Adverbs: I Finally Get It.

I wrote the first draft of my very first story in complete, blissful ignorance. I'm telling you guys, this is the way to write. I thought I was the best. writer. ever.

Luckily, when I started researching agents online--the day after I finished my draft--I also came across a lot of valuable information on writing and realized I was far from ready to send my baby out into the wild.

One of the things I kept reading was the evil of adverbs. I didn't get it.

Then, I came across a blog post explaining it. I wish I could remember the blog I read it on, because they explain it better than I can, but pretty much they said that adverbs are a stand-in for weak writing. When you use an adverb, you spare yourself the need to show the emotion or action you're trying to portray, but you also spare your reader the need to care or imagine.

I read my first draft to my kids with this advice in mind, and it mostly made sense. Plus, have you ever tried to read something out loud when it's riddled with adverbs? Those suckers are hard to spit out!

I was still a bit confused, though. I mean, I like the occasional adverb myself, but some people shun them entirely. It all made sense, though, when I read a certain book (which will remain unnamed) the other day.

You guys. The adverbs in this thing. Not only were there over 1000 (yay, Kindle search feature!) but some of them were really weird. Understandingly. Scoldingly. Exasperatedly. Defeatedly. I understand these are real words, but they're kind of like the tweens of the English language: so awkward. And distracting all lined up in a row like that.

I was so entertained by this blatant use of adverbs, though, that I started reading the story out loud to my husband. He could only take about one page, after we counted eight adverbs in one paragraph and three in one sentence. He asked me how I would change the sentence structure to get rid of the adverb but keep the same meaning. In almost every instance, the solution was to just drop the adverb and let the context do the talking. If the showing-not-telling is in good shape (which is was in this story, I should point out), the adverbs aren't needed. It's like the Hulk saying, "I'm ridiculously, unequivocally, resoundingly, unabashedly ANGRY!" And we're like, "Yeah, Hulk, we know. You're green." See? No adverbs needed.



Funky Fad Friday--Bad Boys Gone Soft

I'll put this out there first of all: I don't really like bad boys, in real life or in books.

In real life, because I was born without a rebellious streak, I guess. In books, because I hate to see a bad boy gone soft.

Have you noticed this? Hot Guy is mysterious, moody, dark. Girl is drawn to him because he just feels so deliciously dangerous. There is tension. This is good. I'm totally on board up to this point.

But then.

Tension breaks. They get together. Bad Boy starts sharing his feelings like a freaking girl! And he's nice and sensitive and kind and patient. And it seriously bugs me. This is not the same guy Girl was initially attracted to. He has become her, with a deeper voice. Guh.

I say, if he's a Bad Boy, he has to have a reason to be bad. And he has to stay bad. Now, I'm not saying he should slap her around or forbid her from talking to her friends or anything. And of course, a guy would open up more to someone he loved than to the general public. But please, don't make the Bad Boy a pushover as soon as he falls in love.

I'll give you one example of Bad Boy done right: Jace Wayland in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. (No spoilers, guys, I just finished Book 4) Jace is arrogant, sarcastic, and can be downright ruthless with his cutting words. He is emotionally cut off and aloof. He falls for Clary and--wonder of wonders--is still the same guy. Yes, he opens up a bit to Clary, she can see how his sarcasm is a coping device. But he still does it. He still annoys her. She loves him anyway, and I totally buy it because that's who she fell in love with in the first place.

So, Bad Boys. Be nice to the girl you like, but please, continue to be a jerk for your unique reasons, and I will appreciate you all the more for it.


Sagging Middle Syndrome

I have been tromping through this draft with all the grace and delicacy of a grasshopper stuck in tar this week month. It finally occurred to me that what I'm dealing with is Sagging Middle Syndrome.

All writers face this, I know. I don't need to preach to the choir.

I decided to read up on some tips for fixing a sad, saggy middle, and in an effort to internalize the pointers (and avoid my story for *that much* longer), I'm going to share them with you.

Tip #1: When blogging about Sagging Middle Syndrome, don't make jokes about your own saggy stomach. Because everyone else who is blogging about SMS has already made that joke.

Tip #2: Tension. Build it. It's like blowing up a balloon: don't let it go too soon or it will skitter across the room making fart noises and land in a rumpled heap. Or something. Someone make that work. *delegates someone*

Tip #3: This is where your subplots get to take center stage. For just a little while, at least. This is where you change gears and let other bits of the story, besides the main conflict, come out to play.

Tip #4: Raise the stakes. This is kind of like building tension. And kind of not. Make your protag fail. Rain consequences down upon their head! Let relationships form and strengthen, and then make trouble for them.

So now, I beg. Someone who has seen the other side of SMS: what advice can you give us floundering grasshoppers?


Funky Fad Friday--How Old Are These Guys?

 So, according to the comments on last week's fad, I am the only person weirded out by winking? Okay, cool.

Moving on. Let's discuss something in YA that pops up a lot: Hot Guys. More specifically, cut, ripped, built, broad-shouldered, five o'clock-shadowed, other-kinds-of-manly Hot Guys.

I don't have a problem with this one. I, like every other slightly creepy adult woman, really don't mind reading about a love interest with rippling muscles or whatever.


You guys, let's be realistic for one second.

I had the privilege of growing up with my husband. I met him in high school at the age of sixteen, which is often the age of Hot Guys in YA books. And yeah, his shoulders were definitely broader than mine. He was shaving by that time, at least once a week. He had a fair amount of muscles. But, he was still kind of growing into his ears. He was lanky, like most teenage boys are. His voice was deep, but still cracked from time to time. He didn't hit the Hot Guy needs-to-shave-that-attractively-careless-scruff mold until, oh, about twenty, I'd guess.

I had a lot of guy friends who served LDS missions. They typically leave at nineteen and come back at twenty-one, and the thought I had as each one came home was, "Wow, he filled out." Boys became men somewhere in that two year window.

So, my point is, are these Hot Guys really only sixteen or seventeen? Because sometimes the way they're described makes them sound older.Not that I mind. It makes me feel less creepy.

Input! Has anyone else noticed this? What do you think about it?


EVIE'S KNIGHT Book Bomb! And NYAFT Blog Tour!

I'm so excited for my friends today! Kim Krey is having a book bomb for her debut novel, EVIE'S KNIGHT, and Chantele Sedgwick is kicking off a blog tour for her debut novel, NOT YOUR AVERAGE FAIRY TALE.

Let's start with Kim's book:

In Evie's Knight, love doesn't simply hurt ... it kills.

EVIE always thought college life would be magical, but so far it's not what she hoped for. Her best friend has gone wild, her love life is void, and she misses her mom more than ever. But life for Evie is about to change. CALVIN KNIGHT, the very object of her fascination, is about to fall madly in love with her. Just one problem: Their love conjures a murderous woman from beyond the grave who wants Evie dead. The same demon who has haunted the Knight men for over four generations.
Soon Calvin is forced to choose: Set Evie free and hope to evade the wrath of The Raven-haired Ghost, or use his newly gifted strengths to fight against her. If he chooses to fight and wins, Calvin will free the Knight men of this demonic witch. If he loses, Evie will become her next victim.

Now, I haven't read it yet but Kim read me an awesome kissy part (in her naturally sultry voice) and I've been thinking of it ever since (the book, not her voice. Although I am jealous of that voice, Kim.) I bought it on Kindle for $2.99 this morning. It's also available in paperback. Check it out here.

Also happening today is the kickoff for Chantele's blog tour! I have read NOT YOUR AVERAGE FAIRY TALE and it was awesome! You can buy it on Amazon here. Here's the blurb:

Armed with wings and a blue wand, being a fairy godmother should be easy. Unless your name is Ash, and you're a dude.

Ash Summerland has it all–good looks, popularity, and the best grades at The Academy of Magical Beings. Ready to complete his last assignment in order to graduate, Ash is confident he will get the apprenticeship he wants. When he opens the letter from the Council, he is shocked to discover he has been assigned to apprentice Lady Shenelle, Keeper of Happy Endings. A.K.A. the
head fairy godmother. Ash is forced to grant three wishes to a troubled human girl named Kendall, and ultimately give her a "happy ever after". But Kendall turns out to be more than he bargained for. Still grieving over her father's death, Kendall doesn't want anything to do with him. And worst of all, she doesn't believe in happy endings.
Ash. I'm a big fan. *thinks creepy thoughts*
ANYWAY. Chantele's blog tour is going on October 1st-19th and there will be prizes, including a Kindle! So go check it out!

Congratulations, ladies!