Pin-It Saturday: They Don’t Think They Are Bad

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I haven’t been writing much other than my short stories and I really need to get back to my novels. But while on a break at work one day I came across this little diddy on Pinterest.

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It made me stop and think about every antagonist I have ever written. Every bad guy has a back story. There is a reason they are the way they are. Something in their life has changed their way of thinking. We may see them as the bad guy, but they don’t always see themselves as the bad guy. They see themselves as the wronged guy, the person who deserves something for the crap they have been through.

Of course, I do believe there are bad guys in stories that are just messed up bad guys, but most of the time there is a reason and a purpose.

It made me question my own antagonist in my novels. What is their story? What makes them the evil beings that they are? As a writer I understand that I have to know every side of the story. I may not know the whole story when I start, but I learn it along the way. As a writer I have to see the bad guy as the good guy in his own world, in his own head.

I think for a moment I forgot about that. It was nice getting a reminder.

What makes your bad guy so bad?

Toodles

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Pin-It Saturday: Name That Novel

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Here we are again my friends. Another Saturday and another pin. Seriously, this has been a ton of fun for me, to go through my Pinterest board and write my own thoughts on the matter. Although, I do need to start reading more of these articles through the week instead of waiting until Thursday or Friday to go through the list. I also need a way to remember what all I have used for the Pin-it Saturday posts.

This week I found a nifty little article on naming your novel. You can find the post HERE.

I have written three novels. All three need to be revised and polished, but they are sitting in my files waiting for me to stop being lazy and take care of them. I have only named the first one I wrote and the name came from a short story I had written. The novel actually has nothing to do with the short story, I just borrowed character names from the short and put them in the novel. Once I finished the novel I realized how perfect the name of the short story was and how it would fit the novel.

Of course, now that I am in the stages of rewriting the novel I see that I may have been wrong in my choice of titles for it. Also, I am such a nerd and I want to make sure the title of the novel is said somewhere in the text. Yes, I am one of those weridos that giggle when a movie title is said in the movie. I don’t know why it pleases me so much, but it does.

My novel from NaNoWriMo was called “Looking for Complete” and half way through the story the title doesn’t fit the story at all. I had an idea of what the story was going to be, but it ended up being something that I hadn’t even considered.

So not only am I rewriting my novels and making them better, I am also looking for the perfect title. The article that I found on Pinterest actually gives a few really good tips on naming a novel. Hopefully it will come in handy when I am renaming my own novels.

What about you? How do you come up with a title for your novel? Are there any tips that help you pick titles for your work?

Toodles

Let’s Talk About Synonyms

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Okay, so I am not going to give you a list of synonyms of anything crazy, I just wanted to talk about these wonderful list that I always find on Pinterest.

First, sorry for a late post today. My car broke down last night on the way home from work. Then I had to work this morning and didn’t get off until 5. At that point I had to rush home, grab my parents, and go to the auto parts store for a new alternator. This is after I broke down the other day and we thought it was the battery. Thank the good man upstairs that I just got my tax money back and had the funds to get what I needed for my car. I keep telling everyone that God works in mysterious ways. If you don’t believe in God, please don’t tell me why I shouldn’t believe in Him. Religion is a personal option and I support what ever you believe in, just don’t try to change my own beliefs.

On to the good stuff!

I find that when I am writing I use a lot of the same words over and over again. I try not to, because when I was younger I remember learning how repetition of words in writing can make the work sound boring and juvenile. And once I got into the grove of things, reading any book I could get my hands on, I realize how true it was. I now can not stand to see a paragraph where the same word is used multiple times. Especially if it is a bigger word that stands out. I can’t even stand to see the same word used more than once on one page. I notice them.. I don’t know why.

Of course, hopefully you know that I am not talking about common things that can not be helped like “it” “the” “a”…you get the point right? Am I making any sense?? I am really tired so this could all come across like an alien language. I am from Pluto, so it’s possible this is not in English at all.

Sorry…what was I saying?

I find these nifty little charts on Pinterest all the time and I love them! I will sit and study them for very long moments, just because I like to expand my vocabulary and also see words that I may not have thought of before. Though, Stephen King says something that hits home as well…

Stephen King quote

And this is why, as a writer, I should expand my vocabulary. All writers should. Don’t go looking for the word, just know it. But if you take Stephen King’s other advice…

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Reading a lot helps with that vocabulary.

I still like the fun list that I find on Pinterest. And I’m sorry about all the Stephen King quotes…I just really really admire the man.

What kind of advice do you keep beside you when you are writing? And have you found any of the list like the first one of words to use in place of others?

And if you are interested, you can follow me on Pinterest. Hopefully that is the proper link. If you try it and it doesn’t work, let me know. I have several boards on there and I probably spend more time on there than I should. If you collecting articles on writing and other tips and advice on Pinterest, let me know so I can follow you as well!

Meet Again 2

I’m Not Writing That

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As I have said before, I read a lot of articles and blog post about writing. It has become sort of an addiction. I love to see what others think have made them better writers and I like finding ideas for new things to try. Also, the more you read, no matter what it is, the better your own writing will become. I might even be guilty of secretly correcting grammar and punctuation mistakes. It’s the writer in me!

I am always drawn into articles that start off with “How to Write a Novel.” or something of the sort. Maybe it’s to laugh at how ridiculous I think the opinions are, or maybe it’s just to see if I am doing something similar or find something that needs to be tweaked in my own writing.

Then a problem presents itself. Most of these articles about how to write a novel are talking about non-fiction novels. They tell me how to organize my data, my life experiences, and put it into a book. A book about real life…and let’s be honest, real life sucks sometimes. No one wants to read about my life. And if you do want to read about my life, stick around my blog and you will catch a little bit of it (or a lot). That’s a free non-fiction novel right there! I have no self-help advice other than to keep your head up and keep moving forward.

I actually hate writing about real life things. I tried to write and autobiography once and I got bored half way through the first page. I have lived my life once, and some moments I just don’t want to live again. Sure, I think about it, but putting it on paper is a whole new way of seeing the situations.

I don’t even read books that are non-fiction or even come close to real life. Okay, there was that one book “Looking for Alaska” that could be deemed as close to real life. There was nothing spectacular about it (it was a good book though), there were no vampires or fairies, nothing magical. And I enjoyed it, but it took a lot of time for me to build up the nerve to read it.

I guess to me, life is boring enough without having to read about it too. That is why most of what I read is fantasy. It’s also why I write fantasy. I can take a horrible situation in my own life and give it a purpose.

So, why are there so many articles about writing fiction? Or am I just scouring the wrong edges of the internet?

Meet Again 2

Who Do You Trust?

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I see a lot of blogs giving writing advice. Some of these blogs don’t even have a book to back up what ever advice they are giving, some are self-published authors, and very few are traditionally published authors. I read all of these blogs and some advice just baffles me that anyone would even give such advice.

So, who do you trust when it comes to advice on writing? Do you prefer for them to have a few bestsellers under their belt? Successful blog? A degree?

Personally, I have select few that I have valued their advice. One, of course, being Stephen King. You just don’t understand how much I love him! I have read his book “On Writing” and cling to his twitter and facebook pages for anything new.

Another author that I love to use as an example and listen to is Kim Harrison. She has created an amazing world that just came to a close in 2014.

The last author actually started out as a self-published author and is now traditionally published as well. Jamie McGuire. She is the reason that I decided to self-publish the first time. I will more than likely use her tips and advice again should I decide to self-publish again. I have watched her career grow and flourish. I have seen the hard work that she has put into her writing and I know that if I want to be successful I have to be like that. I have to be as driven as her. And I have an easier time at it than her because she has three kids!

I do read blogs here from other writers and the tips that they give for writing. I do enjoy a good tip that will make me rethink my own writing. In all honesty, aren’t we all here to make our writing better? And even an amateur can see something that you didn’t see.

I may read tips and tricks to writing, but in the end I will decide which ones have any kind of value in my own writing. In other words, I will take advice from anyone, but my heart and mind will tell me what advice I should trust.

How about you? Where do you find advice? Who’s tips have helped better your own writing?

He Said/She Said

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With NaNoWriMo in full swing, I have found myself reading a lot of articles and blogs chop full with tips.  Of course, most of these tips should be taken with a grain of salt.  Why?  Because the do’s and don’ts of the writing world is never consistent.  I feel like the writing career is the only career where there really is no guideline.  We are just a bunch of people that write stories.  We are the few people that hear the voices and chose to write their stories instead of calling ourselves crazy or ignoring them.

The biggest case that annoys me is all of the articles and blogs that talk about dialogue.  Most people say that for new writers or writers trying to break into the publishing world should avoid using words like “yelled” or “shouted” or “whispered.”  They suggesting sticking with the good ol’ “said.”  They say that we should be showing our readers instead of telling.

I say it’s all Bull Hockey!  And here is why.

How does the reader know that a character is whispering?  How do you even show that a character is whispering?

She leaned in and kept her voice low.

Maybe I am just not creative enough to show whispering.  How about when someone yells?

“I told you to stay away!”

Sure, I can add the punctuation there, but if we are going on advice from others…they even say using an exclamation mark should not be used in dialogue.  How do you show a reading that your character is shouting with out saying they are shouting or using proper quotation marks?

His face turned red and his hands were balled into fist.  The veins in his neck, throbbing with each heart beat.  “You told me it wouldn’t happen again.”

In this instance, how does my reader know if the guy in the sentence is shouting or doing one of those clam, quiet, mad-enough-to-kill-you voices?  There is nothing there to tell you.  He could be mad enough to yell or he could be so mad that yelling isn’t going to cut it.

Here is my theory on the whole thing.  Just write!!  I read so many books where rules are broken.  This author used an “ly” word.  That author said the character bellowed.  The author over there has used the same word repeatedly through their entire novel and while it’s annoying, I will let it pass because the publisher thought it was a good book.

No matter how you write, it’s all about the story.  If the story is interesting, the rest will come later through edits and revisions. The most important part is to get the story down the first time.  Later, worry about this and that.  Later worry about what rules you are going to break and what rules you feel the need to follow.  Honestly, most of the rules just seem like more ways to dissuade a person from writing, more things to make us question if we can make it in the writing world.

Now, restore that confidence in your story by reminding yourself that the first draft is called the rough draft for a reason.  It’s rough.  It needs a ton of work.  Just get the story down first. Let’s get those first drafts done!

NaNoWriMo Update:29,998

Letting Go of Doubt

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Every time I write a post about writing I worry about what others will say.  I worry that someone will come along and tell me that I don’t know what I am talking about or that I am doing everything wrong. I start thinking about it, after re-reading my blog and making sure there are no mistakes I can be called out on, I realize that it doesn’t really matter.

There are two things that I bring to mind.  1. I am not telling you to take my advice or even that I am considering what I write advice.  I am just giving a written account of all the things I struggle with as a writer and telling you how I handle those things.  The only reason I even consider it advice is because a few people have said it was helpful.

2. No one really knows what they are doing.  We are all stumbling around in the same life, trying to figure out what to do next.  We are stumbling around pretending we know what we are doing.

It relates to writing the way it relates to life. We kind of have an idea what we are doing, we have guidelines and suggestions, but no assurance that we are doing the right thing. We have choices and each person makes their own choice.

For example, there is someone who has trouble sleeping.  They have tried everything, but nothing helps.  Then, they are offered a drug of some sort.  Something that will help them sleep or keep them awake.  They try this drug and all of a sudden they are addicted.  Their sleeping issue may or may not be solved, but in the heat of the moment they took the route of drugs and now they have a life time of addiction to fight.

Another example, one that people feel the need to always criticize.  Suicide and the choice to end life.  I have been in that moment where suicide seemed like the only option, the only way to happiness.  I have traveled that dark road and somehow, by the grace of God, made my way back to something much happier than death.  Others are not so lucky.

The point is, we are all face with choices.  Our choices my look dumb to others, but to you, the person making the decision, it is the right way to go.

How does this relate to the world of writing?  I’m not even sure, I totally lost my train of thought.

Okay, got it back.  The point is, we don’t know what we are doing.  Should my work finally be noticed by someone who can help me make it big in the writing world, they will polish up my novel.  They will rip it up, tear it apart, and hand me the pieces to put back together, but prettier.  I still won’t know what I am doing at that point.

I am a writer.  I turn words to sentences, sentences to paragraphs, paragraphs to chapters, and chapters to novels.  I don’t know what I am doing.  I just write.  My main goal is to share the worlds in my mind with the world around me.  I am no expert, but I can tell you how I face writers block.  I can tell you how I learned to make my writing a little better.  I can tell you how I keep track of my characters and story lines.  I can tell you that writing should always be a hobby you love and never a job you hate.

Never be afraid to show the world what you have created.  Can someone do it better than you?  Possibly, but you will never know if you don’t give it a try.  Life is too short to worry about what others like or hate about you.  Just do you and along the way, share with others what you have learned.

The End is the Beginning

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I usually write about a chapter a day.  It’s just how I work.  Today I got to thinking though, what constitutes as the end of a chapter?  How do you really know when it’s time to end one chapter and begin a new one?

A few books I have read, chapters end when the day ends.  Others end a chapter at the end of a huge fight, or even in the middle of a fight.  Those are really the worst, the ones that end in the middle of something, but it’s a good way to keep a reader reading, even if they have to be at work early in the morning and can’t stay up to read anymore.

For me, it seems that I will end a chapter when there is an end to the current scene, but leave a little information that keeps a reader interested enough to rush on to the next chapter.

Do you remember school, having to write paragraphs?  I remember teachers trying to show me when to end a paragraph and start a new one.  I’m not going to lie, I still have trouble with that sometimes.  You just get on a roll writing and the next thing you know, you have this massive paragraph that will probably be broken down into a few paragraphs.

I don’t think there is a word count, or page count that is ideal for a chapter.  I have read some books where chapters were two or three pages long.  I have even seen a few books that had chapters throughout the book that were only a page long.  It comes to question, why do we even worry about things like this?

I feel like writers get so caught up in “rules of writing” that we lose our own personal style.  We get so worried about how long a paragraph should be (3-5 sentences according to school), how long a chapter should be, how long a book should be.  We get caught up in word count and page count and not only lose our personal style, but we also lose our creativity and our story becomes a mess.

So what did I take out of all of this?  Not to worry about if my chapter has ended in a proper place.  Just write and get the story down, then go back and worry about where things should end and begin.

Before I was a writer I was a reader.  As a reader I know what I like.  I know how I like to see a chapter end.  I love a cliff hanger at the end of a chapter and at the end of some books.  I like short chapters, so I can read one chapter at a time and not get caught in the middle of a chapter when I get too sleepy to continue reading.

Maybe as writers we have forgotten what it is to be a reader.  I read just as much as I write.  A lot of authors suggest that, mainly Stephen King and he is my idol.  My suggestion to my fellow writers is to remember what it is to be a reader.  If you are writing something you don’t like, why would you share it with the readers of the world.

Do you have any tricks to ending a chapter?

NaNoWriMo Update: 18,241 Words

Facial Expressions

Her brows furrowed and her nose crinkled.  There was a smell in the air and it smelled like death.

I have trouble with facial expressions.  I can see what the face looks like in my head, but for some reason all my fingers can do is type words like “Frown”, “Smile”,  and “Anger.”  I do more telling and less showing when it comes to facial expressions, which if you have read anything about writing, you know is a big no no.

It seems that in the writing world we are to focus more on showing every little detail instead of just writing that our character is happy or sad.  I get it, and I understand.  I just can’t seem to get my mind to work the right way.  I have such a hard time showing how my character feels.  I use a lot of smiling, frowning, and red faces.  Which, if you think about it, it’s kind of the basics of life.  We are smiling, frowning, or blushing most of the time.  Not many people sit, staring off into nothing with a blank expression on their face.

I am good at telling my readers when someone is shocked or afraid, which is usually the same thing.  Wide eyes and gaping mouth.  Well, gaping mouth for shock.  Afraid is what?  Lips pressed together tightly?  But then there is that wonderful “ly” word that seems to cause an epidemic in the writing world.  At least, that is what all the articles say.  I will have more to say on that later.

How many times can you describe someone looking curious or confused?  How about concerned?  I had that come up in my writing last night.  My character was concerned and I had no idea how to really describe that facial expression other than tilting her head to the side and one eye brow raised.

Do you struggle with facial expressions?  How about body language?  Where is all the help on these things?  Someone needs to write a book on how to describe facial expressions.  Unless there is one out there and if there is, please tell me where I can find it.  I obviously need to broaden my knowledge, but I am finding my way.

NaNoWriMo is a good thing for me this year.  I have been in a writing slump since February and it has not only pulled me out, but also has me looking and thinking more deeply about my own writing.  I can feel my writing getting better with every word I put on the page and every search I type into Google.  Maybe every month should be NaNoWriMo…except maybe one month should be NaNoEdiMo (National Novel Editing Month,) that’s not a thing is it?

NaNoWriMo Update:  15,840 Words