16 Oct

ROW80 Check-In (2)

Posted in ROW80

I hit the wall this week.  Not so much burnout but struggling with some personal things and the writing had to go on the back-burner.  I wrote practically zero content for DIY MFA (other than my regularly scheduled posts both here and on DIYMFA.com).  I still have not edited any chapters of my WIP because that’s lowest on the priority list right now.  OK, so I did launch the DIY MFA newsletter, Writer Fuel, but other than that, I have accomplished little.

The reason for this lapse so early in the challenge is that an vibrant member of my personal writing community passed away this past week.  I guess, as a writer, the way I grieve is through my writing.  It’s been difficult to write anything more than the bare minimum, given everything that’s happened.  But I know soon enough my grief will turn into determination and I’ll start writing in a frenzy again.  This time, with new purpose: because my friend would have wanted me to keep pushing forward on my work.  She would not want me to give up to grief.  Even so, I’ve given myself a week off becase right now it’s still too raw.

So there you have it, my ROW80 check-in (2).  Not much accomplished this week, but that’s OK.  All things considered, I think I’ll survive one week of not writing.


14 Oct

YA Cafe: Villains and Antagonists

Posted in Reading, Teen Lit, YA Cafe

Welcome Back to YA Cafe, where book lovers can gather and chat about teen literature. I’m your barista, along with Ghenet from All About Them Words.

Each Friday we pick from a menu of topics and share our thoughts on our respective blogs. We’ve also got plans brewing for interviews, events and even some exciting giveaways, so stay tuned! Join the discussion by responding in the comments, on your own blogs or on twitter using the hash tag #YAcafe.

Today’s Special: Villains and Antagonists

First of all, let’s start off by clarifying the difference between a villain and an antagonist.  A villain is the “bad guy” in the story, the character who’s responsible for bad things happening.  An antagonist is a broader category so while all villains fall under the antagonist umbrella, not all antagonists are villains.  The antagonist is the person or thing that gets in the way of the protagonist getting what he or she wants.  Remember how every writing teacher under the sun says that the protagonist has to want something?  Well, the antagonist is the thing that gets in the way.

The antagonist does not have to be human, it can be a whole society of people or even a natural or supernatural force.  Your antagonist could be a natural disaster or the bully who lives down the street.  Villains, however, are by definition human and they are characters in the story.  So now that we’ve got that cleared up, how do we make our antagonists or villains the most evil and effective they can be?

3 Tips for a Super-Evil, Super-Awesome Antagonist or Villain

1) Give him/her/it a motivation.  Oftentimes, writers take great pains to determine the motivation of their main characters, but the antagonist’s motivation falls by the wayside.  The truth is, if the antagonist has a reason for doing what she’s doing, it makes her all the more real to the reader.

For instance, in The Hunger Games trilogy, the government of Panem is the antagonist and its motivation for creating these games is to maintain order in this shattered world.  What makes this trilogy so intriguing is that the main character, Katniss (and the reader), never quite knows which side is the “good guys,” even at the very end.  This technique of giving both sides of the conflict legitimate motivations is one of the things that keeps the reader hooked to the very last page.

2) Give him/her/it a soft side.  Aside from the motivation, it also helps to give the antagonist a glimmer of goodness.  Think of Darth Vader.  Sure, he’s evil and wears that big helmet thing, but when it comes right down to it, he cares about his son and doesn’t want to kill him.  The same is true in teen literature.  Just think of any book with a “mean girl” character.

Sure, the writer can make that character mean and rotten to the core, but the story becomes all the more compelling if the mean girl has a soft side.  Think of Massie and Claire in The Clique.  At first, we want to root for Claire because she’s the underdog and the outsider and Massie is popular and mean.  But as the story develops, we realize that Claire is not as nicey-nicey as she first appears and Massie is not pure evil.  These contradictions are what keep the story interesting and keep the reader… well, reading.

3) Not all antagonists or villains need to be “well-rounded.”  Sometimes, what the antagonist did is just so bad and the protagonist is in so much pain because of it that you don’t have to give the antagonist any motivation or a soft side.  In fact, sometimes it’s just better if you let the antagonist be flat.  A perfect example of this is Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.

In this book, the antagonist has no good side, at least none that we can see.  For most of the novel, he doesn’t even have a proper name with Melinda (the protagonist) calling him “IT” or “Beast.”  In fact, he’s such a forgettable character that after reading the book, I hardly remembered anything about him.  But that’s because the book is not about him as a character.  It’s about the protagonist and the horrible thing he did to her.  In that type of situation, you don’t need the antagonist to be “well-rounded.”

Take-home Message: In the end, the writer needs to decide whether the antagonist should be a fully fleshed-out character or not and this will depend on whether the antagonist needs to be sympathetic on some level or not.  If the antagonist does not need to be at all sympathetic, then it’s OK to leave him or her flat to serve the story.  On the other hand, if the writer does want the antagonist to be sympathetic, that’s when you have to give him or her a motivation and a soft side.

For more on Villains and Antagonists in YA, check out Ghenet’s post!  And don’t forget the book club discussion coming up on October 28.  The topic is pretty flexible, so go ahead and choose a book, then think about how the book you picked is scary to you.  Then join the discussion on the 28th!  (Just in time for Halloween… muhahaha!)

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12 Oct

Introducing Writer Fuel

Posted in DIY MFA

Tonight it’s just a short post to share a DIY MFA update. This Friday, I will be launching Writer Fuel which is a weekly DIY MFA newsletter to help jumpstart your writing. This weekly writing boost–delivered via email every Friday–will cover a different topic every week and will arrive just in time to help jump-start those weekend writing sessions.

To sign up, just go to DIYMFA.com and enter your name and email. Along with the newsletter, you’ll also be in the loop to receive occasional DIY MFA updates about new features and products as well as getting sneak previews of some new and exciting DIY MFA stuff!

Sound interesting? Sign-up now so you don’t miss out on any of the fun!

Comments Off on Introducing Writer Fuel

09 Oct

ROW80 Check-In (1)

Posted in DIY MFA, ROW80, Writing Challenge

Hi all!

Been a super-productive week here at iggi&gabi.  For starters, I wrote about 7200 words of DIY MFA content (which is 2200 words more than my weekly goal.  Woot!)  I’ve also written a grand total of 7 blog posts (three here and four for DIY MFA) which is in keeping with my weekly goal.  The only thing I didn’t get a chance to do was revise my one chapter of the WIP.  I planned to work on it this weekend, but unexpected developments in DIY MFA forced me to put that chapter on hold for another week.

On Friday I decided that a new feature in DIY MFA–Writer Fuel–was ready to launch this week (instead of at the end of October).  Writer Fuel is a weekly boost of inspiration delivered via email to help people jump-start their writing.  This new part of DIY MFA launches on Friday and will continue every Friday, just in time to help inspire some weekend writing.  To receive Writer Fuel, just sign up for the DIY MFA mailing list on the DIY MFA site.

Overall, it’s been a good week and today I was super-tired and in need of some serious relaxation.  Luckily, I had planned a spa day for today (my mommy-to-be present to myself) and this couldn’t come at a better time.  After a few hours of major relaxation, I came home ready to dive back into work again.  If you’re ever feeling burnt out in your writing, I highly recommend this.  Even if you don’t want to go to an actual spa, a bubble bath, some scented lotion and a self-manicure can work wonders!

Write on and keep rocking the ROW80!


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