RSS

Tag Archives: writing

The Writing Glasses and Other Habits of Mine

This post is for the April Teens Can Write Too! blog chain. This month’s prompt was:

“What are your writers’ habits and eccentricities?”

As far as young writers go, I’d say I’m pretty normal. There are very few things I do that most other writers don’t. There are some things that might make me seem a tad eccentric, though–and here they are.

I have a pair of clear-lens, non-prescription glasses that I like to have on when I’m writing. I originally bought them for cosplay purposes, and I’ve gotten rather attached. I put them on whenever I need to focus; it’s as if an alternate frame of mind goes along with putting them on. Wearing my glasses basically tells me, “Enough with the distractions. It’s time to get to work.” I put these Writing Glasses on for my fiction, for schoolwork, for blog posts–I’m wearing them at the moment.

I strongly prefer music to silence when I’m writing. For some reason, listening to music curbs my need for further distractions. If I don’t listen to music while I’m writing, without fail, I will jump online and waste about an hour, starting checking my email and ending up watching kitten videos. Music helps me live inside my head a little more, which is somewhat contradictory, since music is yet another layer of information coming into my mind from the outside. Logic aside, this is extremely helpful to me when writing fiction. I sometimes put together little “soundtracks” for whatever piece I happen to be working on, and this helps to keep the ideas flowing.

When working on my novel, I have to give myself little pep talks on what I’m going to write about. I mutter to myself as I open the Word document, select the proper music, and don the Writing Glasses. “OK, Allegra. She’s going to go into the library now and discover the book on the creation of the monarchy. She has to be really interested but morally disgusted by her findings. Don’t leave out those mood-setting details. All right. Deep breath. Remember to make the text sound archaic.” I often have to pause for these little soliloquies in the middle of writing, as well. It’s not the best for when other people are in the room, so sometimes I just assume a meditative air and address these issues internally.

I often spend my hours lying awake at night constructing “trailers” in my mind for my various planned and in-progress works. I try not to make the “actors” (all of my own invention) look exactly like my characters–usually they’re a bit older, since nowadays it seems that 20-somethings are playing teenagers more often than actual teens. I pick the action-y scenes, a humorous line or two, and of course the all-important romantic moment, and mash them together into an artistic montage. Then I pick some soundtrack music and play it back to myself a few times. At the end, that really fast voice says “comingsoonratedPG13.” I suppose all of this is just a product of my own over-active imagination and unrealistic hopes and dreams.

That’s about it for anything that be considered strange about my writing life and habits. Why don’t you see how eccentric everyone else is now?

April 5– http://correctingpenswelcome.wordpress.com–Comfy Sweaters, Writing, and Fish

April 6– http://towerofplot.blogspot.com — The Leaning Tower of Plot

April 7–http://lilyjenness.blogspot.com–Lily’s Notes in the Margins

April 8–http://weirdalocity.wordpress.com– From My Head

April 9–http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com–This Page Intentionally Left Blank

April 10–http://thewordasylum.wordpress.com–The Word Asylum

April 11–http://rachelsbookreviews.com–Rachel’s Book Reviews

April 12–http://noveljourneys.wordpress.com–Novel Journeys

April 13–http://delorfinde.wordpress.com–A Farewell to Sanity

April 14–http://swordofink.com–Sword of Ink

April 15–http://thedreamersadventures.blogspot.com–The Dreamers Adventures

April 16–http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com–The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

April 17–https://herestous.wordpress.com–Here’s To Us

April 18–http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com–Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)

 
4 Comments

Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Writing

 

Tags: , , , , ,

A Character By Any Other Name

Charles Dickens was very good at naming characters: Ebenezer Scrooge, Martin Chuzzlewit, Seth Pecksniff…While the rest of us can never hope to compete with such a great character-namer as Dickens, we can make an earnest attempt to not be overly bad at it. Names need not be overly creative to have a good ring to them. Harry Potter, for example, is a perfectly ordinary moniker, but it has ingrained itself in the imagination of the populous so much that hearing either part on its own calls to mind the whole. Or maybe that’s just me being an obsessive nerd. Either way, coming up with a good name, whether it’s completely pedestrian or totally out-there, is an important part of character development.

Sometimes names just hit you–for instance, the two ghosts in “Ravenfeather” (the ‘published masterwork’ I keep talking about, for you newbies) just had to be Samuel and Charlotte. Such a moment of serendipity has not occurred again for me; naming takes a bit of work. Since I tend to write stories set in far-away or nonexistent places and times, most of my names are of my own invention, but I don’t like to pull them out of thin air. I often raid the shelves of history and legend for inspiration, or plain old loot. Jennet from my novel is named for the heroine in the Scottish legend “Tam Lin.” (Fun fact to that effect: Hrothgar, the original dwarf king in the Inheritance Cycle, is also the name of a human king in “Beowulf.”)

One of my favorite other resources for names is Behind the Name. You can search by meaning, country of origin, even starting and ending letters. There’s also loads of fun stuff like name days and random name generators. Behind the Name is especially useful if you have a certain kind of name in mind and want to see if such a name exists. A simple Google search can yield a lot, as well. I’m working on a concept for a Poe-ish universe that could become the setting for some short stories, a novel, or maybe even a comic, and a search for dark-sounding names yielded this list, and this one too.

What do you find most important about a character’s name, or do you not think it really matters? How do you come up with names for your characters? Tell me about it in the comments!

 
8 Comments

Posted by on April 7, 2012 in Writing

 

Tags: , , , ,

A Supporting Character Speaks Up

This post is for the March Teens Can Write Too! blog chain. The prompt for the month was:

“Choose your favorite of any of your own characters. Conduct a ten-question interview with him or her.”

Let’s welcome a certain young lady by the name of Jennet to the blog! Jennet isn’t my protagonist–in fact, she only appears in two chapters of my novel. However, she is by far one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever created, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to interview her before a captive audience. (Someone did remember to lock the exits, right?)

Allegra: Well, I’m happy to have you here, Jennet! Why don’t you say hello to everyone?

Jennet: You seem nice enough, for your complete strangeness. You all talk like you’re from the north or something. So hello. But, the important thing here is, what in gods’ names am I doing here?

A: I’d just like you to answer some questions. Nothing too personal or political. Why don’t you start by describing yourself?

J: If you insist. I’m a dwarf and I’m fifteen years old. I’m from a cesspool of a village along the tunnel systems. I’m not really into politics, mostly I just try to get along and not break my neck, but if you wanted to know, I’m a royalist. I had a real close tangle with a bunch of rebels and some young folks from the capital a few months ago. That was the most exciting thing that’s happened to me in a while.

A: What was your impression of these “young folks”?

J: Oh, they were lunatics. *laughs* Well, one of ’em was a dwarf, maybe half-blood. The other two were humans–tall as trees and pale as milk. All about my age. The dwarf girl, see, she was wanted by the rebels or something, so she had her face plastered like it was burned, as a disguise. The humans were dressed like street performers, I’m not sure why. All three of ’em were damn shifty. Not bad folks, really, just trying to lie low. The human boy was attractive.

A: Speaking of that. What do you look for in a man?

J: Just that: a man. Someone who can do work, and who’s capable of defending himself. I can’t stand boys who soil their trousers at the thought of a fight. But if he thinks that I need defending, he’d better think again. I need respect, too. *pauses*  I do rather like cocky, rakish sorts.

A: What’s your main goal in life?

J: First, to get out of my village. Once my younger brothers are settled and all…I’d like to see some other countries. The crowned heads. I’m handy enough with a dagger that I’ve thought of becoming a mercenary. There’s money to be had in crime. My ma would pitch some fit, though.

A: I can see why. How is your relationship with your mother?

J: It can be a bit difficult. She just wants me to help her around our house–my dad ran off when I was just a little bit–but I’m always going off doing this-and-that. But most of the time she’s just looking out for me, I think. And I…look, do we have to talk about this?

A: Um, no. Moving right along. Has anyone ever compared you to an animal?

J: *rolls eyes* Yes. It’s always a crow. Jennet, you’re such a crow. Are you sure you’re not a shapeshifter, Jennet? Oh, you must be a crow the gods punished to become a dwarf. On and on. It’s because my laugh is all harsh and I have this beak of a nose. Also, I really enjoy shiny things.

A: I wouldn’t mind being compared to a crow. What’s wrong with it?

J: It’s damn tiring. You wouldn’t know about that, Miss-Fair-Skinned-Silver-Tongue. And I don’t see a single shiny thing on you. Oh, wait. Pierced ears. Bah.

A: Well, what’s your favorite thing about yourself?

J: Definitely my street smarts. There’s no city I’d want to avoid, and no scum I wouldn’t take on. If I can’t fight ’em, I can outwit ’em or outrun ’em.

A: Impressive. How about your flaws?

J: Over-confidence. So maybe forget about what I just said, eh? Also insensitivity. My looks could stand a polish, too.

A: What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you?

J: This. Right now. Who are you, what am I doing sitting in this room, and what is that glow-y contraption you’re tapping on?

A: Never mind that. Uh, thanks for coming, Jennet! Any parting words?

J: I didn’t have much choice in coming, did I? No parting words. Except, don’t call me Crow Girl, don’t insinuate I’m from the north, and never make me change a baby’s napkin. Now can you please unlock those exits?

That’s all for now, folks! Any questions you may have for Jennet, she will happily  answer.

Want to follow our blog tour? Here are the participating parties, day by day

March 5 — http://kirstenwrites.wordpress.com — Kirsten Writes!

March 6 — http://www.maybeteenauthor.blogspot.com/ – Struggles Of A (Maybe) Teen Author

March 7 — http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com –This Page Intentionally Left Blank

March 8 — http://www.thedreamersadventures.blogspot.com/ – The Dreamers Adventures

March 9 — http://lilyjenness.blogspot.com — Lily’s Notes in the Margins

March 10 — http://www.journeyofascholar.blogspot.com/ – A Box of Letters and a Cup of English Tea

March 11– http://weirdalocity.wordpress.com –From My Head

March 12 — http://thewordasylum.wordpress.com –The Word Asylum

March 13 — http://oyeahwrite.wordpress.com –Oh Yeah, Write!

March 14 — http://delorfinde.wordpress.com/ – A Farewell To Sanity

March 15 — http://noveljourneys.wordpress.com — Novel Journeys

March 16 — http://correctingpenswelcome.wordpress.com — Comfy Sweaters, Writing and Fish

March 17 — http://oopswasthatoutloud.wordpress.com/ – Oops Was That Loud?

March 18 — https://herestous.wordpress.com — Here’s To Us

March 19 — http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com— The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

March 20 — http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com –Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)

 

Tags: , , , ,

Getting Inspired

I’m caught in a sort of plateau with my writing life currently. I have a horror short sitting stale and unfinished on my computer and a partially edited fantasy novel on my hands. I think about my writing quite a lot, but it’s difficult to just sit down and write. I’m a go-with-the-flow type of person– I can’t write well on command. The inspiration needs to be there. I’m always getting in and out of writing funks, and so I’m always looking for strategies for getting back on track.

There’s the practical way, sure: sitting down with a pen and paper and planning where you’re going to take the story next. You can brainstorm plot ideas, make character profiles, focus on worldbuilding… It must work well for a great deal of people, and sometimes it works for me, too. I could have novels mapped out in detail on the desk in front of me, but I’d still be missing that spark to get started. I’m on a quest to find out where that comes from.

Music helps me a lot. I love putting together playlists of songs that remind me of a character, or a certain scene in the story. Listening to these songs repeatedly often charges me up and gets me excited to start writing. It adds another dimension to the story, in a way, and makes it feel more real.

Another thing that gets me fired up to write is reading and watching books and films that have nothing to do with my stories. It’s kind of strange. Reveling in the genius of other creative people inspires me to take up my own work; I view it as a challenge, if you will. Gormenghast? Doctor Who? The Mortal Instruments? None of these are related to the things I usually write, but they still inspire me.

But what helps me most of all is becoming my own fan. Drawing my characters and writing out little side scenes that aren’t in the story but still popped into my head get me excited about the story again. Sometimes I need to just let my narcissistic side come out, read something I’ve already written, like my one published masterwork, and let myself think, Hey, this isn’t actually that bad.  I can be a pretty harsh critic, and I think it bogs me down sometimes. Self-doubt is definitely not productive in the writing field, especially in the drafting.

So, readers, have you got any particular strategies for getting yourself inspired to write? Would you be inclined to share them? As always, happy writing!

 
7 Comments

Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Writing

 

Tags: , , , ,

On Love Polygons and the Big Kiss

This post is for the February 2012 edition of the Teens Can Write Too! blog chain. This month’s prompt was:

“What are your thoughts on romance for your typical genre? Do you tend to have a little, a lot, or none at all?”

 

Undoubtedly, my typical and favorite genre in both reading and writing is fantasy/sci-fi and its various derivatives, including but not limited to dystopian, steampunk, paranormal, epic fantasy, and macabre. While it is most certainly possible for these types of storylines to stand on their own merits, I always find them most enjoyable when there’s an element of romance lurking somewhere in the thick of the plot.

In reading these types of stories, I find that a touch of romance in the background–or even a broad brush of it in the foreground–adds that much-needed sense of humanity to the outlandish plot, particularly in YA. Even if a group of teenagers gets involved in a supernatural event of some sort, are they honestly expected to drop all hormones immediately and for all time? Let’s face it–it’s not going to happen. My taste for a bit of romance in reading is also fed by my own secret inner idealist (or hopeless romantic). This is the girl who doesn’t like animated Disney films. And you thought I was soulless!

Writing romance, however, is a whole other evil empire to be overthrown. Reading about love is easy–all you do is soak in someone else’s words. When one has no experience in these matters, as I do as of the posting date, it is decidedly difficult to write about it oneself. How are you expected to write about that fabled Big Kiss when, to yourself, it reminds just that–a myth? It’s like the Forever Alone guy handing out relationship advice. On the other hand, if I could only write just what I know, I would only be writing stories about single high schoolers who are told by their elders that their “intelligence is intimidating” but are probably just awkward weirdos.

So basically what I’m getting at is that the best I can do when writing romance is to take all I’ve read, watched, and heard from others, put them together in a big mental jumble, and use modified versions of the pieces that work best with the rest of the story. In a few years, I’ll probably read back the so-called romantic moments I write now and spray some beverage across the room from laughter.

The one thing I am confident about when writing romance is cliche avoidance. Love triangles featuring two badass guys and a weak-minded central female character have no place in my story, and neither do trouble-free InstaLUV tales. Love polygons of other sorts are acceptable, and two characters can fall in love quickly as long as there’s some amount of conflict later on. I’m chill with it as long as vampires and werewolves don’t both get involved.

Oh no! A Twilight reference! Everyone run for cover before she starts ranting!

All right, I can take a hint, you guys. Why don’t you check out the rest of the blog chain instead?

February 5– http://noveljourneys.wordpress.com –Novel Journeys

February 6– http://lilyjenness.blogspot.com –Lily’s Notes in the Margins

February 7– http://kirstenwrites.wordpress.com –Kirsten Writes!

February 8– http://correctingpenswelcome.wordpress.com — Comfy Sweaters, Writing and Fish

February 9– http://delorfinde.wordpress.com –A Farewell to Sanity

February 10– http://thewordasylum.wordpress.com –The Word Asylum

February 11– http://weirdalocity.wordpress.com –From My Head

February 12– http://estherstar1996.wordpress.com –Esther Victoria1996

February 13– http://alohathemuse.wordpress.com –Embracing Insanity

February 14– http://greatlakessocialist.wordpress.com –Red Herring Online

February 15– http://goteenwriters.blogspot.com –Go Teen Writers (Honorary Participant)

February 16– http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com –This Page Intentionally Left Blank

February 17– http://oyeahwrite.wordpress.com –Oh Yeah, Write!

February 18–http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com –The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

February 19– https://herestous.wordpress.com –Here’s To Us

February 20– http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com –Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)

 

 
5 Comments

Posted by on February 19, 2012 in Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Editing for Wimps, or, How I Revise

Before I start, one thing needs to be made absolutely clear: I detest and despise editing. But, as all writers know, you can’t just be sending your first drafts off to literary magazines without so much as a read-over, so the beast must be faced. I’m not much of a hardcore editor, though, so I have a system that skirts around the actual editing as much as possible to keep the suffering brief. I have a sinking feeling that it’s going to break down pretty soon as I continue my editing of The Novel.

Without further unnecessary and irrelevent ado, here it is: The Wimp’s Guide to Editing.

  1. Draft without a care in the world. When drafting, I try my hardest not to think about the finished product or the editing that will ensue. This makes the revision itself worse, yes, but it puts it off. Procrastination is something I particularly pride myself on.
  2. Force other people to read it.  Never, under any circumstances, try to be a wimpy editor without some beta readers on hand. Online writing buddies are good for this–if you have like-minded real-life friends, all the better. Your beta readers should pick out most of the major issues in your piece. Having others read towards the beginning of editing shortens the process, as well, since you’ll be getting outsiders’ reactions as part of the deal.
  3. Fix according to others’ suggestions. If you agree with your beta readers, or at least see their points, then you should fix the things they had major problems with now. Continue to put off your own examination of the piece.
  4. Be nitpicky. Be a proofreader now, and go through the piece looking for errors in spelling, grammar, and logic. Proofreading is usually treated as a final step in the editing process, but I like to take it on earlier. You can continue to procrastinate as you become more familiar with the story’s potential flaws and good points.
  5. Bite the bullet. Now you need to face the facts and actually do some of your own editing. Force yourself to see what’s wrong with the story. Make yourself see problems with the plot, spot awkwardly worded sentences, and decide which parts need to be removed, reduced, or expanded. This is undoubtably the hardest part of my writing cycle, but it needs to be done.
  6. Go back to Step Two and repeat until satisfied. Your story will never be considered perfect by everyone, but the editing has to stop somewhere. Otherwise, how would anything ever be published? That’s right, it wouldn’t. And not every story is going to become fully fit to see the light of day–just ask Anne Bradstreet. Stay wimpy, writers.
 
5 Comments

Posted by on February 12, 2012 in Writing

 

Tags: , , ,

Triumph

My eyes are tired. My fingers feel like jelly from all that typing. I have finished The Novel, with a few days of NaNoFiMo to spare! I have rarely felt this accomplished in my entire short life.

I could write a magnum opus here on the neccesity of persistance and dedication in writing, yadda yadda yadda, but honestly, I don’t feel like it. A proper non-mind-numbing post is coming soon, I promise you.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 29, 2011 in Personal, Writing

 

Tags: , ,