April 19, 2013

In Medias Res or Not, That is the Question

Everywhere I look, I see advice for writers and especially about how to craft the beginning of your story. Most of the time I hear that the reader wants to see action right away, that your opening scene must have something "happen" that gets things rolling. This is a technique that works well a lot of the time, and for some stories I'm sure it's the way to go.

Is it the only way to go?

No, I don't think so. For an example, I recently began reading a YA fantasy that is selling very well. It's all over the shelves and has a zillion sequels in the series. The beginning of the first book takes off right away in an action scene where the villain shows up, we've got the teenage protagonists and the older knowledgeable figure letting them know what's going on. I let myself get in 70 pages, and tons of stuff happens. All I knew about those teenage protagonists was that they were "normal teens" and had iPods, and lots of other buzzwords that labeled them as ordinary.

Oh good, ordinary cardboard teens...my favorite. A whole bunch of interesting stuff happened to people I care absolutely nothing about. I knew nothing about them, and I could care less if the villain showed up and kidnapped them both. I put the book down and stopped reading.

To me, it's more important to learn who the story is about first, before the story happens to them. Authors can do this successfully while showing an action scene, but I don't think it's the only way. In the opening of a novel, I'm happy as long as I'm learning who the character is and some hints about what's going to change for them, or what the big conflict will be.

Yes, I'm a writer...but I'm also a reader. Other readers must want what I do. I have a few examples. (Yes, they're all YA distopias, I'm on a distopia kick. In college, I took a utopian/distopian fiction course that rocked the world.)

For example, the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The opening scene here, Katniss wakes up without her Sister, describes her family, her home, and hints that it is the day of the Reaping which is the early big problem. She leaves the house and goes hunting and talks to Gale. That's all that "happens" action-wise. The opening scenes here definitely do not begin right where the inciting incident does, but we all know how well Hunger Games as done.

Another example, Divergent by Veronica Ross. The opening scene shows Beatrice receiving a haircut from her mother and looking in the mirror. She describes her world, her family, and that today is the day of the Aptitude test (first big problem). She then continues on to school. This is not very action heavy, but we learn a lot about Beatrice and her world.

Final example, Matched by Ally Condie. The opening scene is a dream, and then Cassia wakes up and describes some of her world and that today is the day of her Matching. She has breakfast with her family and continues on with her day. No thrilling action, but again, we learn a lot about who she is, and what is happening in her life.

This brings me to my point. Not all techniques are for all types of fiction, or all stories. Sometimes you do what the advice is, and other times you go with your gut. My gut says that there are lots of readers like me, and that sometimes, action isn't the only way to go.

What do you think?

April 15, 2013

The bane is nearing completion!

Also known as, the synopsis. I have to give a shout out to Jane for helping me plug up my gaping holes. She rocks, and you should check out her awesome blog here. The synopsis is almost ready, which opens me up to work on the query letter.

I don't need it for the conference, but I want to have it ready. I think knowing exactly what I'd send to an agent to market Schism will help me know more of what to say in the session. I have to be prepared! My type A is showing isn't it? >_^

In other news...I wrote more in Unity today. I take it as a good sign that I want to get these opening scenes out of my head and onto paper. Rough, rough, rough draft that it is...but there's always editing! Hours upon hours of editing.

To make this post even more of a ramble, I think those of you who don't live inside my head may not know what I'm working on. My vision is a non-traditional trilogy where books one (Schism) and two (Unity) are a complete story, and book three spins off to take place eighteen years later. I'll post my dust-jacket tease once it's perfected, and then you can know what the heck I'm babbling about.

Time to watch my little one attempt to play Wii games. Too cute.

April 14, 2013

I'm so good at sticking to stuff

Well, when I said I wouldn't work on Unity...what I meant was, I've started Chapter 2. Heh.

April 11, 2013


I was thinking about the taglines you see on the back of books or on movie posters. I wanted to come up with something really great for Schism. I came up with most of it, but I can't settle on the last part. Any help?

Four dimensions
Three hearts
Two worlds

Irrevocable decision?
Fate for all?

What do you think?

Irons in the fire

Here's what's happening.

Essentially, I'm directing all my effort in preparing for the writers conference I'm attending at the beginning of May. I won't let myself do much other than that, unless it's reading books on writing, or other YA lit.

  • I've gotten most of my notes ready for my pitch. I'll still be tweaking these for a while.
  • Synopsis for Schism is in the hands of a good writer friend who is giving it a once-over for me. I'll make changes once I get it back, and that will be good to go then.
  • Schism is in the process of another beta read. Current beta reader is a college student and much closer to my main target demographic. I've heard good things thus far, and with feedback I may do some more tweaking.
  • In general, I really feel Schism is getting very close to a final version. I know agents and editors will have changes too, but I feel in my gut that I'm close. :-)
  • I wrote the first draft of chapter 1 of Unity. It is officially started. I won't work on it again until after the conference, but I wanted it to be "started."
Is that enough going on? I did get an idea for a short story while driving, but I'll probably put that off for a bit. 

April 10, 2013

It begins

So, I've decided to blog my writing journey and any other things I feel like sharing. I know a first post is usually some introductory thing, but I'll go against the grain yet again and share.

Today I participated in a book bomb for writer David Farland's son Ben who was in an accident and needs financial support. There's more information here, and though I'm posting this late in the day I'm sure any purchases in the future will still help out.

I got Million Dollar Outlines. I thought, 'hey maybe this will help me too.' Who knows, right?

Anyway, welcome to my blog and I hope you enjoy my random ramblings. >_^