Writing Specific Characters - Advice

*updated 28.03.13 - 29.05.13

Developing your Characters and Making Them Interesting

Recently I got a message about a person struggling on how to develop their characters, as they normally wrote about already created charactersalso about how to make them interesting and make the people reading your story actually want to continue reading it.

I’d say this is one of the main differences between fanfiction and original work. Writing fanfiction you already rely on the fact people know the charactershow they look (or are supposed to look), personalities, and backgrounds… unless you’re writing an AU.  There’s people that already like the characters and would (probably) be willing to read your story. Now, you focus on a good plot to interest them.

But then we are back on our original stories, our novels, anything we write. We have to create our characters from scratchinteresting characters that can fit and make our story flow. Because good characters can handle a poor plot, yet a good plot can’t handle poor characters. I guess this is all we do here, right? this is the bane of our existence as writers. 

Truth is, there’s no right way to write a story. And there’s no right way to develop a character! I tested this by asking you guys how you do to create and flesh out your characters. Every response was personal and different.

Sometimes it starts with the spark of an word, an archetype, a color, a trait, a flaw, a song lyric, a painting, someone you know in real lifethen you go from there.

Here are some basic steps on developing a character, yet, you can do it as you see fit:

  1. You start with the personality. Once that’s done it’s relatively easier to know how they look like. You sculpt and pick virtues and vices, flaws and qualitiesperfect characters are not interesting. When it comes to protagonists and antagonists, they’re neither 100% good nor 100% bad, because there is not fully good or bad people. Get what I’m saying? Round characters are the thing we’re going for. Take details from people in real life, if you want: funny habits, mannerisms, what makes people human
  2. Work on the appearance of your character. What’s their body type, their eye color, skin color, hair color, shape of their face/nose, if they have birthmarks or scars somewhere… 
  3. Pick a name as you see fit. This can be the first step depending on how you work. Is there a meaning behind it? does it show somehow their character’s personality? remember sometimes they are relevant to the setting/genre. 
  4. Flesh. ‘Em. Out. Think of hobbies and background. How’s the relationship with their family and friends, how they act around authority, what kinds of clothes they like to wear…
  5. Always remember: character development is an ongoing thing. You never “finish” developing your character, just like we, as people, don’t stay the same. 

That being said, be creative with it! Don’t imitate the way your favorite authors develop their characters- create your own way! your characters are all yours! Make playlists about songs that remind you of your characters, keep a journal for them- sky’s the limit.

Good links for you:

-Alex

Expressing Emotions Through Your Writing

Hello, I need some help on my writing. Whenever I see others writing, then see mine, they just don’t match up. It isn’t with grammar or anything, but it is struggle with showing how to express deep emotion into my writing. I am not very emotional person, so writing can be challenge when I try to be. -doitsus-ass-is-spooky

I feel like this is something a few writers might struggle with, and while I can’t relate, I can offer advice on how I work emotions for both scenes and characters. 

Gather Inspiration

Read. Read a whole lot of things by authors that are great at what you’re not: expressing emotions into your writing. In Reading as a Writer, we talked about the things to consider when doing this. Remember that just because you’re not good at a part of writing, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. Everyone has flaws and strengths and you can get better at it through practice and perseverance.

If you want to write a sad scene, read and study how other authors go through these sad scenes. Don’t outright steal, but try to really understand the root of the feelingRead poetry, too, because one of the most important things of poetry is to portray emotions, thoughts, and feelings, in a subtle yet interesting way. Also, listen to music related to the feeling. Listen to sad music, good sad music, and try to understand the lyrics or why it is sad. 

 Why to gather inspiration? To most people, it helps. It gets our imaginations going and makes the writing flow more easily since we have a starting point, however blurry it might be. 

Show, don’t tell

(tw: war) “The difference between telling and showing in writing is simple. When you write about war, don’t describe the details and actions of the war. Show the reader the burnt socks of children in the street, the head of a doll sizzling by the curb, and the violent screams suddenly extinguished. If you can do this, the image of war will be branded into the reader’s mind.” - TBV

The ever present rule for writing style, showing and not telling has a simple premise: describe things. Take a moment to really try to show us the scene that we need to see. It comes awfully helpful when writing emotions because you don’t get much from us, the readers, if you tell us that your protagonist is sad. If you show us that they’re sad, through expressions and actions caused by this sadness, through body language, and through speech, we might get a better idea of it, and we might actually feel something too. 

You could be failing at this because it’s very easy to fall into the telling, but believe me: if your scene is important and so are the emotions, showing is the way. So, consider the significance of the emotions. Like with any other piece, you have decide on what’s the feeling you want to convey through the writing, and then you have to work towards it. It’s fine if in the first draft you tell, because you can fix and develop it more, later.

Your Character’s Reactions 

Everyone has a different way to react to things that affect them, including characters. Some people are more emotional than others and that’s okay; some show emotion in a different way, and that’s okay too. If you want to get better at portraying each of their behaviors in a true-to-them way, then no longer think of how your feeling process goes, but your character’s. Do try to connect however you can to it, though. This goes into the character development and description part of writing, and if your skill is better in this part, or worse, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you’re willing to get better. Find out how your characters express themselves, and you’ll get better at showing and not telling for them.

Link-Around

Emotions

Body Language

Show, Don’t Tell, and Descriptions

Emotions, Body Language, Descriptions, Scene Help
Message, Submit

-Alex

Masterlist: Military, Weapons, Terrorism, and More

Anonymous said: Hi! First off, I love your blog. Whenever I’m stuck or needing some sort of inspiration, I always check out your site. Now, I’m writing a heavy action, military/police work novel and was wondering if you had anything that could help me when it came to the specifics of weapons, ammunition, bombs. Bomb making. Inside the mind of a terrorist. All that fun jazz. Thanks!

Weapons & Ammo

Guns in general

Bombs

Military

Counter-terrorism

Terrorism

→ Military & PTSD

Book recs

Before anything, I’ve got to say that I’m only mentioning these books for informative purposes, for the anon and anyone else that requires them for writing. 

  • The Anarchist Cook Book: many, many chapters of this book talk about the making of several kinds of bombs. It also has another types of “hacks” and how to’s. Some of them are creepy. A lot of them are creepy. You can read online here.
  • Homemade C-4: what tite says. You can read online here.

Blogs to check for military&gun info

Got more links you’d like to share with us? info? feel free to ask or submit and it’ll be added.

-Alex

Songwriting 101

Writing songs can be extremely relieving when you’re feeling like you need to let all your feelings out. Whether you’ve never written a song or you’re looking to improve your songwriting, we hope we’ll be able to help you. While there is a lot to say about this topic, we’re going to focus on the basics right now.

First of all, let’s talk about song structures. There are four types of song structures:

  • 1.    AAA (verse-verse-verse)
  • 2.    AABA (verse-verse-bridge-verse)
  • 3.    ABAB (verse-chorus-verse-chorus)
  • 4.    Blues (usually three four-bar phrases known as 12-bar blues.)

AAA – This structure has no chorus. Verses flow nicely one after the other. There is usually a hook that is either the first or last line of the verses, which can usually make a good song title. That being said, the hook should be a catchy line that gets stuck in the listener’s head. The best hooks are simple, straight to the point and, most of all, relatable. However, remember that you’re going to be repeating the hook a lot throughout the song, so it’s recommended that you don’t use a phrase you’ll be ashamed of if you use it too often. Normally, using words with double meanings or internal rhyming works well.

AABA – This structure is similar to AAA, as it has no chorus either. However, between two verses, you’ll have a bridge. Below, you can find an explanation of what a bridge is and what you can do with it. With AABA, the bridge is usually used to break the pattern, to spice it up, so to speak.

ABAB – In today’s music, this is the most common song structure. Usually, there are three chorus, two verses and a bridge. While this may seem like a complex song structure, it ends up being predictable and, sometimes, too repetitive. Pop songs usually follow this structure. The choruses can be different from each other, as long as they share the same internal structure. Changing only a few words works really well, because it gives your choruses different flows while sounding connected at the same time.  

Blues – This is definitely a complex and underused song structure. The verses usually feature repeated lines that could work as hooks.  Using this song structure helps when you want to emphasize certain ideas.

The main parts of a song are usually verse, chorus and bridge.

The verses are the parts of the song where you develop your general idea. After the first verse, the readers/listeners should already have a vague impression of what your song is going to be about. When writing a song that tells a story, the verses can be used to give information about everything that happened prior to the main event, which brings us to the next big part of the song…

The chorus must be simple, straight-forward and, most of all, catchy. It’s the part of the song where you summarize everything you’ve been trying to say in the verses. Take a look at the chorus of your favorite songs. Your chorus should be phrased in a way that the listeners/readers will know exactly what your whole song is about even if they don’t listen to the rest.

The bridge is not a crucial part of the song, but it might come in handy when you want to make a U turn with your song or to create a contrast with the rest of the song.The lyrics don’t have to be very catchy, but they ought to be interesting and give further information on the subject. They need to move your song forward and not hold it back. The bridge is the transition between two parts of the song that should be different from each other, but not completely unrelated.

To sum up, it’s important that you do what’s best for your song. The better structure for your song is going to depend exclusively on where you want to take it, what you want to do with it. As soon as you have a good understanding of the basics of songwriting, you should be able to write your feelings down and make it sound like a song. Writing a good song is not a big deal, as long as you feel every single word you write down. 

For further reading, check this particular link that helped us writing this post (1).

-philosophie-s 

(If You're Concerned About) Purple Prose
  • Be strong with your descriptions. The strongest metaphors are usually done with the right verbs and concrete nouns, whilst adverbs and adjectives are, say, seasonings for your prose. Use as many as you need or like, however, because sometimes they are necessary. 
  • Beware of nominalizations. 
  • Be specific, too. Use the vocabulary as a tool to make the story come to life in front of the reader’s eyes.
  • Remember: we humans don’t notice everything that is going on; we usually notice that which is relevant to us, and we tend to notice it like we want it to. Our perspective isn’t the same as everyone else’s. 
  • Use detail to set the mood, rather than just having it there for no reason. To quote the marvelous Hardyest (italization by me): 

While describing every emotion your character is feeling through that particular moment in time, do note that does get a bit…tedious and repetitive. There are, as it stands, only so many ways you can relate to the reader an intense feeling of sadness or of anger. Therefore, my best advice to any writer is before you go describing the emotion of the character in question, first describe the surroundings. Don’t simply describe surroundings in a mundane way, either.

Let’s take for example: a roleplayer wishes to construct a self-para around the basis of her ex-boyfriend. Let’s also say, for example’s sake, that the break-up as it is playing in her mind’s eye is happening in his very car. A mundane scene, no? But describing things such as the trash lying about her feet [even perhaps using a metaphor of trash pertinent to the one she’s dating], describing the minute details about how that air freshner hanging from the car’s rearview mirror always reminded her of him. Take time to say, talk about how the car’s fabric was leather, and when he came to pick her up in those hot Summer months, she’d get rather irritated at the heat emanating from it. It’s descriptions such as that build the suspense, and build the interest of the reader. It also correctly portrays the emotion the character is about to indulge in, based on subtle hints here and there of a love/hate relationship occurring in the memories of him. X

This is an effective example of how to make any scene vivid; before writing, ask yourself the mood of the piece, and write accordingly to that mood. It’s subtle, and you’re showing, not telling. I also recommend that you read the whole post. Because yes.

  • What Hardy calls an intense scene can apply to any scene that requires to induce in the reader a certain kind of emotion. Fear, sadness, anger, happiness, anything. If you want to drop details in the story, make them useful for the reader to connect to it. 
  • Purple prose isn’t completely bad. You can use them while you’re free-writing, or to exercise your vocabulary. Or just write however you want, at first, then chop, chop, chop.
  • Remember, though, you’re impressing no one when you color your writing with purple. Specially when they’re not really your words (but ones you’ve gotten off a thesaurus to make it look fancier), it’s not you. Write like yourself
  • Read your work aloud. Yes, do it. I often find that my writing or other’s writing is a bit, well, off. And when that happens, my eyes tend to avoid the sentences. It happens a lot when I read works filled with nominalizations.

In the end, writers and writing come with all styles, shapes, and sizes. This post is for those who believe their use of description is not as effective as they think it should be.

Also, check How to Accomplish Good Word Choice.

Remember these aren’t rules, and in the end, just write selfishly, revise wisely.

Good luck!

-Alex

Genre Help: Satire

The main purpose of satire is to criticize a certain concept, ideology, person, group or event through humor. This often involves characters or plotlines matted with the idea in question and the usage of irony, sarcasm, parody, analogy, hyperbole and general exaggeration in order to showcase its faults and hold them up to ridicule, which we are meant not only to laugh about, but reflect and eventually, hopefully, to desire and participate in the improvement of the issue in question.

All of this is what makes satire such a popular and influential genre and, at the same time, so difficult to write. Satire must be both subtle and clear or else the message it seeks to send will get lost in translation. A satire that fails to make the reader think has failed completely and, at worst, reinforced the harmful belief it proposed to criticize, even if imperceptibly. Sure, it is the reader’s (or viewer’s) responsibility to apply even the slightest bit of critical thinking, but it is the satire’s responsibility to make, even the casual reader, recognize that there is a problem. In the case of, for example, movies, a part of everybody watches movies viscerally and there is nothing wrong with that. A satire no matter its medium has to watch over for the tone it uses to get its point across.

So creators neither can nor should hide behind the excuse of “You just didn’t get it.”

Things to consider when writing satire are:

  • 1) The audience,
  • 2) The limits, because indeed, there are limits to writing satire, and
  • 3) Context.

Satire: How to Disguise Your Criticism with Laughter ellaborates on the first two, while Hugh Holub explains the latter.

If a satirical article catches the reader by surprise, they might not get the humor.

Thus, in plying your satirical wit, make sure you target it in a context where the reader is looking for humor.

He provides further tips:

Second, vicious does not work. ”Trenchant” is a key word to remember. Sharp, vigorously effective.  Words like “delightfully vicious”” is more the goal.

Third, obscenity detracts from good satire. The best satire is very literate.

Fourth, the more subtle and authoritative your satire is, the more effective it is. British humor is very understated, and absolutely funny as a result. American’s tend to be over the top. Appearing to be serious while in fact the content is not, works very well. The best satire mimics authoritative presentation so that at a glance it might appear to be real.

The best satire works in tandem with  the level of the reader’s understanding of the subject or topic of the satire. If people care enough about a subject, they will be current on it and knowledgeable about it. Assume your reader is intelligent.

Fifth, the trick is to make sure the made-up farcical element is clear. […]

Sixth, one path to good satire is taking an existing trend or direction of a story, and keep going as far over the edge as you dare. The ultimate truth (and justification for seeing something as outrageous) is to follow the logical trend  way out there and see where it takes you. A lot of satirical humor has erupted from the current economic bailout efforts […]

Here for the full list.

And here’s a list of resources that go in depth about the topic and revise it from a variety of angles.

Lastly, I will always advice that if you want to write something, you read and overall experience everything you can. Since we are talking about a style and a genre, you go and read and watch pieces that have successfully managed to be satirical. There are certain cues you can’t learn without being subjected to them.

Wikipedia offers a list of satirists and satires which you are free to browse. Find authors that interest you and go from there. Study what made them satirical.

  • Kurt Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions, “Cat’s Cradle”
  • George Orwell: Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty-Four
  • Anthony Burgess:  A Clockwork Orange
  • Joseph Heller: Catch 22
  • Terry Prachett
  • Frank Zappa
  • Bill Watterson

And so forth. Even comedians (specially comedians) are known for their use of satire to both bring awareness to issues and entertain.

-Alex

Masterlist: Original Gods and Goddesses

mrmidnightesq asked: Instead of using historic myths, how would you go about creating your own original pantheon of gods and legends?

A good start would be drawing some inspiration from already existing gods and legends, if you ask me. You can check the mythology blogs at the resource list, too (they’re at the bottom). 

Related post: writing magical characters.

-Alex

20 Tips for More Efficient Google Searches

1. Either/or
Google normally searches for pages that contain all the words you type in the search box, but if you want pages that have one term or another (or both), use the OR operator — or use the “|” symbol (pipe symbol) to save you a keystroke. dumb | little | man

2. Quotes
If you want to search for an exact phrase, use quotes."dumb little man" will only find that exact phrase.  dumb “little man” will find pages that contain the word dumb and the exact phrase “little man”.

3. Not
If you don’t want a term or phrase, use the “-” symbol. -dumb little man will return pages that contain “little” and “man” but that don’t contain “dumb”.

Read More

Understanding Boxing - Masterlist

Generalities

BadleftbookNavigating Boxing’s Alphabet Titles

iSport Boxing

Howtofightwrite 

Extra useful websites

-Alex

A Character Should Be Their Own Person

Characters should feel, breathe, think, be. People should be able to read and not see a device to drag the plot forward, but a person's story. And we should be able to connect with that person's story, be it through emotions, values goals or experiences, or all at once. We should be able to relate to them, as that's the pleasure we find by reading and seeing characters who are like us, think like us, and look like us. We feel present, and by connecting with that character, we want them to succeed in whatever they want to accomplish; we hurt when they're feeling bad and we are happy when they are.

As writers, our job should aim towards creating human beings people can connect with at some level, emotionally, psychologically, or physically. 

That character’s goal? They try very hard to succeed; yet, they fail. They feel bad, or don’t care, or get angry; yes, you connect with it because you have a goal as well and you know how it feels to fail. And when a character fails, you get to know them by seeing how they react towards their failure. We see their flaws and their qualities. It’s like we’re meeting a whole new person through the pages of a book or in front of a screen. 

image

Or they don’t have a goal at all, yet. They don’t know where they’re going in life. If you’ve ever felt that way, that you probably have, you will connect. Connection, connection, connection; we should aim towards that. Characters should be their own person, and we should connect with them.

There is an underlying feel of vulnerability in almost every person, and in almost every character, for that matter. There is something good in every “bad” character, and something bad in every “good” character. There are flaws and qualities. There are weaknesses and strengths. When creating a character, we should focus on both equally, as that’s what makes a whole human being, whether readers get to see both sides or not. We should create them and explore them, if we really want to get a grasp on them. 

Why is a question that should be always asked by us when writing them. Why do they behave this way, why would they do that thing, why this, why that; why, why, why, and how. How they would speak, how would they react to this, how would they react to that. 

Another thing I’d like to address is that a character =/= their job and a character =/= their disabilities or illnesses

All characters, not only main ones, should have a purpose. And they should have their own stories, they should be their own, and maybe you don’t have or should tell their stories, if they’re not relevant, but they should be there. All your supporting characters must have their own story and a reason for being in your novel, book, or whatever it is you’re writing. 

What I mean by all of this is that if you want us to like or dislike whatever characters you’re creating, you should make them humans on their own, they should have a story, and we should be able to feel something towards them. Make us hate them, make us love them, I don’t care. Make us feel something

If you’re currently not developing your characters, you can do this: find your favorite book or show or anything, and take the characters. Dissect why it is that you like them and why you don’t for those. Really try to find out what you like of them, whether it is a goal, a trait, a flaw.

And if you haven’t seen this video, go do it, because it’s really fascinating.

-Alex

Drug Addict Characters Information

Hey! First of all, I love your blog, and Happy New Year! Second, I was wondering if you could help me with writing about a drug addict guy. How are drugs taken? What do they come in? (I mean packages or what?). And other tip you could give me! Thanks! :) - reading-posts 

You’re going to have to narrow down your research.

Pick One (or More)

There’s no such thing as just drugs… in the general sense. There are several types of drugs classified by where they come from, what they do to a person, how they’re used, method of taking them, etcetera, etcetera. You have inhalants, cannabinoids, opioids, hallucinogens, stimulants, depressants, and I might even be forgetting some others. 

You have to pick what drugs this character is addicted to, because that is your frame of reference on how he takes the drugs, where he finds them, and what effects they have on him. A character addicted to ecstasy (an stimulant) may act different to one taking dimenhydrinate (an hallucinogen). Why? Because normally stimulants such as ecstasy elevate alertness and increase your energy, while hallucinogens cause alterations of thought, mood, or perception. And while it’s more common to take ecstasy by swallowing, the most common way to take heroin (a depressant) is through injections. 

So it really depends on what your character is looking for, and the access they have to the drugs. Depending on the setting, it may be easier for them to find, say, marijuana than LSD. Even glues, which is common to find because it’s an everyday object, can considered a drug when used the wrong way (inhalants). 

Yet another thing to think about is whether they’re only taking one kind of drug or several. Even drugs mixed with alcohol can be a dangerous, powerful, or plain bad experience. This chart of drug combinations might be useful for you, plus researching how drug x and drug y mix together. 

If you’re going for drugs like marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, or cocaine, which are a few of the most common gangs sell/abuse, you’re going to have to research how drug dealing works and what it entails for your character. Remember the price of drugs varies on the quality and quantity, and pay attention to this, because your character might not be exactly wealthy. Drugs can actually come in small plastic bags, packages, vials, bottles—it depends on which you pick.

Drug Dealing

Here’s a couple guides I’ve seen on drug-specific addictions.

(Disclaimer: please don’t rely only on these. They’re starting points)

Look at your Character

Your character is where everything starts. There’s no cookie-cutter way on how drugs affect people, and it really depends on your character. Your character’s background, where the need or reason for doing drugs comes from—this is why it’s important to develop your characters beforehand to researching the drug. 

Things like age, how much time they’ve been doing the drug in question, previous experience with drugs, matters, because they’re factors that could make your character’s behavior toward drugs vary. While you aren’t experienced with them, your character might be, and they’ll have to act as such. 

Another helpful tip is to research for first-hand experiences of people with the drug in question. They’re help you grasp how your character might feel than with just general information.

Miscellaneous

-Alex

Prose Poems

Any advice for writing Prose Poems? — superwholockshufflepuff

Prose poetry is simply poetry written as if it were prose, keeping its poetic qualities and heightened imagery. A prose poem is a poem that does not use line breaks. This still allows the poet to use alliteration, metaphor, ambiguity, personification, and many other poetic techniques. 

I’m sure you’ve come across at least one prose poem or even know a couple of poets that use this technique from time to time. Even I have written prose poetry—for writing thoughts that need more extension than a couple of lines, but using poetry’s way of explaining things. If you haven’t—start looking.

If anybody knows of poems that fit this definition too, or even poets whose preferred style is this one, feel free to share them and I’ll add them to this post.

Let’s talk about differences between prose poems and things they get mistaken for. 

  • The difference between prose poems and free verse is that free verse does use line breaks, albeit it doesn’t stick to the regular metre. 
    • Meanwhile, prose poetry is a whole different sub-genre, a mix between poetry and prose. It uses paragraphs just like prose, and usually doesn’t break a sentence in in the middle of it.  
  • Another difference that has to be pointed out is the one between purple prose and prose poetry—purple prose is used in actual prose, using over-flowery language that distracts the reader’s attention. It’s characterized by using too many big words and pointing out too many details that break the flow. We aim to keep a good pace in the narrative and purple prose doesn’t do this. I made a post on it once
    • Prose poetry is all about maintaining a good rhythm. It isn’t meant to overwhelm the reader with details, but about telling a story using poetic techniques. It doesn’t even use flowery language most of the time, and if it does, it serves a purpose. The imagery has to serve a purpose, just like it has to in regular prose and poetry, but specially in poetry.
  • One thing that may differentiate a prose poem from a very short story is that the latter will have a stronger preference for narrative than the former, but this is very much debatable.  

When it comes to writing prose poetry, you first need to have something to say, something you need to write, then you write it. The rules are simple:

  1. Write a poem.
  2. Don’t break your lines.

If you know how to write poetry or even play with literary devices you’ll enjoy writing prose poetry because, like free verse, you don’t have to worry about maintaining a certain limit on your sentences. You have to worry about whether the piece flows neatly from one idea to the next. 

Poetry prose is controversial. It breaks the rules of both poetry and prose but it also has become an interesting way to convey thought across the years.

It’s also hard. Some people might be skeptical about your piece, deeming it a short story or just one big lump of text. Like Robert Lee Brewer explains, your challenge is to make the reader believe that a lump of text with no line breaks is still a poem too.

-Alex

Time to Stop Getting Them Confused: Hyphens and Dashes

The Hyphen (-) is a punctuation mark used to join words and separate syllabes of a single word. The use of hyphens is called hyphenation.

It has several a purposes, such as:

Connecting two or three words (and/or numbers) into a single concept, generally an adjective: 

The family’s money-saving measures have been helping them to build their savings.

Spencer is a 15-year-old boy.

They’re also necessary to join numbers (e.g. twenty-two) and as substitutes for ‘to’ when discussing range of value (e.g. the high temperature will be 87-89 degrees), although it is less common and considered informal. In fact, it is preferred to use en-dashes.

A good post on how to use hyphens would be this one and this website.

xx

The dash is a punctuation mark that is similar to a hyphen or minus sign but that differs from both of these symbols primarily in length and function. 

The most common versions of the dash are the en-dash () and the em-dash ()

These are the dashes you use in writing to denote breaks in the sentence, or as parenthesis. The only difference is that when you use an en-dash, you use it with spaces. When it comes to em-dashes, you use them without.

It’s been raining all day – it’s been cloudy too, in fact.

It’s been raining all day—it’s been cloudy too, in fact.

The en-dash, like I said previously, is also more used for range of value. Instead of writing “from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.”, one could use  ”1:00–2:00 p. m.”

xx

While there are many more applications to the dashes, and actually other types of dashes as well, they’re not as well-known or used in everyday writing. Style usually varies, too, so I tried to keep it basic. 

The em-dash is a favorite of mine to break sentences, and while it is a great tool to alter the pace of your story, be careful not to overuse it. 

-Alex

Characters Different From Yourself

Well, my character’s are heavily biased by my personal issues/life, ergo making it quite hard to receive criticism. It’s hard to understand, I know, and it’s hard to help, but it’s cost me many rp blogs since I no longer felt attached to that part of myself. How can I make them more…. unpersonal?

I usually don’t recommend writing characters that are based on yourself for this exact kind of stuff. When you change, you no longer feel like the character does, making you lose your inspiration to write them. Also, when roleplaying, whatever negative reaction someone else’s character has toward yours feels like a personal attack, even when it isn’t and just happens to be how their character behaves. 

My main advice for you is to find a better way to flesh out your characters whilst making them different from yourself. The trick is to share a common trait with them so you can connect, even if they’re completely different from you.

Let’s say you’re stubborn. Make a character that is extremely hardheaded and inflexible… but that’s about it. Make them different. Take bits of other traits and add them to your character, inspire yourself from music, quotes, other characters. Make them a whole new person with their own thoughts and feelings. Give them a reason why they’re so firm.  

Here are some character creation related links, roleplay based: 

Here are links from our tags

From WriteWorld

-Alex

Finishing Up (and doing it fast)

I think I have issues with ending stories. I just can’t do it; finishing the plot line (especially as I have a word limit for this project and a very small one at that) is really difficult for me. Any tips on how to finish a story when under a word limit? - ohshutupellie

When you have to drastically cut down your word count, there’s only so much you can do. However, it’s possible, and I’m going to show you a few methods. 

Beware I’m not telling you to always do this to your writing, but if you’re in need to end the story because you have a word limit, these tricks can help you out:

Tricks for when you finish the story and it ends up being too long.

  • Eliminate articles, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, pronouns, and other descriptors whenever possible. Sometimes they’re necessary for clarification or smoothing things up; oftentimes, they’re fillers, and getting rid of them can significantly bring down your word count. I’ve mentioned similar stuff here with adverbs and adjectives.
  • Eliminate reduntant words and passages. “Past history”? Eliminate “past”. Anything that is history is in the past. 
  • Eliminate anything that doesn’t specifically relate to the main plot. That is, any scene and any paragraphs, to any chapters, that don’t have any purpose in your plot. Study what you wrote carefully and remember the goal of the story you’re telling.
  • Avoid info-dump

Editing is in itself the act of eliminating the unecessary, so our tag may help you. 

Tricks for starting a story you know needs to be a certain length

  • Have a plan. Set goals, the scenes you want to have, and the purpose of the story. We’ve got a tag for that. 
  • Once you finish, make it go through edition.

Tricks for knowing when you have to finish a story (or how to finish)

Tricks for writing short stories

And last but not least, if you feel like your story is going too slow and taking space you need for actual development, pacing is your friend. Have tricks for using pacing to your advantage

A little extra: Z over here did a guide on how to write without rambling. It’s roleplay aimed, but could help you a bit.

-Alex

Police Investigations/Crime Scene

Any general tips on writing a police investigation/crime scene?

So u wanna write police procedurals… or maybe your story just requires you to write a crime scene. Works too. 

Furthermore, I encourage you to do more research. All you can or require to make it more believable. Talk to the police officers of your community if you can, read books, go to google. All my advice is that you don’t pay much attention to crime TV series as they tend to make everything faster therefore letting details out.

EDIT: you should also think about which crime was comitted, since it’s logical to assume a murder crime scene will be different from let’s say a robbery, at least in some details. 

Best of luck,

-Alex 

Speaking and Writing

For me it is more important to write like you speak than to speak like you write.

When it comes to the spontaneous exchange, I believe that (at least seven times out of ten) it is with the spoken word that we genuinely get a taste of what we mean to say: what we think. We use the words that are ours, the ones usually unpracticed, untrained, meant not to make us stumble because they are complicated. It is the brain’s response to materializing an otherwise fragmented concept.

Which is why it is important to know how to speak. With that I’m not talking about speech impediments, verbal crutches, or shyness, that are important aspects but will not be touched here; I’m talking about word choice. Like writing, speaking should be concise and it should flow, words aiming to set the tone.

For example, when reading aloud I should not trip on your sentences because you’ve decided to splatter them with posh vocabulary; I should not run out of breath (unless that’s the purpose—and even with that it has a limit); I should not frown while I speak because I’m not sure what the hell you mean; I shouldn’t feel embarrassed at awkward syntax; I shouldn’t spend two minutes talking about what could’ve be handled in seven seconds.

By then I’ve lost my audience since I’m not feeding them new information, just ruining around in circles and pointing out idle details. And unless I wanna build that sense of monotony and dread, I’m just straining my voice.

Conclusion: read your work aloud.

So, to know how to speak (something I’m still working on myself), I need to know how to think, and think at the pace I’m speaking so every sentence is tied correctly and there’s harmony. I need to tame words so they become mine, to the point I don’t spit them, literally, on you. I need to learn how to be understood, because that’s the point of communication, and that should be the goal of writing. If you don’t get something I explain to you when you’re fully paying attention it is, and will be my fault, not yours: when the receiver has done all they can to get the message, the responsibility falls on the emitter to trim it well and deliver, even if the message is that you’re not meant to understand something fully.

For that trimming I should have a sense of who I’m speaking to, which is the best thing to obtain when it comes to communicating—a sense of who the reader or listener is. Ultimately I find myself doing my best writing and sharing most of my thoughts when I’m talking to someone, because they give me a reason to materialize them, to make them comprehensible, and after that I dust them off any imperfections, to have my thoughts put into words.

-Alex

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