Posts tagged ‘forbidden’

August 13th, 2010

This Isn't "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom"

by Madeleine Rex

Alert: You are about to enter a messy post. Watch your footing.

I almost always have trouble figuring out what to blog about, but then I’m hit by some random thought (in this case: Jeez, how annoying was that girl in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom?“), and there we are: A blog post idea.

We all know the eighties (and before, actually) weren’t exactly the time of strong women portrayed in movies and television. There were some good ones, like Laura in “Remington Steele,” but even she had her moments. There were a lot of “throwaway women” – women who didn’t have much substance, who weren’t really developed into strong, independent characters. Being in love does not make you a slave to the person you’re in love with.

Anyway, one female lead that irritated me from the start was the blond gal (I really can’t remember her name) in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” She wasn’t simply annoying and pettish, she was dull. And, of course, you can’t thinking about “The Temple of Doom” without thinking about the totally annoying kid sidekick. (Many sequels fall under the annoying sidekick curse.) A friend of mine said, “There seems to be a trend towards unsupportive and rather annoying best friends in YA literature” in her book review the other day, and it suddenly struck me that she was completely right. They could be funny or silly, but there wasn’t anything to them.

So, I’m here to say that this isn’t “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” We are past this, people. We can and should create strong female leads that don’t view men as idols, that aren’t complete slaves to their rampant emotions. Girls that manage to be codependent, can work well with a guy, but can stand alone as well – maybe a bit heartsick, but not thinking “holy-crow-the-world-is-ending-I-think-I-have-to-stop-breathing” (see: New Moon) for months on end.

Authors have been trying to nail this sort of character. Sometimes the character you’re looking for is shallow or rather cold (as my MC in my next WIP kind of is). If that’s the your intention, then great job. Do what you set out to do.

I think that far too often, the girls are extremes of some sort. Drama Queens verging on the totally ridiculous, or cold-hearted, unfeeling people. Being cold-hearted doesn’t make you strong. It makes you lonely. There’s a happy medium, where you’ll find the girl that cries on occasion and can love people, but also knows how to stand up for herself, speak her mind, and cultivate her talents and knowledge base. A hardy person. Take Evie from Paranormalcy, Clary and Tessa from Cassie Clare’s books, and Macy from The Truth About Forever for examples. Notice that all of these characters are in some of my favorite books. That’s because you can admire them, respect them, and ultimately want to be their friend.

As I said, sometimes you’re intention is to have one of the extreme characters. Grey (who used to be named Erin, but I like Grey better) in my to-be-written book, Forbidden, is rather sour. She’s not one of the cheeriest, nicest people, but she’s not going to go out there and be mean for no reason. She does have plausible cause for her attitude, but it’s going to be my job to help her grow into a better, hardier person.

My point: Create strong, feeling, female leads that people will respect. They don’t have to be gosh-darned wonderful from the start, but we read books expecting character growth, and we ought to respect and admire the characters that come out on the other end.

I know I kind of lost myself in the female leads topic and left out the sidekick bit, so I’ll sum that up as quickly as possible.

Don’t put a character in the book for no reason. And definitely not a character that will get on people’s nerves.

So, again, substance. Depth. Cut characters from your book that don’t lend a hand to the story, because more likely than not, they’re standing in your way if they’re not helping you out.

What do you think makes a strong female lead? What do you like to see in characters when a book is through? What are some sidekick characters that have annoyed you?

Psst! I’m giving away a pre-order of Paranormalcy! Click here.

May 22nd, 2010

Wannabe Writers #17

by Madeleine Rex

Wannabe Writers is a writing group for the un-published and anyone is welcome to join. It’s a place where future authors can ask questions, share stories, and get feedback. Click (here) to find more about how it works.

Where I am in the Writing Process: I’ve been working on the pre-writing parts of The Lemonites. My buddy, Regan, advised me to write scenes that may or may not show up in a book, so that’s exactly what I’ve done. I’m trying to further understand a crucial storyline that belongs to a side-character. In the process, I also found another character whom I love (her name’s Terrence, her nickname’s T-Rex, and she rules)! I’ve also written most of a synopsis. The end is a bit smudgy in my mind.

My mom is sitting next to me, trudging through The Boy in the Shed. This will be my first round of edits, and I’m already feeling worn out before doing anything! I’m afraid I’m going to come down with the editing blues.

My Current Problems: Let’s see:

Laziness.

Plotting:

Confusion regarding what to work on and when.

Apprehension.

I’ve been feeling kind of discouraged recently, although that might have to do with the fact that I’m incredibly tired today. (UPDATE: Pepsi, I love you and your caffeine.)

My most prominent issue is with the editing. I’m not sure how to go about it. Any tips?

The Question this Week: Do you recommend finishing (and polishing) a novel, even if you know the story would never be strong enough for publication?  To finish just for the sake of finishing or to focus your energies on a better project?

Boy, was this question meant for me? This is precisely what I’ve been talking about!

I do recommend finishing a novel.

That Boy in the Shed does not appear to be “strong enough for publication,” and I can’t easily imagine a way to give it the sufficient strength. However, I believe that the plotting, writing, and eventually the editing will be valuable experiences. The second book will be better simply because I know what’s needed and what the writing and polishing of a book entails.

At the same time, I am dividing my focus and working on another project. I don’t want to lag behind on my writing schedule, and I don’t want to lose the chance to work on the stories that seem more exciting to me at the moment.

So, as of now, I’m editing That Boy in the Shed (said too-weak novel), fiddling with/plotting The Lemonites, and preparing to plot Forbidden.

I suppose I’m a multitasker at heart.

May 8th, 2010

Wannabe Writers #15

by Madeleine Rex

Wannabe Writers is a fantastic weekly meme hosted by Sarah at Confessions of the Un-Published!

Where I am in the Writing Process: Still haven’t started editing. My mom and I will work on it the weekend of the 22nd. However, I did read my book this past week, and who woulda thunk it? I really liked it! It was so cheering to realize that, although this particular novel might not work out, due to a weak plot, I can write. Now, I’m dying to work on my projects with stronger plotlines. I truly believe that I can make something of them.

I began working on The Lemonites this past week. I love my plot for this one and am going to be discussing it with a friend soon. However, I probably won’t be working on it too deeply for about a year because Forbidden is next in the queue.

My Current Problems: As I said, I’m now fiddling with The Lemonites, and have realized that I have become wholeheartedly a plotter. I just can’t do much without one, or at least not for over 3,000 words. I’m in desperate need of Character Analyses, a synopsis actually written (it’s in my head at the moment), and, at the bare minimum, the scenes noted. You see, with That Boy in the Shed, I had a 7-step synopsis, and for each of those seven sections, I took stream-of-conciousness scene notes, such as 1) Janet and Joe meet up at Starbucks and discuss the back robbery and the slip-up (<– Not real). Typically, there were at least 10 of these (sometimes even 25) per section. That process alone didn’t take more than a few hours. After that, I took each of those notes and expanded them into one and half pages+ scene summaries. I might leave this next step out next time around because it’s the most time consuming, and I found that they were kind of hard to deal with. I kept having to switch windows to check up on exactly what I wanted to do. I had plotted in too much detail.

Speaking of switching windows: The very beginning of The Lemonites is a mix of a new story and the original spur-of-the-moment story I wrote with the main characters. I found that when writing it, I had to switch windows constantly, trying to quote myself. Luckily, my insanely wonderful parents are going to buy me a seperate monitor, and from then on I should be able to plot, write, and I’m sure edit more easily. I think having two screens will help incredibly with working with beta-read versions.

The Question this Week: Would you be disappointed if 5 years from now you still wrote [2500] words everyday and weren’t published? What then?

Oh, the horror! Yes, I would be disappointed!

To work so hard and reap so little awards, to have your hopes crushed time and time again. I suppose that, as a fourteen-year-old, five years feels a lot longer to me (consider: I was nine five years ago, which seems like centuries ago). However, that still only makes me 19, which is not bad at all. My goal, however, is to be in the process of publishing a book by the time I turn sixteen. I strive toward that goal diligently, but I know that there’s a chance that I will fail to meet it. What then?

More writing. More writing. More writing. Your chances of becoming published increase with every moment you practice/write.

Some rules apply to everything in life, and practice makes perfect [enough], is one of them. Not-so-great writers can become good ones, and good writers can become fabulous, as long as said writers work everyday, toil and struggle, to reach their goals. I believe that there’s always room for improvement, and if it’s taking you forever to publish (although five years is not forever), more practice is probably in demand.

However, we all know that perseverence in the querying area is also necessary. Perhaps you are a great writer and your novel has a stable plot, but the particular agent you query simply isn’t intrigued. Send more, by goodness, send one hundred more. Don’t give up until either you or the possibilities are exhausted. And meanwhile, keep writing.