Thursday, December 17, 2009

I've been Tagged!

So...Tere Kirkland tagged me. Which means--for those of you not familiar with this tag war going around--I now get to answer a bunch of questions

And while I'm deeply, deeply flattered that she chose me (no really, you guys have NO idea how much joy it brings to my heart when I'm mentioned on other blogs--almost like I'm famous *blushes*) I have to say, these are the hardest questions I've had to answer (yes, even harder than Frankie's) because they're all about my writing. I'm terrified about answering them. But, I've been tagged so I really have no choice. On that note, here we go!

1. What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?

The last thing I wrote was last night. It's a new scene for my WIP to replace one of the many scenes I have flagged as, "Total Crap! Try again!" It's in the middle of my story and I just didn't have the emotions right--or even close--the first time around so I *hope* I did better this time. I try to let a scene sit for a few days after I write it before I re-read it, so I really won't know till the weekend if I like it, but it felt like I was closer to where I needed to be.

And the first thing I wrote that I still have? Um, that's probably a short story I wrote in 7th Grade called "Earth Had a Snack." It's a dual first person narrative where a caveman and his wife chronicle their life after they're trapped inside the center of the earth by a huge earthquake. I wrote it longhand, so I could have sloppy, misspelled writing for the husband and neat loopy writing for the wife and I did my own illustrations. I actually re-read it not that long ago, and my reaction: where the heck did I come up with this? I have no idea why my brain came up with married cave people arguing back and forth between journal entries. Oh, and in case you're wondering, yes, I was a very weird kid. (I know, you're all SHOCKED by that, right?)

2. Write poetry?

Not really. I mean, I have--especially in school when we were required to--but no, not usually by choice. I have nothing against poetry, I'm just really bad at it. That being said, I do have a few journals filled with poems I wrote when I was in high school and college, and let me tell you--they stink. Like really, really bad.

3. Angsty poetry?

No, my poems weren't angsty. I'm actually not a very angsty person. Never have been. I think it's because I have a hard time being serious. I'd rather crack a joke or make someone smile. But that's just me.

4. Favorite genre of writing?

Middle Grade Fantasy. And no, I'm not saying that because that's what I write--that's what I write because I love it. Though when I say Middle Grade Fantasy, I mean more like Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, Fablehaven, Inkheart--longer books that probably should be classified as Upper Middle Grade, but I don't think that distinction currently exists.

5. Most annoying character you've ever created?

Ooo, that's hard, because I've created a lot of annoying characters (I love to torment my main characters with annoying characters they can't escape). It's probably Kara, a 15-yr-old girl I created for a 10-min script I wrote back at USC. It's about two girls: Dorothy, who's sweet and smart and ugly and fat and from a horrible home, and Kara who's pretty and rich and horrible and has an awesome family and a hunky boyfriend and totally doesn't deserve it. Thanks to a fluke accident involving a falling light fixture and the girls locker room showers they switch bodies and lives. The best part: I never resolve it. When the script ends, Kara is still stuck in the fat, ugly body with the horrible family and ends up in the mental ward because she keeps insisting on the body switching thing and no one believes her. I had to make her REALLY annoying so we wouldn't feel too sorry for her fate. And btw, no one can claim they're more evil to their characters than I am! No one!

6. Best plot you've ever created?

Um, is it lame if I say the plot of my current WIP? Because that really is how I feel. I've written tons of scripts (one my teacher thought I might be able to sell if I cleaned it up a bit) and started four or five books before this one--but this is hands down the best idea I've ever had. I loved it so much, I was willing to abandon a book I'd already put almost a year of my life into because I couldn't get these characters out of my head. I really hope agents and publishers agree with me about this, but even if they don't, I'm still proud of myself because I love the story and I'm glad I've had a chance to tell it.

7. Coolest plot twist you've ever created?

Sadly I can't reveal this, but trust me--it's awesome. You won't get to read it unless I write my whole series (it happens around book 5 or 6) but OMG IT IS EPIC! The only other person who knows is my husband (who is sworn to secrecy) and when I told him he was quiet for a minute and then blinked and said, "Whoa..." I can't wait till I get to write it.

8. How often do you get writer's block?

I guess this depends on how you define writers block. I've never reached a point where I was completely out of ideas, but I have hit walls in my drafts (my WIP especially) where it's like, "Crap! What do I do now?" Usually I go backward to see if I made a misstep along the way (which I usually have) or I turn to google and search randomly for inspiration. If that doesn't help, I let my characters wander. I write scenes I know I won't need, just to see what happens, and sometimes the solution presents itself. The important thing is that I keep going. Sooner of later the answer will show up, so I just have to keep working until it does.

9. Write fan fiction?

Yes and no. Back when I was at USC we had to write scripts for TV shows that already existed, so I've written a Law and Order Episode and part of an X Files episode (I *think* that can loosely be classified as fan fiction). But I can't say I would have done that voluntarily. I'd much rather work with my own characters than other people's.

10. Do you type or write by hand?

I do all my research by hand, jotting notes in notebooks (I've filled six notebooks with research and ideas for my current WIP) but when it comes time to actually write the draft I have to type it. I can't write it long hand. It's too linear. I need to be able to jump around, and I definitely need to be able to cut, copy, and paste.

11. Do you save everything you write?

Absolutely. Even the stuff I edit out.  I never know what I might need it for, and, if nothing else, it gives me a good laugh when I look back on some of the junk I've come up with.

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?

So far I haven't, but I'm planning to. I still feel the book I was working on before this WIP was a good story, and I'd still love to tell it. But I have to finish telling this one first, which could be as many as 8 books if I get my ultimate wish, so it'll probably be awhile.

13. What's your favorite thing you've ever written?

Wow. That's really hard to answer. But I'd have to say it's Chapter Three of my WIP. My toughest CP told me that's when she knew I was "the real deal" when she was going through my draft and I think it has some of the coolest scenes in the whole book. I can't really tell you about it without giving away things I'm not ready to share, but a couple of you have read it and hopefully enjoyed.

14. What's everyone else's favorite story that you've written?

Again, um, I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record here, but it would have to be my current WIP. Very few people have read everything I've written, but the few who have definitely agree that this one blows the others out of the water. My mom--and I know she's my mom so she's biased--said, "If this doesn't get published they're crazy." (And she didn't have that kind of reaction when I showed her things like the lame boy band script I wrote when I was 17, so she does have some sense of taste between my writing). Even more convincing is the fact that my dad likes it. My dad's a tough critic, and he hates silly books (he usually reads really long, boring biographies about successful businessmen) The guy even hates Disney. So I was more than a little terrified when he asked to read pages and I was fully expecting him to like it because I wrote it, but not actually *like* it. But he liked it--he talked to me about it for two hours and wanted to hear all about things I have planned for the other books, so I *hope* that's a good sign. I guess I won't know for sure until I query it, which is coming soon.

15. Ever written Romance or angsty teen drama?

Not really. I've written plenty of romantic comedies, but I wouldn't call them romance. I'm not the kind of person who can pull off detailed love scenes. I'm more of an epic-kiss-and-then-fade-to-black kind of girl. And as far as angsty teen drama, nope, it's just not me. If I get to write my whole series some of the characters will have their angsty moments, so I'll have to figure out how to channel my inner angst.

16. What's your favorite setting for your characters?

I prefer to write about places I know, so I usually use California as a setting. But my current WIP has a couple of worlds within worlds and let me tell you, those cities are awesome. If I could live there I would in a heartbeat.

17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?

Really only one, though I have plotted the whole series and I do keep the future plot twists in my head as I work through my draft, so I can be sure the seeds are properly planted.

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?

Does third place in the 8th grade writing fair count? If not, does it sound less pathetic if I say I've also never entered any contests? So I've never won, but I've also never lost.

19. What are your five favorite words?

Ooo, this is hard, because I am a total Word Nerd. I actually keep a personal lexicon where I keep track of all my favorite words, (I know, I know: Nerd-Alert!) but if I have to pick favorites I will:

Kerfuffle
Bumbershoot
Verdant
Somnific
Penultimate

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?

Hm...I usually don't model my characters after myself, they just kind of take on personalities of their own, and I don't  have any say over it. Plus my characters become VERY real to me when I write them, so it's hard to see them as anything other than "them." But my current main character has a few of my quirks (she tears out loose eyelashes when she gets nervous and can't sleep without her stuffed elephant named Ella, and totally manifests stress with her appetite) but she's not necessarily like me. She's a lot braver than I am, and way smarter at 12-years-old than I was. (Sometimes I think she's smarter than I am now.) But she and I probably have the most in common out of all the hundreds of characters I've created.

21. Where do you get ideas for your characters?

Oh boy, this is where you're going to think I'm REALLY weird. I don't usually come up with them. The story gives them to me. For example, one of my favorite characters--a boy named Keefe--exists entirely because one day I was feeling a little blocked so I decided to let Sophie wander through the halls at her school. She got totally lost and I realized she would need to ask someone for directions and since it was the middle of class I knew it would either be a hall monitor or a ditcher. I decided to try the ditcher and BAM--Keefe was born. All his mannerisms, his whole back story, everything just came to me in like an hour and my hand hurt as I tried to scribble it all down in a notebook so I wouldn't forget it. It doesn't always happen quite that easily, but it's still almost always the story that gives the characters to me.

22: Do you ever write based on your dreams?

No, because A) I don't sleep much (stupid insomnia) and, B) If I dream I rarely remember them. Plus, the few dreams I have are usually pretty boring.

But, my stories do creep into my dreams. Especially if I'm writing right before I go to bed, I have had my characters show up in my dreams, or imagined the scenes I was working on. But it's never been the other way around.

23. Do you favor happy endings?

Yes, but I also want them to be realistic. I love my characters too much to not let things work out for them, but they don't always get exactly what they want and they always have to make huge sacrifices to get it. Plus, I put them through HELL along the way, so that always taints the happiness of the ending. But you'll still be smiling at the end of my book, not crying (unless you're crying because it's SO good you're devastated that it's over--I'm sure that's how it'll be, right?)

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

Spelling? No (that's what spell check is for). Grammar yes, but only in the sense that I have to like the way it flows. I realize that a lot of my dialogue violates grammar, but so does the way most people speak. But I become much more concerned with both as I edit, because then it's about polishing.

25. Does music help you write?

Yes. I can't write without it. I actually have a whole system. I have a playlist of songs for every major emotion (anger, fear, joy, etc) so when I sit down to write a scene I try to figure out what the primary emotion is and listen to that playlist as I write. Some of my favorite bands are Vedera, Muse, Jack's Mannequin, Paramore, Blue October, Taking Back Sunday, Mae, Anberlin, The Spill Canvas--I could go on and on, but I'll stop there.

But I also have playlists for each of my characters, filled with music they like--which often isn't music I like--and when I edit their dialogue I usually switch to their music. The upside: I totally get inside their heads. The downside: sometimes I have to listen to Miley Cyrus.

I do also have a playlist for my plot, but I've never shared it because I feel like you'd have to read the book before you could appreciate it.

*Phew*
You guys still there?
Sorry it's such a long post--it was a lot of questions!

And...now it's my turn to tag people!
(Evil Laugh)

So I choose to tag...

Have fun guys! Not sure when you'll have time to post about this, but I can't wait to read your answers when you do!

22 comments:

  1. Can I read your x files episode! LOL

    Super excited I haven't been tagged for this yet!

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  2. Everybody's fave thing they've written seems to be their WIP. Makes sense, though, since our works-in-progress are usually the stories we're most excited about.

    But how can you stand having an awesome plot twist that's five books away? That's kinda torturing yourself, innit? :)

    It's always nice to get to know you better, good lady.

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  3. Wow awesome answers - so cool that you have playlists and specific music you play as you write each character. I'm really interested in your book now and I don't see any problems with those paragraph's from #26

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  4. Nice answers--Im with you on the plot twists in later books--I was just telling my youngest sister about a twist at the end of book 3 and her mouth fell open and she was like OMG!!!!!!! Anyway--now I have a dare for you! I posted Carol and the Future Fish--the story I wrote when I was 9--I want you to post your caveman story and add in modern Shannon commentary.

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  5. I'm totally cool with being tagged, because now I don't have to come up with an *actual* blog topic for today. So thanks ;)

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  6. It was wonderful getting to learn more about you as writer. Thanks, Shannon (really), for taking the time to share all of that with us. ;-)

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  7. Glad you were cool with being tagged! Thanks for sharing your writing life. Good luck on your wip!

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  8. Marybeth: Sadly, no, it lives only in outline form. But I can share the concept: It was about a Black Widow. The villain had a mutation that made her venomous like a Black Widow spider and she was on a killing spree of all her boyfriends. I never took it past outline stage because I wasn't sure I could pull off something quite that dark. (Plus my teacher liked my other pitch better)

    Mary: Aw, thanks. And thank you so much for telling me that--that is music to my ears!

    Frankie: This is what I get for being nice and not tagging you? :)
    Okay, I accept your dare. But I'll be out of town for the weekend so I'll have to fit it in next week (Oh boy, I can't believe I'm agreeing to this. It is NOT well written)

    Heather: Phew. I'm glad you don't mind. You were the only one I couldn't email to ask if it would be okay, so I was worried you might be upset. *wipes sweat off brow* Can't wait to read your post.

    Shannon: Aw, thanks. I hope you weren't bored (and that I didn't sound too repetitive)

    Tere: I was totally cool with it. I love when other bloggers think of me--it's like the highest compliment. :)

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  9. Simon--I missed you in my last comment! (What's wrong with me?) I know, I noticed the same thing, so I tried to answer as many questions as I could without saying my WIP, but it's hard. For one thing, I think we always love the thing we're working on the most, because we're closest to it. But in my case, this is also the first time I've really been in love with a project. All the other projects I finished were because I *had* to for a writing class. This is the first time I've seen something all the way through because I wanted to, and it's because I love it so much.

    And I know--it's killing me!! In fact, I've actually written it, just so I could see it play out. I'm sure it'll change a lot by the time I actually use it, but it's still awesome. And don't worry, I have plenty of epic plot twists along the way to keep me going. Just not *quite* as huge as that one. :)

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  10. oh I loved this :-) And I do the same thing with playlists! I have an overall one (on my blog) that I listen to for inspiration or to keep the tone in mind - but I also have individual lists on iTunes that literally are titled like this: "write to - angry" or "write to - picking yourself up". LOL

    I love your favorite words (had to look a few up, haha) and I'm also a BIG fan of your ch. 3 :-)

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  11. I pull on my eyelashes too. How strange. I've never thought of it being something other people might do because I'm usually thinking about something else when I do it.

    Your paragraphs are great. Tell me you don't have jokes about foster children though.

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  12. Honolulu Girl: Aw, thanks for reading (I know it was really long)

    Sara: Heh. Yet another thing we have in common. Maybe that's why you're such an awesome CP. And aw, thanks--I'm glad you like chap. 3. Now let's hope an agent does....

    Myrna: Wow--another eyelash tugger--awesome! (Some of my CP's were like, really, pulling on her eyelashes? And I was like, what? Is that weird? So yay, one more person to back me up on that.) And no-no jokes about Foster children. Though I did choose that last name for a reason...

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  13. Kerfuffle? Seriously? That. Is. Awesome.

    Great answers. Loved learning more about you. Do you think you've given up screenwriting for novels, or just on the backburner?

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  14. Congrats for being tagged and mind if I ask what Somnific means?

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  15. Carolina: Heh. I love kerfuffle. It's the kind of word you can't say without smiling. Still trying to figure out if there's a way to squeeze it in my draft without being out of place. :)

    Thanks for the compliment (I'm glad I didn't bore you). As far as the screenplays, I suppose anything is possible, but...I hate Hollywood. I hate the way they treat writers and I hate that the screenwriter has to be on set and I personally feel that I'm WAY better at writing books than I ever was at screenwriting, so for now, I'm not really planning on it. I doubt I'd even want to write the screenplay for my book if it ever got that big. If you ever want to know why I left screenwriting I have some posts under the "Hollywood" label, or you can always drop me an email. I LOVE email. :)

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  16. Hayley: Oops, you snuck in there while I was commenting to Carolina. Thanks for the compliment and of course not. Somnific means causing or inducing sleep. That's why I love it. It sounds like what it means (to me at least). My eyes get drowsy just reading it. :)

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  17. I am totally intrigued about your manuscript! And booooo to not writing out the whole fan fic piece.

    PS I like Frankie's idea! And I want pics!!!

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  18. I love this meme! I think my WIP is my fave, too. It's always what's right in front of you, isn't? Thanks for visiting and following my blog. :)

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  19. This was fun! Thanks for sharing - you're brave :)

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  20. Eeep! I had no idea the questions were this intense. Can I cower in a corner, I mean... mull this over for a week?

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  21. Marybeth: Aw, thanks. That is music to my ears. And sorry about the X Files thing. Part of me wishes I'd written it too. :)

    Scobberlotcher: Thanks for the followback! I love meeting new people this way. Can't wait to read more of your posts.

    Jemi: Brave? Or stupid? Hard to tell the difference sometimes...isn't it?

    Heather: Hey, I gave you a chance to say no--no complaining. Take all the time you need, but I can't wait to read your answers! :)

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Yay-I love comments! Thank you so much! (But please remember to keep your comments spoiler-free. Also, I try to keep this a happy, positive place. Friendly debate is fine, but always be kind to each other). <3