You Want to Be a Writer? Act Like One

These past few weeks, the entire month of February, has been strange for me. I had a tonsillectomy on the 31st of January and practically all of February was spent in bed recovering, or scrambling to get homework done as my semester for my bachelors program was winding down.

Yes, I know, I’m excellent at scheduling things and procrastination.

This strange time warp (thank you liquid Lortab for keeping the pain at bay and helping me catch up on much needed sleep, even if the nightmares were terrifying) left little time for me to write, and write coherently.

I was back at work for three days before this first cold whammied me into another week of bed rest. But it gave me a little more time to think and process, and yes, write!

I’ve been listening to a few new podcasts lately, all about writing and being a writer. There were a few that talked about whether or not a writer can call themselves a writer and what the criteria was or should be. Should you have a book published? A famous column in a newspaper? Can you be called a writer if only one other person, or no one has read any works?

I have always called myself a writer. I’ve started and finished several novels, short stories, plays and poems, not to mention blog posts and forum posts here and there. As far as I am concerned, I am a writer.

But over these past few months, I haven’t really been acting like a writer. I haven’t had that drive to finish something, or post something, or even think about writing in the least.

I am very pleased to say that today for the first time in a long while, I pulled out a short story that I wrote years ago and edited it. I’m not going to lie, I struggled to get motivated, to actually edit and not get distracted by the internet, or flash games, or more podcasts and posts about writing, but once I got into it and started, it was much easier.

I am a writer, and I am going to act like it.

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Camp NaNoWriMo Update

Yes, I am doing Camp NaNo this July. 

I’m working on several projects.

Writing- 

Little Earthquakes- Based on the first album by the lovely Tori Amos, the story follows a young woman as she tries to navigate several disasters that threaten to destroy her dream of being a dancer. 

The Schemes of VKs (Descendants fanfiction)- A prequel to Just One Kiss. The story of how Mal and Ben got together after the love spell and the repercussions. 

The Weight of Your Lips (Descendants fanfiction)- The sequel to Just One Kiss. What happens after Ben and Mal share that spectacular kiss. 

Editing-

Girl Disappearing- Book One in the LOVED series. Jared’s fight for Emily when she can’t fight for herself. Randa’s fight for Widren with Marvel and Xander. Two worlds hang in the balance. 

Just One Kiss (Descendants Fanfiction)- Ben made a promise without realizing it. Can he and Mal navigate the summer without disastrous consequences?

I am pretty busy this July. All of this, with work and volunteering. Though so far I am having a lot of fun. 

Fanfiction: Just One Kiss

Camp Nano

A taste of Little Earthquakes

 

More Blog Posts Coming Soon!

I have been so busy with work and writing that I have let the blog fall to the wayside and I apologize. 

June is going to be hectic, as I am trying to edit one novel, and type up my handwritten draft of another before June 30th. 

Hectic? Yes!

Blog-worthy? Maybe…

Stay tuned! 

The first ten pages of the novel edited

The sections and chapters to be edited

How To Tuesday: Write Developed Characters

 Hello Readers! Special Message here: If I seem short during this How To Tuesday,  blame WordPress. I had been working on this post for more than a week, almost 2000 words put into it, and then WordPress decided to be a butt and delete it all. So here is attempt number two!

Some writers will tell you that naming characters is the hardest part. To develop them all you have to do is write out their story and their arc, then edit it in later drafts. I think that it really depends on the character. Whether or not their arc is a wide sweeping arc or a simple event that sets their actions. Being a writer, and having several characters, I can tell you that sometimes their arcs come easy, and then other times it will be several drafts in and I will be staring at a blank page thinking “Who the hell are you? What the F*@K do you want?”

To write developed characters, with complete arcs and growth, there are three things to keep in mind: Backstory, Mid-story and post story.

Backstory

Backstory is important, but not always relevant to the specific scene you’re writing. You should make it match your character, but not too obvious that the reader feels like they were fooled. Unless your character is the luckiest person in the world, everything is not going to just fall into their lap. They have to work to get where they are when your story starts. They have to have failures and successes. Not just one or the other.

Depending on your story and your character arc, your backstory determines how your character will react to certain situations in your plot. If your character is in a bank robbery, whether they are a trained soldier, or a guy who adamantly hates guns and violence will change how they react to the gunmen.

Mid-Story

In the middle of the action, your characters decisions determine their growth and their arc. There are generally two reactions to growth in story. Your character can either accept the changes, or fight them tooth and nail. There are a thousand choices, several types of growth, but it all basically boils down to “I accept this” or “Not in a million years”.

The most important thing in Mid-Story character development is consistency. If your character encounters a barking dog at the beginning of the story and is scared of it, then if they encounter the dog again in the middle and are not scared, there better have been some kind of growth in between.

Post Story

Post Story is probably the least important development, but it is still important. Unless your character dies at the end of your work, or they are braindead, they still have to grow after the events of the story. Post story is more important if you are working on a series, but for stand-alone is still relevant.

Post Story is what happens “after the credits”. The hero has saved the girl (or vice versa), the evil baddie has been taken care of and all is well. So what are the hero/ girl’s plans after? Some choose to let the reader decide, hence the “Rides off into the sunset” ending. Still, some others add in small hints throughout the piece. Like for instance, your character loves knitting and is working on a blanket, but they are pulled into this elaborate plot against the president. “ALL I WANT IS TO FINISH MY DAMN BLANKET!” is repeated several times in your piece.

Post story they better finish their damn blanket.

No matter what your plot or your character arcs, do your best to keep them consistent and your characters will be well developed and readers will thank you for it!

Happy Writing!

A Quick Note on Frustration

Happy Monday!

For some of us, Monday means going back to work, or school. For others, it means delving into personal work and projects. For me it means queuing up the blog for the week. What does this have to do with frustration?

Everything.

Last Friday, I decided to be proactive and write a little of a How To Tuesday to make it easier on myself over the weekend and today. I have around 2000 words all set up and ready to go, and just needed a few more paragraphs to finish.

Today, I go to my drafts, ready to pick up where I left off, everything looks good in the screen where all the drafts live, and then I open it. AND IT’S BLANK!

I was so frustrated that I had to write all of it again, pull the ideas back from what the original idea was and type angry and jaded. Instead of a long post, it only came out to be around 700 words (though you all might thank me for that).

I know frustration is a normal occurrence, and that it might just be a fluke on WordPress’ end, but still 2000 words and like 15 ideas just gone, off into space, never to be found in that exact order again. Frustration is putting it nicely.

So hopefully something can come from that frustration and the problem of words disappearing can be solved (By the way, not the first time this has happened).

Has this happened to anyone else? Have your drafts ever disappeared when you try and edit them?

Please let me know so we can fix this problem!

Writer Life Lessons #18: Finish Your First Drafts

Progress is measured in several different ways. If you are an athlete, progress is measured by how well you perform at your sport or sports. If you are an artist, progress is measured by your art portfolio. If you are a writer, progress is measured by words written on the page, and the amount of pieces you finish.

Can you call yourself a writer before you finish a piece? Of course. If you are putting words on the page, or the screen, or whatever you write on, you are indeed a writer. Can you call yourself an accomplished writer? Sure! But do you have anything to show for it?

When I first started writing, by hand, in pencil, in spiral-bound notebooks, I used to read unfinished pieces to my best friend. Yes, I was a writer,  and yes, I wanted to feel accomplished. Some of those drafts I finished, but a lot of them I just left him hanging, waiting on the next cliffhanger, for the next chapter or sometimes even word.

The lesson for this week is: Finish Your First Drafts.

There are tons of quotes out there about finishing what you start, how blank pages are ugly and how you can’t edit a blank page. All you have to do is google the words “writing advice” or “writing quotes” and you’ll get a ton of advice on how to write, how to finish your drafts, and even how to edit them.

Yes, this advice (Well most of it) is true. To move on, to mark your progress and to grow as a writer, you need to finish your first drafts, or at least move on to a new project if you get stuck. There is nothing worse than looking at an unfinished piece years later and thinking “Now where was I going with this?”.

Yes, you can leave your pieces and come back, but eventually you should try and finish them. This is an area where I need to take my own advice, I have about three times the amount of works in progress than I do works finished. The point is: I do intend to go back to them once I finish current projects, or if I don’t continue them I at least plan to rewrite.

Finish your first drafts, even if they suck, because there is always room for improvement. There are some pieces that I look at, from several years ago, and when I reach the point where I stopped writing for whatever reason, I wish there was more there. Often times I think “I wish I could remember where I was going with this”.

You can take a break from pieces, but at least write a little outline so you know where you left off, or even a little note in the margins that explains what happens next. You will thank yourself when you come back to it later.

Finish your first drafts so you can edit them and make them shine later.

Happy Writing!