Tag Archives: writing advice

Story Weaving on Steroids: Real People Create Real Characters

22 Oct

This is part of a series of post that gives you tips, tricks, and dirty little secrets that will help pump up your plot, and make your story an irresistible read! Today’s trick:

Using real people to make real characters.

A question authors are often asked is “are your characters based on people you know?” most of the time the author will answer no, but let’s be honest the answer is probably yes, because if there is one thing authors are good at it’s cheating at writing.

Basing characters off real people is cheating, and it’s also genius!

Using a real person as a base for a character much like you would use white as a base for paint leads to amazing things. How so? After all, real people generally don’t have lives that are spicy enough for fiction.

Well, take a person I know. Let’s call him “John”

John’s older now, but his whole life while living in the mid-west he struggled with a drinking addiction. He’s been divorced once, and had two kids with the woman, but he has now remarried and his kids grew up with his new wife and their mother. After his remarriage he found help with his addiction and now lives happily.

Okay, that’s all well and fine, but there is no plot to John’s life. You can’t just write THAT story. But you CAN write one with someone like him. Now comes the imaginative part.

Change John’s life. Make it more tragic, more weird, or more adventurous.

For instance lets pull John out of the mid-west and stick him in England. He’s a young 23-year-old drunken Englishman in (instead of the late 1980’s) (the early 1900’s )lets say 1910. His wife didn’t leave him because of his drinking, he killed her in a fit of rage during one of his many drunken bouts. Now he can’t stand the sight of blonde women. He placed his young daughter (instead of daughters) into an orphanage to cover up the murder. He dumped his wife’s body in the river and now slogs about the bar near the river’s bridge often looking out at the water pondering suicide, until…. he meets an extraordinary woman who….

Who what?

From there you take the story where ever it may please to go.

But, just from that paragraph you have an excellent idea about who your MC is. Granted, we embellished John’s life almost to the point of  being in-recognizable, but John is still real and still very much there, and that is what makes the character seem real!

I am totally in favor of stealing people’s lives for novels. Are you?

My First True Love(s)

25 Sep

From the time I was little I was in love with stories. Movies, plays, books anything that wasn’t kindergarten napping and hopscotch I was into. I desperately wanted something exciting to happen to me, something that happened to characters in books. I wanted to sprout wings, or find out I was a missing princess like Anastasia.

Naturally then, I had my favorite stories, and my favorite characters. I had particularly bad little girl crushes on Peter Pan and Dickon from The Secret Garden.

To This day I’m not sure what the appeal of these two were as compared to the princes of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Maybe it was the fact that Peter Pan was utterly wild and incredulous, while the Princes of Disney had little else but their title.

Oh Golly! If you don’t find this adorable you’re on crack!

Peter Pan always held a special place in my heart. He was unruly and lets not forget musical (pan pipes). Not to mention an excellent leader (he could rally 12 boys under the age of 13 and that’s a tough job for anyone). Besides that he was an extraordinary fighter (beating up a  pirate 3 times his age and half his wit). And boy was he witty. Even at 7 years old I  couldn’t help but falling in love with people’s wit and Peter Pan’s was no exception.

Then there was the fact that he was utterly magically, and could freakin’ fly! If that wasn’t reason enough to want to marry him then i don’t know what is. So there is my explanation for being in love with Peter Pan. Makes sense.

Then there was Dickon. Oh Dickon, sweet, adorable, animal charmer Dickon! That should be enough to make any girl swoon right there. Let’s not even MENTION the fact that he has an accent (an adorable little scots-irishaccent)! Plus he’s all in love with animals and the wind in his hair and stuff like that and as a little suburbs

It’s like The Notebook for 10 year olds! 😀 *I’m squealing on the inside*

girl I wanted so badly to run out on the ‘Moore’ with him. Plus, he could tame a WILD PONY. Every little girl wants a pony and if a boy could tame a wild pony and give it to me I’m pretty dang sure I would marry him to this day. Nuff said.

Oh and on top of that he would Push Mary on the swing in the garden and that was just too cute! He was a perfect little gentleman, which is the complete opposite of Peter. Who in retrospect was a total player who flirted with Mermaids, and probably joked around with Wendy way too much. He will just never grow up. So immature (haha)!

What do my fictious love interests have to do with writing.

Well, just recently I realized that right there (those two characters) are excellent examples of how to make love interests interesting. They (even as children) had the makings of great men. And so I will now got pat myself on the back for discovering that I have great taste in fictitious boys. Their characters would be excellent models to form an MC or a secondary character with! Now, don’t you feel like you learned something?

Did anyone else have kiddie crushes?

Sorry this post is late… Microsoft is lame and windows live didn’t post it for me! UGH! Technology 😦

Quotes for Writers

21 Sep

Just got back from a homecoming dance and it’s 11:52  that means I must do a post quickly… so enjoy these lovely quotes about writing and writers! 🙂

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

– Douglas Adams
It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.
– Robert Benchley
Being a poet is one of the unhealthier jobs–no regular hours, so many temptations!
– Elizabeth Bishop

 

A best seller was a book which somehow sold well simply because it was selling well.
– S. Boorstein
Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.
– Orson Scott Card
I firmly believe every book was meant to be written.
– Marchette Chute
A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just begins
to live that day.
– Emily Dickinson
If you start with a bang, you won’t end with a whimper.

– T.S. Eliot
At one time I thought the most important thing was talent. I think now that the young man or the young woman must possess or teach himself, training himself, in infinite patience, which is to try and to try until it comes right. He must train himself in ruthless intolerance–that is to throw away anything that is false no matter how much he might love that page or that paragraph. The most important thing is insight, that is to be–curiosity–to wonder, to mull, and to muse why it is that man does what he does, and if you have that, then I don’t think the talent makes much difference, whether you’ve got it or not.

– William Faulkner
Don’t be dismayed by the opinions of editors, or critics. They are only the traffic cops of the arts.
– Gene Fowler
I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.
– Stephen King

 

Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.
– Barbara Kingsolver
What are your favorite writing quotes?

Ally on: Being a Teen Writer

20 Sep

I feel like it’s time for a little heart to heart here guys. I just need to get this situation off my chest, because everyone else seems to have an opinion about it and so here’s my two cents on teen writers, and being one.

First off, we get a bad wrap. At least I thinks so. We can’t write anything ‘good‘, were shut ins, we drink large amounts of tea, and on top of all of this people seem to think that were just writing for fun. FUN? Whomsoever thinks writing is fun has obviously never done it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to people and when I tell them I’m a writer they’ll say over exuberantly  “Oh that’s cute!” or dreadfully, “you aren’t going to college for that are you?”. With either response you might as well of just spit in my tea and walked away.

I’m not taken seriously, and i know it. Heck, everyone knows it!

If you’re between the ages of say… 13 and 20 and drop the ‘W’ bomb you’re whole ship is sunk. You automatically become the out in space, unrealistic dreamer who obviously doesn’t have his/her head on straight and clearly, ever so clearly needs to be steered in the right direction. I can’t tell you how often my Grandmother has throw out the topic of engineer, or chemist, or (if you absolutely must) biologist when I bring up writing. And it isn’t that those aren’t good jobs, or that I couldn’t do them (or don’t want to) it’s the fact that you don’t even give writing a second thought.

No one has EVER said to me (other than fellow writers) “Why Ally, you should keep writing! You could have a future there.”

And I’m not asking for handouts, or compliments, honestly. If you want to tell me I suck at writing and am a failure and that I’ll never amount to anything in the field… fine. But don’t just skim over it like it isn’t even worth a comment, like since its worthless to you it’s worthless to me, because it’s not.

And i think that’s where the big misconception is. People think this is just something I do. They think that it’s worthless.That it’s all the papers you throw away at the end of the school year (sure you used them once, they meant something once. But no one else will want them, and eventually you’ll realize you don’t need them, and you’ll just toss it out with the trash)

But it ISN”T LIKE THAT.

Writing is something that you have to commit to. ESPECIALLY as a teen! School, sports, friends, family, clubs, a part-time job, applying for college (if your a Jr./Senior), and church (if your into that) is all on a teen’s plate. Add writing to that and, well, you could just about drop dead at the end of the day. At least I could. I suppose this isn’t just teens, but every writer with a life. (haha, what life?). What I’m saying is it’s easy as a teenager to steal every spare moment of  the day to just catch your breath, but teen writers don’t and that’s what people don’t get.

Most of the time writing isn’t fun, and we have to MAKE time to do it. We have to force ourselves to do a lot of days. And anybody who writes will tell you that isn’t easy. You have to take yourself very seriously to do it.

I take myself seriously, and I just wish other people would to. I’m not asking you to tell me I’m amazing. I’m just asking you to give me chance.

How to Break Writers Block (REPOST)

19 Sep

I know I promised a real post today, but I’m swamped with AP History homework! Big test tomorrow so in the meantime enjoy this informative post from writing-world.com! (Hey at least I’m posting I shan’t recant on my promise!)

by Jacob Myers

Writer’s block. All writers suffer from it at some point during their writing career. Some can bypass it pretty quickly, but for others, it takes time, time, and more time. Writer’s block can hit a writer at any time. You could have the best intentions to sit down and spend hours writing. You have a strong desire to write something new, refreshing… something meaningful. Yet, when you sit at your desk and put your pen to paper, your mind draws a blank. That void is simply writer’s block, and though it often seems to come at the worst time possible, thankfully, there are ways to break it.

While some see writer’s block as a sign of true weakness, an indication of doubt, or a sign that the imagination is truly failing, the fact is that writer’s block is not only common, but shows just how complicated and complex writing of all types, including fiction writing, can be. Here are some tips, tricks, and ideas to help break your writer’s block. Not all of them will work for everyone. Pick and choose which ones to try, and see how effective they are for you. If one doesn’t work, move onto the next.

1. Realize. Sometimes, as writers, we tend to drift into our stories more than we should. We tend to leave the real world and go to another. When writing, it’s important to realize that you’re only human, and while you may push and push to be the greatest fiction writer out there, the fact is that when we lose this sense of realization, our works suffer. Your imagination flags, and before you know it, there’s a huge void of nothingness floating around in your brain. There are times when, as a writer, you have to step back and realize that things won’t always go as planned. Make mistakes; they only make you a stronger writer. This just may get your brain out of a certain mindset and into one that allows you to explore and write.

2. Give yourself a break. Remember that nothing and no one is perfect. Your writing isn’t perfect, you’re not a perfect artist, nor is any other story or any other author. The point is that, as a writer, it’s not rare to set goals that are too high. High standards are great to have, but when they are too high, writer’s block can easily set in, as you’re too focused on finding that one detail that seems like pure perfection. The goals and standards you have for yourself should be attainable. Out-of-reach goals are merely that: out of reach, stressful, and frustration-inducing. Cut yourself some slack. It really does help. 3. Bend your structure. The most important part of any piece of literature, especially fiction writing, is structure. Writers tend to stick to this structure, but they often stick to it a little bit too much. Just because your story needs strict structure doesn’t mean that your ideas and imagination do as well. Restricting yourself too much can cut off your creative thinking. With so much structure, your imagination isn’t able to run wild. Instead of creating your structure out of steel, turn it into rubber — something flexible that allows you some leeway. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in a one-idea mindset.

4. Try freewriting. Freewriting allows you to take your mind off the project at hand and focus on something different. Stream-of-consciousness writing seems a bit weird to some writers, as we like to have structure and coherence, but sometimes writing something as it comes along gives our mind the freedom it needs. Freewriting is truly a gift to writers, as you’ll think of many new things you’d otherwise never consider writing down. No matter whether you’re stuck beginning a piece of work, trapped in the middle, or struggling to create a great ending, freewriting gives you the chance to think without any sort of boundaries or restrictions.

5. Think! Take some time alone, sit down, and just think. Think about the things that interest you. Think about a story or article that caught your mind recently. Think about things that always seem to catch your attention but that you don’t give much thought to. Consider your past, or future events. Think about your secrets. When you think of all these things, write them down, write about them. The point is to think about something new so that you can take your mind off the project you have it set to. Minds need and enjoy freedom, and sometimes as a writer you have to give it that. Take some time and think about something OTHER than your story, and before you know it, you’ll think about the perfect idea that brings you back to your story again.

Try these suggestions, and see which ones help to break your writer’s block. Don’t stress if your writer’s block doesn’t go away as quickly as you’d like. Give yourself and your imagination some time. Allow your expectations to settle, give your mind some rest, and soon enough the writer’s block will be a thing of the past.

Copyright © 2012 Jacob Myers

Genius and Thievery!

16 Sep

Hi everyone! I have been super busy today, and still have a ton of homework to do before I head into school tomorrow. So, for today’s post I’m totally cheating and re-posting an awesome idea from Brigid’s blog My Life as a Teenage Novelist. After you read her awesome advice below go ahead and check out her site!

Fun with Wordle

Howdy, y’all!

So, if you don’t know what Wordle is, let me briefly explain how it works. It’s a nifty little website, where you can enter a bunch of text, and then it creates a “word collage” based on what you enter. The more frequently you use a certain word, the bigger it is in the collage. Fun, right?

But not only is it fun, it’s also a useful tool for writers––because it shows you what words you might be using too much.

For example, here’s what happened when I entered the entirety of my book UNRAVELING:

 
Uh wow, the word “like” is freakin’ HUGE! Same with the word “know” … and there are a lot of other words that are relatively large. 
 
Now, this is what happened when I entered six of my books at once:
 
 
The results are actually pretty much the same. Looks like no matter what I’m writing, I use a lot of the same words. Particularly “like” and “know,” for some reason.
 
Well, I take this as a sign that I should go back through my manuscripts and take out some of those words that I’m using way too much. 
 
So, my question of the day is: What are some words that you use too much? Have you ever used Wordle to find out––and if so, did the results surprise you?
Isn’t she a genius? Check out her site!
Re-posted from My Life as a Teenage Novelist

When You have a Pile of Sawdust: BURN IT.

11 Sep

Day 1/17

The pathetic side of my life exists when I find myself at my desk staring at a color-coded planner and eating whole grain pop tarts. Why I even bother to get the whole grain I don’t know, because there’s no way they actually have nutritional value even with the added saw dust fiber. So, as I pathetically sit at my desk eating pop tarts I have decided to talk about keeping things real up in here, at Novel Ideas. After all, if I can’t be honest with you all who can I be honest with?

Honestly I haven’t written in over a month. Sad. Sad, sadness. *cries* The last thing I worked on was ABLAZE and oh god it’s terrible. It’s really, really ,really abominable and dreadful and.. ugh. Bad. I know I say this every time I write a first draft, but oh god it’s just THAT bad. But since I sad I would finish it, I’m going to, dreadful as it is. Now that I have that slime wiped off my chest we can get on with what to do when you have a large pile of ugh… saw dust (lets go with that since it ties in with my first paragraph which really had nothing to do with anything).

Saw dust is a messy substance. Difficult to create with, usually the product of work that makes you all sweaty, and on top of this it has the annoying tendency to blow up in your face. (Oh gee this is actually a very apt metaphor!) So, at this point I am knee deep in saw dust (ABLAZE) and it’s looking rather like… well saw dust. How do you get through the rest of the saw dust; that  if you see this project through (which you should) will surely bury you? Here are my tips:

1: Expect the Expected

That is to say don’t be surprised at the fact that there is so much terribleness in your novel. Its going to be terrible, and somehow everyone (even me) at the beginning of a new project expects this fundamental truth to suddenly evaporate and that glittery rainbows will ribbon from the skies and your manuscript will be all glittery and fantastic. NO. Don’t kid yourself, no matter how great the idea will seem it will eventually reach suck-age. Thus you will always end up with a pile of sawdust. Granted (depending on the level of planning) sometimes the pile will be smaller than usually, but it will still exist. Expect it.

2. Wear Goggles

Having things, particularly saw dust or a manuscript blow up in your face is a rather terrible experience. A good way to provent this is to have a fall back (or some goggles) to help you see straight. In other words have another manuscript to refresh your vision when you are are tired of the wind blowing the dust up in your face.  Having another manuscript to work on will keep you fresh. Hacking through parts of a novel will only lead to the accumulation of more saw dust. Take a break, wipe off your goggles and breathe.

3. Burn It

At the end of the novel just burn it. Toss the match over your shoulder and watch it go up. If it’s really that bad at least you learned what NOT to do, and you can just start over. Besides saw dust burning is rather fun. you can laugh manically and roast marshmallows! It’s fantastic and I look forward to doing it when I finish Ablaze.

So, sawdust. opinions? Anyone in the midst of the stuff?