means that they should be more engaged and involved in the going ons of middle earth

anonymous asked:

Hello! So I was scouring the Internet for advice today but I couldn't find any on this topic. My problem isn't that I don't have any ideas (I probably have too many) but the problem is that I don't LOVE any of my ideas. I like them. I think they're all fine ideas. But liking them isn't going to motivate me long enough to finish a novel. How can I give my ideas that extra uumph to make me love them? How can I figure out what's missing or why I don't feel this way about any of my ideas?

Hello, nonny!  What a challenging question…  This one’s been in my inbox a couple days, just because it’s such a big question.  But I’ve thought it over and I think I have some ideas for you :)


The Thrill Is Gone – How to Find It Again

So generally, there’s no one answer or cure-all to this problem.  I’ve had this issue multiple times, with different causes.  My first novel didn’t have enough meat to the plot; my second novel had been over-planned in my head to the point that it no longer excited me.  My third novel had way too much plot, so that by the time I got ¾ the way through, I’d written over 200K words and felt sick of the idea.  I started my fourth novel way too soon, and am now going back and planning it more!  So there are obviously many different reasons that a story doesn’t take off (or dries up eventually).

The first step is to figure out what’s missing, like you said.  There are a few aspects of your story to assess…


1. Plot

I’m discussing plot first because, to me, it’s the most important part of fiction.  Plot, conflict, and stakes are foremost to my stories.  You could have the most complex and sympathetic characters, but without plot, they’re static and become boring.  But for some reason, this is the part of story ideas that new authors neglect most!

So if your story has great characters and an immersive setting, but you can’t get into it, try asking a few questions about your plot:

  • What is the point of the plot?  What’s the message you’re conveying in the story?  Even if your story isn’t an allegory or a metaphor or the next Chronicles of Narnia, there should always be a conclusion to which all plots arrive – otherwise, the story can feel aimless.  The best way to find your message is to look at the conflicts involved (e.g. Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, etc.) and find the “winner”.  What worldview, belief, or concept “defeats” the other concepts?  It can be as simple as Good vs. Evil, or more complex, like Loving the Sincere Drug Addict vs. Settling for the Selfish Dentist (provokes the question “Is love worth danger in relationships?”).
  • Does the plot have ups and downs?  And really consider both ends of the spectrum here.  Stories become dull if they are made up of victory after victory – or if they’re made up of nothing but loss and tragedy.  No matter the genre, you have to strike some sort of balance, lest the story become predictable and emotionally non-engaging.  Find victories and failures, even in unassuming places, to keep readers invested and hopeful.
  • Do you have a satisfactory ending?  Or do you have the ending     planned yet?  I’ve found that I can’t really commit to an idea unless I see a resolution – otherwise I feel too nervous to start.  If you do have an ending planned, make sure it’s the right ending.  It can feel like there’s one possible conclusion, and once you’ve found it, you stick to it – but question it, brainstorm it.  It may not be a happy ending every time, but when you find the right one, you’ll know it.
  • Do you have the right plot at all?  Look at your story as a whole.  Does it start too early or too late, relative to the real meat,     the real action?  Is it told from the most impactful POV?  Does the plot cover too much ground for one book, or is it not enough to fill the pages?  Consider all the characters, backstories, and subplots you have, and ask yourself if any of them are more interesting than the main plot.  If so, shift your focus.  Use them instead.

2. Characters

Maybe it’s not your plot that’s going sideways.  Maybe you have it all worked out – the head, the tail, the whole damn thing – but it still doesn’t feel right.  It doesn’t feel like it’s coming to life, somehow.  It feels flat.

That can be a character problem.  It would be like sitting by the campfire and hearing the most fascinating, horrifying story, except it’s told by a man with The Most Boring Voice Who Talks So Incredibly Slowly and Takes All the Fun Out of Everything.  An example: The Hunger Games.  Those books bored the crap out of me.  Unless someone was being killed or Haymitch and Effie were interacting, I just didn’t care.  And those books had a great plot behind them!

So here’s what you need for a good cast of characters:

  • A solid protagonist.  Solid = three-dimensional, empathetic, and relatable; having a goal, an internal conflict, a self-image, and fears or shame.  They should have different facets of themselves – their head and their heart, their desires and doubts, and that little voice in their head that says, “Give up on that.  Be realistic.”  Give them strengths, weaknesses, and a couple of bad habits, for kicks.
  • A variety of supporting characters.  You don’t have to have thirty characters + six secret characters stuffed under your trench coat; but with however many characters you have, make them as different from each other as possible.  Give them some similarities, of course, so that they can relate to each other – but never make them so close together that you have to decide, “Who should say this line?  Character A or Character B?”  Make them unique enough that the words come out of their mouths, instead of you having to decide where to put the words, yourself.
  • Relationships, relationships, relationships.  And I’m not talking about romantic relationships.  I mean, sure, those too – but there are many different kinds of relationships to explore.  Friendships, enemy-ships (?), parent relationships, sibling-ships, silent alliances, “annoying friend-of-a-friend”-ships, “my-ex’s-little-sister”-ships, “you’re-the-ruler-of-the-galaxy-and-a-Sith-lord-but-also-my-dad-please-stop-being-evil”-ships…  You get the idea.  Make them unique, make them strong, and allow them to evolve over the course of the story.
  • Diverse morals, interests, and personalities.  My first short stories focused on white middle-class people who were culturally and politically identical.  They lived in one house, usually, and watched the same TV shows and made the same references.  They had the same sense of humor.  They rarely disagreed on anything that wasn’t clear-cut (e.g. “You drank the last Pepsi!”  “I was thirsty!”).  So do yourself a favor and don’t make my mistakes.  Give your characters unique ethics, cultures, backgrounds, personalities, goals, appearances, and conflicts.  You’ll be more invested by then, I’m sure.

3. Setting

Lastly, I’d like to add that while your characters and plot could be well-developed, there’s always a chance that they’re placed in the wrong setting.  This is why many story ideas can seem great, but won’t get off the ground – maybe they’re set in a pre-made universe like Middle Earth or Panem when they could be their own story.  Maybe your tragic romance is set in the middle of apocalyptic war, when instead, it should be drained down to a period piece.  Maybe your story is perfect, except you’re writing it too close to home – in the real world, in the present year.  There are a million factors to picking the right setting, including:

  • Applicable history and culture.  If you’re writing a story about someone who’s oppressed, or someone who’s a politician, or someone who’s a witch, you’re going to need to back that up with history.  Develop a history for the oppression or politics or witchcraft – where these things began, how they developed over time – and a culture for them now – how oppressed people survive and how witches in your world interact, etc.
  • Imaginative scenery, influenced by the characters.  Even if your story takes place in New York City in 2017, allow your characters’ living spaces and workplaces to have a unique touch – colors and quirks that your readers can see in their mind.  If even you can’t see what you’re writing, inspiration is going to be difficult to find.
  • A lifelike background.  Just because the plot focuses on your characters does not mean everything going on behind it should be quiet and dead.  Anyone who looks out a window in a city building can see other people living – people on the highway will see other cars taking other people other places.  Everyone who has a friend will hear a little something about their friend’s siblings, their friend’s friends, their friend’s neighbors.  Life and stories exist outside of your plot; make sure you’re not writing about a ship in a bottle.
  • An aesthetic.  That sounds gross and teen-tumblr-y, but let me tell you personally: I don’t feel truly ready to write (and love) my story until I can hear the music for the future movie adaptation – until I can see the kind of clothes the people wear, the games they play, the places they eat and shop.  I think of the colors and themes in my scenes (e.g. my first novel was set primarily at night in a grunge/city setting; my current novel is very green and outdoorsy and gives me that feeling of bonfires just after sunset).  Once you get that “feeling” from your story, you’ll know it.

Anyway, this reply took me like three days to write because I really wanted to get into it.  I hope some of this helps you to fall in love with one of your ideas, so you can get started :)  If you have any more questions, be sure to send them in!

(I have 26 questions in the inbox, though, so be patient with me…)


If you need advice on writing, fanfiction, or NaNoWriMo, you should maybe ask me!

your personal universe: why maladaptive daydreaming is not a disorder

In this post I will talk about maladaptive daydreaming in autistic people, because I am an autistic person. I will describe my personal experience that is 100% subjective and doesn’t match the experience of every autistic person on Earth. However I am sure that a lot of autistic people will relate to what I have to say. I do not wish to offend anyone with this post and if I will, I am sorry. Now on with the story.

As long as I remember myself, I was always very different. I understood it very early on, back when I didn’t even go to school yet. I knew that I am not like other kids: I speak differently, move differently, and think differently. Back then I didn’t consider it a bad thing, and I had no reason to. Life is simple when you are a kid, it doesn’t hold much challenges.

But it changed drastically as soon as I began middle school. First year of middle school was the first time I realized that I wasn’t just different – I was wrong. Or at least that is what I was forced to believe. From that time, life became a battle. I was bullied by my classmates, misunderstood by my parents and teachers, I struggled, I suffered, and there was nothing I could do about it.

It took me a long time to find out that there wasn’t anything wrong with me after all. I’m just autistic. All my problems and struggles suddenly made sense when I realized that, and I promised myself that I will never ever think of myself as wrong again.

I remember that when I was 14, life was so bad for me, I didn’t want to live. I didn’t actively plan suicide, but I lay in my bed all day, refused to eat and get up, and silently wished that I will just die. The only things that got me through that time were my special interests and… wait for it… maladaptive daydreaming.

What is maladaptive daydreaming?

Keep reading

i get a lot of questions about what i do/what i’m planning to do in the future. this week i was contacted about an opportunity to create a citywide gardening program in order to boost my hometown’s public health in preventative ways. this opportunity has me reflecting on all the lessons i’ve learned as a black man trying to help black people connect to the earth and to peace through gardening/earthwork. these reflections manifested themselves in the following document. just wanted to share.

Lessons learned

The most important thing I’ve learned is the importance of creating programming that engages entire families. The strongest component of the organization I work for now is its commitment to reach students during every stage of their educational journeys - from pre-school to high school. Furthermore, any adult-based programming needs to be contextualized with side-by-side learning opportunities so that each event/initative catering to adults offers the ability to cater to their entire families (especially their children or children under their care).  

  • From a youth-centric standpoint, by being intentional about having each staff member support every age group, you allow students to have a broader support structure. For example, you can hire staff members to be primarily responsible for coordinating the high school internship but have the staff that is primarily responsible for elementary garden education support the interns one day a week. Have the staff that is primarily responsible for middle school garden education support the interns once a week on a different day. Replicate this idea across all programs.
    • This strategy is extremely rewarding for everybody involved. It’s the main reason I feel like I truly belong to the community I work in. It’s hard not to feel a sense of belonging when I’ve gotten to know the entire pool of young people in this community by working with PreK-5 students MWF middle school programs on Tues, and our high school interns on Thursday of each week.
    • A paid internship for high school aged teens is imperative. This internship should be the first stage of an employment pipeline so former interns can be placed into legitimate jobs that the internship trained them for.  
      • The only way to have a successful internship program is to be intentional about investing the time and resources necessary to train these teens to do whatever job you want them to do.
        • This requires an extraordinary level of patience, case management, and support structure.
          • My garden assistant’s name is Cha’Shay. Cha’Shay is 20 working on graduating high school. She’s from a horrible neighborhood, lost her boyfriend to gun violence, and can easily be mislabeled as a bad product of a bad environment. Cha’Shay was an intern that came through our program while I was still in college. By normal metrics, she was a subpar employee with a bad attitude. But since she was part of a program that prioritized her growth and potential above all else, she was given the opportunity to work as a garden assistant at my school. When she came into the roll she didn’t know how to talk right, act right, or do right in a professional sense. 3 months later, she is running her own meetings with teachers, speaking at fundraisers organized by our board of directors, designing her own garden curriculum for preschoolers, harvesting food she never thought would actually grow, and just generally being a source of light to everybody and everything around her. I include this story in here just to offer evidence about how a positive intention and fitting support structure can transform any person into a source of light for their communities and beyond. This can only happen when you give young people training as interns and well supported opportunities to work jobs that pay a living wage.
  • From an educational perspective, it’s important for lessons 1) to manifest into material/things that students and families can take home (food/medicine) 2) to center around the skill building necessary to convert those materials into practices that boost health and wellness (cooking classes, herbal medicine making, garden yoga).
    • One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had doing this work is the ability to grow a crop with 3rd graders, harvest it with them, then teach them and their parents to cook what they grew and harvested. Incorporating the people I’m teaching into the full process from seed to table has offered moments of such pure positivity and connectedness, I can’t even explain them. I think replicating these full process, holistic models should be a top priority to offer opportunities for resonant lessons and life style changes.
  • At the beginning, people are going to want to harvest not plant - they’d rather eat than cook and they’d rather maintain a garden than start one. Having a culture that tackles these facts with understanding instead of stress will go far.
    • It would be great if the communities we serve would show initiative by helping us, help them but this isn’t realistic. If these communities were like that, we wouldn’t need to be there in the first place. Going in with the mindset that we’re planting seeds because we love to do it is healthier than planting seeds because we’re hungry.
    • This may mean that the first years of the program are rough. Expecting them to be rough and finding comfort in the smallest of victories is pivotal to long term success. Perhaps the communities that we start gardens in don’t seem to care enough about that garden to maintain it. Maybe a school that we want to partner with has no interest in partnering with us even though we know the students need us there. Doesn’t matter, there are more seeds to plant and more work to be done. Understanding that obstacles don’t deter the mission is exceedingly important for every single person involved in the program.  

hopelesswanderer56  asked:

What was J. R. Tolkiens' type? I noticed the recent post about C. S Lewis' type, and wondered what his was. Since they were friends I was wondering if perhaps there types were considered "compatible"

I haven’t studied Tolkien as much as Lewis, so this is based on what I’ve read about him and from reading his books.

I see Tolkien labeled as an INFP everywhere I look, but I doubt it. INFP writers are known for having a broad worldview and approach to life that is very much “take it or leave it” and “write what you want.” If they do not like something, they will not read it — but they have no real problem with someone else reading or writing it. Everyone is free to do their own thing! The other person has nothing to do with them, so they don’t care. Higher up Ne collects ideas. It gathers information and decides what it likes, then incorporates it into a broader worldview while discarding what it doesn’t like. That’s why many religious INFPs have an eclectic religion with elements of different faiths in it, rather than strong adherence to a particular denomination or sect. Why limit themselves to one worldview?

From what I have read about him, Tolkien was a straight up no nonsense Catholic. He didn’t like some of what Lewis wrote, because his Catholicism influenced his view that laymen should not dabble in distinctly spiritual matters — in his mind, Lewis was not a clergyman and had no right to write about some of the things he did. Rather than having a broad worldview that brought in elements of many different belief systems (as Ne is prone to do), Tolkien believed in one truth: that of the Roman Catholic Church. He had a very focused, devoted loyalty to his faith that influenced all he did. To me, this indicates a preference for a strong Si-Te personality (tradition, upbringing, black and white mindset, adherence to what is appropriate and sanctioned by the church, and we all have our place within the body and should not step outside it). Another example of this mindset is his objection to Lewis including Father Christmas in Narnia, because he believed in separating fantasy from reality. Middle-earth has nothing to do with our world and no faith in it. Ne-Si can’t help blending fantasy and reality together in daily life, whereas Si-Ne says, “There is a time and a place for fantasy.”

Many INFP writers use metaphors and deal in heavy abstracts (that’s why so many INFPs are into poetry; it’s all symbolic and the meaning is in the abstracts). Tolkien avoids very many abstracts and writes in detail-centric prose with a strong worldview of absolute truths. He certainly uses Ne in his storytelling, but he was far more interested in developing the mythology of Middle-earth, and its details (different languages, massive maps of the region, entire histories of those involved, time tables, poetry passed down through generations, songs, etc) than anything else. He created myths and histories for Middle-earth, inspired through his fantastical knowledge of mythology, folklore, and legends. He uses incredible religious imagery… unintentionally. Tolkien did not set out to create an allegorical tail nor translate his characters into metaphorical representations of his worldview (unlike the intuitive Lewis, who intended to do it with books like The Great Divorce); rather, his faith and worldview snuck into his writing. He didn’t aim for symbolism or abstracts; the symbolism simply happened.

Tolkien did not start out a writer. He started out a linguistics expert who developed his own (Elven) language and then needed somewhere he could use it; he invented Middle-earth and its different races as a vehicle for it and went on from there to create an entire world. He found a purpose for his creativity. He wanted to address his feelings about the war, his wartime experiences, and his love of nature but could not open up and talk about it, so he channeled all of that into his books. Then, he tinkered obsessively with one world for his entire writing career. He spent decades lost in details and in sculpting and re-sculpting Middle-earth. He was a perfectionist whose mind, when not engaged with responsibilities at the college or in debating theology with the Inklings, zeroed in on Middle-earth for decades at a time. (He was so focused on ONE THING that the Inklings actually teased him about it.)

Maybe I am wrong, but I can’t honestly see him or his dedication to a single lifelong writing project as an INFP. My best guess is an ISTJ who unleashed his creativity in his books and because it was a fun way to exercise his extensive knowledge of languages and myths, he didn’t reign it in in an effort to “hurry up and finish it.” When a Si-dom loves something, they never walk away from it. They cherish it. Nurture it. Continue to tinker with it, sometimes their entire lives.

(If someone else can provide a good argument, I’m all ears.)

longroadstonowhere  asked:

prompt: jane and dirk, the little things, one of them helps the other recover from a bad mood? (sorry, less good at the scenario part of things)

Oh look, it’s more Alpha Timeline Fluff! And this one is genuinely and incontrovertibly fluffy! (…Pay no attention to Dirk’s champion lying-by-implication near the end.) [~1000 words]

———————————————
A Problem That You’ll Understand
———————————————

– gutsyGumshoe [GG] began pestering timaeusTestified [TT] –

GG: Dirk, are you busy?
GG: I don’t want to be a nuisance, but if you have a few minutes I would deeply appreciate the loan of your ears.
GG: Or your eyes, as the case may be.
GG: Although it suddenly occurs to me that a text-to-speech interface might be very useful for maintaining communication while your hands are engaged in a task that’s either too messy or too time-sensitive to constantly interrupt for typing.
GG: Obviously I can use my tiaratop if I want to chat while baking, but I know you and Roxy have Views on Crockercorp products. :B
GG: …
GG: I conclude from the available evidence that you are, in fact, busy, and what you’re doing involves adjustments to your auto-responder.
GG: My apologies for any distraction I may have caused.
GG: I’ll stop bothering you for now.

TT: Wait.

GG: Yes?

TT: Thirty seconds.
TT: Ok, all yours. What’s wrong?

GG: What makes you assume something is amiss?
GG: Can’t a dame simply want to chat with one of her gentleman friends?

TT: Sure she can. But while Holmesian deduction isn’t my forte, I can put two and two together to get four.
TT: Something’s eating you, and not in the fun way.
TT: Lay it on me, Jane.
TT: I can take it.

GG: *sigh*
GG: I suppose I was a trifle obvious, wasn’t I? Which is part and parcel of the problem, in a way.

TT: Oh?

GG: I couldn’t casually request a friendly conversation without giving away that I’m upset. Chalk up another link in the cascading chain of petty failures that has been my day.
GG: Ugh.

TT: Ah.
TT: One of those days.
TT: I feel you.
TT: Do you want to enumerate the slings and arrows or just change the subject completely? I’m game either way.

GG: There’s nothing much to enumerate, objectively speaking.
GG: I slipped in the shower and cut my elbow on a faucet, the garbage bag broke as I was carrying it outside to the trash can, I accidentally insulted the mail carrier when I tried to wish her a nice afternoon, I dropped my vial of vanilla extract while mixing cookie dough and it shattered, etcetera, etcetera.
GG: And to top it off, I’ve apparently interrupted you in the middle of a programming session which you are kindly not mentioning.
GG: I just.
GG: Do you ever feel like all your choices are wrong, your life is pointless, and the universe itself is tired of your existence?

TT: …
TT: I can’t say that feeling sounds totally unfamiliar.
TT: I can say that it is, in your case, objectively false.
TT: For instance, you didn’t interrupt a programming session.
TT: Full disclosure: you happened to pester me right as I tripped on a tangle of cords and disconnected my entire apartment from the fucking internet.
TT: It was the crowning pratfall on a tower of idiocy that began with accidentally dumping Fanta all over my pants at breakfast because I forgot I’d opened the can before stashing it in my sylladex last night.

GG: Oh dear.

TT: You could say I’ve been having one of those days myself.

GG: We should found a club.
GG: Ridiculous failures of the earth, unite!
GG: You have nothing to lose but your last remaining scraps of dignity and the pretense of being a competent human!

TT: Hot damn, I’m in.
TT: You’re president.

GG: Naturally. And treasurer.
GG: Also secretary.
GG: Actually I will be the entire board of directors.
GG: You can be the shadowy power behind the throne. :B

TT: Nah, I call dibs on security guard at our inevitably disastrous convention.
TT: I’ll reprise my amazing ability to trip on air and stab myself with my own sword.
TT: Abracadabra, instant laughingstock.

GG: Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll walk into a conveniently placed glass door before anyone has a chance to so much as snicker at you.

TT: Thank fuck for small favors.

GG: Yes, we can bleed to death in embarrassed solidarity.

TT: You’d better not just be saying that, Crocker. Mutual death-from-humiliation pacts are serious business.
TT: Pinky swear?

GG: Cross my heart.

TT: Awesome. And we’re already hoping to die; A-plus for efficiency.
TT: Let’s hold off on the needle part, though. I’m not feeling very optimistic about our chances of survival until the pact date if we start messing around with one of those.

GG: A wise and judicious decision, indeed.
GG: Oh gosh.
GG: Would you look at that!
GG: It seems we’ve broken your streak of misfortune and idiocy!

TT: …
TT: Well fuck.
TT: Does that mean you’re gonna kick me out of the ridiculous losers club?
TT: Is our mutual embarrassment pact stillborn?

GG: Oh, Dirk.
GG: My sweet summer child.
GG: Have you learned nothing from your brother? Embarrassment is FOREVER.

TT: Phew.
TT: I’d hate to abandon you right after our touching moment of solidarity.
TT: Also, it seems you’ve successfully cheered me up after a shitty day, which – call me crazy – presumably means we’ve broken your bad luck marathon as well.

GG: …
GG: Well I’ll be. So we did.

TT: Looks like friendship really is magic.

GG: *narrows eyes*

TT: *blinks innocently*

GG: :B
GG: Thanks for being a pal.

TT: Hey. What else are bros for?
TT: And on that note, I’m gonna execute a subtle and graceful conversational segue into telling you my bro’s in Houston this week and it’s about dinnertime here in Texas.
TT: I’m sure you can deduce the implications.
TT: You ok till tomorrow or should I check back in a couple hours?

GG: I’ll be fine. You go enjoy your brotherly bonding. I know you don’t get to spend nearly as much time with him as you’d like.
GG: Until tomorrow, Di-Stri.
GG: *bunp*

TT: *bunp* 

– timaeusTestified [TT] ceased pestering gutsyGumshoe [GG] –

———————————————

Wow, it’s been a while since I wrote a pesterlog! I think the character voices are slightly off, but eh. I’ll do another editing pass before I stick this up on AO3.