Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March Madness Day 14 Check-In

Last night I had the privilege of supporting our lovely March Madness creator, Denise Jaden, as she spoke to a big group at the SCBWI Professional Series meeting in Seattle. Her presentation, WITH A HEAVY HEART: WRITING GRIEF IN FICTION, showed how grief can be used to help create more tension and conflict in our stories. Ironically, she followed SCBWI Regional Advisor, Kim Baker, who presented on using humor in fiction. Both talks got me thinking about my own WIPs--one that has a lot of grief and the other that has a lot of humor (hopefully.) What about you? Do your stories contain either grief or humor or a little of both? Do you find these elements difficult to incorporate? How's your week going so far? Humor or grief? For me there's been a little of both. ^_^

Please forgive Denise for her tardiness in replying to comments yesterday since we were on the road and at the meeting for a large part of the day. And don't forget to check-in tomorrow with Anne Hale.

49 comments:

  1. My WIPs are heavier on grief, but there's always at least one character that says/does funny things. I try not to have everyone sad :)

    I got about a thousand words written on my draft yesterday - all I'd planned to do was cut part of a scene b/c I had one of those "a-ha!" moments over why it wasn't working. But in doing that, I ended up actually adding another scene.

    Love how those things work out!

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    1. That sounds wonderful, Jennifer. A character who lightens the mood is very helpful. Congrats on the 1K!

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  2. My latest ms is a new direction for me: I'm trying to not rely on humor so much. It was an interesting challenge. Like trying to change your golf swing or something. It's hard to fight your natural instincts but it's good to stretch and see if you can.

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  3. Morning Angelina! I'd say I have a good balance with both, though it depends on what I'm writing. I've written stories that are dark and heavy and found it difficult to pull myself out of that mood for days.

    Wrote 1k this morning. Today I want to outline a new story idea, revise a short story, and continue edits of novel. Good intentions today. Fingers crossed :)

    Have a great day everyone! :)

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    1. Go, Marie, go! Sounds like you're up and running. I'll hand you some Gatorade as you run by, okay?

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  4. My last YA novel started with grief and held that tension in varying degrees. It certainly gave my MC motivation. Of course a little humor came in now and then or my poor MC (and readers) would have imploded.

    There are different kinds of grief in my current WIP, which I had better get cracking on today. 2000 words or so from the end. So close...almost there...

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  5. I have two projects right now, and I think for the most part both, but one has more humour and the other has more grief. A third project of mine has a balance of both.

    Yesterday I got distracted from Project One, the YA epic fantasy, preoccupied as I was with my cowritten urban fantasy, Jack Garcia and the Problems With Pixie Dust. I spoke to the other creator and asked him if he'd mind if I made the main character from Vancouver instead of Phoenix, Arizona, because I know it better and Phoenix had been a random idea in the first place. He said "Sure, but is there much of a Hispanic community there?" (She's half-Hispanic, half-French.) To which I replied, "No, but there's a huge Filipino community and Garcia (a non-negotiable) is a common Filipino last name." So I have that to work with. It'll mean a bit more research, but I think I can swing it. And given her particular background, and the fact that she'll be spending the story in Boca Raton, Florida, I think it matters as much that she's a Vancouverite. I can get a better handle on her voice that way, when I finally write it.

    BUT I got that out of my system for now using half my lunch break. And last night I finished the second pass of Sign of the Star! Now onto the third pass, which will involve reading beta reader feedback from the slightly-older present-tense edition (but I'd like to see if anything pops out to be useful). That being said, if I take a break today be forcing myself to work on that cleanup. If my brain decides it wants to have fun with Jack's story today and not Janni's, then I'll let it.

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    1. You've been a very busy writer girl. Great work!

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  6. My current WIP is more about loneliness and disappointment - yes they both hold aspects of grief - but the loss is more of a dream or idea of what my MC thought was real (seeing your family past the point of rosy-spectacled childhood - seeing them real).

    But grief can make for a very powerful story.

    Got in a slim 600 words this morning but had a glorious evening last night, brushed all 4 horses, hung out in the big field listening to the beagles over the hill and the sound of the train in the river valley behind me. It was near 65 degrees. I just reveled in the greenness.

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    1. Grief doesn't have to be the loss of a loved one, it could be the loss of a quality or a dream or something else. Or so I heard last night. ^_^ I"ll trade your 65 degrees for our 35 and snow.

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  7. I like to read a mixture of grief and humor, so I also like to write a mixture of both--heavy on the humor...light on the grief.

    I only wrote a little over 600 words yesterday, but I got through a really rough part of the story, too. Today I hope to get through another scene or two. But, alas, it's Spring Break, so I gotta entertain the kids, too. :)

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    1. Only 600? I consider 600 a stellar day. ^_^ Have fun with the kiddos.

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  8. I feel like writing something very lighthearted and funny today! Want to know why??? My presentation is done. LOL. Looking forward to getting caught up on a few things today, which I think will make me a bit more focused on my WIP.

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    1. Aren't you grateful we didn't have to travel in this muck today? Hope your day has been lighthearted productive.

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  9. Wow, I wish you were out here on the east coast, Denise! I would have loved to have attended that talk.

    My writing is definitely on the serious side, so closer to grief than humor. But I've also got romance in pretty much everything I write, so it's not all doom and gloom.

    I'm revising my novella now that I have some great beta feedback, so I'm already hard at work on that today. Next week I get to begin revising the novel, wheeee!

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    1. We wish you were here on the west coast, Kip! Enjoy the revisions.

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  10. I would've loved to sit in on that session -- sounds fantastic! There is often grief in my writing -- seems it's something that just keeps showing up. This WIP in particular is about grief, but hopefully I'm managing to get a bit of humour in there to balance the emotional load.

    More wild and crazy weather here, so it's a perfect day to get some #wipmadness work done. And having another March Madness participant sitting in the room with me is added incentive and encouragement! (Can you stay 'til the end of March Madness, Mom? It would really help.... ;) )

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    1. Thanks to this weather, the ferries to the mainland are cancelled at the moment. We may never get to go home... you never know! ;)

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    2. Well what you know, we've got a mother/daughter team! Have fun, you two.

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  11. My new wip has both. I can't write without humor as I try to fill everything in my life with as much humor as possible.

    This week so far has been more bad than good but this morning has helped switch that around. I finished reading a book I loved last night and started a new one that seems even better than the other. This morning I'm sitting on 3000 words and don't have to be at work for another two hours. 4000 is definitely within reach.

    Peace and love wipsters

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  12. What a great presentation last night. Denise Jaden knocked it out of the park. I loved hers because my MC has MS, which of course is a chronic and worsening condition. So clearly, there are feelings there, but she can't hobble around all day being mopey. And she has a crackerjack pal who doesn't even notice the cane. The balance is tough, but Denise definitely gave me some points to ponder. Yay!

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    1. It was so good to be together. Happy you got something helpful (and thanks for putting up with me.)

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  13. I'm jealous, those sound like great presentations! I've written a romantic comedy--but I know with humor, if I try to make it funny on purpose it never works! It just has to flow from that character. And I'm not a funny person, really. It's just that my MC was!!
    Grief is also tough to write!

    As for checking in--I'm doing pretty good on my goals, just trying to stay afloat! :)

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  14. Nothing like wild wind and driving rain to make one want to hunker down with a hot mug of coffee and a manuscript! I'm moving ahead steadily on my revisions, so that part is good. But I've eliminated a complete sub-plot and am now stumbling over how to do the transition between the remaining scenes. This could take a while!

    There is a distinct grief aspect in one of my ms, but the protagonist is male so how he demonstrates it is challenging... it has to be subtle. Hopefully I found the right balance. In my w.i.p. there is another grief-inducing situation but once again the protagonist doesn't deal openly with it. It's complicated! I would love to have heard Denise's presentation.

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    1. What a super opportunity, Angelina! Yay, Denise! I was all ready the other day to drive an hour to Houston, but her visit was over Skype! lol.

      Well, I've only gotten my blog done today, no writing, yet! I also met with my CP for coffee and handed off my newest first pages...we'll see how that goes. :)

      Thanks to JRo for tagging me last week! I finally got my post up and questions answered if anyone wants to head over. :))

      Have an awesome day, wipsters!

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    2. You would have LOVED her talk. Maybe if we could twist her arm she'd share some highlights. ^_^ I'm so glad to be home now and hunkered down in my snuggly blankets.

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  15. My WIP has a lot of grief, but it's old grief that the characters are just now being forced to deal with. I feel rather sadistic as I push all their emotional buttons, but it has to be done.

    It's been a very emotional experience, writing this novel. I keep saying my next book is going to be lighter, but I don't think that's really my writing style. And honestly, this books has healed me as much as it has healed my characters.

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  16. Been working on my Dear Teen Me letter. Plus ended up deleting a whole chapter in my revision and writing a new one. Like I mentioned before, this revision is painful. Sigh.

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    1. Hoping tomorrow will bring you some laughter, Kim.

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  17. I'm embarrassed to check in because no one has heard from me since the first couple days! However...
    First of all I lean more to the humor side, although I enjoy reading both. I find grief very challenging to work with.
    As to my goals, I've not added anything to my word count. However, I do have my very large, poster board size outline entered into a word doc. I just finished loading in all that I have written over time on this project and find I have about 20% of my projected word count. That encouraged me as I didn't think I'd written that much. I'm finding this process somewhat emotional. Perhaps I'll be doing a bit more grief writing afterall!! Tomorrow I start in earnest on new word count. This is the farthest I've come on this project in years so I'm happy. Thanks for reading my ramble.

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    1. No apologies necessary, Brooke. We're thrilled to hear from you. Congratulations on 20%! Check-ins are a place to share both progress and woes, whichever, whenever. ^_^

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  18. I write a lot about grief, but I find it necessary to have veins of humor in there as well. Unrelenting darkness can make readers go numb; they need a few breathers. Also, it just seems realistic to me, that even characters who are suffering will have moments of relief, or will try to cheer themselves up, or something like that.

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  19. Howdy! A little both for me this week, too. But am finally getting that just 'cause I can't get in "right" in the first couple of drafts does not mean I can't do this--it is plain old hard work sometimes! In terms of writing I guess I would say I have a little humour a little grief or sadness-not heavily one or the other. But, I love reading books that can incorporate both. Barbara Park has a middle grade novel called Mick Harte Was Here--it is one of the funniest (and I mean, for me, laugh out loud) and saddest (tears down my cheeks) books I have ever read. About a girl dealing with the death of her bother-very sad topic and Park grabs those moments beautifully and has you crying. The next chapter she has you laughing out loud. AnyWHO, got a tad off task, lol. Working every day at least two hours on my wip, also getting in my reading and blogging. The two hours a day on writing is becoming a habit and that's a good thing! All best with the rest of your week, Angelina and same to everyone else!

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    1. Thanks for the book rec, Deb. Can't wait to read it. And yay for two hours a day!

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  20. Tonette dela LunaMarch 14, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    Word Count: 2,551

    Continuing reading and speeding along. More brainstorming for other WIPs and my epic Script Frenzy Entry. My brain's tired, as are my clickity clack digits, so I take breaks to rest my eyes, fingers, and other writer weary appendages. I think the wonky weather is contributing to my own wonkiness, but I'm still chugging along.

    I like that I keep increasing my daily word count. I'll finish sooner and have more time to work on other projects and prepare for the revisions.


    Hope everyone is doing/writing well,

    Tonette

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    1. Wow. I wish I could harvest some of the energy flowing around here this week. Cheering for the daily increase!

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  21. My plays tend to have more grief than humor, but my middle grade fiction definitely has more humor than grief. Especially this one!

    And I'm going to get back to it, because I've just realized that a whole section of the book that's set in Sicily needs to be set in Antwerp instead! Off to turn my Silvia into Annika, among other things ...

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  22. 1,687 words today, but I may end up getting back up after everyone else is snoring and finishing word count for the night. Wanted to check in though. This book's gonna be larger than the first. I hope the third won't follow along in its footsteps and be like the last book in Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy. O_O

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    1. Finished with 2,354. Not too shabby. Beat now. Nitol. ;)

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  23. I'll be snoring in no time. Best wishes!

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  24. Angelina, it was so nice seeing you at the meeting! Denise, I didn't introduce myself, but I spoke briefly to you and you gave me a cool bookmark. :) You and Kim were both great!

    My current WIP is a book with lots of lightness and humor, but it also has a thread of grief.

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    1. I was so happy to catch a glimpse of your smiley face. ^_^

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  25. Both my MG WIP and my Crime Thriller Series WIP have both humor and grief. Of course, because the first one is told from the POV of a thirteen year-old, the way the emotions are depicted are quite different from the characters in the adult series. I think having some comic relief, if done appropriately helps balance out the heavier material.

    I'm now about 60% through the Game of Thrones and there's plenty of humor and grief woven into the story. The humor hits at just the right time and I think it's a good reflection of real life situations. There hasn't been one time in my life where grief was involved that humor didn't somehow finds its way to the surface, be it from recollecting a past event to reminisce or to ease the tension.

    I'm progressing through my research/prep for Script Frenzy. There will be plenty of humor and grief in my screenplay and perhaps in the writing process itself. ;-p


    Happy writing!

    Tonette

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