Writing Lessons

The Mind is a Wonderful Thing

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Hey guys!

January is almost over, less than two weeks left and I realized I hadn’t posted yet this month. A once-a-month posting schedule, I think, should be good, yeah? I may post more, but once a month is guaranteed. I said this last month, but I think it’s good to reiterate. For as well as for me.

Anyway! Onto the meat.

Your mind is wonderful! It’s what produces your ideas. It’s working on your ideas even when you sleep. And you know what I’ve found out this month? The more you write, the more you want to write. The more ideas you get. The more ideas you get, the more you want to write, therefore the more you write.

It’s a wonderful, wonderful cycle. Take advantage of it.

How do I know this? It’s happening to me. I’ve been writing this month. A lot. Not as much as I would like. But more than I was doing before my chat with S.M. Boyce last month.

Though I didn’t write over the weekend (weekends are difficult because I work ten hour shifts on Saturday and Sunday), I wanted to. And once I post this, I will be back at it again.

One more thing that I’ve noticed. Since I’ve begun writing again, I don’t get stressed out at either of my (2) jobs as much. I’m not sure how much sense this will make, but it seems as though Writing is my job, while what pays the bills is a non-important side thing. This could just be me, but if you can get yourself in the mindset that Writing is your REAL job, maybe that’ll help?

It certainly will keep you going through the rough patches.

Writing isn’t all sunshine and daisy’s, but that doesn’t mean you should stop,

Cheyenne

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Making Writing a Habit

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Scrn.Shot.HabitIf you click on that little thumbnail to the left, you will see how I am starting to make writing a habit. Yes, I’m cheating by using a program online. But, just holding myself accountable, or having you guys hold me accountable, just isn’t working. (Partly because there’s not enough of you that care.)

This is only day two of my using HabitRPG, but let me tell you this, it’s working. I set my writing goals small for now. 250 words a day for my personal writing, and if you look under the “Dailies” there’s one that says “Write 100 words exactly.” That one is a challenge set by someone else. And rewards will be given out to the winner. I’m not sure what that reward is, I’d have to go back and look. Also, I’m making that 100 words and 250 words completely separate. 

At the top of the screen are two bars, one red, and one a yellow-ish orange. The red is your “health.” If you don’t complete a daily, or you get a negative (Yes, it can also be used to break bad habits,) that goes down. I’m not sure yet what happens when it gets to zero, and I hope I never do. The second bar is your “experience.” You gain experience by completing that tasks that you set for yourself. How many points depends upon how difficult it is. Most of mine at the moment are set to “easy” because they’re not that hard. A couple are set to “medium” and only two right now (The plotting ones) are set to “hard.” 

Ooh. And the rewards. On the right hand side, you’ll see that I have “New Episode of Doctor Who” and the date it comes out. Well, in order to watch that, I must have gained 10 gold. You get gold along with experience for completing tasks.

Anyway. That’s how I am making writing a habit. How are you going to make it a habit?

Keep Writing

Cheyenne Trumbo

Everything Means Something

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So I’m reading The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson. (By the way, AMAZING books.) I’ve read 1 – 5 I think before, but it has been years so I restarted at one again after buying the first… six I think.

And I realized something. Robert Jordan doesn’t just add a character or group of people for shits and giggles. When they show up, they keep showing up and they’re in the shit deeper than you realize. I’m going to try for some non-spoilers here, but if you haven’t read the books and plan to, you might just want to take my word for it and come back to read this once you’ve started the series. (Don’t wait til you’ve finished the series, we don’t have that kind of time.)

For instance, Padan Fain. The peddler who shows up at Emonds Field in the early chapter. Being the bearer of bad news. Well… he should know, right? He pops up again and again. And lets just say he doesn’t bring sunshine and rainbows along with him, right?

Also, Thom Merrilin. I love me the gleeman. He’s amazing and is a lot more than he seems. (I’m not sure just how deep his involvement goes, but he travels with them and doesn’t just fade into the background as a ‘here then gone’ type of character.)

And just look at Elyas. He could have easily been a character to just point Egwene and Perrin in the right decision. But no, he and wolves are so much more than that. (Honestly I can’t wait to see what role the Tuatha’an play in the end, but I’m not 100% sure they will. I can’t quite remember how far Aram goes, or if he dies or lives. If he lives I’m sure he will have a large part to play as well.)

Basically, what I’m getting at here, is if you add something to your books/writing, they better mean something. If they don’t mean anything or add anything to the story. Cut it. Cut it now before you get in too deep.

That’s all I really had to say about that.

Keep writing!

Breaking the Block

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So I’ve posted in many places, mostly on the JulNoWriMo Forums, about my “writer funk” as I’ve been calling it. And a single tweet on twitter, and I’ve had my own words thrown back in my face roughly half a dozen time.

Just. Keep. Writing. Or power through. Write anyway.

For about a week now, I haven’t. I just had given up. But today I was chatting with a friend (whom I talked into do JulNoWriMo with me this year) who had finally started working on his. He was at over 900 words. I was, at last count, under 800. You know what I did? (After much whinging to him) I started writing. I’m now at over 900 words as well and will be (hopefully) well over 1000 when I go to bed today.

So, how to break through the funk? (Or dissolve writers block, if you want to put it that way). Get a writing partner. Ask their wordcount. Beat it. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

If you’re not working on projects of the same length at the same time, keep a daily wordcount and ask that they do the same.

Don’t have a writing partner? I’ll gladly volunteer! Send me a tweet @ThatNerdyWriter or contact me here on my blog. I’ll be posting (hopefully) daily updates with my words written so you can keep up to date with me (and possibly beat my daily word counts) without having to wait upon my replies. (But please do get in touch, I like talking to new people, especially other writers.)

Just keep writing!

Bad Books

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…well, that’s a bad title, but it’s accurate.

I was indecisive between that title and “Still Learning…”

So, I finished another set of books recently. These were… Eh… not so good. It was the Aberrant trilogy by Ruth Silver.

Now before you get the idea in your head that this is a post with me bagging on her and saying the books are bad, they’re not. I mean… not really. I like the story, it’s why I read all three books. However, the story-telling is… well, I wouldn’t have held back had I been a beta reader. I’ll list some of the problems I had with the books, and ways you (and I) can hopefully avoid making them.

Episodic

Now, if you’ve read as many “How-To” books on writing as I have… you’ll have come across this term.

It refers to when events in a book don’t flow organically from point A to B to C.

The way to fix this, is to make sure Point A CAUSES Point B, and so forth.

Flat, Two-Dimensional Characters

You know what these are. The characters who are just there. They don’t change, they don’t learn, they just DO. And they grind at you like no other when you’re reading. Honestly, I cared more about the six-year old child than I did for the two 18 year-old main characters.

Hell the Female Main Character almost felt like a Mary Sue. And the male a Gary Stu. Mary Sue’s are easy to write, because they’re basically a blank slate. The reader imagines THEMSELVES to be the Main Character. It’s good for fooling readers. Not so good when your readers are also writers.

Simple way to fix this. Give your characters dimensions. Short-term goals, long-term goals, goals not related to the Main Plot. Likes, dislikes, idiosyncrasies.  Many things that Ruth Silver’s characters didn’t have.

Unclear Writing

Reading her writing was… almost painful, in certain areas. Let me see if I can find an example.  Here’s a good one. It’s from Isaura, the third book in the trilogy. I’ll type the short passage, and then explain my issue(s) with it.

I tried to think. Tried to reason where Craynor would go. We’d destroyed his home. He wouldn’t be stupid enough to travel back to Genesis. I doubted he had a vehicle, unless he commandeered one in Torv. The nearest town to Torv was Haven. It had been destroyed months ago, and though I hadn’t been back there, I couldn’t fathom that anything remained standing. Maybe I should consider checking it out.

“How?” I shook my head in confusion. He wasn’t one of the representatives of Torv. He was my father.

“You’re asking for volunteers, right?”

Now, aside from the poor writing over all, which I’m not going to get into, before in this scene, there has been no indication that the MC is anything but alone. Then suddenly, her dad is there talking to her. Things like this happen continuously in the books. Also, another similar thing, often she’ll skip weeks or even months, without even a scene break. Just… new paragraph, seven months later. Dun-dun! Like it’s no big deal.

Oooh.. and exclamation points. Gah! Just don’t use them. She didn’t use them THAT much, but she even used them in the narrative. I mean, Jesus. Honestly, they’re not needed. Surrounding sentences/words and the scene itself should lend enough to the tone to know when something has an understood exclamation point.

Anyway

I think that’s enough of my harping about what is (in my opinion) sub par writing. Like I said though, I enjoyed the books because of the story and the idea behind it, if the execution was somewhat lacking.

Also, do you have any idea what a huge kick in the pants it is when you read something and go “That’s just bad.” Because there’s that part of your mind (well, my mind anyway) that goes “Well how many books do you have published?

 

What I learned…

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Hey guys!

I just finished reading Book three of The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, and let me just say OH MY GOD. This is kind of a book review mixed with a teaching post. Anyway, The Lunar Chronicles, thus far are three books. Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress. (Which is kind of a lazy way of naming books, because they’re just character names, but hey. It works.)

I’ll post the synopses of the first, but the other two I won’t because that would be some major spoilers.

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless Lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Now, I don’t read much science fiction, it’s just never been my cup of tea. But I read The Lunar Chronicles because I’d seen the book trailer for Cress and I was like… That sounds bad ass. So I looked up the books and bought them on my kindle. Read all three of them in like a week.  They’re amazing. I loved them as both a reader AND a writer. I love it when that happens. Because not only did I enjoy the book, it taught me things. I’ll tell you some of those things and also this, if you’re a writer OR a reader, check out these books. They’re great.

So. What I learned.

Don’t Explain Anything

I know it sounds counterproductive, but especially if you’re writing science fiction or fantasy, you don’t want to explain the world to your readers. Give them credit. Readers are smarter than we often give them credit for. When I was reading Cinder, I was first confused about the world, and then as I continued reading, I didn’t care. Marissa Meyer has mastered the art of giving you just enough information to keep you interested.

Misunderstandings and Coincidences

Basically, they have to make sense. Books two and three, Scarlet and Cress respectively, were full of these. And it was great. Because characters made assumptions based on small pieces of information and person conjecture, and they were wrong. Now, that’s fine, and normal even, but what made it even better, was the fact that you, as the reader, KNEW that they were wrong. But the conclusions that they came to made sense.

That’s misunderstandings. Now for coincidences. I noticed it especially in book three. Characters split up, bad things happen, and they reunite without meaning to. But, it made sense. I’m being honestly obtuse, because I don’t want to spoil anything, and honestly, that was one of the greatest surprises.

Antagonists

Basically, motivations, back story, etc. Simply put, they have to have it. You have to know it, but the readers doesn’t, necessarily. Marissa Meyer doled it out a little bit at a time. Honestly, the antagonist wasn’t explicitly named until… Well, halfway through the first novel? I think. Yet we didn’t know much about her aside from her race until the next book. Even then, we didn’t know much about her personally until nearly the end of book three.

Now, I’m not saying you have to agree with the antagonist, or feel sorry for him/her/them. Honestly, I HATE Levana. You’re meant to.

Cinder is called YA – Young Adult, but I hate that classification of books. To me, YA is a redundant classification. I didn’t start reading YA books, until highschool. When I was in middle school, I was reading adult books. Example- I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy in middle school. So Young Adult? What does that even mean? Bleh. My point is, when choosing a book to read. Don’t look at whether it’s YA or “normal”, look at the genre. YA is not a genre. Science fiction is a genre, and it’s what I consider The Lunar Chronicles to be. -End of Rant-

Point Of View

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As you may or may not have noticed, I do not have a schedule for my posts right now. But, c’est la vie, yeah?

Anyway, sorry for the wait for this post. Eh. I’m lazy and… honestly I procrastinate a lot. You know that, though. On to the post!

What brought this post on, was, honestly, a book. Shocking, right? A combination of books two and three of the Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth. Insurgent and Allegiant respectively. If you get the chance you should read them. all of them. Preferably before the movie comes out later this year. Anyway, the books have little to do with the actual meat of the post, just wanted you to know how AWESOME the books are, and that you should totally read them.

Post Time!

What is Point of View?

Simply put, point of view is how you choose to tell the story. It’s the perspective you chose.

Now, what are the different Point of Views.

There’s First Person, Second Person, and Third Person.

First Person

First person is told as if the author is the Main Character. You use “I”, “Me”, and “We”. (This is what the Divergent Trilogy was written in.)

I’ve read that First Person is easiest for beginning writer’s because it’s how we view the world. We are each our own protagonist. I’ve never understood it. I’ve never gotten the hang of First Person. Yet. I’m working on it.

The pro’s of First Person, in my mind, are that it’s easier to get to know a character. As both a writer and a reader. You get in that character’s head. It’s easy to care about him/her, because, in a way, you are him/her. You experience the world the way that character does. You care.

The con’s of First Person, are that it’s limited. You see the world only through that character’s eyes. What they don’t see, you don’t see. Unless you’re telling from multiple first person perspectives. (As Veronica Roth did in the third book, Allegiant).

Also, this may be unique to me, but I doubt it, when I tried writing a first person narrative my senior year of high school, I had a teacher I respected look at it. Her comment was that the “I’s” were overwhelming. Too much “I”. I took that to mean that there was too much internal, not enough external. I may not be the only one to have that problem, and if you do, or did, if you have any tricks to solve it, let me know in the comments, yeah? On the other hand, if I find a solution, I will let you all know. Deal?

Second Person

Bleh. Second person. My thoughts? Don’t do it. But, Second Person is written as “You”. As in “You  moved down the steps cautiously.” The entire book, written like that. Cringe-worthy, no? However, I remember some old “Choose your own” adventure books that my dad had at one point when I was younger. Never read them, but I can’t think of any other kind of book that can be written in second person.

But I’m not the judge on what will go and won’t go in writing. If you can make a second person book work, go for it! Try anything!

Third Person

Third person is written as if you’re outside the bod(y/ies) of the character(s). “He”, “She”, “They”, etc. 

There are two different kinds of third person that I’m going to talk about. There may be more, but these are the two that I feel the most widely used and recognized.

Third Person (Limited)

The first kind, I call Third Person Limited. You have free range and can watch what any character is doing, but the narrative is limited to one character’s reactions and thoughts. You see the world as it is, but each scene you only have the intimate details of one character and his/her thoughts.

Generally, when using Third Person Limited, I try to stick to only a few different perspectives. Any more than two or three and it get’s confusing trying to keep track of characters.

Third Person (Omniscient)

The second kind, I call Third Person Omniscient. Again, you have free range and can watch what is going on any time and any place, but you are not limited. You can dip into minds and thoughts and feelings of any character present. Basically, the world is presented how it is, with no biases to distort it.

Personally, when I use Third Person Omniscient, I try to not dip into thoughts at all. Because to me, it gets confusing. When you’re dipping into the thoughts of multiple characters, it’s difficult, as a writer and as a reader, to remember who is thinking what.

Again, this is all opinion and you are free to do whatever you wish.

By the way, d’you know how hard it is to focus on a post and watch CSI: NY at the same time?