Declaration Statements

I have recently rediscovered how much I love it when a character in a movie/book/tv show discovers who they really are. It’s either a breathtakingly tragic moment or a moment of joyous celebration.

With discovering who they are, almost all of them nail down what their purpose is, and we all know that we love to know what their purpose is. To prove my point, please enjoy just a few of the declaration statements I thought of as I thought through this.

“I am Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

“I am Loki. Of Asgard. And I am burdened with glorious purpose.”

“I am Moana of Motonui. You will board my boat and sail across the ocean to return the heart of Te Fiti.”

“I am a Jedi.”

“I am that hero.”

“I am Groot.”

“I am Iron Man.”

“I am the President of the United States of America, clothed in immense power. You will procure those votes.”

Those are just some of them.

You’ll notice in the case of Loki, I added in a villain. (Don’t argue with me, for the sake of the Avengers movie, he was a villain.) This is because it’s not just the heroes who can have this epiphany moment.

In the case of Groot, it’s less an identity statement as it is that’s all he can say, but hey I couldn’t resist.

Declaration statements often come out in the heat of battle, or when they need to know who they are most. In the case of Inigo, he talks about saying that to the man who killed his father, but he never says it with as much conviction as when he finally meets him face to face.

The same goes for Moana (who eventually comes to the revelation — in song, no less — that “I am Moana!”). She needs to know that who she is, is enough to help save her people.

Declaration statements are fun and even more fun to use. I’m going to go try some in my newest WIPs. What about you?

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Journey On

Y’all.

The writing journey is a long, arduous process fraught with snares and many, many hours of tears. Blood, sweat, and tears. The writer sits at a keyboard for hours and pours out her heart and soul into a series of stories. She gives her everything to make them come alive.

And she doesn’t even know if anyone will want to read them.

Some days it can seem like no one out there cares at all. Like no one will ever like your writing. Or read one of your books and say “I want to write like that one day.” Or internet stalk every blog post or interview you’ve ever done. It can be hard to believe that’s even a possibility.

Some days you write until your fingers hurt and that troublesome bug bite on your wrist itches like crazy, just so you can look over what you put down on paper and know that those two characters may be fighting now, but they’re going to be crazy happy together later.

Some days it’s drudgery to type each letter, to put them in a line and form a word, and to put words in a line to form sentences, and to put sentences in a line to form paragraphs. You don’t feel it, but you know you have to keep pressing on.

All for the sake of a story.

You see, writers do one very important thing day in and day out. We write.

Rainer Maria Rilke said it so beautifully in “Letters to a Young Poet”

“If, when you wake up in the morning, you can think of nothing but writing . . . then you are a writer.”

Dreams can become reality, but the journey is a huge part of that. If you don’t press through, how are you going to know just how close to your life goals you were? You don’t know when that wall will give out and someone will show your work to just the right person. You only see a little bit in front of yourself.

Never. Give. Up.

Three words that will always follow me when I sit down to write and when I have to search for paper to write down that stellar new idea. Someone once asked what the most important thing is for a writer, and in one word I decisively answered. Perseverance.

Do you have it?

When Disaster Strikes

We all know the feeling, right? That little moment of panic when something doesn’t work right or… you know… at all.

Guys, I have to tell you because I promised to be open and honest. I totally panicked last night. Why, you ask? Let me tell you a little story.

It was a normal Monday evening. I had prepared myself to head downstairs to fetch dinner, and everything was going swimmingly. I had written 1,500 words (my goal for the day) and clicked save on the 53,000 words (or so) of my current WIP.

Then, it happened. I set the computer down and it slid from the edge of the bed. With a cry of “No!” That would have made Luke Skywalker proud, I snatched for it. But, alas, it was too late.

This would not have distressed me so, except for one little detail. When the computer landed on the floor (mind you, it did not fall more than six inches, the bed is just a mattress on the floor), it landed on the side I keep my flashdrive in. Yes, folks, that’s right. The drive I use to hold ALL MY WORK bent.

It isn’t funny, and it isn’t fixable. When I plugged it back in, it would not pull up. At. All. That’s when I panicked. Years of work, all my finished projects, everything I need for my upcoming Kindle projects (more on that later), all reside on that drive.

There is exactly a 50/50 shot that the computer tech will be able to pull the data off of it.

In normal writerly fashion, after I freaked out for a good hour to two hours, I sat back and thought about how I felt at the moment of panic. “Not good” was the first thought that zipped through my brain, but then I took the time to psychoanalyze myself. (Yeah, I do that. Blame the writer thing.)

I realized that, if I ever get the data back (and I’m praying fervently I will), I will possibly be able to accurately write a moment of disaster even better than my previous attempts.

Why?

I’m so glad you asked.

Writing is all about the emotion, and any writer will tell you that in order to write emotion well, you have to experience it. Loss, panic, fear. Take your minuscule situation and amp it up a hundred-fold.

That, folks, is how you make a reader feel the story. How you make your readers cry. Honestly, who doesn’t dream of writing something that will evoke emotion from their fans? I know I do.

Emotion comes from experience and, sadly, experience happened to me yesterday. I need that data back, guys. When the story is complete and I have my answer, I will be in touch with the (hopefully) good news. Thanks for listening to my rant, all!

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UPDATE!!! We were able to retrieve the data from my flash drive. WIPs not lost. Praise Jesus!

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Biggest disaster and panic moment you’ve ever had. I want to hear about it!

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Did you like what you read today? Do you have questions, comments, or cat-killing curiosity about something? If so, please either comment on this post or visit the Contact page and drop me a note!

It was good to have you as a visitor today! Please drop by again, or become family by following the Write Knowledge. Thank You.

I’m Back!

That title could be taken as either creepy or awesome, and I choose to believe it’s awesome!

After a super long hiatus (guys, so much stuff can happen in six months! Or so…) I am back to blogging on here with a slight twist. Yes, I’ll still be sharing writing tips and asking for advice (I have a captive audience, who wouldn’t ask for advice?), but I’ll also be discussing my writing journey. I hope it will be inspirational for aspiring writers and lend a sense of hope. It’s hard for everyone, and I hope to show you guys that you’re not alone.

I stopped writing on this blog a while back because I felt like I didn’t have anything more to say. I thought I was getting repetitive and everything that I could say had been said. And then I realized I haven’t been sharing my journey. I haven’t been writing down the nitty-gritty, day-to-day junk that happens.

So, from here on out, you guys are my accountability partners. I’m going to be brutally honest about my week in writing, and you’re going to either be supportive or tell me to suck it up. There really is no third option.

Some days, we might all sit down together to have a good cry and eat an entire cake. Other days we may celebrate and throw confetti. Such is the life of an aspiring author. Sometimes it’s painful, and sometimes it’s downright FUN!

To start off, let me be honest about why I stopped writing to you guys. I was discouraged. It took me a long time to get over this discouragement. Thing is, I almost had a literary agent on the hook, and then I got a rejection letter. Again. Those things will throw you for a loop. Lesson learned: my worth is not found in how many rejection letters I get. I know I’m going to make it one day. Will you be here with me when I do?

Thank you so much for being supportive, and thank you for reading this. I hope to make this blog enjoyable, but also educational. I hope to be personable and open. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m ready to share my COMPLETE journey with you. I hope you stick with me.

What Writers Can Learn From Dancers

Yes, I’ll admit it. I’ve been on a research spree. This time, it was on dancers — specifically ballerinas. (Don’t ask, you’ll find out later when I come up with some amazing story idea.)

While on this research spree (Okay, so maybe I’m still researching while I write this…), I found myself staring intently at some similarities between these two creative careers: writing and dancing.

Similariy #1 – Flexibility

You know what I’m talking about. Those leaps where they do the splits in midair. The back-bends. The extensions. Dancers have flexibility that other people just don’t have. But, you know what?

They had to work VERY hard to build that flexibility. It didn’t happen overnight, nor were they born with it. Oh, sure, they may have had a talent for it, but that talent had to be exercised with hours in the studio.

Writing is the same way. You have to be flexible. Your WIP will always throw things at you that you weren’t expecting. You have to learn to roll with the punches. Just like a dancer didn’t develop crazy flexibility overnight, neither will you. You have to keep building your flexibility muscle. Keep stepping out beyond your comfort zone. In time, this will become a strength for you.

Similarity #2 – Passion

Have you ever heard a dancer say “I’m doing this for the money”? How about “It sounded like fun”? NO! Why is that? Because dancing is difficult and sometimes painful. The true dancers, the ones that make it far and dance for large audiences, have passion.

Just like in dance, passion keeps a writer going. A true writer HAS TO WRITE. There is no other option for them. They couldn’t stop if they tried. This is passion. Passion drives you. Passion keeps you going. Passion makes you care about what you’re writing and about what others will think about your writing. Which brings us to number 3…

Similarity #3 – Perseverance (AKA Stick-to-it-iveness. Or Persistence.)

You think a dancer got to their position in a ballet or other production with ease? Think again. They worked hard every day of the week. They perfected every step in their audition. They overcame their fear of rejection and danced in front of judges. And some of them still didn’t make that cut.

Sure, as writers we may not have studios or practices or auditions… Or do we?

A writer’s studio is anywhere there’s a paper, pens, or a computer. Any time we sit down to write.

Our practices are everything they learn and write and do habitually every single day. It’s building those muscles in hopes that one day you’ll get your dream.

Our auditions? Yeah, you guessed it. Those dreaded query letters and proposals you send to every literary agent or publisher who will take them. I would even wager that you got rejected. Multiple times.

Never fear! That just means you haven’t hit your prime yet. Their production didn’t need you this time, but that’s not to say they won’t cast you next time. Keep at it! Keep going! Don’t let discouragement and frustration keep you from another audition.

And another.

And another.

Your passion will push you through all of this. If you’re really a writer — if you REALLY HAVE to write — you’ll keep going despite the pain.

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Any other similarities you see? Let me know in the comments!

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Did you like what you read today? Do you have questions, comments, or cat-killing curiosity about something? If so, please either comment on this post or visit the Contact page and drop me a note!

It was good to have you as a visitor today! Please drop by again, or become family by following the Write Knowledge. Thank You.

You’ve seen the Lego Movie, right? Or at least heard of it, I’m sure. Who hasn’t heard someone belting out “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!!”?

I ask because I’m here today to explain how Emmet is really a fantastically written character. Why, you ask? Let’s take a look at him.

Emmet is the perfect cookie-cutter citizen. He’s one of those clique-y, politically correct fit-ins. He says all the right things, wears all the right things, “likes” all the right things. His life is pretty perfect, at least to him, because he’s oblivious that everyone around can barely see him for his lack of originality.

In other words, Emmet’s little world doesn’t need help. Or, at least, he doesn’t think he needs help. This is how every work of fiction should start out. Your character believes their world is perfect. They’re content. They know what they want in life. Heck, they may even be in a successful relationship.

But is their life actually perfect?

Let’s find out.

One day, Emmet accidentally stumbles into a deep, deep ravine behind his workplace. This is only the first road bump. The second rude awakening comes when he wakes up in an interrogation room. He learns the no one remembers him. They all think he’s boring. Nothing special.

And that’s what characters are, until they go on their journal. Nothing special.

Emmet goes on this epic adventure, where he learns that he CAN do things. He CAN be special, if he puts his mind to it. Then, in an instant, his entire new world shatters.

Most of the time, in a book or movie, this point comes. Since the character is just starting to find themselves — REALLY find who they truly are — it only takes a slight shake to kill their dreams. In Emmet’s case, it’s fourteen little words thrown at him like a ton of bricks.

“As unspecial as I am, you are a thousand-billion times more unspecial than me.”

And you know what? Emmet believes it. Why? Because he’s doubted himself all along, and he’s just been waiting for someone to confirm his suspicions. He isn’t special, he’s just a nobody.

Most characters doubt themselves until the moment they’re put to the test, in Emmet’s case the moment he realizes he has to sacrifice himself for his friends to live.

Your characters should always have this epiphany moment, where they realize what’s most important to them. This is what makes them who they’re becoming. This is the moment of truth. And it almost always makes them even more awesome than they were to begin with.

So, you see, Emmet is a really well written character. His characterization shows us how to build a character up and tear them down in just the right way to make them who they’re meant to be.

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So, what have you learned from Emmet’s journey?

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Did you like what you read today? Do you have questions, comments, or cat-killing curiosity about something? If so, please either comment on this post or visit the Contact page and drop me a note!

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When a Project Ambushes You…

Recently, I was quite thoroughly and inexplicably ambushed by a project of epic proportions.

What is this project, you ask?

Well, apparently, I’m now writing a musical.  I can’t give you all the details, because it’s still a very early work in progress, but I can say that I never expected myself to write a musical. Even less so did I expect to be ambushed by a project I wasn’t even sure I wanted.

That brings me to the theme of today’s blog post.

What I like to call an “ambush” project is any project that springs to life seemingly on its own. You wake up, and WHAM! it hits you like an anvil over the head. (That just hurts like the dickens!)

These can, and most of the time (with me anyway) do turn out to be some of the greatest things you’ll ever write. Why is that?

Because it already has a life of its own.

The one thing we strive to do as writers is to bring a story to life so vividly that people never question whether the characters are real or not. They are.

If something abushes you, with dialogue and actions just spilling onto the page, you should embrace it! It has taken on a life of its own and flown off on its own. All you have to do is watch and record.

Honestly, sometimes it’s easier if a project ambushes you, because that’s less work to do for the first draft, but don’t get me wrong! Just because the first draft ambushes you and flops itself onto the page, don’t think you won’t have to edit.

If anything, you’ll end up editing more and being even more cautious, because you care about it more. Because it’s GOOD. There’s no shame in letting a project jump onto a page in a matter of 30 to 60 days. Heaven knows I’ve done it a number of times! Just make sure, in the end, you give it the attention and loving correction it needs to turn it into a masterpiece. A true bestseller.

Because being ambushed isn’t bad when you’re a writer.

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When was the last time an entire storyline or dialogue or book just came to you? Has that ever happened?

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Did you like what you read today? Do you have questions, comments, or cat-killing curiosity about something? If so, please either comment on this post or visit the Contact page and drop me a note!

It was good to have you as a visitor today! Please drop by again, or become family by following the Write Knowledge. Thank You.

Making Emotions Real

“Sometimes, the saddest parts aren’t where the character is crying. Sometimes, the saddest parts come from when they’re trying not to cry.”

This quote has changed the way I write.

I realized, after reading it fifteen times and pondering on it for a long while, that whoever came up with this is absolutely correct.

I mean, come on! Have you ever been reading a book, going along and enjoying it, and then you realize there’s this one character who is constantly bawling? (Guilty as charged, I have so yelled at a character for crying too much before.)

If you take a minute to look at real people, you’ll find that (more often than not) they don’t want other people to see them cry. And, therefore, they hold back the tears and set up their “I’m okay” facade. Just watch people around you every once in a while.

We’ve talked about how people have “tells” before. Well, people have what I call “emotion tells”. Like a tick that could be a quivering chin if they let it. Some people’s noses turn red when they’re trying not to cry. (I know a few.)

People are emotional by nature, but many also have a pride issue. For some reason, society has told us that crying make you look weak, and therefore most people don’t want to give in to their natural emotions. Because they think it will make them look weak.

Recently, I was writing a story where a character blames herself for stuff that keeps happening to both her and other people. Because of issues in her past, she also has abandonment issues.

Sounds like it could go really mushy really fast, with lots of tears and “don’t goes”, right?

Wrong.

I’m telling you, I actually cried writing her most recent scene. A scene in which someone she loves says they’re leaving. How did she handle it? Not with begging.

She stoicly, listlessly stood there and listened to him tell her he was leaving. She even let him yell at her. All the while, she watched the floor and distracted herself so she didn’t cry. Because she wanted to. Badly. He left, she shut herself in her room. Then, and only then, did she allow herself to let go and let it all out.

And you know what? Because she had been holding it in, and the tension had been building around it, it made the entire scene that much more powerful. That much more moving. Enough to move a reader (and writer) to tears over this character.

Do you want to hear a reader say, “Oh my gosh, I loved your book so much! It made me cry!”? Then maybe you should consider employing the method of hold it in until it has to get out.

If people are all fundamentally similar, doesn’t that mean your characters wouldn’t want to gush all over other characters? If your characters are real, why would they spill their guts with no reasonable motivation to do so?

Ponder that this week.

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I wanna hear about the first book that EVER made you cry. Or why you haven’t ever cried at a book. Ready? Set. GO!

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Did you like what you read today? Do you have questions, comments, or cat-killing curiosity about something? If so, please either comment on this post or visit the Contact page and drop me a note!

It was good to have you as a visitor today! Please drop by again, or become family by following the Write Knowledge. Thank You.

What I’ve Learned from NaNoWriMo (Weeks 1 & 2)

Fourteen days in. Fourteen. Whole. Days.

Amazingly, I’ve only missed writing on ONE day so far. Usually I’m doing pretty horribly by now. That still leaves me with almost 2,000 words to make up. Joy.

Anyway, on to what I’ve learned from NaNoWriMo this year. Going on the last two weeks alone, I have learned one very important thing as I’ve worked my way from 0 words to almost 23,000. And that one thing is this:

Push through the pain!

I say this because, even though 1,667 words a day doesn’t sound like TOOOOO many, I’ve been having a really hard time getting that many out. Usually, I hit around 1,100 and the words dry up. My mind goes blank. I have no idea where the story is going next.

And that, my creatives, is where I have had to learn to push through the pain.

Those last 600 words can be terrifying and excruciating, but it hasn’t failed yet to be the best part of everything I’ve written. When you finally push through that wall that stands before you, you find jewels on the other side. A secret letter, an unexpected in jury. A love you didn’t know existed for your character. An amazing best friend.

Though it is so difficult to think past writer’s block, I’m learning!

Sometimes it’s easier than other. Sometimes I have to use a writing prompt (and, yes, that’s okay!) Sometimes I have to sit and ask myself “what could go wrong here?” and then write it down. (This is how I end up with things like helicopter chases. Who knew?!)

So, even if you’ve hit that wall. That writer’s block craziness! Just push through the pain and find the treasure on the other side. It will be worth it in the end.

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Do you love your stories? I’m sure I would too! This week, I’d love to hear either A) your summary, or B) Your first page of a recent story. I can’t wait!

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Did you like what you read today? Do you have questions, comments, or cat-killing curiosity about something? If so, please either comment on this post or visit the Contact page and drop me a note!

It was good to have you as a visitor today! Please drop by again, or become family by following the Write Knowledge. Thank You.

Why I LOVE NaNoWriMo

Okay, I admit, this is not one of my typical posts. And yet it is, in a way. Whatever, it’s confusing, moving on.

I’ve read both good and bad things about NaNoWriMo. Some people say it’s a horrible idea to try to write a complete novel in only 30 days. Others say it’s the ONLY way to write a novel. Some hesitant, on-the-fence people say they can see it either way.

I think NaNoWriMo rocks.

Why?

Because it’s actually a really good idea, and there are multiple reasons why.

Reason 1: Writing a novel in 30 days is the best thing that ever happened to me.

And why is that, you ask? Because I stopped second-guessing myself. I stopped over-analyzing. I stopped telling myself that there was “no way” I’d ever write something good enough. I just wrote. And wrote. And wrote.

Because I had to write so many words per day and had so few days to write it all down, my inner editor shut up and let my creative genius shine through. My first NaNoWriMo was 2014, and that novel – the one that came out of my creative side, not my formula side – is still one of the best pieces of work I’ve ever done.

Reason 2: Writing a novel in 30 days stretched all my creative muscles.

The first five (or so) days were awesome. I wrote and wrote and wrote. Finished a few chapters. And then it happened. I got stuck. Suddenly, I had no idea where the plot was headed. I had no idea what happened next. I was only about 5,000 words in. No! I couldn’t fail! This couldn’t be happening!

Needless to say, I didn’t have weeks to ponder and work through my writer’s block. I had hours. Maybe.

So I did what any self-respecting novelist would do.

I freaked out. I ate half a pan of cookies. And some chocolate. And a couple caramels. I paced my room for a while.

And then I sat back down at my computer, re-read the last few sentences, and pushed on. It was painful, not knowing where the story would go next. And some characters died in the process. But I did it. I stretched that creative muscle and overcame writer’s block in record time. And, as much as I loved them, I see now those character deaths were necessary to progress the plot.

Reason 3: NaNoWriMo is just plain fun!

Who cares if anyone else ever reads your NaNo Novel? The journey from blank page to 50,000+ words is FUN!

Whether it’s hanging out with the Word Sprinters on Twitter, joining a virtual write in on Youtube (via Google hangouts), or actually meeting up with fellow WriMo’s in your area, it’s nice to know that there’s an entire community of writers around the globe backing you up.

If for nothing else, join the NaNo community for one month and get some advice from writers around the world. You never know if they’ll have a different perspective on writing that you’ve never thought of before. It could be the best experience of your life. But you’ll never know unless you try.

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So… Are you planning on joining NaNoWriMo this year? Why or why not?

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Did you like what you read today? Do you have questions, comments, or cat-killing curiosity about something? If so, please either comment on this post or visit the Contact page and drop me a note!

It was good to have you as a visitor today! Please drop by again, or become family by following the Write Knowledge. Thank You.