Sunday, April 18, 2010

Wannabe Writers #12

Wannabe Writers is a meme created by Sarah of Confessions of the Un-published!

One of my goals right now is to move my literary ambitions out of the box and onto the shelf, by which I mean that I no longer want to ignore  how   much I enjoy writing. I love the idea of this meme, and I'll quote from Sarah's post here:

I often find myself searching the web for information during my struggles as a new writer.   So I wanted to start a place where us future young-adult authors can come together to  ask those questions, share our stories, and get feedback.

I'm  going to be offline for the day, but I will read your lovely comments and get back to y'all on your blogs ASAP next week. :-)

Where I am in the writing process:  I picked up the pace this week! It wasn't my best week ever, but there was marked improvement. After getting some feedback about my new opening, I was trying to figure out how to rework it (and getting very frustrated), and then I realized that my old opening might be better...Everything regarding that particular item is extremely muddled up in my head. Finally, I just sent the blasted manuscript off to my beta reader to let her give me her opinions/suggestions. I thought she might have some better ideas since she's read the 63,000 words after the opening. 

Oh, yeah, I also did some work on the other novel. Love it! I'm starting to worry that the 2nd half of it could be a novel in its own right though. Surely I didn't write 30,000+ words of introduction??

My current problems:  My thoughts are all muddled up. I can't figure out how to fix anything because I can't get a clear picture of the problem. Feedback has been helpful, but it refuses to settle down and organize itself neatly in my brain so I can work with it.

Question(s) this week:  Character descriptions. How do you describe a characters appearance? And how do you work it into a story without making it sound fake? How much is too much? Why can't I just say "she had blue eyes blond hair" the end? And where do you work it into a story? When your MC (main character) first meets said character? And where do you work this in for your MC? And do you even need to work this in for your MC?

There are lots of ways to introduce character descriptions, but please...don't use the mirror method. I've found myself laughing of late every time I read a book where the character stops to study him/herself in the mirror.!

In my first novel, when the MC meets some of the other characters, she's in awe of how gorgeous they are when compared to her so she studies them pretty deeply--hair, eyes, nose, mouth, build, etc... In my second novel, the MC is much more confident and the descriptions are pretty brief, like things you would take in when trying to tie names to faces--hair and eye color, height, clothes, etc. The amount of description depends on the MC's personality--how much they would notice and what they would consider important.

As for describing themselves, Zee (from Novel #1) hates her appearance so it comes up when she's being self-deprecating. She doesn't stare at herself in the mirror (see above!), but when she's ruminating, she obsesses. In Novel #2, the description comes up when my MC is explaining something about her world and fitting in, creating a natural opening to discuss two aspects of her appearance. A few other descriptions are sprinkled throughout the novel. Hair texture, height and build happened to show up later on. They were simply part of the scene;  I didn't set out to include them.

I think it's important to have a general description of the MC. I've read some novels where they were left as blank slates (to reflect the reader, I guess), but it left the MC a little...well, blank. To me, real people think about how they look from time to time. I don't need to know about every freckle or scar, but a few descriptions give me the scaffolding to build my own image.


  1. I didn't post anything was a crazy busy. :)

  2. You're doing great with your writing!! And it is hard to implement those great critiques you get isn't it? But you can do it!

  3. Great Advice that is how I do it in my current novel but I used to use the mirror method but I think after seeing it in your view I definitely will not.

  4. Whoa, is it possible that the second portion can form the makings of a series instead? Fingers crossed that you don't/won't have to scrap it.

    I'm not a fan of the blank slate either. It makes a lot of assumptions about the reader and I prefer to give them something to go on, even if it's just a small nugget to gnaw.

  5. SOrry its taken me all week to post. I hope you see this. I've been in writing avoidance mode lately and I suspect will still be next week.

    Haha. In my first book I did the mirror thing. I'm all about less is more now. But my problem in my last book was I never told the reader what color hair my MC had. Is that really I big deal?

    Oh and about working out the plot. I've driven myself crazy trying to make everything fit perfectly before. God its a annoying. And this usually isn't an issue in earlier chapters, this happens towards the very end. I still haven't finished one of my stories because I can't quite piece it together. THen you'll need to go back and edit so much to make the beginning work with the end. When I was like 12 and first read the 2nd Harry Potter book I was so impressed when J.K. introduced the parseltongue (spelling) thing. I remember wondering what that snake thing in the very beginning of book one was about. How did she know way back then that that would be important in her 2nd book? She's amazing at stuff like that.