Posts tagged ‘thatboyintheshed’

July 3rd, 2010

Wannabe Writers #23

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: There hasn’t been much progress since my last Wannabe Writers post, due to the fact that I’ve been vacationing. Next week, I have to go to a camp, and my WIP will remain static until I get back. Hopefully, I’ll get something done on Monday! My goal is to finish The Lemonites by August 1st, and I’m 99.91% sure I can meet that goal. I’m planning on a 20,000 word+ week somewhere within that time-slot (which, by the way, means that anyone who sees me on twitter during that week should yell at me until I get a decent word count in). I’ve written that much before, and I’m actually hoping the word count will land somewhere between 25,000 and 30,000.

Miranda and I are planning an IM chat in which she will rip apart my brain with questions about my characters. We started before my vacation, and I swear, it was incredibly fun and helpful. I realized, to my dismay, that I didn’t know what my character’s greatest fear was. Or his goal in life. Major issue there that I will attempt to deal with when I’m in the mood to drive myself nuts. Perhaps Pepto will just speak to me sometime, and I’ll have my answers.

A friend of mine read my entire That Boy in the Shed manuscript in hardly more than 24 hours. Needless to say, I’m feeling quite nervous at the moment. She’s going to send me a bulky email soon!

We all know that I’m okay with That Boy in the Shed being my “practice” novel. It’s my first. I’m fourteen. Those two factors scream one thing: I’ve got plenty of tries left. This isn’t the sort of thing with limited chances. You don’t have to quit after three failures. And at my age, I’ve got a heck of a lot of time to practice.

Not that I want it to take five years or anything. The goal is to publish while I’m still a teenager. However, the back-up goal is to publish by the time I’m 23, and the back-up back-up goal is to be published by the time I’m 26. Like I said, the chances are limitless.

The Question this Week: Overcomplicating vs. Undercomplicating.  I’m afraid sub-plots in my novel are going to take the main focus.  How much is too much?

Wow. For once a question I haven’t thought about and, consequently, have absolutely no firm answer for.  I’m not going to go into a thorough answer (because I don’t have one), but I do have one comment to make.

If a subplot is taking the main focus, your main plot is too weak, or the subplot should be your main plot. Go ahead, switch focus. This is called a draft. It’s trial and error at their best. When I was plotting That Boy in the Shed, I realized that the subplot was both far more interesting and that I felt more compelled to write it. The subplot became the story I wanted to write, so I did. And I think the book is ten million times the better for it.

I’m curious, though, as to what you guys think. Let me know.

This last part is totally unrelated to the above.

I’m contemplating writing a series of posts concerning love in YA novels. I’d touch on as much as I could. Some of my ideas are:

  • Love triangles
  • Sex in YA (this post is destined to be really, really long)
  • The “What happens to their relationship after the book? Will they be together for the rest of their lives? Sounds unlikely” questions I always ask the Universe after reading a YA novel
  • First love
  • Flaws I’ve encountered in books
  • Anything else you suggest and that I feel comfortable talking about

Does that sound good? Would you be interested?

June 5th, 2010

Wannabe Writers #19

by Madeleine Rex

Where I am in the Writing Process: I’m currently 11, 250 words into The Lemonites. I’m having so much fun with this project. The main characters are wonderful, and they make me want to laugh all the time. It’s such a magical experience that I asked people if I was doing something wrong.

I did not plot Lemons, besides a relatively detailed synopsis, but I haven’t gotten lost yet. I’m fairly certain of where I’m headed, and I’m learning how to create scenes in my head as I write them instead of taking months to plan an entire book thoroughly.

Here’s the issue with that strategy: You get bored. Real quickly. I still enjoyed writing That Boy in the Shed, but, ultimately, I felt like I’d already spent months writing the same scenes. Not to mention that there were no surprises, not even surprise conversations, and because of that, writing became a bit monotonous.

So, yes, so far, The Lemonites kind of rocks. I can’t wait to finish it and see what other people think!

My Current Problems: None. Well, besides poor That Boy in the Shed sitting sadly in the corner. I can’t work with it until my mom finishes reading, and that may be a few months from now. This summer, it looks like I will be:

  1. Writing The Lemonites
  2. Editing That Boy in the Shed
  3. Plotting Forbidden

I know. Believe me, I know.

The Question this Week: Critique partners? Anyone have a story on where they found a good one? And ways to keep the relationship going?

I found my to-be-critique partners (you see: I have to send them stuff first) online. I think the key is to get out there. Be yourself. Be likable. And, hopefully, those two go hand-in-hand! My critique partners are my closest “writing friends” (although they’re friends in general, too). They’re people with whom I love to spend time. They’re the people who make me laugh hysterically but also have the ability to criticize my writing (with a spoonful of sugar, of course, because good friends are the ones with sugar).

And, fortunately, I’m pretty sure they like me, too! I’m eager to read their writings because I can feel the brilliance seeping through them all the time and I know that, because we have so much in common and find joy in many of the same things, I will find much to appreciate in their books. In addition, I’m not afraid to critique their work. The relationship most certainly needs to be give and take, just as any other. As a friend, I want to help them grow, while encouraging them, and see their writing go wonderful places.

Regan’s been sending me scenes from her current WIP, which, ultimately, is in the first-draft stage. Because she’s working on it right now, I’m reading as a reader. I don’t dig into every sentence and beta as I might when the goal is to improve every detail. I’m sticking to commenting with the reader mindset. For example:


Naturally, just as readers do, I will mention when things sound awkward, when I’d like to see more emotion coming through character’s actions, etc. I will not, however, disect the scene. I don’t want to distract the writer from the main first-draft goal: to write an engaging book. Finish it.

When it’s time for edits, the goal shifts to: write well-constructed sentences and delete as many adverbs as possible.

At this moment, it’s time for the writer to be a writer and the reader to be a reader. Later, it will be time for us to switch to the editing job.

So, for now, saying something like the above quote is perfect. For now, I am a reader.

As far as betas/critique partners go, I believe there are three crucial parts to play and an order in which to play them…

  1. Friend.
  2. Reader.
  3. Editor.

What has been your experience with critique partners? What’s your opinion on my “Friend. Reader. Editor.” theory?

P.S. I wrote a majority of this post either in a rush or way past my bedtime. So don’t judge!

May 27th, 2010

The Mutants Want to Read, Too

by Madeleine Rex


The following post is more of a rant than something organized. Forgive me. I’m scatterbrained.

Unfortunately, by mutants, I don’t mean TMNT.

I mean teenage boys. The silly creatures my old choir teacher called mutants, due to the fact that, at my school, half the boys are in the middle of that awkward I-really-don’t-want-to-sound-like-a-girl-and-a-boy-mixed-together-so-bug-off-I’m-working-on-it stage.

More importantly, I’m here to talk about the fact that mutants want to read, too.

A common topic of discussion among YA writers recently has been integrating more boy-friendliness into YA novels. It’s argued that even the novels from a male point of view have very “girlish” messages and topics. Perhaps authors of YA aren’t accommodating boys as well as they could.

However, I feel it’s only fair to point out that boy’s do read what’s already out there, including many books from female POVs. I’m not lying when I say that, even with a greater collection of male-targeted books, the general number of boys reading at my age may not increase. Boys have their video games and footballs. They have their skateboards and work-out routines. My brother, for example, doesn’t read as much as I do, but he does love the Mortal Instruments and Hunger Games series. Boys who want to read are capable of finding something for them in today’s wide range of YA novels.

On the other hand, my brother’s quite fond of Jack Higgins’ Sure Fire and Death Run. Take a look at Goodread’s synopsis of Sure Fire:

The first young adult novel from legendary New York Times-bestselling author Jack Higgins.

For thirty years, Jack Higgins has enraptured adult readers with his thrilling tales of spies and intrigue. Now, for the first time he brings his bestselling touch to the world of teens with an adventure to remember.

For fifteen-year-old twins Rich and Jade, their lives have just been turned upside down. When their mother is tragically killed in a car crash, their long-lost father John Chance appears to collect them at the funeral. He’s a bachelor who lives on his own, and it’s clear that Rich and Jade aren’t welcome. But when Chance suddenly disappears, Rich and Jade uncover the truth: He’s a spy. And now, whoever kidnapped their father is after them, too.

Dangerous, fast-paced, and packed with action, Sure Fire is a gripping adventure from the master of the modern thriller.

There’s a boatload of action in these books. Punches and kicks abound. There’s even a bomb going off on the cover of Death Run sitting beside me.

These books, in my opinion, would be more immediately labeled “boy books.” Yet, a girl could read them, couldn’t she? A girl could enjoy them.

While I agree that it would be a good idea to write more boy-targeted books, I believe that more gender-neutral books are in order. Why can’t the same books appeal to both audiences? You might particularly want to write for girls or boys, but when you don’t set out to do this, you are writing for the general YA reading audience. You write for young adults. It’s integral to incorporate things that make anyone laugh and anyone love a book.

As far as writing books for boys in particular, I think that the real dilemma is creating a realistic male voice. Bombs and gunshots are not required because teenage problems are teenage problems, whatever gender. It’s the outlook on these universal issues and dramas that need to be boyish. For example, if a girl was dumped by her boyfriend, depending on her character, she might cry, go through some I’ll-never-love-anyone-else-as-much stint, or go to school and whip some guy butt by looking as sexy as possible and rubbing it in her ex-boyfriend’s face. (I would cry, be a depressed for a few hours, and then go home to hang with my parents because they make my life better.)

A guy (dumped by a girl), on the other hand… Well, it’s difficult, isn’t it? As a girl, I don’t know exactly how guys work (if I did, my life would be a heck of a lot simpler). You don’t want to stereotype them, but particular stereotypes are true. You don’t want to underestimate their masculinity, but you don’t want to underestimate the force of their emotions either. A guy-who-shall-not-be-named recently told me, when asked what being dumped by a girl felt like, “Heartache. Just like they show in the movies.”

Makes you wonder if we’re over-thinking the differences between a teenage boy and a teenage girl. As human beings, and in this case, as human teenagers, we experience the same horrors, feel the same embarrassment, awkwardness, love, heartache, happiness. These feelings that are often extremely commercialized are commercialized because they have an universal effect. We’re all familiar with them.

So, when trying to come up with a realistic teenage boy voice, I think the real key is coming up with a realistic teenage boy. Readers can relate to any sex if the views are the same. A girl character and her experiences could really hit home with a boy. We’re all individual, and particular characters will view particular facets of the world similarly, and whether the character is of the opposite sex or not, we will connect. Furthermore, heartache is heartache. Pain is pain. We can relate.

‘Cause I’m human and you’re human and we all live in the same world.

But, because I really was supposed to talk about teenage boys (it’s hard, people. I’m a girl. And, more importantly, I know how to rant), here’s a song that beautifully expresses a boy and his first love. (And guess what: I totally get it. It’s love, and love is love for everyone.)

Share Out Of Season by The Icicle Works

1) Did that post make any sense whatsoever? 2) What do you believe is important to the boy world of YA literature? 3) Do you believe that it’s more important to make your characters relatable than make them a particular gender?

P.S. The Lemonites is from the point of view of Pepto, a seventeen-year-old boy. (Notice that he’s both three years older than me and a he?)