Posted in how to write

5 Weird Tips for Figuring Out What Your Characters Looks Like! (and how to describe it)

Sometimes the hardest thing to keep consistent with your character is their physicality.  I often have a rough time trying to pin down exactly how to describe the overall feeling I want readers to get. Heres some of my favorite tips and tricks for figuring it all out.

Dating Apps

If you want to scroll through pictures of people for hours on end then why not look at their best picture and get a short description of their personality. Then just screenshot the people who’s traits seem interesting or the most like your characters.

Character Creators (dress up games)

If you don’t like to draw then may I suggest https://www.dolldivine.com this is a character creator site that allows you to switch the features and clothes of characters you create. Some of the ‘games’ on this site have nonhuman characters which can also be fun. There are of course many different characters you can use but this one has the wides range of creators.

Movie stars

Pick an actor or actress that you would want to play your character if it were adapted into a film. Then just describe them plus or minus a few special effects like scars or eye color. You can even find them in a role and base your character off of the makeup artists work.

Pinterest

Yes, Pinterest is the first place I go for developing ideas.  But there’s a trick. Look to see what the other suggested searchers are under what you wrote. You might just find the perfect word or a new fashion style lurking there.

Don’t

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been taken out of a story because the writer tossed in a physical description late in the novel. My brain always comes up with a different image of what the characters will look like, and so will your readers. So why not leave it all up to their imagination. Describe your characters in a word or two without going into much detail. He had a sharp face. Leaves a lot to be explained but you get a good idea of the character.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Unique Gifts For Fiction Writers (and 10 best books on writing)

So you’ve made friends with the ever illusive introverted fiction writer. As it gets ever closer to Christmas we need to start thinking about what the best gifts would be. Here are some ideas and places to get started.

  1. Etsy Customisable

Artists love supporting other artists, that’s why Etsy is the first one I’ll mention. There are plenty of unique things like nicknacks, mugs, and shirts. But the real reason why I’m linking this is for the customizable aspect of Etsy. Try stalking Pinterest for writerly quotes to put on a customized moleskin, tote bag, or bookmark.

2. Amazon Inspiration pieces

If your writer is always looking for inspiration, try some of these gifts.

The writers emergency kit

Tea (with literary quotes on the bags)

Wax stamps – to get a little handwriting in

Hemmingway pencil cup– just look at it!

3. Things for Cats and with pictures of cats on them

If your writer is stereotypical and you’re running low on time, stores are sold out, or you want to by for a minimalist/utilitarian consider going to your local pet supply shop and buying something like…

an automatic pet feeder

a window bed

cat treats

it’s not drinking alone if you’re with your cat glass

How to Talk to Your Cat About Gun Safety: And Abstinence, Drugs, Satanism, and Other Dangers That Threaten Their Nine Lives

cat socks

4. Plant-related things.

Whether that’s seeds, a full on plant, or plant socks, there are plenty of things on the market that will get your plant lover excited. It can also spruce up a cold writing room.

5. A book (on writing)

My book recommendations:

The emotion thesaurus– I never knew I needed this so badly until I was gifted it.

Book in a month guide– Fill in the days and stay motivated as you go

Writing the breakout novel– great for inspiration

Paper hearts Volume 1 (some writing advice)- my favorite book of the year

Novelists Bootcamp– To get your writing in shape

Make a scene– a classic revamped

get known before the book deal– a little bit of advice on getting outside their room

your first 1000 copies– get this before they submit to publishers

wild ink– for young adult writers

and lastly, their favorite fiction book. Whether that’s a remastered version or something they’ve had pinned on their Goodreads. The best book is always subjective. So go to your local bookstore and pick out something that you think will excite them!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in how to write

How to Write 50,000 Words in 15 Days (and a video!)

We’re part way into nano now so I figured it was time to give you a boost. I’m not competing this year as I’m editing my novel for publication. But two months ago I completed my 50,000 words in 15 days.

I created this video if you would rather listen to me explain.

The most important step is to figure out how to budget your time

If you can’t find the time to write even one sentence you’ll never finish your novel. I recommend doing tasks ahead of time in order to clear your schedule. Meal prepping and planing at home workouts are my favorites as they cut down time drastically overall.

Don’t lose motivation!

Plan some prompts to keep you energized! I usually keep a Pinterest board for each of my novels to give me inspiration. I also create playlists on youtube for the songs that get me in the writing mood.

Don’t edit

Write down all the edits you want to make and then work on the after the month (or 15 days) is up. keep your momentum moving forward instead of bouncing back and forth all over your novel. On the other hand, if you’re really motivated to write a scene consider moving it up in the plot or writing it immediately.

Write everywhere

If you write a sentence while your food is in the microwave or three pages while waiting in line at the DMV instead of scrolling through Facebook you will get so much more done. Writing is a habit, one that you need to make. So while two words might not seem like a lot, it adds up. I writing in google docs so I can access it from anywhere.

Posted in how to write

How to Create Your Perfect Writing Space (and a Video)

Creating a spot that you use only for writing has many benefits. I’ve trained myself that whenever I sit in this one chair, I get in a writing mood. I’ve had a specific writing spot in every place I’ve lived. You can see my current set up here if you want some inspiration.

Tip 1

Find a space where you will be undisturbed.

It’s important that anyone who lives with you knows not to bug you when you’re in that seat.  I’ve used corners of rooms, rooftops, gardens, and sunrooms what’s important is to find a place that feels right to you.

Tip 2

Engage the scenes.

Lighting a candle, putting up twinkle lights, running water, laying down a soft rug and many other things that make your room more tactile can make you a better writer. I often forget to write smell and lighting into my stories so having something to remind you might help.

Tip 3

Keep the Clutter Away.

If I only bring the bare planning essentials to the table I will be much more focused. Making sure not to leave other projects like bills and work laying around will keep you thinking only of your writing. Having a clear space also decreases your barrier to entry so you can start writing faster.

Tip 4

Set up your inspiration.

I don’t care if you have an inspiration board or and inspiration mixtape, whatever you use to get into the mood of your WIP have it set up and ready to go. This will make it easier for you to sit down and write as well as help your brain associate writing with the space.

 

I hope this helped you out! Have a sparkling day!

Posted in how to write

The 8 Best Tips Gleaned from Writers Conferences

While attending Story Studios First Conference I got to meet a lot of different wonderful people. But what the panelists had to say always excited my mind. Here are some of my favorite tips from this conference.

Write for one person

When sitting down at the blank page it can be overwhelming to figure out what to write. Plenty of people suggest writing for your audience but instead try writing for just one person, the one person you want to pick up your book or who would get the most out of it. This makes a very personal connection between you and the writer.

Always have a fun project in the pipeline — hope

When submitting to publishers it can be easy to get discouraged but if you have one really fun project in development that will give you enough hope to keep going. Even if they book flops at least your next one will be better and maybe it will sell.

Aim for 10 rejections in a month – mind trick

This way you don’t get upset about each individual rejection. It’ll make you send out as many query letters as you can. It’s a weird mind trick but it certainly works for some people.

Are my sentences surprising me?

This is a trick for editing. If your own sentences don’t make you laugh, cry or be surprised after you’ve put the book away for several months then it’s not going to surprise your reader or agent.

You need to write shit to learn

If you don’t write awful stuff in the beginning then you’ll never learn. You have to write to get better so don’t get discouraged by your ineloquent sentences or wordy paragraphs in the beginning.

Finding characters voice so they tell you want to do

You know your characters have really come to life when they start making choices on their own. I love the feeling of my characters taking the lead and writing the story for me. Try to find your characters as early on as possible!

What the character wants vs needs

Like in The Great Gabsy the main character thinks he wants something, but over the course of the book finds out what he really needs. By figuring out what your characters want and placing it in direct opposition with what the need you’ll create the perfect inner drama.

Connection to something outside of self

What gives a book staying power is it’s connection to the outside world. There it can connect and spread more organically to your audience and really create an impact with your readers.

 

And my favorite hashtags were #mswl to what agents are looking for and #tenqueerys

Posted in how to write

The only tip you need to actually finish the draft of your novel.

So I’ve written about six novel-length manuscripts averaging about 80,000 words and started around 23 different projects in my lifetime. So what was the difference between the ones that were completed and the ones that were abandoned?

This one change to my writing style did it all for me. Every novel I’ve started to write after figuring this out has been completed. So what is it?

Whenever you come up with an exciting idea write it immediately, wherever you are.

Sometimes I think it would make a great plot twist at the end but by the time I get there it either no longer works or I’ve forgotten about it. Other times I think of a great character backstory I have to put in at the beginning but then I’ll get sidetracked and started editing the first chapter (again). Or worse than either of those, I get bored with the project and stop before I can put this great idea in.

Often times I’ll find that my plot is to slow or I feel I need to add another stressor to my characters. In every situation I’ve been in, moving the next plot point up has fixed that problem. I’ve rewritten sections so that the next big point happens way sooner because I’ve realized two things.

  1. If I’m bored so is the reader (on the other hand if this excites me now it’ll excite the reader).
  2. I will always keep coming up with new ideas as I write.

If it really does belong somewhere else then at least you already have it written and won’t lose the passion you had for the scene. Any time you feel eager and willing to write, sit down and do it!

I hope you have a wonderful day!

Posted in how to write

What Makes Anime Characters so Popular?

I am constantly struck by how Anime stands apart from other popular media presented to teens. It’s often not only something you need to be in the mood for, but also something that can bring people with no other common interests together in ways that books never seem to do. At conventions, thousands of people pay money to dress up as the characters and talk with other people who enjoy the same shows in a way only the harry potter books seem to do. So I’ve started to analyze what sets it apart from American media.

The first part that I’m struck by is how in every arch, one season, the characters not only go up against their worst enemy but they truly believe they will fail before discovering an even greater power. In YA books this is often saved for the climax or the end which can still be effective but not nearly as powerful.

You see the important part about this is the compounding effect. The reader always knows the character will make it out alive in the end, but when we see the breakthrough moment instead of a montage it truly makes the viewer believe that the character has gotten stronger. So when, with new power/control/knowledge, the MC faces a new terrible, amazing villain, we can hardly believe that they will win. Both the characters and we believe that’s all the tricks the character has until the creator pulls a fast one on us and shows there’s more power left in the character after all.

The other big difference is that the characters often want to be there. In much of American media, the MC is forced on the quest by another factor (blackmail, repaying a favor, prophecy ect.) While on a lot of anime not only does the character have a backstory that motivates them to complete the challenge but sometimes to create their own goal that they strive for. I’m constantly surprised by how many times the main character is told to stay out of the fight or to not get involved but is to motivated to not fight.

While anime will always have its advantages with how easy it is to consume in mass, novels can take a page from its structure and characters in this way.

Posted in how to write

The Secret to Making Your Setting More Than a Backdrop

I studied set design and construction for film in college, not writing. But that makes me the most qualified person to tell you that you’re probably doing plot wrong. When creating the world of a film we don’t just think about the physical place, but how it dimaz-fakhruddin-521665-unsplash.jpgreflects the characters and how it’ll influence the emotions of the viewer. We pick out every piece of furniture meticulously and work in teams to create not only makeup, wardrobe, props, furniture, rooms, but also build worlds from the ground up and they always have to make sense and be believable.

Without setting, everything is taking place inside 4 white walls, and while there’s more left to the imagination in a novel than a film set, you can’t expect readers to world build for you. So what’s the secret to making a setting really have an emotional impact and be more than just a backdrop?

Treat your setting like a character.

Have the setting change over time, whether that’s getting cleaner, messier, or burning to the ground. Describe it in ways that make people fall in love with it, despise it, or be disgusted with it. Have the weather react to news, and interact with the characters. Create physical blocks with it, the way another character might try to slow your hero down.

element5-digital-645849-unsplash.jpgDon’t be afraid to spend a couple of sentences describing a new place when you come to it, but return to old places as much as you can. In film, every location change and new set costs thousands of dollars, so we see the characters returning to the same place again and again. This will let you fully explore the room and let the characters fully probe the room without dumping information on the reader. Let your characters use all five senses, pick up items, smell burning bread in another room, see something sitting on the mantel. Let them move through the world not just stand in front of it.

Flesh out your world and it’s backstory the way you would a character. There’s a story behind old buildings and the way they were treated by their owners. Homes say a lot about the people who live there and give you a great opportunity to show instead of tell.

Posted in how to write

How DnD Changed the Way I Write.

Call me a nerd, but I’ve heard several authors say that playing DnD helps them write better. It really helps to fully get into character and see exactly what your motivations are even when the task at hand doesn’t involve the overall plot. Roleplaying shows you all the different facets of a person and how others react to this behavior, it makes you think on your feet and decide what’s right and wrong without consequence.

It would be very difficult to explain all the different character interactions and what I learned about human phycology in just a few sessions, but I can tell you about how I’ve come to interact with objects.

In case you haven’t played, let me give you an overview.  You and your friends create characters that will move through a world and complete quests based off of the whim of the game master or DM. So as you’re playing the DM will tell you about the world but obviously, he can’t explain everything so it’s up to the players to ask more about things they are interested in.

Different characters will react to the same room differently. Here’s an example:

A lizard Nobel, a wandering knome riding a dog, a giant raven necromancer and a trifling thief in disguise walk into a kings bedroom while he isn’t home. The room is described as: a big open room with a king sized bed, a wardrobe, and a chest or drawers, it looks like whoever was here left in a hurry because the bed isn’t made and the drawers are open.

brennan-martinez-729517-unsplash.jpgThe Nobel is familiar with this type of room and is bored, he’s to rich to steal anything so he takes a nap on the huge bed. The knome’s priority is to rummage through the wardrobe and see if there are any clothes she can steal, while the necromancer is checking drawers to see if there’s anything he can use in spells. The thief is right behind him trying to find anything of monetary value. All the while we are having a conversation about why the teifling is in disguise.

So in short, every character is after something different even if it isn’t directly related to the ultimate goal. They all have quirks. And even though the best thing we got out of the room was the conversation, it only goes to prove that your characters shouldn’t be standing still even if the discussion is heated.

If you want to get into dnd or even just think more about characters and backstory I’d recommend you get the players handbook.

If you liked this post you might also like Your Characters Aren’t in Enough Danger

Posted in how to write

Your Characters Aren’t in Enough Danger

In the age of video games where it only takes a click of a button for your favorite character to respawn, it’s easy for new writers to fall short when trying to create rising action. Lucky for us, there is one very simple thing to keep in mind to make sure your action actually rises and isn’t just in the same state of panic the whole time.

The plot has to build on itself based on the characters decisions.

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If the choices your character make don’t change the way the plot progresses, the villain acts, or other characters respond then they have effectively done nothing. There has to be low tides and high tides, times of internal and external conflict, and one thing must lead to another.

I suggest picking three main events that lead up to the climax and making sure that at least those points have some kind of consequence. Even if the character succeeds, at what cost? Does this big event change the way your main character thinks, acts, or respond when in danger again?

Please let me know if you struggle with this as well. If you want to read more articles by me, I’d suggest starting with