The Ongoing List of Writing Round-ups

Out of a whim, I created this: a round-up of writing round-ups. 

Embrace this resource of resources, and pick and choose which ones you want to subscribe to.

At the moment though, it's far from done. Feel free to suggest in the comments or via emails other round-ups I forgot, and I'll credit you at the bottom of this post.

Suggestions must meet these guidelines:

  1. The link is to a blog...
  2. ...that have posts that are a collection of links to writing-related articles.

Now, just take the jump.

Dogtown Weekly: 1/25/12

I apologize in advance for the shorter list of links. I hope you still find these valuable.

Study Hacks: “Write Every Day” is Bad Advice: Hacking the Psychology of Big Projects:

Once again, this debate rears its head.

My opinion though, is that in the end, it depends on the writer. Some writers might need to work on their work every day. Some writers might have to take a day or two off a week. Some writers might work fine working without a fixed schedule, and picking up the pencil when they feel like it. 

Kristen Lamb's Blog: Enemies of the Art Part 1–Approval Addiction: 

I haven't encountered this problem on a family level, but I see it often with writers among other writers.

Don't get fixated over getting approval over one excerpt of your work from critiquers. Get the approval once, step away, and go write the rest. You will feel better when you can announce that you finished a draft, and then an entire project.

terribleminds: 25 Hard Truths About Writing and Publishing:

Read through this list, even if for review.

One point that I haven't seen any blog about though is #16. Yes, you might be upset over the fact that another seemly-airheaded celeb got a book deal, but besides the integrity of books (which is 

Jami Gold: Behave...The Internet Never Forgets:

Kristen Lamb has a related blog post about the entire ordeal. Read both of these.

Don't be the plagiarist described in these articles unless you want a uphill battle toward publication. On the other level, remember that with multiple archive sites around, it's hard to not leave evidence of your cyber deeds unless you lurk on the uncharted side of the Internet...but who knows how long that will stay in the dark.

Hmm...what dirt have I left under the Chihuahua Zero handle?

Writing Update: It's complicated.

Manifestation Files has halted, again.

I'm focusing on the other elements of my daily life first before tending to my writing. I'm trying to improve my sleeping "early to bed, early to rise" style, making better use of my time after school, fitting both violin and piano into my schedule, and in general become more efficient while preventing bad stress.

Good news though, is that the yearly art edition of my school's newspaper is open for submission.

Not only I have some poems from my Comm Arts class, but the number of submissions are low. My chances of making the final edition is extremely high.

In the grand scheme of things, it's small, but I can't pass it up.

All I need to do is to type them up...

This probably deserves its own post in the future, but I'll let it out now.

I'm not sure about my position on college. Should I be open toward the Ivy League, or disregard the recommended credits, put myself out of the running, and shift my priorities as school continues on? 

Choosing classes for next year weren't that hard, but I'm not sure if I want to spend one more year on science/math/possibly French than I need to.

Besides, at the end of the day, if I want to be a full-time writer, the degree itself isn't as useful to me, only the experience. Plenty of successful and breadwinning authors never went to college.

Doesn't mean I don't want to go to college. I want the experience. The question is to what level. I have no plans to go beyond four years, but I'm uncertain about whatever I want to go to a really prestigious college or not, just in case my aspirations as a novelist fall through since maybe a smaller insituation might be better suited to my artistic leanings.

YOUR TURN: So, college. Anyone going there? Anyone not? Advice?

Also, are any of you fellow writers submitting anything at the moment? Take the mic!

Why a Book Under a Bowl Isn't an Abomination

[Don't forget to read the bottom of the post!]

Often, closemindness and snobbery are dangerous traits to have, especially if it's combined with overreaction

This happened on both The Passive Voice and The Huffington Post, on an article about using books as decor. A few of the commentors reacted poorly to the idea:

Books are NOT decor.

Maybe that's fine for Hipsters, or the pseudo-literarati, but books are more for reading.

When owning books becomes more about the decor than being read, you know civilisation is in trouble.

Oh, yuck! How shallow! Books should be readily available for reading and study, not as a decoration or to show off someone's learning.

Using books to make a plinth for a tacky little porcelain bowl, in particular, is an abomination.

"Abomination"? That's a strong word for something harmless.

The problem with these kinds of comments is that they're dipping into the "no true Scotsman" mindset. That's a dangerous mindset to have.

So, what are the problems?

Here are the presumptions being made:

  1. Books aren't not meant to be used as decor.
  2. Using a book for another purpose besides reading and not reading it is bad.

The second statement is a definite philosophical issue, but the first statement, I think, is wrong.

Dogtown Weekly: 1/18/13

What Happens Next: PSA: Your Default Narrative Settings Are Not Apolitical

This is an older post, but it presents a mindblowing point: Woman had more impact on history than we think—because a lot of their work have been destroyed and they're often brushed over.

Adventures in YA & Children's Literature: This Week for Writers 1/5/13 - 1/11/13:

If you haven't already, you should look through this other round-up from last week. It's a revival of the blog series I based these weekly round-ups on. Already, I added at least one other blog onto my blogroll.

(And on a totally unrelated note, "Roundup" is a weed killer. One other reason why to use "round-up" instead.)

Annie Neugebauer: Why Some Novels Say “A Novel” on the Cover, and If Yours Should Too

A fun piece. Want another history listen? Dive in!

The Character Therapist: YA/New Adult "Good Girl Saves Bad Boy" Myth Problematic

I'm not a fan of the "bad boy" character, nor the concept of the protagonist female "saving" him. It's along the same vein than the Madonna Whore Complex.

While this article doesn't explore the concept from a strong, psychological concept, it's worth pointing out that other scenarios should have a try in YA.

Thinking about it...does Twilight go into this scenario?

Cross-Up: How to Make a Good 50-Foot Woman Movie

Thinking up hypothetical stories are fun! This particular exploration gets really detailed into the process, especially with the "order vs. chaos" theme.

Oasis for YA: Writer Wednesday: The Middle Book Syndrome:

I agree with both the premise of the post and many of the causes of the "middle book syndrome". Like the sagging middle, the second book in the trilogy can sometimes be done wrong.

Also, A Million Suns did avoid decay, in my opinion. I think it's because it manages to escalate while maintaining the same framework from the first book. Whatever that'll carry to Book Three, I'm not sure, but look where they sent the book!

Yeah, I think "The Tangent", as described in the article, is the prime reason why second books fail.

Jody Hedlund: Are We Turning Into A Culture of Picky Readers?:

All right, I'll confess. I've been suffering a bout of pickiness when it comes to ebooks. It doesn't help that by getting a book for free, it can influence my obligation to read it.

Maybe I'll jump into one at random to see what happens.

How Well Do We Handle Multiracial Characters in YA?

As with other traits such as gender, orientation, nationality, class, and ability, race is often debated over its prevalence in young adult literature. Whitewashing is a common accusation with book covers, especially with that one incident a few years back.

On the other hand, I notice that there's a good biracial (or multiracial, or polyracial) presence in YA, but it doesn't come without its hitches.

Issue books.

For example, I've read at least three YA books over the years that have biracial diversity as a main theme. Although the other two titles elude me, the one I recall is called The Latte Rebellion. Along with racial themes, it also deals with the pressure of college in an effective way.

On the other hand, compared with more ethnic books, biraciality gets swept under the covers as an issue. As with any other discrimination, it's out there, but compared with the big ones, it doesn't come up as often. It helps that it seems many celebrities are of mixed race, and with a spectrum of ethnicities involved, sometimes someone who is practically Caucasian versus someone biracial can look like siblings.

Instead, it mostly manifests in the mainstream as "futuristic racial".

"Futuristic Racial" characters.

"Futuristic racial" is my personal term for characters who come from mixed or ambiguous racial heritage due to a futuristic setting.

This is plausible, and maybe even inevitable. With more and more couples crossing ethnic lines and having biracial and multiracial children, it's unlikely that modern categories will be around for long.

All it takes is one world-changing event, which happens quite often in fiction, for race to be a radically different concept.

I took the concept of "futuristic racial" characters in account when writing my NaNoWriMo project, Road. Most of the cast is described as having varying shades of skin, eye color, and hair color, with mixed facial features implied.

Examples of "futuristic characters" in YA

I think the most known example might be Katniss and Gale from The Hunger Games, since they have olive skin and gray eyes. However, this isn't brushed on upon, so they're debatable cases. Still, this did spark some debate during casting for the movie.

A more clear-cut example is Elder, and everyone besides Amy, in Across the Universe by Beth Revis. Elder's explicitly described as having a mix of features, and it's used as a plot point and a sharp contrast against Amy's Caucasian features.

Another examples includes Day from Legend by Marie Lu (half-Mongolian), Ky from Matched by Ally Condie (described as having olive skin), Nailer from Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (dark skin, blue eyes), and so on.

Does this say anything about YA as a whole?

While Caucasian characters as both protagonists and love interests are still the majority--at the moment anyways--at least from my perspective, it seems like biracial or multiracial characters might have more representation in the mainstream than minority characters like African- or Asian-Americans.

This is far from a scientific representation, but the examples I brought up are good-sized players in the scene. I mean, there's Katniss, the main protagonist of The Hunger Games, with the next major non-white character being Jacob from Twilight, whose just the secondary love interest.

Now, who's the most popular African American character in YA? Or even an Asian character? Or Hispanic?

...In order to find one in prime protagonist status, we have to depart from the Big Three of YA and go into more subjective standards. But among the Big Three, it's definitely Rue.

Good old Rue, gone too soon.

And plus, it's the future, so she could be considered futuristic racial.

Maybe it's Leo from The Lost Hero, even though that spin-off series can be considered MG, and he's the non-primary co-protagonist.

My point is, I'm moving goalposts in order to fit this criteria.

My theory about this

It might be that, at least by market standards, biracial or ambiguously racial characters are considered more accepted with protagonist status than distinct minority characters.

This statement is easily disputed, but I stand with it for the moment. It's not as much of a problem than the more fundamental ones (like the "white pretty girl on the cover" norm), but it's worth pointing out.

Maybe it's because publishers prefer protagonists that don't carry racial baggage? Now, that presumption raises a lot of question, because the nature of fiction allows stories to zone out a character's heritage if it isn't relevant to the plot, and this has been done a million times. Also, Caucasians can also have very ethnic lives.

Maybe it's just the universal bias that affects American culture. I recall reading an article on Entertainment Weekly stating that at one time, the only non-white protagonist on Fox (or maybe even broadcast television) was Cleveland from The Cleveland Show. And he's animated. And voiced by a white actor.

On the other hand, biracial characters aren't as prevalent on television than in YA, so I suggest you throw in your two cents. Do you think there's a bias existing with biracial characters compared with other minorities?

Let's shift gears before it gets messy. 

Bryan Time

Throughout middle school, the majority of the protagonists I perceived in my mind were Caucasian boys. This is most reflected by Justin of my shameful fan fiction Kira is Justice and Kevin of the abandoned Ashwood Landing, both explicitly white and Hollywood homely (although Kevin is half-Irish, with the middle name Eoin).

Within the last year, that's changing. The protagonist of Road was race lifted from being white to being futuristic racial. 

Bryan of Manifestation Files turned from being a light-haired Caucasian to being half-Filipino.

The initial imaginings I had of him was that he was fiery, and his appearance reflected that. Over time though, my mental image of him shifted to someone tall, dark and snarky. Black hair, dark clothes, folded arms and a  frown.

He's from the dreamy boy or bad boy personas that many YA love interests are, since he's too slim, and he's more like the typical anime high schooler that isn't hot-headed. I want him to cast a different vibe. He's not brooding or swoonful. He's pragmatic, but stands for his ideals, and for others.

At this point, I played with the whole biracial aspect of him. I thought of him being half-Italian--and then not describing his race at all, as a way of teasing with the audience. More and more though, it became obvious I wouldn't be able to keep up that kind of ploy.

Come last Labor Day, I saw a Filipino teenager and thought "I wonder what it would be like if Bryan was half-Filipino?"

Boom. Now I'm telling it to you.

(On a side note, Bryan's mom and dad swapped races, but this was more for personal reasons. I'll talk about this more in detail once I'm more comfortable with the matter.)

Ironically, this means that he's more ethnic than co-protagonist Finn, a British exchange student. Although in general, Bryan doesn't have a sense of heritage, and I'm pushing his extended family into the background.

What was the point of that story?

Well, this is a post about biracial characters, and...

Point is, I'm writing one. Since I'm already writing a protagonist that's male, I might as well write him the way that feels most natural.

YOUR TURN: What do you think of biracial or multiracial characters in general? Are you writing one? What do you think of the "futuristic racial" concept?

Dogtown Weekly: Bring On The Commentary!

Hey guys, the weekly round-ups are a new form!

I'm not sure if I'll stick to this form for long, since I'm going to hybrid it with last year's format, but I'm trying out more of the Post of the Week layout that I attempted a few months ago--except I do it to more than one blog article.

I hope you enjoy the commentary.

Top 10 Blogs for Writers 2012 – The Winners:

To my knowledge, this is the most authority-backed list in the entire writing craft niche, besides possibly the Writer's Digest list.

Only four winners are from last year: Jeff Goins, Writer; The Write PracticeThe Creative Penn; and Romance University. The first two are among my favorites (with The Write Practice being my nominee), and the latter two are also decent blogs that aren't surprising.

I had fun archive binging Jeff Goins' blog and The Write Practice. Either one of them might make next year's list if Jeff Goins and Joe Bunting keep writing at the level they're at...and beyond.

I'm unfamiliar with three of the blogs: Positive WriterMake a Living Writing, and The Writers [Inner] Journey. They're now on my RSS feed. Expect at least one or two articles from these sources to pop up in the round-ups in the next month.

The Renegade Writer is a more freelance-based blog, with a style similar to Write to Done. Its quality got it onto the top ten.

Now, I can't really say a lot about Live Write Thrive. I haven't read enough articles from it, so I have no idea of its general leanings and such, so for me, it's a surprise. Maybe I should keep a better eye on it.

But for me, the most surprising choice for me is Moody Writing. To be honest, I think I dropped it from my RSS feed at one point. I think it's because at one point, its style and content began feeling recycled. This happened to a favorite blog of mine, which I think got a few nominations but didn't make the final cut. However, I have read a few great articles, so I can't say the blogger doesn't deserve the honors. Maybe I'm wrong.

Now, it's time for me to start dreaming for next round. If I write awesome enough articles, maybe I'll be in the running.

YA Highway: Awareness Of Language:

I'll just talk about the second-to-last paragraph.

When a character uses causal or playful insults that can be interpreted as offensive, the author enters a zone where it's unclear whatever they're accepting or condemning such language.

For example, having characters throwing around homophobic phrases like "that's so gay", and even stronger.
I think context is key. If an antagonistic character is using such language, the author can easily get away with that, because the source of such dialogue is negative. On the other hand, if a more sympathetic character uses such language in a causal context, it gets iffier. Should the author try to comment on it through another character, and risk being all cheesy about it?

Yet, if the receiver of the insult or another character on the scene is visibly hurt, it becomes a subtle condemnation again.

Yet, this is all hypothetical. Can someone bring a concrete example onto the stage?

AndiLit: The Danger of the Incestuous Writing Community:

Let me just say that some of the blogs with devoutly Christian writers are interesting. Jeff Goin's blog, Novel Rocket, The Writer's Alley, and then AndiLit. They all bring a fresh perspective to the table, religiously influenced or not.

Andi's story in this post illustrates why it's important to be open minded. As a writer, you're going to be meeting a lot of different people, and writing a diversity of characters. No matter how deviant someone is (as long as they're not harming other people), it's important to acknowledge that people can have a variety of ways of living. You got to accept it.

Some of what is describe in the main post and in the comment shows why Christianity as a religion sometimes get a bad rap. Some people use it to be close minded, and this leads to a lot of pain.
So remember: don't box yourself into a group.

terribleminds: A Short Rant On The "You Can't Teach Writing" Meme:

I have little to say about this, since Chuck Wendig pretty much covered all the bases in his profanity-laden post. You can teach writing. Natural talent is useless without some craft.

But let me just point out one paragraph that you should take away, if you decide not to read this: writing teachers aren't the only source of lessons. You can learn from editors, fellow writers, beta readers, and a whole bunch of other people. You can also learn from books and real life.

That's the nature of writing. It's influenced by everything near you. Craft helps you refine all of that into effective art.

Writer's Update: Manifestation Files

I'm also resuming work on Manifestation Files. That is all.

Have a nice weekend!

Is YA Only a Sales Label?

At the writer's forum I'm at, YA tends to be a common topic of discussion. It's a polarizing topic, on different fronts, whatever it's of personal taste ("I generally don't like teenage protagonists") or on a more basic level ("I'm opposed to the division of fiction into demographics.").

The latter's worth discussing.

The context

The discussion started with the line: "It's less than an actual genre and more of a marketing ploy."

The first part I agree with. This was a similar topic brought up awhile back, but with New Adult. It's a category, not a genre. I was one of the people who made a racket when the administrator of TV Tropes attempted to tack the name "Genre" onto the "Shonen" page.

Well, there were two people who had a brief debate about whatever this is better or not.

One person argued that YA and NA as categories was a step forward. Instead of having books being classified based on certain rules (and therefore have the awkward situation of where to put "space elves" and other genre benders), using broad strokes allowed flexibility, and therefore less restriction than when you put a book into the Fantasy section.

The person who made the initial statement argued that those categories are a step backwards. Instead of classifying books as "what they are", it's classifying them by "who's supposed to be reading them".

They had a brief exchange which they verbalize their different opinions on which is better.

The point of this post

That argument isn't the main point.

The main point is whatever YA actually exists.

Chihuahua Zero's Resolutions for 2013

I used the Kindle Fire I got for Christmas to compose a long list of goals for 2013. A long list, indeed.

It's all in the name of ACCOUNTABILITY!

My conclusion in Tuesday's post is nothing to this bare-bones baby.

2012 was lacking compared to 2011, a year of milestones for me, but by pumping more motivation into my daily routine and constructing efficient systems, I will certainly achieve more than what I have gotten done in the previous two years.

I'll be revisiting in December. The end of the year might seem a long way off, but experience shows me that time can go by faster than expected.

Let's Take a Peek into the Literary Crystal Ball

Hello, fellow readers and writers, it's 2013. The world hasn't ended, and it won't. Not on our watch.

But what about literary predictions?

I'll take out the crystal ball. Be warned, all of the following is based on loose assumptions, and not all of them should come true--unless I'm really that good.

But I'm not an expert at predictions. Even the greatest economists get it wrong.