Tag Archives: serena

#MondayBlogs Writing Tips: Different Perspectives

8 Aug

I love writing from different perspectives. Both my YA series—The Timely Death Trilogy and Bad Bloods—are written in first POV but from two different speakers. I love using this technique for novel writing, because I enjoy first person, but I dislike how it restricts the storytelling to one character, especially when a scene would be better from a different perspective. So, I have two protagonists, and of course, there are complications that come along with this. What’s the most common question I am asked?

How do you make each voice unique?

I’ll provide a few aspects to keep in mind, but of course, this journey will be different for every writer and every novel. First, know that every character should have its own distinct voice. A reader should be able to open the novel and know who is speaking immediately. This is more difficult than it sounds, but it can get easier over time.

1. Perspective. 

The most obvious change between one voice to another is their unique perspective. What is their background? How do they feel? Where were they educated? Are they affecting the words, or are you? It’s important that characters have their own voice, and that voice will come out in combination with their personalities and backgrounds. For instance, your character who is a fashion designer would definitely use specific colors and fabrics to describe clothes, but your mechanic character might not.

2. Pay Attention to Diction and Syntax

Just like authors have their own “voice,” so do characters. Because of their backgrounds, characters will have different vocabularies. One character may use very flowery language, while another may have less of a need to elaborate. Consider their education, where they come from, and what they might know. The way they speak should differ, whether they are talking out loud or explaining the scene inwardly. Sometimes, syntax can be used to emphasize certain speech patterns, but be careful not to overuse syntax. Too many exclamations or repeated habits/phrases can become tedious and boring rather than unique and fun. Sometimes less is more. Little clues are normally enough.

3. Consider Rhythm

Honestly, I think rhythm is often overlooked, but paying attention to subtle changes in sound and length of sentences is important. One character’s thoughts may drag on, so their sentences are longer, while another might make short lists to contain their thoughts. Like everything making up your character, a person’s rhythm will depend on their personality, background, and goals. It could even change from scene to scene, but consistency is key.

All four of these women would tell a different story about this picture.

All four of these women would tell a different story about this picture.

One of my favorite exercises:

Write a chapter in which the two characters are talking. Write it from POV 1, and then, rewrite the exact same scene from POV 2. Check to make sure the dialogue and the physical actions are the exact same, but then, compare the thought process. How did the scene change? What does this change mean? Do they each bring a unique perspective? And out of those perspectives, which one is best to use?

As an example, two people can be talking and Person A could notice Person B is fidgeting. Person A may assume Person B is nervous, but when you tell it from Person B’s perspective, you learn that they are distracted, not nervous. These little bits can truly morph the way characters interact. I always encourage this exercise when starting out, even if the writer isn’t planning on telling from another’s perspective.

This exercise helps me understand the characters, and I feel more confident when I move onto a new scene. (Sometimes, it even helps me choose which scene to use…and worse case scenario, you have an extra scene to release as an extra for your readers.)

Have fun and good luck! 

Original posted March 31, 2013

~SAT

Bad Bloods: November Rain is FREE across all eBook platforms right now! (And I’m dutifully working on the next installment, too!) Happy reading. 😀

November Rain

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow, 

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

Bad Bloods Free Book

Bad Bloods Free Book

 

Writing with Barbie

19 Apr

Prepare for laughter during today’s post. But – before we get onto the giggles – I want to share two important bits of news.

Paris Carter reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise, stating, “The novel also includes several internal struggles for Eric and Jess that sparks tension throughout the entire novel, and it’s the chaos of them struggling to work out their answers and fight themselves that bring Shannon’s novel to a second dimension.” Read the entire review here or check out his review of Minutes Before Sunset first.

I also participated in an interview with Doodles, doodles everywhere. We talked about what hurts me the most as a writer, and I expanded on the research that went behind The Timely Death Trilogy. Check it out.

It’s been a few days since I participated in my first podcast interview, but I wanted to write about something fun since my last post was rather dreary. That’s when my mind immediately returned to The Lurking Voice. (Just a small, Kansas City update though, they found the Highway Shooter, so things feel a lot better around here. Maybe that’s why I’m so eager to post something I can laugh at…I mean, laugh with you…as you laugh at me.)

Back to the topic.

If you listened to the full interview – which you can by clicking here – then you know that I confessed to many writing strategies that I haven’t mentioned before, although “strategies” will quickly turn into a debatable term during this post. My ultimate, reluctant confession happened when we discussed November Snow, my first published novel.

I was 11 when I started writing it and 16 when it was published. It’s safe to say that it isn’t my best work, but I am planning on re-writing it. As we were discussing this, Ryan Attard asked a great question. How does a preteen plan a novel out? That’s when I said it.

November Snow was based on a game that I played out with my Barbie dolls as a much younger kid. Now, if you’ve read November Snow, then you might be concerned, considering how violent the book is, but there’s no need to be concerned – (I think.) That’s what I told my high school teachers anyway when I was asked about the dark nature of it. But that’s another story for another day.

Today, I wanted to share a funny truth to November Snow. No matter how dark the story is, many of my characters were actually based on the dolls I used. I admitted to it on the podcast, and now I am re-confessing it on here. Even better, I dug through some boxes, and I found the old toys, so I’m sharing a few of them as well as small excerpts from the novel that proves this goofy aspect of my writing.

You’ve been warned.

A little background before we begin:

November Snow is a young-adult, dystopian novel, and it is told from dual, first perspectives: Daniel and Serena. Unfortunately, I lost the Serena doll (she might have lost a limb or two or maybe even a head.) But I still have Daniel, who you will see soon. I’m going to share three pictures, and each picture has numerous characters on it. Below each picture, I will have a one-sentence background, and below that, I’ll be sharing the real excerpt from the novel. I’ll also include page numbers as well as who was telling the story at the time (Daniel or Serena.) I am also including a little note, explaining how my 11-year-old brain worked. Got that? Okay. I even think I’m lost, but trust me – it’s organized. Hope you chuckle as much as I did writing this post! Traveling to the past can be a funny adventure.

First picture: from the left to the right: Robert, Daniel, and Calhoun. 

theboys

Robert: 19, leader of the Southern Flock (hates hugs)

“I turned around to see Robert’s dark brown eyes staring at me, and my heart lunged into my dry throat…He muttered something, his brown hair shagging in his face, and I laughed. “ (Serena, 156-7)

Note: Believe it or not, he’s not the antagonist. Sort of?

Daniel: 18, leader of the Northern Flock (all around hunk)

“The guy looked like Daniel. He had the brown, muffled hair and tanned skin. He even had the blue and white jacket down, but he wasn’t responding to his name.” (Serena, 181)

Note: So, if you didn’t notice, I even based some clothes off of these toys.

Calhoun: age unknown, Daniel’s mentor. (kind of a hard ass)

“From the bottom step he could have been mistaken for a modern-day giant. His face was strong, as were his muscles, and he looked like he could barely fit into the sweater he was wearing. He had been in a POW accident, in which he had lost one of his arms, but he refused to tell the story. Normally, he had a fake arm in, but tonight, a gray sleeve dangled at his side, blowing in the chilled November wind.” (Daniel, 25)

Note: if you listened to the podcast, then you know this character actually ended up being very similar to my real father. Except my dad has both arms. And he’s not a vet. But I swear they are alike.

Second Picture: from left to right: Daisy and Maggie

girls

 Daisy: 16, member of the Southern Flock (I hate her.) 

She doesn’t deserve a note or description. Seriously. Have you ever hated your own characters so much that you regret bringing them into existence? I think Daisy might be in my top three of characters I’ve created and despised. #authorproblems.

Maggie: 16, member of the Northern Flock. (crushes on Adam in private)

“The front door opened, and Maggie walked in. She was wearing a small, pink coat and white disco pants that had gone out of style a century ago, but she still pulled them off easily.” (Daniel, 240)

Note: is it just me or is Daniel incredibly aware of fashion trends?

Third picture: from left to the right: Amy, Justin, and Marisa

Now for the youngsters, the category of characters that caused one of my high school teachers to ask if I needed to talk to someone after she read my novel and discovered only a few of the characters survive. (Seriously. It’s on the back of the book…) From left to right, we have Amy, Justin, and Marisa.

kids

Amy: 14, member of the Southern Flock. (Hates being called “Amy.” Her name is Amiel Marie Young.) 

“Amy’s hair was tied back in a French braid.” (Serena, 144)

Note: So this was more of a hairstyle thing, and you can’t really see it in the doll anymore, but it was there. I promise.

Justin: 6, member of the Southern Flock (borderline obsessed with hockey)

“Justin, blond-haired and brown eyed, was whisked off his feet by the collar of his shirt.” (Daniel, 479)

Note: There’s actually a hockey scene in the book just for this hockey-themed doll. (I really have no shame as I share this, do I?)

Marisa: 7, member of the Northern Flock (too small to crush on Adam, but apparently, all the girls like Adam…maybe I should’ve shared Adam.)

“A small girl struggled her way into Adams’s lap and leaned her bony elbows onto the table. She had long, brown pigtails that rested on the wiggling table and innocent eyes.” (Daniel, 44)

Note: The hair is there. The hair is totally there.

So there you go. My young-adult novel that almost got me in trouble as a teen was originally created during playtime as a kid.

Try to figure that one out.

I sure haven’t.

~SAT

If you want to check out the collector’s first edition, click here.

If you want to check out the collector’s first edition, click here.

 

2014 Books to Movies

10 Jan

First, I am taking a moment to apologize for my extended absence. I was having unusual difficulties with my normally cooperative technology. But now my internet is fixed, and I’m delighted to return to my every-other-day blog schedule.

Since I was stuck on my phone rather than my laptop the past few days, the only thing I could really do was read up on book related articles, and this one was really popular: 16 Books to Read Before They Hit Theaters This Year. Now I’ve talked about what I think of movie adaptations before, and you can read about that here, but I just want to repeat my opinion in case you’re a newcomer (welcome!)

I look at movie adaptation as sister pieces – rather than something that needs to represent the novel exactly. I normally quite enjoy movie adaptations, even when other readers don’t. This doesn’t really mean anything aside from I love seeing a piece of art being interpreted using another method. So I wanted to share the upcoming movie adaptations and what I think about the book and/or the future movie. The links will take you to IMDB rather than the book. I would also love to hear what you’re looking forward to and what you’re worried about, so comment below so we can talk about it 😀

1. Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

I am a Kate Winslet fan, and the trailer left me wanting more. I will probably see this, but I have yet to read the 4.2/5 star novel. I will probably wait for the DVD, but it looks like a promising drama that leaves questions about the good, the bad, and the ugly.

2. The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter

I must see this. Again, I haven’t read this novel, but I am planning on checking it out a.s.a.p. I love history, and I love art. I plan on seeing this in theaters. It looks worth it to me. I’m also a John Goodman fan, so that helps.

3. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

I’m really on the fence about this one. I wish I could say more, but I honestly don’t know how to elaborate except that I’m afraid the magic will be hard to convey on the screen.

4. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

As much as I’m a young-adult fan, this novel failed to gain my interest, and – like many – I’m a little burnt out on vampires. (Although it is directed by the same director who did Mean Girls. I don’t know if this means anything, considering I’m not a fan of the story, but I hope it does well for the fans!

5. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby 

I don’t think this is my cup of tea, but this doesn’t mean I think the book is bad or anything.

6. Divergent by Veronica Roth

I think this might be one of the biggest films of the year in terms of young-adult trends. It will be interesting to see how the Chicago setting is done and/or if it fares well with the diehard fans. I’ll definitely be checking it out.

7. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

If I have the urge to have a cry fest, then, yes, I plan on seeing this emotional tale on the big screen.

8. The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais

Although this is a remarkable tale, the trailer didn’t really interest me enough. I might change my mind, depending on what else it out around this time.

9. The Giver by Lois Lowry

This is one of my favorite novels of all-time, and I’m a HUGE fan of Meryl Streep, but I am worried about their decision to cast Taylor Swift. It makes me feel like they are simply trying to get people to come using big names, rather than finding the right people for the parts, but I still have hopes that Ms. Swift will live up to the high expectations of this classic and prove everyone wrong that she can, in fact, act.

I am wishing for too much, but I think it would be really neat if the first half shows how the world sees in black and white until the color vision begins to develop with the apple and hair through the protagonist. In fact, I made the photo below when thinking it would be really neat to see in black and white for one day. My roommate mentioned The Giver, and I got even more excited for this movie adaptation. I guess you could say this one is the one I look forward to the most.

So this is my black and white photograph inspired by black and white films!

So this is my black and white photograph inspired by black and white films!

10. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

I really want to see this dark tale, too. I think it will translate well, and I hope the visuals add to the dramatic and twisted story.

11. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Not sure about this one, but I am not familiar with the novel either.

12. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Yes. Yes. and Yes. I will be seeing this. I think that’s all I need to say.

13. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Wow. Second movie of the year inspired by Gillian Flynn. I’m a fan of Flynn, so I’ll probably see this, but I think I might wait until it’s out of the theater. But congrats to Gillian Flynn on the big year!

But I do have some (sad?) news about this movie adaptation. According to the guardian, the ending has been rewritten by choice of the director. Flynn has supposedly written it, but this mysterious ending is leaving readers wondering why and what will happen.

14. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand & 15. Wild by Cheryl Strayed 

Again, these both sound interesting, but I don’t think they are for me.

16. Serena by Ron Rash

I love Jennifer Lawrence too much to not see this. It’s on my top movies to look out for in 2014. Although I have to admit that I used to not be a huge fan of Bradley Cooper’s, he’s made a huge comeback with me since Silver Linings Playbook, and I adore every movie Lawrence and Cooper have done together. (American Hustle was great!) So I will be seeing this on the big screen if possible! Not that this matters, but Serena is also my favorite name for a girl, so…that’s one more reason, right? :] (Fun fact: Serena is the name of my protagonist in my first, published novel, November Snow.)

So what do you think? Are you looking forward to any of these flicks? Are you worried about any of them? Which novels have you read? Are there any you plan on checking out before you watch it? 

Feel free to elaborate as much as you want to about a specific novel. In fact, I hope you do! I would love to hear more about a story I’m on the fence about from someone who has read it and loved or hated it. Some of my favorite movies were ones I never thought I would see. (I can admit Silver Linings Playbook was actually one of those.) I’m really open-minded, and I love a challenge – meaning, I adore those moments where I have low expectations and the art blows me away. Surprises can be a beautiful thing.

~SAT

P.S. I took Bogart to the vet for his annual checkup, and he’s 18 lbs.! Now, I was worried he was overweight, but it turns out he is part Maine Coon. I thought that was pretty cool – and explains why he’s so HUGE! So I had to share 😀

He’s a little mad at me after the vet, but he’ll come around.

He’s a little mad at me after the vet, but he’ll come around.

Writing Tips: Different Perspectives

31 Mar

On March 17th post: News: Submissions Closing and Minutes Before Sunset Info one of my followers, rolark, asked “I’m trying out writing from more than one perspective right now (it’s my first time!), and was wondering if you had any advice?”

And I do!

As many of you know, November Snow is told from two perspectives (Daniel and Serena) while my upcoming paranormal-romance novel, Minutes Before Sunset will also be told this way (by Eric and Jessica.) I love using this technique for novel writing, because I enjoy first person, but I dislike how it restricts the storytelling to one character during particular scenes that may be told better by another.

So I use first person by two people—generally one male and one female. Why? Because I generally have a romance aspect to my stories, but I also think men and women can bring different viewpoints to the table. (But so can every character–this is a personal preference of mine.)

One of the coolest part of writing is when one of your fans creates something for you. This is fan art from a novel of mine on my previous Wattpad account. Sophia and Noah, my male and female protagonists.

I love it when fans creates something from my writings. This is fan art from a novel of mine on my previous Wattpad account. Sophia and Noah, my male and female protagonists.

Personally, this is what I do (although 3 comes first, but it’s the longest part), and I’ll be using November Snow as an example:

1. Consider Syntax.

Change it up. One character’s thoughts may drag on, so the sentences are longer or dragged out, while another may make lists or sporadic lengths of thoughts. Consider using italics, colons, and/or dashes for one character.

Ex/ Daniel is often exhausted, so I used shorter sentences to depict his energy state. Serena’s sentences are longer. This allows the voices to seem different in the basic way they think.

2. Pay Attention to Diction. 

One character may use very flowery language, while another may have less of a need to elaborate.

Ex/ Daniel is very patient, but also anxious (especially when walking around Vendona, considering the government is after his kind.) So I always have his eyes darting around. He’s constantly surveying his surroundings, paying attention to the little details, and often loses his thoughts to the physical world. His language, therefore, does the same thing.

Serena is rebellious. She’s tired of conforming to the rules and hiding, so she’s often taking risks she shouldn’t be taking. Because of this, I don’t pay attention to as many details when I wrote from her perspective. She no longer cares. Instead, she’s focused on changing, so I show more details about relationships, people, and the future within her language.

3. Now Perspective. 

Now, I’m about to use a gender stereotype to explain where I’m coming from, but it’s for an example. You’re welcome to swap them around for different effects.

Men may pay attention more to physical action than detail, while women may focus on the little details. For instance, a man may describe someone running, while a woman may mention the fact that the runner was in jeans. These little switches in descriptions between your perspectives will help create a realistic viewpoint in the sense that it’s subconsciously differing from one person to the other. The character doesn’t even consider it; it’s simply a part of how they look at the world.

One of my favorite exercises:

Write a chapter in which the two characters are talking. Let’s say this chapter is written from Daniel’s. Afterwards, whether I decide to use it or not, I’ll write it from Serena’s. Make sure the dialogue and the physical actions are the exact same, but compare the thought process. How did the scene change? What does this change mean?

As an example, two people can be talking and Person A could notice Person B is fidgeting. Person A may assume Person B is nervous, but, when you tell it from Person B’s perspective, you learn that they are distracted, not nervous. These little bits can truly morph the way characters interact. I always encourage this exercise, even if the writer isn’t planning on telling from another’s perspective.

This always helps me understand the consciousness of the characters, and I feel more confident when I move onto a new scene.

You can always post questions for quick answers on my Facebook Author Page! Joining also helps me out, and I really appreciate the support :]

You can always post questions for quick answers on my Facebook Author Page! Joining also helps me out, and I really appreciate the support :]

My hope is that this may help rolark and other writers who want to play with this technique, but I also want to encourage others to ask questions.

I will always do my best to answer! (And you will get credit for asking the question.)

Have a great day,

~SAT

April 2nd: Writing Tips: Make Maps (Interior) 

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