Friday, December 31, 2010

Death or Not Successful Results

This topic is thanks to my stepdad who has been talking to me lately about how in John Grisham's novels there are some where the characters die, or lose and he is surprised by that. While death is a situation used often in the ends or throughout certain types of books, there are usually restrictions on the types of characters that the author kills and there are definitely genres that expect a successful outcome of the overall plot. It's surprising when the hero doesn't win but if all books had happy endings it would start to get boring so sometimes there has to be failure. And since this involves talking about endings it seems like an appropriate last post for 2010 on this blog.

While in series and standalone novels, there are often happy endings (not just in the satisfying for the reader and story line type of way) that is not always the case. I don't mean endings per say that didn't provide for the promises made, but simply endings that don't go well for the characters. My stepdad was surprised with a few of John Grisham's books because they don't always end well for the main characters and before that he was reading long series by W.E.B. Griffin, and the main characters at least all live considering they are in the next book of the series. But the standalone novels haven't gone that way out of his reading collection and it surprises him.

Most romance has to have a happy ending, not just satisfying but the genre specific all ends well for the couple type of happiness. But in anti-romance there is a romance as part of the focal plot except things don't end well for the the couple. And it's fitting for the stories.

Of course, this can be difficult in series. At least, it is difficult when it comes to killing off main characters because some of them have to survive in order to have another book. It's harder to pull a Buffy (yes I know about that even though I've never seen it) and have the character die and then have them come back at the beginning of the next one. When the cast of main characters is big, like in epic fantasy, it is a little more possible to do the death type in the middle of a series but with a single main character that's a harder option. The real trick comes in with the last book of the series because there is a chance for not successful results and death.

Death aside, the other possibility is characters failing in their main goal. Often there will be smaller failures along the way but the end or the top of the climax in plot are what I mean here. Sometimes a failure can provide an option they didn't expect to come out of the situation. This can mean that "evil" wins, that it turns out to be a world set on repeat or a number of different options. The hero gives in the temptations he's been fighting the whole story, tainted by a magical artifact. Neo is in a loop, the matrix has things go the same way each time, or something like that. Maybe she picks the wrong guy and ends up alone. So many options but why have a not successful ending?

The truth is, as is common in writing, it depends on the story. It also depends on what is considered success. As long as it makes sense and answers the promises made throughout the novel, an ending can be as happy or sad as the story calls for. Sure, a reader may hurl the book across the room but that's not always a bad thing and it's a sign of awesomeness when a book can move someone that much. Write the ending the way it needs to be written, even if that means failure.

I haven't written this type of ending yet, but I have at least one planned so far. It's one that is fun to be cruel with because there are two men who have become really close (intimately and such) but they know it can't last. So, the end involves two men and one gun, but I won't tell anyone yet who holds the gun and who it actually kills. But to say the least, it's not the happiest ending for the characters the story surrounds. I'm sure there are others with varying degrees of success and what not, but I won't bore everyone by listing them all here.

And that's all for 2010. It has been a good year and I look forward to blogging about writing more in 2011. Look forwards to more interviews and maybe even a few guest posts. Until then... Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Writing

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The holidays can be difficult on life in general, let alone a person's solitary writing time. First it was Thanksgiving and a month later we have Christmas (or the many other holidays that different countries and religions celebrate). At my parent's house we have Thanksgiving, Christmas(mostly secular family focused stuff though some of them go to church and what not) and on the rare occasion do something for New Years.

Considering I haven't written much over the last month, I'm thinking about writing on the holidays or at least trying to write. While I don't follow the rule of "absolutely must write every single day" (obviously) I also don't mind writing on holidays as long as it doesn't take away from spending time with family.

Do you write during holidays or do you take a break?

Happy Holidays to one and all!

Friday, December 17, 2010

How long will it take?

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Waiting and patience are vital in the publishing industry and from the outside it's hard for some to imagine that trying to get a book published isn't easy. I've posted before about how my dad thought that all a writer did was write the first draft, maybe edit a little then send off and voila! But I have to be a little honest here: I thought it was going to be a little easier, or at least take a little less time than this.

Back in December of 2009, I made my writing goals for the year of 2010 and one of those goals was to not only have the YA mutant novel second draft finished (which I haven't even accomplished yet) but I thought I'd have it edited and after said edit would be able to get a query ready and start sending at the beginning of 2011. I can tell now and even figured it out months ago that the goal wasn't going to happen. It was a disappointment actually. One problem I forgot to mention when talking about writing on several manuscripts is it feels like I've spent at least 5 years working towards this goal but that hasn't been on a single project, so I don't have any that are at the ready stage. But it feels like I should. Sure, I'm closer, just not where I thought I'd be but at least I'm not rushing it by sending out a book that isn't ready. Still can't help but feel like this is taking too long though.

Anyone else think it wouldn't take a long long time?

It's almost time for 2011 goals and I'm tempted to put a query goal but not sure if it's realistic. I plan to get the novel to beta readers since I've learned that is a really good plan. Still thinking about it. There is no way of knowing yet how long it will take for me, but I do know one thing. If I'm going to get somewhere I'd better go write.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Novel Contemplation

One of the good parts about having a blog or a profile on a social media network is the ability to rant, to discuss when there is a struggle and there is someone to respond who might have a useful suggestion. While I usually use the other blog to talk about my personal writing, I think this time is a good one to post here because it fits in a topic that can also be discussed.

Part of the hardship that has been on some writers in the past is the solitude. Being alone with characters in their head all day long is enough to drive a person crazy. Plus, when getting stuck in a story, it makes the feeling seem almost daunting to overcome.

I had a ramble that went on twitter and it was one that I posted just to complain because it was late and I figured that no one would respond because many of my friends are in bed during the night. But after I posted my panic over worrying about my Young Adult novel's word count because I'm not sure if it's going to be long enough. Considering the first draft was only 23k, it's getting better but still for something that is fantasy/sci-fi those books nowadays tend to be longer. Anyways, I actually posted on twitter and an awesome writing friend (WritersBlockNZ) responded and was so awesome just to talk to me about it.

This is why writing friends are awesome and the networks used to keep in touch can be so essential. While we didn't come up with a solution, it was what I really needed. I just needed someone to talk to about it and for once that actually happened and it made me happy. So, I thought I'd post about how I'm struggling on a novel on here, because this is a writing blog.

Young Adult is not easy. I didn't really plan to write the genre, per say, but that's where this series lies so I'm going with it. While I plan the novel to at least be over 50k, I was slightly worried because it seems novels in similar subgenres of YA are in the 70-90k range instead of the shorter range that used to be more common. Maybe after the beta readers get a chance to scrounge over the novel the draft after it will be longer. Considering the first draft was 23k, I should be happy that it can get up to almost 55k in the second draft and I am. Just had to rant about my word count concerns.

The other problem I have is I'm nearing the end. It took me 2 years to do that with the first draft since I started it for nano 2007 and didn't finish that draft until late 2009. Endings are hard in part because I've only written three so far while I've started like 10 novels at least. Also, near the end there is a chapter in the 23k version that is only a few hundred words because there was a part I didn't know how or what to write. It's a part that involves punishment but I'm not sure what to do. I think it should involve mostly emotional attempts but with a few physical by the government agents on the teen boy main character. But what do I do?

Any ideas?

Anyways. The point here is it's okay to rant and sometimes just whine a little bit (just don't whine on a regular basis because people can find these online postings and maybe not appreciate the type of person you are perceived to be when doing that all the time. But get some of it out and maybe by posting about the trouble a story is giving it can help you find a solution or come to terms with the issue. As for me, I'm going to write those last 5-7 ish chapters and try to have it done by my deadline.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


No, not that kind of brand. I'm sure that many authors/writers will know by now, but for those that haven't heard this: Branding is very important for a writer who wants to be published.

What do I mean by "brand"?
Brand can be a couple of things. Sure it can be the marking that some people do on their property, like that seen on cattle or even the marking people do on their own bodies involving hot metal. Ouch! But what I mean is the name or particular type linked to a specific product. Coke is a brand of soda, for example. The brand is a form of identity for a product, service, business or person and that is what authors need to consider when figuring out their own brand.

This is where, for me, pen names come in. In fact, someone on Twitter was asking about pen names and I commented about it that mentioned branding and they liked the response.

Dawn Embers is an essential element to my brand of novels. They may not always be in the exact same genre/subgenre but there are elements that tie many of the stories together that combined with my pen name will make for what I think will be my brand. I've actually be known in writing as Dawn Embers for around 5 years now. It isn't easy to get used to at first and sometimes it feels weird to have someone call me Dawn when that isn't technically my first name. But it's getting easier and I like it, which is what really helps.

One person who blogs about marketing you all should check out is Kristie Cook. Check out her blog here: It's really great and she did several posts on marketing, including ones about brand and product.

This is a brief introduction. Maybe I'll discuss the topic more in detail but for now this is it. If there are any questions readers want to have discussed about writing on this blog my email address is available for anyone. Just send the email to DawnEmbers(at)ymail(dot)com. :-)

Do you have a brand figured out yet?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Dating a Story

No, I don't mean going on a date. It's not date the dried fruit or date the social event, or even date the event on the calendar. What I mean by this is using something that will show a specific time period that the story takes place, which can either help or hinder a novel for a reader.

Old Phone, lol                     (Image Link:

Is it okay to have bands, music, tv references, language or anything else that would date a story for the reader? The truth is it depends on cause of the "dating" and the type of novel.

Dialogue is one location where it can be a problem. This is one that I've had to deal with because in one of my novels I'm trying to figure out how to write future young adult speech. Which, according to a couple of readers does not involve the teen using the word "neat". It does make sense but it's not easy to figure out how teens should speak per say when writing an alternate world type of future where the characters have genetic mutations. Using terms like "rad" and "schweet" would also cause questions to arise because language will catch a readers attention. I can't have a character that uses the word man a lot. (Such as "hey, man" and "that's chill, man".) The reason for this is I immediately see a hippy-ish, pot smoking type of character because there was a guy on my college debate team like that, one I did not like at all.

There are other things besides words that do it though. Having a reference to any type of music, band, movie, tv show or anything of the sort will date the story. There was a book I was listening to through itunes that the author had podcasted. The character was interesting and his voice was perfect for him, but there as a section where the teens were listening to music and that part really stood out because it was interesting to see the types of music he was considering when writing the novel.

And I have read a section of a story where they referenced Howdy Doody. I had to blink and try to recall in my memory anything about Howdy Doody, which was much. Nothing wrong with this but if I don't know anything about it what are the chances are that a teen within the next couple of years is going to know it at all. I'm guessing not many teens do.

Part of the point here is that it's good to be aware of the potential readers, at least when doing the rewrites in order to prepare the book for others to read. First draft throw in whatever you want but if rewriting, consider how the reader will approach the story.

I'm not saying that dating a story at all shouldn't be avoided. In fact, it can add character to the story. The reason for posting this is that I have noticed some people (including me to a small degree) are unaware of what might date a story. Yes, talking about Metallica, Howdy Doody, Pretty in Pink, or anything like that will have an effect on how the reader approaches the story because believe it or not, some won't understand the reference. But it's okay.

Just be aware of the possibility.
Now time to get back figuring out my YA novel.

What are your thoughts on this topic?