Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Jersey Shore Gone Wilde" - When Oscar Wilde meets the Jersey Shore, Hilarity Ensues

I found a link to these videos on my friend's facebook page and could not stop laughing. I hope you enjoy them.
"God bless the people over at Playbill who corralled Santino Fontana and David Furr, who star as Algernon and Jack respectively in Broadway's The Importance Of Being Earnest, into reading transcripts of Jersey Shore completely in character. The resulting non-sequitors are dark, funny, and not too outside of the realm of what Oscar Wilde might write were he alive today. He would surely find Sammi Sweetheart just as insufferable as Snooki does." ~ Marah Eakin

I'm sorry if I've been a bit off schedule this week. Next week is finals week, so everything's a bit off kilter. But I promise I'll be back to my usual stuff after next week! I hope you enjoyed the videos as much as I did!

<3 Gina Blechman

Monday, April 25, 2011

Passing on the Sweetness: Lets Give Out Some Blog Awards!

So, apparently, some of you folks really like me, because I've accumulated these three awards over the past month. Now, I know I've been holding on to some of them for a bit too long. (I'm sorry.) However, I'm now ready to pass them on!

First, seven random facts about yours truly.
1) I'm addicted to entirely too many television shows. (Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Brothers & Sisters, US of Tara, Californication, Nurse Jackie, Castle, Parenthood, and The Borgias...just to name a few.)
2) I currently have no idea what I want to write for my next manuscript
3) I plan to start my next manuscript next month
4) I'm seeing The Indigo Girls perform at the Stone Pony on June 26th. I just bought the tickets. (I'M SO EXCITED!)
5) I'm currently going through a slight Brandi Carlile addiction.
6) I occassionally get quite paranoid about my age and experience while querying agents.
7) I'm doing a presentation tonight on the querying process for one of my college courses , and I will be officially telling more people than I've ever told in person that I'm one of those crazy people who plans to try to make a career out of writing.

And now to pass on the love

Congrats guys!

<3 Gina Blechman

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Reading Alloud

If you couldn't tell by me posting my thursday post as a FRIDAY funnies post, I'm a little burned out this week. I hope you enjoy the great video above, and tell me

What was your favorite childhood experience involving having someone read to you?

<3 Gina Blechman

Thursday, April 21, 2011

FRIDAY FUNNIES: Because Every Writer Has THAT DAY

This week has been a bit of a crazy week. I sent my first five queries out. Then was told by my mentor (bless her soul) that I needed to rewrite my query. Rewrote it. Resent it to her. Was told "That's much closer. But it still needs work." Started from scratch...for the sixth time. Edited that version five times. And now I'm just starting to send the queries out again as soon as I quadruple check the first three chapters of my manuscript so they're in tip top shape.

The point is, we all know that writing is a lot of work. It's complicated. It's demanding. I spent so long trying to follow every single rule with my query that when my advisor told me I needed to forget the rules and just do x, y, and z, there was honestly a moment where I was like "RAAAAAAWR! WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM MY LIFE!"

But we move on. And so, I have a little clip courtesy of Hallmark's Twisted Whiskers to brighten your day.

See! It's a metaphor for life. The bouncy ball could be one of two things: a) the distractions in your life or b) all of the gosh darn times you have to start over and just take the criticism and keep going.

But no matter what you do, don't get so caught up in everything that you forget the point: you're trying to write your novel and be successful and everything else can just bugger off. Awesome, yeah?

Happy Friday!

<3 Gina Blechman

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Knowing Your Characters' Default Speaking Voices

Recently, I've learned that it is more important to listen to your characters than your critics. Sometimes a beta reader, friend, or editor sees a spot where your dialog isn't working and they start telling you what to add and take away. It's easy to do this, and sometimes we just look at it and say "well, i guess that sounds right, so whatever" *delete dialog, insert critic's wishes* However, if you just rely on this, you may find that your scenes are never what you want them to be. You have to listen to your characters: what they want, how they speak, what they would do.

For example, examine the 5 sentences below.

1) "God, you are such an idiot," she laughed, shaking her head. "What is wrong with you?"

2) "Fucking idiot," she muttered to herself as he walked away. She shook her head and went back to typing furiously. "God knows there's something wrong with that boy..."

3) "Well, I think you're an idiot," she said unblinkingly. She tilted her head. "What? So there's something wrong with you, I don't see the point in saying things as something other then they are. You'll get over it."

4) "You fucking Idiot! You asshole! You did what? Without..." She shook her head in disbelief, eyes moistening from the laughter trapped in her lungs. "There is definately something wrong with you. Definately...there aren't even words."

5) "You don't think. God, you are such..." she stretched out her fingers to grasp the words she didn't want to hear from him. "Idiot..." she breathed to herself. "Fucking idiot."

Alright, so I could write about fifteen million sentences like this. The issue at hand is voice.

In both segments 2 and 4, the girl calls the guy a "fucking idiot." The difference? In segment one she is probably mentally stabbing him and in 3, well, she's probably just about pissing her pants.

In segment 1, the girl is shaking her head and laughing as though she knows the boy well. They are already in at least a friendly relationship. In 3, it almost seems like the girl wants to be in a relationship, since she adds a slightly (maybe?) comforting explanation at the end, but isn't sure or doesn't know how. It's also a bit suspenseful.

In 1 and 4, both members are close, but in 1 the girl is the reasonable friend and in 4 she is probably the girl that would have loved to be there if she had the chance, even if just to videotape it and mock him later.

In both 2 and 5 she is angry at him, but in 5 she says it to it's face and in 1 she waits. The ways she displays her anger are also different.

Each one of these things says something about the characters involved, their personalities, and their relationship. Depending on how you want the relationship to progess--quickly, slowly, not at all--decides what your characters will say.

You must know your characters default speaking voice. Maybe they would go all out. Maybe they'd be calm. Maybe they would curse, not curse, use pretentious words, etc. Usually when a scene seems lacking, it's because of this problem. The characters are not being true to themselves and saying what they need to say. Instead, you're feeding them what you want them to say. (For more tips on doing this, check out "When you know it's time to change up your manuscript.")

What do you think? Have you noticed this problem? When? What did you do to fix it?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Have Your Query, Synopsis, or Manuscript Featured & Critiqued on My Blog

Now that I've officially started sending out queries, I  have come to understand the slight psychosis that is manuscript editing and synopsis and query writing. If you saw my Synopsis Tips or my Manuscript Editing Checklist, you already know how much effort I've put into the whole process. Well, now that the hardest pre-agent part is over, I want to help make the process a bit easier for all of you.

I will now be featuring queries, and segments of manuscripts and synopsese (no longer than 1 page), on my blog every monday and will then give critiques and advice on my blog on tuesday. This will
a) Help you have the best manuscript/synopsis/query you can
b) Help others learn from your triumphs and mistakes
c) Help you get your stuff seen by other bloggers

How to get your work featured:
E-mail with what you want featured and "for blog" in the subject line. Please send your work in an attachment that I can open in Microsoft Word.

Also, PLEASE, ask at least one friend (or more if you think they'll benefit, which, hey, why wouldn't they? My blog is AWESOME) to follow my blog. I know that I can't check that you've done this, so I'm trusting that you'll do the right thing.

So, let's get at it people. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can be featured on my blog!

<3 Gina Blechman

Saturday, April 16, 2011

An Interview with my MC, Peter Lawrence

This post is to celebrate my completion of my first wave of query letters. (Woohoo!) It is a special treat, formed using question ideas from the Gotham Writer's Workshop's Writing Fiction questionnaire: an interview with my MC, Peter Lawrence.

Peter is answering my questions as though he is ten years older than he was when the novel ended. He sits down urbanely, strokes his chin, then chuckles to himself and scoots forward in his chair.

"I'm sorry," he says humorously. "This is a bit of a bigger deal than I thought it would be.

"Well, you're quite an important man to get to know, Peter," I say.

He lets out a breif laugh. "I suppose so."

"So, Peter, the silly question I have to get out of the way first--any nicknames?"

Peter raises his eyebrows. "No, nothing I can think of."

"Any birthmarks? Scars maybe?"

"Birthmarks, no. Scars, yeah, I've got plenty of those." Peter rolls up his shirt to show a variety of lash marks from years past. He smiles to himself and sits back down. "It's all for a good cause though, I guess. They're more of reminders really."

"Reminders? Of what, Peter?"

"Of my place--why I'm here, what I've fought against." He runs his hand through his hair. "You can't get change without a fight, and it's hard to fight without picking up a few scars."

I nod, pressing my lips tightly together. "Well said."

Peter bows his head slightly. "Thank you."

"So who are you closest to? Out of everyone, is there any one person, a gal perhaps, in particular?"

"A gal? Well, ha, there is to be honest." He smirks and I raise my eyebrows. "My mother," he laughs, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "And there's my lovely wife of course. And the crew. I'm close to a lot of people. So, I guess...I guess then the answer is no, there's not just one."

"Alright, alright. When you're angry, Peter, where do you go to?"

"Home usually," he replies matter of factly. "Sometimes I'll head to the woods or something like that, but usually I just go home to my wife. She's too tough to let me mope."

"Any fears, Pete? The audience is dying to know."

"Fears?" He shrugs. "I can't say I have any of those. ...No, honestly. I'm not just being a jackass about it, it's just that when you've been through certain things-" he sighs- "you learn not to be afraid."

"No fears," I say. "Wow. How 'bout secrets. Got any of those?"

He shifts in his chair and shakes his head. "You're just groping for anything to get me on aren't you? Wow, no, no secrets. At least, nothing that I hide from my wife...or the crew for that matter. Though, my mother, she doesn't need to know everything." Peter winks charmingly, causing me to blush.

"Aww, come on now," he says. "Don't tell me you don't have things you hide from your mother, huh? Huuuuh?"

"True," I reply, putting my hands up in surrender. "But while we're getting personal, how 'bout you tell me a bit about what makes you laugh out loud?"

Peter chuckles, smiling and glancing upward as though conjuring a specific memory. "My son and daughters," he says. I can't help but smile with him.

"And speaking of family-"

"Oh yes, those people."

"Yes, them. You seem pretty in love with love with them, sooo were you ever in love, and have you ever had yout broken heart."

"I guess you're answering my questions for me then? Yes, I have been in love and have had my heart broken. ...At the same time, in fact. By the same person. Fell in love, had my heart broken, stayed in love, won her heart."

"Awwwww." I can't help it. He has me feeling so fantastic. I almost want to leave it at that, but continue after a moment's pause. "So what's in your refrigerator right now," I say to break the ice again.

"Some beer. Some cold cuts. Meat loaf. Pasta. Lots of crazy and expensive organic items that my wife purchased. We've, uh, gone pretty green in our house. And not in a moldy sort of way."

"Favorite shoes?" I ask.


"When you think of your childhood kitchen, what smell do you associate it with?"

Peter scratches his head and leans back in his chair. "I don't know if my adolescent years counts as childhood, but I associated the Sunny View kitchen with breakfast. My mother used to make me eggs, every morning, with cheddar cheese and ham. I'd wake up to the smell of it."

"Mmm," I reply, wishing I'd had something as delicious for breakfast. "It's a Saturday afternoon--What are you doing."

"Reading. Grading my students' work. Playing with my kids. Or, you know, other things," he raises his eyebrows, "if Grandma's watching the kids for the weekend."

I raise my eyebrows in reply and nod. "Other things," I laugh. "Right. Okay, one last question. Your biggest fan wants to know 'what memory has stuck with you from your childhood?'"

"Childhood," he says nostalgically, "is one long memory that I don't think I'll ever forget." He tilts his head, leans back, and thinks for a moment. "Really I can't imagine why I'd ever want to."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Are Your Secondary Characters Taking The Lead?

As I went through my blog list this morning, I came across a great post, which was a reply to an even greater post, about how the secondary characters in novels and movies are often more interesting than the main characters. A couple of the examples made were that bad-ass Hans Solo is schnazzier than goody-goody Luke Skywalker and the intelligent (and, ehem, sexy) Hermione Granger is more intruiging than scar-head Harry Potter.

This made me start thinking back to other books, like how in Delirium by Lauren Oliver Lena Halloway's dare-devil love interest is more exciting than she is, or how in Drought by Pam Bachorz, the mysterious overseer who begs to take Ruby away from the Congregation is much more interesting than Ruby herself.

Thinking on this made me realize how much I love all of the secondary characters in my own story and what they each bring. (Think of it this way: how many of you were crestfallen when Sirius died? Dobby? Hedwig? Exactly.) Which brings me to my point:

Is it hard for you not to help your secondary characters take the lead? Do you find that when you start adding new characters and falling for their strengths and flaws that you want to insert them more than you should, AND does that take away from the intruige?

I think that part of the beauty of secondary characters is the mystery. You get to know all about the MC, but you can't help but wonder about all the little skeletons in the secondarys' closests.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

You Know What....I DESERVE a Cookie!

I deserve + food is a phrase I find myself using often. For celebrations and moments of frustration, food is almost always the answer.

For example,
Situation A) "I wrote a badass synopsis. Damn, I am so awesome, I TOTALLY deserve a cookie."

Situation B) "Fuck. Fuck. FUCK! I can't believe I just screwed that up. And now I'll have to redo it all.....damn it....Wow, I need a cookie. This is going to be a lot of work."

Situation C) "Okay, I made my list of things to do. I'm all set up and ready. Now, just need my power cookie and I'll be all ready to go."

Does this sound familiar? If so, congratulations! You're taking part in a sedentary occupation and awarding yourself with large quanitities of calories that, depending on your work ethic, you probably won't burn off! Woohoo! Of course, if you're like me, well then that's good news too. That means, honestly, you really don't care. You work super hard and you should go ahead and eat that cookie and not feel bad about it!

My weakness is actually salty cheesy things like pretzels and doritos and cheese puffs. What's yours?

<3 Gina Blechman

P.S. My posts are now on Tues, Thurs, Fri, and Sundays. I know I posted yesterday, but my college's internet was down for nearly all of Sunday, so...yeah....

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Comprehensive Guide on Writing Your Synopsis

When it comes to synopses, most people get a bit....neurotic. It's normal, don't worry, but it's really not necessary. Before I give you my list of tips, here's a bit of my true life experience to assure you my info is legit.

1) Looked up how to write a synopsis in my WD Guide to Geting Published book. I read both sample synopses.
2) Went online to and stalked 2 Guide to Literary Agents links on synopses.
3) Visited agent Jessica Faust's guide to synopses.
4) And Nathan Bransford's guide to synopses.
5) And Charlotte Dillon's guide to synopses.
6) Still unsatisfied, I read through many of the sample agent-getting synopses on Charlotte Dillon's site.
7) Then, of course, I went back to Writer's Digest's Guide to Geting Published.
8) Then, I wrote my synopsis, was totally proud of my six pages of awesomeness, and then realized I forgot to double space it...
9) Rechecked the above sites and wrote a badass (or so I hope) synopsis.

So, after all that, I would like to share with you the comprehensive wisdom of all of the sites I visited to save you from losing your mind. Are you ready? Yes. Yes, I believe you are.

1) First, in the top, right hand corner, put your contact info. Example:
Gina Blechman
Phone number: _______
E-mail address: ______
Home address:
1 Awesome Synopsis Street
Badass, US 00000

2) Below that, center the title of your story, the genre, and your name. Example:
Synesthis--A YA Dystopian Novel by Gina Blechman

3) Double space the body of your synopsis.
                      -Use a readable font (arial, times new roman, etc)
                      -Size 12 font, 1" margins

4) The body of your synopsis should be 3-4 pages for a short synopsis and 5-10 pages for a long synopsis (figure 1 double-spaced page per 25 single spaced pages of manuscript).
                       -The format is Setting, Characters, Plot
                       -ALWAYS write in the PRESENT TENSE

5) Setting- You should usually start with setting except for when the character actively chooses the setting for a specific reason. Then you'll probably want to at least introduce that character first and THEN the setting she chose.
                       -Make sure your first line pops. Your setting and characters should read like the back cover story on a book
       Example: "Sunny View Estates is a land where free thought dies. It is a place where citizens are physically transfigured and mentally altered."

6) Characters: All characters names should be CAPITALIZED when they are first introduced. Only use prominant characters in your synopsis.

7) Introduce as much of the character as you need as succinctly as you can.

For example, for Peter, my description is short: Peter, a twenty-four year old and one of the last free thinkers in Sunny View, spends his his time trying to show the public that freedom is worth fighting for. He has been tortured for his insurgence over and over again, but refuses to submit.

For Jade, the description is a bit longer, because the reader would normally learn the extras about Jade through flashbacks.Since the agent won't see these, it is important to add the most important facts.

8) Plot: You want to explain all of the important events in your story in chronological order. All your major twists should be included as well as your ending. Don't leave anything unexplained. Make sure every action you have is followed by it's purpose or reaction.

For example: When Jade pays witness to Peter’s attempted escape from police officer RONALD RIGLEY, she senses the refugee will be a good ally. He is stubborn and sarcastic and unafraid—all of the things that Sunny View hates and she desires.
This gives info about a new minor but prominant, reoccuring character and moves the plot forward. (Aren't two-in-one deals the best?) 

9) If you can lump similar things together try to.
I realized after a while that describing each meeting my characters had was too much, so I just ended up saying "Every meeting seems to bring ____. At the first meeting the characters______, and _____happened. At the next...." Though these events happen over a large amount of time, it saves space in the synopsis.

Other stuff to do, to know, and to avoid:
1) Write it in the same voice you write your story in. You're telling a story with your synopsis, not explaining one.
2) Make suspenseful events suspenseful.
3) Vary sentence structure. No short choppy sentences.
4) Never explain something outright to the agent. No "And then the story climaxes at this point."
5) This is just my own personal idea on the matter, BUT many agents I've looked up don't ask for a specific manuscript length. They say "whatever other agents have requested is fine" or "use what you've used for other agents, but if you haven't written one try for 3-4 pages."

I take this to mean: Shoot for three to four pages, but if you have a manuscript upwards of 90k and it's full of subplots and twists and you just can't force it into 3 or 4 pages, don't force it. The agent won't know that you didn't have the synopsis around from another agent's request, and many have said they're not too picky as long as the synopsis is good and it's the proper length for a long or short synopsis.

6) Most times, agents aren't going to toss out your synopsis because the margins are slightly off or you have a few misplaced commas or any minor formating errors. (This is just advice from what I've read, but make sure to check your agents' standards). They just want to make sure your story is good, your voice is good, and you can make the synopsis.

7) Use good transitions to make it flow.

8) Top your pages with the heading: Author/TITLE/Synopsis left justified and the page number right justified. Example:
Gina Blechman/SYNESTHESIS/Synopsis                                          1

9) Most importantly, don't stress. Pretend you're telling the story to a friend and write what you would tell that person. Don't overthink it. Just chill and do what you do best: write.


Friday, April 8, 2011

The Therapeutic Art of Fort Building AND a Synesthisis Excerpt

Friday Blog Post Part 1:

Yesterday, I was editing my novel and I started getting a bit down in the dumps. The editing was going great. I was using some fabulous advice from one of my beta readers and I was feeling so good about myself. And then...the doubt monster came. And I started thining about all of the segments I had deleted, and all of the work I had put in, and then asking that evil question, "Is this really as good as I think it is."

So I did the best thing I could think of to do on a cold, rainy, miserable day: I made a fort.

Now, you may be thinking "Sure, she can get away with that. She's a college student. She's *insert excuse here.*" I'm not buying it. Remember how fun it used to be to build a fort? Getting the chairs and blankets together? Creating your own secret hideaway, where the light filters in in all sorts of different colors from the blankets and sheets you've used?

Creating a fort is a great way to focus your energy on something else. Something creative that does not involve writing or artistic ability or even grace. (Which is fantastic, because I very much lack the last two items.) I built my fort and I took my stuffed animals and some cookies in with me, and I talked it out with with my fuzzy, cotton stuffed friends. I said, "Guys, this is what I think." I went on for a good fifteen minutes. I ate some crackers and relaxed, and the positve answers started flowing back to me. It felt amazing.

So seriously, borrow a few of your kids' stuffed animals if you don't have any and make a fort. Create an other worldly type magical space for yourself where your evil thoughts can't enter like they can in the outside world. It sounds silly, but that's what makes it so therapeutic. Plus, stuffed animals make extremely cheap therapists. :-)

Friday Blog Post Part 2
Here's a short and sweet excerpt from my manuscript, Synesthesis, to lift your mood.

"I honestly just don’t care anymore. That part of my life is over. I’ve moved on to better things.”

Peter pulled himself nearer to Jade, and felt her magnetic force reeling him in. “Better things like me?” he asked hopefully.
"No…Better things like this family, and saving your sorry asses from that fucking creepy president of yours.”

"Ah.” Peter leaned back and grinned.

“What?” Jade asked.

“Nothing. You just don’t curse often. It’s a nice sound to hear."

"You would have loved a me at thirteen then. I cursed like fucking sailor.” She laughed. “It’s kind of what happens when your parents go off and get themselves blown up in the war they’ve created."

“Oh, you want to make yourself special now, do you? And you said I was full of myself.” He shook his head. “You’re not the only one who went through that stage. You’d be surprised. I mean, what else can you do? Life’s all well and good and then all of a sudden, fuck, you have pimples and enemies and you’ve gotta hide your stupid grin and your overexcited penis from all the pretty girls."

Jade covered her face with her hand. “I’m pretty sure I never had to deal with those, uh, last two."

"See, there you go again, acting like you’re better than everyone else. God…you seemed so shocked about all this the other day, what’s going on with you?"

"Huh, well your mother nearly swallowing me whole earlier might have brought a bit of a different person out of me. As I said, I just don’t see the point in saying things are something other than they are. …Plus, after all that time on the outside, has to have added some sort of mystery too me. Though I gotta say," she laughed. "I can probably piss on a tree with better aim than you."

"Should I take that as a challenge?” Peter asked. Jade shook her head and rolled her eyes. “What? I’d love to see it.”

Have a great weekend everyone! Look for my next post on Sunday!

<3 Gina Blechman

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What is Dystopia? Well, Let Me Tell You!

Ehem. According to the ever-so-knowledgeable wikipedia,

"A dystopia is an anti-utopia, often futuristic society that has degraded into a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian. Dystopian literature has underlying cautionary tones, warning society that if we continue to live how we do, this will be the consequence. "

But that's not all. The other day, I saw Lucy V Morgan, authoress of the blog Literary Friction, questioning what dystopia is all about. Well, Lucy, here's some of the things that I love about dystopian fiction.

Dystopias are all about discovery and inner turmoil. They're as much about the fight to overcome a society as they are about the fight to figure out what the hell the main characters are looking for in life. All their lives, the MCs have been told how to live and what to do, and now they get to figure it out. Dystopias are often full of symbolism that relates back to the way we live, supplying readers with constant questions about their own world. You get to learn with the characters--what things do I need to rebel against and what can I never give up.

In addition, dystopias are often full of firsts, because the story takes place as the characters are learning the truth about their environment. You can see the world though the eyes of someone who's seeing it for the first time, (which is magnified x1000 when you add a YA aspect.)

Dystopias are all about extremes. All of the times you asked "I wonder how much of this I could handle before..." Dystopias will show you. This makes for some interesting characters, because they also tend to fall in the far most ends of the spectrum.

As has been made obvious by the recent boom in dystopian lit, there are infinite ways to spin dystopia. I love dystopian novels because of their raw sincerity. So tell me: what's your favorite thing about dystopian fiction?

<3 Gina Blechman

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

When You Know It's Time To Change Up Your Manuscript

You guys all know the deal. (And if you don't, trust me, YOU WILL.) You ask someone what they think about your manuscript, and they say, "It just needs a little bit...more." And then you think on it and realize, "Hey, it does need a bit more." A bit more spunk, emotion, suspence, character building, whatever. But then comes that pesky question: How do you get more? More words doesn't always equal more awesomeness. So what do you do? You've gone through the manuscript multiple times, pruned the unnecessary bits, accentuated the important stuff, added the appropriate visuals and actions to show not tell what's happening, but STILL it's missing something. (Yes, this is aggravating. No, eating a tub of ice cream and ripping your hair out will not do you any good.)

Here's what you do. If this happens, it is usually a character problem. Yes, I know--all of your characters are perfect, and individual, and special, and beautiful, and the story couldn't be what it is if they weren't the way they are, BUT bear with me. Adding more of a show to a dialog that's not working or a scene that doesn't make sense isn't helping anyone. Even if it's vivid and well written and fantastic--because, of course it is, you've written it--it's not helping your characters be all that they can be.

When you get to a scene that feels like it could use a bit more, think what else could/should the characters be doing/discussing here? If I took out this whole scene and just let the characters begin where they left off and do whatever the hell they wanted, what would they do? Then, select and delete the whole scene and start over doing just that. As daunting as it is, I assure you it will work. (And when you do this and it turns out fantastic and you get an agent who tells you every day how amazing you are for thinking if it, remember to mention me.)

I just did this with my manuscript and the differece is truly tangible. I feel like doing this has made my book finally go in the direction I've been trying to get it in for a couple of months now. I hope it will work the same for you.

<3 Gina Blechman

P.S. I've decided to minimize my posts until the end of the semester (May 9th). Between trying to get my manuscript ready to send out by April 25th and all of my final projects and such for school, there's really just not enough time. Therefore, I will be blogging Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays. (Think TTFS: Totally Titillating, Fabulous Stuff) According to a lot of your comments on my previous post, this will work out better for many of you as well.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Controversy of Sex and Masturbation in YA Fiction

Most people I know are pretty damn fond of sex. I mean, why wouldn't they be? The way two (or, ehem, sometimes more) people come together yearning for passion and togetherness or, the very least, a very good x-rated time. The physical connection or disconnection between two people at orgasm. The plentiful reasons: love, anger, indifference, depression, excitement, bitterness, etc. etc. The many sexual aids: sex toys, alcohol, little blue pills, and various more illegal substances. Rough sex vs sweet sex, fucking vs making love, sexual fetisesh, trying-really-hard-to-have-a-baby-for-months-on-end-until-you-can-barely-stand-it sex... Sex can be so many different things to so many different people, and what it means changes all the time. How f*cking cool is that?

So now for the beginning of the controversial part: Ever since my first sex ed class, I was intruiged by sex. Not because I wanted to have it--I was far too young and far too much of a good girl--but because I just needed to know everything about the above questions. It fascinated me. It made me hot and wet and all of these other things that you're not supposed to talk about when you're in middle school. Sure, they tell you you can masturbate. That it's okay to, but what teenager is going to go home and be like "Mom, Dad my extracurriculars include..."

I started reading and writing erotica when I was about 12. Again, I certainly wasn't having sex. I was far too young. Actually, I found that reading about and learning about sex and all of the things that it meant prevented me from going out and doing it. It wasn't taboo to me at all.

And finally, the controversial part: I read on someone's blog recently that they would never write indepth sexual scenes in a YA book. I don't like the word never, and I'm struggling with the idea. I wonder if it would be better if some older YA books were more indepth sexually. It's not like teens don't go out and find out more about sexy-time anyway. If they don't go out and fool around themselves, they stay in with their favorite hand of choice and perhaps a sock and go online to learn more. Or they find it in erotica or adult romance stories or in chat rooms or whatever.

Now, I obviously have no problems with erotica and my ideas on video pornography are constantly changing, but I just feel that teens shouldn't always have to go out of their way to learn about sex and its benefits and pitfalls. Hell, I never heard "orgasm" as anything more than a clinical term from my health teachers even in highschool. Because parents are afraid of what it will mean if their kids learn sex doesn't totally suck and procreation isn't its only purpose. (Like they haven't figured that out already.) I mean, if at thirteen I could have read an honest romance story with a real sex scene and some deeper purpose than teen angst or petty crushes, I can't even imagine what that would mean. Not erotica even--because I know that brings up all sorts of parental issues--just...passion. Push, the gritty YA section of Scholastic, goes in depth all the time with drugs and violence and even prostition (as long as sex isn't mentioned). So would it really hurt to put a little more sexy time in books?

But then that brings up another issue: Is doing that not okay for more than the idea that teens would be reading it, but because non-teens would be writing. Because people would be concerned about adults writing about underage characters having sex when its more than "and then he pressed up against me, and I felt myself give in. Chapter __, Last night was the best time of my life." Does that cross the line for some people between creativity and pedophilia? (Because I'm sure, a book like this would be banned in quite a few schools and that would be one of the many arguments as to why.)

The more I think about it, the more questions I ask. I'm really interested to see what you think. Please, leave as lengthy of a comment as you need. :-)

<3 Gina Blechman