Thursday, December 6, 2012

Beta Reading, proceed with caution.

Welcome to the wonderful world of beta-reading, where one goes about critiquing another's much loved masterpiece of a MS, while they try to make sense of your chicken scratch piece of *beep. (Or at least this is how I feel every time I add a new beta to my repertoire.) And it's rainbows and butterflies and everyone lives happily ever after. The end.

It most often does not end like this.

Now, don't me wrong, I luv readin'. Been doing it since I first picked up that, 'I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always', book. But critiquing someone else's work, that they've put time, sweat, money and tears into... it's intimidating. I never know if I'm being too harsh, or too soft, or too repetitive ;)

I try to be honest. But honestly, my honesty is not something everyone wants to hear. I know what I like, punchy dialogue, dark themes, high concepts, plot twist after plot twist, and most importantly real-feeling characters. Characters who jump off the page because they are so like that *sshole lifeguard you worked with during your summer job at 'Ragin' Rapids'. Or that ridiculously peppy barista who serves your coffee every morning with a complimentary life story snippet.

You know, Real People.

Real people swear.
Real people blurt things without thinking whether or not it's insulting.
Real people think/talk/do sexy time, and it's not always glamorized.
Real people are obnoxious.
Real people sometimes make you hate people.

This is my biggest thing when I'm beta-ing someone else's work, and the biggest issue other beta's have had with my work. I'm not the expert when it comes to prose, grammar, technical sh*t, but I do know people. Teenagers specifically. I live in a house full of them, and 'twas not too long ago I was a part of their ranks. So when I advise a beta that a particular scene doesn't feel real to me, it's because they are wading in the shallow waters of teenage hell, too afraid to dive down into the total depravity it really is. (Okay so I'm exaggerating... slightly.)

In summary, Beta Reader etiquette is this: If my advice seems sh*tty to you, just let me know and we can part ways. No hard feelings.

If I'm coming across as a jerk on twitter... still let me know. No hard feelings.

I really don't have feelings. :)

End rant.

PS. To all my beta-readers past and present I love you, even when you're mean.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


This is from the now defunct 'A', which I've reworked into AR. I just rewrote this scene a couple days ago for AR, it's much more tense/higher stakes now. The relationship between these characters is complicated, and in AR it's even more so. 

I never like to let a cut scene go to waste, if I can recycle some small part of it then I feel like it has some purpose. 'A' helped me get a feel for all my characters which I carried on over to AR.

Anyone else recycle past work?


Cue good song.

Friday, October 19, 2012


BA... BA... BA
(My attempt at ominous background music)

I've hit the dreaded 'plateau', in my WIP. The point where I've climbed an emotional peak that I cannot rappel down from (might as well jump off that cliff). It involves two characters who's relationship is altered, dramatically by a single event.

Does anyone else have this problem?

I feel like I've written myself in a corner, and I don't know how to write myself out.

In other news, one of my writing buddies received a harsh crit after I'd already given her my crit. She's writing a very trendy, cool YA Steampunk.

Check out her blog HERE.

It got me thinking of how different everyone's pov is. One man's diamond is another man's rock... I guess. I just don't see the point in being unnecessarily cruel when critiquing someone else's work. Pointing out a flaw and offering no way of fixing said flaw is not helpful. Offering helpful insight is the whole purpose of a Beta reader.

Also, I think I single-handedly keep my local Starbucks in business. MMMM Americano.
Which reminds me, I've been meaning to try this.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Character Flaws

So AR is coming along, decently. I'm about 35k in and probably somewhere close to half-way finished. I've found my pace has slowed considerably. Mainly due to my characters: their inner quirks--and their major flaws.


Take my MC Finn, his ridiculous vulgar inner dialogue combined with his rash outer demeanor, conflicts with his protective/soft tendencies. He's a see-do-(hold the think) type character <--- Sure this makes him interesting, but it also makes him stupid.
So stupid.
I'm banging my head against a wall right now writing a scene for him.
It's not that I don't love him, I do. Too much so. I don't want to see him fail, but sometimes he does. He has to make those mistakes because it's in his character to do so, but also because it furthers my plot.
(On a side note: keeping up his rude/witty commentary is hard-- after the 'Big Event' this becomes less of an issue, Yay)

Then there is MC Rohan, who started off personality-less. I wrote Finn with such strong personality that she fell by the wayside the first go around. Finn is blunt and states right off the bat who he is, what he wants, and what he's about. Rohan is secretive and sly, and mistrusting, but the further I get into the story--the more I discover about her. Her paranoia has been something I've started sprinkling in here and there. Paranoia is fun.
The one thing that I worry about constantly is whether I'm portraying a strong female character. Physically she is not strong, but mentally-- she is the strongest of them all. That is the point I want to get across, due to the subject matter of AR. Mental strength is of extreme importance.
This is especially evident, after the 'Big Event'. Wherein Rohan transforms--Finn not so much.

Both of my POV characters are flawed, both of them make bad decisions, and both pay consequences. But will both learn from their mistakes? That is something I haven't allowed myself to think about yet. As of this moment I'm putting my characters through hell without any hope of coming out unscathed.

Cue Good song.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

From back seat to TRUNKED

So, the title pretty much explains it all.

I've trunked 'A'.

When it came down to it, I had to face the facts and the facts were in its current state 'A' was not original enough. Sad but true. :( Also I realized that if I am going to publish one day 'A' was not the first book I wanted associated with my name. It didn't represent me as clearly as I would have liked it to.

The way I see it, trunking doesn't mean failure. It means I tried really, really hard at doing something and learned a ton along the way. Which I did. I've learned more in the last month, than I learned all three years of highschool. My lovely Beta's have helped me so much in this area. I admire their bold criticism.

Which leads me to my next point. Beta-ing. I believe the critiquer learns as much as the critiquee, at least it seems that way in my case. When I'm looking for flaws in someones work--I see these same flaws in my own work and make the change. Which is how I came to realize that 'A' wasn't working out.

Still, 'A' was my first attempt at a full length novel and I put a decent three months work into it. So to see it go, was a sad, sad day. But alas, I am mostly an optimist.

Which is why... da... da... da... I have a SHINY NEW thing I've been working on.

It is pretty much 'A' with a massive overhaul. I'm calling it AR for now, and AR is fun to write, simply because it is me, dark, edgy, a little dangerous. Or at least the way I'd like to see myself:)

Cue good song.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

'A' a means to an end?

I have a love/hate relationship with my current WIP. I'm in love with the characters and the general idea of the plot, but I don't think the idea is original enough, in its current state.

A few beta readers have commented that it bears striking similarities to another current hit book series which I shall not mention. This leaves me with two options:

1.     I change up A's opening, dramatically. A few thoughts have been percolating since yesterday, (one particularly grand idea, I had in the bathtub)

2.     I trunk A.

I'd be sad to see it go, honestly. I've worked on it for the better part of the summer. It is my first attempt at Sci-fi, I usually write edgy YA, and I loved every minute of it.

But the bottom line is, I am on a personal deadline. I want to write a book that will one day get published, sooner rather than later. 'A' isn't the only egg in my basket, it's just my favorite.

For now, I'll finish up A--- make the necessary opening change, and then see how I feel about it after a second round of beta's.

Cue good song.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Where has your voice gone?

It's nearing 11, and I have spent most of the day trying to jump back into my MC's head. Or for him to jump in mine. Either or... really.

I've scoured my playlist, looking for a song to relate his emotional state, at present. Which would have worked, if I knew what his emotional state was. His voice is not calling to me, like it usually does. (Blunt and clipped with the added inflection.) Perhaps, because I rotate between two other character POV's?

Even so, he is my MC. Isn't he supposed to be the loudest voice in my head?

I know what I must write in this scene. I know how the scene will end, but I am stuck banging my head against a wall, trying to figure out how to get him from A to B.

I suppose the best I can do, is write. Even if its shit writing. Even if its means to an end... or no means at all. I will write. And then I will look back over it tommorow, after my first cup of English Breakfast tea... and I will laugh and most likely make nice with the delete button.

Two steps forwards... one step back.

MC if you are out there, listening. Stop ignoring me and tell me what you are thinking in minute detail, please and thank you:)

Also, in other news... I have decided to refer to my current project as 'A'. TM has now become the singular 'A'. It does have a title, one I am not completely sold on, at the moment... so 'A' it is for now.

This song usually gets me in MCF's mood.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Its Been Awhile.

I haven't kept up with my blogging, and for that I'm sorry.
No real excuse... other than... life has gotten the best of me, and I'm generally a lazy procrastinating... cow. I prefer the first excuse... so lets stick with that one.

My interests tend to meander... and now with the makeup and modeling phase of my life... clearly behind me. I've found a new love. Ba... ba... ba (cue epic music)...


I've written short stories and poetry... pretty much since I first picked up a crayon... and realized I could make letters with it. (It was a blue crayon... if I remember correctly... not that, that matters).
Besides the grammar segment... high school English was a breeze. My reports, always leaned toward the more fanciful... moral story... approach. The way I saw it, if I were said teacher... I would get tired of reading... pubescent points of view on various life topics, such as describe how you would solve a moral dilemma... blah... blah... blah. I mean, how different could our points of view have been at sixteen. Our life experiences... (for most of us)... were minimal. We weren't robbing the seven eleven... or popping out babies yet. That stuff came later on, but I digress.
I always wrote a story instead of an essay. A story that tackled the topic... in a way that was relate-able, but still interesting. Even teachers get bored of teaching... so I thought I would give them a little break. Hence... the reason I always got an A.

Even earlier... around 12... I was obsessed with writing. Poems mainly. On love and other things, I knew nothing about. Here's one I wrote... around that time.

You said these things take time,
So I watched the pale yellow sun
that faded our painted flowers,
and burnished your skin golden,
warming you from the outside in.
I watched the rain, fall
on your wind-burned red cheeks,
like tears you'd never cry.
I watched the lines deepen and soften,
your once hard stolid face,
and I longed to trace your imperfections
with my finger, to capture them
in my waning memory.
I watched your eyes dull and tire,
and I wondered what you were thinking,
what mysteries existed still,
behind your closed windows.
I watched you live and die,
as we killed time.
But love took too long, and time killed us.

Mind the grammar. I'm still shit with that. I still use made up words... at least my spelling is not atrocious... and I generally use the right there, their... and they're.

ANYWAYS... I feel I have gotten way off track... and lost the point of this post, in all my literary ranting. Although, I do love makeup and clothing... as much as the next girl. It shall no longer take up main residence on my blog. This place will be a place... I post all my rants... and my writing progress. As of right now... (I am supposed to be)... working on TM. The manuscript... or the masterpiece... take it whatever way you will.

I am lucky that my wpm... is off the charts, now if only my brain could work as fast :P

xoxo, Charis (I only sign off like that... because of gossip girl... and Kristen Bell's cute voice... replays in my head... every time.)


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