If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed that I like to do stuff to my hair. A lot.
There was that time I dyed it Ariel-in-The Little Mermaid red. Then the time I dyed it light brown in an attempt to get rid of the red after it overstayed its welcome. Then the time I dyed it dark brown because the light brown hadn’t managed to get rid of the red. Then the time I cut it all off, because seriously, that red just wouldn’t go away. (Also, there was that time I had a full-on pageboy cut back before it was cool, because I was playing an eight-year-old boy in the winter play sophomore year of high school and my director didn’t believe in wigs.)
Most recently my roommates and I played with some temp dye while watching the Golden Globes this winter and I spent a couple weeks with bright pink tips.
However, other than that my hair’s been just my natural color for about a year now. And, despite that, I still have no idea how to describe my hair color.
Which made me hesitate a little when someone suggested I write a post about my hair color and what it says about my personality, in line with how hair dye company Madison Reed believes that your hair color helps represent who you are.
Madison Reed is super cool. They’ve put a focus on making their hair dye healthier, more convenient, and more personalized than other companies–and although I’ve yet to personally use it (again, I haven’t dyed my hair in over a year), I do love playing with their hair profile to get recommendations on what colors would look good on me. They’re the first company I’ll check out once I’m ready to change my color again.
Still, in the meantime. This is my natural hair color:
Light brown with coppery red undertones.
Golden brown, some of which turns ash blond and some of which turns strawberry blond under direct sunlight.
A very uniform medium cool brown, no red or blond anywhere to be found.
When I was little, my hair was strawberry blond, through and through. Then as I grew up, it kept getting darker and darker–then stopped before it could become an official, easy-to-define color. So I’ve taken to calling my natural hair color “hazel hair.”
It looks different under every kind of light and in every picture. Friends regularly ask if I’ve dyed it (and have been asking that since long before I got up the guts to buy that first box a couple years back). When I do dye my hair, my eyebrows seem to magically change color to match the new color.
Like for real, look at this:
Boom: Dark brown hair dye. Suddenly my eyebrows–which I didn’t touch–look dark brown as well.
I used to hate my hair. I wanted to be able to easily give a hair color when people asked, and it always drove me nuts when people made claims about it–like they were so sure it was auburn, or so sure it was blond. (You want to talk about friends arguing over what color that dress was for forty-eight hours? Try my hair. For my entire life.)
But here’s the thing: Everything about me is in between. I also have hazel eyes (blue and green), skin that once almost sent an employee at a theatre makeup store into hysterics because he couldn’t find a shade that matched me, and a height that’s somewhere between 5’2.5″ and 5’3″ (and has forever doomed me to not knowing what to write on forms).
And as annoying as it is to never be able to find anything that fits me quite right, whether it be makeup or clothes or an answer option on a Buzzfeed quiz, now I kind of like how in between everything about me is. Because my personality lives a lot in the space between black-and-white-obvious as well.
Every time I take a Myers-Briggs test, I get a different answer. Politically, I’m independent. I’m a writer, so I technically work in a creative field, but some of my favorite parts of the job are the ones that require me to be really analytical and, well, not-creative.
I can be really shy and quiet, and I love spending time alone, reading or watching Netflix or hiking. Those things, as far as hair color stereotypes go, feel brown to me.
However, I also love acting and singing and playing guitar. Hanging out with friends and having awkward dance parties with my roommates. Those feel blond.
And I’m an adventure addict. I love exploring, trying new things. Laughing. Those things feel red.
The reason I haven’t dyed my hair in over a year is less because of how atrocious it was to get rid of that Little Mermaid red (which, really, was atrocious) (thankfully, that dye did not come from Madison Reed), but because I’m learning to love all the in between, not-quite-one-thing-or-another parts of me.
I have hazel hair and I am a hazel person.
So, what does my hair color say about my personality? It says I’m happy to be me–and I’m embracing all the shades of grey (or in this case, brown/blond/red) that come with that.
Sorry this post is coming so late to you today! I was distracted by freedom and a package of Twizzlers. And Batman. (It’s finals week. Class let out yesterday and I don’t have anything again until Friday morning. It’s sort of a problem.)
First up today: I want to dye my hair this summer–it’s something that I’ve wanted to do for years but never actually had the guts too–so now I’m taking a poll to see what color I should go for.
Second up: One last reminder from me to fill out the character form for This Is a Book to help Mel and me create some new, wacky characters to use in our genre-bending novelish masterpiece!
Third up: this week’s Wordy Wednesday is a continuation of my notes from the Writer’s Digest Conference East a few weeks ago. If you haven’t read my notes from the past two weeks, you can check them out by following the following links:
–Three most important words: scene, series, and theme.
–Like NaNoWriMo, the first draft is quantity over quality
–How to Generate Material:
oCount your words—you can’t simultaneously create and know the worth of what you’re creating—so count your words, rather than the quality of them
oFind a neutral audience, like a writing group, beta reader, independent editor, etc.
oDon’t try to organize everything.
oDon’t count your hours, because you can get distracted during them (hello, Facebook). Count your words. But make sure you have enough hours scheduled to get that number of words.
–“You count the words, you make the time.”
–Listen for the sound of your own voice.
–Have fun—“the most important way to generate material”
THE STEPS TO REVISING
oFind all your scenes, put them in the right order
oDefine (1) where something happens, (2) where, because something happens, something else changes; (3) make sure it’s capable of series, (4) is in service of the overall scene, (5) is necessary to the novel.
oBrainstorm all of your scenes by giving them each a name—the only catch is that you can’t look at the book. Go through the list of scenes, highlight the good ones in green (good enough)—highlight bad scenes in fuchsia. “A bad scene is sort of like a bad relationship; you have to fix it before you can move on.” Highlight in blue the scenes that you forget—examine why they weren’t important enough for you to remember. Highlight in brown the scenes you still need to write.
oYou should always be writing.
oPrint out a list of your scenes, cut them up, try to put them in order—this helps you get new ideas and understand your story better, etc. Examine how the scenes react and interact to create emotional pay off. This is called “series.”
–SERIES: The repetition and variation of elements that work so that their repetition and variation make the book better.
oA scene MUST be capable of series.
oEvery time a series occurs, it’s an iteration of the series.
oA character, relationship, saying, etc can be a series.
o“Series is how a person becomes a character, an object becomes a symbol, and a theme becomes the philosophy of the book.
oSeries can be abstract or specific.
oThe series reveal your narrative arc. “SERIES is the new PLOT.”
oIterations of series create tension—variations of series release this tension.
oSeries—interact, inform each other in complex ways.
oWrite out all the series—cut them down until you just have the most important one, in one sentence—that one sentence is your book’s theme.
oPut your theme in the center of a target. Take our subthemes (your other series) and place them around it on the target, the distance depending on how connected they are. Ultimately, you’re going to want to place everything on the target, from characters to series to scenes.
–Kill your darlings.
–The tyranny of the first draft—you think anything you’ve already created is better than what you will create in the future. This isn’t true.
–Short narrative parts are “links.” Connective tissues between the actual scenes. An example of a link is the “voiceover link,” in which your narrator talks directly to the reader.
oOld-school did “scene and summary”—that was classic literature. It’s different now.
–You should have at least 60 to 70 pages written before using this method of revising.
–“Spend time thinking about what you’ve done before trying again and again to do it.”
b.Choose touchstones (words, pics, or mascots) that represent a character or feeling or idea
7.Change the font, then print out and read the entire MS on. the. page. Take notes as you go.
8.List the first ten things each significant character says or does; include internal thoughts for your POV character.
a.“The man reason for rewriting [is] … to discover the inner truth of your characters.”
b.What is the character’s joy? Pain? What do they want? What will he or she do to get it?
9.Is your inciting incident actual action? How close can you get it to page one?
a.Where are the turning points in the story?
b.Work backward from the climax: do at least three plot developments support it?
10.Chart plotting/book mapping: Map out your book.
a.Plot-oriented mapping: make a spreadsheet with: chapter number, title, POV character, setting, word count. – At the bottom, justify the existence of each plot relative to the other plots and themes.
11.Chart plotting/book mapping: Map out your book.
a.Character-oriented mapping (for each significant character): Desire (conscious, unconscious), strengths, obstacles to reach desire, three actions s/he takes to achieve desire, and overall contribution to plot or protagonist this character makes.
12.Book map (outline) the action of the book scene-by-scene.
a.For every scene, ask: What do the characters in the scene each want? What is the conflict in this scene?
b.For every scene, ask: What is the new info we learn in this scene?
c.Each scene should have:
ii.But (or) therefore (or) meanwhile
a.Provide a 1-to-2 sentence summary of the action in each chapter. Do you have a lot of talking/thinking/action scenes in a row?
14.Compare the vision you articulated in #3-5 with the results of #7-13 and compile a “To Do” list of things you want to accomplish in a revision.
a.Don’t be afraid to think BIG, but take time to listen small.
15.Set a deadline for completing each state of revision and a reward for each one.
16.Work large to small
a.Wording’s the last thing; major plot/character changes are first.
17.Once you’re reasonably satisfied you have the big stuff done, highlight the following in different colors to find your balance, what each scene is conveying to the reader, etc:
Highlight each character’s dialogue in a different color—read through for:
Cut adverbs, other than said, feel, etc—“I felt sad” should be replaced with “I was sad” (stronger language)—Remove passive voice. Use active voice. What’s dangerous is not one particular practice, but an excess of that practice. “Unhelpful babies”—kill your babies when they’re getting in the way of the larger plot you need to achieve. Watch your emotional tone.
18.Check your first line for resonance—needs to promise drama.
a.Last line—fermatas—last line of every chapter or scene should be a note you want to sustain in the reader’s mind.
19.Read the book aloud, or—better yet—have someone read it aloud to you.
20.Keep a copy of EVERYTHING. Never permanently delete anything.
21.Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. KEEP CALM AND REVISE ON.
–You have 140 characters to capture your reader’s attention. You have 140 characters or 25 words to get an agent or editor’s attention. That’s a single line, paragraph, page, or scene.
–“The first page sells the book. The last page sells the next book.” – Old saying in publishing
–Take your favorite ten books off the shelf, read just the first page, and see if you can do the same thing they did.
–First and last page should reflect one another.
–The two most important pages are the first and last.
–The first two weeks as an agent, Paula got 1,000 queries—and they keep on coming. That’s a lot of queries to try to stand out from. But good material will stand out.
–1 in 200 queries is worth asking for material from
–Most writers can’t write a good synopsis—most agents will not hold that against you
–If an agent requests something and the synopsis—they will read the “something” before the “synopsis” generally.
–Reasons Agents Stop Reading:
oI’ve seen it before
oThere’s no strong voice telling the story
oI’m not connecting with any of the characters
oI can’t tell what kind of story I’m reading
oDon’t care what happens next
oThe plot is unbelievable and/or full of clichés
oThe dialogue doesn’t sound like “real people”
oThere are typos, spelling, and/or grammatical errors
–Agents, editors, readers—they’re a sucker for voice—a strong voice can save you
–Make sure your title fits your genre
–You want the reader to be asking questions
–Don’t go for the cheap joke if it’s not authentic
–Invest in your project—get a line editor
–Top Ten Reasons Agents Keep Reading:
oSomething happens (aka: inciting incident)
oLevel of craft is high
oCharacters make you FEEL something
oWriter has gained the agent’s confidence
oDon’t know what happens next
oSomething unique about story/storyteller
oIt’s clear what kind of story is being told
oThere’s a market for this type of story
oThe prose is clean, clear, and concise—the 3 Cs of Prose
–Never open a book with weather. But if you have to start with weather, make it;
oPropel your plot
oAffect your hero in a bad way
oSet the tone
oSpeak to theme
oIf you need a prologue, don’t call it a prologue—use a time reference instead (“Five years earlier,” etc)
oTry to use a device like a newspaper clipping, diary entry, etc instead
oApply a different format to set it apart from the rest of the book (italics, breaks, etc)
–Do not start with a dream
oSo many stories have done this, pulling it off in an original way *now* is tough
–Don’t start with a character alone, thinking.
oIf you do this, he’d better be doing something compelling at the same time, like:
§Committing a crime
§Finding a corpse
§Planting a bomb
–Don’t start with a phone call (especially in the middle of the night)—also, tweets, voicemails, etc.
–DO Start with:
–You have to:
oMove the plot forward
oSet the tone
oSpeak to theme
–Most of all START WITH A SCENE.
–You HAVE to have a killer first line.
–Scene 1 Checklist:
oWhat actually happens?
oWhy will the reader care about/relate to the characters?
oHow do you want the reader to feel? What have you done to evoke that emotion?
oHave you used all the elements of fiction at your disposal—setting, plot, character, theme, etc?
oHave you chosen the right POV/voice?
oDoes the dialogue ring true?
oAre the story questions strong enough to keep the reader reading?
oIs it clear what kind of story you’re telling?
oWhat makes this story different from the others of its ilk?
oIs the scene well-written and well-edited?
–If you can’t think of what makes your story special, you’ve got a problem—you want your story to be “just like [insert successful novel name here], but different because [insert kickbutt reason here].”