Sunday, February 27, 2011

March Writing Challenge Signup

I decided to do a linky for MarNo afterall.

For information on MarNo go to my other post,

Also, I have this linky as its own page on this blog. So, once this post is not the top one, you can always check the page to see who all have signed up and to find their blogs to check on any progress posts. Starts March 1st, but it's okay to sign up any time before April technically.

Good luck!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


(image link:

Pronouns are important when it comes to writing. No matter if it's first person or third person (even the dreaded second) a writer needs to know when to use which and how to make due with what is allowed while still managing enough variety to not bore or confuse the reader.

First Person - I don't do this often but I know what to use for the most part. As you probably know, "I" is the common term in first person, along with "me," "my" and "mine". We is a reference to a group that includes the main character, along with other terms like "us" and "our". Wow, this is quickly becoming a grammar lesson but I have more than grammar to discuss here.

One thing that is important in first person to me, as a reader, is names. I need to know the main character's name in first person novels and it needs to happen more than once in the first 5 chapters. I have stopped reading a book because I couldn't remember the main character's name because it was mentioned once maybe in one chapter out of the first 5. Some other readers may not have a problem with this, as it is my personal taste, but i like to know names.

Second Person - The dreaded point of view in fiction writing. It works in newspaper columns/viewpoints and in pick-your-own adventures but in general, not a good idea for a full novel. This is basically the "you" pronoun, which isn't even in the picture I posted for this blog entry. Sometimes it will be seen in first person, the main character has something that has "you" and it stands out to me as odd because the speaker is talking directly to the reader. The reason readers don't like it is: 1. It takes them out of the story when the character talks directly to them. 2. It makes assumptions about the reader. I hate when I'm reading a story and it assumes I'm anti-homosexuals (there is a sci-fi story like that and I hated it) because I am not what the character was saying and that is very off-putting.

Third person - This is the pov I prefer but it has drawbacks. This contains a number of pronouns, such as: he, she, "it" (probably won't use that one often for a character), they, Names, etc. It's easy to do a scene between a male and a female using he and she because supposedly readers don't pay much attention to the "said" while the "he" and "she" easily distinguish which character is speaking. But sometimes it doesn't feel like the reader is really into any character, from their point of view, which can make it tough unless going with omniscient.

This has other issues. I struggle because this is my go to set of pronouns but it's hard to find balance. Also, it's not easy making sure the conversations are distinguishable without overusing pronouns because I have many scenes where the characters are the same gender. Writing m/m can make it a little difficult because "he" could mean either character and using the names too often can be problematic as well.

A problem most won't face that I've mentioned on twitter is what to do when there isn't a gender. Either the gender of the character isn't known (easier with secondary characters) or the main character doesn't know which they feel is the right gender/sex for them. If someone is born both and they are the main character in a novel, and they haven't picked male or female, this is an issue.

Normally, if I have a transgender character it will depend on where they are in figuring themselves out as to which gender I will use. Most often, I go with what gender they feel they are and not necessarily what the biology shows at that moment. But I have a main character who is intersex; born both male/female and at that point in the story hasn't made a decision on gender. In fact, that is the main conflict in the story.

So, I posted that I didn't know what pronoun to use because I can't use the character's name all the time without it becoming redundant. Someone mentioned "shim" (which is a combination of she and him) and I'd never heard the term before despite volunteering with glbtq teens and knowing someone who was intersex. I did look it up and the dictionary on my computer basically refers to it as a "derogatory slur" and while some people may now be okay with the term (like some of the younger generations are okay with queer), I'm a little uncomfortable using it in a novel on a regular basis to reference the main character. Plus, my readers would have to know what it means and if I didn't know it, something tells me others won't either.  Easy solution is go with first person, but it's still a little vexing. I'm not very good at writing first person but I may have to toughen up and just do it.

What pronouns do you use?
Enjoy this English lesson? ;-)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

March Novel Writing Challenge

Also known as MarNo. This has some similarities to NaNoWriMo except there aren't as many people who take part in the event and it's more relaxed on the rules front. There also isn't a prize except for the great feeling of accomplishing a goal. Some people create groups on different sites and those can have small awards but that doesn't always happen.

Make a writing goal for March.
March 1st - start writing.
Finish writing goal before April.
Nothing more.

Goals can be any word count; writing or revising. Some people go with the classic 50,000 word challenge like that of NaNoWriMo while others only go with 10,000 or 25,000. Others who revise go by number of chapters often times or just say the whole book.

Last year, MarNo was my greatest writing month ever. I had originally planned to only write 20k but then the goal became 50k after the first week. In fact, I made 50k after 15 days. The end number was 67,000 words in one month. I had a little over 15k before March and after I finished writing in April, the novel ended at 90,000 words, becoming my longest first draft for now.  I was definitely happy with my success in March and I still love the novel even though I haven't edited it yet.

MarNo 2011:

This year I plan to try MarNo again. I don't know if the old group is doing it, but I have a new approach this time. Last year, I made word count goals and then exceeded them faster than planned. This year I'm going to try and do something I've never managed to do in a single month. I am going to write a full novel, no matter the word count. Each time I've written 50k or more in one month, I've had to take part of the following month or two in order to finish the novel. This year my goal is to write a young adult novel during March only.

The novel is going to be YA dystopian. I know a bunch of authors are writing dystopian but I love the story and it's very different than my other novels, which will be a plus. I have to figure out details like what kind of monsters will be involved but I can't wait to write this story. I have main character names and a mock title (still looking for a better title cause it really isn't good). I'm ready to go. I might even try using scrivener for this one.

For those taking part, one place we can keep track together is on twitter. Use the hashtag search "#MarNo" and we can keep in touch that way. The community is what helps during nanowrimo and it can help during MarNo even if it's a lot smaller of one.

Anyone else trying MarNo?
What are your writing goals for March?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Recent Purchases

I love bookstores and went to two yesterday. First was The Tattered Cover, which is located in Denver. That was the planned stop after taking mom to the airport for her little Arizona trip. I had a list of books to look for but they didn't have most of them, including the one I've been waiting since summer for it to come out in paperback. So, after stepdad was measured in Centera for his tux (my stepsister is getting married in June in DC) I went over to the Barnes and Noble. Planned to get one book and ended up with two. They didn't have all the books I wanted either. That and at both places there were a few I want but don't want to buy in hardback, so I have to wait.

Books purchased at The Tattered Cover:

One of two found from my list.

Hardback (yes, I broke my rule) and signed copy.

Unplanned but looking forward to reading.

Non-YA and on my list of books to read so figured why not.

Books purchased at Barnes and Noble:
(Portion of the proceeds went to Hearts & Horses therapeutic riding center.)

The one I was waiting for since reading book 1. 

Urban Fantasy; of the four I looked for this is one of two I actually found.

6 books in total. Some were already on my to-read list and others are now on the list. Yay for more books!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Future Topics

Here are the current results from the post where I asked what readers want me to post on this blog.


I will continue to take suggestions and my email is always open for thoughts, suggestions and even offerings (as in interviews, guest posts, stuff like that).

Intern Topic is pending on approval.
Everyone wants to know about my internship, which is also exciting for me. I just don't know how much of it I'm allowed to discuss so I'm going to have to email my boss first. While I think it's a great idea for me to post about my blog, I want to respect the publisher, so I will get permission before I post anything else.

Query Topic
A great suggestion and I will do a number of posts on queries, but they will take research because I have to admit something here. I have yet to send a query. I know, shocking but it's true. In fact, I only have ever written one query letter... oh actually it is two. I have a nonfiction query letter and book proposal written with a number of different drafts done as part of how I got my Bachelor's degree. Then I have one first draft of a YA novel query, which I wrote for a blogfest. I have 3 novels with finished drafts and at least 5 others started but I know that I'm not ready to send a query. So, I'm going to be doing these query posts from the very beginning because that's where I'm at as a writer.

This is one that caught me off guard. I don't write memoirs as I am against writing about myself in general, which is hard when writing bios. I haven't really read many in my entire life either. But I am more than willing to do the research to help. It's not going to be easy finding the pitfalls and reasons for rejection but I do have a background in research so I should be able to find it somewhere to share with readers here.

Another thing I haven't done much for myself. I have been a copy editor for a newspaper, where I mostly did the grammar and spelling because I didn't really know the format issues of the pages. I've done more first drafts and haven't done much of the editing but I will soon. And I have a book on self-editing. I did give edit notes for a children's book, once in my internship so far, and that does help too.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Quick isn't Easy

By quick I mean, Flash Fiction. Some might consider having a 1,000 word or less story to be easier because it sounds easier than say 90,000 words, but trust me: it's not easy.

(image from

Maybe it's just me. Then again, I've already admitted that I'm not really a short fiction writer. I write novels and more often then not they are two or more book series. But I started out by trying to write short stories and flash fiction back when I first signed up on in 2005. So, why haven't I sold any of them? Well, I'm not very good at that. I write scenes instead of stories because the truth is I'm a novel writer, not short story or flash fiction. But it's a good, not so quick, topic for today.

What qualifies as flash fiction?
The general rule is 1,000 words or less. Once it gets below 250 words then it sometimes can be called micro fiction instead but some of those stories may also qualify as flash fiction. Some will allow a maximum of 1,500 words, so make sure to read the guidelines before submitting a story.

Basically, it is a story in very few words. While it is minimalistic in word count, the story involved still has to be something someone reading it would consider as a full story. It will still have, a beginning, middle and end. There is a plot, characters and even setting. More often than not, the prose isn't overwritten as it's hard to get everything within the short word requirements, which means that tight writing is key.

The plot in a flash fiction is just as important as any other length of story. That is usually where I mess up, however. And I'm going off reader and editor notes when I say this. My short fiction plots are too big for short fiction. Even on an alien story that was less than 1,000 words and I never planned to write anything more, the plot was too big. The editor suggestions was to make it a novelette or novella at least. I try to write short fiction but they always end up as scenes for potential future novels. It's to the point where I think my current novella is going to end up as a novel too.

So, at least for me, short is not only very difficult but almost impossible for me to do no matter how much I try and I've been trying for at least 5 years.

Flash Fiction Web Sites:

Do you write flash fiction?
Do you read it?