Monday, June 24, 2013
Christopher Alonso (@ChrisRAlonso), come on down!!!
Woo hoo! Congratulations!
Use that shiny "Contact Me" page up there and I'll get your winnings sent off. :)
On to other things, I just wanted to share with you one thing I learned this weekend:
Playing with an app that makes silly pictures never gets old. It just doesn't.
What crazy things do you like to do?
Monday, June 17, 2013
luck pool has been filling up of late, and recently it splashed over the edges to land me a copy of my own. Woo hoo for me, because it's been on my TBR list since I first read the pitch:
And now woo hoo for you, because I'm going to give away the copy I was planning to buy! WOO HOO!!
So if you want to win a copy of ONE, just leave a comment, and I'll enter you into the drawing. Spread the word in any way (twitter, facebook, blog post, sidebar, word-of-mouth, etc.), and I'll give you +5 extra entries. Just tell me what you did (or will do) in your comment. No need for a link, I trust you. ;) Important: Please leave me a way to contact you, should you win.
Enter by Saturday, June 22nd, and I'll announce the winner on Monday, June 24th. Good luck!
Monday, June 10, 2013
First, what is context?
My good friend, Merriam-Webster says it's "the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning."
Blah, blah, blah, what?
On a basic level, this means that context is the sentence before or after a given piece of information. For example, suppose I said "I ate the little boy." Sounds kind of gruesome, doesn't it?
But if I give you some context (i.e. the sentence before), the whole meaning can change: "We made a pancake family for dinner. I ate the little boy."
Relieved to know I'm not cannibal? Me, too.
And while this is fascinating stuff, Merriam-Webster also gave a second definition that is especially important to authors: "the interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs : environment, setting"
Environment. Setting. Sound familiar? It's what drives every character's reaction to every event in your book. And when we ignore Context, or simply fail to consider it, we have credibility issues.
I personally learn from examples better than explanations, so here we go.
1. Let's suppose we are writing an historical fiction that takes place in the 1500's.
Our mc is a 16-year-old young woman. Of course, we all want a strong female lead, so she gives her hair pink streaks, and secretly sneaks out at night to burn corsets and rails against her father (and every other male she meets) about the repression of women and how she should be allowed to become a Blacksmith if she darned well pleases.
You see the problem? This character is not believable. She is shouting ideals of a time period well-beyond hers, and participating in activities that were probably never thought of back then.
Now, make this into a fantasy or dystopian . . . in other words, change the Context . . . and you're on your way to some great world building. Context changes everything.
2. Let's make this one a contemporary chapter book.
Ummm . . . yeah. See the problem? In the context of this character, this is not something he would do. It just isn't.
Now, create a circumstance that gives a new context for that action, and you might have some interesting tension and inner turmoil going on. But without that, you will lose your reader if your character doesn't act within his own context.
3. Finally, we have a MG fairy-tale retelling.
Our mc is the 37-year-old wood-cutter from Little Red Riding Hood. The book explores the graphic details of his murderous past before he faces his own mortality and the mercy he receives from a little old lady. In a display of symbolic irony, he redeems himself by slaying the beast who ravages that little old lady and her dear grand-daughter, Little Red Riding Hood.
Now could this be a good book? Absolutely! But given the context of our audience (Middle Grade), this book misses the mark. No middle grade editor is going to read past the description. It is simply isn't Middle Grade. Make it adult fiction, and you might have something.
Context helps define our characters as well as the setting. It outlines plausible events, and keeps us focused on our audience and genre.
Now, I am definitely not saying that you can't mix things up a bit. But if you choose to ignore a context that you, as the author, have previously established, you risk breaking a trust with your reader.
Have you ever stopped reading a book because of context issues?
Monday, June 3, 2013
I know, right? So of course, I immediately assumed that this is a kindred spirit, a fellow writer, because that's MY context.
MG = Middle Grade.
But then I realized . . . ummm . . . I could be wrong. Duh, duh, duh . . . [Those are the 3 notes of impending doom you hear after some nefarious revelation in a movie . . . just trying to create an atmosphere here.]
So first, I wanted to say something pithy about creating context for your characters, etc., etc. But it's the end of a long weekend, and, well, you can guess what I'd say, right?
About the quarter?
And the chocolate cake?
And that other thing that I don't even need to mention?
I thought so.
More importantly, I wanted you to fill in the blank for me. What does "MG" really stand for?