“Inverted” Genres

My daughter visited us from Utah and we watched a great anime together (she’s big on anime, and I like them from time to time). She picked a good one; Petema Inverted by Yasuhiro Yoshiura. I went into it totally blind, I had no idea what to expect, and the whole time I was trying to figure out where this one fit in. Was it sci-fi? Coming of Age YA? Fantasy with who knows what types of weirdness that the Japanese like to throw at you sometimes? Would horrible monsters come in to kill everyone the cute little girl loved?
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We were both thinking sci-fi as there was mechanical things and modern like buildings, also they talked about how “their scientists tried to harness the energy of gravity itself” leading towards a sci-fi theme. We had a running theory that they were really on a space colony and that there was no actual planet at all. That the people had all forgotten this and somehow messed up the anti-grav. However (and I won’t spoiler anyone here) the ending just kind of threw that whole theory out the window!!

 
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After watching it, like any good item of art, it left me thinking about it for days. (See… I’m still thinking about it!) So off to the net I go and find that it is listed as a fantasy! Which got me thinking about a post I read on genres and the cleaver mixing of them that goes on in the creative minds of authors in all mediums.

 
A book series I have loved for a long time, which also confused me on genre, is Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern. I started with Dragonflight and assumed, because of the dragons, that it was a fantasy. I read that one, and the next one Dragonquest still believing this was a fantasy series even though it said sci-fi right on the spine. I already knew that people had a tendency to lump sci-fi, fantasy, and horror all together for some reason. It wasn’t till The White Dragon that I conceded that, ok, this was a sci-fi, and pretty much gave up the argument when Dragonsdawn came out. However, I still think of these books as crossover books, ones that blur the lines of genre and mix them together.

 
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Another long and winding series that likes to throw genre to the wind is Terry Brooks’ Shannara Series. I have not read them all, but they are favorites of my husband so I know much about them. There’s nothing like walking through a wonderful fantasy world with elves and magic only to stumble upon a modern world wreck! Your brain goes “WHAAAAAAAT?” and your heart gets all thumpy because….. if there can be magic in a modern world….. then perhaps there is magic here right now!!! Which of course is what every true fantasy buff dreams about!

 
Another all-time favorite of mine is the late, great Andre Norton and her Witchworld series. OH what I wouldn’t give to find one of her GATES!!!!
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Often I have wondered why people have such trouble with genre; if there’s magic its fantasy, if there’s science its sci-fi, if there’s monsters its horror, until I wrote my first novel and realized I have no clue what genre it should be in! It can certainly be thrown in Young Adult, as the main character is a teen, but even I don’t know the root cause of her main woe, so how am I to know where to put it? The more I think about the possibilities the more I don’t want to decide!

“Genres are defined by their themes and how they present the narrative. What, ultimately, is the goal of the book? What is the message being conveyed? What is it the book is trying to achieve? THIS is how you define genre, not whether or not your protagonist is a half-fairy/half-dragon whose best friend is a robot that is reincarnated from an ancient shaman.”
~ Writing Clinic: Defining Genre by Julie Ann Daws

Is that how these other authors ended up with such confusing genres? Or did they mix them on purpose? We authors often start a story with ‘what if’ and we readers often say ‘yeah and?’ so there is a clear market for crossovers. Figuring out what genre a book or movie belongs in is really a moot point anyway. The true power lies in the story and the execution of that story. Yet as humans we constantly want to know where things lie in the scheme of things it seems, so we keep trying to fit that star into the square hole when no star holes present themselves.

 
• If you’re an author, do you write crossovers? On purpose or on accident?
• If you’re a reader of crossovers, do you like them? Seek them out on purpose? Or are you a genre purist?

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Totally Totally TRUE!

I just have to repost this awesome illustration! Soooo true!

SOOOO TRUE!

 

 

 

 

 

I found this little gem from Google+ Writing Resources group. The post is about how to avoid cliches and it is also totally true, but the illustration is what killed me. I have felt each and every ONE of those, only I would add another one right at the top left: “I love this!”

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terribleminds

In my pursuit of a better novel, I have often played The Google Game and searched out questions. Like: “writing tips for horror” and “how to write a novel synopsis” and “proper formatting of dialog” and the latest “how to show point of view changes in a novel”. Some of these searches were more productive and others, and usually take up a good chunk of my time reading through all the possibles. At the best of times I have hit on some really good writing resources through these random searches. One of these is the blog of Chuck Wendig; terribleminds. Chuck is a novelist, screenwriter, and game designer. He also has an awesome, quirky sense of humor I find refreshing after reading several webpages full of dry advice for wanabe writers such as myself. And…. AND… his information is on point and sincere.

Some of the posts I have so far found informative and gratifying are:

I have yet to buy one of his books. This will change. My next ‘how to’ book will most definitely be one of his! In the meantime I will be working my way through his bog. You should be too!

My kind of ‘how to’ book!

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Question…

Is it vain to say that you LOVE your own story? Wrong to think that your own novel is just the best thing to grace a page? (Especially as it hasn’t yet become a ‘page’?) Every time I go through a section to rewrite, make a change, or just refresh my memory on what it is I’m writing about; I fall in love with it again.

I think I’ve managed to change my ‘romance part’ into something closer to romantic and farther from cheese ball. Been working out inconsistencies like what someone was wearing, or what a place was called. Getting all the details in like place names and minor character names… All of which takes time and isn’t all that fun. Yet it keeps reminding me why I started writing this in the first place.

This person in my head, this character and her world…. I want it to come alive in all its horror and grace. And I want other people to read it and GET what it is I SAW.

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Tabeth

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Poet AND Writer?

April is National Poetry Month, which got me thinking about how I started out (way back in 6th grade!) writing poetry. That was a tough year for me and poetry really started speaking to me. My teacher encouraged us to write poetry and so I started writing for myself. It was always the short poems, or pieces of poems that I clung to, so that is what I wrote.

For example I loved Phyllis McGinley’s poem “A Choice of Weapons” being an angsty teen at the time.

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Sticks and stones are hard on bones.

Aimed with angry art.

Words can sting like anything

But silence breaks the Heart.

 

 

 

Yet I was still young , idealistic, and loved nature so I wrote:

Like a whisper,

The Wind

Lightly blows through the forest.

Are you listening?

 

I always thought of myself as ‘a poet’ never as ‘a writer’ until I kind of fell into novel writing around 2001. As my first book poured out of me I was shocked! I had played around with writing short stories but never even gave a thought to writing novels!

So here I am a poet, working on another novel that I would really like to publish, and wondering if anyone else out there does both. Are there other writers that also write poetry?

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Night Kisses

NPM

National Poetry Month!

 

Today I would like to share a poem I wrote back in 1998.

 

Revised a bit today.

 

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Night Kisses

 

 

Things always seem….. crisper

        at night

darkness more

        poignant

Light more

        sharp

 

Shadows of the day have

        shifted

dwelling awhile in the

        surreal

moonlight plays upon the leaf

        as sunlight never dreamt to do!

revealing details the day

        misses

hiding faults the day

        condemns

 

Shedding the sun

        night takes control

painting the world with

        mystery

seeking the point

        unrevealed

molding the mundane

        into cast silver treasures.

~Maria Rich

Moonlight image thanks to: http://www.thelensflare.com/members/donwrob.html

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National Poetry Month!

NPM

In honor of National Poetry Month I thought I would share more of my own poetry and perhaps some of my favorites.

I would love any responses to my poems, and suggestions for poets both old and new that you think I should check out!

The Walt Whitman poem they use on their poster reminds me of one of my favorites that I memorized as a young teen by John Greenleaf Whittier, only it was just the one stanza. I never saw the whole poem, and wouldn’t have liked it nearly as much if I had! Loving nature as I do, this stanza was all I needed:

 

“Behold in the bloom of the apples

And the violets in the sward

A hint of the old, lost beauty

Of the Garden of the Lord!”

(from: The Minister’s Daughter)

It is also very fitting for this time of year!

http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/41

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Where the main character IS the evil one!

I have been trying to spice up Tabeth some more by developing the characters in more depth and I came to realize that my main character, Tabeth herself, is also the main ‘evil’ in the book! What is your main character’s conflict? She is in conflict with her own evil nature. What is your main character’s flaw? Her vampire nature. Who is the protagonist? Tabeth Who is the antagonist? Tabeth!

So how do you make an evil, wicked, creepy character likable and work as a main character?

I found an interesting article on Writer’s Digest that has helped me figure this out and I would like to share.

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“Create Your Own Bad Guys and Sleazy Protagonists” which is from a larger book Bullies, Bastards & Bitches by Jessica Page Morrel.

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/create-your-own-bad-guys-and-sleazy-protagonists

I intend to get this book as soon as I can, but for now, I have this great article. In the article Jessica says, “Sometimes unlikeable protagonists have redeeming qualities mixed in with their negative qualities, which makes them enormously complex.” This is what I decided I wanted to go for with Tabeth, because while she has this evil side and definitely has evil moments where she is being creatively cruel and liking it, she also has this more human side which doesn’t want to kill innocents and falls for this very human man, making her vulnerable in all sorts of ways!

So how to do that convincingly? Jessica goes on to say how sometimes unlikeable characters are understandable or redeemable, and how no matter what we make them become they must be compelling. If you make your evilly traited character redeemable, they must have at least one positive trait. In doing a character sketch I have already decided that Tabeth has a few positive traits; one she doesn’t want to be a killer and so tries to kill only ‘bad guys’, two she finds herself capable of love and wants very much to believe in the hope that represents to her. The third positive trait is a bit more elusive, and I haven’t really put my finger on it yet, it is her drive to learn, to discover, to become something more than just this hungry animal she finds herself being.  

Is that enough to make her work as an evil protagonist who is also a main character? We shall see….

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Post Holiday Blues

Wrapping up the Christmas treetree07

 

boxing up the tinsel

 

all the pretty paper

 

splattered with turkey dinner

 

overflowing trash buckets

 

overflowing counter

 

filled with all the shinny things

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that fail to lighten shadows

 

tipping scales with candies

 

pitching bank with negatives

 

sigh’s of ‘glad it’s over’

 

ringing joyous season

 

~Maria Rich

 

2014 (EDIT I typed 13!!! lol its 14 now!)

Just a quick poem to ring in the new year, off the seat of my pants as it were.

Happy New Year

 

 

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Rewriting techniques

Last time I was talking about my rewrites I was looking into totally outlining my book due to timeline issues that had cropped up. Well that proved more than my lazy @ss was willing to do, so instead I use an old fashioned pen and paper to make a basic timeline. Then i went through the whole document and put in notes for *day one * night two and so forth. This was enough to get the problems fixed, but then I was seeing that it had become choppy… So…

This time I decided to break the whole book down into separate documents, one for Tabeth’s point of view, one for Kris’ point of view, and one for the main detective; Sarah. I figured that if I could read one point of view all the way through and not be totally lost, I had a winner. So, with the exception of the detective who is only a secondary character, I am now working on filling the gaps so that the story moves completely through both sets of eyes. Some things are obviously lost this way, but thats the point of having two perspectives right? One person doesn’t know what the other is doing, but the reader gets both sides. I figure this will give a lot more depth to the ‘scenes’ where they are both together as well.

The Plan is, after I get them together, separately, i can put them BACK together into a single document with a much better flow through. Sure I will have to get rid of anything that is too repetitive, but at least this way I will get two complete perspectives instead of a choppy ‘jerky cam’ story.

What do you think? Has anyone else tried this approach with a dual perspective story? Do you think it will work?

dramamine

 

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