What Part Are You Good At?

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I have an important question to ask you writers on this rainy (if you’re in the tri-state area) Monday…

What part are you good at?

Here is my great curse as a writer:

I’m really good at climaxes.

And that’s not just my own personal opinion. My readers tend to agree: “Once I got to the climax, I could not put it down!”

And the weird thing is, I tend to not have to draft the climaxes millions of times, like I feel like I do with the rest of the novel. They come together pretty quickly for me.

But that means there are other parts I’m less good at. Such as: middles.

I’m terrible at middles.

Especially the beginning of the middle. I’m in the middle of yet another first draft and I’m past the inciting incident, which means I’m just now starting the dreaded middle. I’m trying to build the characters, up the stakes, seed in all the important elements for the climax, all while maintaining the voice of the novel, and of course, continuing to up the tension.

It’s hard. And it’s getting … saggy. There’s so much to put in while also so much balance to maintain. Between action and characterization, voice and tension, foreshadowing, but not too blatant foreshadowing … like I said: hard.

I get through it by telling myself it’s the first draft and I’ll fix it later. But it bugs me that drafting the majority of my story is this hard. I wish I could just skip ahead to the climax–and sometimes I do, jotting down these scene and that one in a fit of excitement–but in general I’ve found that if I don’t write in a somewhat linear fashion, that means way more editing later, because things change so much throughout the drafting process.

It could be worse. I could be terrible at beginnings. Beginnings I’m generally considered pretty good at–not amazing at the way I am climaxes, but good. (After several drafts, of course.)

It’s important to be good at beginnings, because no one is going to read on if they don’t like your beginning. But it’s also important to have a good middle. You can lose a reader with a saggy middle. And then it doesn’t matter how amazing your climax is; the reader’s not going to get there if the other parts aren’t up to par.

Some of my favorite writers and books of all time (ahem) have fantastic beginnings, middling middles, and meh-ish endings. Of course, the best books ever are amazing the whole way through. And that’s what I’m striving for: amazing the whole way through.

So how about you? Are there parts you’re particularly good at? Bad at? Do you have tips for me on getting through the middle? I’d love to hear…

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Learning From the Masters: The Meet-Cute Part IV

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No series on writing meet-cutes would be complete without quoting the master of the contemporary YA romance: Stephanie Perkins.

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MK’s Book Reviews: The Book Thief

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It has recently come to my attention that not everyone has read this amazing important book. If you are among this unfortunate group of people, please read on…

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Learning from the Masters: The Meet-Cute Part III

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Time for another Meet-Cute! (In case you missed them, Parts One and Two).

Behold, one of my favorite meet-cutes of all time:

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The Best Series of All Time (according to me)

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Since getting embroiled in yet another series I love, I’ve been thinking about my favorite series (plural) of all time…

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MK’s Book Reviews: My Life Next Door

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So after this book, I was in need of an antidote, in the way of some lighter fare. I chose Huntley Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door.

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On Writing YA Contemporary

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For my first novel, the only people I had reading and critiquing it were friends and family. Which was awesome for my ego–not so awesome for my work.

For my second novel, I actually did what the internets have been advising me to do–I searched for critique partners. And I actually found two!

More on that process later, though–what I really want to talk about is something one of these wonderful critique partners pointed out to me: that my YA contemporary novel was not, in fact, YA contemporary.

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Friday Things

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After an amazing wedding weekend (my boyfriend’s sister’s) it was hard to return to real life this week. My boyfriend’s parents rented a big beautiful house in Avalon, in south Jersey, and it was a flurry of days filled with family and friends stopping by to help with last-minute projects, eat, drink, or just hang out. It further cemented my idea that happiness is just a steady stream of seeing people you like (and a nice home, with good food).

Here are three things that caught my attention this week:

1. This is my new favorite Instagram.

2. I really loved this piece about struggling to find a heroine in literature you can identify with. I went through something similar as a teenager; while I was never that overweight, I was quite unattractive for a number of years (acne, bushy hair–oh fifteen, you are so unkind). I remember being frustrated that every girl I read about was always beautiful (to be fair, I was primarily reading Sweet Valley High at the time). This has sparked some ideas for a new novel; more on that later.

3. I can’t decide where to go for vacation this year. There’s just so much attempted life-changing going on the prospect of planning a vacation is overwhelming me. But I’m finding this list intriguing, especially Cuba…

Reading: On the subway this morning, I finished Red Queen. And I gotta say … I don’t understand the hype. It started off interesting enough, but the rest of the book was filled with flat characters, uninspired dialogue, obvious plot “twists”, and my biggest book pet peeve: showing and telling. Sentences like “I grin, pleased with myself”, and “he douses the flame, putting it out with water” make me want to scream.

Watching: ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK comes out today! Must be careful not to let the binge-watching intrude on my writing time.

Listening to: More nineties emo stuff, and I love it 🙂

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Learning from the Masters: The First 250 Words

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I’m currently revising the first book I ever wrote. After many years of debate, I’ve decided to definitively kill my darling of a prologue and start right away with the main story.

I wrote before about the importance of the first 250 words of your manuscript and I’ll probably write about it again because it was something I didn’t get right away, as a writer. I thought to myself, this book is good–especially the end! But no one will get to the end if they don’t get past the beginning.

So! Revising again. And for help, I’m pulling the first 250 words of both favorite novels and popular novels, even ones I didn’t particularly love. Because you can always learn from the success of others, even if you don’t agree with it.

So on to today’s excerpt…

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