Saturday, October 5, 2013

Writing Workshop: Writing YA Fiction Part Two

Writing Workshop - Part Two!

The Beginning of September I was lucky enough to be in a Masterclass with both Justine Labalestier and Scott Westerfeld. - Who also happened to be married.. to eachother.  Sorry I'm still stunned.


Due to the problems with my wrists it has taken quite a while for me to blog about the Masterclass.  I also apologize for any spelling mistakes that may happen in this blog post.  
I guess I learnt alot of things while sitting though 3hrs with both Authors.  I admit, writing anything was a challenge and thankfully for the ipad it helped out immensely with making notes.  I hate to say it though I will anyway, my initial impressions of both these Authors were that I was in awe of their work and maybe put them up on a pedestal a bit.  I mean come on really.. who wouldn't?  They both have a number of best sellers on the bookshelves and online, so I guess admittedly like most writers, you go in to these masterclasses, I don't know, expecting to come out with that Ah-Ha! moment, where they have given you the ultimate secret formula for that winning book that will get published.  I know I know.. before you say anything there is not such thing.  But seriously, it doesn't cease to amaze me that each time I do a masterclass with any of my favourite authors , in the back of my mind I hope that there could be some hope there is something like that.  Anyway moving on.
I found that the class was more discussing what writing aid you used more so, than the technical and creative aspects behind writing.  Both Justine and Scott were big on Scrivener.  I suppose, given the amount of books they've written they would know what works best for them.  I know when I think back to the breakfast I and a few other bloggers had with Rachel Caine (Lovely lady and awesome writer!!) she also used Scrivener.  So even though I've only tested the waters of Scrivener, I'm tempted to give it another go.  I personally use Microsoft Word but this is pretty mediocre when wanting to write a novel that could consist from anywhere between 65,000 - 150,000 words.  There are undoubtly better products.  No offense Microsoft.
They also discussed using (at one point) spreadsheets to keep track of their chapters and word count, as well as which character was the narrator in each chapter, which I found really helpful.  I don't know how many times I had to flick through my hard copy (I find it easier dealing with stuff I can flick through than using the computer) to find who said what.  It also helps to balance out who is the main character, and whether other characters are getting enough face time within the novel and ultimately the series.  Another thing that Scott Westerfeld had done with previous novels was using a coded system to mark the chapters with crosses and dashes as a way of seeing how much tension and action ran throughout the whole novel.  Again, another thing that never dawned on me would be quite useful in keeping with the arc of the story.
There was also discussions on characters, their roles within the story and the labels they get whether they like them or not.  I found this one particularly helpful.
Scott happened to point out that as a teen would be the only time you would really mingle within a large group of people you'd call your friends.  You know as you get older, you tend to pair off and not tend to congregate in such a large group.  When this was said I was like, " OMG, he's totally right." But then the thoughts were already going to, well if I'm going to write a teen novel where I want there to be a number of characters, how would you pull off a novel that had, say, 5 characters within the book?  You'd have to look at it as, well you would need to introduce them quickly, but not so quickly that you would bombard your readers.  And then it went on from there, for me, with ideas. 
There were also examples from Leviathan (which I haven't read) about both characters Alek and Deryn... and creating your Duos in characters.  Quote: We don't just create characters, we create suites of characters.  eg. The messy one/the neat one, the patient one/the annoying one. The way that words would be used from both characters mouths.  For the below example, Alec would use mind, where as Deryn would use brain.  This was a really handy way of differentiating between two characters when writing the novel and being able to tell the difference in their chapters without having to drop their name all the time for the reader.
Alec                   Deryn
Mind                  Brain
Perhaps              Maybe
Gods wounds     Barking Spiders
Alec swore         Blisters
So they both went on to say that in your groups you would have say for instance, the leader, the muscle of the group, the brain, the jester, the jerk etc etc.. the names could be different but you get the point.  He also pointed out, just like real life, if your knocked off your post as, say, the "leader of the group what would be your second best trait etc.  Think about that in a group perspective, if you are known as the leader, then add another person or take you out of the equation, the roles would get rearranged as per the new person's traits etc.. Then they went on to thought provoking questions.  Because as they both stated:
Roles Create Conflict
1. Who will Lead?
2. Who's the smartest?
3. Who's the hottest?
4. Who's the toughest?
As you can see, I took alot away from the masterclass!  I made alot of great notes and there was so much to learn.  I felt like some I already knew, but both authors brought some great points up when it comes to writing for Young Adults.
I hope you all take something away from this.. and if not, I hope this was at least helpful in some way.
Have a good night!

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