Character Advice!

Characters are not real people. Even characters who are based on real people are not, actually, real people. Characters are carefully crafted facsimiles of real or imagined people, designed to play a particular role in your story. I have heard this truth many times before, but episode three of Jessica Abel’s podcast, Out on the […]

via Short and Sweet Advice for Writers: Understand the Role of Your Characters — Live to Write – Write to Live

Music and Writing (A Magical Duet)

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Music goes with a lot of things.  Reading, chilling, movies, break-up aftermath, homework, etc.  Music can also pair with your writing to produce material of extraordinary proportion.  Well, I may be exaggerating a bit.  Maybe not.  Only you know.

Before I start a writing session I make sure that I have my writing playlist on.  For me, my music selections depends on what type of scene I’m writing.  It’s almost like putting music to the scene of a movie even though it’s only a movie in your head.  If I’m writing a heavy, emotional scene, I’ll probably choose music that is slow, sad (in a minor key), and probably instrumental.

Need some examples of sad sounding instrumentals? You’re in luck!

Song for Bob by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis

Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber

She Remembers by Max Richter

What I usually do is find a heavily emotional scene in a movie and I take that music.  Many epics use voice and/or wailing to symbolize pain and heartache such as Sorrow from Gladiator and So Many Trails, So Many Tears by Zack Hemsey.  Ultimately, the music that you choose depends on your personal preference of course. But I’m just throwing some things out there.

Another thing I like to do is create character soundtracks.  Some of my characters don’t listen to to music, which is fine, but I always use hypotheticals to make my life easier.  What if they did listen to music? What if they existed in modern day Earth instead of two hundred years into the future? What songs remind me of this particular character? For a character who is refined, very graceful, and takes themselves seriously I might use a certain piece of classical music.  A good way to practice this is take a movie you like and listen for the type of music that plays for a certain character.  The same could go for television shows if it’s a drama.

Try looking up the soundtracks for these movies/tv shows as well.  Most likely the main character(s) will have a theme.  Princess Leia has a theme.  Rey has a theme.  To continue on my Star Wars streak, Anakin has a theme.  Other characters who exist out of the Star Wars universe have themes too.  Like Ezio from Assassin’s Creed.  He has a theme.  And the hobbits from Lord of the Rings have a theme.  They may not be a single character, but from hearing this you know it’s about the hobbits.  Any of them.

That’s all I’ve got for you.  I could add in more examples for other scene categories, but I don’t have to do that here.  If you’re in a stump or want some inspiration, shoot me a message or leave a comment! I’ll be happy to help!

Happy Musicing!

 

 

Camp NanoWriMo July 2015…is almost here.

It’s Tuesday, June 30th, 2015.  There is less than one day left before the beginning of the July session of Camp Nanowrimo begins.  There is a tingling in the deepest part of my chest that I know is mere excitement, but also convicting thoughts about what I actually wanted to write about.  Yes, I planned out my novel but I have received great ideas about another.  Should I stick with my original plan or go bold and seek out another adventure?

I think that I will be true to my original novel because I know that I have thought long and hard about my novel throughout the last month. Though I have started an entirely different novel before NaNoWriMo began once before, I immediately lost motivation after only a few chapters.  Because this is a summer activity in which I am placing a lot of time and motivation towards, I have decided that I will, for the sake of my sanity, to stick with my pre-planned novel.

Didn’t plan your novel? DON’T LET THAT STOP YOU.  I’m sure that you have dreamed of typing words into a word processor that will soon collaborate into a precious novel.  Let the beginning of that adventure start tomorrow! Set a small goal to get you inspired.   Too busy? DON’T LET THAT STOP YOU.  I’m participating in a leadership program, working, and taking classes this summer and yet I’ve decided to dwell in my dreams.  Make your dreams a reality.

To all my fellow campers, you will struggle with this time of dream awakening but your struggle will not be in vain.  You will learn what makes you tick, what ideas actually lie in your head, what you’re capable of handling.  You will learn what it’s like to type during a vacation period (for students at least), during a time of immense laziness and un-motivation.  For you dream awakeners, you will plow through the struggle and place your flag on your mountain of word glory.  And you will feel the breeze of satisfaction as you admire your filled word count gauge.

If you don’t get to your word count, don’t feel down.  It’s the beginning of an adventure, not the end of one.  I’m sure it would also benefit you to change your word count when you need to throughout this month.  Waddle in your dreams a little bit so that they may soar when you feel that the time is right.

Happy Camping!

 

Planning vs. Winging it (Both involve magic)

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In honor of Camp Nanowrimo and writing in general, I decided to make a post about planning out your novel versus winging it.  Actually, I’d like to mention from the beginning that planning vs. non-planning is completely up to you.  One way may benefit you more than the other. I am a planner.  I write faster when I plan what I’m going to write because I find that I manage my time better when I choose to write down what I’m going to type.  Usually I will plan on actual paper instead of using a word processor but sometimes I will write my summaries into the little summary boxes in Scrivener.  But usually it’s on paper.  Why paper? I just like handwriting my outlines. Simple.  If I had two monitors then maybe I would thing about using my computer, but right now I’m set on using my paper.

There are benefits to planning your novel.  It gives you a sense of what you’re going to write once you sit down at the computer so that you will have more time actually writing words than staring at the blinking cursor.  It happens.  I also plan because I always get stuck and having a roadmap leads me by light as I get deeper and deeper into writing.  Planning may also help with continuity and getting all those small details right in the future.  If you’re writing something that may require a lot of details (ex. sci-fi, fantasy, etc.) planning may become of use to you.  Planning is also a great anxiety reliever.

How do you plan, then? Well, that could be up to you, but I usually use a composition notebook for my novels.  Every single time I start a project, I use a composition notebook.

They come in different colors, yes.  I like to use the standard black ones though.
They come in different colors, yes. I like to use the standard black ones though.

I like to use one page per chapter for several reasons: It allows me to plan thoroughly, I don’t feel overwhelmed when I begin to write my novel, I can look back and track my continuity without going through a sea of words.  The more drafts I spew out, the more complicated my novel becomes and the more continuity problems I have.  I’m so sorry, beta readers. Like I said before, I use composition notebooks so that I can look at things in my own handwriting.  It’s also great when I forget to back up my stuff (a post on that coming soon).

I sometimes use legal pads, but those are mostly for chapter drafts.

When I first started writing I didn’t do anything that resembled planning. It’s perfectly okay to not plan your novel because writing off the top of your head may increase your creativity.  Don’t know what’s happening in the middle of the story? No sweat! Just write what comes to your mind and you may have a better story than what you came up with in the beginning.  That sounds like magic.

But, it didn’t work out for me because of the fact that I kept forgetting what I wrote previously.  But at the same time, not planning allowed me to discover new ways to tell my story.  It didn’t go where I wanted to go, but hey, I discovered something better.

You can also be a mix of the two. Maybe you have to plan the middle of your story, but the beginning and the ends are in the hands of fate.  Maybe the beginning is all down packed but you just want to let the middle and end fly away in the wind, see where it takes you (sorry if that was a bit cheesy).

Whatever your method is, use it!

Happy planning!

Empty Drafts

I’ve always wanted to be a writer.  I dream in words, falling to the soft bed of my stories, escaping to a world that I have come to make my own.  My fingers fiddle across the keyboard, a world ready to be born, a tale ready to be told.

When I rest, I look at the piles and piles of drafts that writhed into darkness, never to be relit.

Should I be a writer? I ask myself as I rip a page of my draft into pieces.

—-

Do you ever ask yourself this question? If you do, it’s not an crazy question because many writers go through the process of asking if they should actually be a  writer.

But here’s the real thing: you are a writer if you write. That’s the bottom line.  Being an English major with a concentration in creative writing or getting your M.F.A. in creative writing doesn’t make you a writer.  Sure, if you’ve done those things you are most definitely a writer, but those things aren’t the only things that make you a writer.

You’re are a writer if you’ve written pages, and pages.

You’re a writer if you’ve only had time to write one page.

You’re a writer if you’ve been published.

You’re a writer if you haven’t been published.

You’re a writer if you haven’t taken any fiction writing classes.

You’re a writer if you have taken a fiction writing class but haven’t written anything since.

Now, the question of whether it should be a professional job or not is a different question, with a different set of thinking.  Also that’s kind of a big decision there’s a bit more to it than saying that you’re a writer because you write.  Writing then becomes a job and you have to have a portfolio…blah, blah, blah.  All of that stuff doesn’t mean that you can’t be a writer, it just means that you’re going to have a different mindset than having one that only has writing as a hobby.  But that’s another post for another time.

Practice starts now.  Read, write, have people read your writing, but above all keep writing.

Your drafts aren’t empty.  They are pieces of something greater.  So keep writing.

waiting-for-perfection

 

 

Myers Briggs and Characters

I just did some Myers Briggs tests for some of my characters and boy don’t they make sense.  I’ve been wanting to do this for a while but I was always afraid that I didn’t know my characters as well as I thought I did and because I didn’t know them as well as I did I wouldn’t get the right results.

I’m happy to say that I received results that were not surprising, but rather satisfactory.  Doing these tests also helped me distinguish different behaviors among my characters which is a great relief.  Sometimes it’s difficult to say tell what a character will do in a specific situation and that confusion is likely due to a misunderstanding of your character’s personality.

Sometimes when I read stories of beginning writers they tend to be a bit shaky on the character personality part.  Their character may do one thing, but later in the story the writer forgets about their past actions and…well, the character does something that seems “out of character.”   Not only is this confusing to the reader, but it also prevents readers from understanding the character’s motives or understanding who they really are as a character.  Now, having a character who is naturally unpredictable is a different story (but would probably still be frustrating as a protagonist).

There are 16 personality types according to Myers-Briggs, and each one has 4 letters.  Yes, each letter means something. For example, my personality type is INTJ.  This means that I am an introvert (I), I rely on my intuition(N), when making decisions I am more likely to make them based on logic rather than emotion(T), and I love control and decision in my life (J).  Many villains are INTJs but that’s beside the point.  As you can probably guess, ESFP’s are the complete opposite of INTJs.  They are extroverted (E), they are less intuitive and rely more on sensing (S), they rely on their emotions when making decisions (F) and they tend to be more spontaneous and don’t need anything decided before hand (P).  Want to learn more? Look here.

An important to mention is that this is a theory.  But they tend to work as a method for learning about your fictional characters (real people are a bit different).  The other thing that’s nifty about this test and creating characters is the fact that you can create non one-sided characters in a flash.  It’s also helpful if you are writing about characters who are twins (because they are very different despite what people say) and it could test your knowledge on how well you actually know your characters.  At least it helps me.  Want to try it? Take the test here.

Also as a side note if you get really into the test you can look up other fictional characters and what their personality type is like.  I heard Black Widow could be an ISTP.  Interesting, yeah?

Happy personality typing!

Procrastination the Killer

It’s a bight and clear sunny day and I’m sitting in front of my computer with my cursor blinking before my eyes.  I know that it’s going to be a slow pace today because every time I look at the cursor it seems to slow down without warning.  It keeps blinking, and blinking and yet I don’t write anything.  I place my document into focus mode, but because of my tendency to look out of windows, I don’t proceed with focusing.  I stare out the large, glass window of my dorm room and I wish that I had something to write.

I do have something to write, but I’m not writing it.  Instead, I wish instead of following my own advice, waiting for something to make my heart bleed with passion.  This is a mistake.  I shouldn’t have waited.  I let one hour go by.  Two hours.  Three.  My document is as blank as it could ever be and I’m not doing anything about it.

This, my friends, is called procrastination.   As a college student I have mastered the art of procrastination to the point where all I can do is procrastinate, and it has become a very deadly habit.   It will kill me one day if I don’t change my ways and it could kill you too right when you don’t expect it.

If you were to ask me how my writing is going I would say, “Terribly,” because that’s the fact.  Writing is hard.  I state that boldly under the name of this blog, but I haven’t given up yet.  No, not yet.  There is passion within my bones that cannot cease, and I will boldly go where I have never been.  I am fully aware that there is a lot that goes into being a writer, published or not.  Procrastination shouldn’t kill us writers.

So write on, and stop procrastinating (or try not to)!

Preparing for JULY

What’s in July, you ask?

Good question!

CAMP NANOWRIMO is in July.

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That’s right.  There was one in April too but I couldn’t possibly do that one because I spent too much time laboring over my math class (engineering problems).  But I decided that I would get back into the writing game this July so that I could get a jump start on ideas for November.

Where is Camp Nanowrimo you ask? Well, it is everywhere.  I’m spending it in the bowels of my summer dorm room while I also take programming classes, but I may allow myself to spend some time in the berating sun or in the one of many Starbucks on campus.

Camp Nanowrimo also mean lots of planning (or lots of attempts to plan) on my novel, which means I’ll get to show you guys my writing process (or lack of one).

If you don’t know what Camp Nanowrimo is, click on this link: Camp NaNoWriMo.

If you’re interested in the November session, look here: NaNoWriMo.

I will participate in both and if you want to add me as a writing buddy, shoot a comment down below.

Happy Planning!

Setting the Summer Routine (Or just one in general)

It’s summer.  At least school-wise it is summer.  I’m only taking three classes which means that I have plenty of time to read, write, and watch anime.  Well, I have to work but that’s besides the point.

Actually, no.  It’s perfect.

Who knew that it’s possible to be busy even in the summer? Of course it’s easy to be busy within the summer because for us students, it’s almost impossible to get everything that we need to get done during the school year.  As a full time double major I barely have time for sleep and eating (in fact almost didn’t eat for a full three days before someone asked the question).  Truth is, we are all busy with something even if it’s doing nothing.

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Thank you, Ernest Hemingway.  You’ve summarized this post in one gif.

Making a routine can be difficult but it’s helpful (I’m writing this to help me as well so you’re not alone).  When you have a routine and you push through it, you have the ability to control your progress.  If you don’t have a routine you’ll probably end up lying about how you didn’t have any time to write (which you probably did but won’t admit it out of guilt).   Little progress is better than no progress and no one wants no progress right? Of course not! I mean, why are you trying to write anyway?

Here’s how I usually go about finding a routine:

1.  I look at my schedule.  I’m free for most of time this early on in the summer, but I also have no writing routine.  It’s time to fix that.

2.  When do I work best? Ah, yes.  I am night owl, but my sleep patterns suggest that I go to bed at 12 and wake up at 7:30.  Great.  I work best between 2 and 3 am and ironically when I’m sleep deprived.  I don’t recommend trying to lose sleep in order to write.

3.  Add in writing to my schedule.  I usually write out my schedule when I’m busy but since I want my summer to be productive, I’m still going to write down my schedule.

If the routine that I have doesn’t really fit, I’ll change it up as soon as possible.  Another important thing, it usually takes 14 days for a routine to become a habit so don’t delay and push through those fourteen days.  Same for me, ha.

Setting up a routine doesn’t mean that you have to limit your writing to your designated time.  What if an idea pops into your head right after you exit the movie theater? Not your designated time? WRITE.  Making a time just allows you to write when you appear to not have any time to write.

Take the time to plan your story, create characters, write a short story, whatever during your writing time.  Some progress is better no progress.