Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Learning the Craft of Writing


I was contemplating my NaNoWriMo efforts of the past 3 years and what I have planned this year and it struck me that although I’ve ‘writing’ since childhood, have had things ‘published’ over the years and now make this a full-time endeavor, I still know so little about the craft of writing.


That’s really what writing is all about—learning the craft. And that is what takes so long—because you must practice and read other examples of good writing from which to role model.

I’ve been doing a lot of both lately. I’ve read several really awesome YA books, like The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch (amazing writing)  and, of course, any of Cassandra Clare’s books. I’m currently rereading Divergent by Veronica Roth and Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke.

All of this reading slapped me in the face with how these authors handled many of the obvious mistakes my own work contains and why I haven’t been pleased with any of it. But recognizing this fact and fixing it are two different issues.
When I wrote Odessa and several of the others in my two early series, I just sat down and let the story pour out of me then said, “Done.” But as I reread these books I’m disappointed in myself for the lackluster writing and poor flow. Does that mean I could write it any better now? Maybe somewhat better, but not as well as I’d like, yet.

So I went shopping on Amazon and found several books on craft that have made a WORLD of difference in my thought process and organizing the ideas I had but couldn’t get together. These books were: Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland and Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks.

What does all of this have to do with NaNo? I spent last month plotting and planning, revising characters and plotline for the manuscript I’ve struggled with over for the past 3 NaNos. And I must say, I’m excited to get started writing. I like this plot and character much better and I think I may have nailed it. We’ll see by the end of the month.

I also decided to start over with a brand new manuscript, rather than trying to piece the old with the new like a worn-out quilt.

Here’s the premise for Sunshine Colony:2525

In the year 2525 the world has collapsed and rebuilt itself into linked, self-governed villages called Colonies. 13-year-old Rayna Darwin was born into Seaside Village, Sunshine Colony the usual way--for those times. But her circumstances were far from usual--a red-haired twin was the most taboo birth possible. Her twin sold to Slavers and birth mother exiled, Rayna was rescued and given away to be raised in the Underground Black Market by loving Barren parents who dyed her hair brown and hid her true identity. She played with other kids when their parents came to shop, fell in love with one of them and never knew danger. That is, until a woman so jealous of Rayna's mother's good fortune and loving life she could no longer control herself turned Rayna over to the Peacers. Taken away to live with the other 12-20 year old girls in the government-run population control center called the Gestortium, Rayna's life takes a turn for the dangerous when she is recognized by a sadistic previous playmate who is so jealous of Rayna's loving home and life she formulates a plan to kill her. After all, she's done it before...     
                           
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Since writing this posting I have begun writing and am about 7 chapters into the new story. I read the opening chapter to my college-aged son and his highschool girlfriend—both picky readers…They were impressed and wanted to know the rest of the story. SUCCESS! Now to keep up that level of tension.


Rebecca Ryals Russell, a fourth-generation Floridian, was born in Gainesville, grew up in Ft Lauderdale then lived in Orlando and Jacksonville with her Irish husband and four children. Due to the sudden death of Rebecca's mother, they moved to Wellborn, near Lake City, to care for her father, moving into his Victorian home built in 1909. After teaching Middle Graders for fourteen years she retired and began writing the story idea which had been brewing for thirty years.  Within six months she wrote the first three books of each series, YA Seraphym Wars and MG Stardust Warriors. The world she created has generated numerous other story ideas including two current works in progress, SageBorn Chronicles based on various mythologies of the world and aimed at the lower Middle Grade reader and Saving Innocence, another MG series set on Dracwald and involving dragons and Majikals. She is finishing a YA Dystopian Romance which has been a NaNoWriMo project for three years. She loves reading YA Fantasy, Horror and Sci Fi as well as watching movies.  Read more about Rebecca and her WIPs as well as how to buy books in her various series at http://rryalsrussell.com  You may email her at vigorios7@gmail.com

3 comments:

  1. Rebecca, the story has me hooked already. Do remember me when you're looking for a beta reader.

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  2. We never stop learning our craft Rebecca. Your story sounds intriguing and I'm sure your NaNiNoMo process will benefit from your studies.

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  3. Wow, your story does sound intriguing! Happy writing! Learning new things is what I love about writing, and we never stop.

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