Friday, March 30, 2012

Listening for POV in real life

Like most of you, I have a day job (although technically it's a night job). I work as a telephone counselor and my background is in social work. Oddly enough, I have learned a lot about point-of-view (POV) in college and on the job. People of different ages, circumstances, socio-economic status, regions, etc. relate to the world differently. As a counselor, you should "meet the client where they are" and design an intervention that makes sense from their POV.

Since I've been writing actively, I've been listening for it. I am especially excited when I get to work with teens (aka YA characters). I pay attention to how they speak and relate to me to hone my skills in the teen POV. As a telephone counselor, I get a unique "dialogue only" perspective, which is more like writing. I can't judge them by how they look, it's all in what they say and how they say it.

So what have I learned?

I have learned that teenagers don't have a secret language that we somehow forgot when we turned eighteen. They are younger versions of us and for the most part, talk and relate the same way older people do. I know...shocking, right? I'm not trying to downplay the importance of making sure that your character's POV matches their age. And there are plenty of differences between teens and adults (I certainly know that I think about things differently than I did when I was 16). But you don't have to over think it.

Although I haven't found any glaring differences in the speech of teens and adults, I have noticed glaring differences in the speech of people in general. Yes...all the characters of the world. Their speech can't easily be classified by age, race, or really anything else (except maybe regional accents) - their differences are due more to the infinite variety of people in general. There are a lot of universal concerns people share, but the way they express their concerns can vary greatly. That's the POV lesson I've learned. Each character in your book should have a unique voice that matches them as a character, with their age being a secondary concern.

I sometimes feel that YA writers overdo the teen "voice", and I wonder if it's because they are focusing too much on sounding like a sixteen year old and not enough on sounding like their character. I believe you should find the POV of your character first and then simply make sure that your POV matches teenage version of that character.

What have you learned about writing from your day job?  If the answer is could you learn from it?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I'm a quarterfinalist for the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 

First of all, yay! I was thrilled to learn today that my young adult novel, THE CHARGE, was selected as a quarterfinalist for the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. So now it's up on Amazon for public rating and review. Yikes! I thought only published writers had to deal with that, and they get the self-esteem boost of being published. :)

So, I would be very happy if you would read my excerpt here and submit a rating and review. Bonus friendship points if you also post the link on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter account.

Special thanks to my beta readers and critique partners for The Charge (aka Stormland)!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

March 2012 Contests & Critique Opportunities - Part II

I'm back from a lovely Spring Break with my family. If you're just returning from a pleasant computer vacation as well, get caught up with the latest contests!

Public Slushpile from Miss Snark - Post your query for people to give you a "yes" or "no" as to whether they are interested. Enter 3/19 from 1-9pm EST and winners will be chosen by lottery.

The Bittersweet Blog Giveaway - Enter to win a 50 page critique of your novel. No genre restrictions. Through 3/23.

Skip The Slush Contest - Send your query letter and first 10 pages to author Ryann Kerekes. If she likes it, she'll give you a personal recommendation to her agents at Literary Counsel. All genres. Through 3/24.

First Line Contest from The Bright Literary Agency - Post your first line in comments for a chance to win a critique by an agent. For picture/chapter books only. Through 3/24.

Seekerville SPEEDBO 2012 - A 31-day challenge to complete your book. If you enter, you'll be entered in giveaways for lots of great critique opportunities. All genres. Upcoming giveaways on 3/24 and 3/31.

Elizabeth Briggs Giveaway - Enter to win a "get ready to query" critique package from author Elizabeth Briggs. No genre restrictions. Through 3/26.

Cassandra Marshall Free Edit Giveaway - You can enter to win a full substantial edit of a YA/MG novel from Cassandra plus other great prizes. Through 3/26. BONUS - You can enter this contest right here using the form below.

March Critique Giveaway from Marcia Hoehne - Enter in comments to randomly win a first 1000 words critique of your chapter book, MG, or YA. Through 3/28.

Let me know if I missed anything, I'm a little tired from a LONG drive with plenty of lovely traffic.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lucky 7 Meme & Sunshine Award

I haven't posted in a while and I have some tags to catch up on! First, thank you to Jade Hart of Dream, Write, Publish for the lovely Sunshine Award. Here are the questions:

Favorite color: Red
Favorite animal: Cat
Favorite number: 4
Favorite non-alcoholic drink: Iced Coffee
Facebook or Twitter: Facebook...I'm not even on Twitter. Shame on me.
My passion: Writing, of course. Oh, and my husband.
Getting or giving presents: I'll say giving, although I do love getting presents too. It's close. :) But today was my son's 2nd birthday party and we got him a plastic slide for the backyard. He must have gone down it 200 times.
Favorite pattern: That's a weird one. I have no idea. I'm not a fan of patterns really. I prefer solid colors.
Favorite day of the week: Friday
Favorite flower: Rose


And....thank you to Tracey Joseph and my critique partner Gwen for tagging me in the Lucky 7 Meme.

The rules:

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines - sentences or paragraphs - and post them as they're written. No cheating
4. Tag 7 authors
5. Let them know

It's such a fun idea. I remember when I wrote a book when I was 15, I would ask my mom to say a random page number and I'd read it to her. I was lucky, mine is at least coherent by itself. Here is the 77-7-7 from Destruction.

“I think she’s lying,” Amanda said.
David weighed her words like she did with the paperweight. “What do you mean?”
“Or perhaps, she is mistaken,” she amended.
“How could she be mistaken?”
“Crystal Carr,” Amanda said. It was so odd to hear Amanda say her name. Especially…like that. She slung her name at him like it was a decisive point that could end any argument.

Here are my 7 Sunshine Award and Lucky 7 Tag Recipients:

 Thank you all for being awesome! Stay tuned for the next installment of March contests!