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Showing content with the highest reputation since 03/14/2019 in all areas

  1. 3 points
    I'll have to give that podcast a listen, these were some really interesting questions to work through! How do you fix character voices when you find out that two of them are too similar? I usually run into this problem with side characters that aren't fleshed out or haven't had much page time. I rarely run into it with a POV character since I spend so much time in their head and they become distinctive through each draft. When I fix the issue with a side character it usually entails taking time to draw up their backstory and get a feel for them through that. Then I can bring in nuances through dialogue and their actions. Or I cut them completely if they aren't truly necessary to the story. How can you tell if a character is, in fact, the problem? If I have to constantly go back and double check names and facts about a character and find I'm confusing them then that's a pretty sure sign the character is the problem. Or if my primary beta reader can't keep them straight. Or if I become avoidant about certain passages I know something about them is throwing me off and I have to sit down and pick it apart to find what it is. How do you maintain interest in a character who is largely inactive? Well, short answer is: I don't. As I've gotten older and dealt steadily with depression through my twenties up to now I find my attention span has shortened immensely. If a character doesn't hold my interest and can't be engaging then I either throw a wrench at them or scrap them completely. I don't have the energy to spend on a character who doesn't add anything new or keep the book going. I'll work with them a bit to see if they can shape into a character who pulls their weight within the story, but if they don't I'm not going to keep them around to clutter up the page. How do you write interesting bad guys when your only POV characters are the good guys? I spend time with them behind the scenes. Bad guys or antagonists are the heroes and main characters in their own minds so I will let them take the reins, so to speak, and let them show me who they are. Depending on what their deal is I may need to do extra research so I understand or can empathize where they are coming from. My current villain is a budding teenage serial killer. In his case he is a true sociopath and is unable to feel empathy towards other living creatures or people, but he is able to blend in with his community and fake human emotions and connections very well. Research, in his case, means delving into true crime documentaries and books that focus on the psychological makeup of such a person. His main drive is obsession and without the usual checks and balances of empathy and sympathy the way he goes after what he wants and why is different than other characters. Beyond him there are less extreme antagonists who aren't sociopaths but are ruled by purely emotional factors, such as greed, love, hatred, bigotry, etc... Then I just have to find that same component within myself and explore it. One of the most helpful things I've ever come across to help with all my characters came from this Maya Angelou video: How do you give meaningful challenges to a powerful character? Still working on this for some of my characters. Right now the ones who are powerful are witches capable of greater than ordinary magic but are kept in check by strict laws, societal distrust, and they are outnumbered. Also, delving too deeply into using more magic than one is capable of carries the danger of burning out or going mad. Other challenges I'm currently toying with have to do with individual personal stakes. Power of any kind doesn't come for free, so there has to be consequences for obtaining or using it, and it has a greater impact when the challenge comes from dealing with those consequences. In my current project my main characters obtain a connection to each other that gives them a greater capacity for using magic, however this puts their sanity and social standing in jeopardy, especially with their mother who has finally obtained respect for being a competent and trustworthy witch. In trying to protect their neighbors from the teenage serial killer who is also using magic they have to break laws and rules and then deal with the social fallout. How can you make a normal, everyday character interesting? They have to have something personal at stake in something that I can relate to. Even if they get thrown into the most extreme of fantastical situations a character will get boring if the only stakes are something like, the world is going to literally end apocalypse style. That's fine to use as a plot, but the ordinary character getting through the situation isn't equipped to worry about the large scale event as a whole and nothing else. They have to have something personal that's driving them to survive, like trying to get back to their family or finding a safe zone or finding the cure for their loved one, even just surviving for their own sake. They have to want something and need something, and it's far more interesting if those things are relatable (and at cross purposes because, yay, tension and conflict!). The world going down in flames is not that interesting, but how people deal with it to fulfill their needs and wants is. How do you edit an existing manuscript to give characters interests which mesh with the plot? If it's an old manuscript I would probably take time to go behind the scenes with the characters and establish those interests first, then have the existing manuscript and a new document on screen side by side and just do a massive rewrite. With the way my brain works, if I tried to go in and tweak things here and there I would end up with a knotted mess and even more work. I can do that if the manuscript is 90% complete and I'm just doing touch ups, but those interests are completely absent that has the potential to change the existing manuscript in pretty fundamental ways. I'd feel more comfortable taking it page by page. I actually did something similar to the book I published last year when I had to go in and add things to the plot line that needed to carry forward into book two. It was tedious but kept everything straight in my head.
  2. 2 points
    Do you spend time moodboarding your story? Like, what the feel of story are, the look of it (setting/characters) and the sounds of it. It's worldbuilding in a way, but maybe a bit more than that too, like the general atmosphere of a story. Do you love doing it? How do you do it? Do you keep it in your head? Have a folder/board full of pics and stuff? When do you break out your moodboard for inspiration? Any tips for moodboarding? How would you describe the moodboard for your current story?
  3. 2 points
    I've got another Writing Excuses inspired post! I know, you are all shocked. I just listened to Season 13, Episode 47 (link) on fixing characters that aren't working. It's a Q&A on how to fix certain problems, and I thought I'd bring it here to see what your answers are! Here's the list: How do you fix character voices when you find out that two of them are too similar? How can you tell if a character is, in fact, the problem? How do you maintain interest in a character who is largely inactive? How do you write interesting bad guys when your only POV characters are the good guys? How do you give meaningful challenges to a powerful character? How can you make a normal, everyday character interesting? How do you edit an existing manuscript to give characters interests which mesh with the plot? Here's a link to the transcript of the episode if you want to see how they answered, but aren't able to listen to the podcast.
  4. 2 points
    Dialogue tags are something I always struggle with. When I'm writing, I know that I need to at least be somewhat mindful of the amount of times I use "said," because I know that it shouldn't be used at the end of every bit of dialogue. Sometimes I know what I'd like to use as a description of the way a character is saying something, but I don't know what tag would actually be used for it so I just write whatever comes to mind, even if it means using "said" again. So, let's discuss! What are your feelings about "said is dead"? What are your feelings about dialogue tags in general? Are they a struggle, or do they come easy to you? Do you have any tips and resources for dialogue tags, like a reference list of tags that can be used besides "said"? (This is one that I've found before on Pinterest, but I'm wondering if there are any others that you've used.) This Twitter status is one of the things that got me thinking about dialogue tags/said is dead and made me decide to start a discussion on it. Do you agree or disagree with it?
  5. 2 points
    Said is definitely invisible for me and I try to be super sparing with other dialogue tags. I think you can convey how something is said with other indicators sprinkled throughout the text, especially body language. Example: There are times tags other than said work well in a text, but on the whole I think said is best. Unless, of course, you have a couple characters trapped in a dark closet, then tags like whispered, hissed, or shouted work because the regular visual cues and such would be absent, but you wouldn't need many. In the closet situation you could begin an exchange with some of those tags to set the scene and then peter them out to pure dialogue exchanges by keeping the voices distinctive . Otherwise too many tags makes the work clunky and I feel it robs the reader of the full chance to visualize the scene for themselves.
  6. 2 points
    So I tried to find out where 'said is dead' came from, and it looks like there's no singular source. I've found two blogs that claim is comes from elementary schools, (here and here). They claim the advice 'said is dead' comes from teachers of beginning writers who are looking to expand their students vocabulary primarily by providing big lists of things to say instead of said. The advice has been parroted without knowing this context, until its bled into other new writers. I didn't do a thorough search, but based on all the fancy graphics and things, it looks like it re-surged on the internet as writing advice in the late 2000's/early 2010's. I think using a lot of words like yelled, grimaced, shrugged... it reads a lot younger, more grade school than aimed at audiences. Do you agree? I am firmly on the 'said is invisible' side of this debate. It doesn't pull attention to itself. Using alternate dialogue tags does pull attention. If you are using them every time it clutters up a page, people are yelling, whispering, grumbling, all within a few breaths? It sounds exhausting. It can also border on 'telling' as opposed to 'showing' a character's internal state. Now I don't believe they should never ever be used, they can definitely help get into a characters head or to visualize a scene. They should just be used sparingly, a spice, not the main flavour. Basically, I think this is just poor writing advice that keeps circulating because its short and pithy and sounds on the surface like it could be helpful, but it really isn't.
  7. 2 points
    I've never thought said is dead persé. I was taught that said is one of those words that you basically not register as much, so you can use it pretty much every time. I'm looking at it like this. Most of time using said is the way to go, same as with your go to breakfast or lunch or meal of choice. But sometimes it's just nice to spice it up a little bit and do something different. So I try to use other dialogue tags with a lot of caution because they are so easy to overuse and become annoying.
  8. 2 points
    I've always seen mood boards on Tumblr and I love the concept, but like @Penguinball I usually just create a Pinterest board. The one for Witches of Texas is fairly extensive, so when I need inspiration I just go scroll through it or look at the graphics I made on Canva that I put out on Facebook and Twitter to advertise my book. I'd love to know what program you used for yours, it looks awesome!
  9. 2 points
    I like moodboards when I see them, but I've never made one myself. The closest I get is pinterest boards for a particular story. What program do you use to put the pictures together? Also, I like that moodboard. Feels very mermaidy. That could be a fun idea for a prompt or a brainstorming exercise, post a moodboard and reverse engineer what the story is about.
  10. 2 points
    I haven't tried to do a mood board, exactly. The closest thing I've come is just creating boards on Pinterest for the characters and even inspiration for specific scenes/items/creatures. This is mine for Court of Shadows. I might have to try creating an actual mood board like yours, though, so I'm following this for any potential tips. XD
  11. 2 points
    Did it with a Discworld book, and found Nanny Ogg singing "A wizard's staff has a knob on the end"... That certainly was an epiphany for me. 😄
  12. 1 point
    I wrote words!words to add: 2.100 words
  13. 1 point
    I wrote words! words to add: 540 words
  14. 1 point
    I wrote words!new total: 6,252 words
  15. 1 point
    Finally upgraded to Scrivener 3 and am loving all the new features, especially how it implements Dark Mode. Makes it so much easier on the eyes. Only trouble is I've been playing with features all afternoon instead of writing...🤫
  16. 1 point
    @Manu, I appear in your spreadsheet with more words than I had actually written. You took as words to add what was actually the new total (because I am not updating on the site every day my words, and I am always telling the new total, because it's easier to make a sum in Excel than other complicated calculations). I wrote words!new total: [6878] words as per tonight
  17. 1 point
    I wrote words! Words to add: 6945
  18. 1 point
    I wrote words! words to add: 1130 words
  19. 1 point
    Urgh, really behind. Hoping to catch up in the next few weeks. Looks like I'll have to count my brainstorming/research hours after all. I wrote words! words to add: 4,436 new total: 7,794
  20. 1 point
    I was linked to this Tumblr post on another writing forum and thought I'd bring it here. It introduces the concept of Deductive vs Inductive storyteller to describe how you write, as an alternative to the pantser/plotter dichotomy that is spoken of more often. Very loose definitions: Deductive = large, general concepts to specific details. Inductive = small, specific details to large, general concepts I really like it! Here's what the post says: What do you think? I'm mostly a deductive storyteller, I have a concept I want to explore, like a cool kind of magic, and figure out what the rest of the world looks like from that, then figure out what characters fit in that world, theeeen figure out what those characters want, and come up with a plot. How about you?
  21. 1 point
    I wrote words! words to add: 9,257 words
  22. 1 point
    The seer gives up her eyes in a complicated ritual to achieve cosmic knowledge. However, cosmic knowledge is a...highly subjective term. The seer ends up being able to access the knowledge of a particularly long lived whale in another galaxy's ocean who knows everything that's happened in the deep blue since near the dawn of time. Fascinating stuff, and utterly useless to apply to most of her own world. New trope: the Plucky Sidekick.
  23. 1 point
    I wrote words! words to add: [169] words
  24. 1 point
    I don't have much experience with editing, really, but I've always fancied Brandon Sanderson's Writing Excuses podcast, and they should have some nifty 15 minutes or so episodes on the topic 😄 https://writingexcuses.com/?s=editing
  25. 1 point
    Here's some bookmarks I saved in my browser (and never used, so don't ask me if they're good advice - they seemed good when I skimmed them): One-Pass Manuscript Revision: From First Draft to Last in One Cycle | Holly Lisle: Official Author Homepage How to Edit Your Book in 4 Steps 25 Steps To Edit The Unmerciful Suck Out Of Your Story « terribleminds: chuck wendig Fiction University: At-Home Workshop: Revise Your Novel in 31 Days Books about editing I am planning to read when I find the time: Roy Peter Clark: Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer (this one is about improving writing style on a language level, not about the big picture of editing) Shawn Coyne: The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know (seems to focus more on the bigger picture, seems quite technical and reviews say most of the content is available on his blog for free, so might be worth checking that out) Sol Stein: Stein on Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies (this is the one I'm probably going to read soonest, as it's already on my book shelf - it was recommended to me two times by people who work in the editing business and the German translation seems to be one of the standard textbooks on editing around here)