Progress Report

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

The Creation of Pain: Adding Depth to Your Stories

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In our relatively sheltered lives, pain is usually a passing phenomenon – injury or accident; sickness or disease. But what about those that live with daily pain? Those stuck in poverty, starvation/malnutrition, warfare or abuse? All of these should be present somewhere in our stories, even if they remain on the outskirts.  Continue reading

Habits for the Wise Writer: Not a Master List

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Recent days of warm sunshine have inspired me to sit with all my writing notebooks and see what I’ve yet to type up. That’s always been the downside of being a pen and paper girl – the transition to an electronic format.

Bad Habit #1: Not consolidating your scribblings.

Whether you prefer to set up in a coffee shop, or write on the bus, or use a speech-to-text app on your phone, there are countless ways writers end up saving their work in several places. Make it a habit, either weekly or monthly, to check that you’ve moved your writing into your long-term storage spot.

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Journey to the Stars: Discoveries Shaping Sci-fi

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One of the joys of writing Science Fiction is how quickly tomorrow’s technology can surpass a writer’s imagination. Computers the size of your palm? Done. Glasses that help you see 3-D worlds? Done. Real Pokémon lurking in your backyard? Well, sort of. And 30 years ago, no one really expected those inventions to become reality in their lifetime.

So what does that mean for a science fiction writer? Should we all retreat to fantasy? No!

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How to Write Vivid Animals and Fantasy Creatures- Part 1

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We often talk about creating characters, but what about those stories that feature animals as the heroes? There are several great books (and series) with animals manning the cast, while other stories include animals playing side (yet still important) roles. Whether your animals speak, your human character happens to have the ability to speak to them, or you’re writing a story with fantasy creatures, the depth and breadth of possibilities with non-human characters are endless.

For today, we’ll tackle two kinds of characters:

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What You Need to Know About yWriter5 Writing Software

pexels-photo-52649-large-1After I started taking writing seriously, I decided that looking for better novel-writing software (say, better than Word) would likely help me to stay organized[1] as I tried to complete one of my stories.

I’ve had Scrivener recommended to me multiple times, along with other paid software, but as a mostly-poor working adult, I wanted to find something else that would serve my needs for free. And eventually I found yWriter5. Continue reading

Are Your Characters Too Super-Powered?

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Think back to high school (maybe you’re still in high school, and it’s not a far stretch of the imagination). Think about that girl who’s pretty, popular, kind, smart, and to top it off, the boy you have a crush on likes her. Or think about that handsome guy: the star of his chosen sports team, who coaches and teachers alike look the other way for him, has the newest car (or an awesome restoration), and has his pick of girlfriends.

No matter how nice or kind they are, you’re sort of annoyed by them, right? Even if you happened to be their best friend and they treated you well, you’d have days where you’re just jealous and resentful of how easy life seems to be for them.

Now take that seemingly perfect human, and translate that into a character. Ugh.

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How to Choose Your Character’s Gender

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How do you end up deciding this important choice? Is it from personal experience of the story you’re writing? Is it how the character presented him or herself to you? Is it how the story needs its main character to be perceived? Weak, strong, overbearing, shy… these all create ideas of gender for us, no matter which side the descriptor causes you to fall on. But how do you shake up those old pre-conceived notions without going on a crusade? (Only those who agree with you are going to read that, and will they really be reading to experience your story, or to be validated by it?)

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