NaNoWriMo

Hello Fiction Lovers!

Since it’s been about a week since NaNoWriMo started this year I thought it’d be good to talk about it this week. For those of you who might not know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it occurs during November every year. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to writing 50,000 words by the end of the month. It also has a website that has forums that give advice on many different topics such as characters, plotting help, and naming things and they send out pep talks to help writers keep writing (https://nonowrimo.org). Through their website you can also join a regional group that helps give encouragement and that you can connect with though you don’t have to do so. NaNoWriMo is good at making the act of writing a more social thing–if you go to the website–and that can help make those 50,000 words seem a little less daunting because you know thousands of other people are trying to reach that goal as well and that makes their encouragement a bit more meaningful.

I like NaNoWriMo a lot, but I have to be truthful and say that I haven’t yet reached the 50,000 word goal in the years that I’ve done it. However, I did write more in a more consistent manner in November than I would have otherwise, so I would still recommend participating even if you don’t think you’ll reach the goal or think it’s too late to try since you missed the first week. It also opens a good way to get in contact with other writers to make friends and possibly get feedback on your work in the future. They also focus a lot on putting aside your inner editor and just getting words on the page, which I’ve never been as good at, but even if you do still edit some it can still help you focus more on the story than what it looks/sounds like. That can help you write more and make it so you don’t spend more time editing that writing when the first draft isn’t even finished.

This year instead of working on a single project I decided to count any words that I write for fun and that aren’t part of a school assignment or other required activity, only what I want to and because I feel the need to write. If you want to find me on the NaNoWriMo website my username is Corinelle.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions! Feel free to post about your own NaNoWriMo experiences in the comments and I hope you all have a fun writing filled week!

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Character Motivation

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.

Story Prompt Benefits

Hello Fiction Lovers!

First of all, I would like to apologize for not getting this (and the story prompt) posted yesterday. Things got a little hectic and I somehow managed to forget it was Monday.

This week I wanted to talk about the benefits of story prompts/writing prompts since I post them every week. There are, of course, the obvious benefits of having an idea to write from when you seem to can’t think of anything yourself and to help get the writing flowing when your muse is being particularly uncooperative. The nice thing about story prompts is that they can prompt your own ideas as well. You don’t have to take every prompt at face value, but can change it if it sparks a different idea (i.e. if the MC of prompt is a female you could change it to a male or lizard-person that doesn’t have a set gender).

Another thing story prompts can help with is getting to you writing things outside your comfort zone, trying something new. I’ve writing stories I never would have thought of writing because of story prompts and now I’m glad I wrote them. It helped broaden my understanding of the situations and types of characters the story prompts promoted. Perhaps they will do the same for you.

A last benefit to story prompts is that they can be fun and without the pressure of writing a larger work. Sure, they can develop into that but I don’t think I’ve ever looked for a story prompt with the intent to turn it into a novel. They can help remind you that writing is fun when you when you need to take a break from your work in progress because of a difficult scene, but still want to write.

So I do suggest using a story prompt every now and then, and making it your own. No one every seems to come up with the same story despite using the same prompt and I always think that’s wonderful and amazing. Perhaps, too, you’ll get a new interesting character, scene, or plot line to expand upon or use in another work.

Please let me know if you have any questions or if there’s anything you think I missed. Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a fun time reading and writing!

A Way to Keep Writing

Hello Fiction Lovers!

For those of you who are writers like me I thought it would be good to share how I battle writer’s block every week. I think of myself as a fairly busy person, especially during the school year, between classes, a part-time job, clubs, studying, and keeping in contact with friends and family as well as having this blog. There would be a lot of times when I would use that busyness as an excuse not to write because I was too tired, should interact with people, eat regular meals–in short, do  actual things, things that would garner immediate results. But writing is an actual thing and does garner actual results such as being closer to finishing the manuscript I’m working on. I just had to accept the fact that I needed to put the effort in to do the thing I loved doing, even when it was difficult and writer’s block was staring me in the face.

So I started writing story sections and sending them out every week to friends and family who would be willing to read them. Most people say not to share what you are currently writing with others but, for me, doing so gave me the kick I needed to start writing regularly. I knew I had to send something out every week because they were expecting to receive a story section. There was no room for excuses: either I sent one out or I didn’t. An added bonus was that for those readers who have the time and are willing I also get feedback as I’m writing which helps me know what I need to work on as I write (another thing I know people advise against, but it means instead of having to edit and overhaul something once I finish the whole manuscript I can do it right then and keep having it fixed). Now I aim for at least 2,000 words a week and send out questions about each section for those readers who want to answer. They aren’t really beta readers but I have found their advice does help as well as simply being accountable to send out the story section. Since I’ve started doing this I think I’ve only missed sending out the story sections twice in almost a year.

If following the traditional advice hasn’t been working for you feel free to try this out or do something completely different. One thing that doing the story sections has reminded me of is that while the traditional advice can be helpful, it doesn’t work for everyone, and if it doesn’t work for you, you don’t have to follow it. They aren’t rules, only guidelines.

Please let me know if you have any questions and feel free to comment below. If anyone would like to receive the story sections let me know and I can get it arranged. I hope you all have a good week and thanks for reading!

Conflicting Emotions

Hello Fiction Lovers!

Lately, I’ve been reading the Last Herald-Mage series by Mercedes Lackey (whose interesting books I would recommend by the way) and her writing and characters have reminded me that characters–like real-life people–can have conflicting emotions. Sometimes when I’m writing I’m so focused on what the character is supposed to feel or how they are going to react that I find I forget that they can conflicting emotions. Having conflicting emotions can make them feel more like actual people and tie in other parts of the story to the scene you’re writing. No scene or dialogue is in a vacuum which means the emotions driving that scene or dialogue can’t be located in one either. People feel lots of different things at once about different things and more than likely they will feel those things at the same time.

Having conflicting emotions can also help with character development and motivation. It can help the reader know what is more important to the character based on what they are having conflicting feels about and what emotion they end up acting upon. A character who really wants a book but won’t go get it because they are afraid of the adult standing near it, and a character who really wants a book but doesn’t get it because they are worried about their financial situation are two very different people. The result is the same, but emotional impact and knowledge of the character is very different. Also, if the reader is told the character wants a book but doesn’t end up getting one without another emotional reason as to why the scene feels unfinished, lackluster, or confusing.

You don’t have to use conflicting emotions all the time but making use of them can make your story feel more cohesive and flow better. It can also break up the monotony of a character only being driven by one emotion–something that becomes unrealistic quickly and that becomes boring. Conflicting emotions can also point to internal vs external conflicts and pressures in the story.

I hope this post helped and let me know if you have any questions. Feel free to post your thoughts or anything you think I missed in the comments. I hope you all have a good week!

Holidays in Fiction

Hello Fiction Lovers!

This week I thought I’d talk about including ceremonies and holidays in fiction becuase of Memorial Day. Whenever I see a ceremony/holiday included in a story–whether in a passing comment or actually making an impact on the plot–it always seems to make the world the story is set in more immersive.

People celebrate, they mourn, and usually at some point during the year in an actual culture both things are recognized in the form of a holiday. Whether that means celebrating a new year or remembering the dead cultures set aside times to let people break away from their daily lives. How that gets manifested and what gets deemed important enough to get a holiday can provide great insight into a culture and the people belonging to it. They can also help show the divides between people if different cultures are mixed together and don’t celebrate the same things or different ways. Holidays also help show the passing of time in a story and that the story isn’t being told in a vacuum–there is a larger world that this story is a part of and is affected by.

Ceremonies can also be good to include or mention, becuase they can also help show what is important to a culture and add more depth to worldbuilding. They help mark things that don’t always happen annually but are still important to a society such as becoming an adult, getting married, and reaching a certian point in education or religion. Depending on what is emphasized during a ceremony will also reveal things that culture values, which could be anything from honor to cunning to being a certain gender.

Holidays and ceremonies give something for characters to look forward to and talk about as well as showing their values and how well they might know a culture. It makes the worldbuilding more believable and immersive. Though that isn’t to say that you should just include a holiday/ceremony without any rhyme or reason. Both are shaped by culture and so they must fit into the culture to make sense and add to the world.

Feel free to post any comments if you have anything to add or think I missed something, and let me know if you have any questions! I wish you all happy reading and writing. 🙂

Diagonal Dialogue

Hello Fiction Lovers!

First I would like to apologize for not getting this posted yesterday. My internet stopped working and I didn’t have a way to get to a place that had internet and was still open by the time I had a chance to write.

As for the topic for today lately I’ve been thinking about “diagonal dialogue”. It’s a term I first heard in one of my writing classes. It’s what happens when characters are talking to each other but not neccessarily answering what the other is saying. Instead they are responding to what the actual problem is or what’s important to them. For example, when Character A keeps complaining about how pretty another character is and Character A’s friend forces them to face their insecurity. Or when one character wants to stay and the other character wants them to leave and both are pretending to talk about different character, propriety, candy, or anything else, really.

Diagonal dialogue isn’t lying (though that can have it’s own interesting implications and uses) but is instead when the topic of conversation isn’t what’s actually as important. The important thing is the tension between the characters as they try to lead the conversation in the direction they want it to go–the tension that’s created by what they choose to say and what’s left unsaid.

I find that when I try to write diagonal dialogue the conversation becomes more interesting and gets closer to the  heart of the story. It helps to create better dialogue becuase it doesn’t allow the characters to talk about nothing, becuase even if they are only talking about the weather on the surface other clues show that more is at stake. An important thing to remember is that dialogue isn’t just things that are said but includes body language as well, and diagonal dialogue makes use of both (as any good dialogue should).

Of course, not all conversations between characters have to use diagonal dialogue, but making use of it now and again can be a good exercise and can help characters approach topics that otherwise would be too painful or awkward and such to broach.

Let me know if you have any questions and I hope you all enjoy the rest of your day!

Writing Resources

Hello Fiction Lovers!

I know I don’t have a lot on this website yet so I thought I would point you towards a few resources that have helped me.

The first is a fun and to-the-point writer and vlogger Jenna Moreci. You can find her videos on YouTube though she’s on various other social media outlets like Twitter. She gives a lot of great advice on how to keep writing as well as characters, the do’s and don’ts, and self-publishing.

The second a website called fantasy-faction.com which does everything from tips on writing to book reviews to writing contests. It’s become my number one spot to go to check on anything fantasy related. The tips on writing cover all the basics as well as some more interesting topics like what to consider when writing a siege and medicine in fantasy.

The last is a magazine that can be found at thefirstline.com. As the name suggests the contest provides the first line and you create a story using it. it’s a fun way to come up with a new story idea and you gain the chance to earn $25-50 for fiction, $10 for poetry, and $25 for nonfiction (all US dollars) if you submit. It’s free to submit but they do ask that you not publish anything using their first lines until they’ve notified you of their decision to accept your work or not. The next submission deadline is August 1st, 2017.

I hope you all find these resources as helpful as I do. Let me know if you have any questions. Good luck with your writing and/or finding another great fiction book to read!