Tag Archives: Ideas

Deciphering the Masks: Another Step Towards Character Development

Well dearie me!!! It’s been HOW long since I posted?! Dang. LOL!!!! Well unfortunately, for my writing that is, for the past month I’ve been trying to settle into a new job. I’ve had to brush up on my people skills because I’m in a retail sales position at an athletic store so nearly 100% of my day is spent talking to other people. I’ve worked in positions like this before but it’s still hard to switch my mind over to the sales side. In order to make customers believe that I’m not just some commission hungry maniac I have to alter my personality so that I seem like someone they can trust. That’s one of the hardest things about sales. Every customer is different. They each have a particular set of desires and expectation and so I have to, in a shirt time, assess them and figure out how I can present myself so that they will believe that I am the person best qualified to help them. It’s sort of like I have to wear a different mask for each customer so that they’ll trust me to help them. That got me thinking about my characters.

In order for customers to trust me I have to change my personality so that I present myself as a person they can trust to help them.

In order for customers to trust me I have to change my personality so that I present myself as a person they can trust to help them.

All characters have their own distinct personalities and it got me thinking of how they might change their personalities, or what masks they might wear. The first thing I had to do was to understand who the character’s ruse was intended to fool? The next question I had to answer was what my character would do to create this illusion? Finally I had to know the main purpose or why they had gone about the whole process. For example I had a character once who didn’t want her father to know that she had crashed his car. In that case the character put on the mask of the adoring daughter. She changed her voice so that it sounded infantile and called her father “daddy”. So with that all of the questions were satisfied:

  1. Who was the mask intended to work upon? The character used this particular mask to fool her father.
  2. What personality changed occurred? The character attempted to transform herself into a vision of how she had been in her youth. She speaks in a high pitched infantile voice and uses the name “daddy”.
  3. Why did the character do this? The character created this personality change so that she could emotionally manipulate her father. She is hoping that by toying with his heart he will not find out that she had wrecked his car.

 

What parts of your characters' personalities would they be willing to hide? Why would they go through the effort to create their mask or illusion?

What parts of your characters’ personalities would they be willing to hide? Why would they go through the effort to create their mask or illusion?

In my post “3 Methods to Add Emotional Tension to your Plot” I talked about how every character needs a goal or a desire and that you as the writer need to figure out what they’d be willing to risk in order to get it, but you also need to figure out how they might need to change their personalities in order to obtain their goals. For example if you have a character named Bobby who wants to get married to a lady named June and is willing to die for this goal you also must decide what version of themselves they are going to use in order to make June fall in love with him. Everyone likes to present the best versions of themselves that they can to win people over, whether you’re like me who does it for a sales job, or like Bobby who does it for love. You need to decide what parts of your characters’ personalities they’d be likely to suppress and what mask they’re going to put on instead. Maybe at a particular part of your story you character’s mask will fail letting the world know their true selves. What could be the emotional impact from that? Did someone say PLOT TWIST?!

 

 

 

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the day: Character Assessment

I used to have to do this exercise all of the time for my theatre class in high school. There would be a pair of us performing a particular scene and we each had to write a journal entry as our character which detailed our characters’ goals and also their mental status. That is what you need to do for this exercise. I want you to take your protagonist and antagonist and to write journal entries for both of them in which they detail their problems, psychological situation, and goals. Are you pro and antagonist fight? Why? What is one’s problem with the other? Do they believe their actions are justified? One of the hardest things writers face is that they don’t just have to figure out what their characters do or say but why they do or say them. This exercise can really help you to come to a better understanding of who your characters are and why they’re acting the way they are.

 

So long folks! Feel free to comment with any question, complaints, or even suggestions for writing prompts! It’s always nice when writers can have a place to go and pick up a few extra prompts to get the creativity flowing!

 

 

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Filed under Books, Characters, Creative, Creative writing, Drama, Fiction, Nanowrimo, Novel Writing, Novels, Plot, Reading, Uncategorized, Writing, writing tips

The Art of Creating Villains

As we grow up we come to realize that life is not like an episode of Barney and that not everyone in the world is going to love us or want to be our friends. Some people are just plain mean, but how do we translate that into fiction and still make those characters seem real? If we just write someone who is mean and nasty 24/7 in the end they will seem boring. It would almost feel like every time your antagonist appears your reader will say “oh let me guess, (insert antagonist name here) is going to say something mean and stupid”.

Evil is as evil does

Evil is as evil does

Part of what makes villains seem so interesting is that their motives and goals are hidden in many cases and so they have the ability to keep the readers guessing. Also, as many antagonists are not lead by traditional moralities it gives you as the writer more options when it comes to character choices. However, like many things in writing it’s a balancing act. If you write an antagonist who constantly behaves in wildly amoral ways in every scene it defies the imagination of most readers. Most real people are made up of both good and bad parts and so if you try to make it seem as if your antagonist is 100% bad than it can make them seem unbelievable. You could really only make a character like that work if you found a way to make that type of behavior seem natural for the character.

 

Iago's nature is not hidden from the audience but is hidden from the protagonist.

Iago’s nature is not hidden from the audience but is hidden from the protagonist.

For me Iago from Othello is one of the greatest antagonists in history because he has the ability to hide his evil motives from the protagonist. He cannot hide his evil nature from the audience because, by the usage of asides and soliloquies, the majority of the action is told through his inner monologue. He could be described as being totally evil, but because his true nature and motives are hidden from all of the other characters it only serves to give him an added level of intrigue.

Nils Bjurman- the epitome of the malignant narcissist

Nils Bjurman- the epitome of the malignant narcissist

One of my favorite villains in modern literature is Nils Bjurman from Steig Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The character puts the protagonist through numerous scenes intense physical and mental abuse  which could make him seem unbelievable. Larsson combats this by hiding Bjurman’s motivations so his vile nature is connected to a mystery and by giving the character the hallmarks of at least two legitimate and recognizable psychological disorders. Nils Bjurman is one of those characters that the reader thinks could exist, but is really glad they don’t.

Who are some of your favorite antagonists? Do they attempt to hide their motives from the protagonists or are they more open about their dark side?

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: A Lesson in Context Exercise

For this exercise you need to take the first line of dialogue from your favorite film and create a whole new story with that as the first line. Totally change the context of the line with new characters and a new plot.

Have fun with this one and I will see you next time!!!

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Is “meanwhile” the Magic Word of Writing?

Hey there!! It feels like forever since I’ve posted! Sorry about that but life…ugh…don’t you just hate it when life interrupts your blog time? LOL!!! Ah well. Luckily I have been working on my novel…well I call it a novel but actually it’s more like a massive writing exercise I’ve been doing for five years.

It started as a free writing exercise I did about five years ago and during times when I don’t have any projects going on I pull it out and add to it. It’s gotten so long now I’ve realized that it is practically a novel in and of itself so I’ve been going back through it to see if I can make it work as a novel. It’s actually a really interesting exercise but one of the hardest things for me to write are the transition pieces that connect scene to scene and chapter to chapter.

Sometimes I just say “forget the transitions” and start a new chapter, but you can’t do that too often or your book will end up being 100 pages filled with 300 chapters. I like for my transitional pieces to be smooth and for one scene to just sort of flow naturally into the other but in many cases it just feels wrong to me. I read an article somewhere that said that the best way to combat a difficult transition is the usage of the word “meanwhile”. The basic principal was to use the word “meanwhile” when you were undecided as to how to move from one scene to the next.

Making my scene shifts have a workable rhythm is one of the hardest parts of writing for me

Give your scene shifts a smooth rhythm

Example:
Chad didn’t know where to go from here. His father was dead, his home a pile of rubble. The only things he had left were an old scorched picture and a goldfish.
Meanwhile in a shopping center across town Kerri wondered if life could get any better. She had a sweet ride, a credit card, and a father who didn’t ask questions.

Without the word “meanwhile” in between those two bits of scenes, it would’ve felt a bit slap-dash and there wouldn’t have been much of a flow. However, that one word added in it allows for a fluid movement between the scenes and also adds an interesting thematic juxtaposition between the characters’ lives.

Meanwhile= The Writer’s HOCUS POCUS!!

Some might say that “meanwhile” is the magic word of writing and true, there is something a bit magical in the word’s ability to pack so much practical usefulness and potential thematic depth in one word but you can take it too far. When I started off using “meanwhile” to help with my scene shifts I felt great…but then I read back over what I had written and…oh dear. I realized that I had used the word so much that it was almost laughable. A small part of my mind half expected to turn the page and read MEANWHILE AT THE LEGION OF DOOM (I tried to just add a pic of the Legion of Doom headquarters but my computer wouldn’t let me, the video was all I could find)!!!

How do you like to transition? Do you use “meanwhile”? Do you like to add a chapter or page break? What are some techniques you’ve found?

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the day: Looking for a Haunt
For this exercise I want you to imagine that you or one of your characters has just died and has become a ghost and are now looking for a place to haunt. How would you decide which place to haunt and what would you do to haunt the house? Are you a poltergeist (a playful ghost? Are you a friendly ghost? Are you a vengeful ghost? Why?
See you around!

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Keeping your Plot Interesting

Sorry for the long absence but life’s been a bit hectic lately what with job searching and all that. Alrighty, time to get back into the swing of things. For today I want to talk about how to keep your plot from getting too flat and predictable.

dictionary1

In general I have found that predictable plots lend nothing to the story because they only serve to slow things down or put the readers to sleep. Have you ever read a book and you got maybe halfway through it and could already tell how all of the characters were going to end up? BORING!!!! If you can already see the end what’s the point of reading? You as a writer need to be wary of this because there is a fine line between foreshadowing something that will or might happen to the characters and putting up a huge road sign that says THE STORY WILL END THIS WAY. Have any of you read or heard of The Strain trilogy by Guillermo del Toro? The final book in this series is a prime example of how NOT to formulate your plot. When I was halfway through the book I could already tell how each of the characters was going to end up so it took all the mystery and enjoyment out of reading. I mean I didn’t know what plot twists would get the characters from point A to point B but that didn’t matter. I no longer cared about the characters’ journeys because I already knew how they’d end up.

There's a difference between foreshadowing and mapping out the entire plot for the reader!

There’s a difference between foreshadowing and mapping out the entire plot for the reader!

I’ve really had to think about how to keep my plot and characters captivating a lot because right now I’m working on a mystery. A mystery is all about intrigue and figuring out the answers to questions. While writing my mystery I’ve realized that the best crime/detective/mystery stories out there always leave at least a few questions unanswered. I think that’s a major key to keeping the readers interested even after they’ve finished reading. When confronted with unanswered questions the reader is compelled to let their imaginations go find possible answers. When you can get your readers’ imaginations involved in your story even after they’ve finished reading? HOT DANG!! You’ve got them in the palm of your hands! But as in all things in writing the unanswered questions must have balance. You cannot leave so many unanswered questions that your reader feels cheated, or feels that the resolution was nothing more than a huge anti-climax. Even if you’re not writing a mystery there are usually major plot questions which will pop up from time to time. My best idea for keeping track of the questions that might appear in your plot is to make a note whenever one shows up, and also whenever one is answered. That way you don’t lose track.

In life questions are a guarantee but answers are not.

In life questions are a guarantee but answers are not.

What are the best ways you’ve found to keep your plot interesting to your readers? Comment below! I’d love to hear from you.

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: The Way You Walk Exercise

For this exercise I want you to write a short piece where you describe the way you walk. Every person in the world has a different way of walking. Some people have flat feet, some are pigeon toed. Write about how you  move, but also think of why move the way you do. For example I tend to limp a bit because of a hip injury I had when I was a kid so I could write that  “my walk makes me look like a cowboy loping across a field, sore after a long day’s ride.” Just have fun with this and really get into how you can best describe your movements when you walk.

Bye for now!!

 

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Plot Outlining: Mapping the Journey

Writers have gotten a reputation of being a roguish band of disorganized dreamers who relish chaos, but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. The ability to organize your plot and sort through your ideas is an easy way to make the entire writing process develop better. Outlining is the best method I have found to make organizing my plot points a faster process. I am of the opinion that writing is difficult enough in itself so I will attempt anything that I can to make the creative process smoother.

Writing is chaotic enough!! Save you sanity and make it easier on yourself

Writing is chaotic enough!! Save you sanity and make it easier on yourself

The moment I get an idea for a story I take out a sheet of paper and plot out a potential plotline. The outline I use is fairly general. I use the headings from the plot triangle we all learned about in school (Exposition, Rising Action, Climax etc.) and then I fill in the events for every section.

Example:

This is an example of the type of outline I like to use (note: this is a vague outline I drew up a few years ago before I started a rough draft for a 10 minute play):

I. Exposition
1. Introduce Daughter (protagonist) and Mother (antagonist)
a. Introduce conflict between Daughter and Mother- Mother wants Daughter to get married to jerk.
b. Mother is tight lipped and rigid, Daughter is restless and wants to rebel.
2. Daughter plans to run away
a. Describe what problems she has with Mother/Fiancé.

II. Rising Action
1. Mother wants Daughter to stay and avoid scandal
a. Further development of conflict between Mother and Daughter.
2. Introduce Fiancé.
a. Fiancé is smug and entitled.
b. Daughter insults Fiancé.

III. Climax
1. Fiancé slaps Daughter
a. Daughter stands up to Fiancé.
b. Fiancé exits.

IV. Falling Action
1. Mother shifts from antagonist to protagonist
a. Helps Daughter leave.
b. Starts understanding.
2. Daughter Leaves.

V. Resolution
1. Re-enter Fiancé
a. Fiancé threatens Mother.
b. Mother stands up to Fiancé.

This outline wasn’t set in stone by any means. As I created the characters and came to a better understanding of their mental situations and goals the story shifted but this outline really helped me to organize my ideas and to envision how my story was going to play out. If when I was writing the rough draft I found out that something from my outline didn’t work I’d change it, but the outline gave me a simple and streamlined way to sort through my ideas.

Outlining for me is a simple way to navigate the chaotic world of writing

Outlining for me is a simple way to navigate the chaotic world of writing

It’s like mapping out your route for a road trip. You start out with what you think is the best road to reach your intended destination and you start down that way, but while you’re on the way you find out that a section of the highway is covered in potholes so you change your planned and take a smoother road. That’s the mindset I have when I write my pre-rough draft outline. There may be some bumps in the road as I make my way towards the end, but at least I have an idea of where I’m going.

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: The Lost Senses
Imagine that you woke up one morning and could not hear or speak. Describe the sensations you might feel as you try to figure out what happened to you, why it happened and how to deal with it. How would you learn to communicate with the world without using your ears or your voice? This exercise allows you to explore the world of body language. Imagine what types of facial and body movements you would use to communicate with the world.

Have fun with this one and I’ll see you next time!!!

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The Times and Trials of a Bookworm

I’ve said before that the vast majority of writers begin first as readers which I still think is true, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. One of my younger cousins was complaining about having to read a boring book for class and when I told them the list of books I had to read for my lit courses she said “well that’s different! You like reading!!” True, I do enjoy reading but that doesn’t make it any easier.

For me, my struggles with reading started in kindergarten. For some reason I just couldn’t get the hang of reading. I knew my letters because of the alphabet song and the like, but I couldn’t make sense of written words. They told me “This is an A, this is a B, and this is a C”, to which I would reply “No it isn’t!!! That one looks like a funny hat, that one’s a snowman, and that one is a squiggle!” After literally months of these little episodes my teacher was thinking I had something like dyslexia and I just thought I was stupid. I would sit for hours holding my books in my room and would try to piece together the mystery of what they meant. For almost an entire year I saw my classmates breezing through books while I was still stuck on page two. Finally someone had the thought “maybe there’s something wrong with her eyes”. EUREKA!!!!

As easy as ABC? I WISH!!! :)

As easy as ABC? I WISH!!! 🙂

I went to the eye doctor and after my exam I remember that he told my mother “I’m not surprised she’s having trouble reading!! She really needs glasses.” So finally after almost an entire school year the mystery of my “reading problems” were solved. For a long after kindergarten I absolutely hated reading. Whenever I picked up a book I remembered the struggles I had and how stupid they made me feel. For nearly 13 years I avoided reading whenever I could but slowly I learned to let go of those negative feelings and let myself fall into the wonderful world of books. Now that’s not to say reading isn’t still a struggle. Even with glasses every once in a while I get terrible migraines and more often than not my mind starts wandering and by the time it wanders back to the book I can’t even remember what page I was on. So for me reading is wonderful and I really enjoy it, but it’s a struggle. But when I finally reach the end of a book I feel like I’ve just won a massive battle. So yeah for me reading is a struggle, but that doesn’t mean it is not worth it!!!

Reading = Worth the stuggle

Reading = Worth the struggle

 

Exercise of the Day:  The Lesser of Two Evils Exercise

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Imagine a situation where your character must choose between sacrificing two things, both of which are important to them. Describe the situation itself, the two things your character is deciding between and also the thought process they would use to come to a decision. How would the situation resolve itself? How would the character feel at the end?

Weighing the options

Weighing the options

 

Have fun with this exercise!! Feel free to comment! I love feedback!

🙂

 

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Thoughts on Nanowrimo

Well another year, and another dreaded Nanowrimo, is in the books. I say dreaded Nanowrimo not because I don’t like seeing people get excited about writing but more because I dislike the feeling that I get when I try. I have tried many times to plow through and reach the word count but it has never worked. When I first started trying I liked the idea of having a measurable goal to keep myself to because I thought it would give me more motivation, but instead it only added to the already palpable stress of the writing process. I actually reached the word count goal the first time I tried. I sat down every day, even days when my level of caring was below 0, and pounded out the words. I thought that I’d spend November writing, and then December and January editing and polishing. Well by the time I reached January and was in the process of editing I realized a major problem. Somewhere along the way I had become so obsessed with reaching the word count I had placed the higher value on the quantity of the words and had completely stop caring whether or not they were the right words. By the end of that January I had edited away over half of what I had done in November. I still like the overall concept of Nanowrimo and having a measurable goal but I dislike the idea of limiting myself to one month or word count.

Finding the best word

For me Nanos always end up with me placing a higher value on the number of words and not worrying whether or not they are the right ones.

This year I decided that I wouldn’t even attempt to do a Nanowrimo. In the beginning of the month I started a new seasonal retail sales job and I thought that working retail through Black Friday and all of the rest of the shopping seasonal would make for enough stress. Luckily things in the sales world have calmed down enough to let me write this post, but I think things are going to pick up a bit as it gets closer to Christmas. As you might remember from my last post I had set up some reading/viewing goals for the holidays and I wanted to give you a bit of an update. As far as the viewing plans I can happily say that I was able to watch all 3 movies on my list (Inception, The Fellowship of the Ring, V for Vendetta and After the Thin Man) but I didn’t do quite as well with the reading. I was able to find time to read 2 Sherlock Holmes novels (A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four) and Ender’s Game but that was it. I am afraid that I underestimated the level of exhaustion I’d feel working retail during the holiday season.

 

RETAIL STRESS!!! HAHAHA!!! :)

RETAIL STRESS!!! HAHAHA!!! 🙂

 

I would love to just sit here and continue writing a Moby Dick-esque post but I am afraid that I just got called into work…and it just started snowing…yay. Hahahaha!!!! Angry shoppers wait for no man!!

Sorry for the long wait in between my posts, but I very recently got some much needed technological advancements so I have much better inter access. Pardon me for a moment while I do my happy dance. *DANCES* I hope to post more in the future, but I might get a bit caught up in holiday madness.

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

The Exercise of the Day: The Travel Exercise

For this exercise you will need to picture someone who is about to travel. Describe the clothes they wear, their destination and method of travel. Do they drive a car? Take a bus/plane? What do they pack? Are they excited about their impending trip or are they scared? Take this construct and build a short piece of fiction around it. Have fun with this and I will see you around!!

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Discussion: What Popular Books Annoy You?

Discussion: What Popular Books Annoy You?

annoyed

We all know that there are a lot of books in the world, more than an average human could read in a lifetime, but have you ever read a book that other readers/critics fawned over and just not seen the big deal? Well now’s the time to let your opinion be heard!!!

Here’s a list of some of my least favorite:

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

My problems with this do not come from its religious implications,  but from its flawed storytelling. This is one of those books that gets super-hyped because of its controversy and not because it’s actually a good book. The writing used in this book, despite some of its more “adult” moments, felt like it was written with a 5th grader’s vocabulary. Bottom line: Interesting concept + over hyped controversy + poor execution = a book that’s just not worth the time.

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

I know this is a classic the majority of us had to read freshman year of high school, but see that’s the point. This one gets on my nerves because it is over-taught. I guess it also winds up on this list for me because it’s one of the plays that when I say I like Shakespeare, people just assume I love. Bottom line: It’s not that it’s actually bad, it just annoys me that all the schools near me think that this is the only one of Shakespeare’s plays that’s worth teaching.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

This book is considered by some to be one of the greatest romances of all time…I just don’t get it. All of the characters are so wildly unlikable that I really had to force myself to finish it. I found no redeeming qualities in any of the characters which really made reading this book a struggle. Bottom line: The characters in this book were so mean to one another and just so generally stupid that I hated them and didn’t care what happened to them.

What are some popular books that for one reason or another annoyed you? Feel free to comment below!

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: The Last Meal

Imagine a scene where one of your favorite characters is on death row. Imagine how they feel about their impending death. How do they feel? What do they think of? What do they have as their last meal? How does the meal reflect on the personality of the character?

Have fun with this and I’ll see you next time!!!!!

 

 

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Character Choices for Writers: How to Find What Works

Before you writer ask yourself if your choices make sense for the characters mindsets

Before you writer ask yourself if your choices make sense for the characters mindsets

Everything in writing has to happen for a reason and I have found that what works best is to have everything be determined by the characters. I usually start with the dialogue. It helps me to figure out what my characters need to say by first discovering what their voices sound like. The character’s voice has to make sense!

Crazy is as crazy does

Crazy is as crazy does

For example, in Stephen King’s novel Misery the character Annie Wilkes instead of using swear words says words such as “oogie”, “cockadoodie” and “fiddley-foof”. For most readers these words are very uncommon words in their lives so those words could be a bit hard to swallow. The thing that makes them work is the mindset of the character. In the book Annie feels that swear words have a sort of moral “dirtiness” and so she, with her form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, over-compensates to keep herself “clean”.  It’s like being an actor, when you are playing a character with a “questionable” grasp on reality it opens up your options for character choices because you can go outside of the realm of “normal” behavior. So when your write your characters, be sure that the choices you make as the writer are in line with the characters’ voices and mindsets. Change your mindset

In order to open your mind to different ways of thinking, and different mindsets, it helps to do some research into psychology and sociology. If you’re stuck on what kind of person your character is, or how they think knowing a bit of psychology can really help you generate ideas.

Short post, but I hope you got some useful tips out of it! Bye!!!

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: Logic vs Philosophy

For this exercise you’re going to imagine a conversation between 2 characters. A proposes a classic philosophical question such as “If a tree falls in the forest and one is there to hear, does it make a sound” and B argues either for or against it based on the principles of logic.

Example:

A: If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

B: Of course.

A: But how can you know that? You were not there to hear it?

B: The existence of the sound is not dependent on my having heard it. I might not be able to confirm that I heard the tree fall, but does that mean it didn’t happen?  

A: Um…

B. Bazinga!!! I win!!!!

Hope you have fin with this and I’ll talk to you later!!! Feel free to comment!!

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Bad Language in Your Writing: Yes or No?

Oh Gosh Golly!!!!!

Oh Gosh Golly!!!!!

Too many writers today have decided that in order for their work to have an “edge” then all of their characters have to swear like sailors or teenage boys. I am not saying that everything that you write has to read like an episode of Leave it to Beaver, but if you are going to use profanity you must make sure the words have their own flow.

All words need rhythm, even "bad" ones

All words need rhythm, even “bad” ones

In order for profanity to seem natural it has to have a purpose besides making your writing seem more edgy or adult. It needs to begin and end with the characters. In my daily life I at least try not to swear like I’m in an R rated movie but if I do something like drop a hammer on my foot all bets are off. That being said, my characters are not me and have their own unique voices. Any time my characters uses swear words it is because it sounds like it’s something natural for the characters to say. While swear words do not have a “classy” vibe, they can have a rhythm. If you’re ever worried if the types of swear words sound like they have rhythm it’s a good idea to read your passages aloud. If you reading your work aloud can’t make what the character is saying sound natural, you might need to rework the line.

Self-Censorship

Self-Censorship

One thing you need to keep in mind, especially if you plan to be published, is who your intended audience might be. If you are trying to get a kids book published then you can look forward to a lot of rejections if ever other word out of your characters’ mouths is eff this or eff that. You need to tailor your work to your audience, or more specifically to the publisher. I’ve said this before but if you want to be published then it is a good idea for you to research the kinds of things that the publisher has come out with before. If they normally publish things that are so clean they read as if they had been dipped in bleach, then they most likely would not be the best bet to publish a book with gratuitous language.

STOP TALKING ABOUT THE MAN!!! LEARN TO CENSOR YOURSELF!!!!

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: Describe a Christmas

For this exercise you’ll need to create a character who lives in a country that is not your own. Do they celebrate Christmas? If so, what do they do? If not, how do they view Christmas? This exercise gives you a chance to research the cultures of other countries and to think of how they celebrate and view the holiday season.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

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5 Essential Pieces of Equipment for Writers

We all know that in fact you don’t really need any special equipment to write except for your brain and perhaps a pen and paper, but there are things which can make writing easier.

Write like the Wind

Essential #1: A portable notepad and pens/pencils: Inspiration can strike at any time so it pays to keep some notepads handy at all times. A portable laptop can be helpful but is by no means essential. Of course, most writing in today’s world occurs with a computer but computers, no matter how portable they are, are always going to be somewhat less portable than the humble and low-tech notepad. Also you don’t need to buy an ornate or overly expensive journal. You can go down to your local drug store and buy a slew of pencils, pens and notepads for the same price as one expensive leather bound journal. You can buy a leather bound journal if you want, but it is not essential.

Finding the best word

Finding the best word

Essential #2: A Dictionary and Thesaurus: When you are a writer words are your life so it pays to keep words near you at all times. If you want to be sure your readers understand what you are trying to say it’s a fantastic idea to be sure you are using the best words possible, or that you are using them properly. Have you ever read a book where the writer used a lot of posh words but rarely used them correctly? It’s like Amy from Little Women. She was always trying to speak with really grown up words, but she usually got either the pronunciation or meaning wrong. Writing works the same way. A handy dictionary and thesaurus are the best tools to help with this. (Note: If you are using Microsoft Word and you want quick access to a thesaurus take the word you want to find a new version of, highlight it, and then press the shift and f7 keys at the same time. A window on the right-hand side of the screen should pop up giving you access to Word’s thesaurus.)

Technology for the win!!

Technology for the win!!

Essential #3: USB Drive(s) or a portable hard drive: Most writers know that in today’s world of technological advances that most writing is going to occur on a computer. Like I said before, cheap pens and notepads are a great and simple way to jot down ideas whenever they happen to pop into your head, but in most cases the finished product is going to be written on a computer. USB drives can hold a massive amount of data and these days are relatively inexpensive. I caught a sale and was able to purchase a 15 gig USB for under $10. Portable hard drives are more expensive than USBs but they are another great way to backup your digital data. There’s nothing worse than the feeling of utter abandonment you get when your computer crashes and you lose your work.

 

Essential #4: An expansive library: All writers begin first as readers so having a large library of books at your disposal is an essential tool for generating ideas. You don’t need to break the bank to do this either. One of the best ways to do this is to gain access to your local library. Many libraries are now allowing their patrons to check out Ebooks as well as paper books. All you need is one little card and you have access to as many books as your heart desires. I spent my entire college career working in my school’s library and my hometown one as well so libraries will always feel like home to me. I say again, always remember that all writers begin as readers.

Virginia Woolf ~  A Room of One's Own

Virginia Woolf ~ A Room of One’s Own

Essential #5: A space of your own: Virginia Woolf once wrote that since the 1800’s in order for a woman to feel the freedom to write she must have at least €200 to herself and her own room. If she had those two things she would not have to be afraid of whatever other people may think of her and she could write as she saw fit. The same type of thing is still true today and not just for the female writers. If you want to write it is key that you have your own space in which to do it. Maybe your space is just a desk in a dorm room, maybe it is an office in your house, but the important part it that the space is yours. For my own part I like to write either at my desk in my room or on my bed, and I usually have either music or a movie playing. All of those things added together equals a place where I feel comfortable enough to write whatever may pop into my head. Writing is hard enough, give yourself a break and give yourself a comfortable place to do it.

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: The Fortune Teller

Take a character from one of your favorite books and write a story that takes place before the events of the book where they meet a seer and get their fortune told. The fortune teller lets the character know what will happen to them at the end of their story. Imagine how the events of the original story would change if the character had known what would happen to them at the end. For example, how would Othello had been different if Cassio or Roderigo had known about Iago’s intended treachery from the start? Would Nils Bjurman from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo have betrayed Lisbeth the way he had if he had known how that would turn out?

Have fun with this and I will talk to you later. Feel free to comment, I love feedback!!!

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5 Bad Habits for Writers and the Lessons they Teach Us

Bad Writing Habits

It's only human to have bad habits, but that doesn't mean we can't overcome them!

It’s only human to have bad habits, but that doesn’t mean we can’t overcome them!

We all know that everyone has bad habits and writers are no exception. The trick to becoming a better writer is the ability to recognize your issues and address them. These are just a few of the habits I’ve recognized in my own writing and the ways I’ve tried to overcome them.

 1. Too many repetitions:

Over and over and over and over and over...

Over and over and over and over and over…

There is absolutely no problem with using key words for emphasis, but if you use the words too many times in a short span it can be a bit confusing for a reader. Have you ever read something where one word gets used too many times in succession? I used to have a job editing research papers for college students and a lot of the students had that habit. One student was writing a short 100 word paper on society and used the word “sociology” approximately 40 times. Trying to read that paper was very difficult because it felt like a swirling vortex of chaos centered on that one word. Lesson learned from this bad habit: Emphasis is one of the central dramatic tools of writers but it cannot be achieved by constant repetition. Use a thesaurus to help you find new words and expressions.

 2. Arrogance:

You get further talking to people than at them.

You get further talking to people than at them.

In order to be a great writer you need to set your ego aside. How can you ever attempt to edit your work if you’re so wrapped up in your ego that you think everything you’ve written is golden merely because you wrote it? Humbleness also helps you to keep your sanity through things like getting rejected by publishers and negative reviews. Also your readers are most likely not going to respond well to your writing style if they feel like you are patronizing, belittling or speaking down to them. Ego is one of the writer’s worst enemies. Lesson learned from this bad habit: It’s a fact that not everyone is going to like your writing and putting your ego aside really helps you survive the entire process of writing.

 3. Trying to sound like other writers:

Trying to copy another writers voice doesn't work. You are not them. You are you. OWN IT

Trying to copy another writers voice doesn’t work. You are not them. You are you. OWN IT

A lot of writers when they first start writing attempt, whether consciously or unconsciously, to tailor their words to sound like other established writers. In order to have a long and productive career as a writer you need to establish your own unique voice and to make it strong. Assert it! Be proud of it! It is your writing, written in your voice!!!!  Lesson learned from this bad habit: Though you can look to older and more established writers for some advice, you cannot attempt to copy or reproduce their voice in your work. It is your work. Own it.

 4. Getting too defensive about criticism:

criticism

I know I’ve spoken about this before but this is one of the worst habits for a lot of writers. When you’ve finished writing something it feels like you’ve given birth to something and even if you try to detach yourself a bit, you feel like it’s your baby and that can make you blind to its faults. Too you your book’s perfect so when it gets criticism, you run the risk of getting angry and defensive because it feels like your baby is being attacked. It’s a fact of writing that not everyone is going to like what your write or get your message. Learn to deal because sometimes the critics are right. Lesson learned from this bad habit: Criticism can be hard to hear but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen. If you listen to the negative critics all the time you will never get anything written because you will think everything you write is awful. If you never listen to the “haters” you will think everything you write is great even if it has serious problems.

 5. Refusing to learn:

learning2

No writer, no matter how many books they’ve written, can say they have learned it all. To learn is to live and to grow. The moment you decide to stop learning that is also the day you should stop writing. Do research, experiment and be open to discovering new facts, emotions and characters. Lesson learned from this bad habit: To learn is to live. For writers to live is to write. The moment you stop learning your writing withers. I like to use my local library’s reference section to do research and discover new and interesting things I am not that knowledgeable about.

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: The Science Experiment

Write a scene where you and your best friend are working on a chemistry experiment. Something goes wrong with the experiment and though you look and feel fine, something is going wrong for your friend. Write about what is happening to them. What is happening? How do they look? Does it hurt? Are they changing? If they are changing what are they changing into?

 

Have fun with this exercise and I’ll talk to you later!! Feel free to comment/like/reblog.

 

 

 

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What is Your Favorite Writing Exercise?

What’s the BEST Writing Exercise

Writing Takes a lot of muscle and you cannot be afraid to EXERCISE!!

Writing Takes a lot of muscle and you cannot be afraid to EXERCISE!!

Writing exercises are one of the best ways to keep your “idea generating muscles” in shape. If you want to hone any skill what do you need to do? You need to practice practice practice!!!!!  Loyal readers of this blog will know, I like to put a little creative writing exercise at the end of every post. I wanted to ask all of you, what are a few of your favorite exercises? What writing prompts have you found really get your juices flowing? Comment below!!!

"The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude" ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Thanks a lot! I want you to know I appreciate every blog like, every comment, reblog, and follower I get. You rock!!!!

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: The Accent Exercise

Write a description of a place or an object with an accent that is NOT your own.  What turns of phrase and weird pronunciations does that character use? The trick with this exercise is to not make the character seem cartoon-ish. This exercise trains you to think in a way that is unlike yourself without mocking.

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How to Use Drama to Connect with Your Audience and Further Your Plot

Write like the Wind

No matter how much they say they hate it, human beings love drama and do everything they can to create it. Think about it, if someone is trying to tell a story, either verbally or in stories, they try to bump up the drama of even the most mundane events. Writers use the exaggeration of ordinary events as a way to impress a sense of drama onto the readers. When writers do that they are offering the readers a little slice of drama which, because of it innately commonplace nature, offers the readers something they can easily relate to their own lives. Being able to give your readers something which is easily relatable gives them an easy way to connect to your story.

DRAMA MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND

DRAMA MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND

Let’s say that your main character had to wait fifteen minutes to get a table at a restaurant. They might say something like, “I can’t believe I had to wait a whole fifteen minutes just to get a table”. With the words “I can’t believe” and “a whole fifteen minutes” the author lets the reader know that while a fifteen minute wait isn’t outside the realm of possibility, it is long enough for the character to have decided that it was too long. Also, since having a fifteen minute wait at a restaurant is something which could happen any day of the week to anyone so your readers might read that and go “oh yeah I had to wait a long time to get a table last week too” and that way your reader has an easy way to connect the story to their lives.

Bad Drama = Dead Weight

Bad Drama = Dead Weight

Although human beings enjoy dramatizing events writers have to remember that there is good drama and bad drama. Good drama has a point and a purpose. It is created for a specific means like furthering the plot or adding levels of character development. Bad drama has no real purpose like an over the top sex scene or violence. Bad drama may get your story publicity or hype but if it doesn’t move the story it really has no place. To dramatize our lives is only human but as for writing if the drama doesn’t advance the plot or help to develop the characters chances are it is only going to be a dead weight.

Timing is Everything!!

Timing is Everything!!

The real trick of knowing when to use dramatization is learning when it’s appropriate. Drama, in order for it to sound natural, has to be formulated around the story. If the dramatic isn’t based on a strong foundation it’s sort of like an author who puts a joke in his book just because he thinks it’s funny. Think about it, that joke might be funny on its own but if it doesn’t fit that particular scene, the character or the tone of the book as a whole it is most likely going to seem out of place.

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: Alien Visitor

Imagine that your narrator is an alien visitor from outer space. Write a short story which describes the alien’s experiences when they first land. What would the alien think of Earth? How would they describe the Earth and its inhabitants?

Fellow Sci-Fi Lovers Unite!!! THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE!!!

Fellow Sci-Fi Lovers Unite!!! THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE!!!

Have fun with this alien inspired exercise and I will talk to you next time!!! Feel free to comment, follow, or share this post!!

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3 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Post Anything Online

Write like the Wind

“It is wise to apply the oil of refined politeness to the mechanisms of friendship” ~ Colette

In today’s digital age where you can post anything you want across a variety of media, Facebook, widgets, chat rooms, in a matter of seconds many are falling victim to their own posts. In today’s digital world everything seems to be centered on speed. We’ve got to get the tech faster so we can live our lives faster. FASTER!!! FASTER!!! FASTER!!!! The issue is when people can communicate faster they often times do not send their intended message clearly. Taking more time gives people more time to think and to answer some essential questions. If you want to avoid awkward encounters with friends, bosses, coworkers or anyone else in your digital world please do yourself a favor and ask yourself these three questions before you post anything online.

There are no emoticons to accurately translate SARCASM

There are no emoticons to accurately translate SARCASM

1. Does this need to be said (Am I really saying what I mean)? 

Sure you theoretically can write a comment or blog post where you trash talk your boss but just being able to do something does not mean you should. If you’ve gotten though the first half of this question and decided that yes, your message is one that needs to be put out there, you had better take at least a moment or two and make sure that you are delivering it clearly. Oh and for all of my friends who are fans of sarcasm remember that without the usage of emoticons sarcasm never comes across well online.

hyopcrisy

2. Does this need to be said by me?

Sure certain messages might be needed, but you might not be the one to say it. For example, if you constantly post pictures of yourself getting drunk and partying, you might not be the one to tell your friend that they need to go to AA meetings. The message there might be a good one, but in that situation chances are your friend wouldn’t take it seriously because it came from you.

Timing is Everything!!

Timing is Everything!!

3. Is my message something I need to say now?

If you gotten though the first steps and have come to the conclusion that yes the message needs to be said you you’re the one to do it, you need to remember that timing is key in every aspect of communication. For example say your friend’s grandmother just died and they’ve been posting about it all day, that is probably not a good day to post a funny joke onto their Facebook wall. Maybe the joke is good and on most days your friend would enjoy it, but you’ve got to think of what kind of mental/emotional state your friend is in and if they’re likely to take the joke well.   “Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny.” ~ Octavia Butler

If you keep these few questions in mind when you attempt to communicate online, you will be far less likely to say something you don’t mean and you’ll also be more capable of saying the things you mean clearly.

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the day:  The 20 Years Exercise

Pick your favorite romantic couple from literature, film, television etc, and write a short story describing their lives 20 years after the end of their story. For example if we ignore the things that happened in Scarlett, the sequel to Gone with the Wind, what might Rhett Butler and Scarlett’s lives be like? Would they have gotten back together? If Romeo and Juliet had lived would they have stayed in love? Just pick a pair and have some fun with it!

So long for now folks!!!!

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