Friday, 24 August 2012

Creative Writing Dissertation Reading

Now that my supervisor replied to my email I should be writing, but I find that I can't stop reading. I'd forgotten how easy and fun it is to read young adult fiction, much better than serious books, or worst Wuthering Heights. 

I bought quite a few books at the beginning of the summer but haven't read most of them yet. I started reading Gone by Michael Grant and became addicted, meaning the other books would have to wait. At first I didn't think it was that great but I really got sucked in. I was drawn in because Grant didn't explain everything or answer any questions, he only made more, so I just had to read on to find out what was going on. I've now read three other books in the series with the fifth one on the way, but am still excited to see how it's going to end. The last book doesn't come out until April and I'm becoming impatient. I haven't had to wait for a book to come out since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. 

After I read those books I looked into what other teen books were popular and decided to read some Darren Shan. I picked Cirque du Freak as it seemed to be the most popular with the kids, and my friend Lauren highly recommended it. I particularly wanted to read some Shan as he is a great horror writer, and I admit it was pretty scary and plenty gory at some points. Although vampires aren't my favourite supernatural monster, and Twilight has made them so much worse, I wasn't put off and found the way he was turned into a vampire very interesting. I haven't read the rest of the series yet as there are quite a few books, and I can't afford all of them. I might get around to it eventually because my friend Lauren says it has a great ending, and I do love a good ending.

At the moment I am reading the Percy Jackson series, and I just love them! I read them ages ago when they first came out but they are still amazing years later. I suggested that my boyfriend read them and then I decided that really wanted to read them again, too. It just so happened that it is also research for my ECP - genius. I have always liked Greek myths and these books really satisfy my need for gods and goddesses, while having a fascinating and gripping plot. I have seen that Rick Riordan has also written another Greek inspired series, The Heroes of Olympus and The Kane Chronicles, which is based on Egyptian mythology. After I have finished rereading Percy Jackson I may look into these other series.

Today I went shopping and bought some more books, though I realise that I should be reading the books I already have, but I can't help it! I think buying books is better retail therapy than clothes shopping is. So, I bought The Recruit which is the first book in the CHERUB series. From the questionnaires I did I found that this series was quite popular and it is a best seller so I thought I'd give it a read. It's about child agents which reminds me of the Alex Rider series, and I liked that as a teen so I'll probably like this one too.

The other book I bought was a surprise. It's called Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley. The reason why it's a surprise is because it seems to be a twist on Edgar Allan Poe's stories. Does that sound familiar to you? Yeah, that's right, that's what my ECP is about, aaah! I am going to read it after Percy Jackson and pray that it isn't too much like my idea, I would be devastated if it was.

Here's the blurb:

'Edgar can't resist the terrifyingly twisted tales his Uncle Montague tells when he visits him at his house beyond the woods.
But what is his Uncle's connection with the dark stories? Prepare to be chilled to the bone as you discover that Uncle Montague is the subject of perhaps the most terrifying tale of all.
This is a seriously scary book...Are you brave enough to read on?'

Frankly, I think my idea sounds better. At least I hope it does!

The best thing about book shopping today was that I got a free book, and not a crap one either. It was actually a book I had been looking at earlier. I first heard about it my Fiction for Children module and thought it sounded interesting, mainly because it was about time travel, and who doesn't love a bit of time travel? It's Time Riders by Alex Scarrow. It was supposed to be free when you pre-ordered the new Artemis Fowl book but the Waterstones lady gave it to me anyway. Score! Waterstones workers are so nice.

As you can see I have a lot of reading to do, not to mention the reading I have to do for my modules, which seem so boring. If you have any other book suggestions for me to read, go ahead a comment below!

Monday, 20 August 2012

New Plot Synopsis Feedback

Hurrah! My ECP supervisor has finally emailed me back, and with good feedback. If you haven't already you should probably read the synopsis first.

So, here's what she said:

'Hi Holly - some of your ideas here are really interesting - I love the aspect of re-writing endings and this strange mix of characters from books and contemporary characters being in it together. The plot feels a little muddied but that's OK at this stage- I'm sure it will start to feel clearer once you start writing. I think you have something a bit different here and it could work really well.

Well done for going and talking to some 'real' readers and having the strength to change your ideas to suit a real market - lots of students find this really hard to do as they get too set in their first thoughts so you are working professionally already. Excellent! 

I suggest you write the first three chapters in draft form, revisit your synopsis and think about what might need to change, then let me have a look at it.

Keep in mind the popular books you've been researching with - notice how they use dialogue, action, setting, description and pace, and try and incorporate these styles into your own - you don't want to lose your 'voice' but you do want to capture that contemporary edge.

If you find this hard, sometimes it works to literally copy out a page of one of the books that most impressed you, word for word, then carry on with the second page yourself in the same style and tone. When you've done this, begin yours - you should find you are in 'the zone' by doing this exercise, and that the style comes through fairly naturally.

Happy writing!'

I'm glad that she likes the mix of characters. If I carry on this series after University I have big plans for many more characters, like the Bronte sisters and Austen fighting over who has the best romantic male character. But that won't be for ages yet. I mean, I have to write three chapters first. I know I like writing but I'd rather read right now. And I have been doing lots of reading for this project, all I've been reading lately are young adult books. I should really start reading books from my reading list soon. but the seems so boring! I do like the advice about writing out a page of a book I like, I never thought about doing that before. 
So now that I have her feedback better get started on the serious stuff. Oh, and I said I would do another character profile sheet soon, I should do that too!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

New Plot Synopsis

Well, I emailed my new ECP plot synopsis to my supervisor days ago and she still hasn't replied. I know she's having her holiday and she's not obligated to email me back during the summer but I really want her to! I just want to know her feedback. I did say I'd post the synopsis here after I received her feedback but seeing as she's taking so long I'm just going to post it now.

I said a little bit about it in a post a while ago but here's the full version.

Lenore moves to a new town with her Dad who commutes to the city, so is rarely there.

On her first day at her new school she doesn’t know who to hang out with. So instead of going to the lunchroom she wanders the corridors. While wandering she sees a terrifying man with a disfigured red face. She tries to run away but is pulled into an empty classroom by a boy, Perry. He is shocked that Lenore can see the man; no one else can see him and say it’s all in his head, and lately every time he sees the man, he’s closer.

Perry invites her to sit with him and they become friends. On their way home they see a man being arrested for murdering his landlord and burying him in the floorboards. He’s screaming about a blind eye. Worried, they hurry home and Perry explains that these sorts of things have been happening all over the town recently.

Lenore starts seeing a strange man and she’s determined to find out who he is. She decides to follow him and he leads her back to a large house on the edge of town. She sneaks in and sees piles of papers everywhere and takes some. She overhears the man talking while writing. He talks of a man pulling out his wife’s teeth. But before Lenore can confront the man, a strange boy comes in after her and pulls her away. It’s Raven Boy, a scruffy looking boy who can only say ‘Nevermore’. He wants to express that it’s dangerous but can’t.

The next day the people are talking about Mr Egaeus, a man who pulled out his wife’s teeth. Lenore, Perry and Raven Boy realise that what the mysterious man writes comes true.

They decide to Google ‘stories coming true’ but nothing comes up. Raven Boy pushes them aside and Googles ‘nevermore’. It comes up with the Raven and Edgar Allan Poe, a famous writer. Lenore recognises the picture instantly as the mysterious man.

Lenore remembers the papers she took. One’s a story about a boy who was followed by many ravens. The story ends with the boy being cursed so he can only say ‘Nevermore’. It is a story about Raven Boy. Perry decides that if this man can write people’s fates so can he. He rewrites the end of Raven Boy’s story so he can talk again. It doesn’t work though. Perry suggests Lenore try, but she hates writing ever since she wrote a story when she was a child that resulted in her mother’s death. Yet she realises that this could save people’s lives so gives it a go. Soon Raven Boy is talking again. He explains that he found out what the man was doing and went to the house but the man caught him and cursed him. Since then no one has taken him seriously.

Happily, they try to change Perry’s story so that the red faced man won’t get him. Unfortunately it doesn’t work and the next day the red man is there again, this time only metres away. They wonder why it didn’t work and Raven Boy suggests that they can’t just write an ending, they need the rest of the story, too. They have to go back to the mysterious man’s house.

They sneak back at night and grab all the papers and books they can but they can’t find Perry’s story. While there the mysterious man finds them he chases them off by writing of the red masked man. The red masked man finally catches Perry and drags him away. Raven Boy is also taken away by a flock of ravens.

Lenore is alone.

Perry and Raven Boy are stuck between a pit full of rats and a scythe-like pendulum as torture. The red masked man and ravens guard them, while many black cats patrol the area. Lenore sneaks back to the house and down to the basement wary of the guards. She whips out the papers they took earlier and writes that the cats kill all the ravens and she stops the mechanism before the pendulum slices them. During the pandemonium Perry overcomes his fear and pushes the red masked man into the pit to be eaten by rats. Lenore leaves them to take down the mysterious man.

In the study he waits for her. He says that Lenore doesn’t understand how much power she possesses but before she can ask anymore Perry and Raven Boy rush in with the pendulum and push the man into the large fireplace. Lenore is devastated that she didn’t find out what he meant.

When they visit the house the next day it’s completely empty and a ‘for sale’ sign is outside.

This will be part of a series with other gothic writers appearing in the town, like Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, and Robert Louis Stevenson. 

Please if you have any feedback I would really appreciate some comments. I want to know what everyone thinks of it. 

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Edgar Allan Poe Death Scenes

My sister found this picture on the Guardian website that is so relevant to my ECP it's unreal. So, if you've been feeling a little lost with all my talk about Edgar Allan Poe this might be a helpful starting point to what his stories are like.

Pretty cool, huh?

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Popular Children's Authors

When I went up to my old school to do my questionnaire (which everyone should do!) I also asked the librarian what was popular with young readers. Here are a few of the authors she suggested.

Suzanne Collins. Obviously I have read her books, The Hunger Games, who hasn't? And I can see why she is so popular. I liked the first two books but the third got a little odd and too political. I just liked the actual games and all the fighting. 

Jeff Kinney. He's the writer of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series, which must be very popular as they keep making movies. In the questionnaire a lot of the boys wrote that it was their favourite book. His style isn't really something I'm looking to get involved in though.
Liz Pichon. Not heard of her but by the looks of Google she is a kid's book illustrator/writer. Something that isn't really relevant to my ECP at all.
Darren Shan. I just finished reading his book Cirque du Freak for research into children's horror. I enjoyed it and realised why he is a great horror writer but it still felt a little too young. Also, things like Twilight and True Blood have ruined the genuine horror of vampires, now all I can think is that they're very sexual beings. It's so annoying, I prefer them scary. Lots of the kids said that Cirque du Freak was one of their favourite series of books. 
Michael Morpurgo. I've read a few of his books, like Private Peaceful and I've seen War Horse but other than that I'm not a big reader of his. His stuff seems a bit real life drama, which I find a bit boring sometimes. But that doesn't mean they weren't good, they were very emotional and really tugged at your heartstrings. 
Robert Muchamore. This is an author I have never heard of, but one of his most popular books is CHERUB  and has now been made into a graphic novel, so maybe I'll check it out.
Rick Riordan. I really loved The Percy Jackson Series, they were one of my favourite book series as a teen. I even read them secretly during classes. I always had an interest in Greek mythology and these books really brought them to life. I haven't read any of his recent stuff but I'm sure it's just as good. 

Cathy Cassidy. I've only read one of her books and that was years ago. My friend leant me Dizzy (she liked it because it rhymed with her name, Izzy). I remember thinking the book was a little odd even though it's relatively normal. It's not a really a style I'd like to write in.
Chris Higgins. She's not a writer I've ever heard of but it looks like she writes similar things to Cathy Cassidy and Jacqueline Wilson, maybe?
Meg Cabot. She is my favourite author of all time and I've read and own nearly all her books. She even follows me on twitter - how awesome is that? My original ECP idea was inspired by her books but I'm going down the more actiony, mixed gender route now, rather than the chick lit way. Her adult books are just as good as her teen ones, so try reading some, they're bound to make you smile. 
Jacqueline Wilson. She is another author that I loved and at one point I owned nearly all her books too. But I grew out of them and now she has written millions, she seems to churn them out. A lot of the girls said that Wilson was their favourite author and I'm not really surprised. I also loved Nick Sharratt who illustrated her books, because of him I used to want to be an illustrator. I still do a little but writing is my priority. 
Andy Stanton. Another author I haven't heard of but apparently he writes the popular Mr Gum Series. I'll be honest, it's not something that I'm bothered about looking into. 
Sophie McKenzie. She's not a writer I have heard of but I saw the cover of one of her books in the library and it did look quite interesting, though I know not to judge a book by it's cover. But if that was true then they wouldn't make the covers so interesting. She is the author of Blood Ties and I may go and see how much it is on Kindle.

If you have any more suggestions on popular young adult fiction or any books that would relate to my ECP please feel free to comment!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman!

My second post of August; I think I'll be able to make four more posts easily.

This post is just to say how awesome comic books are. I've been totally sucked in to the whole superhero scene following The Avengers, The Amazing Spiderman, and The Dark Knight Rises (my favourite being TDKR). Oh, we also watched The Green Lantern the other day...what a disaster that was!

For my birthday we dressed (loosely) like superheroes and went to see TDKR at the cinema. We even had superhero cakes, which my mum and myself made. Like them?

Wonder Woman
The Green Lantern
The Flash
And Batman
 (Okay so we didn't make the Batman one, that was from Tesco.)

I dressed as Wonder Woman, well, I had a Wonder Woman top and her crown and arm dealies at least. But I wanted to know more about her so I bought the comic book, Wonder Woman: The Circle, and it is pretty damn good. I just love the style of drawings and not to mention the lady herself. By that time I had just read The Dark Knight Returns as part of my reading list for my third year. I preferred the art in Wonder Woman but the Frank Miller comic was still good.

Today I read Teen Titans: A Kid's Game and boy was it amazing. Every superhero seemed to be in it and they totally rocked. I especially loved the fight between Wonder Woman and Starfire, and now I'm not sure who I like more! Needless to say, I have now bought the next two in the series.

I was a bit apprehensive about my Comic Book and Graphic Novel module but now I'm just dead excited. I have a feeling it's going to be my favourite module and I have already done a tonne of background reading before the year has even begun!

Friday, 3 August 2012

New ECP Plot Idea?

I have become pretty bad at updating my blog lately, mainly because it's the summer holidays. I did say to myself before the holidays that I was going to keep on top of it and update regularly. Yeah, that didn't happen. So I'm saying now that I will do at least four posts this month, including another character profile sheet. You can tell me off if I don't.

Anyway, this post is about my new plot synopsis. That's right, I've changed my idea for my dissertation. I haven't told my ECP supervisor yet and I'll email it to her before I post it here. I changed my idea for two reasons. One, the questionnaire results showed that my previous idea wouldn't do too well in the market, the kids wouldn't want to read it. And secondly, I was bored of it. The whole thing seemed boring and I wouldn't want to read it either, frankly I didn't want to write it. I'm already excited to write my new idea though.

The changes I've made are because of the results. I haven't changed everything though. Edgar Allan Poe is still involved, the main character is still Lenore, and weird Gothicy things are still happening around town.

It was clear from the results that readers between 12-15 years old liked ambiguous endings (although many of them had to ask what ambiguous meant...) so I have now made my idea part of a series, that way I don't have to answer all the questions at once or wrap it up neatly, and there can be a cheeky cliffhanger or two. Series are way more popular too, if you think of any young adult books they are probably part of a series, and usually a best selling one.

I've also changed the genre. It is more of a horror/fantasy/mystery with some actiony elements thrown in. Fantasy was a big favourite and I'm not surprised, I'm now glad I'm taking the Sci-fi and Fantasy module this year. Romance, on the other hand, wasn't a particular favourite, in fact all the boys hated it. But I will have a hint of romance, as it seems all the popular young adults have a little love triangle going on, think The Hunger Games Series and (though I hate to say it) The Twilight Series.

While Lenore is still the main character she's now not the only one. I am planning to write it from multiple viewpoints as the results showed that while young readers may have preferred male protagonists they didn't mind either gender, really, so I thought I'd do a little bit of both too. Also, I have been reading the Gone Series, which has many viewpoints which works pretty well, it really keeps you interested and moves the story along at a nice pace. Though some character's stories are a lot more exciting than the others. These books also made me realise that some weird things happen in books but kids just go along with it. (It also has a thing called a 'gaiaphage'. Seriously, since doing the Writing and the Environment module I've heard about Gaia everywhere. She won't leave me alone!)

I have tried writing in the present tense as well as the past tense and I haven't decided which one I like more. I always have issues with tense; I skip between them all the time meaning I lose marks quite a bit. I'm thinking that if I do it in present tense maybe I won't skip so much, and the results showed that the readers do prefer the present tense. It's a decision I will make at a later date, after my supervisor has okayed the plot.

It will probably be in third person just so the point of views don't get all muddled. Also because I always do the first person so it might be nice to try something new. Third person allows you to explore more and not just be stuck in the character's head.

So there were some hints about my new idea. I'll post it later this month along with a character profile sheet about the new Lenore and maybe the other characters too.