Or: A Retrospective on My Writing Journey
Nearly a decade after starting my first “real” story (i.e. the first one I realized I wanted to finish, no matter what), I am still not finished with a complete draft. That might be depressing to some who aspire to finish their newest tale in under a year, but I knew when I started that I was undertaking a large task in attempting it: the story includes an enormous cast of characters, creating their world from the ground up, setting up a history of at least two hundred years, putting political systems in place (and the different monarchs use very different systems of ruling!!), learning about military campaigns…. The list never really ends, and the stories of minor characters have moved beyond my control, so that now when I mention it to friends in-the-know, I lovingly call it “The Epic.”
I didn’t set out to spend ten years trying to write the thing ( I probably would have balked at even starting if I’d known!) At the time, I wrote to keep myself awake through long midnight shifts at my job. The story grew out of an idea for fanfiction that quickly passed the bounds of those characters, and as I begin coming up with their names and feeling out their story, I realized that I had something unique, and for the first time started to consider myself a writer, and not just someone who liked to write. Continue reading
How many times have you heard “write what you know”? It’s good advice – to a point. Because if everyone only wrote what they knew, we’d have no space odysseys, no dragons, no magical words, no elves or dwarves or krakens… and we’d be poorer for it.
So where does one draw the line between what you “should” write and what you can write? I’d say there isn’t a line, and if you’ve been limiting yourself, STOP! If you can make your readers want to enter the world you’ve written, no matter how unrealistic or crazy, then you’ve still succeeded in writing something good (i.e. interesting). You don’t need to be an expert in fighting to write a fight scene, or on trains to write about your characters taking a train ride. Same goes for flying on the back of a dinosaur, or piloting a ship through outer space – if you can make it interesting and immersive for your readers, only a few are going to nitpick the details. ♦ Continue reading
“We often find the hero and villain have the same goal, but are using different methods to reach it.”
That quote was used in a panel of writers talking about anti-heroes and villains at the annual North Texas Teen Book Festival. All the authors had one thing in common: they’d written tales with the villain – an anti-hero – as the protagonist. They explored the reasons why they had chosen to write stories from the “bad guy’s” point of view, and went over their favorite villains and anti-heroes.
I have two favorite “villains” about whom the above quote happens to be true. One is from a book series, and one is from an anime. *spoilers ahead!* Not every villain has to share a goal or vision with the hero, but oftentimes adding comedic (or tragic) irony to the conflict in your story causes it to have greater depth and complexity.
*by a beginner
As a kid, did you watch Cinderella and Prince Charming get married, and wish that your adult life would turn out just the same? I will personally admit that being pulled out of a hum-drum life by a handsome, perfect man who would give me a crown, beautiful dresses and dance with me at balls sounded like the best of all possible futures – when I was 9. Continue reading
Pen Friends ~ We would like to try something new ~ a dual POV Prompt! Here’s how to do it…
First choose the world from one of these two pictures, then write 250 words from these two POVs below:
POV 1: “It was nothing like my world…” (*You are a visitor to this world. Everything is new. Show us what you see, hear, taste, touch, feel, how it contrasts with your world, who you meet, etc…)
POV 2: “This is my world…” (*You grew up in this world. You are very familiar with its geography, culture. You know what kids do growing up, what dangers lurk, what sounds there are, etc. Show us your world.)
Send your prompts to firstname.lastname@example.org — we want to read and post them!
I have to confess something to you… two weeks ago I took the plunge and played Dungeons and Dragons for the first time. Yes, the roll-the-dice, choose your warlock/dwarven/halfing adventure that Dan Harmon termed the “fantasy game [people play] to escape their awkward lives.” Promising, eh?
My high school self would be baffled (“I thought I was supposed to be cool by 24!” she would lament) and honestly, my 3 month ago self would be pretty confused too. But since then, I’ve discovered something. Let me lead you into the dark realm of the nerd where brilliant writing resources have been hiding for decades…
Writing fantasy is fun. Why else would so many people do it? Why would so many read it? There’s more than a monetary investment when a reader picks up a fantasy novel. They are taking on faith that the world the writer has created is going to engage them and spark their imagination. As an author, you have to think through more than loving your own world and story – it has to be easily comprehended by a reader so that they don’t get fed up and abandon the attempt to enter into your written world.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving lets take a few moments to be thankful for all of the blessings we have. When it comes to writing what do you have to be thankful for?
Take inventory of your writing
Good story boils down to these four factors: plot, character, setting and craft.
While there are countless other elements that make up the intricacies of a good book, these are the backbone of a good story.
Odds are, you already know what you’re good at. If not, ask your friends or writing community—anyone who’s read your work. Or you can take this quiz to find out. What’s your specialty?
The World Builder
Continuing from last time, here are some other roles a writer might use animals for:
In this continuation about world building, I wanted to focus in on a few specifics, as well as the ways in which getting down to the details can actually lead you into a deeper story – both for the sake of your readers’ experience ,and how it can affect your plot, character development So here’s a few suggestions, just to get your imagination rolling. Continue reading