So, I'm completely out of post ideas. That was pretty short-lived.
Today is bleak and rainy and cold. My kind of weather. It's ALSO Frappy Hour at Starbucks. I'm wearing my favorite jeans and my favorite sweatshirt. So why not. . .
Make a Tumblr-y inspirational post!
I'm not kidding. There is, deep inside me, a hipster writer that hangs out in coffee shops and listens to Indie music (Indie music is actually great).
Come, step into the light, hipster Jen.
So here are some quotes that should instill in you the desire to write.
¤ ¤ ¤ ¤
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
– William Shakespeare (from A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.
– C. J. Cherryh
A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God.
– Sidney Sheldon
I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.
– Edgar Rice Burroughs
I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
– Douglas Adams
The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn’t require any.
– Russell Baker
Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.
– Barbara Kingsolver
Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
– E. L. Doctorow
I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.
– Gustave Flaubert
Begin with an individual, and before you know it you have created a type; begin with a type, and you find you have created – nothing.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
If you want to be a writer, you must do two things about all others: read a lot and write a lot. Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life. You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.
- Stephen King
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
- Ernest Hemingway
That second draft will not kill you. It may kill some of your characters, but it will absolutely, positively, pinky swear, not kill you.
- Collectively every writing website ever
¤ ¤ ¤ ¤
So, it turns out that there actually. . . aren't. . . any Tumblr text posts that I can find. It's okay, though! I happen to be fluent in Internet. So here are some Tumblr-esque sayings to soothe your nerves.
How to do the words:
- Sit at ur computer
- write the words
- if u dont know what to write just channel the enrgey of the tigre
- engery of the tiger
Sometimes i like to pretend that i'm awesome but then i remember that i'm a writer i already am hahah later losers
dont let anybody tell u u should stop writing bc u just created a fictional land in ur head and used scribbles and ink on the shredded corpse of a tree to communicate it to other people and what did they do?? nothing???? wow what a surprise u have permission to eat them now
If you ever feel like you will never be an interesting author just remember: one time I got stung by a bee in the middle of like a hundred people. If a bee can choose me out of everyone else why can't that happen with your writing
Did it inspire you? I know I'm inspired. If I could say that I have my own amazing inspirational quotes that I came up with myself I would, but that would be lying; all I can contribute to this post are the Tumblr-ish quotes. But, hey, whatever. I don't have to be amazing to impress you; I believe my non-grammatical, nonsensical speech already has. Oh, and also: happy writing!
What about you? Do you have a favorite quote? A favorite Tumblr post? Leave a comment!
Nothing like the smell of young adult fiction! *deep breath* Ah, yes. . . dystopian societies, corrupt governments, teenage main characters. And, never forget, the ever-popular LOVE TRIANGLE!
They're in Twilight, Matched, The Selection, The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices, Throne of Glass, Starcrossed, The Raven Boys, Rebel Heart, Shatter Me, Uglies. Sweet mangoes, the list is long, and it keeps going. Maybe it's just me, but I'm sick and tired of them.
STOP. WITH. THE LOVE. TRIANGLES. Love triangles are an abomination of the romance genre. This isn't romance. This is. . . this is some kind of Dark Matter. Go back to the void from whence you came.
But before I harp on why you really shouldn't write them and all the authors that failed miserably trying to, I will say they're not all bad. Writing love triangles is a delicate art that really does work sometimes, if the story and characters are advanced enough and it doesn't sound forced. Most people actually like a good love triangle, including myself. Problem is, I've read one book that makes the love triangle work. So ha-ha, you get to read an entire blog post about why I hate them, starting with basic anatomy:
Believe it or not, a love triangle is actually where we have Person A, B, and C and they're all in some sort of relationship with each other, which sounds to me like one big, sticky mess. The love triangle that every author, for some twisted reason, believes they must include in their YA novel is really like a love V, where Person A and B have nothing between them and are focused on Person C. Looks like somebody failed their geometry classes.
Whatever, you're thinking. I'm going to write a love triangle, and it's going to be great. Everybody's going to love it and it will not be cliché, just you watch!
Good luck with that.
They suck the life out of your story (and characters)
We begin with a perfectly lovely story. Plenty of nice characters and some building conflict, and maybe a lover. And then we add a love triangle. Love triangles are the color black, or maybe saffron. Add even a pinch too much saffron and your soup tastes like India exploded everywhere.
Same with love triangles. You throw one into your story, thinking you're going to be able to control it, keep it at nothing more that subplot status. Then BAM, it's turned into your driving force. (Readers collectively groan). What was once a great story turns into slushpot of "I love you. I think." and cheesy lovey-dovey scenes.
You don't need to be psychic to predict them.
You don't even need to be smart. The girl has her lifelong best friend (who, how conveniently, is a guy) which she might have a total crush on. But after they share their first passionate kiss, a new boy shows up. He's tall, dark, and brooding, with an unknown tragic backstory. The girl is completely smitten with this new stranger and tries to get him to open up. Eventually he does, and they share a passionate kiss. And then the girl doesn't know what to do. Who will she choose? Oooooh, so suspenseful.
YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO RESOLVE THEM, SO YOU DON'T
I feel very angry about this in particular. The author has all these "team whatshisface" and "team whoeverheis" that they're sure that if they make Miss Congeniality make a choice like a rational human being, their readers will go berserk. So they kill someone off. And after a moment of sadness, the girl runs off with whoever isn't dead. Yayyyyy.
The girl loses any and all redeeming qualities
I don't know why, but it seems like this happens nearly every time. In the beginning, we had a pretty great female main character. And then she becomes nothing but a shallow pond so that we can see the boys' "chiseled jaw" or "perfect eyes" better. This is absolutely revolting. If I see this, ever, in your writing, I will personally make sure you step in water with your socks on every time you're wearing socks for the rest of your life.
So basically everything about love triangles is gross. Just, seriously, don't. Unless you make sure none of the above mentioned things happen, plus seventeen other things that I can't quite remember but are just as bad. Anyway. . . yeah. Everything wrong with the world summed up in a blog post.
Leave a comment if I missed anything, or want me to write a post about something. I'd love to hear your feedback!
Don't you love it when you stare at your computer screen, eyes glazed, transfixed at the little, blinking dash that signifies complete and utter disdain?
Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink.
This can go on for a solid half hour, in a silent staring contest between yourself and that accursed cursor. You recognize this; all the symptoms are there.
You start to make primitive animal noises, tugging at your hair. Slamming random words onto the page. Tuna. Skunk roll. You resort to clenching and unclenching your fists and lying on the floor, praying for a sign, pleading for help and maybe a very large iced coffee. You feel pressured, breaking into a cold sweat. You've dug yourself into a very deep hole and have absolutely no means of climbing out.
This, this is the burning inferno of writer's block, thrust upon you by Satan himself. So, if that's the case, we need some Holy Water, stat.
First and foremost, let's look at where all that good trash for your next novel is coming from. Both your left and right side of the brain are involved in coming up with a good story. Specifically, the Broca's area, which is fundamental in language comprehension and production, and the right prefrontal cortex, which includes areas like the anterior cingulate cortex (in charge of making associations between unrelated things); or, to be more broad, the cerebral cortex.
Lots of scientific-y words; even I'm confused. One more time: left and right brain. Broca's area (speaking and understanding words), right prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex (relates unrelated things). In whole, the cerebral cortex.
Turns out, the cerebral cortex really only works when you're relaxed. So when you're stressed or anxious about writing ("What if I never make it?" "My writing is awful, why do I even try? Nobody's going to want to read it anyway"), it throws its metaphorical hands up in a big, metaphorical 'nope'. Then things happen.
The lymbic system, in charge of your 'fight-or-flight' response, sees the cerebral cortex slamming the front door closed on its way out and decides to call its friend the amygdala. The amygdala, in short, is a total idiot, releasing a flood of stress hormones, drowning the cerebral cortex in waves of "I can't". At this point, the lymbic system has taken over the cerebral cortex, and the cerebral cortex doesn't know it. But the real problem is, the lymbic system doesn't have a speech component, disabling your cerebral cortex.
Now that the cerebral cortex cannot function, it sighs loudly and shouts, "YOU KNOW WHAT? I'm stupid. I'm lazy, I can't even write. Just give up, okay? Do it later. Or maybe never." And you absolutely cannot produce a good story to save your miserable life.
Familiar, or what?
Some writers out there (you lucky little. . . ducklings) don't have very bad writer's block sessions. Some have really bad ones. Either way, it's not cool. It's almost physically painful. Actually, it is. But now that you know what happens when that accursed blinking dash taunts you endlessly, maybe you can learn what helps.
Reading another author's writing is actually proven to help with writer's block. Don't compare yourself to them or anything, but read the pages. Look at how they structure their sentences, and maybe you can even get an idea from them. If not, that's still okay. Maybe you just need a break to clear your head; hang out with friends for a bit, or decorate cupcakes (decorating cupcakes is surprisingly therapeutic, don't deny it. I'm talking to you males out there). I've even heard you should write like you're not stuck; continue with your story, no matter how plot-holed or ridiculous it is.
But remember, anxiety and stress can trigger writer's block. Don't procrastinate by doing these things, because procrastination leads to. . . you guessed it, anxiety and stress. Friday vibes only, as I like to say. You do you. And, hey, you're still going to hit brick walls, but that's all part of the writing process. Screaming like an angry pirate at your keyboard is totally natural. Just be sure you have understanding neighbors.
Hope this helped! Did I miss anything? Do you have something you do to help writer's block? I'd love to hear it: leave a comment!
In a story, your characters are what make things interesting. That was kind of obvious, but you get the point. Poorly written characters make for boring, unreadable stories. I think every writer has had some sort of nightmare where you've recently published a novel, you're at a book signing, and out of nowhere somebody tells you they hate your story.
*Wakes up in a cold sweat* "It's just a dream, it's just a dream. . ."
Nobody wants that to happen in real life, but the sad truth is there are probably a thousand books I couldn't even read through halfway. Why is this so? Well, it's mostly because of awful characters.
(Cue screechy violins)
I'm not going to name names, but a certain teen romance series featuring a vampire and a werewolf comes to mind when I think "poorly written characters". To be specific, a girl who is caught in yet another unnecessary love triangle (more on those later). Yes. That girl. We'll call her Stella Goose for copyright reasons.
Stella Goose has no character. We can't feel her in the pages. If you picked up a copy of "Early Evening" (again, copyright reasons), you wouldn't be able to experience Stella. You can only read the definitely *not* desperately elaborate sentences and pretend that Stella Goose is real. Readers shouldn't have to pretend. Readers need to be so immersed in the pages that they can feel a vampire sinking its teeth into their tender neck.
So what constitutes a poorly written character? That varies, but I think there are a few pretty concrete things that make characters really, really awful.
We don't know them.
I'm not endorsing the 'unnecessary backstory' campaign. Please, please don't add unnecessary backstories. But if we don't know why they hate this and love that, if we don't know who the character is, people just don't like them. Your characters can't just appear out of nowhere and begin their quest. Take time and introduce them to the story.
Maybe not all at once, but make sure you're adding bits and pieces of who they are regularly. Imagine they are a real person: would you run away and slay a dragon with someone you knew nothing of other than their name?
No. No, you wouldn't.
There's nothing to set them apart.
I'm writing a book about Mary, Billy Joe, and Mary's grandpa.
I'm really not, but you're a writer, you can pretend. Here's what one of their conversations looks like:
"Run!" gasped Billy Joe, his legs caught in a bear trap.
"No! I'm not leaving you!" screamed Mary.
"You have to!" Billy Joe gasped, holding back tears. "I love you."
"I love you, too," Mary sobbed. She pulled out her cell phone to call her grandfather. "Gramps, we need you!"
Gramps hobbled over to where they were. "Oh my gosh," he gasped. "We need to save him!"
"It hurts a lot," Billy Joe said.
"Is there anything you can do, Gramps?"
"I don't know."
That was painful to write. Do you notice anything, though? Every character's voice sounds the same. Billy Joe might as well be Gramps, and Gramps might as well be Mary.
Give your characters some, well, character! Set them apart from each other. Give them their own spotlight. Accents, clothing style, especially what they believe in. . . the list is endless.
They're too perfect.
Unless you are writing about a society in which everyone is perfect (and, no offense, but that's a bit overdone), DO NOT MAKE YOUR CHARACTERS PERFECT. Biggest turn-off of anything, ever, I can guarantee.
We live in a place where plenty of people have self-esteem issues. Even if the main character, who is model-perfect and popular, is a jerk, we're still going to compare ourselves to her (or him). Or if she tries not to be beautiful, even though we get paragraphs at a time talking about her stunning eyes and gorgeous hair (Looking at you, Piper McLean from Percy Jackson). This is an absolute, positive no.
They're too flawed.
There is a fine, fine line between "nobody's perfect" and "this is ridiculous". Don't give your character a flaw if it's not contributing to the story or it doesn't quite fit. Fortunately, this doesn't happen often, but one can never be too careful.
You're saying they're something they're not.
This is basically the big red button that says "do not push" in bright, bold lettering. You'd think it wouldn't happen, but it does! How? Why?! Maybe we need a reminder of what this looks like. It's simple, really. We have a boring, monotonous character when we've been building on the fact they're "extraordinary". Or a character that really isn't that big of a jerk but everybody at school calls them a bully.
If you're going to give someone a character trait, give them the gosh darn character trait. If you need to switch a few things around or delete a few things, fine! Good! But never let this go.
And, last, but certainly not least,
They're not consistent
Speaks for itself, right? They're going to change over the story, sure, but they shouldn't feel different every time a chapter ends. The way they speak and how they act are the two major things that seem to be problematic, but I've read series in which the main character's hair color changes with the wind. Be constantly looking out for something that seems off, please.
So, there you go. I could go on for another year, but we have the basics. Happy Writing!
Did I miss anything? Do you have a question or an idea? I'd be glad to hear it: add a comment!
Welcome to Mightier Than the Sword! This is a writing-based blog, so hopefully you didn't come here for a chile verde recipe. Here you will find the secrets of the art of wordsmithing.
Well, I mean, not exactly. I don't have all the answers. But (hopefully) you'll be able to find how to piece together that short story, or what to do when your characters won't cooperate. Heck, you can probably find how to write a seventeen-paragraph essay for your history class if you look hard enough. This is a plethora of pages, a hodgepodge of hooligans (otherwise known as writers). This is where you can procrastinate on that novel you know you should be writing. Although you probably shouldn't do that.
Anyway, feel free to explore. Push yourself (and your writing) to the limit. Be what you want. Because you're a writer, and writers don't follow rules.