Tips from Other People, Part 4.

“I am a writer!” This is one of the most important and freeing statements any of us ever makes. It’s almost a rite of passage. The moment you can look your banker/hairdresser/pastor/aunt in the eye and tell them (without mumbling) that you are writer, hear you type—well, then, congratulations, you’ve crossed an important threshold in claiming…

via Are You a Writer or a Storyteller? — Helping Writers Become Authors

Funny, I never really thought about the difference between being a natural Writer vs. a natural Storyteller… Seems like it should have been an obvious, since I’m constantly bemoaning the fact that I’m not so great at developing plots, but once I have something, getting it down on paper is the easy part. I guess that makes me a Writer, doesn’t it?

This blog post, by the lovely K.M. Weiland, shares good tips for strengthening your weak area, whether it is telling the story or writing it down.

Nerding about Stuff I don’t Understand.

Occasionally, I like keeping myself inspired by blowing my own mind. One of the ways I like to do this is by doing some science research. I don’t have a math/science brain, so I never have any idea what I’m studying, but it’s sure fun.

Now, this all started with a friend of mine. Unlike me, she has an extremely math/science brain, and one day several years ago, I noticed that her “light summer reading” happened to be a book on string theory. It sounded interesting, so I asked her to explain it. Which she did. I didn’t understand a word of it. Nevertheless, it still sounds interesting, so I decided to dip into it a bit today. I started off with a bunch of super-nerd websites that may or may not have been written in English; I really couldn’t say. But eventually I discovered (with relief) a TED talk. TED talks are always life-savers.

After that, I found an article which tells me that, basically, we still have no idea what’s going on, and string theory probably isn’t the “theory of everything” people were hoping for. Everything we thought we had a handle on turns out to be just the tip of the iceberg. Unsurprising, really.

Okay, now that my mind is well and truly boggled, I’ll just toss in a gloriously hyperlinked Wikipedia article on that Large Hadron Collider (yes, that is its official, highly scientific name) the TED guy mentioned.

I’ll just finish off by saying that the thing about all this that I find the easiest to wrap my head around is the idea of multiple dimensions that we can’t see. My initial reaction was, “Well, of course. Every three-year-old church kid knows that.” Nothing new here, moving on. Anyways, that just struck me as kind of funny.

And again, I really don’t have any idea what all this actually means, or even if it’s still something that scientists take seriously. It’s just an idea that I like. I’m just a writer, okay?

 

 

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.