Happy National Book-Lovers Day!

tumblr_nh6rm2NGdu1sa2xlto1_500

It’s National Book-Lovers Day apparently and what does that mean for people in the United States? Well, really nothing but I guess it means something to book-lovers.  I, myself, am a book-lover.  I’ve always have been ever since I started reading when I was four years old.  It’s amazing how many books I’ve read throughout the years, and even amazing to see how the book industry has changed/stayed the same.

I  love reading books, always have.  I’m actually starting Harry Potter for the first time *gasp* because I’m an adult now and I can choose what I want to read.  But let me tell you, reading Harry Potter for the first time at 22 is one of the best things that has happened to me in a very long time.  I won’t go into the details but, these past couple of years have been very hard on me and greatly affected my writing and my ability to imagine.  Harry Potter gave that back to me and I have never been so happy and full of life.

(Side note: I’ve never seen the movies so I am going into this pretty blind.  I’m so glad I didn’t watch them.)

Throughout my years I’ve read countless of books from Eragon to The Bluest Eye.  As a child my favorites have always been of the science fiction and fantasy variety and boy did I didn’t regret it.  But even though science fiction and fantasy had a GREAT impact on me in terms of writing, it also had an impact on me on something I wasn’t aware of until I was in my late teens/early twenties.

Representation.

Yes, representation.

anigif_enhanced-16516-1424971918-2.gif

As an African American child growing up loving fantasy and science fiction, everything around me was constantly surrounded by white faces.  Then I didn’t quite get what was going on because I didn’t really care.  But one day, like someone threw a ball through my window, my view was shattered.  Why don’t I see more people with brown skin? I wondered why I didn’t see more black faces in fantasy, and so I began to lament.  I didn’t think they were able to exist in fantasy and that was just how things were.  Sometimes I felt afraid to like fantasy because I didn’t feel like I could be part of that community; I felt like I was…trespassing.  To this day I feel left out.  At one point I became so tired of reading about sixteen year old white girls and their adventures to the point that I just stopped reading YA.  I wanted something new and an adventure that I could see myself in.

So that became the reason why I wanted to write.  One of my favorite quotes by Toni Morrison is, “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”

That’s what I’m set out to do.

I’ve mentioned representation before in another post, but this issue stands to close to my young, twelve year old heart than I can bear.  Young people of color can relate to dragons, wizards, and secret wardrobes.  They are interested in commanding starships and saving galaxies.  They too can be the chosen one to bring balance to the Force, but we just have to make it happen.  It should be normal.

Like any other type of change it’s going to take time.  But change isn’t going to happen on it’s own.  Action and time coincide.

With that, happy reading/writing!

 

Music and Writing (A Magical Duet)

black-and-white-charlie-love-music-Favim.com-2085942-2

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!

 

 

Literary? What’s Literary?

tumblr_nh6rm2NGdu1sa2xlto1_500

 

Have you ever picked up a book and was just profoundly overwhelmed by the intelligent flow of the prose? Or maybe you picked it up, read the first paragraph, and had no idea what it was talking about.  Maybe you did, but the style of prose was so high that it wiped your confidence off the face of the Earth.

There’s a chance that you have encountered a “literary work.”

Should you be afraid of them? Not at all! Literary fiction is by no means scary.  If you’ve been to high school, you’ve read literature.  Among the canon of classic literary novels include Huckleberry Finn, The Scarlet Letter, To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice, Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, Lord of the Flies, Frankenstein, A Tale of Two Cities, Native Son, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Bluest Eye, Beloved, etc. The list really goes on because there’s A LOT of literary novels.  Literature doesn’t just include fiction, but since I focus on fiction, that’s what I’m going to talk about.  Chances are you’ve read at least one of these mentioned, or more.  I’ve read a lot of literature in high school and even more since I’m in undergrad, but if you haven’t read any of these, don’t sweat.

The next question that you may have asked is, “Why did I have to read these in high school? What makes them so important?”

Good question! Literature in general provides us with a sense of human existence and purpose through a language medium.  These books are also meant to give students a different worldview than the one that they have now by reading an experience that is not their own.

For example, The Jungle gives readers an idea of what it’s like living in Chicago as an immigrant in the early 20th century.  And when I say “early 20th century,” I really mean the very, very beginning.  The book was published in 1906. And let me tell you, the book is NOT pretty because America in the early 20th century was NOT pretty.  But through historical knowledge, the reader is able to grasp what it may have been like to be an immigrant in 1906.  In some cases, parts of the The Jungle are even read in American history classes, most notably the meat factory scene.

Though the idea of grasping a certain view may be a bit difficult, that’s only one purpose of literary texts.  Another reason for literature is for the writing itself.

I’m currently reading this book:

tumblr_m02cu6Bjzx1r3ij2a

And this is literature.  Zadie Smith is still alive (by the way), and this book was not published in the early twentieth century, rather it was published in 2000.  This book is considered to be contemporary fiction, and it literature for the modern age.  What makes this book different than Old Man’s War for example, is the prose.  When I read White Teeth, I’m getting an experience that is wrapped inside the prose.  When I read Old Man’s War, I’m getting a character experience that is driven by action. Literary fiction isn’t necessarily driven by action.  In essence, it’s what you would call realistic fiction.

Now, how’s literary fiction different than mainstream fiction? Let me direct you to this article first:

Literary and Mainstream Novels: What’s the Difference?

This Huffington Post article is directed towards writers as well, eliminating the difference between literature and mainstream novels.  Mainstream novels are driven by action, literary novels are driven by prose.  Most of the time.

Now, if a novel isn’t realistic fiction, that doesn’t mean that it’s not literary.  That’s when debates arise, fire ignites, and critics come out and breathe their wrath.  I’m being a bit dramatic, but it can happen.

Whether your work is literary or not shouldn’t be your main concern.  Write your story and change it how you wish when you believe that your story is told.  Your decision to make it more literary or not is up to the story you want to tell.

Happy Writing!

 

 

 

Starting that Adventure

giphy

I sit down behind my desk and move all of my desk trinkets aside.  I am left with my small desk library, some tissue, coffee, and a world of silence.  A notebook with a blank page is under my hand as I twirl my pen, hoping that my first word would appear on that blank line at the top.

Starting a writing project can be daunting, but at the same time there’s an intriguing sense of excitement that comes from placing that first word on a blank page.  It’s like opening the cover of a brand new book that has an adventure that you have waited to embark on for a very, very long time.

Every time I have a chance to sit down and write with my fresh cup of coffee, I feel that excitement running through my fingers and the veins of my arms.  But sometimes that excitement turns into frustration as I rip the page from my notebook and throw it behind me with a sigh of exasperation. The excitement I felt doesn’t flourish, but instead it seeps into a discomforting wave of disappointment.

Frustration isn’t what I expect from writing, but that’s part of the adventure.  Writing is hard.  Writing is frustrating.  The purpose of being a writer is to write through the hardship and reap the rewards from the precious time that we place into our stories.  After all, we write for ourselves before other we write for others (unless you happen to be a ghost or freelance writer then…writing for people is your sole purpose).  For us fiction writers we have tales to tell, worlds to explore, characters to kill, and we enjoy it.

My life as never been the same since I started my writing adventure.  I have built worlds, created characters that have become a part of me.  Has anyone experienced my worlds and characters? No.  They may have read chapters but I haven’t gotten to the point where they have read a single work and have fallen in love with my characters.  My readers’ time will come soon enough.

Writing is a privilege and such a great way to emerge into a world that is far away from our reality.  God I love being a writer!

I have so many ideas, so many things that I want to get out of my head even though it may be a bit difficult.  But that’s okay.  That’s perfectly okay.  I live to place words on paper.  So do you.

Happy Writing!

Planning vs. Winging it (Both involve magic)

giphy-2

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.

Camp-Participant-2015-Twitter-Profile

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.

tumblr_nbnaa1LcQd1rrvslco1_1280

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.