Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

In observance of Good Friday and Easter, this post has been intentionally left blank.

Monday, March 25, 2013


When I first was writing as a teenager, I couldn’t imagine any of my stories changing as much as I heard stories often do in revision. This is my story, and that’s just the way it’s supposed to be.

Now, I’ve come to realize that a story is more than just scenes strung together. A story is a character and his or her growth. Now, I’m revising my story again, and the particulars of plot are changing in order better to reflect the story of the character. My character and his growth have not changed, but the way that growth plays out--the specific details of scene and plot--have.

This is fun. :-)

Friday, March 22, 2013


So, at the young age I am, I’m still starting to feel just a leeeetle bit older. Formerly, I could come up with ideas upon ideas, jot down a title, and forever remember the entire plot of the story. Not so much anymore. I’ve started getting confused with all the revisionary ideas for my story. So, three weeks ago, I sat down with a blank sheet of notebook paper and titled it “What If?” I then asked all the questions I had been wondering. My page looked something like this:

What If?

. . . the hero and heroine don’t meet until later?
. . . the program the hero joins has ten times as many people?
. . . the war is less trench warfare and more covert ops?

In the margins, I jotted down other notes, for example, on the “covert ops” question, I wrote, “how would that affect the characters’ reactions in book two if they’ve been trained as spies?”

This brainstorming session was exceedingly helpful, inspired by my free writer’s group. As someone who was once skeptical of free writing, outlining, or brainstorming, I now know that you just have to figure out what method works for you, and these all can be valuable tools.

So give it a try! It’s actually kind of fun.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Second Best

I just had, I think, the second best writer moment of my life. One of the ladies at my free writer’s group stayed after for a few minutes to talk with me. She encouraged me to look into publishing something short, like an article or short story, to tide me while I finish (ha ha) The Epic Novel. Encouragement is always a blessing, but what made my day--made me almost cry, actually--was as she left, she gave me a big hug and said, “You <em>must</em> do something with your writing.”

And so, I shall. :-)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Typical Characters, Part II

Over the past week or two, I have been noticing people who look different or seem different than the characters I usually write. I’m starting to feel excited about experimenting with characters other than the same ones I’ve always written. I know this will stretch me and that I will grow. I’m looking forward to seeing what this does. Soon, I will give myself a challenge. I’m just not sure what that challenge will be yet.

Here’s a challenge for you: notice the people around you who are people you might not normally befriend, people who are dissimilar to you. Imagine why they are the way they are--what is their motivation? What is their past? Try writing a couple of pages about that person, and just see what happens!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Typical Characters

The other night, I watched the tail end of the new Star Trek movie. I realized with a start that Captain Kirk is a very different character than the main characters in most of the books I read. I’m used to reading books written for young adults and preteens. The protagonists I are usually unsure of themselves, a bit timid, slightly depressed.

Captain Kirk is self-confident, arrogant, and so sure of himself that he’ll talk back to commanding officers to make sure they do what needs to be done. Watching that reminded me of the dozens of different characters who could make excellent protagonists for books.

I think we often enjoy reading about characters who have weaknesses because deep inside, we know our own weaknesses. However, we are all in different developmental phases. Some of us have learned to trust ourselves if not others. Wouldn’t those people enjoy reading about a character with whom they can relate?

A few people have told me that when I draw, all my people look the same. There may not be much help for my sketches, but I hope that when people read my books, they won’t think all of my characters are the same.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Writing Psychology

Sometimes, for fun, I take personality tests, specifically tests on the Myers-Briggs types. The fun part is when I take the tests from the POV of my characters! This accomplishes several things:

  • It helps me to think like my characters.

  • It helps me to understand my characters.

  • The description at the end of the test helps me to figure out if I have a correct and clear picture of my character’s personality.

  • It provides insight in how a character of that personality might think or process things, which helps me to write a more believable character.

  • It’s just plain fun.

  • As with real people, personality tests are good only to a certain point. However, they can provide insight and inspiration. Especially for those of us who have a hard time imagining life from a different perspective. I’m a logical, introverted, semi-nerd who enjoys science and music. What if my character is a creative extrovert athlete type? Something like a personality test could help me to understand how a character like that might think.

    Monday, March 4, 2013

    Close Reading

    Recently, I read a book for fun. A very long book. I had a hard time getting into it because nothing happened for the first 15 chapters/144 pages. When something finally did happen, it happened to a secondary POV character, not the protagonist. The protagonist was still just wandering around eating leisurely lunches and being bored.

    Side note: Your MC may be bored; your readers should not.

    For awhile, all I saw were the mistakes in this book. I thought, “Why didn’t someone take the time to polish this a little, to clean it up enough for it to be a good book?” I was tempted to look down on the author as inexperienced (in spite of the fact that he is published and I am not--have I ever mentioned that I can be prideful? ;-) ).

    But then, I began to notice little things that the author did well. And then more things and more. The author crafted a complete world; he moved his characters through developmental phases; he used description that paints vivid pictures. He let the reader glimpse the inner workings of a character through a few short phrases.

    Yes, I have been to creative writing school; I have a degree. But as yet, I am unpublished. I need to remind myself that training is not everything. Experience counts. Also, when reading a book, I need to look at the things done well in addition to the things which could have been done better. Both will teach me how to improve my own writing.

    Friday, March 1, 2013

    First Writer’s Group

    You will be shocked and appalled, I know, but yesterday, I went to my first ever writer’s group. (Shocked because I’ve never been to one before, not because I went.) It’s a small local group and seems to be mainly just for fun. We spent the entire hour and a half responding to free-writing prompts. It was quite refreshing.

    One of the prompts was to give chapter titles to the different parts of your life. I found this helpful as I have often thought about recording my life, but I get too bogged down. So much has happened! Naming chapter titles helped me to organize everything in my mind.

    I think I will continue to attend this writer’s group. I would still like to find a good critique partner, but a relaxing afternoon of free writing can’t hurt. :-)