There you are, going about your business, cleaning your house or emptying your computer of the clutter that's been growing and slowing it down, when you come across an old story you wrote years ago. In the back of your mind, bells are ringing, warning you of its absolute awfulness, but you ignore them and start reading anyway. You remember being in love with this story and thinking it's the best thing ever.
But that is the farthest thing from true. This story could not be in any way worse than it already is. You cringe so hard through the whole thing, it's a miracle you didn't shatter.
If you are thinking you don't have any story like that, you are sorely mistaken. We all have them. We will always have the demons. And they always try to eat us whole and live. Don't worry, they usually don't succeed. ;)
Of course, like all beasts, there are ways to defeat them and claim utter victory over your terrible young writing. You can:
a) Feel the Buuurrrnnn!!!: Obviously, you could burn it. That way no one in the world will ever be able to read such terrible writing from you ever. Can't go wrong that way. You could just pretend it never happened, and you will never have to worry about it again. And you lived happily ever after. The end.
b) The Storage Unit of Shame: You don't quite want to burn it. It's terrible, yes, but you remember having such fond memories of it and feeling so proud of it when you wrote it that you just can't bring yourself to destroy it. So instead you put it in a better hiding spot and hope that you never find it again. Out of sight, out of mind. Hopefully.
c) Must . . . Fix . . .: With a bit, okay a lot of editing, this story could be great, so you set to work. How can anyone call you a bad writer if this story is edited to greatness? Why waste all the work you put into it by burning it? No, you're just not the kind of person to let bad writing remain bad.
d) *Sly Smile*: This writing is really bad. Your current writing is really good, but not quite as good as something published. So what do you do? You post it on a writing website that you're a member of to make your current writing so much better by comparison. More likes for you, yay!
And there you go, demon slayed and victory won.
What do you do with really bad old writing? Comment! :D
Let's be honest, whether or not you've actually completed your novel's first draft, you know it's terrible. Full of useless sentences that just get in the way, awful grammar, and bad spelling. Perhaps your paragraphs are too long because of pointless ramblings. Maybe your paragraphs are too short because you forgot to describe everything. Or you described everything, but it turned out all choppy and wince-worthy.
Point is, first drafts really suck.
And then there are those moments when you decide to reread an old first draft because you felt like it.
So there you are, rereading your horrendous and wishing you had burned the thing just so you wouldn't be reading it now, when something shocking happens. You double-take. Is that . . . ? Yes, it is.
Say hello again to the best paragraph you ever wrote.
Already you know that you are not ever again going to forget this precious gem of letters and words and sentences ever again. This paragraph has become your inspiration, your new reason to write. It's almost too good to be true.
Your reaction probably goes a little something like this:
1. Suspicion: You wrote this? It must have been someone else. You're good, but not that good. Come on, let's be real here.
2. The World Must See: Even if you didn't write it, everyone you know must read it and gasp in awe at its pure awesomeness.
3. The Realization: Everyone you show it to tells you that yes, you did write this amazing paragraph, and suddenly you remember writing it. Confidence builds within you. Welcome to your new best day ever.
Hey, guys, sorry it's so short today. Obviously I need a new best paragraph ever to inspire me. ;)
As always, comment your thoughts, because I want to hear them. :)
If you're not sure what I'm getting at in the title, let me clarify: Mary/Gary Sues.
Oh, don't you just hate it when you write an amazing plot, but then come to realize after a reread that your MC is flatter than the paper they're written on? You know that your plot is supposed to center around your MC, but there is such a thing as too much, or dare I say, written too poorly. I mean no offense by that; I've done it (more than once, I might add). Yes, we are all bad writers at one point.
. . . But that's off topic.
The point is, sometimes our characters don't want to be brave and able to deal with what you're trying to throw at them. But you force them to anyway, which leaves them flat. And, let's be honest, sometimes, it's not your characters, it's you. Sometimes you feel way too bad for your characters and it flattens them up.
You probably now expect me to tell you how you'd react to finding out you've got a Mary/Gary Sue. Well, ha! Not this time, I've decided to mix things up a bit. Huzzah! ;D
Here are some things you can do about this little hinderance:
a) Fill Out a Character Chart: This is really easy because there are character charts with many diverse questions all over the internet. I'm pretty sure there's even a website for it. I even have a chart that is super long, though I have yet to actually use it. Oops.
b) I Know a Game . . . : No seriously. It's quite simply name The Character Development Game. It's really easy, all you have to do is answer a question in your character's perspective. You can't really play by yourself, because it's not as much fun when you're asking the question yourself. To be more specific (and perhaps less confusing), one person asks a question, and then another person answers it in their character's perspective. After they finish answering, they ask another question for the next person (the question is separate from your character's response). The questions can be anything.
c) RP: RolePlaying might not be for everyone, but I do think that it's a good way to develop your characters because they're put in situations they might never be in otherwise. It forces you to develop parts of your character you never considered. Those parts may not be important to your story, but it does flesh out your character and make them seem more real. If you think out your character, your readers will be able to tell, even if you never mention the things you think about.
Wow, my first truly serious blog post. Comment what you think, and any other ways you develop your characters so I can give it a try. :)
Hello, my lovely readers. :) Here's a bit of sunshine to brighten your Monday: A new blog post!
Plot holes, otherwise thought of as the second thing to do the most hindering of your writing (don't worry, Personal Editor, you're still the queen). You try your absolute hardest not to have any, but they always manage to sneak past you that split second that your back is turned. We all forget. And that's what outlines are for.
Hate to break it to you, but outlines can't help you catch everything. Sure, it's got your back on all the big things, but small details are out of its element. Like, say, for example, in the beginning of the story your MC makes it clear that they don't own a cell phone, but then they later claim that they forgot to both charge their cell phone and bring it with them when they went out. There was no buying of a cell phone between these scenes (I didn't ever write anything like that exactly ever; where did you get that idea? :P ).
And then your reader reads it and finds themselves thinking wait, what? Did I miss something? Details are unfortunately important. Sigh . . .
Now, you're probably asking what can I do to avoid these plot holes?
Here's the sad truth: You can't. They're a part of first drafts (and maybe second drafts, haven't gotten far enough in my writing career to find out yet . . .)
Then what is the point of this post? Well, to entertain you. Duh. :P
Now, how you could react to finding out you've got a plot hole:
1. Delete. New Document: Plot hole? Ugh. You delete your entire story and decide to completely rewrite it. There were a hundred things wrong with it anyway. The second time will be better. And this time, no more plot holes (a girl can dream).
2. Story, I Love You, But I Think We Need to Take a Break: You love your idea, and you love your characters, but you just don't feel like you're properly representing its amazingness with your writing. Add the plot hole on top of that, and you just need to take a break to get the words in your head back in order. You'll come back (maybe . . . :/ )
3. FORGET ABOUT IT!!!: This reaction goes a little something like this: You- Brain. / Brain- Yeah? / You- I need you to forget about this plot hole. / Brain- Okay. *thinks about it* / You- Brain! / Brain- What?! / You- I told you to forget about the plot hole! / Brain- Okay! *thinks about it* / You- BRAIN! / Brain- Okay, okay! Sheesh. *forgets about it* / You- *write on* (*the next day* / Brain- Hey, remember that plot hole?)
4. File Away, File Away: You take that knowledge of that plot hole and you neatly file it away until editing because you're boss and you can actually do that. And everyone who can't is totally jealous of you.
Hey, guys! It's the 3rd Thursday of September, and I've decided to mix things up a bit. Instead of blogging about writing like I usually do, at this time of the month I'm going to have a Q and A.
Feel free to ask me anything! :)
Of course, I know I'm still not considered a professional since I'm not published right now, but that doesn't mean I'm totally ignorant. If my blog has helped you at all in any way and you've got a question you think I can answer, please, don't hesitate to ask. :)
There are many things every story needs, like characters, a setting, or (very important, this one) a plot. But one thing your novel-in-progress, or NIP, needs in order to make it to publishing and convince people to read it is a title. Sorry, but a blank spot where your title should be just won't cut it. But of course, all of you already know this.
There are many different types of titles and I thought it would be amusing to share a few that I've come across. ;)
1. I Can't Think of a Title, so I'm Just Going to Summarize the Whole Book In a Question?: These kinds of titles are mostly used by amateurs who have romantic vampires and brooding werewolves dancing in their dreams. (though to be fair, not all amateurs title like this.) These titles sum up the whole book in a way that makes actually reading it seem pointless. Just think, if The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone had been titled this way, would you have read either of them? Probably not.
2. Blunt Title!: These titles can usually be found in your textbooks. Examples include, World History, Algebra 1, Biology, etc. Clearly, theses titles are meant to drive you away, already hinting at their dull contents with their bluntness. Not usually something you'd read for fun.
3. Blank Blank and the Blank Blank: You know what I'm talking about. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling, Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo by Obert Skye, Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins (yes, she did write something other than The Hunger Games), Peter and the Starcatchers by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry. The list goes on. These are the types of titles that own a piece of your childhood, or you wish did.
4. LOOK AT ME!!! LOOK AT ME!!!: This is the most common type of title in the sense that most books have them. They summarize the basic plot of the book in generally a few words which were specifically chosen to catch your eye. I don't think I need to give examples for this type.
So what do you think? I miss something? Don't leave me hanging, comment! :)
There's always that one person in your life, probably at least somewhat close to you who knows you're a writer. And let's say that you've got a . . . hm . . . four-page essay due very soon. Maybe that one person knows about that too. Maybe you vented to them how much you are not eager to write it. And it's fine, because they're being appropriately sympathetic.
And then these words (or similar words) come out of their mouth:
"But you're a writer, so writing this essay should be easy for you."
Don't those words just tickle your insides? They sure do mine, and not in a good way. Writing a novel and writing an essay are N-O-T the same. Most everyone knows this (those that write at least), but for those of you who are that one person, I'll give you the reasons why.
1. Essay=Business Person: We all know how business people are, always with their nice suits (or pantsuits) and their briefcases filled with official documents. Of course, not all business people are exactly like that, but I'm talking about the ones who are. What's one thing they've got? They're all formal. That is the type of writing an essay is. Formal. You've got to have a certain amount of paragraph with a certain amount of sentences, and a certain content within those sentences. Everything is neat and orderly and has a place where it has no choice but to be. Writing a novel isn't like that. In a novel, a whole paragraph can be nothing but one word of a sentence that finishes in the next paragraph. You aren't told that you have to write about one of these specific topics. In fact, novels don't have topics! They've got scenarios. It can be as long or short as you want, and the style of writing is a lot more free and open. Novels make nests in our souls far easier than an essay can because of this. Novels are somehow more real to us, and the characters have more life because there is no formality.
2. Go Anywhere, Do Anything, Be Anyone: A novel is an escape. A way to go on fantastic adventures without leaving the comfort of your favorite reading spot. Essays don't take you anywhere. They are either convincing, or informing you of something. Essays give you knowledge. Novels give you hope. Those are two completely different things to write about. Equally difficult, I'll admit, but different. I don't know about anyone else, but I find it more enjoyable to write hope than impart knowledge.
3. Characters=Redwoods: Redwood trees are very tall, but they don't start out that way. Once upon a time they were little seedlings. So how did they get so tall? They grew. That's what happens to a character during the course of a story; they grow as people because their circumstances force them to. Essays don't do that. They can't, since they have no characters. What they can do, however, is go in a circle. It's easy to repeat an idea, not so easy to make sure the MC at the beginning of the story is not the same as the MC at the end.
There's more, I'm sure, but this is what I could come up with at the top of my head. Let me know in the comments if you think I'm completely wrong, or if you've got some more reasons I forgot.
Blog to you again Monday! :)
We all know how difficult it can be to finish one―except for those of you who are experts, you lucky ducks―and we've all got reasons why we're still working on it. Some of them are serious, and should be treated as such, which is why I'll leave them out. But others are quite ridiculous if you think about it.
Want examples? Why of course I would be happy to oblige. ;)
1. What If, What If, What If?: You've got way too many ideas blowing through your brain. As soon as you finish developing one and start writing it, another one pops in your head that seems way better, so you 'temporarily' drop the other one and start developing the new one. The savage, cruel and unusual cycle continues. :P
2. I'll Do It Tomorrow: Nothing's stopping you from doing it today, you just don't feel like it. Besides, nothing'll be stopping you tomorrow either. There are just things you want to do today, you know, like watching TV, or reading a book. Things. Yeah, right. You'll totally write tomorrow (probably not, unfortunately).
3. No Time! No Time!: You would write, but you've got so many things to do like school or work or taking care of the kids or grocery shopping (etc.). There just isn't time to write a best-selling novel. No, you can't write just one sentence a day. Don't be crazy.
Of course, these are just some of my excuses. Tell me what some of your fairly ridiculous excuses are, or whether you can relate to mine in the comments.
Until Thursday! :)
Ah, writer's block. That thing no one can decide whether it's real or not. Personally, I don't really know with all these opinions flying around, but what I do know is when my characters don't speak to me, no writing happens.
I find it goes a little something like this:
You wake up and the sun is shining, but it's not too hot, or too cold. The world is bursting full of things to inspire you, and you've got this amazing idea you're ready to work on. You la-dee-da your way to your computer, or notebook, or loose-leaf paper, and you get yourself in writing position. Ready. Set. Go!
Except not. No words of genius happen. The ideas have come to a screeching halt, unable to form themselves into even the first word.
Why? Why does this happen?! I'll tell you why; characters can be jerks. They like to randomly take vacation and leave you hanging. Inconsiderate, I know.
After that, here's what happens:
1. Oh, No He Didn't!: Character on vacation? Now? Ha! Not anymore. You go find that vacation spot and drag that character back by their ear. You then proceed to tie them to a chair, and as punishment for this unauthorized vacation, you make sure their life sucks goats in the story. Like to see them leave again after that. Mwa-ha-ha-ha!
2. Do-Duh-Do *Twiddles Thumbs*: Your characters have gone, but you don't feel the need to retrieve them. You know that they'll get hungry and come back eventually. But when that'll happen . . . Well, best not to think about it. You then have a Netflix party while you wait.
3. I Will Survive: There are no characters whispering best-seller worthy words in your ear, but you can't not write! Everyone says you have to write every day, so you must write. But how with no characters? Easy, you put letters down on the page, which turn into words, which turn into sentences, which turn into paragraphs, which turn into chapters, which turns into a book. Well, actually not so easy. At least it's only the first draft, right?
4. I Don't Like Writing Anyway *frowny face*: This happens every. Single. Time! Anytime you want to write, your characters just abandon you. "Drops us like a newborn giraffe-kerplop." (Terk, Disney's Tarzan) You just can't take it anymore, so you've decided to stop writing. That is, until your characters come back and, your fingers are itching to write,and you just can't help yourself. The circle of your writing life.
This true for any of you?
As always, comment, comment, comment! :)
A good chunk of you already know who I am, considering I sent you here, but for those of you people who found my blog by accident, let me introduce myself. My name is Madison Anderson and I was born and spent little more than half my life in Oregon (US for those of you who don't know and don't want to look it up), so it's no wonder I like the rain. I'm obsessed with Disney (bought myself a Woody doll and I'm so happy :) ) and books. I'm now into drawing, and whenever I get around to it I plan on selling my work. You can visit my art page (someday it'll be website) at https://www.facebook.com/randomart17/?ref=bookmarks