Writing

Things related to writing.

Wielding a Red Pen

So they say, the pen is mightier than the sword, don’t they? I think the red pen is mightier than a fleet of pirates and a gang of ninjas (yep, it’s been that kind of day). I’m used to glaring red pen marks on paper, often times causing manuscripts to appear to be suffering an untimely, if not dramatic and gallant, death. This is why, as an editor and a teacher, I shy away from scarlet ink and opt for a less threatening purple or green. Or sometimes I put the kibosh on pens all together and go the techie route. This goes for editing both my work as well as peers’.

I thought I’d give you a little insight on editing, since we’ve got two wonderful give-aways going on. Well, what I do–the processes (procesi?) thrown together in a hodge-podge. I am by no means an expert or propose to be. Nor might this be what fellow writers and critiquers on the site do. This is just what works for me.

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Old Writing and the Mortification it Brings

If there’s anything I remember, it’s my first. Everything is still clear to me in vivid detail, like I could relive it again and again–the time of day, my position, the pencil scraping against the paper.

Oh, did I forget to mention that I’m referring to the first story I ever wrote? Because I am. What else could i possibly mean?

When I was in third grade, I wrote a short story (emphasis on the shortit was about a page front and back, but my handwriting was massive) about a girl who’s dared to enter a haunted toy shop on Halloween and is never seen again. The piece ends with a quasi-existential monologue about whether or not she should haunt the friends who dared her in the first place.

Of course, it was still a pretty horrible story, plus I wrote my S’s backwards throughout the whole thing, but it was my first. It was The One. That thing I kind of just wrote, only to realize afterward that I loved writing it. Like, a lot.

That was in no way my epiphany moment about wanting to be a writer since at that point I was still set on being Britney Spears when I grew up, but it was a start. It was the inciting incident. It was what made me continue writing.

We all have that piece. The one that lights the spark. The one that sucks so hard, we seriously debate building a bonfire at the beach to burn all traces that we were ever anything less than stellar writers.

But to that, I say don’t. Don’t ever ever ever burn your writing, no matter how mortifying it is.

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Character Creation Exercise

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Starting a new story and need a main character? Or do you need a minor character for an ongoing work? Just interested in some development practice? Here’s a fun little thing you can do.

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W is for Writing

“If plan A doesn’t work, remember that the alphabet has 25 other letters. Relax.”

A few of my fellow former inkies and writing buddies have been banding about our thoughts and organizing techniques when we go about writing a novel. It inspired me to write out an ABCs of sorts (with a few letters left for you to fill in). Different ways and tools I and other writers use to build up our stories, develop our characters, track events–in all essence prep and plan ahead, with the best of intentions.  I have yet to meet a writer that does all of these things, but some are more fervent about pre-writing than others. You can these strategies when you get stuck or based on feedback you’ve received, wanting to improve certain areas of your work. Whatever the case, whenever you may use them, hope you find it helpful, dear readers and writers

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Reading and Writing and Hating Both

I think it’s basically common knowledge at this point that the number one piece of advice for wannabe writers is to read, read, read and write, write write. Nearly every author I’ve seen live, watched videos of on YouTube, or read interviews of has said some version of that answer. So you want to be a writer? WELL, READ! WRITE!

What’s so hard about that?

Really, the advice makes sense. I should probably have at least some concept of what a book is before trying to write one of my own. I should understand how the beginning, middle, and end all fit into place. I should research and read books by the authors I love, by the authors I want to emulate. It isn’t just reading–it’s learning.

But there reaches a point when reading maybe isn’t the solution to that awful writer’s block, to that complete inability to transfer a story from the mind to the paper–maybe it’s the problem.

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Writer Etiquette and Niceties

I notice that many writers just aren’t very… how should I put this… conscious of the niceness of their writer-to-writer interactions?

Perhaps this is an beginner thing. I notice it more in that area than the professional world (not that professionals are perfect). Writing is a field where basic etiquette applies just as much, if not more, than in all other fields. Particularly in our interactions with each other, we’re dealing with work that comes from our hearts almost as much as it comes from our minds. Our work contains little pieces of us. So we tend to take things a little more personally.

There are also some things that just irk me because they’re part of how many writers get snobbish. I won’t put that delicately or apply frilly, metaphorical language; we’re self-important a**holes.

So here are the things I think all writers should keep in mind when communicating with other writers.

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A Little Experiment

Yesterday in class, we talked about point of view and how it can change the story depending on who’s telling it. One of the things our teacher suggested doing was to make a list of character names (I added a third person omniscient view too) and then write down the things the story would gain if said character told the story and also what the story would lose if they were telling it.

For example:

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Forbidden and Fustrating Fads

Seriously. I can can roll with most writing fads.

Sparkly undead people.
Ghosts of ex-lovers past.
Crushed worlds and uprisings.
Quests and quirky characters.
High school drama fests.
Twisted clichés.
Infuriating love triangles.

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The Boy (or Girl) Who Lived

This is actually a jump-off post, inspired by Meredith’s about how teens are sometimes poorly and unrealistically portrayed in YA literature…not a tearful goodbye to HP and the gang.

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Recently I’ve noticed, in online stories as well as mainstream published YA literature, that a lot of main characters don’t have cheerful lives (which I suppose in itself is up for interpretation). I know there has to be conflict, some angst in there. Bad things happen, usually in threes. No human is perfect, flaws must be seen. Blah, blah, blah. But seriously the heartache and drama is getting a little excessive. It’s, I fear, becoming the new cliché.

Again, I am no expert. I’m not published but am offering my advice anyways. It’s free. Take it?

*Alert: Minor spoilers, rants and assumptions ahead, read at your own risk.

Case One: Parenthood, Say What? Half of the stories I’ve read in the last few weeks propose some sort of horrid home life. One or more parents are dead. One might be an alcoholic or dying of disease, the other insane in grief, or a complete witch of a character who berates his children daily. Honestly, I think it is important that writers remember who they are writing about. As annoying as writing adults can be, as hard to work them into the plot, as much as they might get in the way of an epic love triangle…don’t just write them out. And if you do, for goodness sake make it believable and pertain to the plot. Most teens, and heck even the group slightly older, have parents in their lives in some shape or form (even if it is a monthly phone call or awkward family dinner). True story. I’m not saying you have to pack your chapters full of it, but a glimpse can be grand. This, in my opinion, can add to a plot.

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Must-Have Tools for Writers

My biggest fault when it comes to writing is that I’m easily distracted. Why should I focus on how this one paragraph seems kind of out of place when Facebook exists? Twitter? Tumblr?

But when I really get in my writing groove, these are the three tools I can absolutely not live without!

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