Wednesday, January 13, 2010

This Thing Called Writing

It started in Grade 1. (or grad 1, as I so thoughtfully wrote at the top of the page)

My writing is nearly illegible, but I seem to have been writing about some made-up adventure with my friends and...The Three Musketeers?

at ferst reses Dartanyen [D'Artagnan, I assume] was missing from the rok we mett at evry reses

And then sadly my writing gets too messy to tell what sort of misfortune befell poor D'Artagnan. (Rest assured it was something awful and probably involved the Evil Vice Principal.)

But this unreadable passage marks the beginning of my career as a burgeoning story teller. From the garbled writing in my Barbie and Secret Garden notebooks, to the wild tales I told in my Daily Journal at school, to the maybe-almost-publishable wordage I spew out now, I've never been able to stop writing.

Sadly, as is clearly evident by the above passage, no one is born with the ability to write like [insert amazing author of your choice here]. We have to write and write and write and write and commit an obscene number of writing faux pas before we get anywhere.

I've been reading a lot of awesome blog posts about the mortifying excrement stuff writers came up with when they were younger, and it got me looking at some of my old notebooks and Word documents. It was rather amusing to say in the least. I had no idea what sort of atrocities I was committing.


Shameless self-insertion Harry Potter fanfiction! (Age 7 or 8)

"Wake up." I heard my mom say softly. "I'm up." I said sleepily only half awake. I heard my mom walk out and down the stairs. I yawned, stretched and sat up. I crawled down the bed and took my white T-shirt with the gold star on the sleeve off the bottem of my bed. Then I reached under my bed and felt around until I found my jeans. I got dressed and went down stairs.

As I went downstairs I could smell my dad making pancakes and toast. I sat down at the table and started to eat the 3 chocolate-chip pancakes and apple juice I just got.

The table was realy crouded. In-fact there were 16 of us at the table! There was: me and Harrys friend Hermoine, me (Rebecca) [in case there was any hope left that this wasn't a shameless self-insert], my brother Harry, my dad (James), my mom (Lily), and my cousins [insert Weasley family here]...


Shameless self-insertion LOTR fanfic! (Age 9-11) (At least I had the decency to give my author surrogate her own name this time.)

I seem to have left the resulting document on another computer. Suffice to say I dragged the Fellowship and my elf-self through all sorts of revamped LOTR plot lines and also plot lines from almost every other book I read over the course of these 2 years. *facepalm* I should also tell you it was 100+ pages written in size 10 Comic Sans font, and I thought it was cool to have huge blocks of text rather than use paragraphs.

Evil Plan Prologues (Age 12)

Lord Lavince looked out into the blackness of the night. Not even a hint of breeze touched the leaves. Nothing stirred. His guards were silent as they assembled behind him. The time had come to put the first stage of his plan into motion.

The plot was seamless, a thing of true perfection. A malevolent sneer darkened his face as again he thought it through. Although dealing with hunters, Sitka’s group in particular, was risky, he had no doubt that they would join him eagerly. They would not turn down the chance to see King Alistar dead, even if it meant allying with a vampire to do it. The werewolves were getting restless. It would not take much to make them forget the old peace treaty, and then a war like no other would erupt, and it would not end in the vampires’ favour. Not when he applied the potion, which that twisted mage, Shauvier, had provided for him. The poor fool. The werewolves would be totally obedient, completely under his command. They would follow his orders, and his orders alone. The potion would strengthen them greatly. The vampires would not stand a chance.

This was my first real book, spewed out during sixth grade. It was called The Undead Prince and it was about (can you guess?) a vampire prince. This Vampire Prince was was kidnapped by an evil vampire lord. Evil Vampire Lord (hence forth known as EVL Hehe that almost spells evil) planned to take the vampire throne for himself, and wanted to keep Vampire Prince alive for some nefarious purpose while he did it.

So Vampire Prince was given an amnestic drug and thrown into the human world, where, of course, he wound up in a grade 8 class (because high school was far outside my range of experiences at this point) and met my inexplicably curious MC.

I later explained this curiosity by revealing that...

My MC was the great-great-great granddaughter of the magical world's most powerful sorceress, but didn't know it until she got stuck in a plot corner and needed to blast her way out of a mountain dungeon.

So anyhoo, let the Epic Quest to Save the Vampire Kingdom commence!

Once it was all said and done, The Undead Prince was a whopping 155K, with a rather decent ending, if I do say so myself. In fact, I think 13 yr old me was much better at endings than 18 yr old me. It all tied together nicely, at any rate.

My mom read it, assured me it was brilliant, and (horrifyingly enough) helped me get my sticky little paws on an agent's email address. We somehow convinced her to read the thing, and she was really quite nice in the sense that she read the first fifty pages and made several helpful comments about character development and so on.

I got as far as several chapters into a third book before realizing the aforementioned agent was not crazy and these books were crap.

After that, I decided to try my hand at contemporary.

Hello, Teen Angst! (Age 13)

Tangled was a story about six five teenagers with extremely angsty lives - Damian, Jake, Amanda, Renae (not Renee! No, no, no!), and Daniel (who I completely forgot about by the middle of the book). Originally there was supposed to be a third girl, Isabelle, but she was rich and had a rather happy home life, so I got bored with her and cut her out.

Damian, judging from the amount of page time he got, was secretly my favourite. He was also the token bad-boy who was supposed to really not be that bad. Suuure, he was a drug dealer, but he really needed the money and secretly encouraged people to stop buying the drugs. And yah, he was involved with some creepy organized crime guy, but again, he really needed the money and just in case you were thinking he could get a regular job I'm sure the bad guy would totally hunt him down if he tried to quit. AND his little brother has CANCER so HA! You HAVE to sympathize with him!! MUAHAHA!


In all its 125+K glory, this book also made a few tremulous steps into the world of publishing. I actually convinced an e-book publisher to look at it, but they weren’t too happy with the 179 instances of the F-bomb.

The Big Move (Age 15/16)

I actually had two of these books. One was about a girl who moved from BC to Texas (watch me walk all over every Canadian and American stereotype ever invented), which I wrote during grade nine and never finished.

Then there was this one.

I am about to die.

Huddled in my mother's old Chrysler Concorde, looking up at my new school, I was dead sure of that fact.

There were too many kids, too many windows with cardboard taped over them, and too many security guards standing by the doorway for me to feel even faintly hopeful that I might make it through the day alive.

I wanted my mother to turn around and drive back to the house. I wanted her to look at the school and say that there was no way she would let me set foot inside a place like that. I wanted her to tell me we were moving back to Riverglen before we all got shot.

But she didn't.

In fact, she was already getting out of the car.
I actually finished this one (YAY!), and at approximately 95K it was my first almost-normal-length book (YAY!). I called it Life is only Ugly until you find its Beauty. (I’m sure that was supposed to have some deep metaphorical meaning.)

Sadly, it has no chance of ever being published. It’s about a girl who does the Big Move from a small town to the rough end of a big city and she struggles to adjust and meets this cute guy in her art class. But I'm from a predominantly upper-middle-class suburban neighbourhood. I can’t really pull off drugs and gang violence and randomly crooked cops all that well.

I did zero research, pulled the ending out of my rear, and my MC and Cute Art Guy don’t even get together in the end! (Because there’s something weird about Cute Art Guy. He’s an extremely gifted artist, but he’s sort of in La-La Land all the time. As the author, you would think I’d know why, but I never really dug around for an explanation. :P)

After this, I moved onto...

CPCS - Chronically Passive Character Syndrome (Age 16/17)

And I still haven't gotten over this one.

The Boy Who Stole My Heart Car came in at 54K! It doesn't send agents running for the hills! In fact, they seem to like the premise, because I queried a few (read: 4) and most of them (read: 3) requested a partial.

But none of those partials did very well, because my MC is passive to the extreme and I wind up totally glazing over the whole LI-is-a-car-thief thing. *headdesk*

I have plans to fix this one up, though. I think it's salvageable.

Next came...

The Mutation also known as my WIP

It's going to wind up being about 200K. 'Nuff said.

But really, I should have seen this one coming. Look at the word counts that have preceded it. 175K at age 12, 125K at age 13, and there was secretly a 139K attempt at contemporary during my grade ten year that never even got near finished!

I think it's been proven: I have a disease called Longbookitis, I'm still committing plenty of writing faux pas, and the road to being a published author has a very loooong learning curve.

Wow, that turned out long.


  1. OMG. Becca. I love you. Harry Potter insertion = AWESOME. And I had a WIP called Clawed that was kinda like Tangled, but with three girls who... shared a journal or... something haha. YOU ARE SO PRODUCTIVE IT'S CRAZY. I'm on my first real novel and I only have 40k, wanna lend me some words? :D

  2. Wow Becca!

    You must write incredibly quickly in order to pump out that much wordage! The Boy Who Stole My Heart Car is awesome and good luck on revisions. And the mutation is awesome too :D

  3. HOW did you manage all of this in eighteen years?! You have like 500,000 words under your belt!!! That's pretty amazing. Kudos - much kudos ;) At least you're learning, yes?

  4. Longbookitis=awesomeitisturnedmutant.

    I think you have a talent, personally. I guess that's what they call "beauty in the eyes of the beholder"

  5. LAWL Aw. Thanks, guys! You're sweet. And remarkably patient to have read all that babbling. <333

  6. Haha, can there be a longbookitis club? I would be in it with you if there was.

    Also, high five on being that prolific that young! Woot. :)

    (PS it's Kyrie)

  7. WOW!

    This is absolutely AMAZING.