Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zippers

Zippers as in the closure system used in some clothes, yep. My last topic for the amazing A to Z blog challenge is the zipper.

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Okay, it's not just about zippers, but about how much does the reader need to know about things the character does or wears.

The bathroom is another example. We don't often read about the characters going to the bathroom because it's not something the reader needs to know, it is just assumed. Zippers can be like that. The reader probably doesn't need to know every time the character zips up something. But there are times when they do.

Clothing can give a viewpoint into the world the characters live in. Sure every ruffle, button or zipper doesn't need to be described, but pick the right moment and you can not only show about the world but the character themselves.

One example is in Wheel of Time in the second book (The Great Hunt). One of the characters, Rand, is given new clothes and while he was raised as a farm boy, all of a sudden he finds himself stuck with clothes for someone of higher ranking. When someone is out of their element, it can show something about them with how they deal with the clothes they are put into or the clothes that others wear too.

While with epic fantasy we don't often think of zippers, but there are other places where they are used. Pulling zippers can also be an elusive moment for sensual scenes. There are quite a few things that come in to play when using clothing elements.

Do you mention clothing details in writing?
Does your character have to deal with a zipper?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Young Adult

Yep, going a rather easy route for today. Had planned to do this post earlier but had to go to work, anyways, let's talk about young adult stories.

I didn't read much young adult stuff as a teen. I read some in junior high (like books by the amazing Tamora Pierce) but in high school I moved to John Grisham, epic fantasy books and such. It wasn't until after college that I started reading YA more. And mostly it's because of the exposure I had to different books through twitter, blogs and online friends. YA has quite the online community and so I see those books far more often, though some adult ones get through.

While young adult books are popular right now (which is great) I do wonder when some writers who have never published something in the age range before suddenly puts out a YA novel. Sure, some might have had that idea for a long time and finally got the chance to do it. But some might be trying to catch on the YA trend, which I don't understand. If the novel idea is meant for YA then great, but I guess it seems weird to me to just write YA because they think that is what will sell. Guess I'm not on the selling end so don't quite get that viewpoint.

I didn't intend to write YA, as I discuss over on my Y post on my other blog, but I am not doing it because I think it will sell or because the genre is popular. The stories that caught my attention enough with their glitter and such just happen to be YA. (Okay, they don't really glitter or anything.) So, I just happen to be writing stories that are YA.

What do you think?
Is it okay to write because something is selling well?
Why write YA?

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for Xylomancy

Okay this post is a tad late. Work has been crazy and now I'm sick too. But on to the actual topic since you all don't want to hear about me complaining, lol. So...


What is it?
Xylomancy (sometimes called xylomantia) is the art and practice of divining the past, the present and the future by interpreting omens from twigs, pieces of wood, or fallen tree branches. Sometimes it is even through wood burning.

There is even mention of xylomancy according to a wiki page as a class in Hogwarts (in the movie on a class timetable).

But I had never heard of xylomancy. So I picked it for my x topic because well... it begins with X, that and it's good to find different forms of divination to use. While tarot cards and such are fun (I miss reading them), it's nice to learn about something new. I could even possibly use xylomancy in the one fantasy novel that has a wood fae. It is interesting.

Web sites:

Do you use divination in your stories?
Ever hear of xylomancy?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for What If

While some have too many ideas, there are others who struggle to find something to write. Sometimes, a solution to that is a What If question. I even have a writing contest on where the prompts are worded in What If questions. Though I try not to ask myself too many of them because I don't need any more story ideas currently, lol.

What if...?
“What if” questions are useful for writing because they can be a catalyst to our creativity. The question can force the writer or be used to make the characters face new scenarios, new possibilities and new assumptions. It is a basic approach in that all you have to do is start the question with "what if" and go from there.


What if.....     there is free will?
                      everything is pre-determined?
                      there is no meaning to life?
                      you were the only person alive?

                      the people revolt against the government?
                      privacy is no longer a right?
                      guns are outlawed?

                      aliens are peaceful?
                      the sun explodes?
                      an asteroid hits the Earth?
                      animals can speak our language?
                      animals revolt against the humans?
                      pizza is deemed unholy?
                      trees start walking?
                      rain falls up?
                      technology takes over?
                      we stop using technology?
                      work is a prison?
                      kids revolt against their parents?

Web sites:

What if...?
Do you use What If questions?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

V is for Values

Not my own or yours, but characters. One aspect of building a character is to consider the types of values that they would hold close to them and what others they wouldn't honor. Value systems can say a lot about not only the character but also the world of the story.

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List of Values:
Here are some values, the rest can be found at list web site

But what are values really?
Definition: Important and enduring beliefs or ideals shared by the members of a culture about what is good or desirable and what is not. Values exert major influence on the behavior of an individual and serve as broad guidelines in all situations.
Read more:

Other Links:

What does your character value?
Do you use values as a focus in any of your stories?

U is for Unicorn

Growing up, I loved unicorns. They were horses but with the single horn and magic, something special and unique. I even have some of the beanie baby unicorns from when I was a kid. At one point I even had a statue thing of a unicorn head that was in my bedroom, though I don't have it anymore.

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While I loved unicorns, I can only think of one story I've read that even included unicorns. It's interesting because there are some things I love that I never read enough of and yet others talk about them all the time. Another example is elves. I hear people talk about how they are tired of certain types of elves in fantasy and I love fantasy but haven't read very many novels with elves and personally I would like to read more.

In another weird topic not really related to unicorns, I often read things that I don't write and write things that I don't read. I read a lot of stories with strong female main characters, but I rarely write female main characters.

And I have no ideas that involve unicorns.

Do you like unicorns?
Have any books you recommend? 

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Timing

Quite a good topic for a late post, or so I thought. I had planned to write this post earlier today but ended up called in early to work, so here is my T post on Timing.

In stories, timing can be very important.

Romance, for example, timing can be key. That includes many aspects of the story. When the character meets their love interest, even when the reader expects that to happen within the first two chapters, it is still based on timing.

Timing can also involve when something is brought up that will later be used to save the day in different stories. Just using a random power, tool or person out of the blue that ends up helping the protagonist survive/win/etc can be jarring. There have to be some timed points earlier in the story when they are mentioned before the big moment comes upon the characters.

This also relates to ourselves as writers. Sometimes we need to worry about our own timing, and to make sure we are ready but also realistic. Knowing the time it takes to do something like write and submit a novel can help or hurt a writer. I see some new people on a site all the time saying they will have their book out in the next year and while a couple people can achieve that, it can lead to disappointment.

How are you at timing?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Sequel

So many books nowadays are part of a series it seems. Makes it hard when trying to read many different authors because that means I've read book 1 of several series but haven't gotten to reading the rest yet. I also am writing series, though I have a few stand-alones (wow, many S words, lol).

But when does one start writing a sequel?

I have heard many people say not to write the sequel until the first book has been purchased by a publisher because they might request big changes that would affect what goes in the second book. Which makes sense. But so many writers don't follow that. I know many who write a few books before they even have the first one ready to be submitted.

So far, I have written book one in a few different series, but I have yet to start a book two.

What do you think?
Write only one book at a time?
Or write part of the series whenever?

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Reality

Reality check time, or at least some people sure need it, or so I have noticed.

Reality check: A word or phrase used to bring a person back into the life of those around them, sometimes used to smash hopes and dreams.

Don't get me wrong, I love ignoring reality. I write after all. I'd much rather spend my days not working but staying at home and playing in the fantasy worlds in my head. My characters are far more entertaining than part time minimum wage work at the deli. But I can't stay away from reality for too long because then I would become out of touch and that leads to more problems.

Reality can also help us as writers. Even when doing speculative fiction in worlds very different than our own having at least one foot in the realm of reality can help make a story stronger and for readers to want to read it. Readers like to have a link to reality in a story, no matter how fantastical the world involves.

Reality checks can also be good for character development. I love a character who dreams, who yearns for something more but the end result doesn't have to be the complete success of the dream in the way they expected/desired. In the book The Forest of Hands and Teeth, she dreams of finding the ocean and while those in her village think she needs to focus on reality, she follows her dream but the end result isn't what she expected.

So, while dreaming can be good, there needs to be more as well.

What do you think?
Do your characters get a reality check at some point?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Quality

This is a topic that I've seen discussed in a few different writing chats over the last couple of months. The topic has to do with quality, in particular should readers expect self-published books to have the same quality standards that they expect from "traditional" published ones.

There are some who say that because the books are self-published, they shouldn't be held to the same standards. That people should, essentially, expect less from a self-published book.

Others on the other hand, think that because of the stigma that many have against self-published work that it's almost necessary for the self-published author to focus even more on producing a quality product. That some will even hold them up to a higher standard than a big name published book.

So, I'm curious what bloggers think.

When it comes to quality:
Do you think self-published authors should be held at a lower standard?
Or should they be at the same standard as other published methods?
What do you think?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Preen

Preen - (verb) to make oneself appear striking or smart in dress or appearance.

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This is a term commonly related to birds though humans do a fair amount of preening themselves if you think about it.  But what about writers? And no, I'm not talking about the fashions authors wear or make their characters wear. When trying to make our novels perfect we have to preen (edit/rewrite) to make the story shine.

Without a little preening then the sentences, chapters, and such can come out Plain. And plain takes the risk of being boring. While it's okay not to go over the top, we need to work on our stories, word choices and sentence structure to capture the attention of readers. In other words, we need to preen.

On the other hand, there is such thing as too much preening that leads to another set of P's. While plain text can lead to boring, preen too much and that can lend to Purple Prose.

Purple prose is a term used for writing that is over dramatic, over flowery, and in general, over done. With purple prose there tends to be over description and a number of adjectives used, among other things. In general, it is "too much." Another definition of purple prose is: writing that calls attention to itself because of its obvious use of certain effects, as exaggerated sentiment or pathos, especially in an attempt to enlist or manipulate the reader's sympathies. And in general, it is recommended to avoid this.

I am close to the preening stage. Once I get done with the highlighting, using colors to help me see things I need to fix, I will be preening to make the story shine (but not blind anyone).

Do you preen your words?
Do you struggle between plain and purple prose?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Oregon

Oregon Trail was one of my favorite computer games growing up. It required doing an action on the computer that I knew how to do back then but no longer no how to get to, but was fun even with the old time graphics. It was an exciting time at school, in elementary, when we were allowed to play the game for 10 minutes. Then I got to play the game at home and would play it when I didn't have homework and wasn't reading (I read a lot back then).

But the Oregon Trail game isn't my reason for this post. Nope.

I am going to be moving to Oregon in the near future. Nothing is concrete yet but I've heard from one area manager, and another might be calling soon. So, the transfer is one step closer and after that is a bit more closer I can find an apartment and start packing.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, things might be changing soon. I will be living near Portland Oregon and looking forward to finding some writing groups and maybe even conferences in the area. Don't get much local stuff in small town Wyoming. Plus the change in location should give me a different perspective to at least a small degree.

Blogging may slim down after April because of the mood and needing to get Internet but I plan to keep trying when I can, and my phone does have Internet.

I'm nervous and excited. So much to pack....

So, how are you?

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Novel

Not that novel, hehe. Novel as in new or unusual.

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"That is a novel idea." This comment can be a good thing or a deathnell depending on the tone because while it can be great to be new or unusual, that isn't always the case.

In the world of novel writing nowadays it can be difficult finding something that is new or unique. The phrase that will often be muttered even for those who think what they wrote was unique is "there is nothing new under the sun" or something similar. And even if something does seem new or unique, there should be a question as to why you want to use it because sometimes the unique approach isn't the best.

Confetti and glitter with your query letter? Been done before and a bad idea.

Perfumed paper for resume? Done in a movie and not recommended.

Using something controversial just for the sake of shock value? That brings me to my next point.

It's one thing to find a story unique and different because of certain topics or characters, but there should be a consideration as to why it needs to be that way. Is the reason because you want to do something controversial? For example, had someone talking about writing a story with character who have a big age gap but develop a romantic relationship or a person in an authority position having a relationship with someone they have an authority over. Have both been done before? Absolutely. But is there a reason for the choices beyond trying to do something some might see as controversial, that is the good question to consider.

Sure, some can pick a topic and write for it. But controversy (or novelty) just for the sake of being controversial (or unique) has far less weight than other motivation. Besides, if you really want to go for shock you'd have to try and beat De Sade (try reading that, umm yeah). Far better to write a story with other goals in mind, I think.

What do you think?
Do you strive for novel?
Are there better reasons than for the sake of novelty?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Memoir

A long time ago I asked my great followers what they would like to read about on this blog and one of the requested topics was Memoir.

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Honestly, I have never ever considered writing a memoir. Even in high school, I hated writing about myself. One time I was supposed to do a personal essay about myself and instead I wrote about the education system. Yeah, not quite what I was supposed to do but still got an A so oh well. If I ever say I am writing a memoir that will be a time for concern. So here is some information I found online.

What is a Memoir?

1. a record of events written by a person having intimate knowledge of them and based on personal observation.
2. Usually, memoirs.
a. an account of one's personal life and experiences; autobiography.
b. the published record of the proceedings of a group or organization, as of a learned society.
3. a biography or biographical sketch.

How to write a Memoir?
"Writers are the custodians of memory, and that’s what you must become if you want to leave some kind of record of your life and of the family you were born into. That record can take many shapes."
"In other words, 99.9 percent of people lead boring lives. But every single one of them is trying to make some sense out of his or her existence, to find some meaning in the world, and therein lies the value and opportunity of memoir. It’s therapeutic for the writer, and it eventually even helps his or her descendants understand themselves better."
"You need to feel free to write about the uncomfortable truths, and unless your motive for writing is revenge, you may find that these moments of discomfort are mostly your own."
"Although a memoir is true, the events are told in a way that makes it seem like a fictional work. This makes the story much more interesting to the reader, even if the author is someone they have never heard of before."


Do you like to read memoirs? 
What is your favorite memoir?
Would you ever write one?

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for Legends

Legend has it.... A common start line used to explain something in the present of a story based upon a tale that happened in the past (or something like that.)

What is a legend:
An interesting definition is one I actually found on Wikipedia and while I don't often go with stuff from the site, this one is efficient enough. The page on Legend states that A modern folklorist's professional definition of legend was proposed by Timothy R. Tangherlini in 1990: "Legend, typically, is a short (mono-) episodic, traditional, highly ecotypified historicized narrative performed in a conversational mode, reflecting on a psychological level a symbolic representation of folk belief and collective experiences and serving as a reaffirmation of commonly held values of the group to whose tradition it belongs."

Another definition from the dictionary on my laptop is: a traditional story sometimes popularly regarded as historical but unauthenticated.

In writing: 
Legends can add a certain depth to a story, world, being or plot. When worldbuilding, one thing to maybe consider is the legends that can be found in the world. Legends can also be found within cliches so there isn't a clear line always of when, which and how to use a legend. Fantasy often uses legends within their realms on many different levels, depending on the story, but the legend isn't just a device to be used in the one genre. Whether it's a prominent aspect of the tale, or a side note that adds flavor, there are many uses of the legend and it's the writer's job to find their own way on how to use them.

Whether old or newly made up, legends are a big part of the writing world and one not easily forgotten.

A few sites:

Do you use legends in your story?
What legend really sticks with you the most?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for Kindred

Kindred - one's family and relations; relationship by blood.

Family, kindred, can be important for a story in different ways. While they can make for interesting characters in stories, also their absence can have a big affect on the main character. There are so many roles for the kindred folk that they can help make a story unique (or make it cliche depending on how they are used).

I will admit it... I have a few stories where a parent or both are dead or at least gone. Ottohahn's mom died in a work accident, Wyck's mom supposedly died near the border cause a monster broke through, both of Isaac's parents were killed, Sage doesn't know who his real parents were and Dominic's are also gone. On the other hand, there are plenty of characters who have parents actively involved in the story. Noah's parents are a part of the story, same with Ephram's and many others. Even the adult characters sometimes have to deal with their parents. hehe

But what about other relatives?

In The Lorax movie, the grandmother was one of the coolest characters, same with the snowboarding grandma from the red riding hood cartoon movie. But how often are grandparents really used, especially in speculative fiction? I've seen them in a few books but to be honest, I haven't written many grandparent characters, or other relatives either. Might want to work on that. There is much potential in the use of kindred that I may work on using more in stories. Depends on the story.

How do family members affect your main character?
Do you have any absent ones?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Just and other overused words

Just is one of the words I not only use way too much but it's something I know I use too much. I try to limit it even in first draft, except that doesn't work all that well because in edits I end up deleting quite a few still. And just isn't the only one that I use way too much.

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Here are some overused words that I've found in my own writing and they might be something that others commonly overuse as well.

Course have to start with the topic starter. Just as an adverb means exactly, very recently, simply or no more than, and only. Yep, it's a non-ly adverb. Bad me for using it so much. It just sneaks its way into my writing.

It's such a short word and yet using editminion really showed me how often I use the little 2 letter word. The meanings for the word include:  expressing motion in a particular direction, expressing a point reached at the end of a range or a point of time, expressing the result of an action, identifying the person being affected, identifying a relationship, indicating a rate of return, indicating that two things are attached, concerning or likely to concern, and much more... Chapters have like 100 or so "to" that I've noticed, which seems too much.

Another word that seems so simple with different meanings. Can be used to mean: to identify a person or thing observed by a speaker, referring to something mentioned previously, used to single out someone or something, (adverb) so, to such a degree, (conjunction) introducing a subordinate clause, expressing a reason or clause, and expressing a result.

A general, weakish kind of word. Some often for me is put in when deleting makes for a stronger story. Meanings include: an unspecified amount or number, to refer to someone or something that is unknown, approximately, a considerable amount, at least a small amount or number of, and (adverb) to some extent.

Not sure why I use it often but see it on a regular basis. Meanings: at the present time or moment, under present circumstances, to draw attention to a particular statement, used in or as a request or question, as a consequence of the fact, or (informal) fashionable.

All variations of the word. Too often my character feels something instead of it being shown. The many meanings I've used include: be aware of through touching or being touched, aware through physical sensations, find ones way by touch rather than sight, experience (a sensation or emotion), have the strength or energy to do or deal with, have a specified reaction, have compassion for, a sensation given by, and such.

Do you use "just" too often?
What words do you overuse?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Imagination

This is a fun topic and it wasn't so hard to pick out of the other I options. As writers we often use our imaginations. Several years ago, I even started using this quote as my signature and someone then made an image for me.

Have you always used your imagination?

I know growing up that me and my sister often used our imaginations. I don't remember the play with the box instead of the toy days but I do know of other examples. There are a couple videos from when we were little and one is of me singing from a book, only the book is upside down. lol

Me and my sister also at one point had skateboards, but we never learned how to really use them. We certainly played with them but not in the expected way. Instead, we used our imaginations and came up with a game that involved the boards. It was fun. We also had a game where we used pillows and would slide down the stairs. ahh fun times.

Then when we were a little older we had a special game we liked to play. It was based off Disney version of Aladdin. I was the boy character who had struggled to make a living while my sister was the princess running away from her controlling father. And whenever we were with our cousins, we played house. I was the mom and they all were my kids. We always had fun when it came to using our imagination.

Now, I write.

Do you use your imagination?
What did you imagine as a kid?

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Hope in Horror and beyond

While I don't know much about the genre of horror (or action or mystery or a couple others) there is something I have noticed in the very few things I've read. That even when the story is dark, depressing and it seems there is no hope at all... that is not the case. There is always a little hope.  And hope, while can feel like just a generic concept can work wonders as the theme for a variety of stories.

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One example is that of zombies. I almost considered doing zombie for the Z post, in fact, to talk about what we can see in such stories when we look past the brain eating and running for their lives stuff. I haven't actually read or watched many zombie related stories but the few that I have read had something about them that the reader could hold onto, could hope for (and often so did the characters). Sure, many will die in them, but there are often survivors (even if it seems like there is only one).

Hopes even get dashed. A character grows when they learn that the goal they strive for, the dream/hope they had doesn't turn out to be what they imagined, but that doesn't end all hope as they know it. In fact, they adapt and keep one candle lit for a little light can heed off some darkness.

Even in some movies/books that aren't exactly "horror" this theme can be found. The specific example that comes to mind is Independence Day. Sure the focus of the movie is the whole alien attack, but that's just it. The big moment comes when people that wouldn't under normal circumstances work together, they can put aside those differences and save the day. We hope that in the face of a different other (in this case, aliens) that us humans could put aside our differences and fight for our survival.

Writers, we spin these tales and while we dash readers hopes with many different things (plot twists, death, love triangles ending, etc) we always have to give the reader something to hope for when it comes to the story. Even if that hope is a candle that will later burn out, we give them something to keep the pages turning. And sometimes, it is within the darkest genres/stories that the light will shine the brightest.

What do you think?
Does hope come out in your stories?
Any other common themes that you've noticed?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Goals and Growing Up


I like to make goals. I am not often successful at achieving those goals, but I am definitely a goal-maker. Over on I have a group called NaNoWriMo Plus and almost every month I post goals for the month. On my other blog, I often post month goals and in January usually will post some year goals as well.

My Goals for April:

1. Finish reading 4 books.
2. Move (or get closer at least).
3. A to Z Blog Challenge: Post almost every day on both blogs for the challenge.
4. Write a couple story entries on WDC, highlight more chapters for editing, and maybe write another chapter in a novel.
5. Get book blog up and running again and revamp book group here on WDC.

Last month I had similar goals and actually accomplished a few of them but I think I'm missing something. It's something that can either start with an I or an R. Incentive/Reward is something I have never been good at. I can make a goal with no problem but giving myself anything for succeeding, terrible. I never know what to pick either. Can't do food as trying to lose weight. Can't do much that takes money cause I'm trying to move and don't have much money. That is what I need to work on and maybe I'll succeed even more with my goals.

Growing Up

I had a hard time picking for today's post, so here is a second topic that I considered. This was inspired by a friend's blog post for E. Sometimes I don't really feel grown up, but that may be because I live with my parents currently, though I used to live on my own. But I also don't want to grow up too much anyways. I hope to always be discovering, learning and dreaming.

On I have a quote I made up. I'm sure others before have said things much like it, but it's one a friend of mine made into a cute picture signature for me and I even had someone ask permission to quote me with it. The quote is: "The greatest toy a child can have is an imagination."

I always liked to use my imagination as a child and while I may be growing up, I never want to lose that. I even want to get a tattoo that reminds me to not grow up too much. It will have dandelions (the white one and the yellow one) and say Stay Gold. Not the most original in content and all but my first tattoo was a fairy so I pick what I want and usually don't pay too much attention to what others pick.

I love dandelions. They were my favorite flower as a kid, back when I could see them as flowers. A couple of years ago, when gardening, I had to pull the dandelions and keep on a lookout for them because they were weeds. When did I start seeing them as weed?

Here is a dorky poem I wrote about dandelions back in 2006:

Adults never understood
Childish games upon the lawn
Joy tumbling downhill
Skipping along, light kicks stirring
White fluff into the air
All they saw was an infestation
Dotting their precious lawn

A weed flower

Do you make goals?
What are your goals?
Are you growing up too fast?

Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for Fact or Fiction

Is this story true? It's fiction... But is it true?

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So, at work I get an hour lunch break which gets boring fast even while eating. Right now I am bringing The Hunger Games to read since people have been waiting for me to read it for years now. One of my coworkers noticed the book and asked "do you know if it's based off a true story?"

Yeah, I stared at her confused for a moment. A true story where teens are sent to kill each other as tributes? Umm I hope not.

It is amazing how many people want a story/poem/etc to be based off real life. I notice this in the reviews I get over at (which is basically a writing site that allows for others to review the work). It doesn't matter what the item is about, often people will think it's a true and about the author. Several different poems and short stories I've received reviews for on there have all commented about it in a way that they think it's really about me. That includes a story with an intersex main character. Doesn't matter what the writing is about, they often construe the story to be about fact instead of just fiction.

Ever notice that with published work that people try to find ways to relate the story or the main character to the author's real life? Sometimes it's the positive interest of "ooo is this based on something real" and other times it's about things like "is this a mary sue character or author wish fulfillment" and such. Any time a reader wanders if a fiction story is real, it makes me wonder.

Is it because the writing feels so realistic? I try to hope that it's a good sign when it comes to my own writing that people make the comment but it still feels weird at times. While there are things that we base on real life, interactions, some dialogue, character traits, etc... There is a bit of a difference between life-like and fact.

Or is there some desire to have a factual connection within fiction?


What do you think?
Do you ever try to find facts within fiction?
Ever have readers want to know what is fact in your writing?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Exclamation

The use of exclamation marks in literature has me baffled as of recent. I have noticed them more in the unpublished stuff I read on I see them in entries in my contest and even more from young writers and new ones in general. I don't know if it's just me noticing them more now or if some writers are using them more. And I'm not talking about the few that use more than one at the end of a sentence. X.X

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The purpose of the exclamation mark:

An exclamation mark is a punctuation mark, and like the full stop (or period), it marks the end of a sentence. A sentence ending in an exclamation mark is either for exclamation (“Wow!”), to make a command (“Stop!”), or intended to show astonishment in a way (“They were the footprints of a gigantic hound!”). Often used in fiction writing in particular to add to the emotion of the words and/or the volume of them too.

In writing fiction:
I have been under the impression that in writing to use the exclamation mark as a form of punctuation sparingly. Which is why it has me confused when I start to see them used more in the writing I see online. It's almost as confusing as some writer's need to randomly use all caps for one word in a sentence. While I don't remember every single thing I've written over the past 7 years, I am certain that most of the work doesn't have very many uses of the exclamation mark. But I started to wonder if maybe it was just me.

For certain, there only needs to be one. The whole, "omg" with 20 exclamation marks might work for random posts on line or something (even annoying then) but if wanting to publish a story, try for one and some sort of way to show what is going on beyond using excessive punctuation.

There is a time and place for the exclamation mark but it's not something to fall on in lieu of showing the emotion, tension, inflection or whatever the punctuation would have been used to achieve. There are other options. So, I think I will stick with only using it on occasion.

A few sites that discuss this:

What do you think?
Are you for the exclamation mark or against using it often?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

D is for Desperation

Yes, desperation. Sounded like a good word to me and I want to talk specifically about the struggle of "show, don't tell" with something that I'm certain a number of writers deal with at some point in at least one of their stories.

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What is Desperation:

Definition 1: loss of hope and surrender to despair
Definition 2: a state of hopelessness leading to rashness

Fiction often talks about a character being desperate and almost any character could experience it whether it's the protagonist, the antagonist, a child, an adult, someone in desperate need or someone who just thinks they are desperate. But often times in a few different common forms: one character observing another that they are desperate, trying to hide desperation, and in particular, someone reeking of desperation. Sure it varies some, but often the word "desperate" or "desperation" is used.

But what does desperation really look like? Are there any tell tale signs that people can do that doesn't involve using the words "desperate" or "desperation." And more importantly, why does someone who seems desperate often reek of it? What does desperation smell like? Seriously. I tried looking up where the phrase "reeks of desperation" comes from but got tired of looking through links that all use the term but don't explain the origin. Well, technically reek also means "exude" so I guess that could be what reeks of desperation means, but it would be interesting to know what it might smell like.

In writing, we are often told to show, not tell, and that makes me curious about what desperation is like in the show way.

What does desperation look like to you?
What, if anything, do you think it would smell like?

C is for Creative Control

C turned out to be a tougher topic than I first imagined but here is one I never really thought about posting until now. Creative control is an interesting topic because we often think of our own stories as something we control (okay, or in some cases the characters control, we're writers we understand) but there are other aspects to the topic of creative control we can consider.

What is Creative Control?
It is term often used in media production, such as movies, television, and music. A person with the control has the authority to decide how the final product will appear. It is sometimes referred to as Artistic Control.

A few Web sites to check out:

We all dream about not only publication but also what may lay beyond that milestone. Creative control comes in different elements from characters, plot, other aspects of the novel, covers and movie scripts. And for the most part, I'd like to think, we get to keep that control (okay except with the movies cause I'm sure unless very popular like JK Rowling, or already known for writing movies, there is less control in how the movie turns out). There will be suggestions made, of course, in order to improve the work but that doesn't necessarily mean the creators work is tampered or the control taken away from them. And we all have to know our limits: some things we won't change for specific reasons and the rest have an open mind.

Self-publishing is a way some people pick to keep complete creative control of their work. It takes effort, and like any path of publishing both advantages and disadvantages, but there is that sense of control from layout, to story elements, to even the cover. For some, this is the right path, and for others it's not, but that's for each writer to decide.

What are your thoughts on Creative Control?
Is Creative Control an ideal or something you strive to maintain?

Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for Bromance


That's right. Today's "B" post I am dedicating to the "bromance" aka the straight male friends that always seem umm a little too friendly. Okay, this is about bromances and also about gay jokes used in comedies but the characters are straight, people just joke that they are often.

What is a "bromance"?
According to the urban dictionary online, a bromance "describes the complicated love and affection shared by two straight males."

Examples of Bromances (Found on wikipedia):
Star Trek
The Hangover
Bromance - the reality tv show
I Love You Man
Brad Pitt and George Clooney
Boston Legal

ROFL... hahahahaha

That was hilarious. Anyways, now to my slight rant, the other part of this topic: the use of homosexuality jokes for straight characters in comedy. Ever notice how a show will make jokes about a certain male character sexual orientation but it will only be a joke and they never will "come out"? Yeah, it happens often.

Friends (Chandler)... though there is a kiss between Ross&Joey and Chandler&Joey
King of Queens (Danny and Spence)
Everybody Loves Raymond (Robert and Ray)
Two and a Half Men (Allen, sometimes Charlie)
The Big Bang Theory (Raj and Howard)

Sure, it can be funny. I still question Chandler, lol, but at the same time it gets a little old. When are they going to actually be gay instead of just joke about it? Sure, it's good to show guys can have close friendships but where is the line? And how does one make it work in fiction?

Writing a bromance is a difficult task. Don't be surprised if there will be fan fiction of the characters where it is beyond a bromance to something more because when reader see that level of interaction, they tend to take it and do what they want to imagine. At the same time, don't be afraid to let two straight guys be close. It depends on the characters and their friendship. It always goes back to that advice doesn't it? Do what is best for the characters. Maybe give it a try. I'm sure having a bromance could make for some interesting conflict.

What do you think about bromances?
Ever write one?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for Argument

Okay, while I mostly use this blog to talk about fiction writing, there are other venues that I have knowledge of to share and what better way than to start off this crazy month challenge then to just jump feet first and talk about something that can be found in nonfiction writing: argumentation.

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There are a few things that come to mind with argumentation. Unfortunately, many people when they hear the word argument they think of one definition of the word which is "the breakdown of communication." That is one form, but there are two others. There is the funny one (called "argument zero" in my argumentation class in college) and I call it funny because it's basically "arguing with yourself". Yep, there is a title for that. And yes, it's okay to admit doing that as a writer. hehe

The other form of argumentation, and the one I took part in for years in college, is the act or process of forming reasons and of drawing conclusions and applying them to a case in discussion. Also known as... Debate (forensics).

As for how this relates to writing, guess what. It does! lol

For real, debate is about the research before hand. While the audience (haha okay, most people don't go watch debates except maybe big ones like the Presidential debates) gets the main exhibit, the arguments pulled together, there is a lot that goes behind the scenes. Writing can be like that. The reader won't see everything that the author figured out in their story, the research and worldbuilding takes work but it's worth the effort.

Went off track a little. Anyways, arguments can also be found in some novels. Most of the time it's the breakdown of communication because that creates conflict. But a character can also have evidence to prove a point to a different character. Then of course there is always nonfiction but what's the fun in that? Kidding. Nonfiction is great too.

Do you use arguments in any way?
Which form of argumentation do you use more?