Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It's a Crappy Life!

Writing prompt: George Bailey is about to commit suicide, but an angel named Clarence intervenes. To prove to him that his life shouldn't be thrown away, the angel shows him what the world would be without him. But the plan backfires. The world is actually a much better place. Instead of marrying him, Mary marries Sam Wainwright, lives in a huge mansion, and has a big happy family. (And seriously, Donna Reed becoming an old maid? Not with that beautiful face!) George isn’t there when the distraught druggist puts poison in a prescription, and the prescription is delivered to old man Potter. Potter dies and Mr. Bailey (George’s would-be father) is voted by the board to take his place. The town prospers under his fair and generous leadership. And so on.

As far as my life is concerned, it is a wonderful life and I don't need Clarence to tell me so. I have a lovely wife and lovely daughters, and they bring music and laughter and enthusiasm into my life. And I've had a load of hits and even a few sales on my books that I just uploaded to #Smashwords. Statistically meaningless, but fun nonetheless.

My New Year’s resolution is to double this blog’s followers. Right now I’m sitting at one: my wife. (Hi Honey!)

Here is hoping this coming New Year is filled with laughs and love and happiness to (all) my reader(s).


Friday, December 27, 2013

Young Adult

I’ve classified all my published novels as Young Adult. What makes these books ‘Young Adult’? The characters are young adults, and that’s it.

When I write, I write to satisfy myself, and I’m not a young adult. But I love writing about young adults. In a story the main character should be acted upon and changed in some way; so a young adult, who is still discovering who he or she is, is a perfect subject.

So my main characters are typically young, but I don’t try to write to a certain reading level or try in any way to make my story appeal more to a certain age group. I just write what I like and what I think is entertaining.

Ender’s Game is one of the best Young Adult books of all time, but Orson Scott Card never set out to write a Young Adult novel. His original idea was about Ender as an adult, but after he started on the project he felt compelled to fill in the details of Ender as a child. Orson Scott Card went on to publish Speaker for the Dead and other books that follow Ender as an adult, and they are wonderful books, but I still like #EndersGame best.

What are your favorite books in the #YoungAdult genre?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Discovered Story

Those stories of fiction I like best feel discovered not created.
I know you’ve been there, reading a book or watching a movie and you think: "Why don't they just call the police?" When that happens you are no longer in the story; suddenly you are on the outside looking in.
As a writer there are things I’ve learned to avoid. In an early version of the Spear Bearer novel I once had the villain explaining what motivated him...you know the drill: a 30 minute speech with the villain laughing a wicked laugh at its conclusion. But this isn’t natural—bad guys generally don’t feel the need to explain themselves.
If an author is writing non-fiction, then the story he or she tells will literally be discovered. Fictional stories should have the same discovered quality, I believe. A story shouldn't feel manufactured. The events that happen should make sense; the character's actions and dialogue should always conform to the nature of that particular character.
A good example of a discovered story, in my opinion, is The Fault in Our Stars by +John Green. The characters act in a believable manner; the events sometimes seem random, but they are always within reason. 
Fantasy and science fiction stories also can be discovered stories. Although you know that space battleships don't really exist, within the context of the science fiction novel they do exist. As long as the fiction writer is true to his world, and his characters act according to their nature, the story will still feel discovered. A good example of a sci-fi discovered story would be The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
I'd like to hear your suggestions on what you consider to be discovered stories. If you've read a story and you've become involved with the characters and you've seen the world through their eyes, then you have read a discovered story. If it feels wholly real, even though it may take place on another world in another galaxy, then you have read a discovered story.