Hello Fiction Lovers!
First of all, I want to apologize for getting this out late. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about this week and I took so long debating it that Monday was over before I got to writing it. That said, lately I’ve thinking about active characters and so I finally decided that I should write about them.
In my experience, readers a very partial to active characters over passive characters. I think this is because we would rather see someone working toward something instead something being done to someone. The latter can be frustrating, especially when it happens over and over again, which is never a terrible fun emotion to feel. The frustration with the character can lead to frustration with the book/story and can cause a reader to stop reading–something no writer wants, and most likely the reader isn’t satisfied with having to put a book down either. That isn’t to say that a character can’t be passive, just that they shouldn’t be passive all the time. When a character, especially a main character, is passive continuously it raises the question of what they are contributing to the story, why they are there, because it feels like they can be replaced with any other passive person and the story would be the same. So, when you’re writing make sure that you give reasons/let the characters take actions to show why they are the ones that must be in this particular story.
There are two reasons why I think some writers have trouble writing active characters: they think they are writing active characters but their characters are reacting instead of acting, and they place their characters in confining places/situations so it seems like there is nothing for their characters to do. To solve the first problem, I would ask yourself if something happens and then your characters act, because that is an example of reacting and reacting is more passive. Let your characters make a plan and act on it to move the plot forward instead. Reaction can be fine, especially when characters are caught off-guard but please don’t use it for every plot point. As for the second problem, remember that every action doesn’t have to be some huge story altering thing. Maybe your character just wants a piece of cheese or to make friends with the prisoner in the next cell over. If they are stuck in a cell or some other place where they can’t move around much let them make a plan to escape or to minimize the danger/discomfort they are in, and then let them act on that plan.
I hope that this was helpful and please let me know if you have any questions! Feel free to post your thoughts on active characters in the comments and I hope you all have a good week!
Hello Fiction Lovers!
First of all, Happy New Year! I hope all of you had a good end to 2017 and that the new year is going well. Now that 2017 has ended I’ve begun to reflect more deeply on the new things I started during the year. There are several different things I’m glad I did, but the pertinent one is starting this blog. Truth be told, I was hesitant to start blogging for a long time because I was worried about having enough ideas to post something every week and because of the time commitment. Even though I do struggle with those things from time to time I can say that it has been worth it for a few different reasons.
The main reason is that I’ve become more connected to other writers and people interested in fiction. Blogging has connected me to people from all over the world, and that is a wonder and joy to me that I wouldn’t have known in the same way otherwise. It’s also opened up a way for me to find more blogs about writing and fiction than I had been able to find just by googling. I hope that in the year to come blogging will continue to expand my awareness of the community of writers and readers that I have the privilege of participating in.
Another reason I’m glad I started blogging is that it has helped me put my thoughts about writing and fiction into words. What was before an abstract idea or feeling in my head now has a place to be formed into words. By expanding my awareness of other writers and their ideas, blogging has also helped me augment and revise my own ideas. Since I find it enjoyable to deepen my understanding of the craft–and because it is good to learn about something you have an interest in–that has helped my writing as well as given me fun, new blog posts to read.
Has blogging helped you in some way and–if you have a blog–why are you glad you started blogging? Feel free to answer in the comments or let me know if you have any questions. I hope you all have a good week!
Hello Fiction Lovers!
So lately I’ve been thinking about reading some of the books on my shelf again and made me realize how little I’ve reread books in the past few years. I used to be better about rereading books, but now I tend only to reread my top five or so books and even then I’ll skip to my favorite scenes in the book. I guess my perspective switched from wanting to immerse myself in the world again and delighting in finding out what I missed the first time to feeling like I already remember everything that happened in a book I already read and craving something new. Has that happened to you at all? I am starting to find a balance between reading old books and finding new ones, I think, and enjoying both experiences. I’ve learned that if I listen to a book I’ve already read on Audible I won’t skip through it and that experiencing the book in a different way helps me pick out the things I didn’t remember or realize from the first time I read it. It’s helping me realize that I really don’t remember a lot of what happened in the books I read years and that reading them again can be like reading them for the first time–with just a tad more insight into what might happen.
I’ve also started rereading more books because when I get in the mood for a certain type of book (romantic fantasy, for example) the same books that I’ve already read pop up, and it can be difficult to find new ones even though I know that thousands of books get published every year. Do you have difficulty finding new books as well? Also, if you have any recommendations I’d appreciate it if you put them in the comments. It would be interesting to see your favorites and what you all are reading. I’ve been listening to the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher on Audible and it’s been pleasantly surprising to see how much I didn’t remember and fun to try to make connections based off of what I did remember.
In short, I guess, is that I would recommend rereading some books along with reading new ones. It’s fun to rediscover what made you love a book/series in the first place and to realize that sometimes your memories of a book don’t actually do it justice.
Thank you all for reading this post and I hope you have a great week! Again, please let me know if you have any recommendations for books to read in the comments or feel free to post your own thoughts on rereading books. Also, please let me know if you have any questions about writing or fiction books.
Hello Fiction Lovers!
For this week I thought I’d share some of my favorite quotes about writing. Whenever I see them I start thinking about how I can write better and/or these quotes make me want to write. So without further ado, here they are:
“If there is a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that simple and that hard.”
“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
–W. Somerset Maugham
“Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e, do not cave into endless requests to have ‘essential’ and ‘long overdue’ meetings on those days.”
–J. K. Rowling
“Have a point.”
–Phillip Round (My Lit. Professor)
Most of these are classics that I’ve seen time and again when I’m looking up stuff about writing, but even with that repetition they still hold true for me and don’t get old. Do you have quotes or sayings that stand up to the test of time as well? Let me know in the comments. Also, if you have any questions feel free to ask me those as well and I hope you all have a good week!
Hello Fiction Lovers!
So lately I’ve been thinking about all the different ways we can read and experience books now. I have physical copies of books, three different reading apps (Kindle, Nook, and iBooks) and I listen to books on Audible. For Kindle I can either read the books on my phone or the reading tablet that I was given as a present. Considering all the different ways I can access and experience books now, it got me wondering if those ways affect my reading or my perception of the books I’m reading.
I know that for the apps many of the books I have on them come from the free or 99 cent books I find on BookBub. Because of that I tend to think of those books as more superficial; I don’t expect them to be as well written as the books that I invest in getting a physical copy of. Many of the books I also get from BookBub are romances and the predictability of many of the books’ story arcs also lend to that impression, I believe. I still enjoy them, but I also tend to pick them because the books I just have on the apps I tend to view as lighter reads, where I don’t have to put as much effort in as reader to understand the book’s world and story. I also get books on the apps because of the convenience of it, and sometimes I will get a more fantasy heavy book or one I’ve been looking forward to on there so that I can read it right away and those I’ll read on the tablet instead of on my phone. However, I’m more likely to get a book on Audible for those reasons because I have more time to listen to a book lately than to actually sit down and read one. I also enjoy what a narrator’s voice and inflections can do to add to the experience of reading, though there are times when I’ll prefer to read the book with only my own take on the words. Using Audible also helps stop me from skipping forward in book when I can barely stand not knowing what happens at the end/how everything gets resolved or if the characters I’m shipping get together. It makes me experience the book as a whole and I am grateful for that because that also helps improve my appreciation of the books.
I do have a goal of getting a physical copy of every book I enjoyed reading and creating my own library, whether or not I already have those books on Audible or one of the apps. Sometimes I need the weight of a book and the feel of actual pages to ground me in the fact that I’m reading an actual book, and I’d like to have that experience with all the books I’ve read and enjoyed. I do still tend to refer to physical copies of books as actual books and I think that’s why I also tend to view the books I have on the Apps–other than Audible–as fluffier books even thought I know they are all actual books in their own right.
Have you noticed if your perception changes depending on how you read books? Let me know down in the comments or if you have any questions. I hope you all have a fun reading filled week!
Hello Fiction Lovers!
So today I thought I’d write about how difficult it can be to write (or simply be productive) when you have a cat. I love my cat, Carmel, but she seems to have an agenda to keep me from writing. She’ll ignore me when I’m seeking her out to pet her or when I’m procrastinating, but as soon as I’m ready to be productive there she is, ready to be petted and generally admired. So I thought I’d share some of the common scenarios that seem to happen and see if any of you had similar experiences.
The most common is when I’ll sit down in a chair and start pulling out my laptop. Suddenly, she’ll be in my lap, purring, and begging to be petted while taking up the room where the laptop was supposed to go. Since it’s almost a crime to push a cat off your lap or get up once they’ve chosen you I’ll typically end up having to put my laptop off to the side on the armrest and type one-handed. If I try to type with both hands she’ll generally get in the way even more until I actually pet her with one hand. So writing is still feasible when this happens, but a lot slower and a little tedious.
Another scenario is when she’ll actually sit or lay across the keyboard to stop me from writing. That’s typically a progression from the last scenario because I wasn’t paying attention to her enough. Given that Carmel is adorable and that writing is next to impossible when she does that, the best policy is to pet her until she has enough and leaves. A bittersweet moment, but then I can do what I set out to do.
The last situation I’ll mention is when the weather is nice and I’ll have noble intentions to write outside so I can also feel the sunshine. I’ll get outside and set up my writing spot–whether that’s a blanket on the ground or in a chair–and be already to write, but she’ll conspire with my dog to be as cute and needy as possible. Pictures will need to be taken, bellies rubbed, and some failed attempts at fetch with the dog before writing can occur. However, by that point I’ll tend to be too hot or realize I can’t see the computer screen in the sunlight and I’ll have to retreat inside before the writing actually happens.
Do you have stories of trying to write but pets getting in the way? Let me know in the comments! Also feel free to let me know if you have any questions and I hope you all have a great week!
Hello Fiction Lovers!
First I would like to apologize for getting this post to you late. It’s midterm season and studying has made me busier than normal. This week I’ve been thinking about character motivation because on of my professors pointed out that writers, typically, seem to focus on more what a character fears or dislikes rather than what they love. She challenged us to come up with three things the main characters in the short stories we are writing for the class love. It was more difficult than I thought it would be.
The challenge served as a reminder that even though what a character fears/dislikes. what bad things happen to them, typically drive a story forward a writer can’t forget to add in good things too. You don’t have to force the good things into the story, just like it’s a bad idea to the same for more tragic things, but knowing what they are and keeping them in mind as you write can help flesh out a character and the story. The character will strive just as much, if not more, to obtain the things they love rather than just escaping the things they fear. Often too fear and bad decisions can come out of love and good intentions. Knowing those things can make your character’s motivation more nuanced and realistic. And that will be more interesting for your readers.
It’s good to remember to let the motivation flow from the story instead of trying to force a trope or other idea to work. It might take you a few tries but the character will let you know why they are doing what they are doing as you write and edit the story. It might seem clunky at first when you are getting the basic idea for the story down but as you flesh out the story and learn more about the characters their motivations will be more clear, and those motivations won’t always be a tragic backstory. A tragic backstory is good for some types of characters but others accidentally became involved with whatever the story is about and are trying to return to their normal life or want to make the best of it, a few had good childhoods and want others to have the same or got bored by it and decided to something a little more exciting. It all depends on the character. Write the story and listen to them.
Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions! I hope you all have a fun week.
Hello Fiction Lovers!
Today I thought I’d a little about world building and how deciding on a certain climate and landscape combined with the society’s values that live there can vastly influence influence your story, even if only in the background. I also thought that since I’ve been talking more about my current writing recently that I’d continue on that theme.
In A Cursed Blessing for nine months out of the year it is snowy and cold, the other three months have comparatively mild weather. This makes agriculture more difficult but the society is not a hunting and gathering one that follows an animal’s migration. As for the landscape there is a large forest in the south and a few smaller ones scattered throughout the country. The rest of the landscape is more hilly and the whole country is surrounded by mountains. Because, of the society’s fear of their goddess, however, they rarely cut down the trees for fuel or to make things. The cold climate has also caused them to put extra significance on fire and they’ll heat brands with it to mark themselves with symbolic symbols.
All this, I hope, creates an interesting background for my story, but it has also raised some questions that I didn’t have when I first started writing it. Issues such as what do they make their houses and furniture and writing implements out of if they don’t use wood? How do they feed themselves and what do they eat? What animals and plants can survive under such conditions? How does the climate affect the society and religion? Some of these questions I don’t have answers to yet, but I’ll need to know them to fully flesh out the world my characters are living in and make sure there are no logistical errors that will break readers’ suspension of disbelief. Of course, not all the questions always need to be answered but the big ones do such as the problem of food. Everything still has to be believable. Also, you don’t need to worry about the questions right away, but as you write and the world is created it can be good to consider them. Sometimes they can lend a whole new depth to the world and influence the plot in ways you couldn’t have imagined before exploring them.
Resources are important; survival depends upon some of them and wars can be fought over both necessary and luxury resources. Climate, landscape, and society’s values all affect both the availability of resources and the lack of them. They will affect your story, even if only in the background, so they are important to consider once you’ve made decent headway into your story or during the editing process.
Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions! I hope you all have a great week!
Hello Fiction Lovers!
So lately I’ve been thinking about magical powers because in the manuscript I’m currently writing everyone has some type of power. Most people in A Cursed Blessing can light a few candles at a time at will while a minority of the population have individual powers that no one else has. Those with the common power are considered blessed and those with a unique power are considered cursed and are looked down upon. It got me wondering if I could have a magical power if I would rather have a small, useful one that’s accepted and that everyone else has, or if I’d rather have a unique one that I can call my own but makes me an outcast.
I switched back and forth between the two for a while. The rebellious part of me said “of course you’d want a unique power no matter what anyone else thought” while the rest of me argued that “having a power you know is useful, even it’s small, would be a better bet. It’s also a plus if you don’t have to worry about being oppressed”. If I could pick which unique power I got, I think I would pick having a unique power. Being able to unlock everything I touched or influencing plants/the weather or having super healing would be really interesting. However, since I couldn’t, that makes me lean towards being able to light a few candles, because I could just easily get a power that isn’t very interesting or helpful. The more practical side of me wins out.
What about you? Which type of magical power would you rather have and why?
Feel free to respond in the comments and let me know if you have any questions. Thanks for reading and have a great week!
Hello Fiction Lovers!
This week I thought I’d step away from the more technical side of writing and throw my two cents in about something people love to complain and give advice about: not having enough time to do the things we want to do, the things we have to do, and the things others want us to do. I know I’ve complained about the amount of classes and homework I have, the number of clubs I’m participating in, the lack of weekends because of my part-time job, the cost of procrastinating, and not having enough time to pick up all the hobbies I want to do, read all the books I want to read, watch all the shows that vie for my attention. I complain everyday as well as swapped advice even though I dislike the fact that I do so.
Perhaps you’re wondering why you should care? Perhaps you would like to point out that I’m participating in those very acts right now? In reply, at the risk of sounding pompous, I’ll say that you should care because that focus on time is part of what’s hindering us and I know. There have been nights when I’ve lain awake worrying about the lack of time to take care of all my responsibilities and wants and realized that I wasted more than it’s fair share of time worrying about time and effectively doing nothing but making myself feel guilty. Doing so doesn’t help. I realized, too, that I wasn’t enjoying the activities I was participating in as much because I was always worried about the next thing and how much time everything took. To tell the truth I still am, but accepting that I’m only this busy because I decided to do all these things has helped a bit, brought some of the fun back instead of feeling as though I was slowly being compressed.
This worry–obsession–with time stems somewhat from my culture of things always needing to get better, quicker, faster. It makes it difficult to enjoy the moment and remember that not every moment of everyday has to be productive. We–or at least I do–need downtime to recuperate, think through things, breathe so we don’t end up pushing too hard and breaking. There is a balance to be found and I am still working on finding it, especially since I tend to like to binge things (binge watch, binge read, binge work). It’s not so much the matter of not having enough time as learning to be selective, know what’s important, not be a pushover. It’s understanding that time isn’t a commodity that’s continually slipping through my fingers, but something I should be glad to have at all. It might sound cliche, but I think if I started appreciating time more instead of complaining and worrying about it, I’d find I suddenly have more of it.
Thanks for reading and listening to my musing. Let me know if you have any questions and feel free to post your thoughts in the comments. I hope you all have a great week!