Friday, December 11, 2009

Getting Close to Close-Third

My packet was originally due today (Thursday), but my mentor is out of town, so she asked for it on Saturday. I’m very grateful for the extension. Workshop and Thanksgiving in one packet period ate into my writing time a great deal.

I have made a breakthrough. I think I am finally getting the hang of close third-person point of view. I revised the last fifteen pages of my middle grade novel (turning it into twenty-five pages), and it is so much better than the rest of the novel right now.

After last packet, I realized that I’ve never revised for anything other than plot before. After three semesters here, I can’t believe I got into the program. There is so much I still don’t know, but that’s why I’m here.

Evidence that I’m getting better at inhabiting my characters: My husband about gave me a heart attack by coming up right beside me. I should have seen him, but I was on a jungle gym in a backyard far away at the time.

Things I did to my draft:

Removed the words “felt,” “feel,” or “feeling” and showed the feeling instead

Removed adverbs and described actions and looks instead

Replaced dialogue tags with actions or descriptions

I might have gone overboard, but since this is a learning experience, I preferred to do too much than not to do enough.

This packet (due late tomorrow night/early Saturday morning) is my last packet of the semester. I’m very excited about the end of semester. I need my two weeks of break! I’ve actually read two of the books for the residency book discussion and have started the other. I feel ahead for once, and well deserving of my break.

If I don’t post again, Merry Christmas! Enjoy your holidays. I know I will.

Anne M.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

One Lump or Two?

I just read an interesting article at the Teaching Authors blog on food and fantasy. It reminded me of an exercise I did once for a big project. I wanted to get to know my characters better, so I wrote a few questions for them. A couple of the questions were "What is the character's favorite dessert?" and "How does the character take his tea or coffee?" I used it just to get to know my characters better, but the answers came in handy later for a scene where the characters drink hot tea after a harrowing experience. I knew the MC always had his tea with a little bit of honey.

In other news: today, I turned in the first twenty pages of a young adult science fiction novel for my workshop in January. I really like the story, but I have a feeling the first draft of the first twenty pages isn't very good. I'm also almost done with the second draft of my middle grade novel. And my last packet is due December 10! I feel this semester should be over already, but just three more weeks.

I imagine I won't post in the next week (family in town), so Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


And today, I typed 40 double spaced pages. My hand hurts, and I'm ready for bed.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Twenty Pages

Today, I wrote twenty pages.

My hand hurts, but I feel pretty good. My packet is due on Thursday, and for once, I feel mostly prepared. I am so glad that I don't have to divide my attention between creative and critical work anymore.

Yes, that means that I have finished my critical thesis. I'm just proofing it one last time before I send it to the office.

I'm getting really excited about the January residency and seeing everyone again. I need that boost every so often. No wonder people come back for the alumni weekend. I'm definitely going to look into joining SCBWI for after I graduate. Having a writer community is a huge help.

Is anyone doing NaNoWriMo this year? I thought about, but I think I'll get my 20 pages for workshop and that's it. If you are doing NaNoWriMo, I'd be interested in what genre you're writing and how many words you've got so far.

I'm off to do non-writerly things for awhile. I hope to update again before next year.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

MLA Format is Somewhat Lacking

I've spent most of the last three days wrestling with MLA format. MLA does not have guidelines for a paper with headings and an outline, for how to cite software, for how to cite multiple pages from one website, for how to cite hypertext narratives (no surprise there), or how to cite picture books. That last one doesn't directly relate to my critical thesis, but the rest do. I've just been making things up the best I can.

Hypertext narratives usually have page titles rather than page numbers (whatever shows up in the blue bar at the web browser, for example). My current citation solution is to put the page title in brackets where the page number would normally go. Thus a citation after a quote from Michael Joyce's afternoon, a story would look like this: (Joyce [preface]). We'll see what my mentor says. . . .

In addition to that, MLA has changed the works cited formatting this year quite a bit. Now, we're required to put the medium after every works cited entry (web, print, CD, etc.), and we don't have to include URLs. I've been bouncing back and forth between Diana Hacker's website and the OWL at Purdue trying to make sure I get everything right.

Now that my thesis is mostly done (for this packet), I should get to my creative writing. I don't know how I'm going to switch to my creative brain after so much critical thinking.

P.S. For some reason, blogger won't let me post a comment, so here is my reply to Lina:

You might enjoy it, although not everyone will like nonlinear stories.

I actually liked the book better when I read it out of order.

I'm doing pretty well. My allergies always seem to act up right

before I have a packet due. Maybe they're stress related. . . .

How are things going with you?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Critical Thesis: Hypertext Narrative

I realize it has been far too long since I updated. Toward the end of last semester I began to really struggle with getting everything done. I often thought of updating, but I couldn't if I wanted to get everything else done on time.

I'm now in my third semester of graduate school, which is the critical thesis semester. I'm writing my thesis on hypertext narrative and children's literature. I've spent several hours today at a coffee shop writing the thesis. I think it's going fairly well.

I read a book for my thesis that just screamed hypertext narrative. If you want a taste of what a young adult hypertext narrative might be like, get a copy of Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins. I would suggest reading the book in a random order. Just pick a chapter and start reading. I read the book in order until chapter 16. Then I read randomly, picking chapters here and there, keeping track of which ones I had already read. I loved reading the book this way. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, except for the ending, which I felt was forced. If the book had been written as a hypertext narrative, it wouldn't have needed an ending, so maybe that's why it was forced. Try it and see what you think.

Anne M.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fourth Packet Panic

Obviously, I’m still struggling with the whole grad school + real life thing or I would have updated during the second and third packet periods.

I'm used to this time of year being done with school, not having the fourth packet panic. When I was in college, I could push myself through this I'm-so-tired-of-school! feeling because the end was in sight. Just a couple more weeks! Actually, this week would have been my finals week—I’d be done! Instead, I have over a month left. I'm thinking that perhaps the fourth packet is the hardest. Last semester, my fourth packet was the worst packet ever! This packet is looking that way.

I've been trying to research for two essays, but that’s about all I’ve got so far—some unorganized research. I’m also supposed to write something new this packet because . . .


I finished my middle grade novel! (the first draft). However, I’m not so good at coming up with new ideas on command. I’ve got an idea, but it has to percolate before I can put in on paper. And so, I have a little over one week left to write both my essays, 20-40 pages of creative work, and try to finish my sadly lacking bibliography.

And the worst part is? I don’t want to do any of it! I want a break! I need a break! One month this summer is not going to be enough, but I will have to make do.

I’ll try to write more authory things later.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Space? Time? Continuum?

This packet period has been fun, exciting, challenging, and now, stressful. The first week, I was sick in bed, so I did most of my reading then. I tried a sampling of contemporary novels.

The next week, I did most of my writing. I’m working on a contemporary middle grade novel, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve got about 30 pages so far, and I’m still working on planning it out.

This past week, I did more writing and tried to get going on my essays. I have my topics and did some preliminary writing, but I have more research to do.

I’ve been working (job) more since I got back from residency, and that’s been eating into my school time. I’m also having trouble finding time and space to call my own for writing. I’m living in a house with three people whom I love. I enjoy living with them very much, but since I love them so much, I can get distracted. In order to really get into my writing mode, I need to have my own space. For now, I’m thinking of taking up residence at a nearby coffee shop.

This week, I have to buckle down on my essays, type my manuscript, and do a couple of odds and ends for the packet (my bibliography, a short two-page piece on my ideal reader, my packet letter, etc.). I have two afternoons of work and a day where I’ll be out of town, so I’m anticipating a few late nights.

I don’t know how people have full time jobs and do grad school at the same time.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Start of My Second Semester

I’m just finishing the second-to-last full day of my second residency. This residency has been much more relaxed. Not as many people graduate in the winter, so I have fewer lectures from which to choose. That might sound like a bad thing, but if you knew how packed the summer residency was, you’d know this is a relief.

I have my adviser for the semester, and I am really excited. I think that my learning style will match her teaching style. I was able to express that style to her and that I am a visual person. She appreciated that as it will help us to get started.

I plan to start the semester writing a contemporary middle grade novel. My short story from last semester is my only attempt at contemporary fiction so far. I’d also like to try some poetry, if not to write it, then to learn how to read it.

I’m excited to get started, but I’m going to take the weekend off. I need a brake from the writing focus. I’ll probably update about once a month, as I did last semester. So, until then!