white skin, freckles
Personality: very smart, quiet, trusting, fun-loving, friendly when talked to but not extremely outgoing, clumsy
Fun Facts: he used to live in Michigan, but his family moved to LA right before he entered high school
Biggest Accomplishment: offered to skip a grade when he was younger

Ellary Johnson
Age: 17
School: Monroe High School
Appearance: skinny, long light brown hair, hazel eyes, about 5’5” in height,
Personality: smart, quiet, follows the rules, doesn’t speak out of turn, acts older than her age, goes through periodic phases of depression, seemed to have knowledge and insight about important world issues
Fun Facts: her dad is an investigative detective, she’s the president of the environmental club at her school
Relationship status/background: complicated

Bryce Randall
Age: 18
School: Jackson High School
Appearance: lean build, shaggy blonde hair, blue eyes, 5’11” in height,
Personality: strong, has leadership qualities, athletic, level headed (thinks before he acts), can think under pressure well, on the aggressive side, dominant
Fun Facts: Got his arm broken during a wrestling match, doesn’t know how to surf
Family: has a twin brother named Luke

Note: these are just the main characters for the story lines. There are many more important and supporting characters, but there are just the main ones for now.  


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Writing Tips: Writing a Novel

Because I'm currently working on my novel, I thought I might as well give some advice to those who want to write a novel.

So you want to write a novel? Good! Great for you! But be warned, before you start on this long and hard journey, here are some things you should consider: 

  1.  Do you have enough content to complete a novel? A regular Young Adult novel has at the bare minimum 60,000 words. Nothing is wrong if you end up below that benchmark, but if you’re aiming for a novel, that is the word count you should be aiming for. If you come up short, you can always expand on some things you only skimmed on the surface of before, and if you go way over, no worries. You can always take things out in the editing process.
  2. Do you have a main character that will develop over the course of the book? No main character stays the same throughout the course of a book. That’s the main point of the plot, to see a change in your main character brought on by some massive event in your character’s life. Characters that are static and act the same way throughout the course of a novel are boring and will make your reader put down your book halfway through. 
  3.  Don’t be afraid of change. If you go into a novel knowing exactly what is going to happen from the beginning to the end, that’s great for you, but don’t get upset if things begin to take a change off the course you want them to go. Don’t try to go back and fix the plot so the ending still ends up the way you had planned. The best thing to do is to just let the characters take the course they want to go. Don’t get surprised if they begin to write the plot for you. 
  4.  Make sure you are committed. Writing a novel can be a potentially very long process. It can take some authors years and years to reach a finished product. Writing a little bit each day is always a good habit to keep up, even if it’s only a few sentences. Writing a little bit each day can help to remind you that you are working on something that needs to be finished. Although people get busy in life once work or school sets in and the dreaded writes block can settle in, don’t let that discourage you. Even if you have to set your pen down for a few weeks or even a few months, just reread a few pages or lines from your story every few days to remind yourself of the task that needs to be accomplished. Maybe it will even help you get rid of your writers block.
  5. Once you write the last sentence of the book, don’t think you’re done. Editing is one of the most important steps when writing. Editing is where you can fix your little grammar mistakes, make your writing a bit better and cleaner, and even take out that pesky character that doesn’t need to be there. Don’t go through and edit things while you’re still in the process of writing (although this does work for some people). The easiest way to do something is to write the whole thing and go back and edit later. 
  6.  Have fun while you’re writing! The point of writing a novel should be to entertain readers and to have fun writing it. Don’t force yourself to write something you don’t want to. If you don’t like writing paranormal romance, then don’t write about it! Don’t feel pressured to write about something just because it’s popular. Write about something you love. If you like pirates fighting ninjas, then write a book about pirates fighting ninjas! Who cares if some people think it’s a stupid idea, no one writes a novel without facing some criticism. Chances are that you’ll write better when it’s about something you enjoy!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Update #1 (Summer Update)

Hello everyone and welcome! This is my first update in regards to my writing and what I have been up to over the summer.

As some people may or may not know, I am currently in the process of writing my second novel, The Unusual Isles (description can be found on the page).

I have spent a lot of my summer finishing/editing this novel. I have been working on it for about two years now, and I do have to admit that I have become very invested into this book quite a lot more that I did The Year of the Elephant (the first book I wrote) 

A few weeks ago, I asked my aunt to edit it for me, and I am currently going over my draft and correcting all of the errors she pointed out. I plan on finishing this second read over within the next few days, just because I start school soon and the free time I will have to spend on the book will greatly decrease.

I am also very active on a website called Figment, which is an online writing community. Earlier this summer I participated in a competition called "America's Next Great Author Vol. 2" and made it all the way to the fifth round (mainly because I was on vacation and could not submit my entry for the week). I would like to congratulate Andrew, who ended up winning the competition. He is an amazing writer and really deserved to win. I would also like to give a shout-out to all of my fellow competitors and new friends I made while participating in this competition including Cierra, Tierra, Elizabeth, Hannah, Lacy, Sam, Brittney, and Kalia. All of them are extremely talented writers and I wish them the best of luck in the future.

I would also like to thank the judges J, Tina, Alexandra, and Erica for giving me feedback on my work. They have really helped me to become a better writer and I greatly appreciated their critiques.

I am also currently participating in another writing competition called "Figment's Got Talent", which is just getting under way. I have also submitted an application for another competition called "The Imaginarium's First Ever Writing Scrimmage".

In terms of smaller projects I am working on, I have a few ideas for poems I would like to write. This includes a collection of haikus I would really like to write. I also have been brainstorming about a collection of short stories I like to call "Fairy Tales for the Modern Day".

Also, as Nanowrimo quickly approaches, I am still debating on what I should write for it, or if I should even participate in it at all.

So that is what I have been up to this summer! Hopefully I will be able to continue to write during the school year, and publish my second novel. Keep checking back for more updates from me!

~ K.M.D.