Sunday, February 3, 2008

Revisions, OW! And 25 Things...

Okay, so it’s about time I updated, right? I mean, it’s only been a week. *Crazy* week though, as I’m training (to teach online), I have a sick kid at home who’s decided she can’t sleep anymore, and REVISIONS that just arrived.

Yes, Revisions. I have mixed feelings about revisions. (These are for a book I just wrote, and were sent to me by Agent). I go through varied emotional stages when revisions arrive. First, I’m kinda offended because I’m supposed to be the greatest writer in the world, right? I mean, the first draft is always the best—no need for adjustments. (Ha! Hardly.) But then I start to “see the light”, and once I really start considering the suggestions I realize that agent/editor/etc. is right on target. Then I get excited, because I know the revised manuscript is going to be *so much* stronger than the original draft. So, I’ve already gone through the downer stage, where I’m dreading going back through and making changes to what I already thought was perfect. I’m getting to that *eager* stage now. Hopefully this will shape up to be a VPW (very productive week).

Enough of that, though, because today I’m going to talk about One Wish (OW!)

I ran across this in Joelle Anthony’s blog. It’s 25 things that commonly appear in YA/MG novels. So, I compared OW! to the list to see how trite and stereotypical and formulaic my writing is. (This so could’ve blown up in my face.)

(The direct link to Joelle’s blog is here:

Here’s the list, and here’s how One Wish stacks up:

25 Things that Commonly Appear in YA/MG Novels

#25 – Vegetarian teens with unsympathetic meat-eating parents. No. Wrenn (the main character in OW!) eats too much of whatever she wants. Zoe (her best friend) has Unsympathetic Vegetarian Parents . . . Thank God for Burger King.

#24 – Shy or withdrawn characters that take refuge in the school’s art room/ compassionate art teachers. No. Shy character decides she wants to be a star . . . and ultimately finds herself on stage. No compassion from the drama teacher.

#23 – A token black friend among a group of white friends - usually it’s a girl, and she’s always gorgeous. No.

#22 – A tiny scar through the eyebrow, sometimes accompanied by an embarrassing story. No scars.

# 21 – Using the word ‘rents for parents, but not using any other slang. I don’t think I used this word, and as for slang, I’m really big on the so’s, like’s, and whatever’s.

# 20 – A beautiful best friend who gets all the guys but doesn’t want them. Zoe is gorgeous, and Wrenn is jealous of her at times, but there’s only one guy for her: a dude she met online but hasn’t met.

#19 – The wicked stepmother who turns out to be simply misunderstood and it’s all cleared up in the climax. No wicked stepmother, just a mom who’s starting to date again, and trying to “figure it out” like everyone else.

#18 – Authors showing their age by naming characters names they grew up with (i.e. Debbie, Lisa, Kimberly, Alice, Linda, etc.). I have a Wrenn, Zoe, Steven, Chase, Bree, Tabitha, etc. How old does that make me?

#17 – Parents who are professional writers or book illustrators. Wrenn’s mom is personal assistant to Mitzi Monroe (a local news/talk show host). She hates her job.

#16 – Using coffee, cappuccino, and café latte to describe black people’s skin. No.

#15 – Main characters named Hannah and making a note of it being a palindrome. No Hannahs.

#14 – Younger siblings who are geniuses, adored by everyone, and usually run away during the book’s climax, causing dramatic tension. Wrenn’s younger sister, Karly, is beautiful and popular (everything Wrenn wants to be) so yes, Wrenn is *so* jealous of her, and this does cause a few problems.

#13 – The mean-spirited cheerleader (and her gang) as the story’s antagonist. Nope. No cheerleaders. Just the most popular girl in school (Bree Donnelly). But truth be told, Wrenn winds up being her own, worst enemy.

# 12 – A dead mother. Nope!

# 11 – Heroines who can’t carry a tune, even if it were in a bucket. Ha! Zoe can’t carry a tune. Wrenn has an amazing voice—amazing enough to land her a part in the school musical, despite the fact she’s carrying around a few pounds more than she’d like to.

# 10 – Guys with extraordinarily long eyelashes. No. In fact, Steven is a nerd and Wrenn doesn’t even know he’s alive at first. But then she comes to her senses and realizes: “He had amazing eyes. They were blue and clear, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I hadn’t noticed them before.”

# 9 – The popular boy dating the dorky heroine to make his former girlfriend jealous, and then breaking the heroine’s heart. No.

# 8 – The diary, either as the entire format, or the occasional entry. No.

# 7 – Fingernail biting. Um, maybe?

# 6 – Characters who chew on their lip or tongue in times of stress – usually until they taste blood. Ew. No. Wrenn may bite her lower lip every now and then, but it certainly doesn’t bleed. Blood makes me nauseous. I can’t even write about it.

# 5 – Raising one eyebrow. Um. Sometimes?

# 4 – Main characters who want to be writers. No. Wrenn doesn’t know what she wants to be, except popular. Everything else is just a bonus.

# 3 – Calling parents by their first names. No. But Zoe does—because her parents insist.

# 2 – Best friends with red hair. No red hair! Zoe is blonde, and Wrenn’s hair is dark, dark brown (almost black, even) and she eventually becomes a blonde.

And the number one thing found in YA novels…

#1 – Lists. No lists!

Okay, so that’s how One Wish stacks up to the stereotypes. What that means, I don’t know. Hopefully that I’ve written a semi-decent story? That girls will find a little bit of themselves in Wrenn? That my book isn’t identical to every other book out there? (Based on this survey, that is.)

Ugh. Can’t worry about that now. It’s only February. I still have 3-4 months until publication. Besides, I’ve got Revisions to work on!

And all that talk about red hair reminds me . . . I’ve got some serious dark roots to fix.

Have a great week!

~Love, Leigh~

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