Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Fears of Repeating Oneself

So, it's been a while.

My life for the last two weeks has been more than chaotic and I haven't even had much time to write, let alone blog. I managed to start another new book in that time (which I am not working on since I have to finish my sequel) but that was about the height of my creativeness this week in between working and trying to get a full nights sleep.

Anyway, enough about that.

I am filled with two strong feelings every time I pull up my working manuscript for Human Nature. One is excitement; I get to bring back my characters, make them go through new trials, and develop them in ways I never did before. My other feeling is fear. It took me three years to make Only Human what it is and even that seems like it could still use some work. In that time I came up with idea after idea, only to trash them and go with something else. I'm working within a different time constraint with Human Nature. Now I have people who want to read a sequel, people who will forget about the book if I don't have another one done in time and scariest of all, people who have an expectation about my writing. If it's not the same or better as the first one, it will be a disappointment.

I developed characters to a certain extent in the first one but the second book takes it to a whole new level. Connor/Drew isn't just Mr. Impenetrable, he has feelings, thoughts, and wants. Abby isn't the same scared, naive girl she used to be, she realizes there is more danger than she thought and feels a responsibility for helping out the others around her. Zack isn't a robotic bully, he has a purpose to his life and things that hurt him in the past. Callie isn't just a friend, she is a friend willing to die to protect Abby. Abby's Dad isn't dead, he's out there somewhere.

The above ideas fascinate me while terrifying the inner writer. They have to continue to develop, they have to seem real but...how?

I liked Abby in the first book, I want to LIKE her in the second book. There were times when I wrote her not going quite as far as the new Abby is willing to go to protect the people around her. Not only has she grown in learning, she's met Drew. What he is and what he believes, much like her friend Callie, has become a part of her.

There are things that always seem to make their way into my book. Main characters getting injured and having to be patched up by another character. It always sneaks its way in! Male MC protecting the girl verbally/physically at at least one point during the story. Little cliches work their way into my writing because it's what I like. Unfortunately, if done too often, especially in the same series, it's going to just be repetitive and boring.

Human Nature is a fresh start, a new book to continue the story but add new twists, new characters, and new cares. The last thing I want is for it to become an updated version of Only Human because I'm now three years older.

Anna Leigh

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Joys and Pains of Editing

I made a hard, fast rule when I finished Only Human. Any book I write now has two word documents associated with it; one for the story I'm actively writing and one labeled with the name and then 'edit' next to it. Every thousand words or so, I cut and paste what I've just worked on into editing and don't look at it again until I'm done with the book. As I write, names and ideas change and I leave random notes scattered through the edit document to remind myself what I want to change it to be.

As I've mentioned before, I read the blog Go Teen Writers a lot and learned from Mrs. Stephanie Morrill that it's best to leave your manuscript for a bit before starting the editing process. She recommended six weeks after your original manuscript is written but I would personally go for a month since it would be difficult for me to wait that long.

Human Nature is only a few months old and already I have at least a dozen notes of changes I've thought of as I've been writing. Today was a particularly painful day in which I wrote over a thousand words, realized the story line was falling flat, and proceeded to delete my last weeks worth of work (About a chapters worth). It's painful but I realized it had to change and there was no point in keeping everything I just wrote. It's much easier to delete words several weeks after you've written them since you're not quite as attached after that amount of time but I just went for the whole thing today, ripping the band aid off without a second thought instead of waiting and fussing over it for a few days. This book as been much better about presenting ways out of writing corners than my last one was. I tend to think I'm a lot more experienced and probably the fact I'm writing so much right now and constantly coming up with new ideas makes a writing dry much harder to come across. Whenever I'm feeling particularly uninspired, I hit up the free kindle books on Amazon which immediately make me want to go back to my own writing. Not that they're are terribly, some are actually quite good but...I know I can do better than that, even if it means I'm only selling a 0.99 book which is quite possibly. Hardly anyone paid that much when Only Human was on sale. I know that it's a new book and an unrecognized author and all but it's still a bit discouraging...

Lately, I seem to be bursting with ideas for random novels. I have a bunch started but am forcing myself to work only on Human Nature unless I have an idea I just have to write out in one of my other books. Every time I think of an idea, usually when I'm washing dishes or on a car ride, I make a document for it, date it, and write down all the ideas I've had. At some point, those book ideas will either be deleted or I will collect enough information to turn them into my next project. It would be nice to start on a fresh project since I've spent so long on OH and now am tied to writing the sequel. Not that I don't enjoy it but I'm feeling more in the mood for fluffy contemporary with cute settings, quirky girls, and guys who are both amazing and good looking than writing thought provoking science fiction.

On a random note, I was reading GTW today and Jill Williamson was covering the subject of writing a good love triangle, something that definitely needs to be addressed in today's writing/film world. I personally dislike love triangles with an intensity but considering my intense like for Asian dramas, especially of the Korean variety, I watch more things with love triangles than not. I thought she had some good advice on what to do and will definitely keep it in mind if I ever go crazy and decide to put one in my book *shudder*.

Write again soon. I meant to write earlier than now but it's been so crazy busy this week and I've spent a lot of time babysitting my niece. Hopefully this week will be a bit calmer...

Anna Leigh

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Short post today in between cleaning the house, making meals, and writing my book. I'm trying to get my word count up since Go Teen Writers is having a word war from today until Monday. I've already put two thousand, three hundred and something into my book today but I'm hoping to do a bit more. I was randomly typing and my fingers brought me to a new plot twist before my brain caught up! That's been happening more and more lately. In the last week I've added another character, randomly written out another one, and added a plot twist which will bring in some characters from my first book! I'm at the exciting stage of writing and I hope I don't EVER hit the bored, blocked for ideas stage.

I did something different with this sequel which I've never done before. Instead of just coming up with ideas as I write and having all sorts of repeats and awkward moments to edit out later, I actually came up with a layout for the book which is pretty much complete. I was feeling really awkward about continuing my character for Drew but as I was working today, my fingers were flying and I was liking what I wrote. I hope my sequel is twice the book my first one is (not that that's difficult to do).

I officially decided that my second book is going to be much scarier than the first. I don't want it to be stupidly scary or seem like a horror book but I want the feeling of the stakes being raised, including people getting hurt a lot worse than in the first one. I think Drew spent most of the first book getting hurt at one point or another :)

I officially have fun writing obnoxious girls! I know, that leaves me open for a lot of comments but I added this annoying girl to my second book to advance the plot and it's kind of fun to write her snippy comments. I tend to like my characters having quick and witty comebacks but I often end up editing a lot of them out since my character ends up sounding more brash and annoying than I want them to be. With Steph, my new character, she's supposed to be unlikable so it makes life easier. Today I had to balance a scene with her, Abby, and four other male characters. Interesting how I had to keep the dialogue going and feeling like the individual characters and not like the same guy. Zack is angry in the conversation and gives short, somewhat biting remarks. Matt is a little uncertain, Won is confused, and Drew is calm and collected as always.

Have to go, dinner calls :) I'll write again soon!

Anna Leigh

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Book and its Setting

I like talking about writing characters, it's no secret. If you've read any of my blog, you'll know how much time I spend with my characters, coming up with them, fine tuning them, and stressing about them. Characters might be my strong point or just my downfall because I worry about them too much. Besides the characters, the setting of a story is REALLY important!

My stories always seem to take place in a small town. It's not like I agonize over the setting and decide to put it there or like I even live in a small town. I live in a county with upwards of nine hundred thousand people. I was talking with my sister about it one day and I realized part of my attraction to writing about small towns is because I have a relatively small social circle I spend time with and not having a job outside of the house or going to high school, my life does exist in a small town type setting.

In Only Human even if Abby had lived in a big town, she lived in a small town in her head. I like the idea of the local gossips to avoid, seeing the same people a the local diner, etc. In my novella, the small town emphasis is much more in the story as the stories about Cameron have spread around to everyone and Maggie being sick effects everyone Alex knows. I've decided along with a book being written in third person, I need to write a book without a small town emphasis.

In the Partials Sequence, Dan Wells paints a very good picture of our world in ruins. It was fascinating and often scary when he described places that had been abandoned and destroyed; places that we frequent today. I thought he did a great job in world building in his book and definitely would like his talent for doing so. I often wonder if my settings feel forced or like an afterthought. His book though is a great example to me of how a setting can really give a book life. His characters are good too which always makes things better :)

I had a great day today in my book history. I got my first review from a stranger, a girl named Alyanna who runs a blog where she reads and reviews books. It was funny reading her review and thinking about the fact that someone in the Philippines is reading my book. The internet is an amazing thing. 'http://bookbuddiesph.blogspot.com/2014/04/book-review-only-human-by-anna-tuckfield.html 

Write again soon!

Anna Leigh