A Writer's Objectives

Archive for the ‘Fun Facts’ Category

Sharing is Caring

Hey everyone! I don’t have a list of 13 planned out for today, so I decided to try something new for today. This may become a more common occurrence if I have enough positive response. What is ‘this’ you ask? Well, keep reading!

I’ve decided that on days where I find myself unprepared or uninterested in the daily post, I’m going to share a fun fact about myself. This could be my writing self, something about myself in general or just something random I have discovered about life/writing. The point of this is to get other people to share with me. I know I have quite a few followers but I don’t really know who my followers are. With this, I hope to gain a bit of information about you, while you all learn a little more about the person behind the blog.

 

So let’s get started:

 

I have been writing short stories and novels since I was 10. I’ve been creating stories since I could speak. I began writing poetry when I was a junior in High School. As a junior in college, I have recently begun to write creative non-fiction. My life would seem very strange and empty without any sort of writing.

 

Now it’s your turn. When did you start writing? Can you imagine life without it?

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Too Much of a Good Thing

I’m a writer (well damn, what a surprise that is!) and while some people may not believe it, I get tired of writing sometimes. It’s rare, but it happens.

I have a huge list of stuff to write, not least of which is homework related. I have fanfictions, short stories, a handful of novels, poems and other creative pieces, too. I have this blog, plus a collection of other blogs I update either daily or weekly. And the list just keeps growing. Why? Because I’m procrastinating. A LOT.

I have plenty of things to work on, obviously. I’ve worked on some of it now and again, but my writing spurts don’t last as long (or come as often) as they used. At first, my mojo was missing completely. Now that I have it back, it is less that I can’t write and more that there are more fun things to do.

Wait, there is stuff more fun than writing? That can’t be right…

I have a tight little group of friends that live with/near me. We have been spending a lot of time together, watching shows on Netflix, playing games (D&D and WoW) and just all around having fun. Last night, three of us went on an impromptu trip to a waterfall near my apartment (at 11PM, mind you) so that we could gaze at the stars without the added light from the houses, cars and street lamps. It was one of the most awe-inspiring and fun things I have done in years. Years I tell you! And that’s quite sad, in my opinion.

In my writing, I can do anything that comes to mind. I can fly on a dragon, dance in moonbeams, get married to a prince. But it’s all on paper (or laptop). None of it is something that I can actually experience. I can’t feel the mist of a waterfall on my face if I simply write about it.

I’m not saying I quit writing; one cannot rid themselves of their soul so readily. I’m just saying that I am probably going to take a much needed break from doing so much of it once I catch myself up on my to-do list. Now that I can write again, I can also choose not to. And as soon as these 14 pieces of writing get completed, that’s just what I am going to do (except blog posts; those are a constant. No worries!)

Pay Attention to Detail

I recently started reading a book. No surprise there, right? Here’s a big surprise: I stopped reading it after four chapters. The plot was sound, the characters were great and just about everything about it was interesting. The problem? Details. Every new scene had so many details crammed in that it was difficult to recall what was going on. Two pages describing a single building later, and I couldn’t remember why the characters were even at the house in the first place. But, at least I had a very very very clear image of the house in my head, right?

Wrong.

There’s an invisible line drawn in the sand when it comes to details. A lot of authors either cross it (a lot) or don’t even reach the line. There are very few authors capable of standing on the line; how does one stand on something they can’t see, anyway? I’m hoping this entry will help some of you to at least get a little closer to the line.

Because I’m tired of huge blocks of text, which means I am sure you are as well, I’ll do this in bullet form. If you like it better than the past entries I’ve done, I’ll try to stick with bullet form rather than assault you with long blocks of text.

Let’s talk about too much detail, first:

  • If you find yourself describing every outfit your character wears in so much detail that it takes several paragraphs to describe… you’ve got too much detail. Try only describing really important outfits (ball gowns, fancy dress clothes, etc). The readers only need a brief idea of what the character wears day-to-day, not paragraphs of detail about it.
  • Describing a new place can be exciting. Sometimes, however, the reader only wants to know the basics. If your character is breaking into a house, don’t spend two pages describing the house so completely there isn’t a chance you’ve missed a single detail. Touch on what the house is made of, what the windows look like and what the doors look like; that’s what your character will be most concerned about anyway.
  • If you have a character (or a group of characters) that travel fairly often, they will move to various types of environment; towns, forests, mountains, cities, etc. Don’t spend all your time describing the change in scenery. A nice view of what the environment is like spread over the entire time the characters are in the area is better than describing it all in exact detail in a matter of a few pages. Let your character think about the large oak trees that seem to rule the forest, or the cobblestone road they saw that was completely destroyed, but don’t focus only on those details. What else is going on?

Describing too much isn’t always the problem…

  • Opposite of describing your character’s clothes too much, is describing them to little. The readers want to have an idea of what type of style exists in your story; don’t neglect the clothing completely for fear of too much detail! The readers may know that the character wouldn’t be traveling naked, but without some idea of what their clothes are like, that might be where their minds go!
  • It’s tricky knowing how much detail to put in. Just because I said don’t spend forever describing a new place, doesn’t mean you should neglect detail completely. Look at: “The house was brick” versus “The rust and mud colored bricks were cool against her skin as she pressed against the wall of the house.” The second sentence says the same thing as the first, but gives the reader a little more detail.
  • When entering a new place, make sure there are enough details that the reader knows what it looks like. If your character has entered into a large meadow, make that clear. Is the meadow dead grass and skeletal trees? Or is it lush green with a few trees scattered here and there. Don’t spend forever describing it, but at least let the readers know what the character is seeing.

I feel like my bullets were pointless, though they did help keep me from rambling. Anywho! Hopefully this has been helpful to anyone who has difficulty with detail. Too much can be boring and make a great story seem drawn out, while too little detail could cause your readers to picture you characters or landscape completely naked and void of detail. It’s a difficult line to balance on, that invisible line, but getting close to it is better than nothing.

What’s in a Name? Naming your Characters: Part 1

I intend to a few entries about character names, as there are many aspects to naming a character that I think a lot of writers have difficulty with. Today my post is about simplicity versus creativity.

Every writer wants their characters to be unique, to stand out and to be recognizable. A lot of the time, a creative name paired with an interesting past or personality can do the trick. But how creative is too creative when it comes to a name? You want the name to stand out, but you also want your readers to be able to pronounce the name. If your characters all have names that are difficult for even you to pronounce, it’s probably a good idea to change the names.

I’m reading a book series right now and the characters all have complicated names, along with places and objects. At the front of the book is a little guide on how to pronounce the names, what sounds the different letters make in the language created in the series and how best to say other words that are frequently used. I’ve read this series before, and I love it dearly. The one thing I can’t stand, however, is that I constantly have to flip to the front to check and make sure I am pronouncing a name correctly in my head. That is the one flaw with this series; having to turn back constantly takes away from the important elements of the story itself.

If your characters are all named with a language you created, please make sure that a guide on how to pronounce everything isn’t needed. While the created language and culture adds a whole new aspect to a story, it can become tiresome to have to constantly check the pronunciation guide every time a new character is introduced. This can cause readers to want to avoid reading any other books in the series for lack of wanting to go through so much trouble. Creative is wonderful, but be careful how far you take your creativity when it comes to naming you characters.

On the other hand, you don’t want to make your names too simple. While some characters are so fantastic that a simple, normal name like “Harry” or “Jim” is all they need, that is often a rare occurrence. Especially if one writes fantasy or sci-fi stories that take place in other realms or on other planets. A simple name can be great for either simple characters or fantastic characters who don’t need a ‘cool’ name to enhance them. But what about the other characters? That’s when your judgement has to come in to play; does this character have a name that is unique, to fit the world they live in, or do they have a name that is a play-off from popular, simple names and just looks cool and different (Example: Jennifer could become Genipher)? Sometimes just changing the way a character’s name is spelled can make all the difference. Even it is a simple name, different ways of spelling will help stick the name into your readers’ minds. It’s unique, therefore it is memorable.

Names are one of the most important aspects of your characters. It’s important to make sure that they are not too difficult for your readers to remember or pronounce, but that they are not so simple that they don’t stick in their minds. Once you find a balance, you will find that names come much easier to you.

 

Thanks for reading Part 1 of my “What’s in a Name?” series! I hope you will join me for others in the future.

Character Creation

It’s been a while since I’ve done any sort of post that is both informative and inquiring. I’ve done posts in the past about things like: The ‘best’ time of day for writing, influences on writing style, procrastination, and weather influenced writing. I’m going to try to do more posts about various things I know many authors have trouble with. My goal is to give ideas on these things, while at the same time (hopefully) getting some ideas myself.

With that said: Today, we’re going to talk about Character Creation.

One of the topics I discuss with a lot of fellow writers is how best to create characters. There really is no “right” or “wrong” way to go about it; every writer is different and therefore, the style varies from person to person. But when it comes to character creation, there are very limited ways to do this. Occasionally, writers don’t have a choice; the characters create themselves and develop as the story goes. That’s all there is to it. Other times, there is a long process that sometimes takes much longer than we writers anticipated.

Personally, my character creation varies. The characters create themselves for the most part, but once they come to life in my mind, I sit down and figure out all the minor details. Age, appearance, important facts from their past, goals, fears, likes/dislikes. Most of the time this is all for my own personal reference; a character who likes the outdoors is going to end up with a job that allows them to work outside, etc. Sometimes the details become important to the story, but for the most part it doesn’t.

I’ve heard of some authors creating something similar to a biography for each of their characters. While this is interesting, it also takes up a large amount of time that could be dedicated to writing the story said characters are in. Other people jot down little bits of info here and there, but really don’t delve too deeply into the characters; they are the writers who pay more attention to detail than anything else. Some start with a name, then work from there. Others write a scene with the character, then figure out all the details that would account for the character’s actions.

One of the most helpful tools for writers who have difficulty with character creation is a Character Outline. There are many type available all over the internet created by and for other writers. Here are some other outlines you can use: Example 1, Example 2, Example 3. I actually have used all four of these in the past and have found them very useful. If you find that none of them seem to work for you, you can create your own or do an internet search for one that better fits.

Characters are some of the most important aspects of any story. Knowing your character better is not only helpful to you, but it is helpful to the story. With more knowledge of your character, you will be able to put them into several different situations and be able to have them react according to their personalities or past experiences that may have influenced the way they live. This also gives the readers a much clearer view of the characters they will be spending hours getting to know.

How do you develop characters? Do you use an outline, or do you just write and hope the character reveals enough through the story? What other ways have you seen/heard of when it comes to developing characters? Leave your responses in the comments! Thanks for reading =D

Not a Zombie

Hey everyone! I know, SUPER late in the day (night) to be posting a blog entry. I’ve gotta get back into the habit of daily posts, so please forgive me if I forget a few in the first couple of weeks.

As you may have noticed from yesterday, I have returned. My sinus infection-bronchitis combo is slowly going away and I am feeling SO much better and have confirmed that I am not a zombie, even if I feel like one still on occasion. I was concerned for a little while there…

I will be getting back to my daily posts, in the same basic schedule as they had been (though some Sundays may lack a six and only have some ramblings). As I stated a few sentences ago, however, I may forget to post now and again until I get back into the swing of things. I’ve had this blog on semi-hold or hold for almost a month now, so getting back into the habit of posting daily may take a little while.

So, tell me what I’ve missed! How is everyone? How was everyone’s holiday (if you celebrated)? Anything new in the blogger universe that I missed out on? Update me! I’ve been so lonely and out of the loop because of this illness. 😦

History Lesson: Halloween and Samhain

Continuing with my theme of the week, I decided that today I would do a bit of a history lesson. I’ll do it in bullet form so it is more fun :-p Following is a list of interesting facts about the history and origin of Samhain/Halloween.

 

  • Halloween is actually the modern world’s way to celebrate Samhain.
  • Samhain is actually pronounced ‘sow-en’ ‘sow-an’ or ‘sow-in’ and derives from the Gaelic word Samhuin which could mean either ‘the end of summer’ or ‘the beginning of summer’ depending on who you ask.
  • Christianity was the culprit for Samhain becoming All Hallow’s Eve and then Halloween. They created a day, All Saint’s Day (November 1st) which was called Allhallowmas. The night before became All Hallow’s Eve, for obvious reasons, and over time the name has become Halloween. Traditions celebrated on Halloween are a combination of ancient Pagan rituals and beliefs as well as early Christian beliefs and practices.
  • Samhain is actually the start of the Celtic New Year. Often times, ancient Pagan’s would light several giant bonfires and walk between them to cleanse themselves for the New Year.
  • On Samhain (the night of October 31st and day of November 1st) Pagans and Wiccans honour their ancestors and those more recently passed on. The veil between the land of the living and the underworld is believed to be thinnest at this time, so those in the underworld can hear the prayers and well wishes of the their loved ones better. And maybe even respond.
  • Carving Jack-o-lanterns is actually a remnant of the tradition to carve turnips into lanterns. It was a tradition to remember the souls that were trapped in purgatory.
  • Wearing costumes on Halloween is left over from the belief that, because the veil between the living world and the underworld was so thin, wearing a mask would protect people from any evil spirits that might make their way into the living world. Sadly, this custom has become a competition to see who can wear the least clothing and still have a great costume.
  • Trick-or-Treating actually started with poor people going from door-to-door on Allhallowmas. They would say prayers for the dead and get food in return.
  • Trick-or-treating can also be traced back to the tradition of Guising. Children dressed up in costume and went door-to-door begging sweets and cakes and sometimes money off from their neighbors. Sound familiar?
  • The superstition of pins and razorblades in candy or candy apples was influenced by the media. The truth, sadly, is that many incidents of this or poison candy was parents doing it to their own children.
Got some more interesting facts about Samhain, Halloween or Allhallowmas/All Hallow’s Eve? Share them in a comment!!
All facts were either my own prior knowledge or found here or here. I paraphrased most of the things I found on the sites, or simply took the facts and wrote them in my own words. I claim no ownership of the information taken from either of these sites.