writing – thegrammariansreviews.com

What did I miss? {8/5 – 8/12}

Aug
12

6 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Memes, What did I miss?

What did I miss? is a feature here at The Grammarian’s Reviews showcasing weekly updates and highlights from both here and other bloggers. So let’s get on with the recap!

Midway Musings {1} — A new feature to highlight my thoughts midway through my current reads.

How to prep for a read-a-thon — I think this title speaks for itself.

A writing dilemma — How I feel about writing.

Whip it Up Mondays — homemade veggie burgers.

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I feel like the blogosphere got sucked into a vacuum without me knowing. Seriously. Where is everybody?

This week was horrible, as far as blogging goes. Barely read any posts, barely commented, barely tweeted, barely ANYTHING-ed. Likewise, there was barely any traffic coming through. I felt like I was a newbie blogger again, trying to get people to come check out my site. It was a bit….discouraging. It still is. These sorts of weeks are the toughest to get through.

In other news, I’m pretending school doesn’t exist and summer vacation doesn’t end.

Get your objectivity out of my reviews — Amanda discusses the differences between objectivity and subjectivity in reviewing.

What makes a good comment? — Anne talks about how commenting isn’t always easy.

Travel Tales — Elena lists the five places she’d like to visit in the world of Harry Potter.

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A writing dilemma.

Aug
07

16 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion

Right now I’m procrastinating on my writing for Camp NaNo. But right now I’m also writing this post, so it evens out.

Writing is a tricky, tricky thing.

In fact, I have a love/hate relationship with writing.

I love that writing is freeing, giving, senseless, overwhelming, strategic, careful, careless, spontaneous, a jumbled mess of emotions and utterly contradicting.

I hate that writing is constricting, strenuous, overwhelming, planned, stressful, toying, and – you guessed it – contradicting.

But writer or no writer, you already know all this.

The biggest issue I have with writing is the fear that comes along with it (or even the lack thereof). Most times when I write, I write for me. I’m a personal writer; I rarely ever share my work with others, unless it’s shared with trusted individuals or forced for a class. Sometimes I think this shouldn’t make sense, because by day I’m also a blogger, and blogging is writing. I share my writing with all of you, with the entirety of the internet, on a daily basis. So why is it that I don’t want to share what doesn’t make it onto the site, my creative writing?

The answer is simple: fear.

But it’s not the fear you might think. As a writer, I’m not afraid of rejection or harsh critiques. As a writer, I’m afraid of the impacts my stories will have on readers (re: again, lack thereof), of their uniqueness (or rather, commonality), of their skill level. Of course, some writing is always meant to be private and for your eyes only. But there’s always writing that’s meant (or intended) to be shared. But I have the hardest time sharing it. I fear a void of reaction. Of course, this is a lose-lose situation. If I don’t show anyone my work, then naturally there will be a void of reaction. And yet I find myself still stuck in this loop.

The hardest part of this for me is knowing that I’m not following my own mantra, my own advice and cause:

I am a writing consultant. Students come to me for any and all writing-related issues. And I take pride in being a writing consultant, for being the one to tell you that you don’t need to be afraid of writing because it’s always going to be there for you, it’s always going to be what you make of it – it’s your words, your style, your voice. Writing is all about you.

(Although this happens almost all of the time) I was once told by someone that they hate writing. They hate writing papers, they hate keeping journals, they hate creating stories, they just hate writing. Period. I asked them why, and they told me it was because they knew they weren’t good at it, because they didn’t want to be told they weren’t good at it. I told them they didn’t hate writing, they were afraid of writing. Then I told them not to be afraid, because every time you write, you get a little better. You still may not enjoy it, and it may not be the thing for you, but you won’t have to be afraid. There’s nothing to be afraid of if you know you’re doing your best writing, if you’re doing the kind of writing you want to do. You don’t have to love it or like it.

I think back to that moment every time I feel the fear. I like to think it helps me get one step closer. After all, writing’s all about discovering and journeying.

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Writing and Reading: a discussion.

Apr
11

5 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized

“Good” versus “Bad,” Making and Breaking Stories, and Workshops

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – what makes and breaks a story, for me.  Between blogging, engaging in literature-based discussions in my classes, and going through the Hell known as the writers’ workshop, well, it’s easy for me to begin thinking and then talking about these kinds of things.

Just earlier tonight I had a discussion with a friend about the misconception writers and readers may have about “good” and “bad” stories and “good” and “bad” writing. Both my friend and I feel that there are clear distinctions between the two. For instance, just because I don’t like the Hunger Games, it doesn’t mean I think it’s a “bad” book, or “bad” writing. I don’t like the Hunger Games because I have issues with the characters, dialogue and some plot points. Meaning, I have issue with how the story is conveyed to me, not its literal make-up.

In a workshop setting, I think this sometimes becomes misconstrued, or a little too black-and-white. In my workshop experiences, if the other writers did not like a particular piece, they dubbed it “bad” writing, or equated it to not being able to write well. But I don’t think this is always the case. To be a writer, you must also be a storyteller. And I think sometimes the roles of storyteller and writer become blurred together, though I feel that they’re separate. I think you can have a great story to tell, but, at the same time, be unable to convey it well. Likewise, I think you can construct a very eloquent piece of work, but have it lacking in its actual content, or story. Because of this, I don’t think you can simply label a book “good” or “bad.” There are too many factors – most of them based upon opinion.

When it comes down to it, what makes and breaks a story for me are the characters. If there’s any disconnect between me and the characters in a story (presumably a majority of them, depending on how many are involved), I begin to lack the will to continue reading. I want the character to be a person to me – as real as they can be, whether they’re admirable or despicable. If they simply seem like a cookie cutter (without that being their intention), or uninteresting (again, without that being their intention), then I don’t see the point in me learning about them.

Going along with that, I also place importance on dialogue. The characters may appear to be as real as real can get, but if a disbelieving or ridiculous or lacking or cliched line of dialogue is tied to them, I start to become wary. They can’t just seem real; I need them to sound real as well. What they’re saying has to matter to me, on some level. If it doesn’t, then I know I’m not very emotionally invested, and possibly even interested, in the story.

Characters are what hold my attention – they’re what I cling to when I read. This unfortunately means they can both make or break it for me.

What about you? What makes or breaks a story for you? How do you view “good” versus “bad” writing? What have your workshop experiences been like?

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Drawing the line between MG & YA.

Mar
17

5 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized •

Remember when I was fortunate enough to attend the AWP Conference in DC? Well, while I was there I attended a very interesting panel discussing the differences between MG and YA fiction.  The panelists tried to break it down very simply because the lines tend to blur between the two. Best example? Harry Potter. Technically Rowling’s series is categorized under MG literature, despite its dark and mature themes, and teenage characters.  So why? Where do people draw the line?

ROMANCE.
The big numero uno.

Romance seems to be key for reeling in new readers. If you can develop a believable or swoon worthy relationship between one, two, even three characters, people go crazy and crave more. Granted, this is so long as the romance isn’t haphazardly slapped into the story. (We don’t like that!)

But can there be romance in MG literature? Technically, yes. But to what degree? In Harry Potter, there’s nothing more than hugging and kissing. Not only is sex off limits, but it seems that making out is, too. And even a kiss can make some people wary of the MG/YA distinction.

Is it just one kiss? What kind of kiss? A peck? A first kiss?

There are variables that alter the meaning of the kiss, and they can plunge the story into either category. Of course, others think that romance should stay far away from MG literature altogether.

But what about in YA literature? These days romance is almost always the focus – but to what degree? Speak, Twenty Boy Summer, The Duff, etc. introduce mature, sexual relations. Others merely skim the surface of romance, never going beyond the memorable make-out sessions or hinting at the fact that sex occurred at some point in time. So what’s the difference? The meaning behind the actions or the details of the actions?

AGE.
Numero dos.

For some people – myself included – the age of the characters matters. I relate best to people in my age group, or at least in the general range.  I’m not in high school, but I can still enjoy reading YA literature set in the 9th-12th grades. But middle school? Kids below the age of sixteen, fifteen, fourteen? Not so much. There’s a distance there.

But what set of ages can be labeled purely MG or YA? Again, with Harry Potter, the journey begins at eleven years old. You think, Yeah, definitely MG because no eleven-year-old is considered a young adult. But then you follow those characters for seven years, up until they’re roughly eighteen years of age.

If you set out to write a MG novel, should your character then not start out as a teenager? But how young should they be? What about for a YA novel? Is there a cut-off? What’s considered too young or too old?

SETTING.
Numero tres.

Middle school or high school? Pretty self-explanatory. Where do the characters go to school? Of which do they belong? It seems the difference is that there is less likely to be rebellious or mature themes in a middle school setting. The drinking, partying and drugs are kept for the YA/high school crowd. The MG readers get bullies, dying pets and sibling rivalry instead.
In this way, the setting influences what happens within the story, which can then define it as MG or YA.
But what about college? Is it an acceptable setting for a YA novel? Most stories are set right on the cuff – the in between period of Senior year at high school and Freshman year at college.  Is setting the story in college pushing the boundary? College kids are teenagers too, you know.
Romance, Age, and Setting are the big three, confusing factors.
Can you think of any others?
What do you think about any of the three, and do you have problems distinguishing your own writing as MG or YA?

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How do you do it?

Feb
21

4 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized •

Have you ever been in that awful writing slump where you just can’t find the words for, well, anything? Whether it’s a simple description of a swirled lollipop or a mere “Hello!” exchanged between your characters? Or even just a name – that one character you just can’t place, and without their identity, your story can’t progress?

Or, hey, even something less complicated – like writing a blog post?

But then there’s hope! You’re working part-time, going to school, going to the gym, hanging out with friends, making sure to catch the latest GLEE episode, and suddenly it hits you: the words you’ve been looking for! But how are you going to get them down without forgetting? And why did they have to show up now, when you’re incredibly busy and can’t give them the attention they deserve?

Oh, but surely you can do it! Look at J.K. Rowling, who wrote bits of Harry Potter on napkins. If she can do it, so can you! But you don’t have any napkins. So you’ll have to improvise. You don’t have a pen, either. You’ve got your bag and your white chocolate mocha latte, and you’re on the move.

And then another thing hits you: your phone! Of course, you can use your phone to store your inspiration! You text furiously, going going going, while everyone around you asks if you’re writing a novel to someone. Why yes, you are. In fact, that is exactly what you’re doing. You are writing a novel and sending it to yourself. You hit send and suddenly you’re relieved. You didn’t lose it. You found the words and you didn’t lose them.

However, the next time you sit down to write, you either forget about having texted such brilliant work to yourself, or it’s no longer useful to you and you’ve moved on. It’s a major catch-22.

To make a long story short, this is what typically happens to me. Sometimes I wish I didn’t prefer typing over handwriting, so I’d be more motivated to carry a notebook around with me to store ideas. But no, I use my phone. I have racked up around thirty six texts to myself, including various ideas for names, plots, and even small snippets of poetry – all of which I never incorporate in whatever story I may be working on at the time.

But what about you? How do you get the words out? Do you use your phone? Or do you carry that nifty little notebook (but then how do you carry that delicious latte?)?

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