Just Write

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faithfire asked: I feel like I'm a bad person for not writing more POCs. Should I write more, or just ignore the feeling?

characterandwritinghelp:

Short answer: yes, you should write more characters of color. But let me tell you why, really why.

I have said it before and I will say it again: The reason to include diversity in your work (and this goes for race, sexuality, gender, ability status, everything) should not be because you are afraid people will complain if you don’t. The reason to write POC is because we deserve stories, too. Please do not join the ranks of people who ignore us. You have recognized a problem in your writing—call it whitewashing, lack of diversity, what have you. But what I want you to do is recognize that it is a problem, and take the initiative to learn how to fix it.

  • Troubleshooting: But my story isn’t about race. Why do I need POC in a story about [not race]?

There is a misconception out there that characters of color need a reason to be characters of color. White characters never face this kind of criticism, as if “white stories” are “normal stories” and “POC stories” are “race stories.” Race does not need an explanation.

In this post, thewritingcafe said it best:

"By saying that a character’s skin color needs to be essential to the plot to be described, you are saying that only white characters are worthy of having stories that don’t have anything to do with racism, racial identity, and other issues related to race and colorism. It’s not that hard to say your character isn’t white. Their ethnic and/or racial background does not need to tie into the plot for them to exist."

  • Troubleshooting: I can just add in a few more characters and it’ll be fine.

The answer isn’t to toss in a few extras just to have characters of color. This is tokenism, and is not at all going to solve the problem. People of color deserve more than to be relegated to the background. We deserve to be represented as more than set pieces and one-off characters that revolve around a white cast and their problems.

  • Troubleshooting: I’ve never done it before. / People will be mad if I do it wrong.

I get that it can be daunting to write POC if you have little or no experience doing so, if you have written them poorly in the past, or if you aren’t used to it. These are not valid reasons to avoid characters of color. These are flimsy excuses that writers hide behind to explain why they don’t write characters of color. 

If you find yourself thinking this, it means that you need to do your research and get to writing. At some point, you need to buckle down and commit to writing what you learn about. This is not a task for next time, this is not a task for later, this is a problem now and there are answers now.

And it’s true—if you do it poorly, people will get on your case. This does not mean the only characters you are good at are white characters, but it does mean you had a misstep somewhere in your writing and research. That’s why we edit and have beta readers: to catch and identify these things before they go to print. Do not be afraid of criticism, it’s how we learn. There are plenty of kind people in the world who can help you, but they cannot help you if you refuse to start.

  • Troubleshooting: I don’t know where to start.

We have plenty of resources here on the blog, and there are plenty of others out there that can help you get started writing characters of color:

So here is the thing: Maybe you wrote exclusively (or at least mostly) white in the past. Maybe this is the first you are learning of the whitewashing phenomenon in fiction and you want to learn more about diversity and representation. That’s great, and I am glad you want to learn more. What is going to cause problems between you and I is if you take all this information and decide that none of it applies to you. It does. It applies to everyone.

Now you know better. So—do better.

-Headless

Filed under diversity

2,378 notes

Anonymous asked: Any information about writing kids, I am writing a story and don't really know anything about expressing a toddlers opinion, someone that can barely talk and cries all the time is a bit complicated...

fuckyeahcharacterdevelopment:

This gets long so I’ve just bolded the important stuff, then whoever braves reading this can hopefully skim to the part they need. Followers/Admins, feel free to add your own thoughts…!

The most complicated thing about a toddler is knowing how to deal with them. Toddlers are impulsive and demanding - they don’t understand the world around them or other people enough to weigh in things like 1) the situation, 2) everyone else’s moods and 3) how reasonable their request is when they start throwing a fit. Basically, they’re unable to empathise in the same way an adult can.

So here is a sort of cheat-sheet to help you work out what a toddler is capable of doing and saying. Please note that all children differ.

Speech

By two, babies have enough of a vocabulary to actually communicate with the adults around them. They’re capable of phrases rather than sentences. Things like:

'Juice?' - ‘I’m thirsty’, ‘Where is my juice cup?’ or ‘I want my juice cup’. (Replace with pretty much any physical object/person the child has learnt to address, ie ‘Sweeties?’, ‘Toys?’, ‘Daddy?’)

'Bye bye!' - ‘Goodbye’, ‘I understand that this television programme/song/game is finished now’ or ‘I’m done with your shit and I’m not going to obey your orders. Chase me.’

Shortened words. Banana becomes ‘nah-nah’ and most foods/other objects are shortened/poorly replicated versions of the actual word.

Very simple sentences to convey a meaning, such as, ‘It hurts!’, ‘That was mammy (I heard from across the room/on the phone/I saw pass by the window)’. Usually just something they’ve learnt to repeat from those around them, so they don’t always use it in context.

'Yack!'/'Yuck!' - ‘My nappy is dirty’, ‘I don’t like the taste of that food you’ve just forced into my mouth’ or ‘My hands are covered in sticky things and it’s your job to clean them’.

'No.' - ‘I’m not going to eat that’, ‘I’m not going to play that game’, ‘I’m not going to watch this television programme’, ‘I want to see daddy, yes, but I’m going to say ‘no’ anyway because I like that word better’ or ‘I don’t want to do what you’re asking of me’.

'Bababuhbbuhagfugjjhug'. Random gibberish that toddler says in between coherent words/phrases. In my opinion, they’re trying to simulate a conversation but know they can get away with putting in the absolute bare minimum of effort.

Repetition. All children at this age try to repeat the things you say and do. Most of the time they achieve gibberish, but if you repeat a word often enough, they’ll memorise it.

Generally speaking, toddlers have very mundane conversations where they repeat just about everything in their limited vocabulary to get the whole range of rehearsed reactions you have available.

Behaviour

Basic facts:

  • Toddlers cry a lot because they lack any ability to express the range of emotions they’re experiencing.
  • They thrive under routine, as it makes them feel safe and secure. Disruptions to the routine means a cranky, unsettled and irritable two year old.
  • Toddlers have limitless amounts of energy. They don’t stop throwing themselves around, even if they haven’t slept for twelve hours. It’s up to you to enforce bedtime, otherwise your toddler will stay awake until his body goes into automatic shut down.
  • They’re rough-handed and have to be taught to be gentle. This is why pets scatter when they see a toddler crashing into the room. They know it’s tail-pulling and back-slapping time.

That said, toddlers do have their own personalities and quirks which is why this guide really can’t beat actually being around a toddler or two. Here’s a brief summary of the differences I’ve observed between my two oldest nephews (I’ll call ‘em A and B) to give you a little reference sheet of how to develop these individual differences:

Playtime: A is very quiet. Used to playing on his own, so you have to really dedicate yourself to getting him up on his feet or engaged in a game (but once you do, he doesn’t sit back down again or accept that the game has an end). On the other hand, B never sits down ever, not even during his allotted television time. Pretty sure he’d stand up in his high chair if able. Always in the mood for games and says/does funny things to make everyone laugh.

Discipline: B is strong-willed and doesn’t understand the concept of, ‘Don’t touch that’ or ‘Don’t do that’. If you shout at him, he puts his head down, looks very sad and then cries into his hands until you distract him with a new game or tickles. A is similar, but goes in a huff for a very long time and possibly won’t speak to/look at you for the rest of the day. Will continually retry his evil plan and scream/cry louder every time he’s thwarted.

Outside: Neither A nor B like holding hands with designated adult whilst outside. Also set on ‘auto-run’ for the entire time with no way of turning it off. Both incapable of sitting still for car rides and like to test the child lock feature at frequent intervals throughout the journey.

Potty training: Both A and B reluctant to use potties. Need encouragement, so praised extensively after any achievement. B a lot lazier than A when it comes to flagging up a warning. A sometimes so determined not to use potty, that he says nothing at all until you notice his pants are soaked through.

Conversation: A’s favourite words: ‘Car’, ‘Bick’ (bike), ‘Noisy bick’, ‘No’, ‘Grandad’. B’s favourite words: ‘Spidey’, ‘An Man’ (Iron Man), ‘Uck’ (Hulk), ‘Mammy’, ‘Daddy’, ‘Imims’ (Minions). Both ask for ‘Mammy’ when crying.

Mealtime: B eats anything and everything. Appears to have no workable taste buds as even enjoys the fizziest sweets out of the offered selection. A is fussy with food, prefers chips, sweets, chips and chips. Dislikes anything gooey or odd in texture. Expects reward after attempting the main meal.

Bath time: A hates the water, hates it on his head especially. Attempting to wash hair leads to many tears. Prefers to play quietly with toys in tub with occasional splashing. Do not get in the bath with A, as he cries. It’s HIS bath time, damn it! B on the other hand is like a mermaid baby and frequently dumps his face into the water and rears his head laughing like an adorable kraken. Lots of splashing. Enjoys baths with others.

Bedtime: A believes sleep is for the weak and will do everything in his power to stay awake. Cries when you give up on story time after he flips the page back to the beginning for the umpteenth time. B accepts bedtime with no fuss, but will crawl (and not walk) to the bed to buy time. Gets in bed without problem, and listens to bedtime story whilst gazing into the distance. Forces sleep upon himself to end the banality. Both A and B wake up obscenely early, no matter how late they went to sleep.

3+

It’s basically all the same but they have a larger vocabulary and a weaker tolerance for your bullshit. Three-four-year-old kids are more open to challenging you, especially on the things you thought you knew. This is where they surprise you with almost intelligent observations and suggestions. For example, A was four when we had this exchange:

Me: Look, A, that new school they’re building is so huge…!
A: It’s got lots of windows!
Grandma: Yes, it does! And lots of doors and - I don’t know what those are.
Me: They look like big vents.
A: I think they’re for the kitchens when they’re cooking food and it gets too hot.
Me & Grandma: Ohhh…!

However, they’re not so great at thinking outside of the box. It’s usually by the age of five that children start adding, ‘Well, maybe it’s because…’ onto the end of any statement you make, and the suggestion is usually something innocent/imaginative like:

Me: I’m so annoyed! Somebody hasn’t put these books back.
A: Maybe they just forgot.
Me: No, I think they were just too lazy.
A: Yeah! Or maybe they had something else to do and went to do that instead. Or what if they heard something outside and went to see? Wouldn’t that be funny? What do you think they heard?

Children don’t lose their hyperactivity either, or their silliness. They’re easily amused and entertained. Their speech is also imperfect. Well, everybody’s is, but they have less of an understanding of grammar and sentence order, so you get funny things like:

A: (when being read to) Don’t forget to read the blob on the back!
A: Have you seen all those mices on the TV? There’s loads! (laughs for about ten minutes)
A: Well, I runned the other way so my friend didn’t see me.
A: (when singing along to Zedd, ‘Clarity’) If uhh roooohhh’s inananiny weh yoo MY CLARITY.
A: If the picture’s taked and I shut my eyes can I do it again? Because that time I think I shut my eyes.

And that’s about all I can think of adding at the moment. I hope this is somewhat helpful…!

Resources:

- enlee

Filed under kids children characters

213 notes

Anonymous asked: what do you think should be included/excluded in romance stories? i want to go a different route than usual and knowing some helpful ideas might just guide me to someplace new

elumish:

Romance novels are like any other type of novel where virtually everything is fair game. That being said, there are some things I would like to see more or less of in romance stories:

More:

  • The woman being stronger (emotionally, physically, magically, etc.) than the man (in heteroromantic stories)
  • Asexual/gray-a/demisexual characters
  • Gray-romantic/demiromantic characters (also aromantic characters, but those are harder in romance novels)
  • Realistic consequences for unequal relationships (teacher-student, employer-employee, nobility-non-nobility, etc.)

Less:

  • Romanticizing of abusive relationships and/or dubious or non-existent consent

For going in a new direction, my biggest suggestion would be to read a bunch of romance novels and see what you want from a romance novel. Write about that. And if there are similarities, that’s totally okay. Here is a list of random romance possible plot points/premises for you to think about:

  • Have to rely on each other for survival
  • One person knows about the other/unequal knowledge
  • Secrets that affect each other
  • Ex(es) that become important
  • One-night stand that leads to more
  • Accidental pregnancy
  • Pregnancy scare
  • Reunited old friends
  • Arranged relationship/marriage
  • Slave/master relationship
  • Bodyguard/protectee relationship
  • Enemies-turned-friends
  • Met at a BDSM/kink club
  • Met at a bar
  • Exes who rekindle the relationship
  • Kidnapping
  • Soul-mates

Also, think about your romantic ideals/fantasies. Those can give some pretty good starting points for writing romance (though make sure you don’t then turn the story into an author-insertion-fantasy, because those are usually not very good).

Filed under romance

1,545 notes

kstewsrps:

MASTERLIST OF SPANISH SLANG TERMS ~

This is based of this other wonderful masterlist based on French slang terms. There aren't many people out there who rp characters that are Spanish or have Spanish background; but this masterlist is essentially in case someone would want to roleplay those kinds of characters or have their character be learning Spanish. Or maybe you just want to learn some Spanish slang, it's all cool. I'm Spanish myself so I'd say I have a pretty good idea of this. Also reminder that Spanish slang (as in from Spain) may have nothing to do with the Spanish you'd find in places from Latin America since they have different cultures and even words. Anyways,  here we go:

BASIC STUFF
'Hola' - Hi / hello.
'Buenos días' - Good morning.
'Buenas tardes' - Good afternoon.
'Buenas noches' - Good night.
'¿Qué tal?' - How are you?
'Vale / De acuerdo' - Agreement.
'Dios mío' - (Oh) my God.
'Genial' - Cool.
'Increíble' - Awesome.
'¿Qué?' - What?
'¿Por qué?' - Why?
'¿Estás seguro?' - Are you sure?
'Vaya disparate' - That’s nonsense.
'¡Para!' - Stop!
'¡¿Qué haces?!' - What are you doing?!
'Adiós' - Goodbye / Bye.
'Ten cuidado' - Be careful.
'Cuídate' - Take care.
SLANG AND ABREVIATURES YOU'D USE 
'Chaval' - Dude. / 'ese tío/chaval' - That dude.
'Chavala' - Chick. / ‘esa tía/chavala’ - That chick.
'Morir de risa' - Dying of laughter.
‘Mearse de risa’ - Pissing of laughter.
'Poli(cía)' - Police / Cops.
'Insti(tuto)' - High school.
'Uni(versidad)' - University
'No tengo pasta' - I’ve got no money.
'Un madero' - A police man / A cop.
'Niñato / Niñata' - Bratty kid.
'Q / K / Qe / Ke' (Que) - What.
'X' (Por) - So? 
ROMANTIC THINGS AND STUFF
'Te amo' - I love you.
'Te quiero' - * There’s no word in English to translate this since it’d be said as I love you too but ‘Te quiero’ would mean less than ‘Te amo’.
'Te adoro / Me encantas'  - I adore you.
'Te quiero a ti / Te deseo' - I want you / I desire you.
'Mi amor' - My love.
'Amor' - Love.
'Mi niña' - My baby girl.
'Mi niño' - My baby boy.
'Cariño' - Honey / Love / Dear / Baby / Babe.
'Preciosa / Guapa' - Beautiful.
'Precioso / Guapo' - Handsome.
'(Mi) Princesa' - (My) Princess.
'(Mi) Principe' - (My) Prince.
'(MI) Reina' - (My) Queen.
'(Mi) Rey' - (My) King.
'Novio' - Boyfriend.
'Novia' - Girlfriend.
'Prometido' - Fiance.
'Prometida' - Fiancée.
'Marido / Esposo' - Husband.
'Mujer / Esposa' - Wife.
'Mi pareja' - My partner (unisex).
INSULTING AND CURSING
'¡Idiota!' - Idiot!
'Estúpido' - Stupid. (male) / ‘Estúpida’ - Stupid (female).
'Mierda' - Shit.
'Tonto / Tonta' - Dumb.
'Tonto/Tonta del culo' - Dumbass.
'Gilipollas' - You dick / jerk / idiot / asshole.
'Joder' - Fuck.
'Que te jodan / que te follen' - Fuck you.
'Puta / guarra / zorra' - Bitch.
'Friki' - Freak.
'Subnormal / Anormal' - There’s no direct words in English but it’d be like calling someone even more dumb than dumb itself. 
'Me cago en Dios' - No words for this in English but translated literally would be shitting on God. So the closest translation as swearing would be fucking God. 
'Me cago en todo' - As I said above, literal translation would be shitting on everything. But the closest translation as swearing would be fuck everything. 
'Puta mierda' - Fucking shit.
Add 'de mierda' to whatever you think is crappy or shitty. Like for example: Shitty food = ‘Comida de mierda’.
These would be most principal ones but there are more, actually. If you have any doubts you can come to askbox and I'll most definitely answer you. 

kstewsrps:

MASTERLIST OF SPANISH SLANG TERMS ~

This is based of this other wonderful masterlist based on French slang terms. There aren't many people out there who rp characters that are Spanish or have Spanish background; but this masterlist is essentially in case someone would want to roleplay those kinds of characters or have their character be learning Spanish. Or maybe you just want to learn some Spanish slang, it's all cool. I'm Spanish myself so I'd say I have a pretty good idea of this. Also reminder that Spanish slang (as in from Spain) may have nothing to do with the Spanish you'd find in places from Latin America since they have different cultures and even words. Anyways,  here we go:

BASIC STUFF

  • 'Hola' - Hi / hello.
  • 'Buenos días' - Good morning.
  • 'Buenas tardes' - Good afternoon.
  • 'Buenas noches' - Good night.
  • '¿Qué tal?' - How are you?
  • 'Vale / De acuerdo' - Agreement.
  • 'Dios mío' - (Oh) my God.
  • 'Genial' - Cool.
  • 'Increíble' - Awesome.
  • '¿Qué?' - What?
  • '¿Por qué?' - Why?
  • '¿Estás seguro?' - Are you sure?
  • 'Vaya disparate' - That’s nonsense.
  • '¡Para!' - Stop!
  • '¡¿Qué haces?!' - What are you doing?!
  • 'Adiós' - Goodbye / Bye.
  • 'Ten cuidado' - Be careful.
  • 'Cuídate' - Take care.

SLANG AND ABREVIATURES YOU'D USE 

  • 'Chaval' - Dude. / 'ese tío/chaval' - That dude.
  • 'Chavala' - Chick. / ‘esa tía/chavala’ - That chick.
  • 'Morir de risa' - Dying of laughter.
  • Mearse de risa’ - Pissing of laughter.
  • 'Poli(cía)' - Police / Cops.
  • 'Insti(tuto)' - High school.
  • 'Uni(versidad)' - University
  • 'No tengo pasta' - I’ve got no money.
  • 'Un madero' - A police man / A cop.
  • 'Niñato / Niñata' - Bratty kid.
  • 'Q / K / Qe / Ke' (Que) - What.
  • 'X' (Por) - So? 

ROMANTIC THINGS AND STUFF

  • 'Te amo' - I love you.
  • 'Te quiero' - * There’s no word in English to translate this since it’d be said as I love you too but ‘Te quiero’ would mean less than ‘Te amo’.
  • 'Te adoro / Me encantas'  - I adore you.
  • 'Te quiero a ti / Te deseo' - I want you / I desire you.
  • 'Mi amor' - My love.
  • 'Amor' - Love.
  • 'Mi niña' - My baby girl.
  • 'Mi niño' - My baby boy.
  • 'Cariño' - Honey / Love / Dear / Baby / Babe.
  • 'Preciosa / Guapa' - Beautiful.
  • 'Precioso / Guapo' - Handsome.
  • '(Mi) Princesa' - (My) Princess.
  • '(Mi) Principe' - (My) Prince.
  • '(MI) Reina' - (My) Queen.
  • '(Mi) Rey' - (My) King.
  • 'Novio' - Boyfriend.
  • 'Novia' - Girlfriend.
  • 'Prometido' - Fiance.
  • 'Prometida' - Fiancée.
  • 'Marido / Esposo' - Husband.
  • 'Mujer / Esposa' - Wife.
  • 'Mi pareja' - My partner (unisex).

INSULTING AND CURSING

  • '¡Idiota!' - Idiot!
  • 'Estúpido' - Stupid. (male) / ‘Estúpida’ - Stupid (female).
  • 'Mierda' - Shit.
  • 'Tonto / Tonta' - Dumb.
  • 'Tonto/Tonta del culo' - Dumbass.
  • 'Gilipollas' - You dick / jerk / idiot / asshole.
  • 'Joder' - Fuck.
  • 'Que te jodan / que te follen' - Fuck you.
  • 'Puta / guarra / zorra' - Bitch.
  • 'Friki' - Freak.
  • 'Subnormal / Anormal' - There’s no direct words in English but it’d be like calling someone even more dumb than dumb itself. 
  • 'Me cago en Dios' - No words for this in English but translated literally would be shitting on God. So the closest translation as swearing would be fucking God. 
  • 'Me cago en todo' - As I said above, literal translation would be shitting on everything. But the closest translation as swearing would be fuck everything. 
  • 'Puta mierda' - Fucking shit.
  • Add 'de mierda' to whatever you think is crappy or shitty. Like for example: Shitty food = ‘Comida de mierda’.

These would be most principal ones but there are more, actually. If you have any doubts you can come to askbox and I'll most definitely answer you. 

(Source: tposeyrps, via clevergirlhelps)

Filed under language spanish

2,122 notes

Anonymous asked: What are some things you think a writer should keep in mind before beginning revisions on their manuscript?

queryquagmire:

This is a great question! I’m surprised nobody has asked it yet.

Revision is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of courage, chutspah, and balls/ovaries of solid granite to rip something to shreds after you slaved over it for months. But it is a necessary part of the writing process and to skip it is to say good-bye to your dreams of publication. Why?

Because first drafts blow.

Seriously. There is no such thing as a perfect first draft. It is a mythical creature native to the magical land of Wishfulthinkia. I don’t care if your name is Virginia Woolf and you can spout better prose in your sleep while wearing a mouth retainer than most authors will write in their lifetime. Your first drafts still suck.

And that’s why we revise. So stop arguing with me and just do it. Now, without further ado, here are some things I think writers should keep in mind before they dive into their revisions:

  1. No change is permanent. You can try a particular scene nine different ways before deciding on which way works best. You can change a character as many times as you want and eventually go back to the first iteration. So if you’re terrified that something new will actually be worse than what you had in the first place, fear not. You are not locked into any changes you make. You have no excuse not to try something crazy or experimental.
  2. No one is reading over your shoulder. It’s just you and the words on the page. So don’t be afraid or embarrassed to try something freaky. If it doesn’t work out, no one has to know it happened. No one has to know that you named a character “Dr. Sexy” for 78 pages before you picked a name for him. 
  3. Save each draft as a separate document. Not only is it smart to make back-ups, but if you delete something that you end up wanting to keep, you will have only to go back and pluck it from an earlier draft. Some authors even start writing the next draft from scratch, rather than copying and pasting from the original.
  4. Join a workshop/get a writing buddy/hire an editor. Outside feedback is essential to the writing process. If you’re writing in a vacuum, you will have no idea if your story actually works for an audience, or if it’s just an echo chamber of stuff you like. Writing buddies will also help identify flaws that you never noticed because after reading your own work seventeen times, it starts to look like ancient Aramaic. Don’t make the mistake of hiding away in your basement for draft after private draft. Get feedback after every draft, or even after every chapter of a single draft.
  5. Don’t ignore feedback just because you don’t like it. In fact, if you recoil in horror at a particular bit of advice, that’s a sign that you should probably examine it further. Question why you react to certain advice. And if you find that you only accept advice that sounds nice, well then you’re a spineless coward who should have her word processor taken away.
  6. Work on a schedule. Writing and revising is work. Act like it. Schedule regular breaks and commit to set time periods in which you will work on your writing. Not only will this make you more serious about the revision process, it’ll help you avoid needless procrastination. 
  7. "Kill your darlings." If you’ve ever read a single blog or book about the art of writing, you’ve heard this one. For the uninitiated: it means you need to be willing to sacrifice parts of the story that you love or that you worked really hard on in order to benefit the story as a whole. Really like that random flashback you wrote about Dr. Sexy’s time in med school, but it doesn’t actually provide any insight into the character or further the plot of the book? Cut it. Just love that plucky sidekick who is actually pretty useless and only serves to muck up already dense conversations? Give ‘em the axe. Then forget about them. Your story will be better for it.
  8. There’s no such thing as “perfect,” only “good enough.” You’re never going to get it exactly right. That way lies madness. But you can get close. And that’s what you should be shooting for. If you embrace perfectionism, you’re never going to get the damn thing in the hands of a publishing house. You’ll just be revising till the day you die.
  9. There is a difference between revising and copyediting and you should not do them at the same time. I know it’s hard to ignore typos in your work. You want to correct them as soon as you come upon them. To resist is painful. But you know what? Don’t. The process of editing naturally flows from the macro to the micro. Start with the big-picture editing: rewriting scenes, adding characters, revising whole conversations, changing the ending. Then work your way steadily down to the nit-picky edits: consistency of character names, making sure you’ve got your timeline straight, making sure your geography makes a lick of sense. Next work on your prose: making it sound pretty and poetic, using your writing tone to reflect the mood of a particular scene. Then and only then can you start editing for spelling, grammar, and syntax. If you start out by copyediting you’ll be wasting time in two ways: 1) You’ll be spending extra time reading line by line to catch errors that you could spend reworking the meat of the story, and 2) You run the risk of perfectly editing a chapter only to realize you need to rewrite 90% of it. So resist the urge to copyedit when you start revising.
  10. "But that’s how it happened in real life"/"But that’s how I first imagined it" is no excuse for shitty writing. The truth is stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense. So if the plot seems far-fetched, or if it strains belief, or if your readers say it just doesn’t make any fucking sense, don’t be afraid to change it. In fact, you must change it. I don’t care how sentimentally attached you are to the original version. The exception to this rule is of course nonfiction, in which you should never deviate from the facts because that is called lying.

I now open it up to the whole class: what do you guys keep in mind before you start revising your manuscripts? How do you prepare for the arduous task? 

~QQ

Filed under revision

2,213 notes

10 Tips on Writing Strong Scenes For a Novel or Story | WritersDigest.com

writing-tips-blog:

10 Ways to Launch Strong Scenes

Categories: How to Improve Writing Skills, How to Start Writing a Book, 1st Chapter, Literary Fiction Writing, What’s New, Writing Your First Draft Tags: craft/technique, fiction.

Any story or novel is, in essence, a series of scenes strung together like beads on a wire, with narrative summary adding texture and color between. A work of fiction will comprise many scenes, and each one of these individual scenes must be built with a structure most easily described as having a beginning, middle and end. The beginning of each scene is what we’ll address here.

The word beginning is a bit misleading, since some scenes pick up in the middle of action or continue where others left off, so I prefer the term launch, which more clearly suggests the place where the reader’s attention is engaged anew.

Visually, in a manuscript a new scene is usually signified by the start of a chapter, by a break of four lines (called a soft hiatus) between the last paragraph of one scene and the first paragraph of the next one, or sometimes by a symbol such as an asterisk, to let the reader know that time has passed.

Each new scene still has a responsibility to the idea or plot you started with, and that is to communicate your idea in a way that is vivifying for the reader and that provides an experience, not a lecture. Scene launches, therefore, pave the way for all the robust consequences of the idea or plot to unfurl. Each scene launch is a reintroduction, capturing your reader’s attention all over again. Start each scene by asking yourself two key questions:

  • Where are my characters in the plot? Where did I leave them and what are they doing now?
  • What is the most important piece of information that needs to be revealed in this scene?

Only you and the course of your narrative can decide which kinds of launches will work best for each scene, and choosing the right launch often takes some experimentation. Here we’ll cover 10 key techniques for launching scenes in three main ways: with action, narrative summary or setting.

ACTION LAUNCHES
The sooner you start the action in a scene, the more momentum it has to carry the reader forward. If you find yourself explaining an action, then you’re not demonstrating the action any longer; you’re floating in a distant star system known as Nebulous Intellectulus—more commonly known as your head—and so is the reader.
Keep in mind the key elements of action: time and momentum. It takes time to plan a murder over late-night whispers; to cause an embarrassing scene by drunkenly dropping a jar at the grocery; to blackmail a betraying spouse; or to haul off and kick a wall in anger. These things don’t happen spontaneously, they happen over a period of time. They are sometimes quick, sometimes slow, but once started, they unfold until finished.
The key to creating strong momentum is to start an action without explaining anything:

Albert leads them all into the dining room and everyone drifts around the large teak table, studying the busily constructed salads at each place setting—salads, which, with their knobs of cheese, jutting chives and little folios of frisée, resemble small Easter hats.

“Do we wear these or eat them?” asks Jack. In his mouth is a piece of gray chewing gum like a rat’s brain.

Lorrie Moore plunges her reader into the above scene in the story “Beautiful Grade.” Although the action is quiet, there is physical movement and a sense of real time. The lack of explanation for what is happening forces the reader to press on to learn more. The action gives clues to the reader: The characters are led into a room full of wildly decorated salads that one character is uncertain whether he should eat or wear, which gives a sense of the environment—probably chic. We get a feeling for Jack—he’s got a good sense of humor. Clearly something more is going to happen in this environment, and judging from the tone of the paragraph, we can probably expect irony and humor.

Action launches tend to energize the reader’s physical senses. To create an action launch:

1. GET STRAIGHT TO THE ACTION. Don’t drag your feet here. “Jimmy jumped off the cliff” rather than “Jimmy stared at the water, imagining how cold it would feel when he jumped.”

2. HOOK THE READER WITH BIG OR SURPRISING ACTIONS. An outburst, car crash, violent heart attack or public fight at the launch of a scene allows for more possibilities within it.

3. BE SURE THAT THE ACTION IS TRUE TO YOUR CHARACTER. Don’t have a shy character choose to become suddenly uninhibited at the launch of a scene. Do have a bossy character belittle another character in a way that creates conflict.

4. ACT FIRST, THINK LATER. If a character is going to think in your action opening, let the action come first, as in, “Elizabeth slapped the Prince. When his face turned pink, horror filled her. What have I done? she thought.”

NARRATIVE LAUNCHES
Writers often try to include narrative summary, such as descriptions of the history of a place or the backstory of characters, right at the launch of a scene, believing that the reader will not be patient enough to allow actions and dialogue to tell the story. In large doses, narrative summaries are to scenes what voice-overs are to movies—distractions and interruptions.

Yet a scene launch is actually one of the easier places to use a judicious amount of narrative summary, so long as you don’t keep the reader captive too long. Take the opening of this scene in Amanda Eyre Ward’s novel How to Be Lost:

The afternoon before, I planned how I would tell her. I would begin with my age and maturity, allude to a new lover, and finish with a bouquet of promises: grandchildren, handwritten letters, boxes from Tiffany sent in time to beat the rush. I sat in my apartment drinking Scotch and planning the words.

The above bit is almost entirely narrative summary, and the only action—drinking Scotch—is described, not demonstrated. There is no real setting, and the only visual cues the reader has are vague and abstract. However, the narrative summary does demonstrate the nature of the character, Caroline—she feels she must butter her mother up, bribe her even, in order to ask for something she needs, which turns out to be a relatively small thing. It reflects Caroline’s tendency to live in her head, and shows us she’s the kind of person who must prepare herself mentally for difficult things—a theme that recurs throughout the book. It’s also useful because Caroline spends a lot of time by herself, cutting herself off from her relationships, and, therefore, it is very true to her personality. In just one short paragraph of narrative summary, the reader learns a lot about Caroline, and Ward gets to action in the next paragraph:

Georgette stretched lazily on the balcony. Below, an ambulance wailed. A man with a shopping cart stood underneath my apartment building, eating chicken wings and whistling.

If the entire scene had continued in narrative summary, it would have had a sedative effect on the reader, and the scene’s momentum would have been lost.

A narrative approach is best used with the following launch strategies:

5. SAVE TIME BY BEGINNING WITH SUMMARY. Sometimes actions will simply take up more time and space in the scene than you would like. A scene beginning needs to move fairly quickly and, on occasion, summary will get the reader there faster.

6. COMMUNICATE NECESSARY INFORMATION TO THE READER BEFORE THE ACTION KICKS IN. Sometimes information needs to be imparted simply in order to set action in motion later in the scene. Opening sentences such as, “My mother was dead before I arrived,” “The war had begun” and, “The storm left half of the city underwater,” could easily lead to action.

7. REVEAL A CHARACTER’S THOUGHTS OR INTENTIONS THAT CANNOT BE SHOWN THROUGH ACTION. Coma victims, elderly characters, small children and other characters sometimes cannot speak or act for physical, mental or emotional reasons; therefore the scene may need to launch with narration to let the reader know what they think and feel.

SETTING LAUNCHES
Sometimes setting details—like a jungle on fire, or moonlight sparkling on a lake—are so important to plot or character development that it’s appropriate to include visual setting at the launch of a scene. This is often the case in books set in unusual, exotic or challenging locations such as snowy Himalayan mountains, lush islands or brutal desert climates. If the setting is going to bear dramatically on the characters and the plot, then there is every reason to let it lead into the scene that will follow.

John Fowles’ novel The Magus is set mostly on a Greek island that leaves an indelible imprint on the main character, Nicholas. He becomes involved with an eccentric man whose isolated villa in the Greek countryside becomes the stage upon which the major drama of the novel unfolds. Therefore, it makes sense for him to launch a scene in this manner:

It was a Sunday in late May, blue as a bird’s wing. I climbed up the goat-paths to the island’s ridge-back, from where the green froth of the pine-tops rolled two miles down to the coast. The sea stretched like a silk carpet across to the shadowy wall of mountains on the mainland to the west. … It was an azure world, stupendously pure, and as always when I stood on the central ridge of the island and saw it before me, I forgot most of my troubles.

The reader needs to be able to see in detail the empty Greek countryside in which Nicholas becomes so isolated. It sets the scene for something beautiful and strange to happen, and Fowles does not disappoint.
These final three methods can create an effective scenic launch:

8. ENGAGE WITH SPECIFIC VISUAL DETAILS. If your character is deserted on an island, the reader needs to know the lay of the land. Any fruit trees in sight? What color sand? Are there rocks, shelter or wild, roaming beasts?

9. USE SCENERY TO SET THE TONE OF THE SCENE. Say your scene opens in a jungle where your character is going to face danger; you can describe the scenery in language that conveys darkness, fear and mystery.

10. REFLECT A CHARACTER’S FEELINGS THROUGH SETTING. Say you have a sad character walking through a residential neighborhood. The descriptions of the homes can reflect that sadness—houses can be in disrepair, with rotting wood and untended yards. You can use weather in the same way. A bright, powerfully sunny day can reflect a mood of great cheer in a character.

Scene launches happen so quickly and are so soon forgotten that it’s easy to rush through them, figuring it doesn’t really matter how you get it started. Don’t fall prey to that thinking. Take your time with each scene launch. Craft it as carefully and strategically as you would any other aspect of your scene. Remember that a scene launch is an invitation to the reader, beckoning him to come further along with you. Make your invitation as alluring as possible.

This article was written by Jordan E. Rosenfeld.

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(via clevergirlhelps)

Filed under scenes

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characterdesigninspiration:

Quite a few people requested some form of trait/personality generator, and here’s the result!  I wanted to keep it vague enough that the options could work for any universe, be it modern, fantasy, scifi, or anything else, so these are really just the basics. Remember that a character is much more than a list of traits, and this should only be used as a starting point– I tried to include a variety of things, but further development is definitely a must.

Could pair well with the gender and sexuality generator.

To Play: Click and drag each gif, or if that isn’t working/you’re on mobile, just take a screenshot of the whole thing (multiple screenshots may be required if you want more than one trait from each category).

(via thewritingcafe)

Filed under character generator resource

10,256 notes

thewritingcafe:

Basics:

Sub-genres: 
Alien Invasion: Involves aliens who invade Earth (usually).
Alternate History: Just as the name suggests, this genre deals with alternate histories. This can include traveling back in time, changing something, and returning to the changed future (such as Back to the Future).
Apocalyptic/Post-apocalyptic: This genre deals with the “end of the world” or what happens after such an event.
Artificial Intelligence: Involves artificial intelligence, usually one that becomes more “human”.
Astronaut: Deals with astronauts, often those who run into aliens or other disasters in space. The characters often die or disappear.
Biopunk: This genre is about altering genetics and DNA. These stories often take place in the near-future in which humans have been altered or in which human experimentation is common.
Cyberpunk: Involves a cyberworld or A.I. and is often set in the near-future. Blade Runner is a good example.
Detective: A cross-over between detective fiction and science fiction.
Dystopian: Dystopians are often “false utopians”, but underneath there is suffering.
Environmental: This genre focuses on the environment and threats against it.
Generation Ship: In which a society lives entirely on a ship and has been there for generations. They often know nothing of outside worlds. The ship in Wall-E is an example.
Gothic Sci-fi: Science fiction with a horror element. Think Frankenstein.
Hard Sci-fi: This genre pays special attention to scientific detail and accuracy.
Humor: This genre is light and humorous.
Kaiju: This is a Japanese sub-genre that involves a large monster as the antagonist.
Lost Worlds: As the name suggests, this genre has lost worlds or mysterious places. Lost is a prime example.
Military Sci-fi: Self-explanatory. Deals with war and military elements in a science fiction setting.
Multiverse: Involves many universes.
Robot: Involves robots as the main focus of the story.
Soft Sci-fi: This sub-genre does not put too much emphasis on scientific accuracy or detail.
Space Opera: Features adventures in space, such as Star Wars.
Steampunk: Involves Victorian-like settings with high technology.
Superhuman: Involves making humans superhuman or giving them extra abilities.
Time Travel: Self-explanatory.
Utopian: The opposite of dystopian, though characters may still see problems with this type of society. Utopians are ideal societies.
Western Sci-fi: Science fiction with Western elements (as in the Wild West). An example is Firefly.
Word Counts:
Hard Sci-fi: 90k - 100k
Space Opera: 90k - 120k
General: 80k - 115k
Middle Grade Sci-fi: 30k - 75k

Setting:
Most sci-fi takes place in the future or the near-future. Where does yours take place? Why does it take place in that time period? Once you know when it takes place, figure out the society. You’ll need to know how society got to that point and why. Was there a war? Did one country become two because of that?
Other than the time period you’ll need the actual setting. Does it take place in space? On a planet? Where on that planet? Or does the setting change because of travel?
Science:
The less you know about science, the softer your sci-fi will be. Take what subject you know most about (biology, chemistry, ecology, etc.) and use that for most of the science stuff, as long as your confident in your knowledge. However, keep it general and broad.
Technology advances more and more each day, much more than it did one hundred years ago. Establish the technology of your world and how quickly it evolves. Decide what is common place and what is rather new. Do only certain people get certain technologies? Why?
With more advances in science comes better medicine and probably longer life. Think about how long your characters are likely to live and establish what medicines are available (like if there is a cure for cancer or if certain diseases have been completely wiped out).
More:
Are We Going Somewhere Nice?
Time, Distance, and Cost in Science Fiction
Making Believable Future Technologies
Magic and Science Fiction
Time and Holidays
Axial Tilt
The Edge of Thought
Putting the Science in Your Science Fiction
How to be Memorably Wrong in Science Fiction
Putting Your Stars in Their Places
Animals in Science Fiction
Ten Laws of Good Science Fiction
Writing Science Fiction Articles
How to Write Science Fiction
5 Tips for Writing Science Fiction
World Building Links
World Building in Science Fiction
World Building for Sci Fi
How to Write Good Science Fiction
How to Write Science Fiction
Reading:
Best Dystopian and Post-apocalyptic Books
Upcoming Books of 2012 and 2013
Best Steampunk Books
Top 100 SF
Best SF with a Female Protagonist
Non-White Protagonists in SF, Fantasy, Horror, and Paranormal Romance
Underrated SF
Best Erotic SF

thewritingcafe:

Basics:

Sub-genres

  • Alien Invasion: Involves aliens who invade Earth (usually).
  • Alternate History: Just as the name suggests, this genre deals with alternate histories. This can include traveling back in time, changing something, and returning to the changed future (such as Back to the Future).
  • Apocalyptic/Post-apocalyptic: This genre deals with the “end of the world” or what happens after such an event.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Involves artificial intelligence, usually one that becomes more “human”.
  • Astronaut: Deals with astronauts, often those who run into aliens or other disasters in space. The characters often die or disappear.
  • Biopunk: This genre is about altering genetics and DNA. These stories often take place in the near-future in which humans have been altered or in which human experimentation is common.
  • Cyberpunk: Involves a cyberworld or A.I. and is often set in the near-future. Blade Runner is a good example.
  • Detective: A cross-over between detective fiction and science fiction.
  • Dystopian: Dystopians are often “false utopians”, but underneath there is suffering.
  • Environmental: This genre focuses on the environment and threats against it.
  • Generation Ship: In which a society lives entirely on a ship and has been there for generations. They often know nothing of outside worlds. The ship in Wall-E is an example.
  • Gothic Sci-fi: Science fiction with a horror element. Think Frankenstein.
  • Hard Sci-fi: This genre pays special attention to scientific detail and accuracy.
  • Humor: This genre is light and humorous.
  • Kaiju: This is a Japanese sub-genre that involves a large monster as the antagonist.
  • Lost Worlds: As the name suggests, this genre has lost worlds or mysterious places. Lost is a prime example.
  • Military Sci-fi: Self-explanatory. Deals with war and military elements in a science fiction setting.
  • Multiverse: Involves many universes.
  • Robot: Involves robots as the main focus of the story.
  • Soft Sci-fi: This sub-genre does not put too much emphasis on scientific accuracy or detail.
  • Space Opera: Features adventures in space, such as Star Wars.
  • Steampunk: Involves Victorian-like settings with high technology.
  • Superhuman: Involves making humans superhuman or giving them extra abilities.
  • Time Travel: Self-explanatory.
  • Utopian: The opposite of dystopian, though characters may still see problems with this type of society. Utopians are ideal societies.
  • Western Sci-fi: Science fiction with Western elements (as in the Wild West). An example is Firefly.

Word Counts:

  • Hard Sci-fi: 90k - 100k
  • Space Opera: 90k - 120k
  • General: 80k - 115k
  • Middle Grade Sci-fi: 30k - 75k

Setting:

  • Most sci-fi takes place in the future or the near-future. Where does yours take place? Why does it take place in that time period? Once you know when it takes place, figure out the society. You’ll need to know how society got to that point and why. Was there a war? Did one country become two because of that?
  • Other than the time period you’ll need the actual setting. Does it take place in space? On a planet? Where on that planet? Or does the setting change because of travel?

Science:

  • The less you know about science, the softer your sci-fi will be. Take what subject you know most about (biology, chemistry, ecology, etc.) and use that for most of the science stuff, as long as your confident in your knowledge. However, keep it general and broad.
  • Technology advances more and more each day, much more than it did one hundred years ago. Establish the technology of your world and how quickly it evolves. Decide what is common place and what is rather new. Do only certain people get certain technologies? Why?
  • With more advances in science comes better medicine and probably longer life. Think about how long your characters are likely to live and establish what medicines are available (like if there is a cure for cancer or if certain diseases have been completely wiped out).

More:

Reading:

(via clevergirlhelps)

Filed under genre science fiction reference