This deleted scene is from All Our Broken Pieces. This is how I originally wrote the scene that comes right after Ginny and Alex fight, she asks him to leave, and then trashes her room. I’ll let y’all read it first and then I’ll talk about the problems with it.
God Grant Me Serenity
I fell asleep without a blanket, with my arms banded around myself, curled into a fetal position.
It was nearly midnight when my phone rang. I fumbled to find it in the chaos and saw “Alex” as the caller. A breath hissed through my teeth and I checked myself, weighing my emotional state to determine if I could handle a conversation with him. Then I answered. I was still upset and confused, but if Alex was willing to reach out after what I’d put him through, then I couldn’t ignore it.
“Can you meet me?” His voice was strained and I sat up straight, instantly on alert.
“Of course. What’s wrong?”
“I’m standing outside a liquor store and I need a reason not to go in.”
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This one grates on my nerves. I am of the opinion that unless a character is actually shouting, there’s no need for exclamation points.
2. Redundant physical description of characters, especially when expounding on their “hotness.”
An author can mention that adorable dimple maybe twice before I start to roll my eyes. Attraction is good. Romantic tension is good. But I really want these character to be attracted to each other for reasons OTHER THAN their physical attributes.
3. When internal thoughts interrupt a conversation for so long that I lose track of the conversation.
If characters are truly in the middle of a conversation, there’s only so much free space they have in their brain. You can’t have a three-page inner dialogue and expect us to believe that all happened in the two seconds it took you to answer a question.
4. When an entire plot is centered on a misunderstanding that a five minute conversation could solve.
I’ll buy into a misunderstanding for MAYBE a fourth of a book, then I’m just screaming in my head, “HAVE THE CONVERSATION!” This is especially problematic in books where you have both points of view and thus the reader KNOWS that there is no good reason for this conflict to go on other than stubbornness.
5. Unnecessary dual POV, especially when it repeats the same scene but from the other person’s perspective.
Multiple points of view can absolutely be done right. But when they’re not…
6. When the heroine and her best friend are the only reasonable women in the book and all others are cliche mean girls, vapid, or self centered.
Not every popular girl is mean. Not every ex-girlfriend of your love interest is a witch. Your main character should not be the only down-to-earth, thoughtful girl around. That’s insulting.
7. Unhealthy relationships made out to look like swoon-worthy romantic relationships.
I’m lookin’ at you, Twilight. There’s a lot I still love about those books, but Edward removing Bella’s car battery to prevent her from doing something that she wants to do is WAY not okay. Also, him watching her sleep without her knowing…
8. When the story is too big or too small for the book length.
I don’t need to read about a character’s every day activities. I get that they live a normal life a lot of the time. Please skip that part and just tell me the interesting stuff.
And when you are telling the interesting stuff, don’t go too fast! Interesting action happens because of complicated situation that you should explain so that we can all ride the adventure along with the characters in full support of what they’re doing.
9. When a character has too-stupid-to-live syndrome.
There’s this scene in the first season of 24 where the main guy rescues his wife and daughter and they’re waiting for a helicopter to pick them up. They’re crouched behind something and the daughter wants to go out into the open. Dad says no, it’s dangerous. Daughter (who has spent the last 12 hours being held captive) thinks he’s being dumb and goes out into the open anyway.
Really? Really, what’s-your-face? You’ve been terrorized by bad guys for the last however many hours and you don’t think this situation warrants just a smidge of caution??
10. When a hero and heroine fight and fight and fight, then kiss, then fight and fight and fight, and then supposedly live happily ever after.
I’m guessing this opinion is less universal than a lot of the others, but I just can’t get on board with a couple who agree to love each other even while it seems they can’t stand each other. That’s probably because I’m allergic to contention and I can’t handle it and it makes me cry when I encounter it in real life.
It’s just not my cup of tea.
So there you go. A random list, in no particular order, of the things that turn me off when I’m reading. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? What are your pet peeves?
This deleted scene from If I Could Stay was written before I decided to have Leila leave her money and IDs in the trunk of her car. Instead, I simply had her lose them while she was with Jack, but she didn’t realize it until after he’d dropped her off at the bus station. She had to track him down to get it back.
It took me a while to track down the police station, but once I got reliable directions, which involved a surprising number of tree street names, it wasn’t hard to find. It was on Chestnut street, just past Pamela’s Hair Styling. I walked along the sidewalk and studied the parking lot, but Jack’s truck wasn’t there. He likely wasn’t on shift yet, since he had been driving in the early hours of the morning…
I’m so excited to post this cover reveal! Most of you have heard me talk about my awesome editor, Jana Miller. She also happens to be my sister, and in a few weeks she will be an author! In addition to being an amazing editor, she’s also a fantastic writer and has finished her first YA novel about time manipulation. It’s such a fun read.
I feel like I need to add a caveat here and say IT IS NOT ROMANCE. I don’t want y’all going into it expecting romance (because we all know I’m all about romance), and then being disappointed when it’s not, because then you might decide to give it a bad review and I’d have to go all protective-younger-sister on all y’all. So just know it’s a fantastic, fun, well-written and clean read. But no romance.
Author: Jana Miller Genre: Speculative YA Release Date: July 5th, 2019
Ever since discovering her ability to rewind time seven years ago, Chloe has been reaching—reaching for a worthy use of her ability, reaching for redemption from her past, and reaching for the kind of validation she’ll never find as long as she has to keep this secret.
By the time she’s sixteen, Chloe has decided that rewinding is not a gift at all, but punishment for her part in the tragedy that has shaped her life. And when she discovers that Jake, a careless senior in one of her classes, possesses the same ability, she has no idea what to do about it or whether she can even trust him. But then other rewinders reveal themselves, and Chloe finds that there’s much more to her own story than she’s ever imagined.
Secrets of the past combine with rivalries of the present to set off a series of painful events and impossible discoveries, and soon Jake and Chloe find themselves in a race to piece together a puzzle of ancient relics, family feuds, and strands of time as they seek to defuse the threat not only to their powers but to her family and the fabric of time itself.
Sounds awesome, right?! It was so fun to read and I hope all of you who enjoy YA will give it a try.
You might have noticed my posts having a bit of a theme lately.
The fighting. The opinions. The I-am-right-and-you-are-wrong of how we interact with one another, especially when we are safely ensconced behind our keyboards, has been constantly on my mind.
I’m so tired of fighting. I’m so tired of witnessing the fighting. It hurts to scroll through social media and see that someone I love has posted something that mocks and degrades an opinion or decision or belief that is part of me. I don’t mind if people disagree with me. Not at all. I want those around me to be awake and form their own opinions and make their own choices based on their experience, what they know, what they value. Of course you won’t make all the same decisions as I do. That’s because we’ve lived different lives, and I am doing my best to respect the lives that people have lived and to try to understand them. Which of course goes back to the idea of letting people tell their story.
But what about when you’re confused by decisions that people make and there’s no opportunity to ask them to clarify? How can we reconcile someone holding an opinion when everything we’ve seen and experienced tells us that it’s the wrong decision? Are they just idiots? Maybe they’re just stubborn and mean and blind and wrong.
Maybe. But even if one or more of those things are true, there are also reasons.
In writing, whenever your character does something, it needs to be done with intent. There needs to be an underlying reason or motivation for their actions. This is one of those things that will drive readers crazy when authors get it wrong, because if an author is just sticking a character in a situation and making them do the thing for reasons of plot without giving them the proper motivation, it feels off. It jars the reader from the story as they wonder what the hey is going on with the character. There’s no reason for that character to make that decision. Everything we know about Sally so far has led us to believe that she wouldn’t just quietly agree to hand over the enchanted book. Sally has been protecting it for more than half the book, and she’s just giving it up without a fight? No, we need motive. So then if we know that Sally has a little brother who will die if she doesn’t do what Mr. Villain says, then we can get on board. She has her reasons, and while we might think that saving one life isn’t worth an entire nation dying, we can at least see that for her, it is worth it.
Unfortunately, we can’t read the inner dialogue of those around us, so we’re left to wonder about their motivation, and often be confounded by what could convince them to make that decision, to support that cause, to be on the anti side of this debate and the pro side of that issue.
May I suggest that the answer to all of those question is REASONS.
She’s anti-gun because she experienced a mass shooting. He’s pro-life because he and his wife can’t have a baby of their own. She chose not to vaccinate because a vaccine paralyzed her nephew.
At the same time:
He’s pro-gun because an intruder nearly killed his mother. She’s pro-choice because there was no way for her baby to survive and if they hadn’t ended the pregnancy, she wouldn’t have survived either. He chose to vaccinate because his family member suffered through that disease.
They all have their reasons, and we can disagree with them all we want, but we can’t pretend that everyone else is wrong and only our experiences and choices are valid.
Now, of course there are outliers. People with ill intent, people who just want to argue, people who just want to hate. But even those people got that way somehow. Did they choose it? Some of them might have. Or were they taught it and just don’t know how to break down what they’ve spent years learning? Unlearning cultural norms and society rules is HARD.
This, by the way, is the way to write good villains. Villains are much more powerful when their motives make sense. If you create a villain who is a terrible person because they like being a terrible person…okay. That’s a nice cardboard cut-out, but readers want all characters to be three-dimensional.
Maybe that’s a good way to think of people as well. In this world where we stare at a screen and see the two-dimensional or even one-dimensional representation of people, we have to keep in mind that what we see isn’t all of them. We are all made up of multiple dimension, countless layers, myriad experiences, failures, pains, and triumphs. We are made up of the bullies that whispered in our ears, the parents that cheered us on, the love that broke our heart, the hard choices foisted upon us. It’s all there in a tangled mess that few people are going to look close enough to see, much less comprehend.
So I hope we can all move forward with grace. That we can all offer mercy, extend a hand of understanding and the gift of forgiveness. And just as important, I hope that we can accept those things from others.
Several years ago, I made a big change in my life. I left behind a certain belief—a certain truth that I had subscribed to—and I picked up a new truth.
I’ve heard the phrase “speaking your truth” more and more lately, and I’m starting to better understand what it means and why it’s important.
We all have a story, and when our story is interrupted by something unexpected—something that changes one of our core beliefs—it usually takes a lot of time to process. That’s probably why it’s often used in storytelling.
One of my favorite book scenes of all times is in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. At the end when Harry is talking to Dumbledore in his office, discussing the prophecy.
“Neither can live while the other survives.”
Dumbledore explains that the details given in the prophecy applied to Harry, but they also applied to Neville. It’s the moment when Harry finally understands what being the Chosen One will eventually mean. Continue reading →
I posted this on my personal FB wall, and I’ve been thinking about it even more and wanted to expand on it.
“Does anyone feel like social media has made it so that for every discussion we have, or for every story that is told, we are expected to pick a hill on one extreme of the situation or the other and commit to dying on it?
Truth is important, but for nearly all situations that I am not directly involved in, it’s going to be impossible to know what the truth is, and in all likelihood, it’s not going to be on one extreme hill or the other. Truth is going to be somewhere down in that densely forested valley where actions, intentions, motivations, memory, political agenda, moral compasses, and emotion all mix together in tangled confusion.
This culture of pithy memes, brutal clap backs and epic mic drop moments has lead us to buy into the myth that deep and complicated issues can be summed up by a click bait headline or a political cartoon. Continue reading →