Monday, March 21, 2011

Greetings. I'm from the Future.


Living on this side of the planet has its perks. For starters, I live a day ahead of most of you lovely people who read this blog. (Email me if you want me to sneak a peek at the lottery numbers for you. 50/50 split sound good?)
We also get summer early. But don’t be too envious. In a month, we’ll be frying eggs on the pavement. Personally, I prefer using the hood of the car. Asphalt has an aftertaste. Right now, though, the weather is just PERFECT. The sun is out, the wind is cool, and the sky can’t be bluer. So to everyone who can’t wait for summer to arrive, I’ve had a sneak peek and I can tell you that it’s going to be awesome. :D

But even if I weren’t in this time zone, I find that as a writer, living in the future is a job requirement. For me, knowing how my story is going to end is essential. Give me an opening line, a last sentence, a pot of dark roast coffee and I’m set.
The middle, however, is trickier. I want to be surprised as much as the next reader. If the middle doesn’t keep me guessing while I write it, I probably won’t be motivated to finish the book. And here lies the challenge: you’ve seen the future and now you have to herd your characters towards it - without being predictable. How do you blindside yourself? The solution: play “Pocket God.”

This app allows you to creatively torment the cute inhabitants of a little island who live only to appease you. Squish them, roast them, feed them to sharks – they won’t love you any less.
When I want to keep the middle of the story interesting, I unleash my inner Pocket God on my beloved characters. I heighten conflict, steal their hearts' desire, and raise the stakes. Then I make it rain and break their umbrella. And kill their pet turtle. I’m kidding, I’m kidding. No animals were harmed in the making of Before Ever After.


But all this of course comes from a place of love. I know what the future holds and I want the way to it to be as shark-infested, er, interesting as possible.  They will be richer for their experiences along their journey.  After all, they know that I would never lead them to an ending other than happily ever after. Sometimes. ;-)

45 comments:

kellyhashway said...

Can I have some of your nice weather? It's snowing like a beast this morning. I'm not even sure I'm going to take my 4-yr-old to school in this.

Anyway, I like to plan my manuscripts from start to finish before I start writing, but I get a lot of surprises along the way. My characters are constantly changing things on me--even if only for a little while. I love when they do that. I feel like the story is really theirs then, and it keeps me on my toes.

Kara said...

Pocket God? Hmm... I think it would be more of procrastinating device than any help for me - once I get started at games like that, I have a hard time stopping!

Connie said...

We're having lovely weather here in Chattanooga too. Perfect spring days.

As for the middle, I try to make things as difficult and complicated as possible. The fun part is rescuing the characters.

C.M. Villani said...

hahaha. I have to say sometimes I really feel guilty for what I do to my characters. And I think thank God these aren't real people. :) Sometimes authors are just eeeeeeeeeeeeeevil. Mwahahahahahaha! (Oops, sorry. Let my maniacal alter-ego get the better of me for a moment.) Carry on!

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

Kelly - Yikes! Sorry about the snow. Stay safe. And yes, I love it when characters spring surprises!

Kara - Haha! Yes. So true. Huge time-gobblers!

Connie - We don't have Spring over here. Sigh. I miss it! And I'm so with you about "rescuing" characters!

Christina - LOL! I know, right?? And it feels soooooo good ;-)

Diane said...

First day of Spring here and it's snowing! I want the sun to come back. Can I take a ride with you in the time machine and find some??? :O)

Serendipity's Library said...

Funny! Pocket God greatest app ever! For those days when you can't crush the person you really want to. We had some nice weather here in Pennsylvania over the weekend and then this morning I woke to hail beating against my window and ice on my car....boo!

Meredith said...

Haha, Pocket God = best thing ever. It's hard throwing your characters into the worst situations, but sometimes that's where I find inspiration.

MuMuGB said...

The weather is crazy in London and I would have some of yours please...If you see things in advance let me know if you see me writing a book!
Good luck with the second novel...What is it going to be about?

Deborah Lawrenson said...

I'm with you pretty much all the way on this, Sam. I rather like the idea of pushing out into the story alongside my characters and seeing where we all get to.

I've written a full synopsis for my next novel. It feels strange. Very strange indeed.

stacey said...

Awesome idea! Though at our house we're kind of stuck on the 'angry birds' app. Yes, I've emiled you about going 50-50 on the lotto. :-)

Cathy K said...

As a beginner writer, I haven't yet got the hang of my characters manipulating *me*! Two months ago I wrote 2 characters into a cave near the waterfalls of Setti Fatma in Morocco and just this weekend I managed to finally get them out! Not my intention so I'm sure they were playing tricks on me. An experienced writer would never have let this happen, or so I've heard...

Jennifer Hillier said...

Too many of my stories have sagged in the dreaded middle! For me, it's definitely the hardest part to write.

Donea Lee said...

I've always wanted to cook an egg on the pavement, but NOT a fan of funny after-tastes. So, hood of a car is better? :)

I love the idea of the Pocket God. Too funny. But, it's definitely something you need to think about when finding a way to get your character from here to there. I'm good with my beginnings and endings, but struggle with the middle sometimes. Personally, however - if I'm going to torture a little, I prefer to give them happy endings. Fun post, thanks!

Andrew Leon said...

So far, I haven't really run into any "middle" problems. Some of that, I think, is solved by really knowing whom your characters are. I mean, if you know them well enough to know what they would do, you don't really have to figure it out. I think the bigger trap there is introducing plot devices to move things along when you get stuck.

What time zone are you in? Because I'm curious.

EQ said...

Even Ringgo Star had a unique problem...he couldn't end his song "Photograph."He went on and on. Had to ask the help of George.lol

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6CMSuT98-E

Elaine Cristina said...

Funny. Most of your readers seem to be writers.

Does that make you guys the piglets while I'm the big bad wolf?

Valerie said...

"I heighten conflict, steal their hearts' desire, and raise the stakes. Then I make it rain and break their umbrella."

Love that description of the writer's job, Sam.

(Valerie Bonham from SheWrites, but the Wordpress ID is for another blog)

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

Diane - Boo on snow! *sends the time machine your way* :D

Serendipity - The guys who invented Pocket God must have really twisted minds. My kind of people ;-) (And hail at this time of year?? Yikes!)

Meredith - So true! It's a good thing our characters don't hold grudges (I hope!) :D

MuMuGB - *whips out crystal ball and peers through the mist* Yes! A book is definitely in your NEAR future! :D My second novel is set in Amsterdam (I used to live in Holland) and involves a ghost but with a twist :D

Deborah - Oh, wow! I cannot make a synopsis to save my life, but I certainly envy the people who can! That's AWESOME. :D

Stacey - LOL! My kids are the resident Angry Birds experts here. I'm terrible at it. I'm much better at flinging people into volcanoes. ;-) (p.s. I've emailed you back the lottery numbers. You can send me a check)

Cathy - "Beginner writer???" Um, sorry, but I really need to do this - *shakes your shoulders until you come to you senses* There. Much better. And Setti Fatma?? WOAH. How cool is that?? :D

Jennifer - I hear you, sister. (But I'm sure all your awesome research will make your middle just as amazing as the rest of your book!)

Donea - Yup, the hood of the car is the way to go! :D (and yes, I'm a sucker for happy endings too. But I'm not making any promises for Before Ever After ;-) )

Andrew - Lucky you! :D (Oh, and I'm currently based in Manila so that's GMT + 8 hrs)

EQ - Haha! I can relate :D

Elaine - LOL! YESSSSS! It's a good thing I "met" you AFTER you read and reviewed the book. (Otherwise, I'd be hiding inside my brick house and bolting the door. Haha!) :D

Valerie - Hi! Thanks! We writers are a twisted bunch ;-) Great to see you here! :D

Laura said...

This was a great post! Pocket God--I love it! The same thing is true for me--I have to be kept guessing and deliberating in the middle of my stories. Otherwise, I feel like it comes off pretty cliche.

Linda G. said...

Pocket God? Oh, I love that!

I guess all writers like to play God to a certain extent, huh?

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

Laura - Thanks! Wrestling with middles is definitely a challenge, but when you do manage to, victory sure does taste SWEET. :D

Linda - I think they made that game with mean writers in mind ;-) They should have called it Pocket AUTHOR. LOL :D

Lydia K said...

I definitely have to know how my novel ends. I'm a planner, for sure. As for my middle--well. I try to keep it trim but it always sags!

Nice to meet you Samantha, and congrats on your upcoming book!

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

Thanks, Lydia! So great to meet you too! Looking forward to sharing and exchanging more thoughts with you :D

WhisperingWriter said...

I agree, the middle is tough. I'm finishing up my second novel and it's the middle that's giving me issues. I'm done with it all, but I keep going back and saying, "The middle needs something more...but what IS it?!"

Kate Evangelista said...

I'm totally there with you. I usually get the beginning and the end from my characters. As to the middle, I'm totally in the blind and have to go chapter by chapter or section by section. The characters do the talking, I just do the typing.

Oh! And they're opening a Payless in Paseo! Awhahahahaha. I'm a happy shoe-aholic.

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

Whispering Writer - I'm literally on the same page as you - RIGHT SMACK IN THE MIDDLE of my second book. If it were a jelly donut, I could at least eat my way out of it... ;-)

Kate - Hey, but at least Reaper is writing itself! I.Hate.You. ;-D (Isn't there Payless in Festival Mall? I haven't been there though. Time to update wedges for the summer!)

mymommyconfessions said...

You're a certified looney, Sam....has anyone ever told you that? Hehehehe :D

Anyway, call me crazy but I don't like summer. Perhaps because I live here where it's sunny 80-90% of the time! I hate it when I perspire, other than when I (if ever) exercise.

I love it when it's "partially cloudy, with scattered rainshowers". :D

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

LOL, Mia! Yes, I've been told that MANY, MANY times ;D I like the weather we are having right now, but like you, I can't stand it when the sun broils. What I like best about summer though, is that I don't have to wake up at 5AM to make sure everyone gets ready in time for school. Haha!

M Kathy Brown said...

Sam ~
Crazy term - Pocket God - but the concept makes sense (although I would probably call the one you described, Pocket Devil)...AND, you can't really pull that off without knowing where you're going, i.e. the ending. BUT...

...the first thing I ever noticed about your writing...just in your blog...is your way of starting a sentence, and midway, it goes a different direction than the reader may have expected. You are *very* good at staying away from the predictable - hence: surprise!

In that one aspect, I would "expect" your book to do absolutely nothing less :~)

Kathy

KLZ said...

I can't stop laughing about dead pet turtles although I'm worried about what that says about me.

~Wendie said...

Hey Sam - just wanted to drop a line and say thanks for the kind words on my site. Also, thanks for a NEW distraction (because this blogging isn't enought) of pocket god!

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

Kathy - Haha! You're right - Pocket "Devil" does make sense! :D (And I hope my book does not disappoint in the twist and turns department. Pressure! ;-))

KLZ -LOL! Don't worry - there's no judgement here ;-)

Wendie - Apps + Blogging + Facebook/Twitter = Bermuda Triangle of Time ;-) (p.s. I hope Big Little is feeling better today)

Leah said...

Uh oh....now that I know you're a kindred spirit to Angry Birds, I can feel the fingers slowly nudging the cursor towards the iTunes icon....I might be in trouble.

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

LOL, Leah! Resistance is futile... ;-)

Andrew Leon said...

Um... what happened to your egg burrito post?

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

LOL, Andrew! I was hoping no one would notice that one. Wrong post, wrong blog. :D

Andrew Leon said...

Wel, darn! Because, now, I really want to read it! :p

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

Andrew - Haha! I hope the Field Trip post made up for it :D

WynnieBee said...

And just what were those lottery numbers again ?

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

WynnieBee - It's in the mail ;-) Don't forget to chill the bubbly :D

(Florida) Girl said...

I laughed out loud at the turtle line. I am happy to read this because as I put my characters through the paces, I find myself wondering, am I being too heavy handed?

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

Cruelty is a job requirement for writers ;-)

Carmen Esposito said...

I need to find Pocket God! I don't have the ability to put an Ap on my phone but I'll Google it and see if there is a desktop version. So I can kill, I mean, see what you were referring to in your post.

As for writing, I'm not a plotter at all. I'm more of a pantser - when it hits me it hits me and if I don't do anything about it, it's gone! So sad - though I'm still trying to flesh out that outline. Gotta keep it moving! Hopefully I'll finish my novel this year. :)

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

I can't outline to save my life. High five, sister! :D Good luck with your novel. Keep us posted on your progress. You can do it!!!