Monday, December 28, 2009

Transform Your Writing and Other Cheesy Transformers References

Is it New Year's Resolution time already? I'm putting mine off. New Year's is still three days away, so I may as well live it up! And WOOHOO on my one hundred Followers!! Thank you guys! I need to come up with a brilliant way to celebrate... maybe another book giveaway?

The holidays have been crazy-busy for me, as I'm sure with everyone else. I haven't been able to get in any writing time (sob!), but today I'm definitely going to. I need a break, and writing is my lovvvve

Before I can write though, I have to distract my five-year-old and discreetly hide all his new Transformers. He received a bunch of the hateful things from well-meaning friends and family, (he told everyone that they're his favorite and he doesn't have ANY... well, there's a reason he doesn't have any. I hate them). It gets worse, though. There are different levels of Transformer torture, and my son received all of the most complicated, intricately crafted Transformers on the market today. The helicopter blades and missiles are impossible to attach, arms and legs keep popping off at the slightest pressure; he can't even transform the things, much less fix their broken limbs-- but he thinks I can do it! Rrrright. I'm not awesome at fixing things, toy or otherwise. I keep telling him to wait for Daddy to come home (as I smother an evil grin) but he wants to play nowwwwww- and why can't I just fix it- and he can't do it- and whine-whine-whine. Patience? Not my virtue. But I can fake it, and I do subscribe to mommy-guilt so FINE, I'll try. Let's see how fast I can transform these toys into piles of crushed plastic bits.

Now, cue the cheesy Transformers references... Even cheesier than this post title? Yes! Because good writing is (dramatic pause) more than meets the eye. Well, good writing is subjective, and books don't transform into battling robots warring between good and evil to decide the fate of the galaxy (yet... who knows what the next generation of e-readers will bring?). But good writing is more than whatever the blurb on the back of the book says (and more than the paragraph summary in a query). It has layers... it makes you think... and the best books, I believe, are the ones with characters that stay with you long after reading the last page. 

So how, as aspiring authors, do we make that happen? 

I ponder this as I read through my wip and fend off my son's continued requests to turn his Transformer into a helicopter and back again. Once I reach the end of my wip, will I have done it justice? There's nothing wrong with writing another YA romance, but I feel like there's something more to this story. And that's where it all comes back to revisions. Once I have the whole story written, I can hopefully turn this book into more than what it seems like on the surface. I can give it layers, make it one of those great stories that are even better on a reread...or at least, I can try as hard as I can to make it that kind of book. 

I have three completed novels. I've proven to myself that I can finish a novel. With THIS story, I want to do more. I want to make it great. I want it to be so great... so perfect... so rock-hard awesome that even a person who reads and edits books for a living-- a person who sees a hundred new story ideas a week-- even THAT person won't want to put it down. This is the book. I'm not querying this one too soon, or even rushing through scenes if I get stuck (if I must, I'll put brackets and [finish this later!]. I don't have to prove to myself that I can finish a book. Not anymore. I have to prove to myself that I can write a publishable book, one that resonates, that oozes writerly goodness (this is the GOAL!). I will chisel away at this story and take my time doing it. I will transform it from the idea it started out as, into a book that's ready to war against the forces of evil in an epic battle to decide the fate of the galaxy. Or a YA romance. Whatever. The point is, it'll be good or it won't be queried. Period.

Where are you in your writing transformation? Is good writing more than meets the eye? Does it even have to be?

On another note, if you've read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, there are three days left on the poll to your left. So far it looks like the purists are in the lead (but barely); thanks for voting!


  1. Awesome post Diana! I'm feeling inspired. I hate transformers too for the very reasons you pointed out. Hope you get a chance to write.

  2. An uplifting and inspiring post as we head into the new for my transformation...seems I'm finally making my way from "all about me" writing to a bit of fiction. I'm not making any resolutions. I'm simply saying let's see where this writing thing goes in 2010.

  3. HaHaHa! I don't have any boys, so no Transformers for me! But I do have Barbies and their millions of accessories everywhere.

    Very thoughtful post. Sounds like maybe this book could be "The One" for you. I still need to prove to myself that I can even finish a book, so I'm waaaaay behind you!

  4. Nice post, though I was a huge Transformers fanboy growing up (not so much into Michael Bay's vision). For me, the transformation is a bit autobot, a bit decepticon. I feel like I'm getting better, but I'm also becoming less confident, if that makes sense.

  5. Great post. I feel like I've just been given the Rocky Balboa pep-talk! I'm fired up and ready to polish my WIP.

    My favorite line of the whole post was, "But I do subscribe to mommy-guilt so FINE, I'll try."

  6. Haha! I have two girls, so it's only naked Barbies at our house (for some reason, they are always naked). But I understand this process of tranformation. I too want my books to be something bigger, to feel greater and meaningful. Nothing wrong with that ;) So, thanks for the post. I feel good about diving back into my edits now. Time to tranform this baby and make it amazing.

  7. It is amazing the layers and layers and hours and hours put into writing a book. So much thought, contemplation, doubt, excitement, love, hate?, you name it. It all goes in. When I write, I laugh out loud, cry, my heart races, I jump at imagined noises... and then, when that first draft is done, I play plastic surgeon and change it into something that still resembles its old self, but is so much prettier.

    In my writing journey, I am far enough along to know that I have improved from the start of the journey, yet far along enough to know that I still have a long way to go.

  8. Nice! I love transformers - But I don't have kids and I haven't had to worry about putting them together (thank goodness)

    I find that I write well in rewrites, some of my best writing comes from the revision writing. Not sure if it is more than meets the eye... LOL

    No resolutions for me yet either, I'm a procrastinator at heart :o)

  9. Ugg, I'm one of your son's broken Transformers at the moment. I'm having issues with one of the chapters I'm editing. It can't go back to the way it was and it won't go where it's supposed to be either. Great post that made me smile. :D

  10. Oh! My! Gosh!! (Yes, I used a lot of exclamation points. No, it is not accidental or hyperbole)
    Diana, you poor, poor woman! I feel your Transformer pain. I HATE them. I hate them for the same reasons you mentioned. How can these be children's toys when even adults can't transform them?! ;)

  11. You guys are awesome!

    Mary and Shannon, you both understand!! Those stinking toys are impossible!

    Bethany M., ha ha ha I loved the comparison, and I've been there :)

    Bane and Erica- I DO love the cartoon, I watched it religiously with my little brother growing up... I feel like such a traitor as envision smashing Optimus against the wall and dancing over his fractured remains, but I just can't help myself. The toys are evil!!

    Scobber- Awww, thank you!! And woohoo!!

    Carolina and Melissa, you lucky, lucky women. I would take changing Barbie clothes over transforming these robots any day of the week!

    Liza and Catherine, thank you and I'm glad you got a little inspiration out of my post. I feel fired up too! If only I could find a minute to sit down and write :)

    Bethany W, as always, you are one of my biggest inspirations. Knowing you've been there, hearing your feelings and your journey... it lifts me up. It makes me sure I can do this if I keep going and striving to move forward.

  12. Oh the complicated transformer in the small hands of a child. People with out little ones forget how FRUSTRATING those vile Transformers can be. I returned all my little guys transformers for the super easy click three times and it's transformed. THere are levels on those things you know.

    I feel like you about my WIP. This new WIP feels good in my bones. Even though it is my second to your forth I have high hopes for it. And I REFUSE to shelf it too early!

    You are so smart to take your time and work through this one. Hammering out those scenes that feel like information dump or working out the slow parts into something moving. I'll help you carve out a master piece and give you my honest voice.

    Okay, no more inspiring posts until next week, when the family goes back to school and work and I can take this energy make something of it.

  13. I'm feeling like I suck right now. Glad you are on the opposite end of the spectrum.

  14. Gwoe you know exactly what I'm talking about. I don't mind the three-click Transformers, but why buy my poor son the most complicated ones in the store?? And I know you're going to make this book great. We are a team :)

    Aw Tina, I ALWAYS feel like I suck. I'm determined to get past that this time.

  15. I like how you said you don't have to prove anything to yourself--you know you can write a novel. I'm taking that advice to heart as I tackle my new WIP. It's my third novel in 16 months. I know I can do this. Thanks!

  16. I share your pain with the Transformers! They are awful. If you want something even worse, try Star Wars Transformers. Argh. Never again. We are sticking with Lego Star Wars sets for now!

    I loved your thoughts about writing. Good luck with your book. It'll be incredible!

  17. Not to take away from your writing, but seriously, my 6 year old got a transformer that is RE-FREAKIN-DICULOUS to try to assemble/desemble. It's got like 30-something steps and after hours of myself, my bride-to-be, my best friend, his wife, my other friend, his girlfriend and STILL not being able to complete the transformation, I've given up!!! GAH, seriously, you shouldn't make a child's toy that requires an engineering degree!?!?!

    **Breathe** lol

  18. I never liked transforming transformers. I loved action figures, but man, if you're going to make a toy that transforms, it should transform EASILY, not act like it's going to break in the process! Shoddy workmanship, I say. And with action figures going at the prices they are today, not worth the expense when they turn into pieces!

    The greatest compliment I think I've gotten for my book was that my beta missed my characters after she had finished reading the book, and found herself thinking of them when she was going about her day. It was a magical moment to realize I had done SOMETHING very right. Now I just have to go about fleshing out the physical settings with a bit more description...

  19. Steph- Thanks Steph, that's really how I feel. I've had enough with just writing another book. I need this book to be great, and I'm going to make it great no matter how long it takes. Starting a third novel in under a year in a half is outstanding, Steph. They say we only get better with each book... we can do this. I know it.

    Angie- Star Wars Transformers? Say it isn't so, Angie. If someone gives them to my son I will open it on the spot and order the gift-giver to put it together for him.

    Void- Oh my gosh Void, YES. That is exactly what I mean!! What is wrong with the Transformer design team? It took half an hour for my husband to assemble the helicopter, but of course the fun of it is TRANSFORMING it, so right away my son wanted it to be a robot again!

    Amalia- The compliment you received sounds like every writer's dream- published or not! Not many published authors have characters that stay with me after the book is over, but those are the authors that become my auto-buys. It sounds like you're on the right path!

  20. Congratulations on 100 followers! Actually 101 as I write this.

    I have no idea where I am in my writing transformation. Or I should say transformations. Publishing fashions change rapidly these days, and what gets published seems to be mostly dependent on markets and trends, no matter what our agent friends say. (They're not going to look at a query for a book that's out of fashion, so they'll never know if it's well-written.) Yes, you have to learn to write well, but then you have to learn to rewrite for the current market, which can change overnight. Flexibility is the key. You're right that we all need to be Transformers (and not the complicated kind.)