I was just thinking about how happy the comments on Argh make me. You know the ones I mean: about working on the garden at the new house, about having lunch with the daughter, about watching the little one help his baby brother walk, about meetings with nieces and old friends, about powering through problems and keeping on going no matter what and being grateful for the family and significant others that are always there. I treasure the Argh people, all of you, but I also love the extended world connected to you, connections full of joy and comfort and laughter, good food and good gardens and good books and good times. I am so grateful to you all for sharing all of that here. Makes me all warm inside. Thank you.
Today is Scrabble Day, celebrating a brilliant game that’s now so iconic they make jewelry out of vintage pieces (has to be wood tiles, not the plastic). What other game demands the use of a dictionary and a million ways to use Q and X? I wouldn’t even know what “qi” meant without Scrabble. Best game ever (although Clue runs a close second for many reasons I will not go into here).
K asked: Do you start out knowing all of the subplots? Or do they tumble and bump into each other along the way? Are there certain ways you like to develop subplots? Or do they just come to you? Are they villain driven?
As I believe I’ve said before, I don’t recommend my method. I never know what the hell I’m doing in the beginning. I just write. Characters show up. Some of them are interesting enough they develop their own plot lines. Some of those I have to put the kibosh on because they’re cluttering up the story (good-bye, Mort). Some of them echo the main plot or act as a foil to the main plot, and they deepen what’s happening in the story as a whole, so I keep them (hello, Max and Button). So for the first discovery draft, I just let them happen. After that, as always, I analyze. And to analyze I go back to basic plot structure.
I’ve been on a Rex Stout binge (comfort reading), but the sun has come out and the ice is gone, so I’m going to try some of the ten thousand new-to-me books everybody here has loved. Thinking about either The Goblin Emperor or Murderbot, since they’re pretty much 100% Argh Approved, but I can always use more recommendations.
So what have you read lately that was really good?
It’s glorious spring here in NJ, and I’m actually getting things done. The ground isn’t the only thing that lies fallow during winter around here, I’m mostly unproductive myself, but now I am woman, watch me cook, clean, write, and chase dogs (slowly). Melt the snow and keep me warm, and I start to move again.
K asked: “I have a question about villains – and layering them so that they engage with each other and the heroine. Some say the hero (love interest) is the main antagonist, others say there needs to be a stronger antagonist because he’s not one by the end. What say you? What have you found works the best? Do more antagonists pop up as you write? How do you like to layer them? Do you have a limit/rule that you like or use?
Johnna asked: “What makes YA novels so popular nowadays with adults? And is the line between adult and YA fiction really there anymore, especially in fantasy and science fiction? I know that you aren’t a YA author, but with Nita, for example – is there a reason why your book couldn’t/wouldn’t be in a high school library? (other than perhaps sex scenes?)
As Cate said in the comments, the big determiner of YA is the age of the protagonist. A YA protagonist does not necessarily mean that the book is a YA, but an older protagonist pretty much means it isn’t. YA readers have too much adult PoV in their lives already; they want to read about people like them solving problems and making connections. The focus is also likely to be on different things. YA dystopias are different from adult dystopias; YA romantic conflicts are different from adult romantic conflicts. It reminds me of something somebody said about the difference between pop and country music: pop is about falling in love and country is about working on your second divorce. YA fiction is about becoming an adult and adult fiction is dealing with being an adult.
S asked: “What do you think about death in the romantic comedy? Not the hero or heroine, but someone else who matters. Does this make it something other than romcom? Would readers revolt? Have been studying 4 Weddings and a Funeral – the writer was apparently advised to include the funeral to balance the sweet. . . . Had similar thoughts about the movie The Apartment which was tragic but listed as a romcom. It’s for my WIP – my critique grip is squeamish about a death I’m planning in a book that’s part of a romcom series and I’m wondering if it’s maybe too much for my reader?”
Well, first define “romantic comedy.” I’ve never thought The Apartmentwas a romantic comedy, so I’m no help there. My basic definition is that it’s a story of a romance that ends happily and is funny. If you can make a death work in that context, it’s a romcom. Obviously, there’s some calibration in there, but death is not antithetical to romance or comedy.