31 January 2012

Blog Award!

Wow, I have to say it has been a while since I have gotten one of these!

But, I have received an award from Freya Morris called the Kreativ Blogger award!

I'm so excited! So many people to thank...

*gets teary and grabs a tissue*

Okay, where was I?

Oh! Well, first I must tell you ten things about me (juicy stuff, not that lame-o stuff you would probably find out within seconds of sitting next to me on the bus).

And then I must give the award to five other bloggers!



(By the way, at the end, if you are one of the recipients, just right click and save the image to your desktop if you want to use it on your own blog acceptance speech!)

Alright, ten things...here we go:

1)  I still refuse to Facebook friend the guy that I farted in front of in the sixth grade. Yes, I farted in public. But just once. Never have I ever done that again.

2) I'm 25 and I don't have a car, nor a license. I figure that one day that will be a part of my weird "writer" story that will continue to prove to people why writers are strange creatures that will never be fully understood. And riding the bus provides great character ideas.

3) I still search for the guy that I crushed MAJORLY on when I was 17. He's married now and whenever I see his marital status as saying, "Married" on Facebook, I obsessively play, "Someone Like You" by Adele until I'm sick of it. That usually means I play it up to 20 times.

4) I didn't get on ANY social networking site until June of 2011.

5) Sometimes when I listen to music, I imagine that I'm in a movie montage of my life and I think of all the memories that come up while the song plays.

6) I still have my favorite dolls from when I was a baby.

7) (This got inspired by Freya's top ten things about her...) My first kiss was when I was 17 and it was from a guy who loved doing impressions. I hated impressions then. I hate them now.

8) I always feel like being able to draw would be an easier art to do, but I wonder if all artists (including writers) say that.

9) I have a book-a-day calender and I haven't liked a single recommendation that it has given me this year.

10) I think it's depressing that the people who "friend" you on Facebook sometimes will never actually speak to you. I wish it was possible to write all the people you are friends with on there and just say, "Hey."

Alright, peeps, that's my top ten, and now here are the people I felt were most deserving of the award!

The Southern Scrawl
Writing Through College
Clarissa Draper
David Powers King
Reading, Writing and Loving It

All of these are oh-so-awesome writing blogs that I thoroughly enjoy - so check them out and congratulate them for me!

Happy Tuesday everyone!

30 January 2012

How Do You Get Started?

Start Starting Line Americorps Cinema Service Night Wilcox Park May 20, 20117

This question was on my mind recently as I had gotten a few writing ideas over the weekend...

As writers, we all have different approaches and ways of going about our creative writing. Some of us dive right in, some of us plan, some of us have to let the idea "stew" for a while, and some of us have to write it down and put it out of our head for a while.

Either way, there isn't a real direct way to answer the question, "How Do You Get Started?" So, I decided to ask the writing community - how do you get started when you have a story idea?

And this is what everyone had to say...

The Peculator

DRIPPING 0:09, writing
@ByAnnaBanks told me, "I let it percolate for a few days, maybe a week, make a playlist, listen to that for a few days, then scrawl out a chapter."

I do that too - I have to let my idea simmer for a while. I feel like my imagination is designed as a big "crock pot" where everything has to go in and be just right before it's ready to eat...err, write I mean.

Rebecca Enzor from Google Plus agreed, "I try to storyline through the entire thing in my head, to make sure it is an actual story and not just a snippet of something. If I can get from beginning to middle to end then I try to find out as much as I can about the characters. Once I know who they are, how they act, and what their background is, I'll start writing."

Pete Thanos from the Writer's Digest Forums also had this approach, saying, "I either have an ending, character, plot in mind or all the above. Then from there I sit on the idea. I call it percolation. Usually the idea will grow or die. Then I draft a loose outline noting problems or concerns. Next I draft scenes and squeeze all the juice I can out of them, with specific goals in mind. All in order to promote the next scene. Each scene needs to advance the story, by informing, or action."

Bee Vahnsan said, "I get started by thinking of what I want to write about. I'm currently in the process of editing a short story I've written which I started by thinking, "Okay..it's going to be about a girl..who wants to be writer" and from there, I create several versions to tell about the main idea. I settled with an idea after 4 or 5 days of thought and writing.

George A agreed, "From the beginnings of the seed being planted in me, I began scheming, so to speak, to try to figure out how I'll tie that death and the surrounding incidents into a story that will have some heft and - perhaps - even a touch of (somewhat grisly) humor. It's been months since the incident first came to light, and I've not actually begun the story, but the wheels are churning in my pea-brain (as my ex-wife would call it), and I anticipate a flowering in the near future."

The Drinker

Glass of burbon, writer, drinker
@JIGreco said, "I grab my moleskin, a bic stic, and a bottle of scotch...then see what happens."

Although I hate to perpetuate the idea that all writers drink, I have to agree with this one to an extent. After drinking a glass of wine, my head is way too woozy for my inner critic to come out (my inner critic doesn't hold it's liquor well; it conks out after one glass).


















The Dreamer

dreamer, writing, writer
Somewhere in between the percolator, and the speed demon, we have the dream.

James Femmer from Google Plus told me, "I usually start with a single visual. It usually involves the main character and some sort of unusual situation or something usual that hints at something more. I tend not to outline because the fun of writing for me is discovering the story as I write...Depending on the nature of the image, I start with it or work towards it. Sometimes neither."

Nadine from the Writer's Digest Community felt the same, "Story ideas usually come to me in the form of a very specific scene. Once written down, it acts like a pebble thrown into a lake. More and more details follow, branching out in all directions until I know who the characters are, where they came from, how they got there as well as where they're going and have a story ready to be written."


The Cautious Writer

Careful!, cautious, planner, writer, writing

 Katie Snow Pendergrass told me, "When the idea has started, for me, I get main character names first (if they haven't already named themselves). Next, comes that first sentence - the one that starts it all. I can spend hours to weeks working on that one sentence, and if it doesn't come, I put it aside and think about it. However, if it does, then I work on the first chapter. I would've already had an rough idea, so I let it take shape and form, take the path it needs too. Then comes the plot outline, and from there, (hopefully, anyway) it's smooth sailing with more than a few bumps along the way. It works for me, personally."

Thomas Wilson said, "So far my stories start with discoveries, some research, and playing around with what if this, what about that, questions...[and] basically one idea leads to another, and so on and when I have enough material for multiple books and more than enough for one I take all my notes and ideas and turn it into a detailed outline.


"Then I start at the beginning, I don't stress over the 'They call me, Ishmael.' Super perfect opening line, not yet, I am just starting out. But the first 1500 words better grab the reader. They are the most important of the entire book...

"Where do you start? The beginning! But if I don't have enough stuff to teach extreme situations, hard life truths, compelling characters, and enough material to gag a goat, it is just an idea not a story idea."

M G Kizzia said, "The idea remains an idea until I have a reasonable ending in mind. I never ramble until I feel like, "Okay, this is a good place to stop."

"If the writing takes me somewhere else, fine. I may set it aside for a time until I adjust the potential ending in my thoughts. I may not end up anywhere near the place I first envisioned, and that is fine too, but I won't even begin unless I know the stopping point.

"Once that is settled, I look at what needs to be included in the beginning to get the story idea up and running. I start as close to the dilemma, situation, conflict, whatever as I can -- right on top of it if possible. Then I am off and running, twisting and turning my way through the marathon maze until I arrive at THE END."

The Head First-ers



Sonia Lai on Google Plus told me, "For a short story, I just start writing. For a novel, I write short backstories and figure out plot, characters, stuff like that."

I'm impressed by this one. Whenever I have tried to just start writing, I end up losing steam. I'm very much impressed by those  writers who can plunge in head first and get that story out.

Jeffery Van Stee had a similar approach and told me that he "write[s] down everything I can think of about that idea."


Auden Johnson said, "I just write whatever comes to mind. Things like character names and plot come to me while I'm writing."

Richard Lind said, "I usually just start writing when an idea pops into my head. I work it and sometimes re-write in first person or third and then I read some of the beginning out loud. It kind of calls out and stars itself when an idea comes..."

Theresa Danley said it best and most simply with her approach: "Write, write and write some more!"

So no matter what your approach is, whether you are a dreamer, a cautious writer, a drinker, a head first-er, a percolator,  you can tell that there is no right way to do this...so writers, tell me...how do you get started once you have an idea?

27 January 2012

The Writer's Toolbox: Tools to Reduce Distractions

distracted, writing, distraction



If you are reading this, it's possible I am completely distracting you from something.

Stop it right now.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Still with me?

 
Good for you!

So, I've been thinking about distractions lately and how easy it is (hang on I just got a text...................hehehehe)......................to get completely distracted from what it is your doing (ooh, Facebook notification!)

I thought it was time to put together a list (yay! A new Twitter follower!) of the ways that you can prevent those pesty distractions (whoops, phone call.........) from getting your work done.

Dark Copy

So I found this site and I thought it would be a wonderful tool for those of us that don't get too distracted by the internet (so wouldn't just minimize the site and play around) and just want a blank space to write in. You visit the site and you immediately see that it's a black page with lime green text and a very miminalist info related screen. Very cool.

The nice thing is when you're done you can download it as a text file to upload elsewhere.

Check it out here - http://darkcopy.com/

One Page A Day

This site is great because all it asks for is one page. One page a day. (Hey, we can all manage that.)  And it actually sends you reminders!

All kinds of awesome-ness.


Log in with your Google Account and you will find your first page ready for you. And it appears like a basic type writer page, so again...very little distractions.

Focal Filter

Okay, time to get serious. Seriously.

This is the site you will want to use if you really, really need some help. This will actually block sites distracting sites and it isn't anything you have to download and it runs with every browser you like to use.

And you can add sites to it.

Check it out. Now: http://www.focalfilter.com/

You know you have a problem and it's time to do something about it.

Write or Die

Here's where it gets a little scary. How about having a program that will actually delete your work if you don't keep it up.

I know, that would get me writing too. Yikes.

You will give it a timer, and let it know whether you want the software to be strict or laid back.

Check it out here -


Cold Turkey

How about this - disabling those pesty sites like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Hotmail, Wikipedia, for however long you need it to and it even punishes you if you try to remove the software (you will be blocked for a week if you try.)

Yes, my distracted writers - we have Cold Turkey.

If you download this, you will not regret it. And if you do...here's a site on how to remove that software:


Now...back to Facebook...er, I mean writing! Writing, of course. Ha ha...writing....ooh a funny cat video!

25 January 2012

Writer Wednesday (and Thursday) Blog Hop

Okay, it has been a long week, but we're finally out of the woods - it's Wednesday! I'm so glad, I felt like I have been playing "catch up" all week and I still can't believe it's only Wednesday.

Alright, so welcome back to the fun, people. We have Itchy and Scratchy from the Simpsons hopping with us -

And make sure to grab a button to promote the blog hop also (just right click to save the button to your desktop and then post it to your blog as an image!):

Here are the rules:

1) Follow your blog host (Me) (if you want to co-host, let me know if the comments! Or remind me that you want to!)


2) Follow at least three other blogs (if you post your link early, make sure you come back and check out the other blogs)

3) Let the person you followed know that you are following their blog

4) (Optional...sort of): Tweet about the blog hop! (Use hashtag #WWBH and #WW when you do!) - Thank you to all of you who have featured this hop on your site!! I really appreciate it!

And all you do is link up below! You can link up your writing site, your blog, your twitter account, or your facebook page. I'm flexible, and I know my other awesome hoppers are too. We're a cool bunch.

Alright, let's get hoppin'!

23 January 2012

Character or Plot? What matters most?

Which Came First, The Chicken or The Egg?So, this question has been rolling around in my head the past couple of weeks. Before the...book...I finally committed myself to recently, I had another one I was developing, where the plot was really strong, but the characters? Well, they needed some work. Hence the reason I probably have it shelved right now (not that I won't go back to it, just right now it won't work...).

And that led me to the question, what matters most - plot or characters? Is there a time when one matters over another?

After all is said and done, really both have a strong purpose in a book, but people seem to think that it means different things...here's what some of you said:

What came first - the chicken or the egg?



John Rakestraw that responded to me via GooglePlus put it like this. "It’s sort of like the chicken and the egg… plot and character. Without a plot and structure the story has nowhere to go, no movement. The readers get bored, confused and put the book down, never to pick it up again.

"If your story has no structure, no beginning, no middle and no end, then as a writer, you have not fulfilled your end of the writer / reader relationship. The truth is that stories need both plot and characters. Now, we know that stories originate from plot, but without the characters pushing the plot along, a person does this and that person does that, there is no reason for the reader to care enough to keep turning the page. That is how we produce stories that contain both captivating plots and entrancing characters.

"I don’t see it as one over the other, story development is about balance. Sound writing should not be about throwing the plot and characters against each other to see who wins out! It should be more about finding the balance between them."

And he makes a good point, you really can't have one without the other. A good plot becomes really boring if a character is about as interesting as a rock.

Depends on Genre

Mark West from Twitter mentioned this, "Depends on Genre - "literary" is character driven, thriller/horror/sci-fi is generally plot driven."

And he's right. I mean, it's not like horror stories can't have fully developed characters, but really, that isn't why I'm really reading the book. I want to scare myself half to death - and isn't that plot? (Okay, not always, I know).

Character Matters Most

EmporerSexy on reddit.com told me, "I feel that a good character, that is, one complex and active in their decisions, will make a good plot. A good plot will not necessarily have good characters.

"To use television for example, Breaking Bad revolves around the protagonist and the morally questionable decisions he makes. These decisions have consequences that lead to events. The character drives the plot.

"On the other hand, take a show like CSI, which yes, has interesting characters, but is mostly plot driven. It's more about solving the mystery than understanding how the characters are feeling and how they make their decisions. The plot exists on its own, and the characters kind of inhabit it.

"Both kinds of stories are entertaining, but if you have to aim for one, aim for good character, one who will make compelling decisions that will affect the future of the world around them. You will have a good plot emerge out of that."

That's true...it's a lot easier to make something out of a book when the characters are strong. You have to be a really good writer to pull of a strong plot line with weak character development (it happens, of course, but still that isn't always easy).

And reality_engineer on reddit.com said the same, "I am a fan of plots, foremost, but even a genius plot will suck with bland characters. Strong character can work with a boring plot, an example would be Harry Potter, where the plot is totally flat, but it still works. So I'd say character is the most important for most audiences. Also see: reality television - almost purely based on character, very popular."

And that's a fantastic point...if you watch reality tv, you will note that not much happens. It's the personality of the people that make it fascinating. Well, if you don't watch much reality tv, here is a fantastic example of when character just makes the entire story that much more interesting. Watch this:



So, I think I've come to the conclusion that character matters just a little bit more than plot. Although plot matters too.

Cause no matter how little you know about the character...




...if the plot makes your heart beat really fast....




Then you know you will still have a really good story...




Intense Relationship




Speed

— MOVIECLIPS.com



So what do you think? What matters most - character or plot?



20 January 2012

The Writer's Toolbox: Naming Your Characters

I confess: I hate naming my characters. Really, I do. They all end up with these really boring names, and if they are anything interesting it becomes the central focus of the book. And I hate that. Way too much effort.

And then, I begun to realize the importance of naming characters, especially after reading Diane Carlisle's (very funny) post on the impact of character names (read it here).

So, then I realized, there has to be tools out there to help us figure out what names these character's should be...and so today, I present to you my favorite tools to help you name your characters.

Personality-Based Name

Is your character brave? Funny? Odd? Then you would want to use this tool:

What a Lovely Name

You can also find inspiration for your character names based off of celebrity babies and from the movies (like Harry Potter...although, I would highly suggest you think of a different character name for your book).

So far, my favorite name for "Quirky," is Blaze. That brings up an image doesn't it?


James Dean "Giant"
Photo Copyrights by ElizaPaton

Okay, I'm done fantasizing. Onward!

Fantasy/Sci-Fi Themed Names

For my own fantasy....book....I based a lot of my character names off of herbs, spices, and plants. I found a lot of the names from this weird book I found once that I have no idea what happened to it.

So, I found this other site for you that has a unique approach to names and the history of mythological plants. You might find that a lot of the background to these plants seem to match the personality and background of your character...and that name might work for you perfectly.

Check out this site here: Plants of Greek Myth

Based on Year of Birth

In Diane's blog post, she made a good remark that naming your a character something that is more connected to a previous generation when she is born within the past couple of years may not be the best decision.

So, if you go to the Social Security Administration, they will show you popular baby names. Isn't that awesome?

Check it out here:

Popular Baby Names

Mythology-Inspired Names

Whether its the name of a character or the name of the restaurant they go to discuss the events at hand, sometimes the mythological creatures of other stories work as wonderful names.

So, I discovered Encyclopedia Mythica which serves to be a great source when trying to think up names for you characters...

Encyclopedia Mythica

Weirdo Generated Name

What do you get when you combine a hillbilly name with Ancient Greece?

Victoria Margarita apparently.

Somehow, I image she would look like that.

Okay everyone...I hope you find some good names with the tools I gave you! Have a great weekend!

18 January 2012

Writer Wednesday Blog Hop!

Hey there writers, it's been a busy week for me...and it's been a cold, cold January...it makes me want to stay inside and never come out...

Oh well...since I can't...let's get right on it, then!


We have the hoppin' doggie hopping with us today again! Yay!

And make sure you grab a Writer Wednesday Blog Hop Button made by Lacey D. Ferris, woo - thanks Lacey!


Here are the rules:


1) Follow your blog host (Me) (if you want to co-host, let me know if the comments! Or remind me that you want to!)
2) Follow at least three other blogs (if you post your link early, make sure you come back and check out the other blogs)
3) Let the person you followed know that you are following their blog
4) (Optional...sort of): Tweet about the blog hop! (Use hashtag #WWBH and #WW when you do!) - Thank you to all of you who have featured this hop on your site!! I really appreciate it!


And all you do is link up below! You can link up your writing site, your blog, your twitter account, or your facebook page. I'm flexible, and I know my other awesome hoppers are too. We're a cool bunch.

Let's get a'hoppin'!

16 January 2012

Do You Know Your Audience (Or Who Do You Write For)?

I know I've been talking about this a lot lately, but in the....book....I've been writing, I've just realized that I know exactly who I'm writing for. (I know, I am writing for me, but in addition to that...) I know who my audience is, I know my specific genre. It's not like I didn't know before, because I knew it was Fantasy, but knowing specifically felt really good. I'm not ready to say yet, because I want to be done before I say anything for sure, but I decided to ask the writing world around me who their audience is, and if they know their audience right off the bat.

One thing I thought was amazing was how people interpreted this question and their answers are even better...

My Audience is...Myself
[ C ] Ray Caesar - Oh! Sweet Vanity (2004)
@MarkEWest on Twitter said, "Surely your audience is you - write for yourself, rathre than try to push your story into a certain direction?"

yosemighty_sam (on reddit.com) said, "Unless you are an exceedingly strange person, there are millions of people like you, and millions more who would be fascinated to see things from a new perspective. Writing for yourself means writing for them too."

Thomas Wilson (who responded me on Writer's Digest Community Forums) agreed with this sentiment, "When I first started with my first book and part way through my second book, I realized that my audience was myself...I realized that if I wrote the book that gave me goose bumps and got me excited everytime I went back through it re-writing and editing, that it would appeal to everybody who likes the same kinds of books I like!

"We readers tend to gravitate towards certain genres and authors whose work we enjoy. It became much easier all around when I realized I just need to write the best book I can for myself, putting in all the elements I enjoy in a good book and it will translate over to those who read the same stuff I enjoy.

"So, in my case, the audience is myself! If every writer concentrates on writing their unique special book, something that totally flips their triggers, it will excite others who enjoy the same things that they do. Your passion, love, and excitement of the story will shine through."

And Suzanne Alexander from the same forum agreed, "I read once, write a good story and your audience will come."

(Hang on I need an "If You Build It, They Will Come" moment...)



Sorry, moving on...Suzanne continued to say, "Yes, you need to know what genre you're pitching, which genre to classify your story, but I personally allow the story to flow and worry about the audience later."

John Petros with the Writer's Digest Community forums responded to me with a very similar sentiment saying, "My take on this is, you certainly need to write for yourself first otherwise you won't keep the fire and passion in the writing which is very important no matter who you may think your readers will be. If you lose interest in what your writing then the project probably won't be completed.

"After you complete your novel or short story, set it aside for a few weeks. During the writing process you get too close to the characters and that makes it very hard to think (structure wise). Picking it back up again, you must be able to refine and embellish scenes, characters, and moments, according to whom you think this story will appeal to, and or, just to yourself. This is a first rewrite, there can/will be several. Think of sculpturing a block of wood and getting the expression just right. This is a process, and it can be very fun, however deadlines are not fun." (he says more, but pause here for a second...)

I have to say that I tend to agree with the sentiment that your audience is yourself first and foremost. If you are bored with the story, you're readers will be too. You are with this story for a long period of time, so you are tied up in who you are writing for...

So, John went on to say this, "I've read somewhere that many agents do have a gauge for style.

"Specifically, some agents like what's called 'hard sci-fi' which means an in depth detail of how the mechanical or cyber machines function.

"Other agents prefer 'soft sci-fi' which means more concentration on the space opera sweep, similar to Star Wars or Star Trek, which equals less nuts and bolts machine detail. I try to write in a way that includes both styles.

"They also gauge the level of detail in a sex scene. Some may want it to be very revealing, nearing pornographic attention and others focus on the slight details, the build and tension before a kiss or the fantasy of the kiss. And some prefer both of the above.

"Only the books that said agent(s) have published will reveal which style they prefer.

"The problem as you can see is that if you write for that agent, and then that agent suddenly moves to a different publishing house, and that new house is a different genre..." (pause again)

 I didn't really consider any particular agent might be important, but he does have a point. You do have to market your book and it becomes important to know how to sell it. But then again, he does say, "So, I believe its best to write for yourself and maybe do a little research on your type of novel. Concentrate on your characters and structure first. That is more than enough work just to get to the end of the book. Then enjoy the rewriting process, that's where the art starts."

And when you are writing for you, you need readers who just "get" you,  and that is how Virginia Llorca felt, saying, "I know my audience is the people who "get" what I am saying and how I say it. I know I narrow the market that way, but love the feedback. I know my work does not appeal to the general public."

Usually, as writers, we do know who we will appeal to based on whether we are writing a mystery, a romance, literary fiction, poetry, children's book, etc...so that knowledge, will make a difference in how we write. Not knowing the genre though can cause some difficulty, and that's when I got these responses...

My Audience is...My Genre Readers

Here's where my recent realization comes in...I knew I was writing fantasy (you can't have people with magical powers without it being fantasy, really), but then it became important what the specifics were...and a lot of people tend to agree with this.

Massawyrm (at Reddit.com) said, "The biggest mistake amateur writers make is in assuming that an audience will come to them. It doesn't work that way. A writer must go to an audience. Every decision a writer makes will be based upon which audience he chooses, from word choice to story complexity to which emotional touchstones he uses. He needs to know what his audience finds shocking, how much they've read before, what they cherish and what they loathe.

"Some people argue that first and foremost one must write for themselves. This is bullshit. Writing meant to be shared cannot be for yourself, it must be for the audience. Otherwise, you are blindly casting words out into a void and hoping something sticks. That's not writing, that's typing.

"The hobbyist writes for himself, a professional thinks about his audience. The minute you commit something to paper and share it, you are involving an audience; to say that you think of only yourself and not them is the very definition of self-centered."

Will Weisser (at Reddit.com) had similar feelings about writing for a genre and said, "I have certain preferences as to the kinds of books I like to read, so I pretty much just stick to writing things that are similar to those. I'm not really interested in the idea of trying to conform to the expectations of specific demographics. I try to stay focused on truth: being true to myself and expressing truth in my writing. I'd like to think that if I stick to that, then things will work out for me. Of course, that doesn't mean I give myself license to be self-indulgent. There's no demographic I'm aware of that is interested in reading crap ;)."

Adam Boenig (at Google Plus) said, "[I know my audience because], I interact with them on a regular basis. My audience seems to be the crazy ones."

Ardith Goodwin (at Google Plus) agreed that knowing your genre audience is important, "I think, unless you are free writing or simply writing for yourself, you must have prior knowledge of audience to help shape the context of what you write. You wouldn't write a romantic narrative if your audience is a group of tech educators needing to read tips on teaching keyboard skills nor would you write a chapter book for 5 year olds who are just learning to read. Audience awareness is vital to successful writing."

Lane Diamond (at Google Plus) also said, "I know who my audience is primarily by reading extensively within my genre. I write thrillers, and I've read over 500 thrillers, so I have a natural feel for what thriller readers like. Takes a long time."

Marie Godley revealed that knowing your audience can also help with the editing process, and said, "I think you have to have an idea of who you are writing for to get the style, level judged right. I am beginning to write for teenagers, now that my daughter is one, so after reading many other novels in that age range I make her read each chapter as I've finished it to make sure she understands it and agrees with it."

And it seems to become more and more important to understand your audience, especially if you are struggling with what genre you fit in. A lot of people seemed to agree with this.

A few other people seemed to feel the same way who responded to me. K.A. Libby said, "It's rather like the question of 'to be or not to be'. It has been a struggle for me to identify my audience--in other words, label my novel as a specific genre--as my writing crosses genre lines. This has been a background process for me throughout my writing. A necessary evil, shall we say, as it seems to be a requirement for submittals and marketing.

"I've finally decided my current novel is a mystery with suspenseful and romantic undertones. It seems the length of the novel needs to be consistent with its genre. for example, I have read that a mystery is expected to be 60,000-65,000, whereas a suspense novel would be 10,000-15,000 words longer. Details. Details. Details can sometimes be so distracting from the art of writing!"

And Kossiwa Logan felt the same way, saying, "Knowing who your audience is something that I'm just learning. Your audiences changes with each piece that you write. But I don't think it should factor in until you are ready to promote and publish the piece you've written and rewritten. Then you need to know who your audience is and it's easier to figure out who your audience is. Some writers feel that their audience is similar to them because you are writing for yourself. I haven't taken the promotion step yet. Right now I'm just writing and rewriting and getting ready to submit on a continuous basis."

And I realized that writing for your audience is important no matter if your genre is fiction or non-fiction...because blogger Sarah Mazzone said, "I blog at Made in USA Challenge. I value all kinds of feedback from my readers through their comments and e-mails as well as FB and Twitter interactions. My purpose is to create a dialogue about how to be a conscious consumer, centered on the idea of buying American made. I count on my audience to let me know what they would like to learn about, how their consumer habits are evolving, and how they feel about the ideas I promote. I love when readers share their ideas and finds. This gives me great insight into who my follower really are, what is important to them and how to better craft content aimed at them."

As my mind continues to spin at the debate that I seemed to start, now it's your turn...do you know who your audience is? Who do you write for? For yourself or for your genre?

Thank you to everyone who responded to my question. Make sure to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus where you can answer my question and I will feature you in my next post! Make sure you check out all of these awesome writers and check out their websites (and Twitter pages!).

13 January 2012

The Writer's Toolbox: Developing Your Characters


character development, characters, writing
Copyright by Kevin Dooley

Happy Friday Everyone! (If my sentences seem to run together without a purpose, it's because I'm extremely tired right now! On top of everything else, I'm trying to lose weight this year, so I'm going to the gym more...so, bear with me!)

Well, as you know, I've been going along really well with finishing my....book (I still feel weird saying that), and I've been thinking a lot lately about character development. We all know how important it is to have strong, unique characters who go beyond the traditional roles or stereotypes set up for them. And it makes for a much more interesting read to find out that a character does have a lot of depth with plenty of history and past that will keep us intrigued and engaged in knowing more about this character.

So today, I will bring you my top five resources for character development! I'm really excited about this because I wanted to give you guys a bit more than just character lists. Some are very useful, some are just a lot of fun. But, in general, I think these tools will be great on helping you get to know your characters.

1. Character Charts

I'm sure most of you have seen these before, but somehow I just love the two I found...the first one I found I really like because when you fill out the questions you can email yourself everything.  And some how that is really nice if you are the type that needs everything organized.

Character Chart # 1

This first chart asks you everything from what your character's favorite number is to what their relationship with sex is...and sometimes you might think certain questions won't make a different in your novel, but just think of it like developing a person - if you were to answer these questions, wouldn't you have an answer?

The second chart I think is even more detailed than the first one, the only difference is this one you have to either print out or use it as a reference guide if you are typing in Word or something. I like it a lot better because it has many more questions to answer and the more you know your character the better, right?

Character Chart # 2

2. Personality Quizzes

Okay, I honestly didn't think of doing this before, but this is a great idea! Do you remember those Myers-Briggs personality tests? Have you ever thought of doing that with your characters? Me either! Most of the time those tests cost money (which I found out in one quick google search.) But, lucky day I found a free one (that I actually took for a class...and I just took the test now and I'm an ENFP).

Myers-Briggs Personality Test
The Myers-Briggs test is meant to show how you see the world and make decisions (and in the life of your character, that is really good to know how they will do that...)

Oh! And if you want to know what evil personality your character would have, after you have completed the test, check out this link (Apparantly, my personality type is the "cult leader." Oh fun!)

3. The "Human" In All of Us (Part 1)

Okay, we all know that day in, day out that a lot of the people we interact with have some sort of mask up. Not all of us (I'm a heart on the sleeve personality myself, so if you ask, I'll probably tell)...but a lot of people are like that.

And I like finding stuff online that reveals that human side in all of us, even if I can never really know who said it. And if you are in the beginning stages of developing your character, and want to figure out who they are...I would suggest this site:

Letters to Crushes

On this site, you will find letters to crushes - completely anonymous. Somehow, I thought, when I found this, how wonderful this would be for developing characters and their relationships. I mean, we have to know more about the world anyways to develop well-rounded characters, right? And if you are like me and you have the tendency to repeat your character type, you would appreciate being able to pluck different personality types out of the universe. And I think this would help!

4. The "Human" In All of Us (Part 2)


I'm sure you have all heard of "Post Secret"? If you haven't, Post Secret is a website where people can submit their secret confessions anonymously on a homemade postcard. I've read this book before in Barnes and Noble and it is so eye opening to the experiences everyone of us have...and I think this would be a wonderful way of getting to know people outside of your own circle...

Here's the link to the blog that Post Secret runs:

http://www.postsecret.com/

5. Draw Your Character

Okay, I had a lot of fun with this. This may fit a bit more if you are writing a fantasy or sci-fi novel, but you could probably have fun with this no matter what (if you don't write fantasy, just imagine if your character in a Halloween party)

You can draw your character using this site:

Superhero Generator

And, I would like you all to meet the main character of my novel that I created using this link...everyone meet:

This is my main character Talia! And the creature on the right is named, Ruby, but she may or may not be a featured character in the book (which is a long story...magical powers are involved, so it's a pretty sensitive issue for the characters right now).

So, that's my list everyone! I hope you have a great weekend, and I'm dying to know...

What writing tools do you find helpful when you are developing a character?

11 January 2012

Writer Wednesday Blog Hop

Welcome to Writer Wednesday Blog Hop!

And today we have Lucy from Peanuts hopping with us!

Blog Hops, Writers, Writing

Isn't this exciting? I thought so too. And plus, as usual, grab a button made by Lacey D. Ferris to promote the blog hop (the more people who join in, the more fun we have!)

Blog Hops, Writers, Writing

Here's the rules:




1) Follow your blog host (Me) (if you want to co-host, let me know if the comments! Or remind me that you want to!)

2) Follow at least three other blogs (if you post your link early, make sure you come back and check out the other blogs)
3) Let the person you followed know that you are following their blog
4) (Optional...sort of): Tweet about the blog hop! (Use hashtag #WWBH and #WW when you do!) - Thank you to all of you who have featured this hop on your site!! I really appreciate it!
And all you do is link up below! You can link up your writing site, your blog, your twitter account, or your facebook page. I'm flexible, and I know my other awesome hoppers are too. We're a cool bunch.

Let's get a'hoppin'!

09 January 2012

Do You (Or Should You) Write Everyday?


Okay, lately I have been managing to write everyday.
Wow. I mean everyday. Okay, yesterday it was more like a sentence or two...but for the most part, I've been really getting the pages out and it feels good. And the funny thing is, I've noticed all sorts of bloggers reporting their New Year Resolutions, and I thought of the one I usually make during the year and that is...to write everyday.

But this year it was different. I didn't promise to write everyday. Instead, I told myself, I would finish writing my book by the end of February. I came back to a novel I had put to the side for a long time. I started from Chapter 9 around mid-December, and recently I figured out that I have to write a chapter a week to reach my goal...and that means I have a lot of work to do tonight, and tomorrow.

So, to meet my goal, I've had to write everyday - and so far, so good (knock on wood...wait, does formica count?)

Anyways...

So, since Mondays are my..."involve the blogo-/write-o-sphere" in my posts, I thought I would ask the question, "Do you write everyday? Why or why not?"

And you know what? I realized a lot of people write everyday! I'm glad to know that I've been one of "those people" lately too, otherwise I would have gotten madly competitive.

But why?

Here's what everyone said...

1) To release those inner demons

@ALFetherlin said, "I write everyday because I need the release. Writing helps me get my demons. Then, I run after I write. Very theraputic."

I would say every writer has their share of inner demons...or if not demons, troubles, burdens, issues, or just circumstances that get locked in your head and you need to get out of your head for a while...and I can understand the need to release everything, or escape from it. And writing can do that.

2) Habit (and thankfully, it's a good one!)

@BlkHoleSun said, "Yes...it was a personal goal at first, now it's a habit."

I can't say I write because it's a habit...I blog because it's a habit. But for me, since I have this goal in front of me, and I have told a TON of other people, I really want to meet my own expectations. But, writing can become a habit...just you have to get into the habit of it (ha ha).

@LASbauer agreed, saying, "I try to! Sometimes it is the blog of the week, others it is writing fiction, but I try to write at least 10 min every day."

Lately I'm beginning to feel the same way! If I can write at least ten minutes or write a page, I will feel really good.

3) Recognition

@PropheticKleenx admitted, "Yes...I write daily, sadly no one reads me..."

Okay, despite how depressing that is, isn't that why we all write? To be read? Recognized? And sometimes that can be a strong motivator to get our butts in the chair and write.

4) Responsibility

@ebonstorm said, "When I am being responsible, I write everyday just like a job. Its the only way to meet my schedule and responsibilities."

I'm thinking that by approaching writing like a regular job that you must go to everyday (otherwise...you know...you get fired), you end up handling it more responsibily. It becomes more than just a "past time," it becomes a way of life.

5) To Stay Connected to Our Work in Progress (WIP)

@DianaPazWrites told me, "I TRY to write every day, even if it's just an hour before the kids wake..If I don't write, I feel distance from my WIP and I lose momentum. But sometimes I sleep in, and between work, DH, and kids, sometimes I miss my writing time. It happens."

Okay, Diana was one of the first (and only) people who admitted that they sometimes miss their writing time (and me too sometimes!), and I was glad to here that I'm not alone! But she's absolutely right, by writing regularly you do stay connected to the story and what is going on...otherwise (and this has happened to me) you become way lost and completely lose track.

Mari Miniatt (from Google Plus) completely agreed and says, "Write everyday, even if it's only a couple of words. When I have a horrible work schedule, that is what I can do...Days off, I can churn out a couple of thousands of words. If I stop for any length of time (barring sickness), it takes me longer to get back to my creative spark."

...and then I began to realize how important it is to write everyday for that reason alone...because even more people began to agree...

Rebecca Enzor said, "I don't write everyday, but I DO storyline everyday. I think about the story, even if I'm not ready to commit to what I'm mulling about in my head (that can change daily)."



6) Keeping our Writing Muscle Fit

 On Google Plus, Cindy Marie Jenkins, said, "I write for at least an hour every day. In order to stay on target with both work-related writing and my own pursuits, I let that hour be for the pure fun of blogging if need be. I set aside at least an hour to write every day, which always encourages me to continue to finish the work and also to continue writing. I liken it to ballet dancers who go to class or at the Barre every day; keeping the muscles tone makes it easier to "fit in" writing every day."

Exactly! Writing everyday keeps that writing muscle "fit," and it keeps us connected to the process! If you don't move your body, you aren't keeping your heart healthy, and if you aren't writing, you aren't keeping your "muse" or your writing muscle healthy.

7) To Reach Our Goals

James Femmer told me, "I certainly aim for writing every day. My main problem is distractions, as I have ADD tendencies. My best tool against it is music. I will usually create playlists inspired by the characters or scenes in the story I'm writing, kind of like 'if it were a movie this would be the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack'. I put on my earbuds and shut the rest of the world out.

Does writing every day help me? It helps me feel like I'm going to reach my goal eventually. A day I don't write is a day I'm no closer to the finish line. That's what keeps me doing it daily. If I don't I tend to get depressed. Writing is my purpose in life."

Isn't that truth? Writing is [our] purpose in life. We must write everyday and sometimes just knowing we are close to our goal is worth it. I think if i wasn't almost done with the book I was writing, I probably wouldn't have as much gumption, but the end is near, and I'm really glad! So, yes, that can definitely be a motivator to write everyday.

8) Because It's Part of Our Life (And Our Family's Life)

Kai Strand concluded my question with, "I try to do at least a writing related thing each weekday. Marketing, blogging, research for submissions and of course, writing. If I have a classroom visit scheduled, I count that as writing related. I try to do more writing than the rest of it. Really the only thing that gets in the way of that is family. They're always the priority. "
If you are one of the lucky ones and make a living off of what you write, you have a different sort of dedication and that is to keep the income coming in and writing is the only way to do that. Now, this is an inspiration for me to keep it up...


Now, reader, it's your turn...do you write everyday? How come?

Thank you to everyone who responded to my question. Make sure to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus where you can answer my question and I will feature you in my next post! Make sure you check out all of these awesome writers and check out their websites (and Twitter pages!).

04 January 2012

Writer Wednesday (And Thursday) Blog Hop

Welcome to Writer Wednesday Blog Hop! Where all the writers can get together, mingle, have a little wine (okay, no wine, sorry), and follow each other's blogs! (And yes, you can still join in the fun even though it might not be Wednesday!)

Here's our blog hopper to join us in on the fun!



And make sure you take a button and put it on your blog! The more people we have hopping, the better!

It's made by Lacey D. Ferris (check out her blog here)


Here's the rules:

1) Follow your blog host (Me) (if you want to co-host, let me know if the comments! Or remind me that you want to!)


2) Follow at least three other blogs (if you post your link early, make sure you come back and check out the other blogs)

3) Let the person you followed know that you are following their blog

4) (Optional...sort of): Tweet about the blog hop! (Use hashtag #WWBH and #WW when you do!) - Thank you to all of you who have featured this hop on your site!! I really appreciate it!

And all you do is link up below! You can link up your writing site, your blog, your twitter account, or your facebook page. I'm flexible, and I know my other awesome hoppers are too. We're a cool bunch.

So, get a'hoppin!

03 January 2012

The Writer's Toolbox: Notebooks for Writers Everywhere

I love notebooks.

All kinds.

And I buy them, even when I don't really need them. And you know what?  I don't even care! But, one day, I was on a hunt for notebooks...okay, I wasn't really looking for notebooks, I was looking for gift ideas and I happened to stumble upon some notebooks. And that inspire my idea to have a "Writer's Toolbox" post each Friday to share with you what I find that will be most helpful (or colorful, or fun) for your process as a writer.

And today, I have my top five notebooks you should buy today...because we all know how inspiring it is when we have a new notebook in hand...we just want to fill them up with fantastic thoughts, ideas, and stories, right?

Yup, me too.

02 January 2012

What Gets You Writing?

writing, writers, blogs about writing, writing sites
Photo Copyright By Vernieman
Lately I haven't really been "inspired" to write...

BUT here's the catch (you don't think I would have left that statement just hanging there, did you?)...because I've been writing anyways. It's been a discipline for me. And it isn't like writing hasn't been fun for me, because it actually has been...but it's been something else keeping me going forward.

And since I usually like to write about what inspires me, I thought about how I could write about that "discipline" that moves me forward.  Because, how much could I say about discipline? If I want to write...like, ever...I have to use that particular muscle. That's just the way it is...

So, here's where my writing people came in...

Like I said before, I would be asking these particular questions on the various writing communities I'm in (and if you haven't started following me, and you want to get involved, follow me on Google Plus, Twitter, or like my blog's Facebook page!),

So, I asked my writing communities, "What gets you writing?" And you know what? It's totally different for everyone! Here's what people said...

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