Monday, August 29, 2022
Monday, August 22, 2022
Break Down Your To-Do List
Any task—even the biggest, most intimidating projects you might undertake—can be broken into numerous smaller tasks. You might not be able to finish a chapter today, but you can finish a page. If you’re overwhelmed by the tasks at hand, keep breaking them down until they’re doable, and work from that level. And it’s okay if you have to break your tasks down to a very basic level. Any progress is progress, and it’ll build up over time—so it doesn’t matter how little it is on a daily basis.
So, before starting to breathe life into your characters, take the time to develop a careful outline of your story. Covering all the major (and even minor) plot developments allows you to view the flow of your story from a distance and make necessary tweaks before you start writing. It also gives you an opportunity to think deeply about each major section of your story, which can help you identify plot holes and other insufficiencies that would be much more difficult to rectify after you’ve already written your manuscript. Once you have a well-thought-out plot outline to guide you, you’ll have much more confidence when you start writing, boosting your motivation.
When writing your first draft, you don’t need to be concerned with “perfection” at all. At this stage, all you should be focused on is converting your story into words on the page. It can be clunky and full of grammatical mistakes. That’s fine, because this isn’t what you’re publishing. Reminding yourself that you’ll revise your story through various drafts frees you from the paralysis of “perfection” and allows you to move forward with your writing.
If you’re feeling unmotivated, spare a thought for your future self. Think about how accomplished you’ll feel having written your book, how rewarding it will feel to know people are reading and loving your story, and how you might build up a fanbase for future stories. Sure, that’s motivating. But what’s even more important to think about is an alternate future where you didn’t write your book. Think about the regret you’ll feel, the potential you knowingly wasted. The way to save yourself is to write your book. There may be no motivation stronger than that.
- Alyssa Hitaka, QueryLetter.com
Monday, August 15, 2022
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Wild Years
WORLD BUILDING: Where do I start?
I learned to read before I started kindergarten. Stories have carried me around the world and to worlds unknown. I fell in love a million times, fought battles in history and in space. I have ridden dragons, horses, interacted with monsters, aliens, and the paranormal. I have gone on great quests, archeological digs, infiltrated secret societies, solved murders, and laughed my ass off. I’ve had superpowers and welded magic. That is the joy of reading.
I love fiction. My joy in reading translates into writing my own stories and worlds. I have a knack for world building. I am asked all the time, how do you worldbuild? The answer: I start with character.
World Build from the inside outward. Get inside your character's head, stand in their shoes. Let them tell you about the world they live in. Show the world through your character's eyes, emotion, and perception, along with all their flaws, fears, and angst.
This method of world building from the inside out narrows your focus. It can help stop you from overbuilding or getting lost in the creation of worlds. It keeps you focused on the character arc relationship to their world.
How all this affects the storyline determines the things I build into my worlds, and the systems I create. I admit for me character is king in drawing me into a story, so it is a big focus in my worldbuilding.
Do you need to think about government, magic systems, modern, medieval, futuristic, the mechanics of a functioning world, or systems in place for the way of life?
Yes, but think about what all those things mean to your character, their perceptions, and the restrictions the world places on them. There is more to world building than just the world, without people/character it is just an empty shell. People are the story of a living, breathing world.
THE READER EXPERIENCE
Don’t dump all the cool details of your world on the reader. They don’t care about that. They only care about what the character cares about.
Let the reader experience your world with the immediacy of living it through your character’s discovery and interactions with the world. Rule of thumb for world building details, is similar to advice about backstory.
Dribble, dribble, dribble–sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle.
Only show what is necessary to move the story forward and for the reader to understand the world and current scene, no more.
Readers seek the experience of the world through character emotion and consciousness. What we remember about books and movies is the way they made us feel/experience, which is why we crave another story-hit, more, more, more.
As much as we (the author) love all the neat things about our worlds, the reader doesn’t really care, unless the character cares which makes their savoir faire engaged, immediate and immersive.
Just like living in the real world affects us, shapes and molds us, so will the world of your character shape and affect them.
Let’s face it, if your goal is to publish, we write for the reader as much as we write for ourselves, because you need an audience. We want readers to read and love it, so reader experience is important.
Use your character’s emotional attachment to places, things, and feeling of home–longing, or contentment, or discontentment. World building is an external and internal journey with the character.
World building includes using all the senses, to create atmosphere, texture, and attachment: Sight, Smell, Touch, Hearing, Taste, and 6th sense.
Chapter 1: First paragraph:
“MRS. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies’ eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde’s Hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde’s door without due regard for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof.”
You will notice MRS is all capitalized. Immediately we know she is important to the story. She relates the character to us via the world building (setting).
Simile and metaphor are the vehicle of setting that create visually and emotionally strong images in our minds. She uses the setting to tell the reader about the character's attitude, disposition and temperament. The further you read the more she builds on this and strengthens the scene paragraph after paragraph.
Montgomery particularly uses the river to describe and create a parallel impression of the road, specifically the people passing by MRS. Rachel Lynde’s home. MRS. is a busy body cataloging details while sitting at her window.
Through the use of a ferret, as a comparison tool, she demonstrates the trait of persistence for MRS. following every crumb in pursuit of other people’s business.
If you think about it, the senses are triggered in that paragraph even though sound is not mentioned exactly. The sound of flowing water-a river, the sound of people passing by on the road, the sound of children–it's implied, I don’t know about you but I heard it.
READING TO LEARN
Take time to go deeper when you read. Pay attention to the way writers use their worlds to convey details about character, setting, and reveal story information. It will enhance your own writing.
Here are links to books I’ve enjoyed with authors creatively using their world building intertwined with character to reveal story and world in a variety of styles.
A Darker Shade of Magic (The Collection) by V.E. Schwab
Map of Bones by James Rollins
Star Wars High Republic: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule
Fae of Fortune by Eric Quinn Knowles
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Claire
Ask Yourself: How does the author use each scene to show the world through active word choices and imagery?
Showing and telling both play a part in storytelling: How do they allow the reader to experience the world rather than telling them OR if they tell–how much do they reveal their character and world with the telling?
Bonus: How Actors can use 50 Senses to enhance and create better characters. Just like actors can use this so can writers to make their characters and worlds pop–vivid. (Link Augmented Actor on YouTube)
I love this article. Hope you enjoy it too. How To World Build On The Page GoldenMay.com
More about Juneta here.
Monday, August 8, 2022
It’s really hard to become an author if you’re a full-time reporter. Why? Because finding the time to write outside of the job means taking on even more hours.
For me as the reporter, then editor, of two community newspapers, all I wanted to do at the end of the week was get some wine and unwind. My eyes and brain needed to recharge.
As journalists, we are used to having a tactile result of our work efforts. At the end of the day or week, we’ve written something—maybe a lot of somethings—and they’ve been published. It’s a touchable result. We can sit back and say “I did that!” It’s satisfying. We yearn for that affirmation.
If you can squirrel away a few hours, or pick up the “author” pen after hanging up your journalism hat, then writing a novel or short story can be equally fulfilling.
I had a novel rolling around in my head for decades. When I stepped away from my newspaper career four years ago, I dove into starting my book. But the words didn’t spill out the way they were supposed to.
Leaving the newswoman inside me behind was a bigger challenge than I realized. But the good news was—once I made the switch from reporter to author in my writing style—I was freed up.
Journalists are good listeners; they have to be. They cover government meetings and conduct interviews. But our job is to present the facts in a concise manner. We’re not supposed to “show” but “tell.”
The best thing I did was sign up for creative writing classes and join writing groups that critique your work in exchange for your critiquing theirs. That’s where I learned to let my writing flow without having to check my notebook or digital recorder for the exact quote and correct attribution. That’s where I learned how to do less “telling” and more “showing.”
But what is the same in both mediums is the importance of the story. New judgement is something that journalists develop. The same needs to be true for writing a book: a good story is paramount.
A great story fell in my lap when I met my future husband some fifty years ago and learned about his adventures as a young teen runaway. I knew someday I’d have to write it.
The result is a coming-of-age story that is a good read for young adults on up. My local libraries have two copies: one for the YA section and one for the regular fiction shelves.
My husband, who is the fifteenth of sixteen children, grew up in East Tennessee. He ran away at thirteen and hitchhiked through the south ending up in New Orleans selling hotdogs. The underlying theme of the story is the conflict between father and son and how he was also able to turn his life around after making some bad decisions.
Unlike news writing, crafting a novel takes a lot more time. But with the plethora of self-publishing avenues today, a journalist-turned-author doesn’t have to wait in hopes of connecting with a literary agent to get published.
Mary Ford, an award-winning journalist, is the author of “Boy at the Crossroads: From Teenage Runway to Class President” a classic coming-of-age story set in the 1950s. For more about Mary Ford and her novel, visit: maryfordedit.com. She and her husband, Conley, live in a small town south of Boston, with their dog, George. “Boy at the Crossroads” is available online wherever books are sold.
Wednesday, August 3, 2022
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Otherwise, when you leave a comment, people can't find you to comment back.
Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.
Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG posts. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience, or a story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.
Remember, the question is optional!
When you set out to write a story, do you try to be more original or do you try to give readers what they want?
The best answer to this question for me is that I write a story that either haunts me, intrigues me, or delights me. I'm really telling myself a story, so I'm not focused on whether or not I'm trying to be original, and I hope that if I like the story others will too.
Is that self-centered?
Yes, but if I tried to write what I "guessed" others would be interested in reading, but I had no passion for the topic or the characters, I don't think I could write at all.
This question really asks if we want to be author-centric or audience focused and research the current market trend so we can churn out what's hot right now. It is pretty common to see copycats come after huge successes. Take something like the Harry Potter series. After those books were bestsellers, hundreds of wizardry tales appeared. Or Twilight. Good heavens! How many vampire books can a bookstore shelve?
There's nothing wrong with jumping onto a winning train and taking advantage of the ride, but for me, all that I said at the beginning of my answer still applies. If I weren't engaged in what I was writing, I'd be a total fail in coming up with anything worth printing let alone reading. Now, if I just happened to love writing what everyone clicking through Amazon was searching for, hey, that would be a win-win.
Just in case you have a hankering to try your hand at giving the readers what they want, I found this book that's a guide, and it's appropriately called Write to Market. In it, the author promises to teach you “how to analyze the market, and to use that information to write a book that readers want.”
What's your take on this question? Be sure to check out what the others have to say. There are always interesting answers from our members.