Aug 25, 2011

The snick

I recently read Laini Taylor's Lips Touch: Three Times, and I have to say, it's one of the most beautiful books I've read in ages. Beautiful in two ways. First of all, the design of the book is simply gorgeous, with a cool design, red and black text elements, great fonts, and amazing illustrations. And then there is her writing. I would be lying if I said I weren't horribly, gut-wrenchingly jealous. She is really, really good.

At any rate, I went onto her blog and discovered that she'd compiled a series of essays about writing on a separate blog. There is some great advice in there. One of my favorite pieces is about "the snick."

The snick

How I love the snick. It’s the sound and feeling of a puzzle piece fitting into place. You know what I mean: you instantly feel the rightness of it, the ease. When you’re forcing a piece, you know it. You feel it. It’s awkward, you have to work too hard to make it fit. Pay attention to those feelings. Never settle for a piece that doesn’t fit, even if it almost does. Keep brainstorming. Demand “the snick” every time, to every question. You know when you’re reading a book and you feel the presence of the author all of a sudden, you feel them trying to make something happen in the story. As soon as you feel that, you know they goofed -- they gave up too easily and tried to force something in plot or character, something that feels wrong, awkward. You can feel their fingers pushing and pushing that puzzle piece. You don’t want that.

I love that somebody came up with a term to describe this wonderful, elusive feeling. And her advice about it is spot-on. I think I may have a bit of a girl crush.

Aug 21, 2011

Pointers from a goblin

Labyrinth is one of my all-time favorite childhood movies. It occurs to me that there are some good writing tips in there.

Sometimes I find myself writing stuff like this:
"Goblin king, goblin king, wherever you may be, take this child of mine far away from me!"

When the magic words are much simpler:
"I wish the goblins would take you away."

"Where'd she learn that rubbish? It doesn't even start with 'I wish.'"
I'm thinking that goblin could make an excellent writing coach.

Aug 18, 2011


So I "finished" the first draft. I went through it once after that and did some fiddling, but I felt like I wasn't able to really get at the meat of things, for whatever reason. So I decided to put it away for two weeks and come back to it with fresh eyes.

I'm on day three, and it's been surprisingly tough. I've been working on this little file of mine for eight months now, pretty much every single day. I feel slightly addicted to the thing. A few times I've felt compelled to write little pieces, and I've allowed myself to write them down, but NOT in the manuscript itself. I've got a couple of documents going with ideas, questions for myself, and loose ends that I need to wrap up, mostly fiddly little things. I've also done some freewrites that resulted in some cool new plot ideas for the second book in the series (if there ever is a first one).

Every day so far I've had more to add to my lists of ideas and questions, and I'm hoping I'll get a wave of inspiration at some point soon. Because I think something big has to change before I'll be completely satisified with this manuscript. I just don't quite know what yet.

It feels good to shut off the manic, push-push-push side of me that is helpful in lots of ways but not so good for thoughtful revision. But it sure feels weird. We'll see how it all goes.

Aug 3, 2011

When the soundtrack doesn't fit

I've almost always got a song stuck in my head. Most of the time, it is not a good one. Obnoxious pop songs, cheesy TV ads, you get the idea. Yesterday, it was the theme song from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. My book is about nightmares and has some rather dark themes. You can imagine how well that fit.

"I follow him in. The floor slopes downward, and the tunnel becomes gradually smaller until Jared has to duck and the top of my hair is brushing the damp ceiling . . . (Oh. You. Pretty Chitty Bang Bang, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, we love you)

Um, guys, can you please turn it down in there? Ahem, where was I?

"Water drips onto my hair, my face, down the back of my neck, and everything is clammy and cold. It feels like the walls are breathing in, sucking closer . . . (And. In. Chitty Bang Bang, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, what we'll do)

Grrrrr, metaphorical fingers in ears.

"I crouch down and rest my chin on my knees. Every ounce of me wants to turn and run straight out of here. I just need to breathe."

I give up. I'll just write a damn flying car into the book.