Monday, June 26, 2017

Trying To Be Good

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I realized that I have been very naughty. I haven't been keeping to my blog at all! (honestly, I actually forgot about it for a while.) Life has been crazy busy with trips, events, work, and finishing up school! And, to be honest, I haven't been writing in my book as much as I should be. As an author, I should be writing. That's kind of what we do. (hence the name)
But I'm back in the game now! And actually, taking a break from sitting in front of the computer allowed me to have time to think about the complicated parts in my story.
I know I've read a lot from writing websites that talk about always - ALWAYS - finding time to write at least a little every single day. But that may not be such a good idea. I know I haven't found it helpful. Because if I'm hitting a part of the book that just isn't coming together, sitting in front of a screen isn't going to help me. It just puts more stress because I'm staring at a wall of letters that fades into white nothingness knowing I need to write SOMETHING! (panic attack ensues!) I mean, does anybody besides me get tired from listening to the same song every single day? It wears you down until you want to throttle the speakers!

Taking a break is important, but it doesn't mean you have to completely ditch your book. (As an author, it's always in your head anyway.) I find that there are certain times throughout the day when I can think through a hard part of the book. Planning doesn't have to be done in front of the computer. Here are a few places and times that I get most of my brilliant ideas! (ok, brilliant may be too strong of a word. I think they are brilliant, but I'm probably biased.)

1: Doing Chores
I am the dishwasher in my family. And being the oldest of six means there are lots, and lots, and lots of dishes. This is a perfect time for me to work through some of the nitty-gritty things. I'm the type of person who will write the intense and exciting story line and totally ditch the details.
Author Tip: Try to ask yourself questions about your book. Questions like: "Why would my character do that?" "How does this scene help the story?" "How can I make this part with a lot of talking more exciting?"
Don't always go along with the first idea that pops into your head. There are more options for how a character can find out that the dying man he's holding in his arms is his supposedly-dead father. The dying guy doesn't have to say it through gasping breaths. That's been done way to many times.
2: Working Outside
Ok, so maybe not everybody spends 4 hours outside like I do. (I don't have much of a choice because my job is exercising horses, I have to be outside.) But most people go outside every now and then! I mean, tending gardens, mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, these are all great times to think about your book! Come up with different lands and areas that would make great settings for different scenes! Or keep asking yourself questions.
A book is not mere paper and words...:

3: Reading
I know this might sound a little weird, but sometimes a great book can spark new ideas! Or it can pose a new way of looking at something that you never would have thought of before and fits perfectly with your book! Learning isn't always from a textbook. A lot of knowledge is passed down from other people who have walked the path before you. If there is a certain way that you want to write, read a book that is written in that way. It will help get you into the mood or give you the intense feelings that you want to transfer into your book! (Just don't be a copy-cat because that's lame)
Robb Stark =( He will always be King of the North! Omg I'm still in denial about this. It so sad.:

What are some of the ways you come up with great ideas? Please share in the comments so other people can learn! Don't let Writer's Block get the better of you! And remember: Take a break every now and then. Shut the computer down and live in the beautiful world that God has put you in. No book can ever tell the story you are writing with your life.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Things You Think You Know

  Authors get really good at making readers believe on thing when it's really something totally different. Whether it's about the hero suddenly being the villain, or an apparently safe plan turning out to be a death trap. This is just another one of the things that makes books amazing!
But readers, did you know that authors themselves fall captive to the exact same problem? (Except it's not nearly as thrilling as the hero stabbing the ever-faithful friend in the back to turn the story around)

Here are five things that we, as authors, will tell you and what we are actually doing/thinking when you're back is turned:

Scene #1: Friend: "So, how is your book coming along?"
                Author: "Great, there is nothing like the thrills of writing!
Reality: At the moment my writing is going great! The scenes are fast and exciting with lots of inspiration for future scenes.
Same scene 1 week later: I am a failure at writing! Why did I ever think I could write something worth reading? 

Scene #2: Friend: "Shouldn't you be working on your book so you can finish it before your self-set deadline?"
                Author: "I"m taking a break so I can work through a complicated part before actually writing it down and committing."
Reality: That's elegant-ees for, "I'm procrastinating."

Scene #3: Friend: "How is that difficult part coming along?"
                Author: "Eh, it's nothing I can't handle."
Reality: I'm drowning in an ocean of doubt and misery with nothing but a boat made of Swiss Cheese. I don't even have any crackers!

Scene #4: Friend: "Did you make this character off of (insert-name-of-a-close-acquaintance-here)?"
                Author: "Oh no, I wouldn't do that."
Reality: Of course the character is based off of that person! But I would never say so because that character dies/is the betrayer/is the villain/or something else horrendous and I would be digging my own grave if I admitted that their character type was perfect for such a character as this!
Reality option #2: Mentally thanking you for such a wonderful idea!

Scene #5: Mom: "Did anybody take the ice cream/chocolate/coffee maker(and everything else that accompanies it)/chips/crackers/ect."
The question will vary depending on the author.
                  Author: "Check the top shelf."
Reality: Please don't let mom look under the bed! Oh please, oh please, oh please don't look under the bed. Or in the closet... or under the covers... ... ... Just don't go in my room!!  

So the next time you ask an author one of these questions... you know what, just don't ask an author these questions. You'll be doing us a huge favor!

All authors have awkward interactions with normal people - that's just the life of a person who lives multiple lives. Sharing those stories is a great way to make new friends and have a good laugh. Please drop a comment below if you have every had a funny author-problem story! (Nobody will tattle about the ice cream! Promise.)  


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Digging Deeper: Story Plot

  Alas, we have come to the final post in the Digging Deeper series! If you missed out on the last two posts you can see the first one about Characters Here, and the second about Worlds Here. In this session we will be taking a closer look at the one thing that really and truly makes a book: Your Story!

  This is an extremely broad topic, so I won't be able to touch on everything in a single post. Hopefully I'll be able to elaborate more as I walk the long road of writing my own book. But just based off of the experience that I've gained through publishing my first book, The Wings of Antheon, and reading so many other great books, I've learned some valuable tidbits on what makes a good story.
  The first thing I've seen that helps make a good story is having a unique story line. I have learned this through painful experience. Readers like to be challenged and surprised, so don't make a story line that can be predicted or guessed. If there's a hidden connection between two characters, don't hint at it over and over. Make it invisible until the last possible moment! Or, even better, drop a hint that reveals a little of the truth, but can be easily taken the wrong way.
  Readers also like to walk through a struggle with the character. As we talked about in the post on Characters, everybody struggles with something. What this something is, be it anger, jealousy, loyalty, or love, will affect how your story line is shaped because your character needs to overcome that struggle throughout the story. By creating a struggle you also have to create an answer. Once again, the Show Don't Tell comes into play. Your story needs to be the answer. This is called Experiments in Living. If your character struggles with overcoming her mistakes, let her see that it is a chance to learn by using the mistake to gain experience she would have otherwise never had. Maybe she could even use the experience to help a friend. If your character is always angry, let him hurt somebody he cares for and move through his emotions to see that blowing up never helps. Characters are not always perfect and your story line shouldn't be either. The world is not all butterflies and rainbows. It's usually in our darkest time that we see the light of truth shine the brightest.
  Another really exciting thing to weave into your story is a bit of history! Everybody likes a good backstory that makes the present one have more meaning. Whether it's a friendship with a mysterious stranger who is slowly revealed to be somebody far greater than they appear, or a war that is much more than an over-the-top argument, a backstory adds a new sense of meaning and depth to the entire story!
  These are three general tidbits that can be applied to any story - fantasy and realistic alike.
 You probably saw this coming, but here is the final checklist to make sure your story is all that it should and could be.

  1. Do your character's have a back story? Like I said before, this can add a lot more meaning to who they are now and how that affects the present.
  2. Do you have an overarching theme, like Jealousy or Anger, that is overcome throughout your book? Stories shouldn't always be just action packed adventures. They need a reason - a meaning - that makes the reader nod their head in agreement and gives them some food for thought. 
  3. Does your story have any unique turns? This is kind of hard to judge on your own, so I suggest asking a friend to be a beta reader. If they write back and say that they were surprised then great job! If they saw it coming, you might want to brainstorm about how you could make the turn less obvious.
  4. Is your story accurate with the era you're writing in? This is really important! If your story is written in olden day England, you need to make sure the form of speech, modes of transportation, and general feel fit into that era. This helps pull the reader back in time so they can understand the story.
  5. Are you enjoying your story as you write it? As I said in one of my first posts, your story should be as interesting for you to write as it will be for your reader to read! If you're bored, your reader is going to be twice as board as you are.
And that concludes the end of the Digging Deeper series! Keep checking in for new posts (hopefully) every week. For me, nothing happens until it happens so if I'm late, just rest assure that I'll probably have some kind of crazy story! (like getting dragged around by a horse. But that was yesterday so it's old news)

Have you ever read a story that surprised you or left you moved? Please drop a comment with a title of the book and what made it amazing! I'm always looking to expand my to-read list!!