Tips from Other People, Part 3.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m going to mention it again: I love character-driven stories. Stories where the action and plot are determined by the characters; their motivations and hang-ups. In order to write stories like that, it’s important to make sure you’re writing character motivations well.

Fortunately, the lovely folks over at Now Novel have some advice for that:

1: Give each character their own contrasting motivation

2: Use character motivations founded on rational and irrational beliefs

3: Decide how aware your characters will be of their own motivations

4: Let characters’ drives develop as new plot events occur

5: Don’t give characters what they want too easily

6: Try to be subtle in revealing what drives your characters

7. Make motivations complex to increase readers’ interest

Each one of these points is expanded upon in the full post, so head on over and take a look if you’re interested.

Multipotentialites Are a Thing Now.

Here’s an excerpt from a book that I MUST track down. Immediately, if not sooner. It’s called How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don’t Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up, by Emilie Wapnick, and it’s for people like me, who have never found that “one true passion” and are feeling kinda desperate.

Not all of us are born with one main interest — and we should see that as our biggest strength, not our weakness, says Emilie Wapnick, a writer, coach, artist (and then some). Do you remember being asked, as a little kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up? When I think back,…

via What it means when you can’t answer the question, What do you want to be when you grow up? — ideas.ted.com

 

Turns out, not having “one true passion” isn’t the fatal flaw that I’ve always thought. It just means that I’m what she’s calling a multipotentialite, which is a doozy of a title, and one which I will happily adopt (as long as I agree with what the book has to say).

Anyhow, even if I end up being underwhelmed by the book itself, this is a good little article. It includes tips for handling a few of the biggest problems multipotentialites face, every single one of which I can heartily identify with.

The reason I’m sharing it with all of you, is that I’m willing to bet a lot of writers are actually multipotentialites, who turn to writing as a way of exploring the entire world. If you’re one of those, you can probably relate to my feelings of insecurity over the fact that I don’t in fact want to be writing EVERY SINGLE MOMENT OF THE DAY. I thought that made me wimpy or insincere… “dilettante-ish,” as I commonly accuse myself. But maybe I’m not.

So yeah, just wanted to put that out there. Once I get the book, I might do a “Toolkit” post to tell you more.

Tips from Other People, Part Two.

Writing a book is a lot of things. Fun and hard work. Terrifying and exhilarating. Time-consuming and all-absorbing. So if you are yet to take the plunge, or you are part way through the process, or you’ve just started the next book, don’t forget to make the most of these Stages of Awesomeness. They are…

via Writing a Book: Stages of Awesomeness — Magic Writer

 

One of my favorite things about the internet, besides #ShakespeareSunday and Grumpy Cat, is how you can discover somebody, even if you’ve never met, even if they live on a WHOLE DIFFERENT CONTINENT, and be like, “Yes. This is one of my people.”

The lovely Elise, writer of the post I’m sharing with you today, happens to be one of those people. And she’s got some really good advice for us all. I won’t ramble on about it here, because I want you guys to read her post, but let me just say that it came at the right time. I’ve been way down deep in the terrified dumps, and it’s so good to be reminded that there are awesome things in store.

Plus there’s a photo of Lego Superman. What’s not to love?

Thanks, Elise!

Tips from Other People, Part One

I’m rapidly approaching the editing stage for my own novel, and honestly, I’m dreading it. I love editing other people’s work, but self-editing is a different beast entirely. Usually by the time a novel is finished, I’ve become so familiar with every word they start to blur together, and it’s hard for me to see […]

via 4 Tips for Self Editing — Million Words

 

This here is a lovely set of tips for when it comes time to edit your own work, including the idea of getting a website to read aloud for you. I don’t know about any of you people, but I have a really hard time reading my work out loud during the editing process, because what if somebody HEARS me??? So much nicer to shove on a big pair of headphones and keep it private until I’m sure it’s ready for public consumption.

In the blog post, Sarah Kay Moll suggests https://www.naturalreaders.com/ for the purpose. I tried it out, and it’s probably one of the better text-to-speech generators I’ve come across. There are plenty of voice options, so you can select one that works well with your writing. Of course, it’s all automated, so there is still a sense that your work is being recited by Stephen Hawking. But what an honor that would be, am I right? It’s good for visions of glory, or just for a giggle, which can be healthy during the editing process, I find.

Where the Inner and Outer Intersect.

A little over a year ago, I wrote a post encouraging writers to explore their favorite books in order to learn more about themselves as writers. As I stated at the time, I couldn’t remember where I discovered the exercise.

Well, I have found it. In a whole huge stack of papers that somehow got shuffled into an old shoebox and forgotten about. Story of my life, y’all. Fortunately, I had noted the title and author of the original article, so I am now pleased to present to you:

The Original Article!

The process is based on discovering the point at which our inner (personal experience) and outer (favorite book) stories overlap, with the idea that that is where our deepest and most resonant stories (as in, the ones we should probably be writing) come from.

Worth taking a look at, people. What we read can tell us a lot about ourselves as writers, if we give it a chance. It’s only a four-step process, but it can really help us to define what themes we are drawn to.

 

Themes of Love and Trust.

Today I thought I’d share some music with you. I’ve been listening to White Lies’ new album, “Friends,” basically on a loop for weeks now. It plays around with themes of love and trust, and does so with a magnificent eighties vibe.

My particular favorite songs happen to be “Morning in LA,” “Summer Didn’t Change a Thing,” “Come On,” and “Don’t Fall.” That also happens to be about half of the album. Whatever. I like it.

Two Truths and a Lie.

So, I’ve started another Future Learn course. This one is called “Start Writing Fiction,” and even though technically I started writing fiction a long time ago, I’m super excited to see where it takes me.

The first exercise we did was to write a short paragraph containing two elements of fact, and one of fiction, on any subject. Then, we were asked to flip it around and write a paragraph with two elements of fiction and only one fact.

Harder than it sounds, actually. Somehow having to combine fiction and non-fiction really got my head screwed up. Maybe you Historical Fiction writers out there are sniggering behind your fingers at me right now, since this is kinda what you DO, but we all have to begin somewhere.

Anywhoo, just a fun little exercise, in case you want to try it.

And here were my paragraphs, in case you’d like to have a stab at guessing where the lies are:

1 Fact, 3 Fiction: 
I woke up to the sound of sirens this morning and groaned, unable to muster any concern about the reason. It’s hard to take an interest in anything on three hours of sleep. Those thoughtless neighbors of mine had another of their wild parties last night. Or morning, depending on how you look at it. There had been a lot of screaming, I remembered vaguely as the sirens turned onto my street.

3 Fact, 1 Fiction: 
My partner gave my hip a gentle shove, spinning me out under the arc of his raised arm. It was our third dance together, spread out over a dizzying night of Big Band Jazz, swirling skirts, and blurred smiles. “Come here often?” he asked as he pulled me back in. 
“Not as often as I’d like.” 
“Well then, we’d better make it last. What do you think about getting some food when this is over?” 
I smiled up at him. “I think that’s a brilliant plan.”

And feel free to post your paragraphs in the comments, if you’d like! I love this game.

Music for Winter Dreaming.

Well, it’s the final month of 2016, which means it’s time for the final Adam Young film score.

This one is based on Ernest Shackleton’s fateful voyage to Antarctica in The Endurance.

It genuinely has a track for every writing mood, from the quirky waltz of “Hoist Sail,” through the slow dreams of “Ocean Camp,” to the excitement of “The March.”

Highly recommended.

As always, you can find it on his website, download it from iTunes or Apple Play, or you can listen to it right here via Spotify.

Enjoy!

Get Out of Your House.

 

In this crazy month of messed up sleep patterns and gosh-awful writing that values quantity over quality against all the rules of art, it can sometimes be tempting to bury your laptop, notebook, fountain pen, clay tablet, cave wall, or whatever your preferred writing tools happen to be in a deep hole and simply dive headfirst into bed, with no intentions of emerging until December 1st.

Goodness golly gosh, Hemingway would be so proud of that sentence.

Anyway, you can all relate to this temptation, right? Or even the much simpler and more responsible temptation of diving into a book, or even into neglected housework, if the opportunity presents itself. And let’s face it, in our own homes, those temptations rear their attractive heads on a daily basis.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your writing is to get out of your house. Get away from all the things you’d rather do than string words together. Get away from all the chores that are clamoring to be done.

For some lucky people who live in places blessed with beautiful weather, this might be easy. They can just get out into nature and be alone with their pen. This, of course, doesn’t work if you live in a rain puddle like I do.

For other focused souls, this might mean going down to the local coffee shop with a big pair of headphones and clacking away at their keyboard until they get somewhere. Unfortunately, I’m a people watcher, so I get easily distracted when I try to write in public spaces.

But here’s where I get lucky: I’m known in my little community as the girl who works from home, and is therefore usually available for house/pet sitting at a moment’s notice. It’s been pretty handy at a couple of points, especially for a person like me who doesn’t feel naturally comfortable with using other people’s stuff.

During NaNoWriMo, I’ve been called upon to go and spend the day at a good friend’s house several times so their young dog doesn’t have to stay in her kennel for an extended period of time while the owners are gone. This has worked out great, because not only do I get to hang out with this cutie,

img_20161012_105236

but I also know that, once I convince her that my pen is not for eating, I can get a lot of words written, simply due to the fact that I bring nothing with me except my writing tools, and I have no other potential responsibilities other than tossing a tennis ball occasionally.

It’s a method that works for me, anyway.

So if you’re finding yourself easily distracted, or tempted to do anything, even cleaning toilets, rather than be forced to dredge words out of your own mind, find yourself an accommodating puppy to chill with.

Or just go out somewhere, whatever works for you.