a spy in the house of love

author alexandra bracken

16 Apr

Inspired by this and this

(Source: halfagony-halfhope)

15 Apr

dumbledorelovessherbetlemons asked: As a writer, do you prefer yo handwrite or type??

I mostly type, but I do handwrite a lot more than I used to. Instead of reading for 20 minutes before bed, if I’m on a hard deadline or need to turn something around quickly, I’ll keep a notebook by my bed and either write out the next scene or outline it so I can get to work faster the next day. 

04 Apr

Anonymous asked: hi! i loved the darkest minds and i was wondering if you'd ever consider writing a novel with a gay or trans protagonist?

I never say never to anything when it comes to writing! 

24 Mar

Anonymous asked: What are your thoughts on "sex scenes" or sex in general in ya books? Just curious to hear a young author's thoughts.

I think as long as they help develop the main character(s) and/or help to progress the plot—that is, you’re not just including a sex scene to have a sex scene—then I never take issue with them. How they’re handled really depends on the age level the book is aimed at. In the world of YA that usually means either “12 and up” or “14 and up.” With the former, I think you’re much more likely to find the heavily implied or fade-to-black scenes (or no sex scenes at all).

22 Mar

Anonymous asked: Hi Alex! As one of my favourite writers I thought you would be the perfect person to ask about a writing problem I am having. I've come up with an idea for a story, but I'm struggling with creating a voice/personality for my MC and whilst I've been trying to do that I've come up with a new story whereby I know my MC's voice. My question is what would you do, stick with first idea and try to create a voice or move on to the new idea and come back to the first at a later date? Thank you! :)

I’m not the best person to ask, unfortunately, just based on how I brainstorm new stories—I usually start with the character/the character’s voice and build the world and plot off him or her. I would write down everything you already know about the first story and move onto the second one, though. You can always use ideas from the first in future stories you write or come back to it once there’s a better sense of who the MC is.  

07 Mar

When I try to be literary

title2come:

image

16 Feb

GPOY after spending 72 hours alone revising.

(Source: jess-miller)

04 Feb

Do you have any burning questions about working in publishing?

Let me know! I’m up tomorrow on Publishing Crawl and I’m stumped this month on what to cover.  

17 Jan I’m spending this long weekend working on the heavy lifting that has to go into getting book 3 in order. I have really fantastic, thoughtful notes from both Sarah and my editors that have me excited to dive back in and get the beast in shape. When I got my editorial letter today, I was actually pretty surprised to find that my first reaction wasn’t one of, “Man, I suck I suck I suuuuuuck,” which has been my response to literally every other editorial letter I’ve ever gotten. This time it was, “Woof. I have work to do. Tonight, I have to figure out x/y/z, tomorrow 1/2/3…”
See, all through high school and college I had what can only be described as a really punishing, fairly irrational sense of perfectionism when it came to myself. It didn’t manifest itself in me struggling every moment of every day to keep my hair just right, or to wear the right kind of clothes. It didn’t mean I looked over every paper and homework I produced with a fine tooth comb, either. Actually, the super irrational part of it was more that I would write something and turn it in without re-reading it, mostly because I was afraid that, upon re-reading, I’d find that it really sucked. (I MEAN, shouldn’t I have just wanted to FIX IT?)  “Bad grades” for me was anything under an A- and despite receiving zero pressure from my parents to maintain a good GPA, I beat myself up over bad grades/tests/papers/not getting selected for this/etc. 
So you can imagine I hated revising. Hated. HATED. Getting a 5-15 page letter pointing out everything that was wrong with the book I’d spent months writing? Not awesome. My immediate thought was always, “My editor must hate me because I turned in something that didn’t work from the get-go.” I thought that even though I WORKED as an editorial assistant for a year and a half and knew that wasn’t the case at all. All books need work. All books need work. I have never in my life heard of a book that had a perfect first draft. The only books I’d ever worked on that needed only light editing from the get-go were books already published in other countries that we were acquiring for distribution in the U.S. They had already been edited.  
I really struggle—still—with the fear of disappointing people. Actually, the worst reviews for me aren’t the GIF-filled scathing reviews, but the ones that say, “I loved this author’s other book, but I was really disappointed by this one.” Laura, who is the fabulous Associate Editor who works with Editor Emily on the TDM series, pointed out to me once that I always include a list of everything I think is wrong with the draft I’m sending, or I’ll start off a conversation of the book that way. I think I’ve figured out I do this because 1) I’m afraid not fixing a problem well enough will somehow disappoint them when I really just need their additional brainpower to untangle something and 2) because I hope they’ll think I’m less of a hack if I alert them to the fact I recognize the problem exists.
My whole mental process re: revising used to be very exhausting, as you can see. It can be summed up as: I took everything too personally.
It’s taken me four books and literally dozens of drafts to understand exactly what Michael Crichton said. For me, the real “work” or “job” of being an author isn’t in the initial drafting, but in revising. It’s going back to the document again and again, even if you’re sick to death of reading the same book for the twentieth time. It involves ripping out whole sections of the book, patching things over with new words, moving this stitch here, instead of there, letting go of elements you love, and forcing yourself to reconceive what your story is and should be. In fact, there’s pretty much nothing gives me satisfaction than pulling off an awesome revision—not even turning in a great first draft. I am so much more forgiving with myself when it comes to drafting, and I over the past two years, I’ve managed to adjust the “I suck I suck I suuuuuuck” thinking into, “How lucky am I to have this great team who totally gets these books the way I do?” and “CHALLENGED ACCEPTED.”
Because…

and you guys deserve the best possible book I can give you. To that end, I’ll probably be pretty sparse on Twitter and Tumblr for the next few weeks, so apologies in advance for any slow response times!

I’m spending this long weekend working on the heavy lifting that has to go into getting book 3 in order. I have really fantastic, thoughtful notes from both Sarah and my editors that have me excited to dive back in and get the beast in shape. When I got my editorial letter today, I was actually pretty surprised to find that my first reaction wasn’t one of, “Man, I suck I suck I suuuuuuck,” which has been my response to literally every other editorial letter I’ve ever gotten. This time it was, “Woof. I have work to do. Tonight, I have to figure out x/y/z, tomorrow 1/2/3…”

See, all through high school and college I had what can only be described as a really punishing, fairly irrational sense of perfectionism when it came to myself. It didn’t manifest itself in me struggling every moment of every day to keep my hair just right, or to wear the right kind of clothes. It didn’t mean I looked over every paper and homework I produced with a fine tooth comb, either. Actually, the super irrational part of it was more that I would write something and turn it in without re-reading it, mostly because I was afraid that, upon re-reading, I’d find that it really sucked. (I MEAN, shouldn’t I have just wanted to FIX IT?)  “Bad grades” for me was anything under an A- and despite receiving zero pressure from my parents to maintain a good GPA, I beat myself up over bad grades/tests/papers/not getting selected for this/etc. 

So you can imagine I hated revising. Hated. HATED. Getting a 5-15 page letter pointing out everything that was wrong with the book I’d spent months writing? Not awesome. My immediate thought was always, “My editor must hate me because I turned in something that didn’t work from the get-go.” I thought that even though I WORKED as an editorial assistant for a year and a half and knew that wasn’t the case at all. All books need work. All books need work. I have never in my life heard of a book that had a perfect first draft. The only books I’d ever worked on that needed only light editing from the get-go were books already published in other countries that we were acquiring for distribution in the U.S. They had already been edited.  

I really struggle—still—with the fear of disappointing people. Actually, the worst reviews for me aren’t the GIF-filled scathing reviews, but the ones that say, “I loved this author’s other book, but I was really disappointed by this one.” Laura, who is the fabulous Associate Editor who works with Editor Emily on the TDM series, pointed out to me once that I always include a list of everything I think is wrong with the draft I’m sending, or I’ll start off a conversation of the book that way. I think I’ve figured out I do this because 1) I’m afraid not fixing a problem well enough will somehow disappoint them when I really just need their additional brainpower to untangle something and 2) because I hope they’ll think I’m less of a hack if I alert them to the fact I recognize the problem exists.

My whole mental process re: revising used to be very exhausting, as you can see. It can be summed up as: I took everything too personally.

It’s taken me four books and literally dozens of drafts to understand exactly what Michael Crichton said. For me, the real “work” or “job” of being an author isn’t in the initial drafting, but in revising. It’s going back to the document again and again, even if you’re sick to death of reading the same book for the twentieth time. It involves ripping out whole sections of the book, patching things over with new words, moving this stitch here, instead of there, letting go of elements you love, and forcing yourself to reconceive what your story is and should be. In fact, there’s pretty much nothing gives me satisfaction than pulling off an awesome revision—not even turning in a great first draft. I am so much more forgiving with myself when it comes to drafting, and I over the past two years, I’ve managed to adjust the “I suck I suck I suuuuuuck” thinking into, “How lucky am I to have this great team who totally gets these books the way I do?” and “CHALLENGED ACCEPTED.”

Because…

image

and you guys deserve the best possible book I can give you. To that end, I’ll probably be pretty sparse on Twitter and Tumblr for the next few weeks, so apologies in advance for any slow response times!

08 Jan

Anonymous asked: Hi! I just have a quick question about fan edits, fan art and fanfiction and other things in that general kind of area, I've heard that some authors are advised against looking at it. Why is that? And are there different rules for each author/publisher or is there a set limit to what you can look at? Thank you! :)

I’ve never heard that about fan edits/fan art, but fan fiction is different because if an author reads a story—and the author of the fan fiction story knows it—if there are any coincidental similarities between the author’s next work and the fan fiction, they can be accused of plagiarism. For that same reason, a lot of authors will turn down reading others’ work when asked for feedback. With fan edits/art, they generally reflect/represent something in the story that the author has created.

Also, I don’t know how much an author would really enjoy reading stories about characters/a world they created coming from someone else, especially if it diverges sharply from the author’s intentions with the book(s).

07 Jan

Anonymous asked: Hi Alex, how did you keep track of all your ideas for TDM series? I'm a new writer and I keep struggling with keeping my ideas organized.

My editor would probably say that I don’t do a very good job of this, haha.  I tend to keep notes organized in a Word document—little loose ends, key details (where camps are located, for example), etc. though the truth is most of it is all up here *taps forehead*  The important aspects of the story, the ones I knew from the beginning needed to be touched on in books 2 and 3, I’ve been thinking about constantly, to the point they’re hard to forget. But… I do forget certain details, and I’m always surprised when I go back and reread bits of TDM and find little nuggets I’d totally forgotten about including.

I’m not sure exactly what you mean by ideas (plot? characters? worldbuilding?) but I would recommend at least starting a document or notebook and dividing it by subject: Character A, Character B, Worldbuilding, etc. It also helps to write out a full, long summary of the story or put the key plot elements into an outline. There’s a bit of playing around necessary here to figure out what works best for you!

06 Jan visualgraphic:

29 Ways to Stay Creative

I do every single one of these—this is great advice!

visualgraphic:

29 Ways to Stay Creative

I do every single one of these—this is great advice!

(Source: visualgraphc)

17 Dec
We need more Mary Sues. We need more unapologetically powerful female characters, on a wish-fulfilment level of awesome. We need them to be gods and superheroes and billionaire playboy philanthropists and science experiments gone wrong and normal kids bitten by spiders who now save the world. Why should female characters have to be realistic, while male characters have all the fun? Why shouldn’t a female hero appear alongside Iron Man and Thor, in a way where she can truly hold her own?

We Need More Mary Sues (via matchgirl42)

17 Dec

Plus, neutral, and minus columns on the writing life

melissamarr:

Pre-pubbed writer friend says, “It must be so easy once you’re published! I can’t wait for that to be me.”

It was an off-hand comment, but it got me to thinking. I don’t want to be the Voice of Doom & Gloom, but I do think there’s a use for realism in any career.

Let me say upfront that I…

This is a really great overview of the wonderful side of writing and the less-than-stellar side.

09 Dec

Anonymous asked: Hi there! I absolutely love your books & was wandering if you ever struggled with keeping with one idea? I love writing, but I seem to be unable to stick to writing one story if I get a new idea? I have two possible ideas for two completely different stories (one would probably end up being a long series of novels, the other a stand alone) and was wondering, as a newbie writer, which story would be best to start with? Thank you! :)

I think I’ve covered this before, but I can’t seem to find it under the writing tag (boo), which means I probably forgot to go back and add the tag in (side note: hugely annoying you can’t add the tags in while originally posting the answer, Tumblr). 

Right now, I’m bouncing between three different ideas, waiting for a few valued opinions on what one makes the most sense to work on next. I base my decisions on what’s working in the market, what won’t be too much of a jump for me to work on after TDM, and what I feel the most excited about.

What you’re asking about is a little bit of a different beast—more like you get distracted by a new shiny idea that pops up while working on a current project? This happens to ALL writers. This happened to me at least five times while working on TDM series. Sometimes this means that

1) your original idea isn’t working or you’re bored with it (<— In which case, time to break up with it)

2) there’s something about your original idea that you love (like a character or scene) but the rest of it needs to bake for a little while longer (<- In this instance, take a temporary step back to thing things through OR try to lift the character or scene and insert it in the new project that you find more exciting)

3) you still love your original idea but-but-but the new shiny is just that shiny(!) and you can’t resist

The way I handle #3 is to open up a blank Word Doc and write down everything that comes to me about the story—quotes, characters, scenes, themes, etc. and then I save it into an ideas folder, and go back to the project I’m currently working on and finish it. The hardest thing about writing is generally finding the will to push through and see a project to the end—it takes discipline, and sometimes you have to remind yourself why you love the story and wanted to work on it in the first place.

You can start with a series or a standalone novel (I started with a standalone, but a ton of writers start with a series). The important thing that editors and agents look for is whether or not the first book in a series could, potentially standalone. If you go with the series idea, make sure that’s true of the ending of book one.

Good luck!