Welcome to my little reading nook of the internet. Expect all things from engineering to the arts.Ask me anything
Anonymous asked: Hi! I’m really deep in my stor-stor now and I love it, but sometimes things get a little too big and overwhelming and I need to remind myself what I love about the story in the first place; what’s got me going and what keeps me going. Any tips on doing so?
1) Cast your characters, or if you’re artistic, try drawing them. If you’ve got Photoshop skills, try making a movie-style poster for your story.
2) Create a tumblr gallery filled with images that inspire you where your story is concerned. These could be images of things in your story, things you want to include in your story, or just things that make you think of your story.
3) Make a playlist of songs to serve as a soundtrack for your story.
4) Make a list of five things you love about every character, five things you love about the plot, and five things you love about the setting.
5) Write a short essay about the important themes in your story and why they matter to you. See if similar themes run through any of your other stories.
6) Get a fun and easy going friend or sibling to play “radio show” with you. Have them interview you about your story as though you were an author talking about their novel on a radio show. Try to be serious about it for as long as you can—which won’t be long because it’s super cheesy but lots of fun.
7) Try to write a poem about the plot of your story as though your protagonist was the one writing it.
8) Draw maps and floor plans of your setting and sets. Go window shopping online to look for furniture and props to fill your character’s home with.
9) Make a Wordle using words from your story.
10) Read your story out loud as if you were reading it to a group of fans. Try to imagine their reactions at different points in the story. When would their attention be the most rapt? When would they smile? When would they sniffle? When would they cheer?
I hope that helps! :)
Being a writer is awesome. You get to make up worlds, fill them with characters you love, and then kill them off one by one (because making your readers hurt is a special kind of drug). However, there is a lot of personal responsibility that comes with writing as well, and that’s something that a lot of writers don’t seem to realize. There are a lot of things I won’t discuss here that could fall under writer responsibility that people are sure to think should be included – the writer’s responsibility to their characters, to their readers, to agents or deadlines, his responsibility to inspire or change the reader’s life – those things are things that I believe differ from person to person and from writer to writer depending on your situation and beliefs. Instead, I’ll stick with things closely tied to the actual writing process. Onwards, brave companions!
1. Do your own work/writing/research.
Writing is WORK. It is not easy. That being said, you can’t hand off that work to someone else. It’s wonderful to bounce ideas off of someone, but you can’t take credit for their ideas. You also can’t take bits of other people’s writing and call it your own. Plagiarism is gross, guys. Furthermore, writing itself is not the only work that a writer is a responsible for. I’ve written before on how freakin’ important research is, but there’s no doubt that research can be the suckiest part of writing. I know that. Really. I just climbed through a million articles on Shambhala. Research can be horribly boring. However, you still need to do it. You need to do it for the sake of your story, because facts are awesome. Furthermore, you need to do it yourself. Only you know exactly what you need, and only you can decide what is worth including or not worth including. If you can’t do your own research or writing, that also implies that you are lazy or that your story is not worth it, and those are not traits I see in any of the successful writers I personally know. You are responsible for that. It’s a brutal truth, but a truth nonetheless.
2. You are responsible for your successes, but you are also responsible for your failures.
This is a big thing for me. I see a lot of writers that are super thrilled about when their writing goes well for them. It’s an awesome feeling. But I also see writers that love to play the blame game when things go wrong. “I didn’t sleep well last night.” “I just didn’t feel like writing.” “I didn’t want to do my fact-checking.” “My neighbours were being too noisy”. There are a lot of reasons why you might not be able to write, but I will bet that ninety percent of them are based around you. Blaming others does not one any good. If you can accept your successes, you need to be able to accept your failures as well.
3. When you do have a failure, learn from it.
I have what feels like a million writing failures. Really. I have made character mistakes, research mistakes, plotline and development mistakes. I cannot tell you many times I can look back on a certain piece of writing or something I did writing-related, wince, and hope to god that it stays buried in the shallow, cliff-side grave I covertly left it in during a moonlight gardening spree. Failures suck, but good does come from them. You can learn from your failures. Ignoring one of your weaknesses does not make the weakness go away. You owe it to yourself and your awesome writing ability to focus on your weaknesses like an angry shark until those weaknesses have been obliterated and devoured and you are cruising through an ocean of win.
4. Do everything to the best of your ability.
Because laziness sucks, and I KNOW you are better than that. You KNOW when something is not the best of your ability. Do you really want to let it out knowing that you half-assed it? That might work for school essays (guilty as charged over here), but it should never be acceptable for something that you are hoping to make into a career.
5. ACTUALLY WRITE.
This one is a no-brainer people. Seriously, just go do it. That’s the one thing a writer is pretty much totally responsible for.
You can totally do this, guys. So go to it.
If you don’t agree with me on this, that’s cool. If you do, that’s also cool. I am by no means an expert and this is just my personal opinion. I also think that Sharktopus and Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus are legitimate examples of excellent cinema, so there you go.
Camp NaNoWriMo 2014 has officially launched! Whether you’re writing a new novel, tackling a screenplay, or finishing an existing piece of work, Camp is a writing free-for-all. For those of you still on your publishing journey before Camp, Blair Thornburgh, editorial assistant at Quark Books, explains what makes her stop reading a manuscript:
I was recently at a conference where an editor detailed her method for critiquing a first draft. The complicated process was as follows:
- Start reading it.
- When it stops being compelling, stop reading it.
- When you stop reading it, draw a line on the page and write “This is where I stopped reading”.
Brash. Ballsy. Take-no-prisoners.
But what specifically makes an editor grind to a halt and refuse to go on? Opinions differ, of course, but as far as I’m concerned there are some pretty basic “don’t”s that make me want to close a document while I’m reading a sample chapter:
Avoid these tempting traps, and save yourself from the kind of painful revision that can lead your manuscript to eternal damnation.
We’re most likely to sin when we’re at our most vulnerable—and for creative writers, there may be no more vulnerable time than the delicate (and often excruciating) process of editing our own work. Sidestep these too-common traps, and keep your story’s soul pure.
by Janice Gable Bashman & Kathryn Craft
Many authors damn their efforts from the start with a premature focus on snagging a lucrative book deal. They submit to agents or self-publish before their work is truly ready. But building a career requires that you lay a strong foundation of only your best work—and nobody’s first draft is the best it can be. Careful editing is the mortar that holds the story bricks together.
Penance: Resist the temptation to convince yourself your first draft is “good enough.” If you find yourself rushing your editing process just to leap ahead to pursuing publication, look for deeper motivation to sustain you. Remember that the revision process doesn’t have to be any less enjoyable than the writing itself: You’ll be setting out to find the magic in each word, sentence, paragraph. You’ll be tapping your creative soul for ways to add tension to every page, to find clever solutions to tough story problems. Greed looks toward the uncertain rewards of tomorrow. The joys of writing are available to you today.
Just as dangerous as the temptation to call your first draft “finished” can be the tendency to jump into a revision right away. Words and ideas flood your mind; emotions pump through your heart. But that mad creative rush can become excessive, harming your ability to clearly assess your writing.
Penance: Step away from your current project as long as you can bear it—then wait an additional week. You’ll need that emotional distance before you revisit your work.
A great novel is like a gourmet meal. It must be prepared carefully, and to specification, with complementary flavors and courses.
Getting carried away and stuffing in all the good ideas and beautiful word pairings you’ve got in your pantry can lead to overindulgence.
Penance: Put your manuscript on a diet. Pare down or eliminate scenes that don’t further the story. Examine plot points, characters, description, dialogue and exposition, until you have precisely what you need to tell your story, and not a character or subplot more. Then apply this same philosophy to your work at the sentence level, killing your darlings and eliminating excessive adjectives and adverbs, along with verbose descriptions. Bring out the flavor of both your story and your style, but stop short of overseasoning.
Even in the current age of publishing, where aspiring authors can and must act as their own publicists and webmasters and take on myriad other roles, editing is one thing you can’t complete alone. As a form of communication, writing needs an audience. Thinking you don’t need feedback from others isn’t just pride—it’s pride that can squelch your potential.
Penance: Seek the help of beta readers, critique groups and editors. In return for the valuable feedback you receive, share your growing skills by critiquing the works of other participants in return. Then take your humble approach a step further and volunteer at writing conferences, libraries or literacy programs. Start a neighborhood book club, a regional networking group or a listserv for writers. Read widely and blog about it. The more you support the literary community, the more likely it will support you.
The lazy scribe is one who’s failed to develop and utilize all her natural talents. To draft a story—and then stop there—is to ignore the very nature of literature, which constructs meaning through the deft layering of craft elements. If you find yourself bucking that notion, you may be guilty of sloth.
Penance: Just like with physical exercise, whipping your talent into shape takes time and dedication. You don’t jog once a year and end up with a perfect body. So it goes with your manuscript. To build the endurance skills you’ll need for marathon writing and revision, you must continuously train: Do writing prompts. Do writing exercises. Keep your writing muscles toned through daily practice, and when you review your previous work, your mistakes and weak sections will become more apparent, you’ll be more capable of dealing with them, and you’ll be far less likely to walk away.
Creative people are notoriously insecure. You may covet one published author’s self-confident voice, or another’s way with words. Maybe it’s his humor, or her emotional honesty. If you fear your work pales in comparison, remember that those authors didn’t strike it big by mimicking others or wallowing in jealousy.
Penance: With a friend or writing group, analyze your draft for what is uniquely you. Is it your voice? Your descriptions? Your quirky observations about the world around you? Edit your manuscript again, with an eye for drawing that element out on every page. Editors and agents don’t want another x, y or z. They want what you have that nobody else does. So don’t hold yourself to an impossible standard by trying to be one of your peers.
The editing process can inspire uncontrolled feelings of rage in a writer. It’s difficult to discover or to hear from a trusted reader that you might not yet have fully developed your work—but it’s also an important step in growing your organic talent.
Penance: Wrath will only get in the way. Ignore feedback at your own peril: What angers us most holds a nugget of truth. Find it. Listen for the gifts within the criticism offered, and use them to help inspire new ideas. Your manuscript can only improve as a result.