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Posts tagged ‘North Carolina Young Adult novelist’

Where My Ideas For Novels Come From, by Beth Revis

Probably one of the most asked questions I have at events is, “where do your ideas come from?”

Honestly? I don’t know.

The ideas for my novels tend to come from a wide variety of places – but mostly a combination of real-life oddities and excellent books and movies.

Really, I guess the answer is: my inspiration tends to come from two words. The two most important words to a writer: “What if?”

I was recently at a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum. There are several of these across America. I happened to be in the one in San Antonio. It was filled with lots of weird, true-life things. Every single thing in that museum has a story. When I can’t get to a wacky museum like Ripley’s, I tend to search online – Cracked.com and io9.com are both good places to go for weird-but-true stories. Wikipedia can sometimes also give me the fun info I need, even when I’m not actively searching for a new idea to write, I go to these places and websites and cram as much knowledge into my brain as possible – you never know when you can use a random tidbit or detail to make an existing story better. In my latest novel, Shades of Earth, I used info from my elementary school history class as a reference.

Another great place to go for inspiration is books. I read the types of books I want to write. Not every author agrees with this idea, but I live by it. Do you want to write fantasy? Read fantasy. Do you want to write romance? Read romance. When you read something you love, think about why you love it. You shouldn’t emulate it. You should find the heart of what you like. If you read something you don’t like, think of what would make it better. One of my best short stories happened because I didn’t like the end of a book I’d read – so I rewrote a story that did what I would have done in the ending.

There is no one source of inspiration. A writer doesn’t just turn the inspiration on and off. Instead, constantly seek inspiration. Find out as much as you can about everything that interests you. Stories arise from a fertile mind, nurtured with real life.

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Beth Revis’s author website: www.bethrevis.com

Beth Revis’s bio page

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Across the UniverseA Million Suns (Across the Universe)Shades of Earth: An Across the Universe Novel (Across the Universe)    The Night She DisappearedSparkRikers HighTracks

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

Using Movies And TV As Inspiration For Novels, by Beth Revis

I love movies. Unreservedly. I think movies are a great place to look for inspiration, particularly when you’re writing for teens. Teen literature needs dynamic characters (i.e. characters who change) and a fast-paced plot – two of the main ingredients that work for movies.

When I find myself knocking on the door of inspiration, there are a few movies and TV shows that I tend to go straight to.

Firefly/Serenity

I owe this television series-turned-movie by Joss Whedon so much. It has everything: changing characters, snappy dialogue and a tight plot that is perfectly structured. Honestly? We probably can’t be friends if you don’t like Firefly.

Doctor Who

This is a great show to go to for ideas. Seriously. It has so. freaking. much. in it that you’ll definitely be able to come up with some of your own ideas just by watching it. In the average Doctor Who episode, there are about ten more plot twists than are needed – take one of those and develop a whole story from it.

Veronica Mars

Dialogue. Dialogue. When you need to make your characters sound right, watch an episode of Veronica Mars. Runners-up: Gossip Girl and Tangled.

How To Train Your Dragon

This animated movie might be easily overlooked, but don’t. It’s brilliant. I love how smart the whole story is, from showing the growing relationships (as opposed to telling), developing character growth and just telling a great story. You need to see this one.

Becoming Jane

I feel obliged to include a James McAvoy title. This is a great one to remind you that you shouldn’t make everything perfect in your story. Don’t be afraid to show that happily ever after don’t always happen. Runner-up: Roman Holiday.

Penelope

Here’s another James McAvoy title, just for you! I love this one for sheer delight but, as a writer, I also appreciate the world building here. You have a character, Penelope, whose life and world are directly connected in a very real way. When you need to make something odd fit into your story, look at how Penelope did it. Runner-up: Shrek.

What are some of your favorites? What do you learn and discover from movies?

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Beth Revis’s author website: www.bethrevis.com

Beth Revis’s bio page

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United States (and beyond)

   

United Kingdom (and beyond)

   

Australia (and beyond)

Across the UniverseA Million Suns (Across the Universe)Shades of Earth: An Across the Universe Novel (Across the Universe)    Code Name VerityWinter TownKeeping CornerTarzan: The Greystoke Legacy

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

Bringing English 101 To Your Novel, by Beth Revis

I love finding meaning in literature. It’s like a puzzle for me – piecing together the symbolic clues the writer has left in the text. My favorite classes in high school and college were the literature interpretation ones.

That said, a lot of times people hate those classes. Some people hate all those literary devices and all that analysis (I don’t know why!).

The thing is, a lot of those things we learned the definitions of in English 101 are really essential to a story. Some of it’s vital and some of it contributes to what I call the re-readability factor, when readers only see the depth of that part of the story on a second read-through of the novel.

Here are some of my favorite literary devices to read and write:

Foreshadow: This one is so easy. I fall into the Kurt Vonnegut camp. Something from the first chapter should reflect the rest of the story. More than that, you should think about making it work for the whole series if you are writing a series. Consider JK Rowling: minor mentions in early books have huge importance in later ones (polyjuice potion, anyone?).

Symbolism: Do not place too much emphasis on this. Nothing kills a story like heavy-handed symbolism. The story is the most important thing here. A few subtle details and symbols can really help make a story important. Think about the movie The Sixth Sense: the color red was subtle, but tipped the viewer into a whole new understanding.

Homage/Easter Eggs: This is my favorite thing to add to a story: little nods and details to other books or movies. They don’t change the story but they can make a reader sit up a little straighter when they notice. For example, in my novel Across The Universe, Amy is frozen in cryogenic chamber #42: a nod to Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

Circular Structure: Essentially, circular structure is when the story comes full circle. JRR Tolkein did this in The Hobbit - Bilbo starts the novel at the hobbit village and ends the novel there. Of course the characters changed – but there’s a parallel, circular aspect to the story. When thinking of your own novel – particularly if it’s a series – see if you can use circular structure to bring the reader back to the beginning.

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Beth Revis’s author website: www.bethrevis.com

Beth Revis’s bio page

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United States (and beyond)

   

United Kingdom (and beyond)

   

Australia (and beyond)

Across the UniverseA Million Suns (Across the Universe)Shades of Earth: An Across the Universe Novel (Across the Universe)    The Night She DisappearedBlack Storm Comin'GenesisHurricane Song

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

In Praise Of Copy Editors: Masters Of Accuracy, by Monika Schroder

After the final revision when author and editor have shaped a manuscript into its final form and before it goes to the printer, copy editors comb through the text check spelling, word choice, syntax, accuracy and the logic of the text.

My novel My Brother’s Shadow is set in 1918 Berlin and the turbulent events at the end of World War I are woven into the story. For my research I read primary and secondary resources and kept a timeline to make sure that the dates and descriptions of actual historical events mentioned in the story are correct. I sent that timeline together with a list of primary resources to the copy editors. They checked my sources thoroughly and sent me follow-up questions about several quotes. For example, did my translation of an excerpt of Kaiser Wilhelm’s speech given at the beginning of the war in the spring of 1914 conform with the original? The copy editors also made sure that the dates mentioned in the text were correct. If a newspaper boy calls out a headline regarding the resignation of General Ludendorff a copy editor checked whether the date of such a headline was in fact October 27, 1918.

Copy editors also pay attention to logical sequence and consistency in the description of setting. For example, if two characters begin their conversation at a particular place and there is no mention of them moving, they cannot be talking in another location on the next page without an explanation of how they got there. This seems obvious yet, while revising, an author might cut a sentence with this information and forget to add it later. In this case the copy editor might add this note on the margins of the manuscript: “Moritz and Aaron’s chat has been taking place outside the print shop, per p. 136. How is it that they are now (on p. 137) at Aaron’s desk?”

The copy editor also makes sure that the weather stays the same within a scene and that if the character walks up four flights of stairs to visit his aunt in chapter one, that same apartment still needs to be on the same floor if mentioned again later in the book.

Punctuation rules in English differ from those in my native German. Over time I have learned more about where to correctly place a comma or a semicolon, yet I am grateful that copy editors help me to bring consistency to punctuation usage throughout my manuscript. They also know when a word needs to be hyphenated and make sure I am consistent in using contractions in dialogue. And, I am embarrassed to admit, in My Brother’s Shadow I was overcome by an overuse of exclamation marks, but with the gentle help of the copy editor we weeded most of them out.

Finally, copy editors make suggestions for word choice. When writing a book of historical fiction I try to use a style and vocabulary that suits the era. But in spite of my own efforts to employ authentic word choice there are always a few mistakes that only come to light thanks to the diligence of the copy editors.

Early on in the story I mentioned that Moritz meets a journalist from the newsroom. The copy editor checked Webster’s dictionary and noted the word ‘newsroom’ was not in common use until 1929. So if my book takes place in 1918 I should hardly use a word that was not used at the time. This was also true for a scene with a German shepherd that I finally changed to a nondescript ‘dog’ since the copy editor noted that this breed was only officially named in 1926.

Copy editors must surely be patient and just a bit wise. I am sure that they often shake their heads at mistakes we writers make. These people who work through a manuscript with such thorough attention to detail have my full admiration. It is thanks to them that a clean and accurate manuscript finds its way to the printer.

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Monika Schroder’s author website: www.monikaschroeder.com

Monika Schroder’s bio page

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United States (and beyond)

    

United Kingdom (and beyond)

    

Australia (and beyond)

The Dog in the WoodMy Brother's ShadowSaraswati's Way     Code Name VerityAuslanderThe Night She DisappearedAugust

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

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