tricks&tips

Writing Series #8: How do you stay invested?

What I hear most often from writers switching from short fiction to novels is: how do you stay invested for the long haul? How do you care about the same story for the time it takes to finish an entire book?

As someone who began with novel writing and never really mastered the art of the short story, I’ve always had the opposite question (how do you keep it to a minimum? how do you condense your ideas into just a few pages). But this doesn’t mean I’ve never had that age old book commitment problem. Even the best stories can drift away from us, and even the most dedicated writers will experience the occasional hiccup in their writing schedule. Too much time away–whether it be a busy schedule, a new child, an illness, or just general lack of inspiration–it can make coming back to the book after a writing drought seem impossible. You sit down in front of your story, see these words so old you hardly remember writing them in the first place, and think, how can I possibly keep going? 

Coming back to an old story can feel a lot like a high school reunion: bumping into people you once knew so well but who have now become strangers, and now you hardly know to strike up a conversation. But just like a reunion, you have two choices: runaway and give up on the relationship for good, or force the smalltalk until you break into something real. If you’re lucky, by the end of the night, you can be laughing and having a great time, saying it’s like things “never changed at all” before you’re through. A book is the same way. 

Just as we bring up “the good ‘ol times” in conversations, it’s important to revisit what made you write the book in the first place. Some things that have helped me have included: 

  • Taking notes of my character’s planned emotional and physical arcs over the course of the book. This way if I lose investment or take too much time away and begin to lose that connection to their emotional state, I can return to my notes and see where I wanted them to be and start to understand their state of mind again and their purpose in my story. 
  • Take notes of your planned plot or, if you’re not a structured planner, some things you hope to happen in the story or directions you might like it to go. This will be your road map later if you get lost along the way. 
  • Make a playlist (or other art form, if you’re a painter, poet, etc.) that reminds you of your story. Listening to these songs later can help you to revisit the mindset you were in while writing and spark that creativity. 
  • Go back and reread some of your older, already written chapters. This can help you to remember what the tone of the story was and how the dialogue was sounding. If you don’t and take a long break in the story, there’s a large chance that your story will end up disjointed with two separate narrative styles and tones that will be jarring for the readers (and yourself as you read it back later). This can also trigger the memory of how it felt to write this story last time and to hopefully help you to continue writing it again. 
  • Practice writing a scene with your character(s) that won’t make it into the book. Jumping right back into the novel can seem daunting at times, so it may help to open a new document and write a random event just for practice on regaining and writing your character. Other useful exercises might include an interview, biography, or sample social media account for your character if applicable. 
  • Just keep writing. Sometimes you have to write something terrible to break through to something good. But don’t worry. The delete button exists for a reason, and the editing process will be a lifesaver down the line. 

To all the writers out there: how do you keep yourself focused and interested during the course of writing a novel? Do you have any tips for maintaining writing momentum?

Feel free to add to this post or submit your own advice to share with your fellow writers at ancwritingresources.tumblr.com

anonymous asked:

I love the purple gradient on the line art thing you do! Is it something you add after you finish the drawing?

Yep, I add it after the sketch is 100% done otherwise:

Original ^

Drawing over the sketch with a darkish purple (note: this color must be lighter than the original color used for lineart) w/ mode set to lighten ^

Same step, again, with a lighter purple-red.

Then redraw (w/ normal mode on) certain areas in black to make em pop.

anonymous asked:

How realistic was Laura fighting in Logan? She's 11. Her bones would theoretically still be pretty soft, but she's also a mutant who heals almost instantly. While she does often lose to adults when they swarm her, she also kills a lot of people. In addition, she falls in a weird limbo between Child Solider and Child Raised for Combat because the people who trained her from birth treated her as disposable, and didn't try to brainwash her. As a result, she escapes ASAP. Thoughts?

Well, I haven’t seen Logan yet but the problem with the question is “realistic”. This is X-men, realism left the building ages ago. Nothing is realistic. If you’re asking about realism then you’re asking the wrong questions because superpowers change the rules. What you’re really asking is: should an eleven year old child be able to fight on the same level as an experienced warrior like Wolverine?

And the answer is, in the Marvel universe characters with healing factors (like Wolverine) have recovered from being burned into ash by the sun. So, in a setting where his healing factor is failing and he’s dying but she’s young, genetically/physically enhanced, and hers is working at full throttle then why not? She’s a tiny Logan. A rage-filled murder ball dedicated to death and destruction, created in a lab that turns human guinea pigs into ultimate weapons. So, I ask, why not? She’s doing exactly what she’s been designed to do, minus it being on the orders of someone else.

What stops children from competing with adults is three things.

1) Physical immaturity. Their bodies are still developing, and not on par with an adults.

2) Mental immaturity. Their brains are still developing, and don’t have the same basic understanding that adults do especially in regards to consequences. They don’t really grasp concepts like “death” and “gone forever” very well. Psychologically, these kids get pretty messed up.

3) Due to the above two problems, unless they have weapons, they can’t overcome the gap.

X-23 does all three. She has the healing factor, genetic enhancements, and blades coming out of her hands and front toe, all of which solve two of the above problems. They allow her to go toe to toe with adults because she can simply power or brute force her way through it. From a combat perspective, it doesn’t really matter if she gets hurt or go through serious body horror as her body will repair itself. So, someone without morals could put her through a meat grinder and still use her again. Plus, at least in X-men Evolution and the comics, she tends to be psychologically messed up. Someone who was treated as a weapon from the moment she was born, trained as a weapon, used as a weapon, and doesn’t really comprehend most “normal” human experiences. A clone with all Wolverine’s experiences, except she went through them as a child.

Laura Kinney, X-23 is by all standards a fairly new character in the Marvel universe. She was first introduced in the early 2000s through the WB cartoon X-Men: Evolution. Like Harely Quinn, she’s a canon immigrant. When she was introduced in the cartoon, she was a teenager.

In character, she was an angry violent rage-ball, a teenage version of Logan except more lost and unstable. However, the major difference between their experiences was that where Logan was an adult when he went through the Weapon X program, she was a child. She was the twenty-third test subject, and the only one who survived the experiments. X-23 was desperate to find out who she was and where she belonged; and, having been “raised” by Hydra, determined to find (and, possibly kill) Wolverine whom she viewed as responsible for everything that happened to her. That desire was mixed up in her desire to know who she was. Because she was a human weapon, she couldn’t distinguish between the two. Fighting was what she knew how to do, so that’s what she did. Her introduction was sneaking through the X-men mansion, disabling all the other mutant children and teachers in order to single Logan out to fight.

As a character, considering everything else, she was a fairly accurate representation of a child raised to be a human weapon. Psychologically traumatized, unstable, and unable to really comprehend her emotions or concepts like “friendship” and “family”. Deeply mistrustful of anyone and anything who got too close, unable to communicate her needs except through anger and violence. Any approach was likely to elicit an immediate, violent response. She doesn’t know how to be anything except a weapon.

Logan could reach her because Logan understood what she’d been through, but he also couldn’t really help her and it took a long time before she came to trust him (if she ever really did). That door didn’t open often for anyone else.

If you want to see her first appearances then the episodes to watch are “X23″ and “Target X”.  The name “Laura Kinney” comes (I think) from the comics as she originally did not have any name other than X-23.

In the comics, she’s another of the Weapon X subjects and the 23 refers to her gender rather than the number of times it took to create her. She escapes like she does in the movie, and eventually starts trying to figure out who she is.

It’s not really worth asking questions about realism when a setting has explicitly ejected realism. Have a good guffaw over anyone trying to argue about the “realism of Batman”. There isn’t any. The setting has defined its own definition of realism and that’s what it follows. Realism isn’t everything, and it doesn’t define what a good story is. Often, it’s not even the question you should be asking. Avatar: the Las Airbender has some awesome fighting for a children’s cartoon, fighting clearly drawn (ha!) from martial arts in the real world. However, it is by no means realistic. And, honestly, that doesn’t matter.

Well-told stories are defined by how well they tell their stories, and maintain their suspension of disbelief. Everything else after that is popcorn. Realism comes into play when we admire how well someone has done their research, how well that research supports and enhances our experience when consuming media. You don’t want to understand combat just for an added dose of realism, but also because knowledge gives us more options to work with. The more you know, the more detail you can add. All the better to create a more enjoyable experience, my dear.

Understanding the rules is the first step in figuring out how to break them, or just manipulate them to your advantage. Whatever works.

-Michi

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The 5 Elements of a LIKABLE Main Character

“I don’t like your main character. He’s kind of obnoxious.” my beta reader laughingly told me, after reading the first chapter of my novel.

On the surface, I looked like this: 

Inside, I looked like this: 

Aloud, I said “Oh, well, he’s kind of hard to understand. He changes by the end.”

Inside, I screamed “How could you not like him?! Do you have a heart?! Is there a void where your soul should be?! Are you actually a Dementor that’s really good at makeup? Well, I guess this is what the Dementors are doing after getting kicked out of Azkaban!”

Outside: “But I really enjoyed it!” *Hugs between broken writer and Dementor in disguise* “Thank you for reading!" 

But you know what? That person that might be a soul-sucking cloaked demon creature? They were right. The character was unlikable, or more accurately, there was no reason to cheer him on. There was nothing to make the reader connect with him, relate to him, transfer themselves into his story, feel affection towards him. 

And if the reader doesn’t connect with the character through empathy? Nothing else in the story can work. Everything relies on this one fictional person. The basic definition of story is "A flawed hero with a goal overcoming obstacles to reach that goal, and how that journey changes them.” So without character, you don’t have story. Without empathy from the reader, you don’t even have character. 

So what is empathy when it comes to characters? 

It’s the process of a reader transferring their own lives onto the character. When this happens, the character’s goal and inner desires, values and weaknesses, everything about them, become proxies for our own. We learn of a shared piece of human nature between us, something we have in common on a significant inner level, and suddenly we want to see this character succeed. Because now, they are us – and we want to see ourselves succeed in real life. We feel what they feel, we experience what they experience.  

The best way to sum up character empathy in my opinion, is this quote from C.S.Lewis: “Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another ‘Really? You too? I thought I was the only one!’”

That’s empathy. 

Which doesn’t mean the character has to be an angelic little cherub …

There are characters that operate in a moral gray area, there are characters that are downright awful, there are characters that shouldn’t be lovable …but we love them. So this is NOT saying that a main character has to be a perfect angel that rescues baby squirrels when they’re not busy volunteering at the local soup kitchen, it just means there’s something WORTHWHILE in the character that persuades the reader to stick around. We need a reason to relate with that at-first-glance unlikable character. Just as we have flawed people in our own lives who we can forgive and love.

A good quote for this one would be this, by G.K.Chesterton: “That’s the great lesson of Beauty and the Beast; that a thing must be loved before it is lovable.”

So how does a writer accomplish a good empathetic connection?

Luckily for us, establishing this only takes a little planning in the beginning of the story. Certain elements foster empathy, elements which you can give to your character and display in the story. Making sure to incorporate a few of these will ensure that first connection between reader and character. A connection which you, the author, will then be able to grow. It’s this tiny first note of shared humanity which deepens into those important links we hold with characters. We’re living people, they’re imagined and comprised of words on a page; yet these people can be friends to us, family, mentors, role models, and become some of the most influential people in our lives. 

And how does that begin? Evoking empathy. 

And how do you evoke empathy? Well here are the characteristics that human beings instinctively identify with and admire … 

– Courage (This is the one EVERY main character should possess. Gumption to pursue what they want separates main from background characters.)

– Humor (Wit charms us without fail.)

– Goal-Obsessed 

– Hard-working  

– Noble motivations

– Loving

– Loved by others

– Kind 

– Treated unfairly

– In imminent danger, physically

– In imminent danger, emotionally

– In a sorrowful situation

– Smart/Expert at something

– Suffering from psychological weakness  

– Haunted by something in their past

– Dissatisfied with current state of their life

– Lacking something like love, friendship, belonging, family, safety, freedom, etc

It’s a good plan to give your main character at least FIVE of these empathetic little “virtues.”

If this sounds like a resume, that’s kind of what it is. “Dear Potential Reader, I’m applying for the job of Main Character of this book series. I aspire to consume your every waking thought and drastically change your life, for better and worse.” It’s a diagram of the worthwhile traits of the hero, the characteristics that win us over, which promise the reader “If you follow my story, knowing me – and experiencing the story through me – will be well worth your time.”

These traits will be displayed in the set-up of the story, the first ten pages or so. But the story CANNOT stop to let the character exhibit these winning behaviors; the story must KEEP PROGRESSING, every empathetic element must be shown with a story reason for existing within a scene. Like exposition, empathy needs to be added in subtly, as the story motors onward, slipping into the reader’s knowledge without them noticing. If it’s a scene created for the express purpose of convincing the reader “This character is lovable! Love them! I said love them!” then it will be glaringly obvious and the reader will feel the exact opposite. (They’ll also feel that way about the author, incidentally.)

Now! How does this work? 

Harry Potter: 

Harry is the poster child for being treated unfairly. Yet in the face of the abusive treatment of his childhood, Harry is courageous. He does not succumb to the Dursley’s relentless campaign to stamp the magic out of him, and become a proper Dursley; though this would’ve won their approval, put him in their good graces, and made his life exponentially easier – but he didn’t do it. He knew they were wrong, knew what was right, and refused to become like them. So heck yes Sorting Hat, there is “plenty of courage, I see”. He was loved by his parents, by the three that dropped him off at his Aunt and Uncle’s, and by the majority of the Wizarding World. He’s also snarky, loving, and in constant danger. 

Judy Hopps: 

Every reason why we care about Judy is established in the first few scenes. She’s courageous. She’s funny. She’s loved by her parents. She’s motivated by noble values. Definitely goal oriented, hard working, and smart. She’s also in imminent danger, and being treated unfairly.

If we took out the pieces of the story meant to evoke our empathy, what would happen? 

Nobody would care. Judy Hopps would have been an annoying, smug, and consumed by ruthless ambition. Harry Potter would have ceased to exist because everything about him is empathetic. 

Establishing these early allows us to begin the process of temporarily transferring our lives into a story. Or in the case of some life-changing stories, not temporarily transferring, but letting them become part of our souls forever. 

Yup, having your story connect with a reader forever starts with just a little empathy. Pretty useful.

Oh, and speaking of souls, give me mine back, Dementor reader. I learned how to make people like my characters. Now you’re out of the Azkaban job and the beta reading job. 

🌕 Full Moons in 2017 🌕

* January 12: Full Moon in Cancer
* February 10: Full Moon in Leo
* March 12: Full Moon in Virgo
* April 11: Full Moon in Libra
* May 10: Full Moon in Scorpio
* June 9: Full Moon in Sagittarius
* July 9: Full Moon in Capricorn
* August 7: Full Moon in Aquarius
* September: Full Moon in Pisces
* October: Full Moon in Aries
* November: Full Moon in Taurus
* December: Full Moon in Gemini

daniella501  asked:

Hi! I've been reading your blog and loving every single post. I'm a beginner at writing, and I was wondering: how could you write a realistic character?

Hi, thank you! I’m always glad to hear that this blog is helpful.

How to write realistic characters is always a common question among beginning writers, and I’d be happy to help you answer it. (Here’s my post on general character-building tips – it may help you.)

1. Give every character some sort of flaw.

Just as people aren’t perfect, neither are characters. It doesn’t have to be any huge problem – although it can be – but give each character something, whether it be stubbornness or a bad temper or being too giving. (My post on character flaws may give you some ideas.)

2. However, don’t make characters all good or all bad.

Give your protagonists bad traits and things they’re not good at, and give your antagonists talents and good traits. Chances are even the worst people think they’re doing right – just look at Hitler.

3. Don’t put your characters in boxes or give them limitations.

Just because your character is feminine doesn’t mean they can’t be an awesome streetfighter; just because your character plays varsity football doesn’t mean they can’t be intellectual and well-spoken. People are endless blends of traits, which is why they’re unique – so are characters.

Those are some blanket statement on creating characters – below I’ll link you to posts that may also help you!

Creating Likeable Characters

Building Friendships Between Characters

Writing Dialogue (the way a character speaks can tell a lot about them, which is why I’ve linked you to this post)

5 Ways To Develop A Convincing Character

Writing Dynamic Relationships

Character Mannerisms

Character Development

Writing Romantic Relationships

Also, @thecharactercomma specializes in characterization (and grammar), so that blog will probably be a huge help.

Hope this helps! If you have any more questions, feel free to ask! - @authors-haven

“I need a spell for x thing”

Now, stop and take a moment. There are lots of spells out there but finding one that matches your super specific situation is tricky.

Whether it’s enchanting your dice to get good rolls, or protecting a cat while she’s outside, there may or may not already be a spell for that. 

Or, just consider the intent you need. 

Suddenly there’s more spells than you could read through for it. Any general protection spell could work for your cat, any luck spell could could work on your dice. They boost what they need to, and they don’t need to be tailored to dice or cats, they can be for any charm or anything.

So ask yourself, what is the ultimate result you’re going for, what is the intent?

anonymous asked:

Sooooooooo, I think I'm lesbian and I have absolutely no attraction no men, but I do find a lot of them really handsome. Like "wow, he's cute!" but no more. And I'm wondering if I might be Bisexual or if it's just heteronormativity... what do you think?

u dont have to be bi to find a guy good looking, buddy