Shifting Gears: Choosing Your Next WIP





So you've finally finished drafting your beloved WIP, and you're moving on to editing. Now it's time to take that next step: deciding what to draft next. If you're like me, you have plot bunnies everywhere – it's almost impossible to choose just one. But if you're going to crack down and get to work, you'll have to do just that.


The best way to do that is to examine the pros and cons of each of your options. To list-land we go!




  1. The Sequel


You absolutely fell in love with your last WIP, and you can't bear to tear yourself away from your darlings. You want to continue their story in this next installment of your sure-to-be-blockbuster series. Your CPs are begging for more, and to be honest, you are too. You miss your beloved characters dearly and you don't want to forget their lovely faces.


PROS: It's easy. You don't have to bother with new MCs and supporting characters are a little easier to develop. Plus, you've already established a world and rules, so that saves you time. Writing this universe comes naturally to you. You won't have to fight for words, so NaNo is almost a sure bet!


CONS: If you want to publish Novel 1, this isn't a good idea. (Cap explained this to me a couple days ago, when I had a crisis of this sort.) You need to polish up that WIP and get it sold before you can start work on another.


  1. The Second Cousin


You know you can't start the sequel, but a similar novel in the same genre might help with that WIP withdrawal. It's not exactly the same, of course, but you kind of combined all those unused plot ideas from your first universe and combined them into this one. It's like your last WIP, but more satisfying, because it does nothing but tie up loose ends!


PROS: It makes sense. The plot's all spelled out, and you can copy/paste a few of your supporting characters, change the names, and no one will notice. Probably. Anyway, it makes you feel better about having to cut that dream sequence.


CONS: You're getting nowhere. You're writing this book to get over your last WIP, but it's like getting over a bad breakup by stalking your ex's Facebook page and making cute couple names. It's not going to work, and you're going to regret it.




  1. The Left Field


This has nothing to do with your last WIP. This has nothing to do with your general genre. This has nothing to do with anything, actually – one morning you woke up with a sudden strong desire to write a book where a sexy district attorney teams up with a plug ugly dog to commit the perfect crime, with a subplot where they sign a suicide pact with a kind-hearted prostitute. It makes no sense, but you have to write it right this second!


PROS: You're excited about it! Plus, it's got a clear space in the market, mostly because it makes no sense. You can write this book, and no one else can, because no one else has ever had this idea.


CONS: The reason no one else has had this idea is because it is insane and poorly formed. You need a lot of work before this hopeless plot bunny is novel-ready. It's workable, but needs work.




  1. The Exchange Student


You've had this idea sitting around for a while, but it's not your genre. You really like it, and it's honestly an interesting premise, but you don't even know where to start. There's something really lovely about it – either it speaks to you, or the market is ripe for it, or it's just a really fresh idea. Unfortunately, it almost feels wierder than the Left Field.


PROS: It's genuinely a really good idea! It's got a well-developed plot and characters you like. You could write this book because you like it. It's a book you would read. You can get excited about it!


CONS: It's so outside your realm of expertise you will have to do a ton of research before you can even outline. You just don't know what you're doing. It's a great idea, but it's definitely not a comfortable idea.






Well thanks Tasha!” you think. “But which one do I choose?”




See, now, that's up to you! What you need to examine is why you're writing this book. Is it for NaNo? Choose something you can write quickly and without worrying too much about insanity – maybe the Left Field. Want to just keep your drafting muscles in use without getting too serious about it? The Second Cousin is your best bet. Writing just for fun or to get a sense of where to go with your WIP in the editing stage? Work on the Sequel! Looking for a totally new field that you can polish and even query after a lot of work? Get your encyclopedia and start researching the Exchange Student.



Ultimately, it comes down to where you want to go with this draft. And that, my friend, is something only you can decide!


-- Black Widow


How to Figure Out What Genre You're Writing

Sometimes it's hard to pin your book into a single genre. Buuut, if you're writing a query letter, knowing what genre to pitch your book as helps a lot. And by a lot I mean: a smashing green ton.

I used to be of the opinion that it wasn't rocket science (I've talked to Iron Man about rocket science, so I know). After I wrote a few books and researched a lot, I realised that it can be kind of hard.

source
In order to help me to help you to help your query letter, I've made lists. (You knew I'd write a list, didn't you? I can't help it. Lists are scientifically proved to help organisation.)

I've noted down some typical genres, a rough idea of what they entail, and some published books that fit in them. Yes, I've done the research. I am Bruce Banner after all.

(Note: This isn't an exhaustive list of genres. And I'm only talking about Young Adult books, because this is after all YAvengers.)



epic or high fantasy

Think: swords, castles, knights, quests and smelly peasants.

15779125Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles, #1)Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)



urban fantasy

Think: contemporary setting with supernatural happenings (also set in a city). 

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)31341124511973377


contemporary

Think: modern day setting, usually includes school life and romance.

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dystopian

Think: speculative future, with perfect government that's secretly corrupt.

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apocalyptic 

Think: futuristic speculation that explores the beginning of world corruption (floods, fires, wars, earthquakes).

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paranormal

Think: werewolves, vampires, fairies, romance between humans and supernatural creatures.

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historical fiction

Think: true to history but with made-up characters.

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steampunk

Think: steam and inventions (clocks and gadgets) probably set in the 1800s or early 1900s. Alternate history.

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hard science fiction

Think: out of space, with planets and exploration, cool technology.

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horror

Think: any setting, but probably modern, with horrific and creepy events.

Coraline113003021266581912260608



survival

Think: any setting, but the characters must survive against nature.

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What genre is your current work-in-progress? Share in the comments!


Thor's Thoughts: Growth and Craft


Greetings, friends.

As I understand it, I am late in communicating to you this day. However, being a God things like time do not have any pull over me. Therefore it is you who were early, not I who was late.

Today I would like to muse on a subject close to my heart. My alter-ego is currently in a stage of rewrite. This is the second time she has done this for her novels, and the first time it did not work well. This time, however, it seems to be improving the work dramatically.

Why would this be?

Some writers draft quickly, others slowly. The fast-drafters are lucky in that their writing style tends not to change over the course of the project. The slow-drafters sometimes see that by the time they come the *the end* their style has changed so much that they must throw away the first third of the manuscript and rewrite it.

My alter-ego in particular is not a fast writer. This novel was drafted over a period of two months. And during the revision process her craft has grown because of certain books she's read and learned from. It was this that made her choose to re-write one of the characters' points of view.

Now, some authors have the luxury of doing this. Those who are published and have deadlines are not so lucky. Sometimes one draft is going to have to do. But if you are an aspiring writer and find yourself wishing you could have one more go at something, why not give it a try? You'll never know unless you do.

In closing, today, I simply want to encourage all YA writers out there to hone your craft. Read books you love, that pull at your heart, that make you happy. And think about them. Think about what the author is doing, and how they're doing it. Teach yourself to think critically about these things.

Then, when you sit down to write, set it all aside, and let the words flow.

You'll be amazed at what happens when you trust yourself.

Farewell, and good luck.

-THOR


Are Your Characters Too Much Like You?



Hello, minions. My alter ego would like to begin by apologizing for missing the last Loki post (apparently human college is incredibly time consuming. Clearly she knows nothing about the time commitment of world domination).

do your characters all seem... too much like you?

My brother pointed out to me, when he read my manuscript over my shoulder, that all my characters speak like me and overuse Asgardian phrases. I realized that, yes, you puny humans don't actually speak that way. And I needed to rewrite my characters so that they were more human/punier.

aspects of characterization

how they look

No one can choose how they look (otherwise, everyone would like me), but a character's appearance is still a reflection of their personality. From general details like choppy hair versus slicked back, or freckly versus scarred, a reader gets a sense of a character even from the most minute of details the author drops in the descriptions.

reflection of you: I've noticed this is mostly true for main characters: for the general characteristics (i.e. hair color, length, texture, eye color, height, weight, gender), your main character might be a lot like you. 

other note: There are also aspects of yourself you might realize you never put into your main character, such as a physical trait you're not particularly fond of. For example: my alter ego is rather tall, and she has never written a female main character above average height (though probably will in the future). 

does it matter? Depends. For one book, no. If you happen to write several books with different main characters, then a reader might take notice if every one of your protagonists are blonde with brown eyes and burns just from fluorescent lighting.


how they dress

There's a big difference between the boy that always wears a sports jersey to one who wears a black trench coat with sunglasses. 

reflection of you: Does your main character love scarves as much as you do? Does she prefer black, as is your preference? Does your love interest dress in the way that you find attractive for the gender of your sexual preference to dress? 


how they speak

speed: speaks for itself

word choice: Does your character have too colorful or too little colorful of a vocabulary? Do they all speak the way you would? Do you find CPs commenting that "this sounds unnatural" or "no one says that" and you get offended because you say it that way?

regional Dialect: If you're writing a character who lives somewhere you do not, is your own regional dialect creeping into your words? (For example, do your New York characters go to a sandwich shop to buy a hoagie? Or are they buying a sub?)

cursing: This doesn't necessarily mean all the classic four letter words, but just general expressions characters say when they're angry or insulting someone. You might call someone a 'poopsickle,' but perhaps it fits more with your character's personality to say 'scumbag' or 'meanie.'


Interesting article about authors more bad*ss than their characters


how they act

what they like: Does your main character want to be a writer? In most cases, this doesn't work too well. Sure, it's easy for you to relate to, but how many people in the world want to be writers? Most importantly, do you intend to have your protagonist come across as sane? Do you really know any sane writers? :)

decisions: Impulsive or deliberate? More based on the heart or on logic? 

talents: Is English or history your character's best subject? (Assuming you are like the majority of writers) Is math or chemistry their worst? Are they athletic? Are they music-oriented? Good with kids? Not so great at public speaking?


how they react

what offends them: Some things may offend your characters that wouldn't offend you, of course. The harder one is when something doesn't offend your characters that would offend you. It might rub you the wrong way, but sometimes you need to acknowledge why it wouldn't for your character. Otherwise, your character might seem too sensitive.

humor: It's pretty natural to have characters have similar to humor to you. You're the one coming up with the jokes (which is hard enough as is). The main trick is to give your various characters different styles of humor--all of which may be facets of your own.

flight or fight: This may be one of the few times writers, most likely, give their characters the opposite quality. We want, as readers, the main characters to fight. My alter-ego confesses that in most situations, she would run without a second thought, and most definitely would have been killed during the first day of the Hunger Games.


how they think

the nitty gritty: This depends a lot on the POV you choose, first or third person, close or distant. But I try to think of this overall as the character's central essence. This is the combination of all of the above, since (especially in first person) this is where the reader sees the character evaluating all of those things. 

These are writer personality types. Compared to the
average population, we're quite skewed.
My main tip is Myers-Briggs Personality Tests. Sure, I may be overly fascinated with them, but it's incredibly helpful for me to type my characters and then compare them to myself. So far, none of my main characters have been my type, or even close to it (actually, in my WIP, the MC is the exact opposite of me). Doing so helps you to understand all of the above, and how your character might filter the events of your story versus how you would.

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Was this helpful in determining whether or not your characters are too much like you? I hope so. As your future world dictator, I do sometimes hope to be of services to you humans.