Monday, September 7, 2015

Do you LOVE what You're Writing?

Years ago I got a great piece of advice from the blog of another writer, and I'll never forget it. If I could remember who it was, I would give them credit for it here. For all I know they got this advice from someone else themselves. Since then, I've heard other people say it, so it might be one of those things that's been repeated so often that no one can remember who actually came up with it. Anyway, the advice was this: Before you start writing a novel, ask yourself some questions.
  1. Do you love this idea? If you don't, think about something else. To make the reader love the story, you have to love it first. Plus, writing a book is hard work. You need to love it so that you can get through those dark times when you want to quit.
  2. Can you walk away from it? If you can push the idea down, not write the book, maybe it just isn't ready yet. Sometimes an idea needs to sit in the back of your brain a while before it becomes everything it can be. Let your creative minions work on it while you do something else.
  3. What do you love about it? Do you love the plot or just the main character? Maybe you should put the character in a new story, or maybe you need to find a better character for the amazing plot you already have. In other words, I think it's important to love more than one aspect of a book before you write it.
Let me add some advice of my own. I have a friend who desperately wants to be a writer. The problem is, she starts off in love with a story, but after a while that love fades away. She eventually stops writing. I've given her the following advice; although, it hasn't helped her. But maybe it will help you. First, understand this: You will not be in love with your book through the whole process. I like to compare writing a book to getting married. You fall in love, go through all the giddy preparations, and you vow to love each other forever. Then, reality strikes. Marriage (writing) is hard. The honeymoon ends, and you start wondering what you got yourself into. Well, most people don't run out and get a divorce. They realize that their significant other has flaws, and sometimes those flaws are going to make them crazy. Marriage takes hard work. If you want to stay married, you put time into building a stronger relationship. Same with writing a book. You will not ALWAYS love your story. I go through a love/hate thing with my books. After the strong emotions I have for a new story start to wane, I remind myself that I will fall in love with it again. I just need to keep going. This is where the work comes in. Keep your head down and keep working. How do you fall in love with your book again? It is possible to rekindle that old flame. Here are a few things to try during those dark moments when you want to throw the whole thing in the trash and move on.
  1. Re-read what you've already written. This will often remind me of why I fell in love with it in the first place, and I'll be able to continue on from where I left off.
  2. Tell someone about it. If re-reading what you've written doesn't help, talk to someone about it. Be careful not to tell someone your plot if it's fascinating, and you're afraid they're going to use it themselves. I never talk to other writers about what I'm working on. Instead, I will talk to my non-writer friends of family members. Sometimes this works, and I will feel the butterflies in my stomach again. Time to run back to the computer.
  3. Put it aside. Sometimes you just need a break. If the above things don't help, put the story aside and do something fun. Take a hike, or go see a movie, or read a great book. You might just need some time to get your creative juices flowing again. You could even do a little work on a future book (do an outline or write some scene that might go into your next book).
In the end, you need to remember that the feeling will return. If you loved your characters and your plot, you will love them again. Just keep writing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Had to take a break from all the world building, and I came across a cool book on Amazon. This book is called Plot Your Book in a Month with Scrivener and it is written by Stephanie Draven. Now, I've had Scrivener for quite a while, and I LOVE it! But I still have no idea of all it's capable of. That's when this book comes in.

Here is where you can find it on Amazon if you are interested.

Anyway, I've only done the first few exercises, but it's already been SO helpful.

Did you know you could use the character template provided in Scrivener to keep pics and info on each character? Me either.

Did you know you could add individual cards to each character's portfolio like a card on Traits and one on Flaws? Me either.

Seriously, this is a great book, but you do have to know something about Scrivener in order to use it. The author doesn't go into detail on how to do various things. Although, she does provide some images so that you can see what she did and maybe figure it out for yourself. When it comes to computer stuff, I suck, but I have been able to keep up with her so far.

I highly recommend this book to writers.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

World Building for Dummies part 2

Since writing the first post on World Building, I've done more research on the subject. So, here is what I'm doing now. If you need to do some world building, follow along with me. Okay?

1. Draw Two Circles: This will be your world from the front and from the back. The articles I read said you can make your world a different shape like flat or square or something weird. But I think for this first one we should stick to the normal globe world that we are used to.

2. Decide How Many Suns/Moons You Need: I wasn't a good student in school when it came to science, so this part gave me a bit of a headache. The thing I read said you need to keep in mind that a moon pulls on the ocean, creates tides. If you have no moon, you probably won't have tides. If you have more than one moon, you probably have erratic tides. So you need to ask yourself what sort of tides you need. That is, if your world even has an ocean.

The sun will affect your world's climate. Is it hot? Is it cold? Does your world revolve around the sun? 

You see, I told you, headache time.

3. Draw Land Masses on Your World: I decided to keep it simple. I'm only doing one large continent on my world. However, I am putting two smaller ones at each pole (North and South).

If you are going to have mountains, meadows, forests, this is a good time to put them in.

4. Add Bodies of Water: Does your world have an ocean? Rivers? Lakes?

In my research, I found out that rivers usually start in the mountains, so if you have a mountain range, put the start of your river up there. Then the river flows to the lowest point and dumps into the ocean (if you have one). Along the way, it might make a lake or have several offshoots that become small creeks. Does you world have dams to keep areas from flooding? Something to keep in mind.

5. Where Do the People Live? This is a good time to ask yourself where your people are going to live. Are they in cities, towns, villages, kingdoms? Do they all live together or separately? Are there different races in your world?

World Building part 3 coming soon.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

World Building for Dummies part 1

Don't let the title throw you. When it comes to world building, I feel like a dummy, so I'm learning right along with you. I'll be researching, building on to what I have, learning through trial and error.

All fictional writers have to build worlds to some extent. Think about it. Setting is your world. If you are writing a mystery set in a small New England town, your world will be that town. Now, unless you are going to use an actual town, all the buildings and streets and bridges and waterways, etc., you will have to do at least some world building. So, how do you do it?

Good question. This is what I have been wondering for over a month. You see, my first urban fantasy-- Vampires Rule-- was set mainly on a farm. There was a town, so I made one up rather than use a town I've never been to. I mean, sure you can go to Google maps, but I don't like research that much. Plus, I'd rather write about a place I've at least visited in person. 

I've been to Nebraska (out in the middle of nowhere). That's why I chose it. Then, I invented the town of Bliss. Other than where the high school is located, graveyard, and Silver's house, I didn't make up too much about it. Which leads us to another interesting question. How much is too much?

While researching the art of world building, I came across several deferring opinions. Some say you have to know every single thing about your world (town, city, country, etc) before you begin to write. Think about Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling must have spent months (perhaps even years) created the fictional world so many of us would come to know and love. 

Others say if it isn't going to be important to the book, you don't need to know it. I've heard readers complain about too many details. Some authors--if they know it, they want you to know it--will give you ALL the details on their world whether you need them or not. 

Now that I am writing a book where I have to create another world and link that world to others, I am going to go with the second group of people and keep the world building as simple as possible. In fact, one author noted that the more complicated it gets, the more likely you are to screw things up and contradict yourself. I don't need that.

I've heard some authors say they create actual maps for their worlds. Well, I can't draw, so I think I'll skip that part.

My upcoming series is about a boy who travels to other realms in search of magical daggers, a dragon made of smoke, and the truth about himself. This is my first attempt at fantasy so I feel the need to make these worlds into incredible visions that readers will want to visit again and again. 

Where do I start?

Well, I know I need at least one other world. At the moment it doesn't have a name, but I know that is where Mount Olympus can be found. 

Yes, I'm using some Greek mythology in this series. 

At this point, I have Mt. Olympus. Now I need to figure out where the people live. Zeus resides in a castle on Olympus. Hades lives in the Underworld, and Poseidon is in the ocean. So, I know I need an ocean and a way into the Underworld. 

Viewing maps, especially the fantasy maps of other writers and of gamers is an excellent way to figure out what you want. It gave me a lot of ideas. 

World Building part 2 coming soon.