For today's Got Writing? prompt, I wanted to talk a little about character. When I look at books I've loved and authors I've admired, it's most often because they have created indelible characters. I read a John Green or Sarah Dessen book and I do enjoy the plot, but mostly, it's the joy of becoming attached to these strong, clear, specific characters that keeps me returning to their novels.
Even the television shows I love: Modern Family, Parenthood and Gilmore Girls work because the characters have wonderful identities, motivations and back stories. I've been reexamining one of my Works-in-Progress that wasn't working and going back to the characters. Using Cheryl Klein's book Second Sight, I've been trying to identify my characters' needs, wants, fears, quirks, habits, expressions, etc. It's a great way to strengthen a novel and I find that it's easier to write when I have a better idea of who my characters are.
Keeping character in mind, today's prompt is to take the picture above and think about these girls. Give them names. Throw in some conflict and write a 100 word or so exchange between the two of them.
All entries must be in by Wednesday, March 7 and the winners will be posted on Friday, March 9th.
And don't forget to go back to last Monday's prompt--there is still time to enter.
Stay tuned for a great week here at Got Teen Fiction?, including an interview with author Judith Graves.
Syd rocked it brilliantly in this fine example of 3 part structure!
The prompt was:
Write a short-short or sudden fiction of 250 words or less (not one word longer) that has a beginning, middle, and end. Mark for yourself the number of words in your beginning, your middle, and your end and see if you can use 60, 130, and 60 words per section (25%/50%/25%). Use the number three in the story in some way, shape, or form.
I thought today would be normal when I woke up. But I guess you always start out feeling that way on the worst days. Abby was on the floor playing with the TV on when the man came. There was a knock at the door and I saw the gun in his hand through the smeared glass window pane.
I lifted her off the ground and grabbed both our coats, telling her to be very quiet. I only said it once, but she understood. He rapped at the door but we were already out the back, Abby in my arms. I ran as fast as I could down the block toward the subway station, punching Dad’s number into the emergency phone. I’d never used it before. I felt my throat close and my eyes smart when he didn’t answer. When he’d given me the phone, he said if he ever got a call on it, he would answer. I thought of the man with the gun and choked back tears for Abby’s sake. Once we were on the train, I wondered if I‘d ever see my father again.
“What’s wrong, Piper?” Abby asked. I gave her my best smile and said we were going to see Grandpa. I held her close for hours. Then we got off and walked the familiar blocks to Grandpa’s house. I handed my baby sister to Grandpa when he opened the door.
Devon and his buds had finally found a sweet skate spot behind a random warehouse on the edge of town. "Two hours and not one cop," Devon said. "Yeah," Skunk said. He sucked the last drag off his cigarette and flicked the butt away. "But I'm starting miss Officer Corrigan." "Nothin' like the thrill of the chase," Wes said. Devon set up behind the guard rail for a trick he'd been trying to land even though his hip was screaming from his last crash and burn. He pushed toward the edge, trying to keep his legs relaxed. He pumped harder, picking up more speed. I'm going to nail it this time, he thought. He was in mid air when he heard Skunk's voice. "Oh, crap. Dev!"
Finish this scene in about 100-200 words and email to: firstname.lastname@example.org by February 29th (Leap Year Day) and we'll post the best on March 2nd.
Also, scroll down for a chance to win a signed copy of Hope in Patience by Beth Fehlbaum.
Thanks to everyone who sent in stories revising old fairy tales.
Here's the one we thought was the best this week:
By Andrew P:
A Takeoff on the Three Little Pigs
Once upon a time there were three really BIG wolves. They left to seek their fortune.
The first wolf made his house from bricks.
The second made his from twigs.
The third made his from grass.
Then, a little tick who loved to stick to wolves came and said with a high and tiny voice came to the first house and started to yell "Come out of there now of I'm gonna have to crawl into that house of yours and do things the hard way!" The continued on like this until the high-pitched voice started to annoy him.
When the big wolf opened the door, he heard a little crunch under his feet and then he heard no more of the annoying sound.
After that, the wolves lived happily ever after
And here's another terrific one.
By Dave S:
A Takeoff on Good Night Moon
Sweet Dreams Lunar Sphere
In the big, olive colored area of the house
There was a cellular device
And a scarlet balloon
And an artist’s rendering of--
The bovine leaping over the lunar sphere
And there were a trio of tiny grizzlies relaxing on seats
And a duo of baby cats
And a set of gloves
And a miniature toy domicile
And a youthful rodent
And hair care implements and a bowl filled with oatmeal
And a silent female octogenarian who was murmuring “shush”
Sweet dreams room
Sweet dreams lunar sphere
Sweet dreams bovine leaping over the lunar sphere
Sweet dreams illumination coming from the lamps
And the scarlet balloon
Sweet dreams grizzlies
Sweet dreams seats
Sweet dreams baby cats
And sweet dreams gloves
Sweet dreams time-keeping devices
And sweet dreams cozy footwear
Sweet dreams miniature domicile
And sweet dreams rodent
Sweet dreams hair care items
Sweet dreams nobody
Sweet dreams oatmeal
And sweet dreams to the female octogenarian murmuring “shush”
Sweet dreams fiery balls of gas in the sky
Sweet dreams oxygen
Sweet dreams cacophonous sounds everywhere
Don't forget to scroll back to yesterday's interview with Beth Fehlbaum to meet her and have a chance to win her book Hope In Patience. And go back to Monday's prompt and enter. We'd love to hear your story!
Thank you, Beth, for spending time with us today! And mega thanks for providing a signed copy of Hope in Patience to a lucky winner! (See details below.) Hope in Patience, was named a 2011 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. And just for the record folks, I've read it, reviewed it, and loved it! So let's jump right in!
Is Hope in Patience auto-biographical in any way?
I drew on my experiences as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and as a teacher to write the Patience books: Courage in Patience, Hope in Patience, and Truth in Patience . The protagonist, Ashley Nicole Asher, was sexually abused from the age of 9 to 15, and she has PTSD. I was sexually abused from the age of 8 to 14, and verbally and emotionally abused much longer than that. Like Ashley, I have PTSD. I look at my books and they are distinct individuals, yet they are also like photo albums of my recovery journey. When I wrote Courage in Patience, I never intended to publish it. I had been writing poems and short stories as a way of processing my own rage and grief. I shared them with my therapist and one day he suggested that I try writing a novel. That ended up being Courage in Patience, which documents what happened to Ashley when she was young and her first tenuous steps into not only recovering from what happened to her, but also discovering who she is. Hope in Patience continues Ashley’s story. When I wrote Hope in Patience, I was struggling with the notion of acceptance. Truth in Patience explores Ashley's desire for a normal relationship with a boy--and to think of herself as being just like everybody else-- and the challenges inherent in that when one is recovering from childhood sexual abuse.
In the process of knocking down the walls I had built around myself, I found Ashley Nicole Asher, age 15, and Patience, Texas, a tiny East Texas town populated with people who can be found anywhere, dealing with the same problems that all people must face, whether they want to admit it or not. Through my recovery, I learned the value of truth, and I am committed to being a truth-teller. I respect young adults too much to talk down to them or pretend that life isn’t messy sometimes.
What was the most challenging part/scene to write and why was it so challenging?
In Courage in Patience, the scene when Ashley's stepfather tackles her in her bedroom doorway was very difficult, but it served to desensitize me from my own memories. In Hope in Patience, the scene in Cheryl's hospital room just about ripped my heart out. I was writing it at a time when I was struggling with the notion of acceptance of the situation with my own mom. In Truth in Patience, Ashley remembers being raped. That was pretty hard to get through.
What was your road to publication like?
[Pardon me while I scream......and... I'm back.] Apparently, I'm doing this whole publishing thing backwards. I'll explain: a lot of people struggle for years, trying to find a publisher. I found a publisher for Courage in Patience pretty quickly--within a year of writing it. Courage in Patience released in September, 2008. Problem was, Kunati Books, an independent publisher in Canada, was not all that it seemed to be. The company went under within two years, and I was able to get my rights back. My agent was actually shopping Courage in Patience to a new home, when we found WestSide Books. WestSide was not interested in publishing an already-released novel, so they bought Hope in Patience, which released in October, 2010. Hope in Patience is a 2011 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers! I'm very proud of that accomplishment.
As of July, 2011, WestSide announced that they were for sale, and my agent is currently negotiating for the return of my rights to Hope in Patience. I earned out my advance + a little more so far (YAY!)-- which means that technically, WestSide and I should be "square". And...that's all I can say about that right now.
As of last summer, Truth in Patience, the third (and I believe final) book in the Patience series, was complete. I rewrote/revised Courage in Patience, making it more YA-friendly and in line with the style and tone of Hope in Patience. (I credit my wonderful editor, Evelyn Fazio, with helping me learn a LOT through the revising/editing process of Hope in Patience).
Because the rights to Hope in Patience are currently tied up--and I'd like to place the Patience Trilogy in one publishing house--I am at this point unable to move forward on them. Courage in Patience is still available for sale through used booksellers; Hope in Patience is still available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, indy bookstores, etc.; Truth in Patience is on my computer. Once in awhile, it screams, "Let me out! Let me out!"
I have started writing my fourth book. It's not a Patience book; it's called Icing. It's about a seventeen year old girl with binge eating disorder (something else that is close to my own heart), who bullies a gay classmate nearly to death. I teach full-time during the school year, so I mostly write full-time during the summer. I'm likely having reconstructive surgery on my left foot this summer, so that should give me lots of B.I.C. (Butt In Chair) time to write-write-write!
What advice do you have for teen authors when it comes to writing a novel?
First, make sure, before you decide you have a novel, that you actually have something that you want to read a million times while you edit it. So many times I have kids come up to me who tell me, "I wrote a book!"--and they show me something that's twenty pages long with tons of errors. I teach writing for a living and I cannot state enough times (I had to learn this myself, believe me:)-- don't fall in love with your first draft. Second, write for the love of writing--without worrying about getting it published. That's the first question teens ask me: How do I find an agent? Don't worry about that yet! Focus on developing your craft. Take a class. Check out your local SCBWI group because they probably have authors who will mentor young writers.
What do you do when you get writer’s block?
I close my eyes and ask myself what happens next. What would happen if I allowed anything to happen? Just write what you see happening, without letting fear or self-editing get in your way--just let it flow. That's what I do. Plus I rewrite a lot and solve plot problems by letting my mind relax until the answer just comes to me.
What is the thing that has surprised you most about publication?
Having two publishers go out of business within a very short time has blown my mind. I can't believe I'm in the position of trying to find a new publisher again. I am very hesitant to ever sign again with a small independent publisher! I am hesitant to go it alone, i.e. self-publishing, because I so, so value the teamwork and support provided by publishing houses. On the other hand, I've learned to compare everything I've been through in my life to things that I'm afraid of. When I do that, striking out on my own-- knowing that I'm really good at self-promoting and not afraid to put myself "out there"-- self-publishing doesn't seem so scary. Fingers crossed, though: I'd love to work with a strong, financially stable publisher who will assist me in getting my books into the right hands.
Thank you, Beth, for sharing your incredible story with us.
How to win a signed copy of Hope in Patience courtesy of Beth Fehlbaum. 1. Join this blog. 2. Leave a comment below or email us directly at email@example.com. Type "WIN HOPE" in the subject line. 3. Get one additional chance for each re-post you make about this contest on any social media.
What do you use you write? I often jot my thoughts down with mechanical pencils. I keep a little journal with me for random thoughts, but will also grab any surface I can if something strikes me. For some reason, I love those little pencils.
After that, I typically type. My handwriting is horrible and after all these years, my fingers can keep up with my ideas when they are typing far better than they can when I am scribbling on the page.
No matter what your method is, just do it. And keep dreaming!
And don't forget to scroll down to Monday's post and do some writing for this week's prompt!
In yogic philosophy the number three has great power. It represents beginnings, middles, and endings, just as in Hinduism Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the preserver, and Shiva is the destroyer.
An old writer's maxim is that all stories need to have a beginning, middle, and end, even if their demarcations are subtle. Syd Field, author of Screenplay, says all screenplays should follow a three act structure with Act I getting your character into trouble (the first 30 minutes), Act II making the trouble much worse (the next 60 minutes), and Act III resolving it (the last 30 minutes).
There's something about the number three that speaks to storytelling.
If you've read a story that doesn't resolve you know there is something missing, just as if the beginning is wrong what comes after doesn't work, or if nothing happens in the middle it will make you put the work down.
This three-part structure can work for you whether you write sudden fiction, a full length novel, a song, or a play.
Writing prompt: Here's my challenge for you today. Write a short-short or sudden fiction of 250 words or less (not one word longer) that has a beginning, middle, and end. Mark for yourself the number of words in your beginning, your middle, and your end and see if you can use 60, 130, and 60 words per section (25%/50%/25%). Use the number three in the story in some way, shape, or form.
We'll take entries through the 23rd, and put up the best on Friday February 24. - Joe Lunievicz
Thanks for all the fabulous entries, writers! by, gelatin, fox, fair, remits, pi, rev, go, swag, zoom, hi, unites, is, owe, diet, lure, la, tapes, boot, shine, pan, quack, fig, rode, fire, gore, cue, vex, hi, zit, to, ego, eyed, lat, moods, nap, belt, injures, soaks
OUR TOP PICK WITH 12 WORDS:
Alex kicked his boot against the leg of his desk. Math class was endless on an ordinary day, but today was dragging on especially slowly. And try as he might, pi looked like nothing but nonsensical garbage as he stared at the equations scrawled on his paper. He tried to focus on math as he eyed the back of Angie’s head. But she sat right in front of him, adding to his torture and making it impossible for him to focus. He had loved her since the beginning, with such a fire that it hurt sometimes. He’d been wanting to go up and say hi to her for months, ever since they started in the same math class, but she had a mega popular boyfriend with an ego the size of a small planet and a certain swag that Alex couldn’t hope to compete with. Still, a voice inside his head told him that he did owe it to himself to talk to her. Tell her that he wouldn't do all the awful things to Angie that her boyfriend did. It was true, too. Angie would never have to go on a single diet for Alex. He thought she was perfect just the way she was. He won the argument with himself and reached out a hand to tap Angie on the shoulder when, as if on cue, the bell rang. Angie and all the students packed up their things, but Alex was frozen in place with embarrassment. Things just weren't fair for boys like Alex. BY SYD CORDERO
"Hey Lawrence!" said Justin. Lawrence was one of his best friends, and he hasn't seen him for weeks because he was really sick and was stuck in his house, but he finally got better. He lost some weight. He probably went on thatdiethe was talking about for a few years now. "How are you feeling, man?" asked Justin. "Fine, I guess," replied Lawrence. "You readyto go to school, and that $50 you owe me for that video game filled with blood and gore?" "You still bugging me for that? It was like, 5 years ago." "More like 5 weeks ago, but who's counting?" "Hey, look! It's a fox!" Justin turned around and saw that there was no fox, and turned around again only to see that Lawrence had gone off running. "That's not fair!" yelled Justin.
One day I saw a fox the color of fire. He was this orangish and reddish color. But, this isn’t why he looked so strange. His fur has such shine as if he put gelatin in it to make his fur look nicer. He looked as if he was trying to impress a lady fox. He also looked even stranger with the bright green boots that he had on. I was trying to figure out what a fox with shiny fur and bright green boots was doing. I asked this very fox where he was heading to. Of course I thought I was silly talking to a fox. In the snow that he was walking through, he wrote 3.14. I thought to myself, 3.14 isn’t that pi in math? I was now really wondering if this was a dream or was I just going crazy? In that very moment I woke up…
BY BLANKA K.
Stop by next week for an interview with Beth Fehlbaum, author of Hope in Patience and a chance to win a copy of her novel. In the mean time, Beth is running a contest of her own which ends on February 14th. Click on the link below.
“First drafts are for learning what your novel is about. The first draft of a book is the most uncertain--where you need guts and the ability to accept the imperfect until it is better.” --Bernard Malamud
I'm not one to outline or plot out everything in advance, though I do like having some sense of where I'm going. It's those unexpected twists and turns I take with my characters that make the first draft so thrilling. And if I hit a dead end? I just reprogram my writer's GPS during revisions.
There are two days left to enter to win Cheryl Rainfield's new novel, Hunted! Scroll down and leave a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
One of my daughter’s friends came to me the other day with a problem. The 4000 word essay she had written was found to be 12% plagiarized. Her first reaction was that it must be the literary quotes she used, but the teacher told her that Turnitin.com found that she had plagiarized another student’s work. The other student turned out to be her.
So how can it be plagiarism when you are using a paper you have previously written? I did a little internet searching to understand the problem better. It seems that much of the concern in centered on academic articles and journal publications. The understanding when reading these articles is that what is being published is new information and some people feel it is fraud to use your previously published work and present it as new.
Another concern is that of college professors, who object to a student using a paper previously written for another class for a paper they have assigned. Part of me agrees with this and understands the rationale but part of me feels like if a student has done the research and already written a paper that answers the question assigned, why not use it again?
My daughter’s friend’s situation was somewhere in between these two possibilities. She had used parts of a paper she had written two years earlier to answer a bigger, different question. The research was very relevant to her topic and she thought it made sense not to recreate the wheel. And when she told me about it as she was writing, I thought it was very logical—why not use the research she had already done?
Her advisors told her she needed to change the words enough so that they would not appear to be plagiarized. She could not use parts of her original paper, even if she credited it to herself. With a little creativity, she was able to do this.
I still don’t think this is plagiarism. Shouldn’t we have the right to use our thoughts and ideas again?
What do you think?
Writing prompt: Take the 1st few paragraphs of a fairy tale or other familiar story and try to tell the same tale, using entirely different words. Send it to us at email@example.com by Wednesday, February 15th (my birthday!) and we will publish the best ones on Friday, February 17th.
Well, we said we weren't going to call them "winners." We received lots of terrific entries, but these were the four that really stood out. We are happy to present them here.
Don't forget to go back to Monday's post for this week's prompt. We've already gotten some terrific stories and can't wait to read more.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Here's the prompt:
Raife clicked his blade open behind his thigh. He trembled but held the slim blade tight. His father walked towards him slowly, his hands balling into fists, his lips curling up into a smile.
Not this time, Raife thought. Not this time.
With an upward swing he pushed the blade deep into his father’s – groin.
From: Charles DeMoss This will make him stop, Raife thought. After all, Patches was never the same after being neutered.
His father grunted and collapsed in a heap onto the floor. Blood began to stain his jeans, slowly seeping into the once white carpet. His mother would be furious if she saw the state of the carpet, but she had died years ago. Her death was what started everything: the beatings, the days without food, and the thing that his father did to him which he was never supposed to talk about. Well, that all has come to an end.
Not knowing what to do next, Raife lay down and decided to figure it out in the morning.
From Matthew McNish:
Raife the Red Raife clicked his blade open behind his thigh. He trembled but held the slim blade tight. His father walked towards him slowly, his hands balling into fists, his lips curling up into a smile. Not this time, Raife thought. Not this time. With an upward swing he pushed the blade deep into his father’s hand, then pulled back, making several defensive slashes, hoping, praying he could ward the beating off. But his father’s hands were stone. When his rage rolled vaporous from the bottom of an empty bottle, he felt no pain—not even a deep gash from a cheap switch-blade. Raife stumbled backward, fell over his untied shoelaces, and crashed onto the hard linoleum, his tail-bone jarring up his spine to snap his teeth together. His father listed forward—the air thick with spirits and the scent of blood. His hands opened, grasped Raife’s neck, and painted a red necklace around his throat.
With an upward swing he pushed the blade deep into his father’s almost completely exposed stomach. It was enough to get away, enough to run away. He had wished and wished for it to be over, but he could not bring himself to do it. He had to run away his hatred and pain. Raife looked back only for a split second. His father was gripping the red spot on his shirt and grimacing widely.
With an upward swing, he pushed the blade deep into his father's chest, allowing warm blood to spurt out over his hand, soaking the blade and dripping onto the floor with hollow, echoing noises. The noises were accentuated by the hollow, choking noises his father made just before falling to the ground, gasping like a fish before finally expiring at Raife’s feet.
In the corner, his sister slowly stood up, walking over to Raife and putting her hand gently on her shoulder.
“Is it over?” her voice was soft.
“Yes,” he told her, turning around and gently brushing her hair away from her bruised face. “It’s all over, now. We’re finally safe.”
"The easiest thing to do on earth is not write." - William Goldman, author, screenwriter, playwright
Seriously. This is so true. Anyone can not write. It is as easy as breathing.
Once you put pen to paper, though, you become part of an exclusive club - one that's hard to enter, harder to stay in, but has many, many benefits - one of which is, if you are also lucky, occasional publication.