Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lightbulb!

Happy almost December! Hope you made it through NaNoWriMo with success. I'm presently rounding off the month at just over 20k words and feeling pretty satisfied with that since the kids were out of school for a week and I had like zero writing time.

I'm moving right along with my YA thriller and having a lot of fun. You know that feeling when you just can't turn the flow off, but you don't have the luxury of locking yourself away to get it all out?? Yep, that's where I'm at right now. Very frustrating... but in a good way. :)

So my lightbulb moment occurred two different times over the last month, in regards to my MG fantasy/sci-fi story, The Keys to Nin. I really love the story, and if my betas were telling the truth, they enjoyed it as well. But something hasn't been sitting well with me and I couldn't figure out what it was exactly. I had a hunch something was off.

The other day we were watching The Narnia Chronicles as a family and I've read the books years ago (love them) and seen the films when they came out, but hadn't thought of them too much in awhile. Watching The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I realized how much my MG story was like it. Completely sub-consciously,  mind you .... but here are a few similarities: I have a female antagonist who's on a power trip and rebelling. My MC is part of a prophecy. My MC is connected to the fantasy world in a certain way. My fantasy planet starts with the letter N.

Ouch. Hadn't even realized it. The rest of my story is entirely different from TNC, but wow. It gave me pause. How did I manage to be so cliche?

Then, a few days ago I was finally listening to a Writing YA and MG webinar with Kid Lit extraordinaire, Mary Kole, and she mentioned the dangers of having plot cliches in our stories. She gave some examples like MC who moves to a new school, MC with dead parents, MC who discovers magical powers, MC who is subject of a prophecy....

Um, yeah. That'd be me. Ouch.

Why didn't I realize that the prophecy in my story was so cliche? Well, at least it's fixable. I hope. So after I finish my WIP, I'm going back and eliminating the prophecy and maybe that will put my story back on track.

The Mary Kole webinar was back in September and I got the recorded copy and just listened to it this past weekend. It's really fantastic, chock full of useful tips on shaping up kid lit stories. I'm going to post a series of articles on what she went over, so be sure to check back for all the amazing info. Free from me! If you're not familiar with Mary Kole and you write for kids, you definitely want to head over to her blog, KidLit.com and sign up for her emails.

Have you ever had a lightbulb moment with a story? Please share ....

18 comments:

Margo Kelly said...

Sometimes I think these lightbulb moments are part of the growing process. If I'd known it was "bad" to write a YA book about a MC who discovers magical powers ... I may have never written that first ms. EEK!

But, luckily, I was clueless. Wrote it. And grew.

And, who knows, maybe when I'm a famous author, I will have the power to go back and publish that first ms ... ha ... chances are, I will be embarrassed that I ever thought it was any good. :)

Cherie Reich said...

Yeah, those cliche things will get you every time. Then again, it might have become cliche because it can work. Two of my novels involve prophecy, but without prophecy, the characters wouldn't exist and thus no story. I fully recognize it's cliche, but I love the story. It's the one I wanted to write, and I stand by it, no matter what happens.

DM said...

I think this happens more often than we realize. As writers, we love to read, and sometimes we write similar to a story we love without realizing it.

Stacy Henrie said...

I love those lightbulb moments! A few months back I wasn't sure how to end my novel, then I had a lightbulb moment and knew how to complete it.

Kathryn said...

I loved The Keys to Nin. It was a great read, and I didn't make the Narnia connection either.

I've had a few light bulb moments along the way; usually it's after lovely critique partners--ahem--comment on something that just doesn't work. *headdeskshesabsolutelyright*

PS. I might be emailing you either this weekend or next with something you might like to read. ;) Let me know if you can fit it in/are still interested! :D

Old Kitty said...

I must change my literary lightbulbs..!

But seriously! Yay for you! Glad your wip is coming along nicely and getting great feedback.

Slightly off topic but I never knew how erm.. violent in an odd way The Narnia books are and it was when watching The Lion,the Witch et film. Father Christmas gives real weapons to the children. I mean Real Weapons. Father Christmas! Ahem. That's my lightbulb moment.

Off I go! Take care
x

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm sure you're not the first to be inspired by CS Lewis. Didn't realize the prophecy thing was cliche though.
I had a lightbulb moment during my second book. The story took a really different turn from that point!

Julie said...

I wouldn't have thought the prophecy issue was cliche. I think Cherie has a good point that sometimes things become cliche because they work. You've got me thinking about cliches now though, I'm going to have to go back and think about my characters a little more. I'll find a new thing to obsess over LOL.

Congrats on your lightbulb moment! :)

KarenG said...

It's so fun seeing word counts and success stories from Nano. There should be a DeMo, so those of us who didn't participate in Nano can use the motivation from all of you who did and write our novels a month late.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I get the "Lightbulb" experience sometimes writing a poem.

Enjoyed your post, good to read.

Yvonne.

William Kendall said...

I had a moment where I picked up a book at a store, saw the blurb on the back, and it reminded me of the central event of my work in progress. I skimmed enough of the book to know that the author took things in a different direction then I did.

Catherine Stine said...

Hey, well, the good thing is that you're aware of it and willing to deal with the similarities in a concerted way. Give your self props for that. I'm going to check out Mary K's thing. Happy first day of DECEMBER tomorrow!

Nelson said...

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Susan Kane said...

I have those "A-Ha!" lightbulb moments! It is when some little detail opens the door for a bigger idea.

DL Hammons said...

Oh...I've had numerous lightbulb moments writing my latest book, but I write mystery/thrillers and if I told you what they were...let's just say it wouldn't be much of a mystery! :)

fOIS In The City said...

Got you post a day late, but here I am never-the-less :) Yes PK, that old lightbulb can light up over our heads at any time. We think we've done a bang up job with a new twist to the old plot, only to discover we've painted outselves into a corner. It happened to me with my first book about a group of kids growing up in the same place, and so on ... but when it was done I had the blahs and realized it was so Pippi, so over the top and so completely not me. I've since changed the MC and the plot seems less "extraordinary" but in the end I broke it apart and re-used parts of it somewhere else.

I love the premise of your books and I'm sure you can get the cliches out and put more of you in. Great job on NaNo. That you are able to do all you do with two full time jobs, work and motherhood, is wonderful ... that you are able to write so well and be such a dedicated story-teller is what makes you unique :)

LTM said...

urgh, been there, done that! I just realized a MS that's hanging out waiting for me to get back to it has some shocking similarities to another YA romcom I'd read and was recently made into a Disney movie... I had the same reaction as you.

Mary Kole is awesome. Can't wait to read your posts about what she said.

Hang in there w/your book. Even if there are SOME similarities, they're not going to be the same. Different writers = different stories. :o) <3

The Desert Rocks said...

I wake up with ideas for stories constantly in my head, but by the time I get to the computer they kind of fizzle into pablum. This morning's ideas was for a children's book and of course the specific idea was not all that unique. Call it a cliche meter or the devil, but it stopped me from writing it. :)