Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Double Standard Ramblings

This post relates to yesterday's post, so if you haven't read it you might want to do that first.

After writing yesterday's post, I kept thinking about it later, and I decided I had more to say about it. It goes something like this: I buy into the whole double standard thing. *guilty*. I can't help it. Anyone who has ever read a novel with romance knows that most of the time, the men have to be manly and the women have to be womanly (although I'm all for the ass-kicking sort of womanly :)

Here's the trouble though--most people probably wouldnt want to read the sort of guys I want to write as my good guys. Face it--people who are too "good" are boring to read about. They're awesome in real life, but they don't make for good characters. And the same with the girls I write--the girls who almost NEVER cry (I have a huge pet peeve about weepy girls). If I write a really crazy girl who sleeps with everyone, she’s just a psycho slut. If I write a really crazy GUY who sleeps with everyone, he’s still a jerk, but a reader wouldn’t be so fast to label him. And there’s something about those girls that makes people want to feel sorry for them, whereas with a guy, people would either laugh at him and think he’s a tool or just hate him. And I’m okay with either of those things. I’m even okay with the sympathy as long as it’s not pity.

My first really great antagonist is such a jerk he’s like a parody of himself. He’s funny-tragic, not just tragic. I don’t want to write a sob story. The girls are too tragic, too melodramatic. I hate that in books I read, so I try to avoid it in the ones I write. I’d rather not write about the person who throws herself on the bed sobbing. And you can be sure that none of my male characters do that, although I’ve written a few criers.

The thing is, I’d rather have someone hate a character and throw a book against the wall than get bored and just stop reading. Although I guess either way, if they stopped reading it would be a bad thing. I try to make the men likeable enough that a reader would get it, know why the girl still liked him even when he did bad things. I try to get that balance, making him just likeable enough to keep someone from hating the girl who likes him or thinking she’s stupid. But sometimes it’s hard for me to know, since I’m not very objective—that bad boy sprang from my imagination, so of course I love him. If I met him in real life, I might throw a drink in his face, but still. That’s why I need my trusty pre-editors to tell me, “Hey, your character is a total dick. Why does this girl like him?”

That’s just how my male leads really are. But I could always tone them down if a book ever sold. And I’m okay with them being nasty until them. After all, my protagonist doesn’t always get to be the hero. Sometimes the hero is an anti-hero, or no hero at all but only the person the protagonist sees as a hero. It’s just that sometimes the guy takes over the story so much that the protaganist almost gets lost in there, so the story isn’t even about the narrator but about the person she’s all about. Which is, I guess, how some girls are when they’re in love.

So I’m gonna say it’s all good for now. IF I ever get a publisher, I can make my vampire/orphan/widower, etc, all warm and fuzzy. For now, I’m leaving them hard and prickly. My guys MIGHT bring you flowers and breakfast in bed. But they probably also kill your plants and eat you for breakfast. Hey, what do want, I write about vampires.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My name is Lena, and I write damaged men.

This blog is dedicated to Rose and her wonderfully similar blog title.
(And Colin, still the most heartbreaking villain I've ever written.)

Why is it that I love my male leads so much more than my females? Sure, I can write a bratty girl mouthing off to her parents, her master, or steeping in inner turmoil as well as anyone. But the thing that really makes me fall in love with a story is the far-from-perfect guy I can write so well that I fall in love with him every time. It’s my thing, getting those smirky guys to really pop. I love the protagonist, of course, but what I really love is the guy SHE loves (and usually somewhat hates). It doesn’t even have to be the main guy, or the one she ends up with. Actually, she doesn’t even have to love him. He just has to be there.

Every time I write a story, that guy ends up in there. I don’t even mean to. But the guy really starts coming alive when he starts being a jerk and I halfway hate him. I have to have those guys in the story. It doesn’t matter who it is or in what story, I just have to have him.

Those are my characters I’ve loved the best—the motherless playboy who treats girls like tissues, his struggling-with-his-faith brother who tries so hard to be the good guy and doesn’t quite make it, the discontented vampire full of inner turmoil one minute and smirking and arrogant the next, or the widower father rebelling against, well, everything. I adore them, one and all, and more than that, I adore writing them. I wrote the perfect guy in my very first story, but I don’t love him nearly as much as the bad guy in that story. In fact, I loved the bad guy so much that I wrote an entire novel for him, although its filth beyond measure will keep it from ever seeing anyone’s eyes but my own. Really, I enjoy reading it on occasion. I just don’t like to be reminded that I could ever come up with someone that despicable. Or that he still holds a soft spot in my heart.

But wow, he was fun to write.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Winter Doldrums

This is what happens to me in the winter. Probably for some others too. It doesnt even have to be cold and nasty, although that does make it worse.
In writing terms, I dont have a lot of experience, but I've had some major spells of creative blahhhhh this winter. I know I shouldnt complain, especially since I drafted out my young adult novel in insanity mode for 8 straight days. Of course it helped that I didnt work, and the book was much shorter than my adult books (1/3 shorter, to be exact). Still, making that whole plot and everything in 8 days is definitely a record for me. Makes me wonder if the whole thing is complete rubbish and only I like it. Anyhow, after I wrote it, I was looking around Amazon and found a book that sounded a LOT like my book, although I'd never heard of it before. It made me a little discouraged though--someone else had the same idea first, it seems. So I'm going to have to see if it really is at all similar, or just the concept is sort of alike. It just goes to show that old saying is true: no one has had an original idea since Adam (that's Adam in the garden of Eden, for all those unreligious folks.)
Anyway, that drafting is done and now I'm frozen in indecision. Should I go back and change the first book a lot? Should I just start the sequel and change the first one later if needed? Or should I give up on that story for a while and go edit my fresh-from-the-editor other book? I need to add about 5 or 6 chapters, I think, which might take some time. But now that I've finished that series, I think it might actually be easier than when I wrote the first one. I know the characters better now, so adding some from other POVs shouldnt be as hard as it was back then when they were still not fully developed in my mind.
So much to little inspiration/motivation. Waiting on my slump to end. Bleh.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

So you think you'll just get an agent.

So, you wrote your novel, your brilliant masterpiece, your work of art that will change history, go down in the annuls of time, become part of the canon, or at least make you a gazillionaire. So you'll just throw together a quick query, throw that sucker in the mail, get a bunch of agents to offer representation, take your pick of the crop, get published, and write happily ever after. Right?
Sorry, i had to take a break to roll around on the floor laughing. phew. now my stomach hurts a little, but i'm sure i burned a bunch of calories that i ingested in my fits of nerves while i waited (somewhat) patiently for even ONE agent (even that one at the very bottom of the list w/o a website or email address) to ask for even a PARTIAL manuscript.
So maybe my book sucks, i dont know. But i dont think it does, obviously, or i wouldnt have written it and all the ones that followed. More likely, my query is only average and i have no credentials/pub credits. anyway, that's not the point of this post. The point is this. It's a long, hard road that may or may not lead somewhere, but if you really really believe, and you keep trying, your chances are (probably) better. I know, i sound like Polar Express here with all the believing, but it does help. Or i BELIEVE it does, anyway. I have to, since i havent yet gotten an agent, and i might sink into despair if i stopped believing. And if i didnt, i'd at least gain 50 lbs and stop writing altogether.
So here's what i suggest: find a list of agents somewhere (agentquery, querytracker, a very huge book), make a list or spreadsheet or whatever works for you, and go through it, highlighting agents you've contacted, keeping track of their responses, which version of the query you sent (if you have more than one), and get ready to spend a lot of time finding out what they like, tailoring your query letter, sending your query letter, updating your list/spreadsheet, revising your query, and getting rejected. Hey, it happens.
But if for some reason you're as insane as i am, you'll keep trying.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hello, 2011. Thanks for the inspiration.

So as everyone knows, I finished my series and am looking for an agent. But I also had some inspiration for a new book during my last book. Unforunately, I had the following thoughts: If I start this new book, I might never come back to my series book, or it might not be as inspired as this new book that I want to write so much.
So I didnt write the thing I was inspired about. I finished book 7 in my series, and let the new book marinate in my mind for a month or two while I finished. Then, when I tried to write it, guess what? It wasn't inspiring anymore. I forgot my own best advice, which is to write what inspires me RIGHT NOW. That's why lots of times I write scenes from later on in a book, or even later in the series if I'm writing that. Then I just tweak them to fit the part of the book where they belong, attaching the scene to other things I've written previously in the book.
Well, so my new novel stalled. But while I was struggling along to get the inspiration back and write this new novel (so far, untitled), ANOTHER idea came into my mind. This time I followed my own advice and did NOT wait to finish my other book. I just started writing, and now I can't stop thinking about it. I haven't been this inspired and passionate about a book/writing for a while. It's like I can't wait to get back and start writing, and everything else I do feels like an unimportant distraction compared to writing.
YES! I love this feeling!