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Pinchofmagic

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Everything posted by Pinchofmagic

  1. Pinchofmagic

    Quitting a book

    I so agree with this. There is something so psychologically draining to be forced to read something one's brain is fighting against. Also a book-chucker here, lol! It seems like the snobbery has lifted a bit though, these last 20-30 years. When I was younger, like in the 90's, romance novels were considered really trashy and the lowest form of books where I live, and now romances are actually subject for a university-course here. Maybe it's just me, but it feels a lot more accepted to like whatever, and to stand proud whatever someone else says. Also, the opposite, that it's okay to say one doesn't like something, no matter how popular it is. :)
  2. Pinchofmagic

    Dissecting your favourite characters

    Omg, yes. And I love Esme too. She's not only so much fun to read about, but she's definitely relatable when one is fed up with people, lol! I also agree with whiny characters. They do test my patience a awful lot. Your post reminded me of what I call the Baldrick-trick: I have a cunning plan. Characters who are problem solvers are so much fun to read about, and it doesn't matter if it goes pear-shaped (hopefully not out of too much stupidity though) because that means they have more problems to solve. I try to remember Baldrick when I feel my own story stagnates a bit. It's usually because my characters don't have enough problems and no reason to make and execute plans. :)
  3. Pinchofmagic

    Quitting a book

    I give up on a lot of books. And often for a whole slew of reasons. If they're boring or too writerly in language, or if it feels forced and everything is turned up to eleven, I find that difficult. Or if it's too somber. Or if I don't like the main character. One popular book I remember gaving up on was Gail Carriger's Soulless. Sounded great, love a steampunk flair, but I didn't like the main character, and I thought a lot of the situations called for a shame-pillow for me. I remember I had to put it down and stare out in front of me at times. But books are like any other taste; music, movies, food... It just wasn't for me. I've given up Pratchett novels too, and some of his books are on my top five. It's often really hard to say why a book isn't fun to read (which makes it so hard to write fun books!), but there is something like an entertainment factor for me. I need to feel entertained with novels. Something that pulls me in. Doesn't have to be a huge hook or anything. Just a lightness in style, a glimmer of humour, or an interesting character/situation... Oh, yeah, speaking of Patrick Rothfuss, I didn't finish The name of the wind. Nothing wrong with style or anything. I think it was the character. I just didn't care, so I gave it up about 2/3 of the way through. I tend to buy a lot less books now unless I can look through them and see the style and get a feel for the character, because I've made a lot of bad buys. Thankfully Amazon has the "Look Inside" these days (which is brilliant!), but I had to order a lot of books without knowing more than the blurb in the past. Now I try to get as much information as possible before I buy.
  4. I wrote words!words to add: [7360] words
  5. Pinchofmagic

    Dissecting your favourite characters

    Gytha Ogg from the Witch-books of Discworld is my favourite book character bar none. She's just so well put-together: very cheerful, loves life, has a friendly country charm and an incredible joie de vivre, but underneath there's a sharp intellect and she's very active in the stories. She's never one for whining, she solves problems, is incredibly loyal to her friend and is just fearless. Because she has a big family she's reasonable, and often acts as a mediator between her much harsher friend Esme and others. She can cause trouble though, by gambling away the travel money and such, and she's the mother-in-law from hell, so she's got flaws. That she's got a dirty mind, loves a drink and eats everything in sight is also really funny. I just love her. Another character I got hooked on lately is Stiles Stilinski from tv-show Teen Wolf. In the first season he was pretty much the only draw for me, but strong enough that I got more seasons. He's like Gytha Ogg, the best friend-type, and a hyper-active, curious instigator of trouble, but also the intellectual investigator. He's sarcastic in a funny way, really squeamish, impulsive, sooo expressive in every way (he can't even shut up when someone beats on him). If he's got flaws it's probably that he's impatient (which is one of my flaws too, lol!). Also, he's got a sad backstory. So, looking at my fave characters, that's the kind of people I fall for, and who I wanna read about, so it's naturally the kind of novel character I aim to write too. The very active, curious, funny type who is really entertaining to follow. It's one of my prime goals as a writer. I love a strong plot, but even in a weaker plot a good character can keep me interested for quite a while.
  6. Pinchofmagic

    Hi, everyone!

    Hi Jess! First, your favourite characters sounds so freaking amazing and I really love the sound of them. Second, you raise butterflies? 😮 And third, welcome to the forum! I hope you'll find some fun stuff around here, so jump right in. :)
  7. Pinchofmagic

    QOTD #50: Beginnings, Middles and Ends

    I noticed that, lol! But I agree with you on the beginning, the novelty is fun and there is a rush of ideas. It's not a bad feeling really. No, that comes later, when I've edited the first chapter a thousand times, and then a thousand more, and hate it with the heat of the fires of Mordor. That line gave me some flashbacks. Pre-2011 I used to have only beginnings. I probably started a new story every week. I could never get to the middle until I started to outline. But yeah, I still have more beginnings than endings. :)
  8. The mentor without a clue. So, fantasy has so many tropes, and playing around with them has become more and more popular. Here's a thread for turning the old tropes into something with a comedic twist for inspiration. Pick a trope, any trope. The runaway princess: Instead of having a run-away princess, maybe everything runs away from her. Maybe she loses everything, literally. Not only pets and objects, but she lost a suitor in the garden maze (never to be seen again) and a hand-maiden at the county fair (she probably ran off with the toffee-apple vendor), and now it seems she lost her way back to the castle. Curse? Or is she just careless? It's becoming a real problem though.
  9. Pinchofmagic

    QOTD #50: Beginnings, Middles and Ends

    I have to say the middle. Then I usually have a better grip on the characters and the world, and I really enjoy weaving them together and get that rush of plot-ideas. Some stories have more troublesome middles, but I find the climax/ending difficult in every story. Even if I have an idea for an ending early, I still end up re-writing it a lot. The beginning can be a bit frustrating too because there's a mass of ideas struggling to get out at the same time, and everything develop simultaneously... It can get a little messy. But then I pants my way into the story and outline later. However, I'll take the beginning over an ending any day.
  10. Oh, wow, I loved that! Tragic relief is so necessary for comedy, and you got both in one twist here. Nice! I found the evil overlord a bit hard to twist too, it's been twisted a lot for comedy already, so it was a challenge. I don't actually know if this has been done by someone, but here it goes: The evil overlord inherited his title as evil overlord, and have a league of minions eagerly awaiting his grand plan for world destruction, but the evil overlord is a perfectionist. He can't act until every piece in the puzzle is utterly fail-proof. By then the bank he planned on robbing has closed, the superhero decided to get new villains to fight and the landlord for the overlord-lair got fed up waiting for rent. New trope: The Gentle Giant (big, strong, intimidating, but with a heart of gold)
  11. Pinchofmagic

    Moodboarding

    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?
  12. Pinchofmagic

    Moodboarding

    Oh, awesome! Thanks for sharing the names of the apps, that's great for someone looking for places to make moodboards/aesthetics. :)
  13. Pinchofmagic

    Moodboarding

    That's what I did too before I found Pinterest, just collected a whole lot of files on the computer that I could go back to look at. Those files were great, not only for the detailed stuff about characters/objects/buildings, etc, but sometimes for finding ideas for plot. For me Pinterest started out as just a way to free up space on my computer, but that place really exploded with pictures and it feels way better than pic search on google, so a lot of writers use them. Some have incredibly specific boards, like one of for each room of a house and things like that. Amazing. I'm usually content with one board per story. But yeah, with spotty internet, it can be quite frustrating. I live in the countryside too and sometimes the coverage is pretty bad. Oh, by the way, I like your blogs! Very cool pictures of Little Alligator Creek (even though the name terrifies me slightly). :)
  14. Pinchofmagic

    Fixing a Character Megapost

    Very interesting, and hard questions, but I'll give it a go. :) How do you fix character voices when you find out that two of them are too similar? I'd pull out what separates them, like digging into their background. If one was brought up mostly alone they deal with stuff more by themselves maybe, whereas someone used to constant feedback might be very interested in hearing other's opinions on everything they do, stuff like that. Giving them a few opposite personality traits work the same way (calm/hyper, negative/optimistic,etc). Or interests that bleed into the way they speak and move. How can you tell if a character is, in fact, the problem? When they don't have enough to do, too few important agendas, too few things they need to get/fix/solve, and they just seem to wander. That's boring to write, so easy to spot. Also, if they don't sparkle in my mind. They need to have that thing that promises a lot of fun stuff ahead, and a satisfying arc. That's not really the character that's the problem though, it's me! 😄 How do you maintain interest in a character who is largely inactive? Oh, tough one. I like very driven characters, but I guess... really interesting internal thoughts, or interesting interactions with other people. Maybe they have funny stories to tell, or a great sense of humour. I think it could work great for shorter stories. For a novel, especially a fantasy adventure one, it might be difficult with an inactive character. Someone probably did it though! How do you write interesting bad guys when your only POV characters are the good guys? I dreaded this one, because this is hard to do. I usually solve it by having the antagonist be a person from the POV-protagonist past, so that memories filtered through the protagonist can help build interest. Or to have the protagonist look into the antagonist's past in a "know thy enemy"-way, that can work well. Also having them meet quite a bit to get a sense of their personality through dialogue. I was bad at this, and kept my antagonist hidden for too long, but I'm trying to bring them in a lot more and much earlier. How do you give meaningful challenges to a powerful character? I don't have a lot of powerful characters, but if I did I'd probably try to outsmart them. If they're magically powerful, maybe challenge them on the personal level. Finding the loopholes in their power and exploit them. I like problems that can't be solved by magic or powers, so socking them in the mouth with the realisation that their great powers are useless in this case can be delicious. How can you make a normal, everyday character interesting? By throwing crazy shit at them, burst that everyday bubble and see how they deal. Having the ordinary meet the extraordinary. Dig around in them to find their fears, prejudices, secrets, bad memories, etc, and then just throw it at them. Other stuff that appears normal and everyday could be great too, like someone's hobby could be really useful in dealing with shapeshifters, or their organizational skill might make them able to dig through a messy archive to find the right sort of spells quicker than anyone. My characters are usually not that magical or extraordinary, and they would be considered normal and everyday in their world, but they're driven by something in the story, and they go after it. I find that interesting. :) How do you edit an existing manuscript to give characters interests which mesh with the plot? I don't think I ever have. Those things appear in the first draft, and are rarely after-thoughts. But I guess I would add the moments when the interest is stated, what it means to the character, and rewrite the situations where it could become relevant or useful, or thematically fitting in. I'm not quite sure what "mesh" means in this context (because I didn't listen to the podcast. I knew that would come back and bite me), if it means an interest the plot rests on a fair bit, or if it's something that will thematically deepen the plot. But if it's the former, a complete re-write? Which I would probably never do.
  15. Pinchofmagic

    "Said is Dead" and Dialogue Tags

    I'm definitely in the "said is alive"-camp here too, and agree with the tweet. Said is invisible, unless it's used too much in a row, like you said, and that's when it could be tempting to search for other verbs instead of looking for ways to get rid of some of the tags altogether. I think there are places for other kinds of tags than said, but agree with the tweet: using them sparingly is best. And I'd like to add: not use too odd ones, because they make a bump in the flow. For me dialogue is often a quick exchange, so things like "bemoaned" holds it up. Terry Pratchett uses non-said tags quite a bit, and I don't even notice, because it fits so well and he doesn't over-do it. The problem for me is when the tags feel unnatural or unnecessary. I agree with Banespawn on so much, like situation/character mood revealing how things are said, and action/character voice/wording instead of tags. It's a balance really. Some writers just have that natural way of writing dialogue, they know exactly how much information is needed, when to put in a pause/character action (and what kind of character action), when it's time to indicate who is talking, and how to add the proper subtext. Maybe it's a matter of taste, but I like the "less is more"-approach when it comes to tags, especially in a thrilling piece of interaction, when the explaining tag can take away a lot of tension in the dialogue. I want the response quickly, but it's being hindered by an (often) unnecessary tag. For me it ultimately comes down to the feeling of flow though. Bad dialogue is the one I notice too much. Good dialogue just gets gulped up.
  16. Pinchofmagic

    Moodboarding

    Oh, yeah, I can spend a bit too much time on them too, and yes, Pinterest is a vortex where a day is easily lost never to be found again. 😄 But I feel like I'm actually rolling around story ideas in my head as I make moodboards or collecting images on Pinterest, so I treat it like part of the writing process. And it's darn fun. I also get inspired by them, just like you, and get reminded of what made me start this book and how I envisioned it. I love the look of your Pinterest board, I also have a lot of mixes in my boards: text/quotes/small objects/characters/houses. Pinterest is awesome for that, and of course for keeping them private if one wishes. I have several moodboards on private too. Pinterest do have a lot of YA aesthetics and stuff like that, but there are so many pictures on that site, they're often better than Google Picture Search. I love old street photography, like Vivian Maier, and I have one board full of candid pics of old ladies from the 1960's for my current story, and I plan to make a moodboard wallpaper of them for my lap top. :)
  17. Pinchofmagic

    Moodboarding

    Now I really wish I hadn't pinched the moodboard picture, lol!. But yes, it is beautiful. A great example of what you could do as a moodboard. I think the hardest work is always finding the right pictures, and putting them together is a bit easier. I do it in Photoshop, but I think there are online sites where you could create your own moodboards, but I'm not sure how they work. Oh, I never heard of Canva before, but I looked them up. Very interesting. :)
  18. Pinchofmagic

    Moodboarding

    I use Photoshop. It's got a lot of features, I'm not close to knowing what they all do. But for making wallpaper moodboards, it's excellent. :) Yeah, a moodboard could definitely work well as a prompt! There are some awesome ones out there, a lot of the aestethic boards could be used too (It feels like they're the same thing sorta). I searched for "fantasy story moodboards" and so many great ones popped up. Great for sparking ideas. :)
  19. Pinchofmagic

    Moodboarding

    O, really nice! Very visual stuff and really easy to see a real connecting mood there, I love them. So beautiful too. That mermaid moodboard isn't actually mine - I pinched it! (probably violated a few laws too, lol!)- but I make moodboards like that to use as wallpaper for my lap top. I don't know why I didn't use one of those in my original post... Hm. But here's one of my own for when I started the Wyrd Sisters-inspired story I'm writing now: It's the first thing I see when I turn the computer on, so it really gets me in the mood. I do use Pinterest a lot for collecting the pictures though, and as actual moodboards too, it's just an amazing site for that sort of stuff. :)
  20. I wrote words! Words to add: 6945
  21. Pinchofmagic

    The Midpoint Mirror

    I like James Scott Bell's writing advice, but I never came across his Mirror Moment theory until this week. It gave me some ideas for my midpoint while I was plotting, so I thought I might share this for anyone else who hasn't seen that before. Bell uses it for planning his novel, having been both a plotter and a pantser, so he talks about how planning a story can be done from the middle. Here's what he says himself: What is this novel approach? (Pun intended). Well, it’s a method. In this method you don’t start at the beginning and pants your way through. Nor do you start with the ending and outline the whole doggone thing. You actually start from the middle. What? That’s what I said—the dead center of your novel. Because it is here, in what I call “the mirror moment,” that you discover, truly, what your novel is really all about. In researching the topic, I discovered there was no agreement on what the midpoint was supposed to do. So I took some of my favorite movies and books and went right to the smack-dab middles and rooted around. What was going on here? What I found literally knocked my socks off. (Yes, I actually had to go around my house picking up my socks, so revelatory was this). What I discovered was that the true midpoint was not a scene at all—it was a moment within a scene. And that very moment, if properly rendered, clarified the entire story. It’s about the Lead character, taking a long, hard look at himself (as in a mirror). He asks, Who am I? What have I become? Who am I supposed to be? An example is the classic film Casablanca. In the dead center is that moment when Ilsa comes to Rick after closing time, to explain about why she left him. He’s drunk, and basically calls her a whore. She cries and leaves. And Rick buries his head in his hands. The rest of the film is about what kind of man Rick will be. Or, the mirror moment is when the character realizes that the odds are so great he’s probably going to die. This is the very middle of The Fugitive. Dr. Richard Kimble realizes every police officer and fed in the country is after him. He can’t possibly survive. Now, if you are intentional about what this moment is in your own book, it will illuminate everything for you. The writing will be more unified and organic. If you’re a panster, you’ll be guided on what to pants next. If you’re an outliner, it will help you revise your outline. Diana Cranstoun also describes the method on her website: Open Pride and Prejudice about half-way through and you’ll find the scene where Darcy proposes to Elizabeth in the most pompous fashion. Of course she turns him down and tells him exactly why she’s rejecting him, particularly for his treatment of Mr. Wickham. The next day, having taken her comments to heart, Darcy returns and gives Elizabeth a letter, acknowledging his pride and putting her right on Wickham. Reflecting on the letter and her own prejudice in the next chapter, she admits, ‘Till this moment, I never knew myself.’ (In fact, when I opened my copy of P&P from my university days, I discovered I had underlined those lines and written – moral climax of book.) James Scott Bell calls this Midpoint in the internal story The Mirror Moment. The moment (not a scene) when: The character is forced to look at himself. As if in a mirror, only it’s a reflection of who he is at that moment in time. Who am I? What have I become? What do I have to do to regain my humanity? Sometimes, it’s the character looking at the odds. How can I possibly win? It looks like I’m going to die—physically or spiritually. Now what am I supposed to do? Sometimes, James Scott Bell says, it can be a moment when he actually looks in a mirror and sees – really sees – himself. So, what's your thoughts about a character's self-discovery and beginning of a change? Is the mirror moment something you use while plotting? Would it be a good starting point for planning a story the way Bell uses it (before and after the mirror)? Do you find you have a mirror moment in your story?
  22. Pinchofmagic

    The Midpoint Mirror

    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. 😄
  23. Pinchofmagic

    The Midpoint Mirror

    Yeah, I kinda thought this too when I read it, so I agree with you and Banespawn. The character transformation has to be big part of the initial idea for it to work in the early planning stages. Or it's like a matter of writing your way into the story or plot, realise what the change is and then pinpoint where in the story it will take place to do the whole mirror thing. Bell seems dead cert it's right in the middle though, and I figure it's maybe like a spark of growth maybe that begins there and then it slowly transform, like they're aware of it, but not successful in changing it until much later... because I'd also like to push it later into the plot. I do love the idea of a moment like that for the main characters, because it means they do have things they need to change, so a good thing to have in mind to create flaws. By the way, I love those Dan Wells-videos. I watched them a lot when I tried to figure out what plotting was, but I can still go back to them, because hearing someone talk about plot while I'm plotting works great for coming up with ideas. I recommend them too. :)
  24. Oh, I love this! The story of your older mentor who puts a lot of pressure on the protagonist sounds like a great way to get make tropes interesting and for creating a lot of conflict. I've seen a lot of mentors who are too patient and too knowledgeable, to the point where they become really boring, so weird sounds like a great way to get away from that. :) I can totally see how some twisting of the tropes can be the wrong turn when we do it "just because". Sometimes that fun idea works, and other times they're just a meh character... I've recently had to do some shuffling around too with mentors. I an older female mentor who was disabled because of magic back story, but she turned out to have the most interesting stuff going on and way more motivation than my protag, so I merged her with my younger trainee into a whole new main middle-aged character. She's is not only becoming a kind of mentor for a younger person, but gets a mentor of her own during the story. It really breathed some life into the novel. Oh, I loved your twists on the tropes, really neat! And yes! It could definitely be a forum game. When I read about your chosen one I was so inspired by the sheer multitude of way one can play around with tropes. It could be what characters do, how they act (personality), backstory, situations... Play around with setting ideas, with trope-y plot twists, with macguffins and weapons, etc. So many things to do. Yay! And I'm gonna start the game by using the Chosen One: The chosen one is sent out on a quest in the border-regions, but unknown to him another chosen one has been sent out from another country on the same quest. When a third, fourth and fifth one shows up, they're not feeling all that special anymore. Also, they are opposite in every conceivable way, bringing out not so noble traits in each other. New trope: The Blind Seer (the sacrifice of sight gains cosmic knowledge)
  25. Pinchofmagic

    Deductive vs Inductive Story Telling

    I don't think I've heard of this before, like ever. Very interesting! Since I never start with a magic system/specific world/big idea (like "A story about how power corrupts"), I'm probably inductive. I often start by being seduced by a genre, or a mash-up, and get a quick idea of what kind of setting in that genre would be fun to explore (like a witchrun coffee-shop in an urban fantasy), and a character appears in that setting immediately. What are they doing there? Working, visiting, stealing, getting revenge on the owner, etc? That's my story seed and I pants out a first chapter. It tells me what they're like, what problems they might have in this world that grows up around them and what their journey might be. Then I step back and plot some to find some beats (what kind of situations/other characters can show that journey best), and figure out the bigger picture of this story (themes and through-lines). Then I'm back to letting the character show me who they are some more. But I think you're right that it might vary from story to story. I have some stories where I was a little more deductive. And oh! This might explain why I have a hard time writing from very specific prompts. It used be such hell for me, because it was the complete opposite metod of starting a story than what I was used to. I've gotten better at it, but I still feel that way of writing is more cerebral than what comes naturally to me.
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