Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Opposite Me

The latest inkwell assignment is to name and describe ones alter-personality. Now, in my case, I can picture this woman perfectly in my mind. And if I ever were to meet this other me, I’m quite certain we wouldn’t get along for a second. Or perhaps, we’d agree to dislike each other.

Her name is Victoria. She has long blond hair and a body to match a toothpick, proudly artificially enhanced. The need to look neat before stepping a single heeled-foot out the door, rules her every thought. She prefers to watch soap-operas and reality-shows on TV, rather than read a book (which she can’t spell too well anyway). She believes that concrete should be the new Mother Nature, after all, what is life without a good restaurant, spa or theater? She enjoys watching horror movies at midnight, with the lights turned off, and alone so as to feel safer. She appreciates hypocrisy in others, as she herself lives by the same credo. Her highest aspiration is to be Miss Universe and be admired for just her looks. She hopes to marry imminently, a stocky self-centered politician who values women as he values material things. And when she dies, she insists on being placed in a glass sarcophagus (like Snow White).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

List of No No's for Chapter 1

Browsing through Writer's Digest, at 'Guide to Literary Agents, editors blog'(by Chuck Sambuchino), I found valuable information for writers. It is a list of no no's that literary agents hate to see on the first Chapter of a manuscript. I advise you to pay close attention because these people may be the ones you submit your story to.

Agents Chapter 1 Pet Peeves:

"Anything cliché such as ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ will turn me off. I hate when a narrator or author addresses the reader (e.g., 'Gentle reader')."
- Jennie Dunham, Dunham Literary

"Sometimes a reasonably good writer will create an interesting character and describe him in a compelling way, but then he’ll turn out to be some unimportant bit player. Other annoying, unoriginal things I see too often: some young person going home to a small town for a funeral, someone getting a phone call about a death, a description of a psycho lurking in the shadows, or a terrorist planting a bomb."
- Ellen Pepus, Signature Literary Agency (formerly Ellen Pepus Literary)

"I’m really turned off by a protagonist named Isabelle who goes by 'Izzy.' No. Really. I am."
- Stephany Evans, FinePrint Literary Management

"I dislike opening scenes that you think are real (I rep adult genre fiction), then the protagonist wakes up. It makes me feel cheated. And so many writers use this hackneyed device. I dislike lengthy paragraphs of world building and scene setting up front. I usually crave action close to the beginning of the book (and so do readers)."
- Laurie McLean, Larsen/Pomada Literary Agents

"I do in fact hate it when someone wakes up from a dream in Chapter 1, and I dislike an overly long prologue. The worst thing that you can do is let that crucial chapter be boring - that’s the chapter that has to grab my interest!"
- Michelle Brower, Folio Literary Management (formerly Wendy Sherman Associates)

"I don't like an opening line that's 'My name is...,' introducing the narrator to the reader so blatantly. I might be prompted to groan before reading on a bit further to see if the narration gets any less stale. There are far better ways in Chapter 1 to establish an instant connection between narrator and reader. I’m also usually not a fan of prologues, preferring to find myself in the midst of a moving plot on page 1 rather than being kept outside of it, or eased into it."
- Michelle Andelman, Lynn C. Franklin Associates (formerly Andrea Brown Literary Agency)

"I hate seeing a 'run-down list:' Names, hair color, eye color, height, even weight sometimes. Other things that bother me is over-describing the scenery or area where the story starts. Usually a manuscript can lose the first 3-5 chapters and start there. Besides the run-down list preaching to me about a subject, I don't like having a character immediately tell me how much he/she hates the world for whatever reason. In other words, tell me your issues on politics, the environment, etc. through your character. That is a real turn off to me."
- Miriam Hees (editor), Blooming Tree Press

"Perhaps my biggest pet peeve with an opening chapter is when an author features too much exposition - when they go beyond what is necessary for simply 'setting the scene.' I want to feel as if I'm in the hands of a master storyteller, and starting a story with long, flowery, overly-descriptive sentences (kind of like this one) makes the writer seem amateurish and the story contrived. Of course, an equally jarring beginning can be nearly as off-putting, and I hesitate to read on if I'm feeling disoriented by the fifth page. I enjoy when writers can find a good balance between exposition and mystery. Too much accounting always ruins the mystery of a novel, and the unknown is what propels us to read further. It is what keeps me up at night saying 'just one more chapter, then I'll go to sleep.' If everything is explained away in the first chapter; I'm probably putting the book down and going to sleep."
- Peter Miller, Peter Miller Literary

"1. Squinting into the sunlight with a hangover in a crime novel. Good grief -- been done a million times. 2. A sci-fi novel that spends the first two pages describing the strange landscape. 3. A trite statement ("Get with the program" or "Houston, we have a problem" or "You go girl" or "Earth to Michael" or "Are we all on the same page?"), said by a weenie sales guy, usually in the opening paragraph. 4. A rape scene in a Christian novel, especially in the first chapter. 5. 'Years later, Monica would look back and laugh...' 6. "The [adjective] [adjective] sun rose in the [adjective] [adjective] sky, shedding its [adjective] light across the [adjective] [adjective] [adjective] land."
- Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary

For the complete list, go to this link: http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/Agents+Chapter+1+Pet+Peeves.aspx

Hostile Thoughts

It’s okay to think it but I strongly suggest not taking action…

Has an employee at a check-out line ever given you a hard time? Or the secretary in your doctor’s office? Or even the window attendant at a Fast Food joint? If you haven’t, let me inform you that you’ve been thoroughly blessed. For those of you who have though, I’m sure you understand the uncontrollable struggle of having hostile thoughts under such mistreatment.

I remember having to go to a government office to renew my passport. I had an appointment and arrived early to resolve my issue as quickly as possible. But after the first two hours of waiting, where the temperature seemed to match Antarctica, I began to suspect I was going to have one of those days. When I was finally called upon, I was snootily informed how I’d botched all my information sheets and would have to refill everything as well as wait for another turn. Naturally, I got a little… testy. And I believe I would not have gotten so upset if the woman at the desk was just as uncaring with everyone. She wasn’t though. The person behind me received smiles and courteous service. I thought the snob was going to give the bloody client a hug; meanwhile, she scowled at me. Oh the injustice! And before you start wondering, no, I was not rude or impolite. Yes, I double checked.

So, at that moment, I felt the heat of indignation and the spark of anger blend together, jolting my imagination into violent overdrive. Oh how badly I wanted to set that evil witch straight. No matter how nice I was, she treated me like a natural-born-idiot who couldn’t tell her left hand from her right foot. Needles to say, the longer I had to stay in that freezer, waiting, waiting, waiting, the more the situation crawled right under my skin. Hostile thoughts inevitably surged up with eager delight. Images of slaps, body slams, headlocks, eye poking, face kicking… I guess you get the picture… they were my only consolation through the exasperating ordeal.

This occasion made me realize that people are constantly and wrongfully insulted, verbally abused or have to suffer through rudeness – whether you’re the employee or the customer. Not fair! You have no fault over whatever has this person’s undies in a twist, why should you have to take the heat? But (and this is a really big BUT), no matter how tempting the taste of satisfaction promises to be for me, at putting these hostile thoughts into action, I do not. Why? Multiple reasons really. I don’t want to go to jail, I can’t afford paying for the damages I cause, I may be hurting a child’s loved one, I doubt many would congratulate me on the violent gesture, and in the end, it probably won’t be one of my proudest moments.

However, it truly is a difficult exercise on your self-control to not give in, when what you really want to do is introduce your fist to a few faces. So, what to do if I don’t want to test the law? Remind myself, persistently, to have patience. Sure, it may not be as satisfying as loosening someone else’s teeth, but it beats getting more intimately acquainted with an overgrown jail mate named Big Bertha.

Simply my opinion of course. Plus it is highly recommended to find any distraction possible, focus on that, and pray for a hasty deliverance.

By: V.S

Monday, June 14, 2010

Dying is easy... living is what's hard.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Most beloved untiringly classic favorite books

This discussion was originated through Inkwell, where we've decided to write about our preferred volumes. Like so many it’s hard to choose even two or three, but I have to say that the following books I thoroughly enjoy. Now, I say ‘untiring books’ because I find I can read them over and over again. Considering I rarely ever read the same book twice, this means there is some powerful content in these babies.

1.Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. (Just saying the title makes me sigh… I know, it’s pathetic) I fell in love with this story somewhere in my teens. I didn’t know what to expect the first time the book was lent to me, especially since I didn’t read too often then. But as I went through the book, I got caught up and swept away by the characters and the depth of self-discovery they have to confront, among other things.

This is the story of the Bennet family, but most of all, it is about Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. These two characters come together after learning to overlook first impressions and after facing misleading appearances, pride and misunderstandings. Set around the 18th century, the story follows subjects of marriage, love, ignorance, morality, family, etc. I found it surprisingly funny too. In addition, the language used in the text simply enthralls me every time.

2.The Corset Diaries by Katie MacAlister. Fair warning there is some rated R material in this book… really steamy stuff, seriously. Nonetheless, this story is laugh-out-loud hilarious! And it’s still funny the next time you read it. I was surprised at the amount of comedy that could be placed into romance. I love it! It encourages me to be creative with my own storylines.

Tessa is a “skinny challenged” American, who’s agreed to not only partake the leading role in a Victorian reality TV show, but to also wear a corset for the duration of it. (The character assures that the second issue was harder to survive through than the first) Pretending to live in the 1800’s sounded better than the real deal, until Tessa meets her pretend husband, the Duke. Then, she can’t tell if it’s him or the corset that leaves her breathless.

How about you? What favorites make you weak in the knees or thoroughly hypnotize you? The kind of books that, once you’ve read them, make you say: “I never stood a chance of resisting.”