Friday, March 29, 2013

That Video I Was Telling You About

Remember a coupla posts ago, I was telling you about that video I needed to make and how horrifying it was? 


Here it is.

Be nice.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Editing: If and When You Have Need of It

Guys, you will not find me endorsing many things on this blog. Not since those disastrous stock tips I gave you back in 2007 when you lost your shirt on alpaca futures. 

I know you're still angry about that, and once again, all I can say is I'm very sorry. I had no idea that the market would be flooded with cheap, foreign alpacas.

But verily I tell you this, if you’re in a need of a professional editor for your novel, go and visit this site

Denise Logsdon is a good friend of mine. She has read and copy edited just about everything I’ve written in the last five years. She gets several dozen thumbs up from me, and now, lucky you, she’s hung out her shingle for general hire.

She's fantastic and ... hey, actually ... you know, it hadn’t occurred to me until now, but I wonder if this will create a problem insofar as I won’t be able to monopolize her time anymore.

That would make me sad. 

And possibly very aggressive. 

I may have to request special treatment or make Denise create one of those FASTPASS systems like they have at Disney. That way I can jump ahead of you in line on the grammar coaster

Yeah, that might work. 

OK, so I may regret this endorsement for my own selfish reasons, but you will not. If you need someone to unsplit your infinitives and unmuddle your plotlines, Denise is your girl. 

Tell her Kristen sent you. Hopefully she won't hold that against you.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Simply Horrifying

You know what the opposite of writing is?

Making a video.

Yet I must do this shortly for my YA debut group, The 2014Valentines.*

And it’s not going to be some informational “Hi, I’m Kristen, and my book is called blah, blah, blah….” 

My hair is not unlike this most days.
I have to make a silly video. 

Silly is most definitely in my wheelhouse but the video part … NO. Well outside my comfort zone. 

But I must do it. Because humiliation disguised as marketing? It’s a thing now.

So I just did a test run and watched it and let me tell you, it was simply horrifying.

HORRIFYING. Horror show horrifying.

You know how you hate the sound of your own voice when you hear it on a recording?  Yeah, well, I watched this video clip and it was so bad, I wanted to punch myself in the face for ever being born. 

But OK, I HAVE to do it. So I watched a bunch of “good” author videos. Good in the sense that they seem to have a lot of views on YouTube and I’m trying to learn from them. Then I'll do a few more test runs. I’m hoping that repetition will help me get over my knee-jerk mortification at the sight of my own talking face on a screen. 

This vlogging thing is extremely painful, but I know it won’t be the last time I'll have to do something that makes me want to retreat into my kangaroo pouch and breathe into a paper bag. So I reminded myself that writing used to be outside my comfort zone, too. Then I ate some Cheetos. Because that's how I calm myself down when I'm inside my kangaroo pouch.

And just what have you done to stretch YOUR comfort zone this week? 

*Yes, I’ll let you know when the video goes live over at the YA Valentines site. And you will go there and say reassuring things about it. Because you’re nice like that.

(**Reminder: Click the post title to get the comment box to come up.**)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Maximum Literary Occupancy

I’ve determined that the maximum number of characters in any given scene cannot exceed eleven.

And by “in a scene,” I mean participating in conversation in a real way, not merely hanging about to create atmosphere.

Yes, of course, you might have a scene taking place where lots of people are congregating in the background, say in an epic battle scene. 

But characters with names who are more than potted plants actually interacting?


That’s the limit. 

Beyond eleven, things get dodgy. Time and space begin to warp. And even at eight or nine characters in a scene, you’ve got to be like one of those plate spinning guys, who I imagine must all die of heart attacks before turning thirty.

I arrived at this number—we’ll call it the Maximum Scene Occupancy rule—based on J.K. Rowling’s work. Because here’s the thing, if J.K. Rowling won’t use more than eleven characters in any one scene then you shouldn’t either. She has enough Imagination BTUs to heat the entire Milky Way. She knows her character histories back several generations. She knows that the bus driver who took one of her minor characters to school was wearing mismatched socks last Wednesday during bowling practice, which is a scene she cut out of the book six months earlier.


But even she has her limits.

I once counted up the number of characters in one scene from HP5. I think it was the scene when Harry arrives at Grimmauld Place for the first time. There are, at one point, six or seven Weasleys, Harry, Hermione, Sirius, Lupin, and Tonks discussing matters. (Yes, yes. I know you HP people will point out that there are a few other characters come and go as well but they don’t say or do much.) I checked a few other scenes and this seems to hold true. Every ensemble scene maxes out at around eleven characters.

I don't know about you, but I start getting a little wobbly when I have more than five people in one place all interacting. Sometimes I forget characters are even in a scene and that makes me feel terribly guilty. Especially when they call to tell me I forgot to pick them up from soccer practice.

What’s the biggest group of characters you’ve ever juggled in any one scene you’ve written?