Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Review: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover


I used to buy every New Adult novel to come out on the shelves but I quickly lost interest. There were a variety of reasons. I didn't agree with a lot of elements pushed in that genre. A lot of the stories read the same to me. There was too much focus on writing sex.

This is first New Adult book I've loved in a long time.

I've read Colleen Hoover's earlier books but I haven't picked up a new one from her in a while. Then this book came out and there was just such an outpouring of 'must-read-this' persistence in the book world that I had to do it. I knew it was going to be a heavy read based on reviews so it wasn't something I wanted to squeeze in between work and my house chores. I planned to read it on my Christmas break and I avoided spoiler reviews to make sure I go into it with an open mind.

This isn't a simple love story. Yes, love is in the book. In fact, you will meet several different people who will show you that there is no simple, straightforward way to love.

But romance is not the core message of the book. It's so much more.

This book is what NA should really be—a discovery of one's self as life and the world and the people in it make themselves known to you in full measure, and the evolution that must follow after it.

Lily lived through a lot in this story, and not just in the past. Even in the end, you knew there was still so much she would have to live through but you were reassured that she had the strength to carry herself forward. Some of it was strength the past had taught her to have, and the rest of it was strength from what she had to learn for herself in the present. I was proud of her when the story was done. She wouldn't be your kick-ass I'm-going-to-win-over-the-world kind of heroine but she's one that many of us can relate to. One who dreamed and hoped for the best and marshalled through the worst.

She wasn't just one main thing. There were so many layers and dimensions to her. She was naive but honest, sweet and funny but also fiercely protective and realistic when she had to be. She had compassion and understanding even in circumstances when no one would fault her for not feeling either. She didn't have the answer to everything a lot of times and I didn't think less of her because of that because isn't that us most of the time in real life? I love how Hoover was able to really sink us into Lily's psyche so much that we were spared none of everything she went through—the good, the bad, the ugly.

I won't spoil this book for anyone but I'll agree with everyone else out there who is telling you to read this. There's a lot to learn from this book. If anything, it'll let you see the grays that fill many pictures—the kind we don't see unless we're in one of them. Because as I strive to show in my own writing, there is not a lot of black and white. It's easy to speak to a black and white scenario—to categorize your answers and would-be-actions in two columns without being confused or torn. No matter the similarities, every situation is different and the people who are in the heart of it are different. Which is why there is no one-size-fits-all rule for loving someone.

I hope you give this book a try. And I hope you tell others to do the same because it's a story that more people need to read and learn from.

*image from Goodreads


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

On Writing in 2016

Writing was a major part of this year for me.

It's a year when I really understood that this wasn't just a simple hobby anymore. I've found opportunities through it. I've made friends and seen places because of it. It's now something that I'm going to do my best to continue because while I'm not expecting miracles here, I know that I have readers somewhere out there enjoying every scene, loving every character and getting inspired with every story. And maybe that can be enough.

This year also brought on a lot of choices and changes for my writing.

Here are five of them:

  • Outline.  This is usually easier said than done but this has become such a critical part of my writing routine now. I start out with something pretty general in the beginning and as I write chapter after chapter, I streamline it. Towards the end, I'll write down all the scenes that definitely need to be included. This allows me to anticipate how much more will need to be written and when I'll be done. This way, I can tease my readers and build the lead up to the finale.
  • Waste no idea. I try to focus on one story but whenever an idea comes in, I take the ten or fifteen minutes I'll need to capture that idea along with whatever scenes or dialogue I come up with. I may let it sit for months or years but some of the stories I've recently come up with are from ideas I'd long ago written down. You just never know which one might turn into something.
  • Pre-write and stick to the schedule. With Wattpad's serialized method of posting stories, it's a good idea to have a schedule you can stick to. I get it—writers are creative people—but it's quite different when you have an audience that's trying to follow your story as you write it. I try now not to post a half-cooked story. I'll commit to writing a story that has a pretty completed plot in my head even if it's still quite general. At least I know that it's going to go somewhere. I also try to write a few chapters ahead, that way I'll always have content even when something comes up in the week or if I have to travel. My usual goal is to finish one chapter with each new one I post every week. I owe this to my readers. They're quite understanding but I try not to test their patience. You give them stories they love. They, in turn, support you.
  • Write what's necessary. Don't just fill a blank page. I'm notorious for my long stories but in the past year, I've tried to be more conscious about my word count. Sure, you can trim a story later but that can be painful especially when you've already invested time and brain power to write those scenes out. Also, reading other books and looking back on my own stories, I'm starting to see where I could've been simpler and more straightforward. So now, I just write what's necessary to the scene. Sure, I still try to capture what I can of emotions and general details but I try not to go on and on about something. I surprised myself with my current story. I thought, with the timeline, that I'd have way too many chapters but I don't. I picked my battles with which part of the story to tell. It'll serve you and your readers in the long run.
  • Take it easy on yourself. I can get something written under pressure and sometimes, it even turns out great. But I'm writing on the side and trying not to burn out. While I have a deadline every week both to finish a chapter and post one (these are often not the same), there are times when I just can't sit down and write anymore. Times when I have to live my life a little. So I walk away and do what I need to do for myself. The last thing I want is to resent writing so whenever I feel like I need a break, I try to listen to myself and take small doses of it here and there. That's better than burning out and needing to take a year off.

I hope these things help out other writers out there.

I look forward to even better writing habits in 2017 but these ones are probably going to stay with me long after this year is over.

*images from Pinterest

© Ninya Tippett. All rights reserved.