anonymous asked:

Hello! My problem with writing is pacing. All the important scenes always seem really short and the "filler" scenes happen too quickly. How do I slow things down??

Hello!

First and foremost, take a look and make sure that you are diving deep enough. By this I mean, are you describing the things you should be? Or are you just telling the events as they happen?

Oftentimes we can get carried away by the act of putting words on a page, so excited by the fact that the plot is moving, we’re not thinking of much else other than progress. And thus, the story sometimes becomes a lot of “and then, which lead to, and after that,” without giving a lot of time or breathing room for things like emotions or juicy descriptions.

Take the scenes apart piece by piece in your mind and ask yourself what the actual significance is. What does each event or each line of dialogue mean for a) the plot and b) the characters? If something negative occurs, your characters need to have time to react, process, and rebound. If it’s a happy moment, let them relish it for a moment. That will automatically help slow things down a little.

Leon slapped Finn across the face. Finn punched Leon in the jaw.

That’s and-then storytelling.

Leon slapped Finn across the face unexpectedly, prompting Finn to freeze in shock. But it didn’t last. His surprise was quickly replaced by anger, and before he knew it his fist was colliding with Leon’s jaw.

Wow! There are so many more words here, just because we used Finn’s emotions- in this case, shock and his anger- to fuel his actions.

And now, we can even add some juicy description to the mix:

There was a resounding slap as Leon’s hand careened across Finn’s face. For a moment, Finn was frozen in shock, his cheek stinging with pain. But it didn’t last. His surprise was quickly replaced by anger, and before he knew it, his fist collided with Leon’s jaw with a loud thwack.

And then, if you want to, you can even sprinkle in a little depth or background, depending on how significant you want this little altercation to be:

  There was a resounding slap as Leon’s hand careened across Finn’s face. For a moment, Finn was frozen in shock, his cheek stinging with pain. Leon was a pain in the ass, but never, in all the years that Finn had known him, never had he ever raised his hand against him. It wasn’t the pain that bothered him. It was the betrayal. Just like that, his surprise was quickly replaced by anger, and before he knew it, his fist collided with Leon’s jaw with a loud thwack.

And now, we have all these words on the page- and not just that. Those words all mean something that serve the story. We can now feel Finn’s physical and emotional pain, and this event that was previously a Small Deal is now a Much Bigger Deal. Pretty cool.

And particularly for your “filler” scenes… no scene is truly a “filler.” Even if it doesn’t directly contribute to the overarching plot, each moment should still serve a purpose- advancing plot, advancing character, advancing a relationship, making something clear that wasn’t before, providing foreshadowing, etc. Like with any other moment, take a look on it and find it’s real significance. 

It might be tough for a while to pick apart every scene, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes a lot more natural in your writing as a whole. Hope this helps!

~Penemue

anonymous asked:

Hey Val, how are you doing with Marc? Is he easy to take care of? How are you doing since you don't even like touching people immune to your poison?

“I’ve tried feeding him meat, rocks, bits of metal. He eats all of them just fine but just keeps crying. I don’t know what do do. And yes, my phobia is making it extremely uncomfortable, but I have to push through. I don’t have much other choice. I’ll never get over it if I just keep avoiding it, and it can’t be healthy emotionally to never be able to touch your mother.”

walterleewx  asked:

Hello. I have this idea where the whole concept of the book revolves around death. But i have a problem with trying write it out, could you give me a guide about planning? Like a basic skeleton to a slice of life book?

Hello!

There are lots of ways to plan, and what works really well for one writer can be completely unhelpful to another. There’s no one-size-fits-all skeleton exactly, but here are some ways and means for you to try:

First, here is a cute guide made by @maxkirin

Second, you can always try and map out the plot based off of a story structure system- aka,

1.  this famous Freytag model,

Or related to that, the “skeletal outline”, in which you take each of those elements and write down a few details for each one:

Exposition: -

Finn lives alone in a disheveled house

 -He is trying to change his life after a complicated past

Rising Action:

- Leon, from Finn’s past, shows up

- Leon tries to rope Finn into a plan

2. your Hero’s Journey

and go point by point through the arc, writing down a sentence or two for each significant moment on the chart. 

3. “Flashlight Outlining”:

Take it chapter by chapter and just “shine a little light” on what’s going to happen.

Chapter 1: Finn is living alone when someone from his past, Leon, comes to visit him, trying to convince him to help him with a crime. Finn says no.

Chapter 2: Leon gets mad and concocts a plan that lands Finn in hot water.

Chapter 3: Vera agrees to help Finn, but in return he has to help her with…

And so on.

4. Freeform:

Write all your ideas down in one place, and don’t even try to organize it. Sometimes just figuring out what you do know helps you figure out what you don’t know.

If you’re artsy, you can even try drawing out a little mind map of all the elements you have so far.

5. Penemue’s Personal Method: 

This is just something that I started doing by myself when I first started writing, and I’ve been doing it ever since, just because it works for me. It’s something like the flashlight or skeletal method, but with an added element: for each part of the plot, I write a quick little line or quote that summarizes the idea or the scene.

1. Finn is trying to figure out his life independently when Leon shows up.

“We’d really like for you to come back to us, Finnigan.” Leon smiled a tight-lipped smile as he leaned against the battered door frame, folding his arms as he pressed his back against the front door, making it clear that Finn was not allowed to leave.

2. Finn refuses to help Leon, so Leon frames Finn to get him in trouble as revenge.

As the city guards locked the shackles around his wrists, Finn could glimpse Leon through the gathering crowd. He gave Finn that same stupid smile before disappearing down the alley. He’d made good on his promise.”

And so on. It’s not writing the entire scene, although it often prompts me to do so. But it gives me a glimpse into each moment as I picture it, which I can then look back on for inspiration when it’s time to really write it.


It also helps to do some character planning before you start as well. 

You can also find some cool templates on the internet.

In short, there are a million models of outlines and maps, and sometimes it takes a little trial and error to find the one that suits you personally. And of course, when all else fails, you can always combine different elements to make your own. I hope this gives you a good place to start.

Anyone can feel free to add on their own methods!

~Penemue

Trilogies aren’t inherently bad, and have a lot of useful purposes when it comes to storytelling and plot construction. But if you are struggling to come up with more plot just to fill up three books, rethink why you’re trying to write three books to begin with. The story you want to tell might be just as good if not better in one to two books.

Questions to Ask Yourself

When you’re writing a story, there’s obviously some things you need to know. Here’s a list of important questions to ask yourself as you write, divided into several sections: What, Who, When/Where, Why, and How.

WHAT:

The first question you should ask is What is my story? I recommend keeping this answer as short as possible–one sentence is all you should need.

Other What Questions:

-What is the protagonist’s goal?
-What is the antagonist’s goal?
-What is the purpose/moral of the story?
-What are the ultimate consequences?

WHO:

You’ve heard it once, or maybe a million times: Character is key. Make sure you know all of your characters better than the back of your hand.

Who Questions:

-Who is the story about?
-Who affects the main character?
-Who is trying to stop the protagonist?
-Who is trying to stop the antagonist?
-Who are allies?
-Who are enemies?
-Who ‘wins’?

WHEN/WHERE:

When doesn’t seem as important to plot, but the reality is, it changes everything. Make sure you know your whens just as well as you know everything else. I’ve combined this section with where as well.

When Questions:

-When does the story take place?
-Where does the story take place?
-Where is the character at in their life?
-When is the deadline?
-When is there a change?
-Where is there a change?

WHY:

Why is the motivation behind each and every character. It is essential in a sorry worth reading. If your character has no motivation, then the story is shallow and unimportant. Take some risks!

Why Questions:

-Why is the antagonist 'evil’?
-Why is my protagonist against him?
-Why does anyone keep fighting?
-Why do they care?

HOW:

How is the story itself. It’s the characters’ journey throughout, and without the how, you have nothing.

How Questions:

-How does the character get out of this situation?
-How did they get into this situation?
-How do they get from this point to this point?
-How do they change throughout the story?


There are many, many more questions you should ask yourself–these are merely the bare essentials. Asking questions is important in making a plot, so question everything!

Using prophecies in fantasy without making eyes roll

Good ol’ stand-bys, ubiquitous fantasy tropes, are difficult to avoid. And sometimes we don’t want to avoid them. Goddammit, sometimes you just need a good, solid prophecy to write the story your want to write. 

“It’s not my fault all these other people before me have written prophecies, too!” you say. 

And you’d be right. Unfortunately, they did. So us modern-day writers have to live with the it. So what do you do when you want or need to use a well-worn trope? 

Know the trope. Make it your own. 

Know that, no matter what you do, some readers will still hate it.

But you can’t make everyone happy, right? So let’s get started.

How-to guidelines from our predecessors

Prophecies in fiction have been used countless times. But there are reasons why we continue to use them. And while you don’t want to completely copy how it has been done before, we can all learn something from the basic form of real and fictional prophecies. 

1. Prophecies are often vague and general

The language and phrasing used in prophecies, because of its important and symbolic nature, tends to go for sounding mystic and grand over sensible and utilitarian. This language achieves its poetic goal, but as a price, the meaning can be allusive, vague, or even seem contradictory. 

A man named Jerry will kill a man in a fight on the corner of 3rd and Main on the fifth of January, 3820. 

On the dawn of winter in a forest of gray, when one life dims, another remains.

One of these actually gives you some useful information. The other could mean a vast array of different things at any point in time, but technically applies to the same situation. One of them (though poorly) reads more like something you’d find in a piece of fiction. 

2. Prophecies are often misinterpreted

There’s likely to be disagreement on the meaning of any yet-to-be-fulfilled prophecy. If it’s well-known, then common folk might take it to mean one thing, while the wealthy another. The well-educated might take it to mean one or two (or three or a thousand) things, while the uneducated take it to mean another. If there are two prominent schools of thought, then people might passionately disagree about the meaning. It’s possible that none of these interpretations are true. 

‘Tis the nature of vague and metaphorical language.

The culture of your world will influence how people treat the prophecy. Conversely, the prophecy and its interpretation might have a huge impact on the culture, government, or religion of your world. 

3. Prophecies are given in context

In the example above about the murder in winter, with no context that “prophecy” means basically nothing. Part of what creates nuances in interpretation of prophecies is variations in the understanding of the prophecy’s context. 

Upon the rebirth of the emperor, the dark messenger will be slain; the eagle will conquer the land.

In this sample, very little is made clear when there’s no context. We have no reason to care, let alone believe, what these words are trying to convey. But say that our myths tell the story of a vanished young emperor who would someday reappear to take his throne, that the messengers of evil are immortal, and that the eagle is symbolic of peace…

It all starts to make a bit of sense, doesn’t it? Any alteration in context, however, could vastly change the meaning. 

Prophecies don’t stand alone. They only work within their context. They aren’t created in a vacuum and they are not understood in a vacuum. Creating the vibrant world that surrounds your prophecy will go a long way to making it interesting and important.

4. Prophecies require a prophet

Why do people believe the prophecy? Why don’t they? When implementing a prophecy into your world, you need to pay attention to how people receive its message and ensure that that belief has a sensible backing. 

A prophecy came from the mouth (or pen) of a prophet. If the people of your world totally buy into the words of this prophecy, then there needs to be a reason. What made this prophet reliable? 

What not to do: There was this old woman and everything she said was totally batty…all except this one thing. This one thing will definitely be absolutely true, so help me, God.

Like any aspect of culture, the “why” factor is important. Why do people believe the prophecy? Why has it survived so many years? Or perhaps people don’t believe the prophecy…so why is that? 

Consider Nostradamus. He’s a pretty infamous prophet, even though only some of what he said every seemed true (and almost entirely in retrospect). For the most part, when you mention him, people will kind of laugh it off. It’s mostly a joke. However…his words might also be true! But it’s best not to put all your money on it. 

How are the words of your prophet generally received? How will this affect how your Important Prophecy™ is viewed and understood by the people?

“This Important Prophecy™ is believed because my story needs it to be believed,” is not a good reason. So make sure it runs deeper than that.

Pitfalls to avoid

1. Using a prophecy as a matter of course

Your prophecy should have a very integral part in your story and world. Using a pointless prophecy or using one just because you think, since you’re writing fantasy, you probably should, are one-way tickets to eye-rolls. 

Like any trope, if you’re sticking it artlessly into your story, then you doing the trope and yourself a disservice. Every element you choose to include in your story should drive it forward, should deepen your conflict or characters. No inclusion should be made flippantly. Be sure that if you’re including a prophecy, you use it to its full potential.

2. Making it too simple or mundane

If you’re doing it right, then your prophecy will be super important to your story. And if it’s super important, you’re going to want it to be super interesting. If a dull, run-of-the-mill Chosen One prophecy is, unironically, what your story hinges on, then you’re likely going to get some eye-rolls and, worse, readers who put down your book.

3. Going for too much

On the other end of the spectrum, prophecies that are convoluted or require the ten-page backstory to put into context are likely going to take too much attention away from your actual story. Prophecies tend to focus on one (general) event. It can cover a few facets of this one event, but if you try to outline too much you risk detracting from the here-and-now or getting too far in over your (or your character’s) head. 

Things to consider

  • Is the fulfillment of the prophecy a mystery even to your reader? Or does the story give the answer, leaving the path to the fulfillment to be the mystery?
  • Is your prophecy immutable? Is it Destiny and it will come true no matter what anyone does?
  • Is the prophecy self-fulfilling? How do the characters’ knowledge of the prophecy affect events? How might their ignorance of it? 
  • How does the fulfillment differ or align with the expectations held by the characters?
  • Did the prophet speak of their own freewill, with true foreknowledge, or were they a vessel for a deity, or some supernatural being?
  • How was the prophecy passed down to the present? Was it done so flawlessly, or might there have been translation, oral, or interpretation errors that happened along the way?
  • How widely accepted, or known, is the prophecy among the common people? 
  • How common are prophecies in general? Does this one stand out in some way? If so, how and why?
  • Does the prophecy give away an outcome, or does it simply set up a situation?
  • How detailed is your prophecy and how have those seemingly specific details been misinterpreted?
  • How certain is anyone that they understand the prophecy? 
  • If the prophecy proves to be false, how does that element find resolution within the structure of the narrative? (i.e. if you placed great importance on the prophecy with the intention of pulling the rug out from under your reader, how are you going to resolve the situation to keep them from feeling cheated?)

What do you think about the use of prophecies in fiction? What are some of your favorites or least favorites?

Happy writing!

LOCK: Basic Plot Elements

LEAD: An interesting character the reader will care about.  And the Lead must have an…

OBJECTIVE: The driving force. Why things are happening. To get the Objective, there will be…

CONFRONTATION: Things get in the way. The story comes to life. And in the end there is a…

KNOCKOUT: The beginning sales this book, the ending sales the next. The ending must have power. 

From Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. Pages 10-12

Struggling to Start a Novel

Anonymous asked: “I really want to start writing a book that I’ve had ideas for rolling around in my mind for a while now. The only problem is I can’t find the motivation to start writing and I’m struggling with getting started. It feels like my imagination is dying!”

Starting a novel can sometimes be intimidating. It’s not physically difficult, but mentally you might face some unexpected roadblocks. I can’t say this is something I’ve ever particularly worried about, but it happens. You get in your head and psych yourself out. You love the idea you’ve been working on and feel there’s a lot riding on it when it comes to putting it on the page. 

The secret to getting over this feeling: take a deep breath and remind yourself that this isn’t the first chapter, this is the first draft. No one will know what you’re writing or if you’re writing anything great. In fact, you can even tell yourself, your idea’s not perfect. It needs work still. Even say, this is just for fun. We’ll see where this goes

Keep reading

I want to write a superhero story where everything is entirely stereotypical except the hero, hero’s girlfriend, and the villain are all entirely aware of it and state the fact that it’s stereotypical numerous times.

“And then I’ll-”
“Why are you telling me all your evil plans?”
“I’m a super-villain, aren’t I? That’s what I’m supposed to do when I have you kidnapped. Then your hero bursts in,” the hero opens the door, “and my plans are revealed to the world. Why are you laughing? Stop laughing. I’m a good super-villain.” And then the hero whacks villain over the head and they escape.

Except then I want it to end with the hero and the love interest realising they never actually liked each other they just wanted the story to go with the stereotypical plot and the hero falls in love with the villain and the love interest realises they had villainous potential the whole time and ends up the villain the hero and original villain have to fight off. Dunno who wins that bit then.

Also there has to be a discussion at some point about how uncreative the name Metro City is, possibly ending with a new name for it. Maybe similarly uncreative.

If this gets 200 notes I’ll start writing it.

Plotting the Middle

Anonymous asked: “Do you have any advice for someone who struggles with scene writing or continuing a story? I’ve often had trouble with writing the middle parts of a story even though sometimes I already have the beginning and ending planned out. I feel like all the scenes I put in lack creativity and it leads me to having a mediocre storyline.”

So many writers get stuck on the middle. I understand why, but also, to some degree it takes writing something that will surprise both you and the reader to sort of breathe a new interest back into it. 

Keep reading

Writing Clever Characters

Anonymous asked: Any tips for writing a character that is smarter or more clever than you are?

One inevitable truth is that your characters cannot truly be smarter than you, the writer.  However, they can be smarter than you within the world of your story, and, more importantly, they also can seem smarter. It helps if this incredibly smart character is not the protagonist. They can be, but it’s easier to carry this illusion in smaller doses. 

One thing to know early on: in what way is this character smarter than you are? 

If this character is quick-witted, you just need wit to be able to write it, even if you could not be that sharp and in-the-moment as they are. If your character is an astrophysicist, read up on the basics and write what you know. You likely should consult an expert for some of the more detailed in-depth information. If your character is solving an Agatha Christie mystery, that takes some plotting skills that has nothing to do (well, less strictly to do) with smarts. 

With that said, here’s a few strategies: 

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

I'm having some problems to get a character from a place to other. Basically, her parents died a while ago and she's living somewhere else. She lived in their parents' manor, now she lives at a relative's, and has just discovered a (magic) artifact that may belong to her mother, but she doesn't give it much importance. I want her to go to the manor but don't know how to set up the necessity. A young naughty girl may activate the artifact and raise questions, but don't know if it's good enough.

Unmovable Plot Facts (or what I like to call Very Important Facts - V.I.F.)

This sounds like a case of: “I need event B to happen, but it can’t happen unless event A happens, but event A has no logical reason to happen.”

It’s rare that we ever plot stories in a linear way, that is, we hardly ever plot our stories out in order. We often get ideas for much later in the story, and then we have to backtrack to figure out how we make those ideas happen. And this can be really difficult to do when our ideas don’t seem to fit together. So how do we fix it?

  • Assume NOTHING about your plot.

When we’ve been working with a story for a long time, there are certain facts and details that have been part of the story since the beginning. These facts are so cemented in our minds that we don’t even question them anymore. Things like: So-and-so’s the villain, the story takes place in a forest, my character is new to all this crazy phenomena. 

But what if so-and-so wasn’t the villain? What if the story took place in a desert? What if your character is a seasoned pro to the extra-terrestrial or paranormal? 

Whenever a story fact is proving to be inflexible and immovable, to the point where your story can’t operate around it, it’s time to make a change.

And it can be scary to make that change, especially when we’ve been plotting the story for so long with these facts in mind. But if we need event B to happen, and the event supposedly causing event B to happen (event A) is a longshot, then maybe we need another event to cause event B. 

TO MY ANON: What that means is, rather than coming up with a reason to get her to the manor, why can’t she already be there? Isn’t it possible that after her parents died, they willed her the home, and she moved back in? Could she have found the artifact while cleaning out an area of the house as she was moving back in? Or even years later when she suddenly needs the extra storage space/living space?

When changing one fact, you might argue that you can’t change said fact, because then you’ll have to change another fact, and what if you end up changing the whole story? Maybe you will, I don’t know. The goal is figuring out what facts of your story are most important, and if you can’t work out how to make other facts work with those Very Important Facts (V.I.F.), then those less important ones will have to change. 

  • Examine the V.I.F. itself and decide if it truly is a V.I.F.

So in my last point, I talked about changing event A entirely to work with event B (our V.I.F.), and in the case of the anon, event A is our character returning home, and event B is the character finding the magical artifact. She cannot find the artifact unless she goes home. If you can’t come up with ideas for how to get her to the manor, and you can’t really change the fact that she no longer lives there, then you have to examine what event B is actually doing for your plot, and decide if perhaps there is another V.I.F. that events B/A are getting in the way of.

In this step, ask yourself: what is my story’s conflict? And once you’ve defined that in one sentence, determine how many different paths there are available to getting there. Is event B directly tied to your conflict? Or is it merely one option of jumpstarting the real V.I.F.? 

For example, if the conflict of our anon’s story had to do with our protagonist inadvertently activating this artifact and then becoming involved in some epic quest to stop a great evil, there are actually numerous ways of getting there. Some questions we might ask:

  • Does the artifact have to be a family heirloom?
  • Does she have to discover it after her parents are deceased?
  • Could the artifact have been passed down to her years ago, got lost in a box, and resurfaced at the onset of our story?
  • Could she find it in an antiques store?
  • Could a friend find it and give it to her as a gift?

The important part of this story may not be how she comes by the artifact; instead, it could be what happens as a result. In which case, you could explore other options for getting it in her hands and activating it. 

  • For a rough draft, skip A entirely. Focus on B, because B gets you to C.

My last option for solving this problem is basically to ignore it. If you’re working on a first draft, or even a second draft of the story, and you can’t get over this one problem, then solve it by ignoring it. For our anon, if you can’t come up with a reason for her to go to the manor, then simply say: “She decided to go to the manor,” and let that be the end to it…for now. 

Because allowing yourself to skip event A enables you to focus on fleshing out event B - something you seem much clearer on- so you can move forward with the story. When we’re working with drafts, it’s best to work on the parts that exist most vividly in our minds, and then work on stringing them together in whatever haphazard way we need to. Cohesion and structuring will come later on, once we know a little more about what we’ve created. 

One last note to my anon: Try not to get too stuck on this detail. Change the setup if you need to, in order to make it work, or gloss over it until you’ve got more of the meat of the story written. As you’re writing the middle, you might come up with some amazing backstory detail that helps explain how everything started, and it may have nothing to do with her going to the manor. 

I hope this wasn’t a confusing post! I tried my best, but I think what it comes down to is accepting that your plot should be flexible, and you should be willing to change details to work with other details, rather than trying to force them to work together when they don’t. 

-Rebekah