WSY: The Big Battle

Okay, so I don’t really know if this is a big battle for anyone else, but it’s been a long-held question in my mind:

What do I love more: writing or reading?

Now, I can easily say that my love of reading led to my love of writing. But which do I love more?

I was thinking about this the other night, and I decided–at least currently–that I love reading more. But by a very very very narrow margin.

And if I were forced to choose only one that I could do for the rest of my life, it would be reading. Because as much fun as creating worlds and characters is, reading other people’s creations is a bit more fun. And it’s easier. Way easier. AND, I would never stop making up stories and people in my mind, I just wouldn’t write them down.

Hah! Take that imaginary-mean-person-who-made-me-choose-between-my-two-loves!!!

And then the other question is which do I love more: music or literature. And that is something I doubt I’ll ever be able to answer.

So, Readers! What Say Ye? Reading or Writing?


What Say Ye: Fear

This edition of What Say Ye? has two parts!

First, what makes you afraid to write? I had a dream one night that some dude had an awesome idea for a book, but never wrote it because he was afraid he wouldn’t do justice to the story.* Which got me to thinking once I woke up–that is probably a major source of fear for writers. The other, I think, is just sucking in general. For me it’s a little bit of both. What about you?

Part two: what are you more afraid of, revisions or first drafts? Once again, it’s a toss-up for me. First drafts are scary because HOLYCRAPIT’SABLANKPAGESLASHSCREEN! But there’s also the knowledge that it’s going to be a first draft, so, by Anne Lamott’s rules, it will be cruddy. So that’s a freeing thought.

Then, with revisions you have something to work with and it’s fun to see things coming together, but it’s also scary because NOWITHASTOBEGOODORATLEASTIMPROVED!! And that’s intimidating. So, both are scary and also not scary for me.**

I took a poll with my Facebook writer friends and most said first drafts were scarier to them. So … what say ye? Eh? Ehhhhh?


*Yeah, my dreams are legit weird. Sometimes I’m not in them. Sometimes I’m someone else. Sometimes I change identities throughout the course of the dream. Sometimes I’m a man. Sometimes I’m a ham sandwich. Okay, not yet. But that would be awesome.

**Confused yet? Good.

What Say Ye?: In Your Face!

We had an interesting conversation in my book club a few months ago. The topic was characters’ appearances and how much each of us as readers envision the characters in our mind when we read. The responses ranged from very detailed and realistic, to a body with the character’s name in place of their head.

For me, I like enough detail about a character that I can envision them, but I don’t need every single detail given to me. With that much detail, I’m going to miss something. However, I don’t mind if there’s too many details given, rather than not enough. I really do “see” the characters in mind’s eye( and what not), and want to have some idea of what they look like. Unlike last topic with details/texture, I don’t mind “random” bits about how a character looks, because to me those are necessary for me to get the most out of my reading experience.

In my own writing, I try to follow that same idea. Just enough detail so the reader knows what the character looks like, but leave a little to the imagination (’cause I’m a tease like that). However, in RED SKY, there’s a point where the protag describes Graham, her best friend, in great detail:

His arm curls around my shoulders and pulls me closer. I can smell the traces of spearmint gum on his breath. I look at his perfect nose, his thin lips, unattached earlobes, high cheekbones. Everything but those disconcerting, clear eyes.

I did this on purpose: to show how well Audrey knows his face, and to show how closely she’s inspecting him right now (which fits with the scene).

Something else I try to do with every character I describe is include something unique about their appearance. This advice came from my professor, Marlin Barton, and I’ve really latched onto it. If a character looks interesting, then I’ll be more likely to flesh them out and make them three-dimensional, no matter how small the character. This isn’t something I can do in the first draft–heaven knows FRACTURED RADIANCE is littered with flat minor chars right now–but it’s more a job for revisions. My next prof, the fabulous Leslie Pietrzyk, even made the comment (without knowing Bart’s advice to me) that even my bit characters were vivid and lively.

So what about you? What kind of details of a char’s appearance do you like to read? Do you need a complete play-by-play, from hair length to the grooming level of his nails, or would you rather have a blank slate, so your mind can play?

What Say Ye?: Details

New post series! Woohoo!

In my What Say Ye? Series I’m going to ask you, my wonderful readers, a question. Because I’m very curious. I’ll post the question, then give my own thoughts, then you post your thoughts in the comments and we’ll have a great dialogue! Doesn’t that sound so civil and enlightening??

So this week’s (meh, we’ll see if this is a weekly thing) question: How do you feel about little details? Obviously, we all want some of them. But how much do you like when reading? Do you put that amount in your own writing?

Per examplo (that’s a language, right?), I read a book last year in which the author threw in all sorts of little details. The color of a vegetable peeler, for example. Or exactly what a friend’s make-up looked like. I’m all for details, because they make writing richer, fuller. They give the story texture, and it’s great. But it needs to serve a purpose. I really don’t care what color someone’s vegetable peeler is. This book I read had LOTS of random details along those lines, to the point that they distracted me.

But here’s the thing about vegetable peelers. If someone doesn’t have a vegetable peeler, that could tell me something about them. They don’t cook much, they can only afford the basics for cooking, they don’t eat many vegetables. Now we’re getting somewhere. Every bit of writing in your book should serve some kind of purpose, and the best serve multiple (character development, plot movement, etc.). Texture not only enriches the world of the story for the reader, but tells the reader something. So I’m all for that kind of texture–reading it and writing it. But if I keep hearing what color random objects around the house are, I’m going to get annoyed.

Related to this is the discussion of character appearances, but I think that can be split into its own post. And also, it gives me one more post idea. ^_^

So! What level of detail do you like to read/write? Are they the same?