Why You Should Hide Fluff Inside Action

Something I have learned recently: hide fluff inside action.

Let me clarify. It isn’t exactly “hiding”, but rather inserting in the middle. Still confused? I’ll explain.

I have recently fallen down the K-Drama wormhole (don’t judge, we all have one quirky obsession), and it has actually been very good for my writing. Being a writer, I watch with an eye toward what the writers were thinking when they pieced the story together. One of the first things I noticed is how hard I began to ship characters. (For those of you who don’t speak the language of “ship”, let me know and I’ll write you a post.)

I digress. When I started to realize how squeal-worthy these shows were, I (naturally) began to dissect WHY. I discovered something particularly interesting.

Generally, when you learn to write, you start to break down what needs to happen into scenes and the like. You ask, “what is the purpose of this scene?” and break it down into Action, Love, Filler, Plot, etc.

But what if you didn’t have to? What if one scene could serve multiple purposes?

You see, that’s what I began to discover. I shipped these characters so hard because their lives weren’t dissected into different categories. Everything intermingled. Everything in their lives touched.

And the best part? The most squeal-worthy fluff scenes weren’t fluff scenes at all.

My favorite scenes began to take on a pattern. Anyone who knows me also knows that I LOVE ACTION AND ADVENTURE AND DANGER. Hands down one of my favorite things to read, watch, or write. It’s so exciting! So, naturally, my favorite scenes had danger and action. But then I realized, right in the middle, the writers would throw in a sprinkling of fluff.

A kiss before the hero runs into certain death.

A heroine reaching for her hero’s hand when she gets scared or injured.

A simple confession of “I like you” as they realize they may never get to say it again.

And then, right on with the action and adventure. As if nothing ever happened. (*Cue me, screaming at the screen* YOU CAN’T JUST LEAVE US LIKE THAT! THAT’S CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT!)

Thus, they have created the need for more. As writers, I think that’s a cue we should learn from. Sometimes, less is more. People want to push characters into a relationship. We’re hard-wired to think two people in the story should end up together. If you give them an inch, your readers will take it a mile.

I personally believe — after much trial and error — that fluff as its own scene can be grating. However, if you give a taste of fluff inside a much richer, fast-paced scene, people will come back for more. They’ll crave that relationship and all it entails.

Raise the stakes, my friends. Let your purposes intermingle and bleed into each other. Life is messy, so why can’t our character’s lives be a little more realistic in that way?

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Worries and Conclusions

Confession time: in the past, I have worried about a lot. I worry that I don’t have anything worthwhile to say. I worry that no one will want to listen to me or follow me or buy any of my books. I worry that people find me uninteresting.

The thing is, I don’t feel worthy or qualified for the giant dreams I have. I want to reach people and care for fans and do events and all that fun stuff, but how do those dreams come true without people or fans who care about what I’m doing? It’s a dilemma. A catch-22.

I know this is a lot more personal than I usually get on this blog, but I think it’s time for me to change. It’s time for me to show you the side of me that isn’t self-confident, who doesn’t know what’s she doing or how she’ll make it.

I strive to be transparent because I know people respond well to transparency, but if I’m being totally honest, right now there are no people to respond at all. And it’s difficult, throwing things out into the void and hoping someone finds them and cares enough to dig deeper.

I don’t want to be the person who lives two completely different lives. I want people to know that what they see is what they get. I won’t hide myself to please others or to keep myself from getting hurt by them.

Which is why I’ve taken some giant steps toward that in the last couple months. If you didn’t know (and you might not), I am launching a new book in a new trilogy on June 1st, 2018. I’m terrified, but it’s happening. If you want to support by pre-ordering, you can do that here.

I have also started a YouTube channel. It’s a work in progress and I’m learning as I go, so if you have something you want to see or hear from me, please let me know. If you want to help me out by subscribing and/or liking my videos, you can find the channel here. I hope you don’t find me annoying or uninteresting.

As always, you can follow me on Facebook or Twitter, as well as Instagram! (That one’s new and I’m not great at it yet but I’m trying). You can also sign up for my e-newsletter to receive updates. That can be found on my website home page. Please help support this writer’s dreams!

Believe me, every time I post anything, I’m fighting my own fear. I want to overcome it all and be strong and supportive for you guys. For everyone who wants to read for a living or write for a living OR if you just really love books and writers. I want to meet you and hear your stories and keep bringing you all kinds of spectacular product and content.

With all that said, I’m going to try to keep this blog up way better than I have been. I’m intent on bringing you along with me on the journey to authorness. Stay tuned and join the tribe!

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What questions do you have about me? I’d love to answer!

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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.

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?

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?

March WIP Excerpt!

I’m so excited to implement a once-a-month excerpt from my current WIPs. Whatever I’m working on, you get to see some sneak peeks once a month! I’m so excited for you to join me on this journey!

Here’s your first excerpt and I totally hope you enjoy it!

The lights came up. Hadassah inhaled sharply.

The hosts spoke, but she could hardly hear them over the blood rushing in her ears. Her gaze traveled over the judges, to the first rows of the audience, illuminated by the bright stage lights.

As she feared, eyes bore into her with steely determination. All but one bowed head full of brown waves. A head she recognized all too well.

Why didn’t Morgan look up? Why did he look so concerned? Something had to be wrong. He never would have looked away if something wasn’t wrong. Oh, she wished she could see his face, to look into his eyes and find the dilemma.

Morgan’s head snapped up and his eyes found hers.

Hadassah blinked. Had someone said something? She couldn’t remember, or she hadn’t heard. Her own gaze flicked to the hosts, who both smiled at her encouragingly. One of the girls next to her nudged her toward the one last circle in front of her. When did they call all those other names?

This had to be a sign of a breakdown. There wasn’t another explanation. She should have heard all that, her ears worked fine. How did she miss it?

The crowd’s cheers deafened her. Hadassah clenched her fingers in her skirt instead of taking the step back she wanted. Keep up the facade, she reminded herself as she took short, quick breaths through her nose. Don’t freak out on them. They want someone beautiful, not fragile.

The hairs on the back of her neck stood up. When she thought of her stalker, a sinking in her stomach accompanied it. This time, it was more butterflies than Titanic. Hadassah lifted her eyes and found a pair of deep green, stormy eyes staring back at her. Her breath caught and her chin lifted, ever so slightly.

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.

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.

Learn the Language

What’s the first thing you do when you visit or move to a foreign country?

You learn the language.

And not just the spoken language. You learn the gestures that are permissible or impermissible. You take time to learn how their bartering system works. You learn what the people from the country love to do and what they’re not so fond of. You learn every aspect of the language they speak from the inside out.

“But, Megan, what does this have to do with writing?”

Good question. And one I’m here to answer.

When people leap into their preferred book or movie writing genre (fantasy, sci-fi, action/adventure, etc.), most of them don’t take time to learn the language. It’s the ones that do take that time who excel in what they’ve set out to do.

“What do you mean by ‘learn the language’?”

What do I mean? I mean that each genre has a language you should be learning.

Do a study for me, just to humor me. Pick up a Science Fiction book or movie and really listen to what they’re saying. You’ll probably hear a lot about lasers, teleportation, spaceships, and other fun stuff. Now pick up an Action/Adventure. Bullets, car chases, knives, and stalkers.

If you look at each genre, through multiple stories, you will find that each has its own set of rules and its own language to learn. People who read or watch those genres all the time have an innate ability to speak that language fluently, and without really thinking about it.

If you’re going to write a specific genre, I suggest you pick up a book or movie and start learning the language before you take one step further. Fans will know if you really speak their language or not, and if you don’t (I hate to say it) they’ll put down your stuff and call you a fake.

Just like any other language, the genre languages are more easily learned when you immerse yourself in them. When I sit down to write an Action/Adventure, I make sure I’ve spent weeks reading that genre and watching all my favorite action movies. The more time I spend immersing myself in those things, the better my writing becomes. Why? Because I’ve learned the language.

Don’t jump into writing a fantasy novel when you’ve been on a steady romance-only diet. (Just an example, exchange any two genres in there.) What you put in is what will come out when you sit down to write. Please, please, please do the world a favor and immerse yourself in the language. Learn it until you can’t possibly speak anything else. Until the syntax and sentence structure are fused into your bones. Trust me, your readers and I will thank you later.

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Your genre and your favorite story therewithin (book or movie). I want to know!!!

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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.

4 Lessons About Writing From “Hoodwinked!”

For those of you who are now wondering what in the world “Hoodwinked!” is, I will explain. “Hoodwinked!” is not only fun to say, (go on, try it!) but is also an animated movie from the early 2000s. The premise? To learn the “true” story of Little Red Riding Hood, a tale distorted by time. (Let it be noted that I know a lot of people who don’t like this movie, but I happen to think it’s pretty awesome and will continue to like it despite protests.)

There are tons of lessons we can learn from fairytales themselves, but that’s a blog post for another time. In this case, we’re taking lessons from the movie loosely based on the fairytale. They are completely different. So…

#1 – No Character is an Island Unto Himself

It’s true folks, this movie made me sit up and see the light on that point! No character exists in his own little bubble. All their lives interconnect, even when they don’t realize it.

There are several characters in “Hoodwinked!” who, at the beginning, seem random and unessential. Until you start to figure out the story behind the story. Suddenly, you realize these characters aren’t random and they are very essential to understanding what’s going on in the Forest. They bring with them a depth the story wouldn’t have had if they had been left out.

So don’t underestimate those characters that just happen to show up for a brief scene. What if they’ve crossed paths with your hero or villain (or both!) in the past? What if they know more than they’re telling? Think about how their life connects with the other characters’ lives, then see what depth your story has just developed.

#2 – Nothing Should Ever Be As It Seems

“Hoodwinked!” has one major writing advantage to other kids’ movies. Nothing turns out like it seems.

That crazed axe murderer? Not a crazed axe murderer at all. Granny floating through the clouds? Logical explanation. A seemingly random avalanche? Not random at all.

When writing, we should remember that people make assumptions, and those assumptions are usually very wrong. Don’t let your characters figure things out too quickly. Let them assume what they just saw was something completely different than what it actually was. It makes for conflict, and conflict makes for a great story.

#3 – Villains Aren’t Always Cut-And-Dried, Sometimes They’re Cunning

I won’t give the spoiler on this one, but the villain isn’t who you think it is. He’s unassuming. He’s a friend. But, behind the scenes, he’s orchestrating everything to make it look like someone else did it.

Villains don’t always seek the attention. Sometimes they’re villainous because they DON’T want the attention. They want someone else to take the fall so they can pick up the pieces and make a profit. Think outside the box when it comes to villains. Let them be someone you don’t think a villain normally is. Surprise us by twisting the story around until the REAL villain jumps out and says, “You didn’t see that coming?”

#4 – Keith Is Not A Scary Name

“…And Keith… get a scarier name. Really, who’s going to be afraid of a guy named Keith? ‘Ooh, I’m so scared, it’s… Keith.’ ‘Everybody look out, here comes… Keith’.”

The longer you think about it, the more you realize he’s right. Keith is just not a scary name. Friendly, maybe, and totally hero-sidekick-available. But not scary. Because of this movie I now realize I can never name a villain… Keith. This is a very important lesson, folks. Be sure to give your villain a scary name like Gunter or Nash or Vadislev. Not… Keith.

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Have you seen this movie and will you fangirl with me? BONUS QUESTION: Can you spot the Marvel Cinematic Universe reference in this post?

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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!

The Power of Prose

Words are magical.

I mean, think about it. With a simple turn of phrase, we can make people see exactly who, what, or where we want them to. With one carefully placed word, we can turn a sentence from sweet to creepy or vice versa. There isn’t much that our words CAN’T do.

I know, better than most, that this puts a huge weight of responsibility on our shoulders. What if we choose the wrong word? What if the word we pick isn’t strong enough? What if we fail to make it come across as we see it in our head?

All valid questions.

The answer is: we never know if we’ll have the desired effect until we let others see our work.

I know, it’s a Debbie Downer. But, the good news is that there are things we can do to make sure we get our point across exactly as we want it to come across. Let me ‘splain.

For those of you who write Suspense or Thrillers, you’ll want to know how to heighten suspense in your scenes. Thankfully, I have a pretty good idea how Suspense works, so here’s my number one suggestion to create the suspenseful scene you’re looking for. Ready?

Use short sentences.

That’s it. The shorter the sentence, the more clipped the feel of the scene. And don’t just use short sentences in your narrative, throw some into your dialogue as well. Fragments are welcome in a suspense scene, because it inherently tells your reader that something is terribly wrong. (Despite what people think, anyone who paid attention in English during middle school subconsciously knows their grammar.)

For those of you who write Romance (or any sub-genre thereunder), you’ll probably want to know how to show your readers how sweet one or the other person is without being super cheesy. So, my number one advice:

Use body language.

“In my writing? Really?”

Yes. Really. Over half of the ways people express how they’re really feeling is in their body language. Do they have a nervous tick? Do they have a habit of reaching to push the girl’s hair behind her ear? Anything like that can add loads of layers to a scene and, ultimately, a story. This is one of those instances where “Show, Don’t Tell” comes in really handy. Don’t tell your readers he likes her. Show them by his actions. Just like real people.

So, you romance writers, go plug in your favorite Rom-Com and take notes on how he shows he loves her.

For those of you who write Historical, you’ll want to know how to keep your facts straight.

Google.

There is nothing better. Oh, and for heaven’s sake, please find out if the words you choose for them to speak were actually spoken in your time period. Please. I’m begging you. It’s a pet peeve of mine.

For those of you who write Fantasy…

Okay, I’m sorry, I’ve got nothing for you. It’s all in your head. As I am not a fantasy writer, I can’t give advice on the subject, except to say pay attention to your plot holes.

So, advice for the day, pay close attention to your genre and READ, READ, READ!!!

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What genre do you write and what’s your favorite part 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