Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Latest Readings

For my yr 12 English and Literature classes, I had to do a little bit of reading over the past school holidays.

First of all, English. We read The Crucible by Arthur Miller. The play was interesting, and some quotes really stood out to me. I'd already seen a movie-version of the play a couple of years ago and had a better understanding of some of the action in the play because of that. We were given 80 comprehension questions and told to do 60 before we came back to school. I may have overdone my homework and done the extra 20. Why not? I had the book there in front of me, and I was reading it. We watched the movie in class this week, and it was interesting to see how the play was adapted into a different medium. The task for studying The Crucible is a context response (just like when I read The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif by Najaf Mazari earlier this year), so we have also been learning about the real events in Salem during the witch trials in 1692. It's been pretty interesting. I'm not too keen on context responses, but I'll kick butt and get an awesome grade because I want to. 

In Literature, we were told to read after the quake, a series of short stories by Haruki Murakami, set after the Kobe earthquake in 1995. Oh my God. I LOVE them. They are strange. They are weird and they are different and he manages to bring some element of sex into all six short stories, but he does a damn good job of it! I LOVED reading them and I am eager now to read even more of his work. I've been going around randomly saying "Super-Frog Saves Tokyo", the name of my favourite short story. It has been interesting to do a bit of research and draw parallels between the author and the actual even of the Kobe earthquake and how he's incorporated both himself and those events into his stories. Brilliant read. *Please note that the title was intended to be written without capitals by the author. 

Has anybody read either of these books? Or something else by Haruki Murakami? 

- Bonnee.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Article Published: The Golden Vanguard

A co-founder of The Golden Vanguard, a news and entertainment online publication, contacted me last week asking if I would be interested in writing articles for their website. Now, I'm not overly keen on the journalistic side of the writing world, but I felt it would be a great opportunity for me to get involved and do something. So Matt Gannon and I had a little chat and I agreed to give writing articles a shot.

I was sitting there after agreeing to this new adventure, thinking. What the heck do I write an article about? What's interesting? What's quirky? What's fun? And I was thinking about it for a long time. I had a few scraps of an idea and then the next day, sitting on the couch with my laptop, warm sunlight pouring through the window... and I felt happy, sitting there. 

Hmm, I thought. Does sunlight actually have mental health benefits? 

I did a bit of research and sure enough... sunlight really does make people happy! I wrote an article about it and sent it in for consideration. I am proud to say that the article got through and is now published on The Golden Vanguard's website. Go and check it out

- Bonnee. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Amateur Shortcomings

So apparently it's pretty hard to come up with something really original to write about, but people saving magic trees has made the list, according to Aaron. While the idea for Evergreen seems to be promising, it looks like I've got a hell of a lot of work cut out for myself if I want to make this one work.

Yesterday, I took some time to read through the prologue, and I decided to make it the first chapter. I wrote an extra 500 words, and changed about 1000 others, bringing the total to just over 2500. A lot is about to change. I'm going to further develop my characters and my world and see what I can salvage from what I've already written. Looking over it, I'll agree with Aaron when he says the way I've written it seems amateurish. I started writing it when I was 14, so I guess that's not a total surprise. Aaron had already read some of my more resent work, and in comparison, what he's read of Evergreen isn't what he's come to expect from me. I need to change that. 

I also need to bring some more consistency to the tone of the narrative. Writing fantasy... it's either Lord of the Rings or Chronicles of Narnia. Yes, there is a middle-ground, but Aaron has pointed out that I tend to be going from one extreme to another. The overall tone seems to be more Narnia. I want to aim for more of a middle-ground, though if all else fails, then my own personal flavour of Narnia it shall be. But consistency is necessary. 

Slow and steady wins the race. It's makeover time for Evergreen. This might take awhile. Wish me luck!

- Bonnee.

Friday, July 13, 2012

And Edit I Shall

This is me being being an editor for my mate, Micah.
This is an excerpt from his WIP, Klown.
Click to enlarge. 
For those who read my previous blogpost and/or might be wondering, Bonnee, why don't you just start querying already? I'd just like to explain myself here.

Yes, I said a month or so ago that I would be querying by now, and starting to get serious about my next WIP, Katherine. But the bottom line is that Evergreen is not ready for an agent or a publisher to see. If you read my last blogpost, let me say this now: The Hero's Journey steps are only part of what I need to fix. Aaron is the first person to read Evergreen and bring this much helpful criticism to the table for me, and knowing him the way I do, I respect every word he is saying because I know he reads great fantasy novels and he is good at analyzing things like this. If he sees shortcomings, weak points, potholes and so on, then all he needs to do is point them out and I can see them too.

I'm sorry to be prattling on about Evergreen for so long on this blog. I'd really love to move on with my writing, but Evergreen is my first child, and I need to get it walking and toilet trained before I can send it to preschool... if you'll pardon the analogy.

It took Patrick Rothfuss fourteen years to get his first novel The Name of the Wind published, and he became a bestselling author. He overstepped his deadline for the sequel The Wise Man's Fear by several years in order to make it awesome too.

Edit I must, and edit I shall. How long have you all been working on your current manuscript? 

- Bonnee.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Writing: The Hero's Journey

My boyfriend has been reading Evergreen: A Fallen Star and has given me some constructive criticism. Yeah, Shaun was a great proofreader, but he didn't offer any advice on the story itself, which is what Aaron is now doing. We spent at least an hour on Monday talking about my writing, and especially Evergreen.

Allow me to share an AWESOME link he found for me, and something he's known about for a long while: the Hero's Journey. This is a sort of guidelines to writing, and it's perfectly applicable to Evergreen. We have agreed that not all steps are completely necessary, and you could probably mix the order up a bit, but overall, these are some good rules for a writer to follow.

I've evaluated Evergreen using this list and there are some things I'd now like to change, add, fix and omit. I suggest reading the explanation of the steps before reading any further. I found some of the titles a little misleading, or very focused on certain aspects of the definition.

Call to Adventure. Definitely there, but I need to think about where the pinpoint is.

Refusal of the Call. Oh my God, where is it? I NEED to fix this! How utterly STUPID of me!

Supernatural Aid. Got it. But she needs more merit and depth. I'll work on it.

The Crossing of the Threshold. It's there. I'm not sure if I'm satisfied with it or not, but I've got it, and I'll see what I can do to work on it.

The Belly of the Whale. Got it. Perhaps it needs a little bit more depth though. We'll see what I can do!

The Road of Trials. Heck yes! Though I'll admit now, it seems I've used something rather cliche in there, and apparently there were a few unclear moments of happenings... by my own evaluation, I'd like to go into more depth in how it tests my protagonists individually, in their heads. Something for me to work on, but at least it's there.

The Meeting with the Goddess. I don't really think it's there, though I'm not sure it's necessary for Evergreen. This is one of the steps that Aaron and I think is okay for me to miss at this point. Either that or I've severely misinterpreted what it means. Well, fingers crossed, and perhaps I'll evaluate this situation again soon.

Woman as the Temptress. I think I may kind of have it sort of somewhere in there. But I'm not 100% satisfied with it by any means, if it is really there. I need to give my protagonists a reason to want to quit half way. Which I'm pretty sure I have. What I REALLY need is to SHOW that they want to quit half way, which I feel I haven't done.

Atonement with the Father. I am actually quite lost in putting this one against what I have of Evergreen. There is something that I think could pass off as this, but I'm really uncertain. Something I will have to discuss further with Aaron.

Apotheosis. I have it for certain. This is one of the parts that I'm ALMOST completely happy with. And I shall say no more on it.

The Ultimate Boon. Yes, yes, yes. This is also a part that I'm reasonably happy with. Though I do believe there is still room for improvement.

Refusal of the Return. Does a moment's hesitation for a reason I will not mention for fear of spoiling way too much count? If not, I don't think it is quite necessary in Evergreen.

The Magic Flight. Yes, I have this. I think the order here has been swapped with the Refusal of the Return though. Do anyone think it matters significantly?

Rescue from Without. Yes. BUT. I'm honestly thinking of scrapping what I've got on it. The idea I had seems too childish, too stupid, too far-fetched. I need to know WHY I have it in my story, and to be perfectly honest, and although I am ashamed to admit, I'm not so sure that I do. So unless I can figure out a reason why and adapt it, it will be changed. This step IS necessary, and so there is no way I can just cut it. But I need to fix it at the very least. I am NOT happy.

The Crossing of the Return Threshold. Yes, but I'd like to give it a major face-lift.

Master of the Two Worlds. I'm not entirely sure if or how I've applied this step to Evergreen, but there's a nagging voice in the back of my head saying, "Bonnee, you need that step!" So I'll be looking into this one again later.

Freedom to Live. Yes, I have my happily ever after there for you all to read when it's perfect and published in 1000 years when I've finally accepted that any more revising will kill me. Or IS it a happily ever after, hmm?

As you can see, I've already got some major editing to do and so my plans to send out queries very soon has gone down the drain. Aaron has been very helpful and given other pointers too, which I intend to look in to. I'll share some of those another time. I know it's bad to get stuck in the process of redrafting over and over again, but truth be told, this is the closest thing to any real criticism I've had, and some of the other blogs I'm reading are advising to get that second pair of eyes on your manuscript before querying. But that's a whole blogpost  in itself*, so I'll leave it at that!

When writing, do you follow any steps like the Hero's Journey? How might you compare what you have in your manuscript to the steps of the Hero's Journey? 

- Bonnee.

* Question me on my decision to continue editing instead of querying when I make a blogpost about it. I'd like to keep comments for this post focused on the Hero's Journey if I could. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Fabulous Blog Ribbon Award

I was awarded the Fabulous Blog Ribbon Award by Alyssa. She's a pretty cool kid who loves figure skating, reading and baking things.

In order to accept this award you have to:

1. Post the rules on your blog.
2. Name five of your most fabulous moments either in real life or in the blogosphere.
3. Name five things you love.
4. Name five things you hate.
5. Pass the ribbon on to five other bloggers.


Five most fabulous moments:
1. Finishing my first draft of Evergreen in October 2009 at just over 80,000 words.
2. Entering a state-wide Indonesian competition in 2007 and coming 2nd in my division.
3. Unit 3 drama performance with my 2011 drama class, All That Glitters is not Gold, which we wrote and performed ourselves. It was amazing.
4. Completing my read of the novel Emma by Jane Austen and realizing that I'd never have to read anything so horrible for school-purposes ever again. Everything else I'm studying in both English and Literature are easy in comparison.
5. The various moments when people have asked me to write something for them, and liked the end product.

Five things I love:
1. Writing (duh!)
2. My mates.
3. The smell of fresh air.
4. The contrast between the country and the city, especially when it only takes a couple of hours to switch between the two scenes.
5. Jellyfish. I really want a pet jellyfish.

Five things I hate:
1. Spiders.
2. The dumb-arses in society who can't handle someone having a different opinion to them and insist on shoving their own views down the throats of those who differ.
3. The idiots who don't understand that inserted headphones means DON'T TALK TO ME, I'M LISTENING TO MUSIC!
4. Justin Bieber. Did you know: apparently he is responsible for an outbreak in lazy-eye, because people started wearing their hair like his and it got in their eyes?
5. Holiday homework.

Five people I'm passing this award on to:
1. Giora
2. running4him
3. JeffO
4. Mark Koopmans
5. IT'S A TIE between Fiona and Rick because I love you both and couldn't choose between you.

You guys are the people who follow me best, and whom I try to follow in return. All have my respect and love.

- Bonnee  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Know Why in Your Writing

My boyfriend started reading Evergreen last night and messaged me asking why the setting was called the Middle Kingdom. The question caught me off guard because it had been so long since I'd thought of why. But I did know the answer, luckily. I would have been quite disappointed in myself if I hadn't.

For those of you who hadn't caught on, Evergreen is set in an alternative universe which is heavily based on eastern Asian cultures, particularly Chinese and Japanese. My mum was always a huge fan of foreign movies, and so as a child I watched many subtitled movies on the SBS with her. In many of the Chinese movies, China was referred to as the Middle Kingdom.

In 2009, the year I began writing Evergreen, I left Australia for the first time in my life and went to China for 10 days. I didn't get to see anything beyond Shanghai, no thanks to a certain swine-flu pandemic and the infected boy who sat next to me on the plane over. But just the fact that I was there, in a place that my imaginary world was inspired by, was enough to keep me going. I will go back to China one day and see all of the things I missed out on. We were supposed to go to Xian and Beijing before we came home.

Photo taken from observation deck (94th floor?) of the Shanghai World Financial Center.

This morning when I opened my laptop, I clicked into Google and decided to find some wiki-proof that China has been known as the Middle Kingdom. I was surprised to find that Egypt and India had also adopted similar ideas as countries. But here is the article I found about China which explained the situation best.

Moral of the story: Make sure you know your own reasons behind putting something in your writing. I'm glad I did.

- Bonnee.

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