Sunday, April 29, 2012

Breakups, Makeups, and Anniversaries

A Cactus Patch... At Night... Sort of.
By smackbabe on Deviant
April 26th, 2012 marked the First Anniversary of finishing the first draft of the Night Stalker. Can I get a what, what?! Okay... Maybe not. And, since I cannot remember when I actually started writing the Night Stalker, I am also calling April 26th the day I started writing TNS. So, April 26th is both a First Anniversary and an Eighth Anniversary for me. Since April 26th, 2012, I have rewritten the Night Stalker once and I am working on my Third Draft. I think that the Third Draft might be the one! In this year, I have learned that there is no one way to revise 400 pages of awesomeness, that revising is a messy and complicated process, and that revising is like trying to find your way through a cactus patch... In the dark... Without a flashlight. 

This whole thing has gotten me thinking about breakups and makeups.

My Plot Board
The Whole Plot for the Night Stalker Laid
Out On Pretty Notecards
Eight years ago, roughly, I sat down and wrote the first fifty pages of the Night Stalker. Everything was going great until I hit page fifty. Things started falling apart and all of the excitement from starting out vanished. The Night Stalker and I happily broke up. I respectfully put the Night Stalker behind me in a dusty drawer for five years. In May of 2009, if I remember correctly, I went searching through my thirty plus notebooks of old, unfinished stories, just looking for something to work on. Something that might be salvageable. What I found was the Night Stalker. And, TNS was brilliant. The Night Stalker and I made up and started racing for The End. Over the next two years (Minus two NaNoWriMos) I scratched out 408 more pages of glorious crap. This crap ended with: "Yes," Hamilton watched the flames leap below in the courtyard, hungry for more. The charred skull of his father smiled at him. Hamilton smiled, "Yes... We'll kill them all." THE END 4/26/11 Oh, the drama.

You see? Sometimes breaking up and making up can be a good thing. Sometimes, writers have to put things away for a while, or in other words, break up with their work. In the time that the writer and the work are separated, both mature a little, the brilliance comes back, and the passion and excitement start to return. New ideas sneak forward and a stronger story that demands to be written rises out of the depths of imagination.

There is a piece of advise from Gail Carson Levine that she puts into her book Writing Magic. Levine gives the advise to keep everything you ever write for at least fifteen years. Once fifteen years passes, you have the choice to throw out that writing or to keep it. Following this advise keeps potentially amazing writing from being thrown out and lost forever.

“A novel rough draft is like bread dough; you need to beat the crap out of it for it to rise.” -Chris Baty


Friday, April 13, 2012

Write What You Have Never Known

Write what you know, learn what you don't know. Or, write what you have never known. In other words, write whatever you want. The easiest way to describe an action, emotion, feeling, personality, or place is to experience it for yourself. If one character brushes their teeth, go brush your own teeth. Describe putting the toothpaste on the toothbrush, what they are thinking about as they are brushing their teeth. Writing about a character who hates the world is easier when you remember a time when you wished everyone annoying would drop dead. Think about how you felt, acted, reacted, your thoughts and feelings. Or, if you are writing about New York, New York, take a week vacation there. Meet the people, see the city, let the setting create the mood. You can learn about New York from any source, but nothing will help you imagine the place better then actually going. What if the characters and settings are made up? Then find a place somewhere close to that place. If your fantasy is set in a dense forest on another planet, make plans to spend an afternoon in the forest. Think about what your characters would do in a situation as you go though out the day. Put yourself in their shoes and walk around for a bit.

I write basically everything from mysteries to fantasy to romance to poems about socks. No, I have never been in a mystery, murder, or investigation, but the lack of experience will not stop me from writing about it. A big part of rewriting is research, surprisingly. One goal for most writers is to make the readers believe that, yes, this story is true and everything in it is possible. To do that, at least some aspects have to be realistic. No, a regular man cannot jump from building to building and shoot webs from his wrists. But, if you have him be bitten by a spider and given superpowers, then anything is possible and believable. Fiction is about writing the unordinary and extraordinary and making it seem like it could happen to anyone. It is about letting readers, for just a moment, feel like anything is possible. Words can leave us tangled in magic and hoping for something better. They can break us down and make us question the big questions. And when words come together to from sentences and sentences form paragraphs, paragraphs form chapters, and chapters form a story, then anything is possible. The reader's mind is yours to take away and meddle with until they read the last word. As a writer, you have the power to implant new ideas, make people really question right and wrong and how society works. A few words can change a nation. Such as "I have a dream..." "Four-score and seven years ago..." or "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley ,of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." even "That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind".

Words have power. Choose them wisely. 

Don't be afraid to write what you will never know. 


Monday, April 2, 2012


Figment. Have I told you about Figment? Even if I have, I feel like I need to post something.

Figment is a writing website run by... Well, I'm not sure what company runs it, but they are out there. Anyways, Figment is a writing website for people of the human race to go post and read stories. Inkpop (Another Writing Website) was swallowed by this monster of a site and the opinion of which site is the best varies vastly. My friend actually told me about Figment, so I checked it out, thought it was nice, and got an account. Not long after that was the swallowing of Inkpop. So naturally, I was thrilled about only having one site to keep track of.

This is how Figment works. You sign up and you post things you write. People can heart, comment, critique, and "React" to your work. The more hearts, comments, ect. that you receive, the more popular your story gets. There are also amazing contests going on all of the time where you can win some pretty neat prizes. The Forums are always busy, and there are multiple groups of people to join.

So, check Figment out. You never know, you might like it.

Best of Writing,


P.S. Here's a link to my page. Enjoy!