Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Guest Post with Rhiannon Paille

About Me:
Rhi was never a normal girl. She tried, but she couldn’t get rid of the visions, the voices in her head, and the hallucinations. When she was on the edge of crazy someone pulled her back and explained it all. She wasn’t insane. She was psychic, really psychic, too psychic. Her life was an urban fantasy wrapped in a paranormal romance and served with a side of horror. To escape her everyday weirdness she began writing fantasy. She frequents twitter and facebook, but if you really want to get to know her you should visit her site: www.rhiannonpaille.com  
Her book FLAME OF SURRENDER (The Ferryman and The Flame #1) Comes out November 1st, 2011. Check it out here: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11841693-flame-of-surrender

The Bella Swan Factor: How to avoid stereotypes
I feel lately like YA Fiction is trying to strangle us with stereotypes. There are multiple books on all the usual trendy things, vampires, werewolves, dystopias, faeries, etc. etc. Through these stories we’ve also seen every type of character repeated over and over again. It’s hard to come up with a character that isn’t a long lost twin of another character from another series.
And I did things backwards. I wrote my characters and got to know them long before I got back into reading YA again, which was somewhere in 2008, and yes it was Twilight in case you were wondering. What I did with Kaliel and Krishani is I listened to their voices in my head for years and then I read YA Fiction and I tweaked them to be trendy.
Similarly, when Maggie Steifvater created Sam she originally wanted a sad boy that was losing himself. Turning into a werewolf became the metaphor for that loss. (Check her chat at Mundie Moms for the source)
What most aspiring writers do is they start at the wrong end of the spectrum. They begin by saying they want to write a Vampire story, or a Werewolf story or a Dystopian story.
I did this too, after reading The Hunger Games and Delirium, I wanted to write a Dystopian novel. That’s ALL that was in my head. So like a puzzle I went around and around in circles coming up with something crafty, not trendy and unique. I unfortunately kept hitting blocks in the logistics and therefore I gave up and shelved the ideas.
Months later I’m talking with an editor who needs a Superhero v.s. Zombies story for an Anthology. I rifle through my collection of ideas I left and find this little gem of a half created Dystopian world and bam, it became a superhero v.s. zombie dystopian story. (Yes yes I promise you’ll get to read it once I have more information from the publisher I’ll release it on my blog)
The thing is, you have to decide on the type of character before you decide on the metaphysical attributes your characters have. Make them normal, and then add to their character. Think of it like models. They’re stripped to nothing, no makeup, no body glitter, no clothes and then the designers paint their faces, do their hair and put clothes on them. They give them the attitude they have to have in front of the cameras, give them their background inspiration, and then the model has to run with it.
Maybe I need to explain it step by step?
1.      Start with a blank character. Choose the basics, male, female, looks, etc. etc.
2.      Choose attitude, disposition, mannerisms, emotional range, etc. etc.
3.      Look at what’s trendy, give your character something the opposite of trendy.
4.      Give your character inspirations, reasons for being alive, chips on the shoulder, back story, etc. etc.
5.      Save the metaphysical / supernatural elements for last. Make sure they can actually fit into the character you’ve already created. (I don’t think Sam could have lost himself and been a sad boy if he were a vampire.)
6.      Test out the character voice, does he/she work better in third person POV or first person POV? Write a sample 2-3 pages from their POV. Make sure it’s the first scene that pops into your head.
7.      Let it marinate for 5-7 Days.
8.      Take out of the fridge (wait you don’t keep your WiP’s in the fridge?) Stick in the oven and bake on high for roughly 25 – 45 days.
9.      Fluff with fork when done. Fork should come out dry, not goopy. (If your characters are goopy you have a problem, go back to step 1 and try again.)

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