Tag Archives: articles about writing

#WW Writer Problems 1–5

22 Apr

#WW Writer Problems 1–5

If you’re on my Facebook, then you will be familiar with today’s content. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been sharing little cards that I make called Writer Problems. I only have a few out, but I decided that I wanted to share them on here too. So today was born, and hopefully, more days like today will follow. Basically, I’ll be sharing 5 cards at a time and explaining where the inspiration came from (because there are too many hilarious stories that go on behind the scenes of these), and I think many writers can probably relate to my writer problems.

Adding this information since I received an email requesting it: I highly encourage you all to share these photos if you want! Never be afraid to take anything from my website. In fact, I love it! But please give credit to one of my websites. If you want to use these photos, for instance, please don’t crop my website name out. Thank you!

Writer Problems #1

No matter how many times I press SAVE, I still think I’ll lose the entire document when I close it (even though I use a flash drive).

1

I’m currently working on…well…so many projects. Like most authors. But I have a problem. I’m a very neurotic person – very superstitious, very particular, and I have my rituals and my fears and they practically control my life. ::takes big breath:: So, one of my OCD issues is closing documents. I can’t. Whenever I am working on something – like a novel – I seriously struggle to close the twenty documents I have up at all. Even though I also save every five minutes, which is a problem in itself, I say a little prayer before I ever close anything. On top of that, I’ve been known to reopen everything after I close it just to check. And then I save it anything. And I might open it again. It’s exhausting.

Writer Problems #2

Eureka! I have a new idea! Now if I could only finish my other ten ideas… 

2

This goes back to my first problem. I never read one book at a time, and I never write one book at a time. I’m constantly working on different projects at the same time, so it isn’t rare for another project to sneak its way into my schedule. I’ve found that it’s both a blessing and a curse. My biggest issue is picking which novel to write next.

Writer Problems #3

Strangers catching you staring at them because they look like your characters.

3

Oh, goodness. On top of being neurotic, I’m always rather awkward, and one of those things that I tend to do (which often gets me in trouble) is staring at people. A lot. Even if people don’t look like my characters, I’ve found myself staring at someone that I WISH was one of my characters. You would think that I would get better at hiding my stalking eyes, but…I haven’t. I just stare. Creepily from my corner. Taking notes.

Writer Problems #4

Having nightmares about your novel during writing, editing, publishing, and after publication.

#4

It’s sort of like having the classic dream of showing up at school in your underwear. It happens – even though you’re no longer in school – and I find it’s even more frustrating when you’re out of school and have dreams like that. I have dreams of never finishing novels that are already finished. I have dreams of being called the shittiest author of all time. (But I think Honest Trailers already gave that to someone…) I have dreams of characters never coming out and talking to me again. Ah! I could go on and on about all the dreams I have revolving around books, but my heartbeat is racing.

Writer Problems #5

Hearing a song that inspired a novel…and now all you want to do it WRITE.

5

This particular card had a funny backstory to it, but I first have to explain how I make these. Basically, I pay attention to my everyday life, and when something reminds me of a writer problem I have, I create these. So, I might not even be going through what is on the card, but I will be going through something similar. For instance, in this case, I was doing the dishes, accompanied by my handy iPod mini – it’s green – and I Follow Rivers by Lykke Li came on. For those of you who listened to the 8tracks soundtrack for Take Me Tomorrow, you will know that this song heavily influenced my writing time, so just hearing it, made me want to go work on that trilogy. I struggled to continue washing the dishes, and it reminded me of times I’ve been out in public at an event and heard a song like this, which made it difficult to even concentrate at all. Writing consumes you.

Have any of these writer problems affected you? Have any funny stories to accompany them? Share below! And let me know if you want me to continue these cards and stories in the future. If you like them, be sure to follow me on Facebook because that is where I share them first.

~SAT

Writing Tips: Introducing Your Characters

20 Jun

Special thanks to The Leisure Zone for reviewing Minutes Before Sunset: “A great read. I absolutely enjoyed reading it and it does take your imagination for a ride…This is a great leading book. I cannot wait to read the following books.” Click here to read the full review or click here to check out Minutes Before Sunset on Amazon, only $3.89.

Also, you might have noticed that my progress bar is updated on the right side of my website! I try to update it every two weeks, but I am really looking forward to the release of Take Me Tomorrow and Death Before Daylight.

People are obsessed with firsts: a baby’s first smile, winning first place in a race, your first love, getting arrested for the first time. (Okay. So maybe not that last one.) But we do like firsts, and I think it brings up a topic writers don’t normally talk about or even consider.

What are your characters’ firsts?

No. I’m not talking about their first steps when they were a baby. I’m talking about the first time they appear in the story, the first time they talked, the first time they laughed, the first time they really opened up and showed some depth to their created soul.

So I’m going to share some of my characters’ firsts as examples while I explain how important their first line can be. This might seem like a stretch for many but consider the popular phrase, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” But I really like the quote below, because I believe it applies to how your readers can perceive your characters’ first impressions as well:

quote-a-stunning-first-impression-was-not-the-same-thing-as-love-at-first-sight-but-surely-it-was-an-lois-mcmaster-bujold-214751

Characters are just like people except that we can decide exactly what that first impression will be. Maybe their first impression will be great and readers will consider loving them. Maybe everyone will hate them. You can do both, and that’s the beauty of it. You can even get really complicated and strive to have the reader love them while the characters hate them. But enough of my rambling. Below I’ll explain some first impression parts to consider with examples from Minutes Before Sunset.

First appearance:

This is important for the obvious, main reason: a first impression is largely based on how someone appears, how they act, how they think or talk. This “first appearance” can be an appearance a reader sees first or an appearance the other characters see first. Consider both of those moments carefully because you can set up how a reader might judge a character for a long time. For me – as a reader – I have become very confused when a character is introduced in a very violent or angry way when they suddenly become very nice seconds later. It’s like whiplash. Scenes like that make more sense to me when I already know the character. (I’m not saying it cannot be done. What I am saying is to approach first appearances with care.) Below are examples of characters appearing to the reader first.

In Minutes Before Sunset, Camille appears in the very first chapter. Although Eric is six, she is already his guard (and she is only nine!) We see her as soon as Eric’s father leaves him alone – and, unlike Eric’s father – Camille asks Eric is if he alright. This sets up their relationship as a caring one, but it also shows the responsibility Camille has to take care of the male protagonist. Fun fact: we don’t see Camille’s human appearance until page 21. I could go on and on about how their different identities appear at separated times, but she appeared as a guard first because that part of her life is more important to the story, to Eric, and to her.

First spoken line:

What a character says can define them just as much as what a character does. I find first lines to be good indicators on what we can expect from a character: are they funny? Angry? Bitter? Responsible? Yes, of course their personalities develop far beyond their first lines, but first lines normally happen at the same time as first appearances, which are usually important scenes, so first lines – by default – reveal extra insight, like if a character speaks with an accent or not. Moments like these then become defining factors. But I would say that you don’t have to take this literally. The first line doesn’t necessarily mean the exact first line. It can mean the first conversation they have.

For this example, I wanted to share a few first spoken lines:

Since I explained the first scene in Minutes Before Sunset, let’s look at Camille’s first line: “Eric.” Yep. That’s her first word. In contrast, Eric – as Shoman – first appears in chapter two, and his first line as a shade is “Camille.” One another’s names are the first things they say because it focuses on the depth of their relationship while insinuating how close they are on a regular basis. But if we wanted to look at Eric’s VERY first line – again, this line is spoken when he is six years old in chapter one – he simply says, “I’m fine.” It’s important to note that Eric is lying here, and lying later becomes a defining factor of Eric’s personality. On a lighter note, when we see Crystal – a side character – for the first time, she says, “Don’t answer that.” to Jessica after Robb begins flirting with her. Crystal’s first line not only shows how she can take the initiative, but it also shows her comfort with interrupting Robb, insinuating that their friends (or at least that they know one another.)

First time they interact with another character:

This can get tricky, because stories have dozens of characters and each one of them is going to interact for the first time eventually and – most of the time – it’s only the “first time” for the reader. Most of the time, characters have a past, so they aren’t speaking for the first time, but that’s also the point – the “first” conversation can show whether or not characters have a past as well as other things, such as a social ranking difference (sir, ma’am, etc.) and/or if their past is a good one. Are they friends? Are they enemies? Are they competitors? Do they talk or is this a rare instance? Considering these questions can help shape how one character approaches another one while also hinting to the reader about how they always interact – before and during the story.

In Minutes Before Sunset, we get to see two, very different types of first interactions. Since Jessica is new to Hayworth, the reader gets to be introduced to everyone just like Jessica does, but Eric isn’t new. Through his eyes, we see interactions that have history – a very dark history – and we see repercussions of that in his various interactions. For instance, let’s focus on the human identities in Minutes Before Sunset. Jessica first talks to Eric on page 36. They’ve been assigned as homeroom partners, and Jessica is trying to be amicable but Eric – obviously – does not have the same intentions. (Scene told from Eric’s perspective.)

“Hi,” she said, turning briefly toward me to smile. “I’m Jess.”

She laid out her hand for a handshake, and I pushed my chair against the wall. “I heard your name when Ms. Hinkel assigned you,” I said, opening the chemistry book left on my desk from the previous period. I was not interested in small talk.

Now – moving onto another scene to use as a comparison. Crystal – a girl who has gone to school with Eric since childhood – doesn’t speak to Eric until page 127, and the only reason they do speak is because Crystal is sitting in his seat. (If you haven’t read the books, spoiler alert: Crystal and Eric used to be friends until freshman year in high school until Abby – Eric’s previous girlfriend – died. Eric stopped speaking to everyone. Crystal and Robb take this very personally.) But here is the scene so you can see: (scene told from Jessica’s perspective)

“Hey.”

We both jumped, and our conversation halted as we turned around. In front of us, Eric stood inches away, and the teacher hovered behind him, crossing her arms.

“Er—Eric,” I managed, and Crystal stared.

“Hey, Jessica,” he said, turning his gaze to my friend. “Crystal.”

“Welborn.” She returned the acknowledgement with a cold tone. “Hey.”

His smirk faltered, and his lips thinned. “I hate to interrupt,” he said, swinging his hand over his shoulder to point at our teacher. “but I probably need my seat.”

Both of these “firsts” show Eric’s history as well as his emotional state, but the moments also reveal character traits of Jessica and Crystal. While Jessica wants to be nice at first, Eric isn’t interested, and the tension between Crystal and Eric is still present, despite the two years that have passed since Abby’s sudden death. However, this would be a good time to say that “first” interactions are just as important as how the characters continue to act and grow. Later in the story, all of these characters’ relationships shift dramatically.

So I hope you have a few places to start in regards to your characters’ firsts. You might even crack open a favorite book you’ve read just to see what those characters’ firsts were. They might surprise you. I know I had a few that shocked me.

Happy writing and reading!

~SAT

January’s Website Wonders

23 Jan

Near the end of every month I share my favorite websites that I came across – anything to do with writing and reading. Sometimes, I add a few websites that simply inspired me. Below there are two topics – writing and reading. I didn’t have as many as last month, but I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. If you like them, you can follow my Facebook author page where I share them live.

Writing:

45 ways to avoid using the word ‘very’: Ever heard the advice of Mark Twain? “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” Well, here are other ways to avoid “very”

Reading: 

Kansas City Public Library Missouri: Okay. Okay. I know I live in Kansas, but this library is beyond neat. It’s built with giant books!

28 Beautiful Quotes About Libraries: My favorite library line? “Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life. Libraries changes lives for the better.” – Sidney Sheldon

Photo from FB page of Melissa Foster

Photo from FB page of Melissa Foster

Americans prefer print books over e-books: I can admit that I fall into this category. My favorite type is a hardback, but I still find myself reading paperbacks and e-books often. I really want library in my home when I’m older.

And the photo on the right can be found on this page, where author, Melissa Foster, asked, “What would you use for the title of this pic WITHOUT using the word SUSPEND’?”

Again, I hope you enjoyed these websites as much as I did. I normally have more, but all the news I announced last time kept my January busy. Thank you for all of your congrats and emails! I really enjoy talking with everyone, and I look forward to talking to more of you as we continue traveling on this reading/writing adventure.

~SAT

%d bloggers like this: