Twin Post Thursday:Fear Mice and Giants

December 15, 2016 at 7:31 PM (The Life, Twin Post Thursday)

Hey! Twin Post Thursday so head over to Ashley’s blog at Circle of the WordWitch to check out her twin post on the topic.

Today we’re talking about fear in writing. Now I love trying to generate fear in my readers but today I wanted to talk about generating fear in my characters. Fear is an excellent motivator. Fear that something will happen to you, fear that something will happen to those you love, or just a general fear of the inevitable heat death of the universe. All these things are great for helping move your characters along.

Finding out what your characters fear can be a way to figure out what they would be willing to try for. It also is good because it tells you what you can threaten. A character won’t move if they don’t feel threatened by something.

Some examples of things I’ve used fairly successfully in the past:

A daughter’s fear that she’ll lose her father’s love motivates her to become a spy.

A mother’s fear that her daughter is in danger sends her on a trip across the world to save her.

A man’s fear of his own power sends him to a university to learn magic.

A woman’s fear that her husband will die sends her to another world.

Each of these characters fears are what catalyzes them to action.

What do your characters fear?

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Twin Post Thursday: Hatching Eggs

December 8, 2016 at 8:34 PM (The Life, Twin Post Thursday)

As usual check out the amazing Ashley’s take on the topic over at Circle of the WordWitch.

Today we are talking about taking a project from that baby egg of an idea to a whomping beast of a story. The story I’m going to be talking about is still in its infancy but I’ll tell you how it’s gone so far.

  1. Idea. I first got the idea for this story watching a movie a month or so ago. I really liked the idea and played around with it writing fanfic in my head.
  2. Characters. The fanfic writing in my head gets more fleshed out. Still, nothing written down and I’m a few days out but side characters are starting to appear. they need backstories and abilities to and occasionally these side characters have scenes all to their own without  the original main character showing up at all.
  3. Scenes. We’re now about a week out and I start writing scenes in my head. Usually, I’ll rewrite the same 3-5 scenes endlessly over and over in my head. This stage is usually where a story fizzles out for me. I’ll do the scenes until I’m sick of them or something shinier catches my eye. Sometimes though a story passes on to step 4.
  4. Scrivner. The story has stuck and I can’t wait to write it, but first, my favorite part of the writing process. Plotting it all out! This time I’m taking a bit of a different tactic. Since I love characters so much I’m being more character focused than world building or plotting focused. So far I have a separate folder for each character with the character card inside. I also have in that folder several other cards with scenes/character growth goals for each character.
  5. Spreadsheet. Paired with my character growth/scenes I have an excel spreadsheet that’s a calendar with columns for month, date, location, characters present for the event, and the event itself. This will help me keep track of the changing seasons and how long an event will have impacted characters as well plotting character growth and relationship development.
  6. Story. I’ll be honest, I haven’t gotten this far in my story yet. Hopefully, I’ll be super inspired by all the work I’ve done this far and jump right in. Here’s to happy wording!

How do you start your stories?

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Twin Post Thursday: Midterms

November 21, 2016 at 9:29 AM (The Life)

Hey, it’s Thursday! (Not really but school has been crazy.) As usual trundle over to Ashley’s twin post on Circle of the WordWitch to see her take on the topic.

Today we’re checking on our nano progress. I posted briefly about it on this Thursday and today we’re revisiting how far we’ve come.

It’s been a bit of a mixed bag for me this nano. I was able to really get into a story again. Being excited about a story, any story, was huge for me since I’ve been rather burned out lately. I’m also making great progress with the plot moving through the scenes fairly quickly.

I’m disappointed in myself though. For so long I’ve struggled with writing very short drafts which are a pain to flesh out in the edits. This one promises to be exceptionally short. Sometimes I feel like I’m writing a glorified outline. Oh well, fix it in the edits!

How’s your nano coming?

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Twin Post Thursday:Proud of Needing Work

November 13, 2016 at 11:08 AM (The Life, Twin Post Thursday)

Hey so it’s a belated Twin Post wit the amazing Ashley over at Circle of the WordWitch. Today we’re talking about five things we’re good at and five things we’re not so good at. I think it’s important to talk about both things because, to be perfectly honest, there was a time that I was not so good at many of the things on my “good” list. It’s nice to look back at how far you’ve come and to see what needs work.

5 things I think I’m good at:

  1. Dialogue.

    I used to be pretty bad at this. Like, really bad at this. I think it’s one of my strong points now. I grew this skill mostly from listening to how people talked in real life.

  2. World building.

    This is a recent skill. Scrivner really helps with this. You can have a thousand great ideas for your world but if you don’t have a to write it down and organize it you might lose some details.

  3. Characters.

    I pride myself on my people. I try very hard to make them as fully fleshed-out and realized as possible. There’s always room to grow but I feel like my people tend to feel like people which makes me pretty happy.

  4. Details.

    I never really considered myself to be a detail person but I really like adding little touches, subtle things that reward closer reading.

  5. Description.

    There is a small note attached to this. I usually start really well with lush descriptions of characters and settings. By about halfway through the book I have totally lost track of this so, room to grow and something I’m good at at the same time?

5 things that need improvement:

  1. Description.

    Yup, this again. I need to be more consistent with it throughout the book and not get lazy.

  2. Fight scenes.

    Please no. I’m terrible at them. This is probably the part of writing that I’m absolutely the worst at.

  3. Subplots.

    I tend to write very thin books mostly because my characters go from point A to point B and don’t stop and smell the roses.

  4. Complexity.

    I don’t feel like my characters or plots are very complex. My characters tend to have wants and needs that are fairly basic and they tend to try to get what they want which makes my plot. It’s rather straightforward.

  5. Worrying.

    I worry a lot about what other people will think of my writing. Sometimes I’ll be plugging along writing and drop a particularly choice swear word and then immediately go back and delete it. “No one will want to read this if I swear like this.” There may come a time when I’m trying to get published where I do need to worry if this sex scene is too graphic or if that swear word really needs to be there, but this isn’t that time. I need to write what fits the page and worry later if someone is going to read it or not.

What are some things that you do well? What are some things you could work on?

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Twin Post Thursday: NaNoWriMo

November 5, 2016 at 1:16 PM (The Life, Twin Post Thursday)

Hey guys, it’s not Thursday anymore but you still get a twin post. Check out the wonderful Ashley’s take on the topic at Circle of the WordWitch.

This week we’re talking about NaNoWriMo. The premise is simple, write 50,000 words in a month. Sounds simple right? How hard can it be? Really the difficulty of NaNo can be measured in the amount of chocolate you’re ready to imbibe and how much sleep you’re willing to sacrifice.

I’ve done a few NaNos. Some I’ve completed, some I haven’t. This year I’m working on NOT completing it. I’m going to take this month to focus on getting back into a daily routine of writing some words, any words. I haven’t been doing so hot on writing lately and I think I might have just gotten out of routine. So I have a brand new story and it’s my goal to finish the story, no matter how many words it takes, by the end of the month.

What are your nano goals?

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Twin Post Thursday: Spooky Style

October 27, 2016 at 7:39 PM (The Life, Twin Post Thursday)

To celebrate the impending Holloween festivities Ashley at Circle of the WordWitch and I are doing horror stories. I’m going to be talking about my preferred way to consume the genre and why I like it.

*Full disclaimer here, I try to actively avoid reading/watching horror. I get spooked very easily and once I do it lasts for weeks. That being said I totally love it and devour it when I can and I think I won’t get to spooked.*

The best horror I’ve read comes from a chunk of Reddit called /r/nosleep.  This isn’t really a particular story or series of stories, it’s just a random collection of short stories that have a spooky kind of theme to them. The reason I liked this source is because I think horror really lends itself to short stories. Horror works really well with a slow build and then a climax, much like other writing. The reason why it works better, in my opinion, in short story format is that it’s very hard to keep that tension going over a full-length book.

I find that so much of horror is building up to that awful part of the story where the Thing that is Evil shows up. Short stories give you the luxury of just leaving it there.

The man walks into the room and sees the bloodied corpse sitting in the chair. Suddenly it twitches. He goes for the door but it’s locked. The lights go out. 

If this is a short story you can totally just leave this there and the story will probably linger far longer with the reader than if you finished it with the man getting either eaten or killing the Thing. A novel demands closure that a short story doesn’t necessarily need.

Short stories also allow for many different ‘bumps in the night’ in a series. Rather than investing in a long haul of reading a whole book for the big bang at the end a short story allows the reader to get the hit of being scared, and then roll right into a new story. If a reader is looking for nothing more than spooks and thrills they can get significantly more spook for their invested time by reading short stories.

How do you like to read horror? Do you prefer full-length novels or short stories?

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Twin Post Thursday: Death and Dying

October 22, 2016 at 10:07 AM (Twin Post Thursday)

Hey everyone! It’s a (belated) twin post with Ashley over at Circle of the WordWitch!

Today we’re doing 5 tips for character deaths so let’s jump into it.

  1. No one is safe

    George R.R. Martin is perhaps most famous for this but I’ve done it with great success in my own writing as well. Nothing hits you in the gut quite so hard as when a character you thought was going to make it to the end, suddenly meets their end.

  2. Think long term

    It always bothered me when I read a story with a character that gets a long drawn out death scene, a great funeral, and then disappears from the book for the next fifty pages. While it’s nice to hit those notes, in the beginning, consider investing some words in remembering the fallen a little later too, once the funeral is over.

  3. Vary the grief

    Not every character has the same connection to the deceased and not all should react the same way. If someone didn’t know a character very well it’s all right to not have them shed a tear. Conversely, if this character was raised by the deceased I’d expect an appropriate response.

  4. Not everyone grieves the same

    Not all your characters are going to fall down weeping at an untimely demise. Not all characters show their grief immediately or in the same way. Regardless of a character’s connection to the dead, people grieve in different ways and show that grief differently.

  5. Deaths should mean something (but not to everyone)

    Nothing in a book should be wasted, certainly not a death. Everything should contribute to moving plot or characters forward. That being said it doesn’t have to be obvious. There doesn’t have to be a huge blinking arrow over the dead love interest declaring that this will be what motivates the hero to begin his quest. Go for some subtlety. Don’t underestimate the ripple effect of killing off a more minor side character. Ripple effects can sometimes be better than big cannonballs.

What are some ways you’ve handled character deaths?

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Twin Post Thursday: If Wishes Were Fishes

October 12, 2016 at 7:52 PM (The Life, Twin Post Thursday)

Hey, Ashley over at Circle of the WordWitch has finished her series on edits so we’re back on track for Twin Post Thursdays! Today we’re tackling five things we haven’t done yet in writing, but wish we had.

  1. Write a sci-fi story.

    I’ve always wanted to do sci-fi just because I’ve envied the freedom it brings. You can do so much more in terms of setting and culture and just general world building. Unfortunately, that is also the very reason I haven’t touched it. You have to do so much extra work and then balance that fine line between explaining enough and explaining too much. Does the reader really need to know how your ships engines work? Probably not but you still need to mention something about it. I’ve filed this away into ‘to much work to really enjoy’ and maybe someday I’ll stop being lazy and give it a try.

  2. Horror.

    I’m a weeny. I can’t abide horror stories, or watch any kind of tv show or movie that’s even remotely scary. That being said I love horror concepts. I read the wiki’s for every horror book or movie that I see mentioned. Something about reading a summary helps remove the scary. I also think that as a writer pulling emotions and responses from your readers is one of the greatest things you can do. Pulling fear from a reader is probably as hard or harder than pulling a solid belly laugh. I really respect authors who can write scary stuff. Someday I’ll do a story with some spine-tingling but I just haven’t had the chance yet. Hopefully, I’ll get around to it soon.

  3. Write a POV character that has a disability.

    I did write someone with a curse that was fairly debilitating but I want to go big. I want to write a story with someone who’s missing a leg, or has a movement disorder, or a cognitive impairment. How would they view the world? How would they get around in it? I feel like it would need to be addressed sensitively and, depending on what the main character had, I might need to do some serious research but I look forward to the challenge!

  4. Write a war.

    I tried to do this once and basically weenied out once I realized I knew nothing of warfare. I grew up reading stories about war and watching old war movies with my dad. I want to write a story in the trenches with average soldiers and their experiences. Unfortunately, that would require a ton of research to pull off well and it’s unlikely I’d ever do that. Still, a girl can dream.

  5. Write a magicless character in a world of magic.

    I’m very close to actually doing this one. I want to write a nonmage in a world of mages. A muggle surrounded by wizards. How do they see the world? How do they view the magic users? What kind of impact on their life does magic have? I wanted to get a sense of the outside looking in, at all this wonderful stuff happening that is forever out of reach. Since I first started my main work in progress I’ve had the goal of writing this story and hopefully I’ll get around to it soon.

What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t gotten around to yet?

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Twin Post Thursday: The Truth About Edits

September 30, 2016 at 7:06 PM (The Life, Twin Post Thursday)

Hey! So Twin Post Thursday (Belatedly. Again.) with the lovely Ashley over at Circle of the WordWitch.

I have a confession to make and a revision. When we first set out to do Twin Post Thursday we thought it would be fun to do the same post and compare and contrast to see where we differed and where we were the same. Well for the past few posts I really have been slacking. At first I just missed the first one because of health reasons and then I saw her second one and I was like “yeah, I can write about edits.” And I did, and I wasn’t honest. I’m not Ashley, I do it very differently, but I wish I could edit like she does.

The problem with my editing is that I’m very new to it and, quite frankly, not very good at it. When asked to blog about it I kind of shrugged. I’m in no position to lecture on it. So I talked about how I wished I could do it and not how I actually have fumbled, and bumbled, blindly through with it. And I’m sorry, because that’s not honest. I’m deleting my old post and doing one big, grand, post about how I do edits once and for all and then I’m going to take a break until Ashley finishes her series on the topic. So. Edits. Fumbled and bumbled here I come.

The first thing I needed to do edits was a beta. Obviously, as you may recall from our beta chunk the more the merrier but to be honest I’ve gotten on quite well with just having one really good beta. (Here’s looking at you, Ashley.)

I was really lucky with my beta and she was willing to not only read and beta my story but really engage passionately with me on the topic. We’re talking long conversations over chat about nothing but my story. This part is important.

As my beta read I tried to keep the conversation open and stay in touch with where they were and what their thoughts were. I kept a running word document with their comments trying to look at the big picture. What overarching themes kept coming up? Was that character’s POV really that slow? Did she not understand this concept about the magic? Any problem that needed fixing was put down in the word document.

When my beta finished I did one last ‘overarching themes’ chat. In their opinion what were the strong points, the weak points, what felt slow, what needed more explaining? All that information was added to the word document.

Then I cracked the crit. I opened the story and I read all the crit. I tried to do it all in one sitting. I’m not fixing anything, not even a comma, I’m looking for big picture. My eyes almost glaze over in this stage, I’m just looking for common points. How many times does she laugh over this character dialogue? Is this character’s accent so bad it has to be mentioned every time he shows up? How scary is this POV character’s story? Does she get chills every time it switches to them?

After I have a general idea of what keeps cropping up in my beta’s mind I switch back over to my trusty word document. I jot down the big trees, the repetitive trees, that cropped up in the crit. Then I compare. Frequently the things she’s mentioned in chat are also the things the cropped up in the crit but not always.

This is my road map. These are the things I’m going to keep in the forefront of my brain when I’m doing edits. When I fix every single comma I do so with these things in mind.

Then I go to town. I do edits chronologically and in order, so the very first crit that I see on page 1 is the very first thing I edit. Things get a little messier as I progress and I have to start adding, deleting, and swapping scenes but I always try to do them in order. I address every crit, great and small. If I have multiple crits from multiple betas I will build my road map using all the betas information before moving on to edits. When I edit using multiple betas I simply pick a beta and go all the way through addressing their crit and then when I’m done I open the second beta’s crit next to the edited first’s and go through theirs.

I do this for every pass of edits. From the very first I wager till the very last. I do give my betas guidance at the beginning indicating that I’m looking for big trees, big concepts, or something similar but if they see fit to point out a comma placement I’m not above fixing it as I go by.

I think one of the reasons why this was so hard for me to write is not just that I’m terrible at editing. I think it was because of just how helpless I am without my beta’s. I literally could not edit without a beta and that’s really frustrating. I like to think I’m competent as a writer and I can do this on my own but that’s really not the case. So, thanks, guys, to all my betas. You rock, without you I couldn’t write. All the love to you!

How do you guys edit?

 

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Twin Post Thursday: Proper Fish Care

September 1, 2016 at 6:50 PM (The Life, Twin Post Thursday)

Hey it’s Thursday again! As always go check out Ashley’s take on the topic at Circle of the WordWitch.

So we’ve talked about good fish, and bad fish, and what a fish is, so today we’re going to talk about proper fish care. Now it’s important to remember that not all fish are created equal but here’s what I like to do.

You may remember the Persistent Helper fish from last week. This is his lesser known cousin, Open Communication fish. Much less catchy title but much more helpful. I like to keep up to date on the where about of my beta in the story. This is mostly so I can cackle and reminisce about writing that part. Purely impractical. Practically speaking though, checking up on the whereabouts of your betas gives you a sense of a timeline. Sure you told them you needed it back by August but is that actually going to happen? It can be helpful to know when beta crits are actually going to start to hit so you can time whatever your current project is. If you’re drafting a new project while the betas crit it can be helpful to know if you have a couple of extra weeks wriggle room. This also allows you to gently nudge along the more tardy of your betas by reminding them that the other fish all got theirs in six weeks ago.

I also like keeping open lines of communication to clarify things for my betas. Sure, in a perfect world everything would be explained perfectly in the text, but then we wouldn’t need betas. Sometimes a key concept gets left out or is badly mangled when you set it out in the story. It can be helpful to be able to clarify it with the beta so they can make a note and move on rather than sit perpetually in the dark every time the concept is brought up.

How do you like to handle your betas? Do you like to talk to them? Ignore them? Put them in a stew?

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