Thursday, January 12, 2012

I'm going contemporary

This week has been crazy. I won't bore you with details, but it was crazy! *Long deep breath*

One thing that gave me major stress-out was on Tuesday, I had my first class for English 320R: Writing for Children and Adolescents. Yay, right? Nope. Not yay. You see, the section I'd signed up for consists of only writing picture books. That's all. I'm mainly a YA writer with occasional MG ideas. The class description had said that the class would consist of writing picture books, MG, and YA. I was excited to try a hand at picture books, but not the whole semester.

There's one other section for the class. I went to check on it, and saw there was a seat. Now that's a yay! However, adding that class would put me over 18 credit hours, which isn't allowed, so I can't add the class. No problem, I'd just drop my current class. After I do that, I go to add the section I want and it says that I need a permission to add code and to get that from the professor to add.

Not yay.

I also can't add back the class I dropped (I still need this class as part of my major, too, so it's important I have it) and find that since the professor is letting more people take the class than people are allowed to sign up for, I can't add the class, unless I get the add code. And how awkward would it be to go up to that professor and say, "Yeah...I dropped your class...but now I need it...could you give me an add code?"

Not yay.

But I emailed the professor for the section I want, she gave me the add code, and I have my first class today! :) Yay!

My professor also emailed me the syllabus, and it turns out this is focusing on contemporary MG/YA. I'm a little nervous about this. While I have tried to start contemporary books before, except for one case, I failed. I do have one idea, and I don't need a full MS to pass the class, but I'd still like to try and go as far as I can with it.

So, to contemporary writers out there, I have this question for you: how do you come up with ideas for your books? I'm not talking about a spark idea, but everything that keeps the story moving. What do you do for ideas?

9 comments:

  1. Contemporary writing ideas.... umm... this might sound kinda dumb, but ideas just sorta come to me. Sometimes it might be dealing with a song that's playing or after watching a television show. See what is popular and modify it since it wouldn't be popular when it got published. Sorry that isn't much help. Most of what I write deals with emotional issues - rape, abuse, kidnapping, and suicide. Tough topics.

    Post-apocalyptic is apparently pretty popular right now. Good luck! I hope the class goes well.

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  2. Not my genre~ sorry! Maybe think about a contemporary movie aimed at kids and teens, and see what plot points they make throughout?

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  3. Well, for my contemporary I took something from my life (I'm a Big Sister in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program) and started from there. So the tale was about a high school age girl who befriends an eight year old girl. Then there's high school dances and football games, etc.

    Go with what you know. Especially for Contemporary. That's my advice.

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  4. Yay for contemporary! I tend to draw from high school memories and also from observing high schoolers. In a non-creepy-stalker way. :) Good luck!

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  5. It's funny, because I had never thought I'd write contemporary--I'm huge in the fantasy and fantasy-related genre--until one year, the idea for "Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld" hit me over the head. I go with characters, honestly. A book--no matter what genre--is about characters for me. If you can get me to like a character and care about them, you can keep me in the story. When I was writing "Confessions," it was making each character unique. The story itself centered around a family with six daughters, and that right there gave me a lot to work with. Five sisters? Yeah, that's going to cause some clashes. Characters need individuality: quirks, personality, things they like, things they don't like, ways they react to things. And if a character is too "good," too "perfect," where's the conflict? I remember when I was writing this story, I had one character who was the "nice guy," but I knew he had to have his issues and his pain and the things that made him tick--I just had to find them.

    Um, that was a mini-essay. The point is, however you would build characters in another genre, it's still useful in contemporary. Different situations, perhaps. Just keep throwing things at the characters and see how they develop. Find what makes them tick and then make them tick.

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  7. That class sounds awesome!

    My WIP is contemporary YA and as of right now, that's the only genre I can see myself writing. I don't have any specific advice on coming up with ideas, but a personal experience sparked an idea for my book. So maybe something in your life that you've experienced is a seed for an idea that you can develop into something else?

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  8. Ha, I've always been the Contemporary kind of girl and have written everything in that genre (plus a bit of dystopian fiction). I try to think of the genre as ordinary people with extraordinary circumstances, and with that said, characterization makes and breaks the novel. One thing that I find keeps my story going is to have various external/internal conflicts that when resolved, also reveals character. Or even sometimes, when you feel like you are out of ideas, just keep on writing will help; the ideas will come naturally as the story unfolds(something I learned through writing Contemporary for NaNoWriMo).

    Well, that's my humble contribution. I hope the Contemporary genre will treat you well!

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