Monday Musings 3.18.19

I think sometimes it seems easier in this world if one’s dreams are slanted toward a visual platform. Singers, dancers, artists. All these can be easily portrayed in video and picture form, and it’s a platform built on who those people are.

Writing is similar, yet entirely different.

When you’re a writer, it isn’t your job to promote yourself, but to promote your books. That’s where it gets frustrating. Because how are we supposed to get people to understand how unique and amazing our characters are? How are we supposed to get undying fangirls (and boys) to pick up everything we write and love it all? Is it all up to a stroke of luck?

Most writers, in their own heads, are extroverts. We think “If I just had a decent platform, I could…”

The thing is, most writers aren’t given a decent platform. Some, even after they work to try to build their platform, don’t get anywhere. Writing is a work of love that doesn’t always end in benefits. And that’s tough on everyone.

If we wrote just for ourselves, we wouldn’t have these frustrations. However, writing as a whole is meant to be shared.  We’re terrified of putting our “babies” out there for the world to see because the world is harsher on our plots and characters than any song or artist or choreography that’s out there. No one can live up to that level of perfection.

Writers want love. We want our characters to find a home in the hearts of many, many people. We want them to love our characters as much as we do. And when we’ve done all we can do and know to do, it’s hard when that isn’t enough at the end of the day.

But don’t be too discouraged. I’m still there too. I have hopes and dreams that one day people will care about my characters, my books, and will invite me to events. I have hopes that more than seven people will buy my books one day. (And that someone I don’t know will actually pick up a book of mine and love it.)

If we really love what we’re doing, we shouldn’t give it up, no matter what. If we can’t live happily without it, why would we consider walking away?

I hope I’ve been an encouragement to someone today. Keep fighting and keep writing.

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?

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?

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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#NeverForget

That’s what’s circulating today, September 11, 2015. #NeverForget.

Fourteen years ago, tragedy struck the United States of America. The hardest hit was New York City, but our entire nation felt it. It was the worst, most unexpected attack on our nation since Pearl Harbor, and it was an act of war.

Many people died that day, on September 11th, 2001. And our nation changed forever.

I remember where I was when the planes hit the Twin Towers. I was in my living room, a mere 7 years old, and I didn’t really comprehend what was happening. My mom and dad sat watching the news, in shock as they watched tons — literal TONS — of steel and glass crumble to the ground. The news replayed the fireball that used to be a plane over and over, and I remember the newscaster literally weeping as she explained what was happening.

You see, when something that catastrophic happens, everything changes. You can never go back to the way it was before. You can never regain the little piece of innocence that was lost. Even if you have to move forward, you must always remember. Remember so that next time we can do better. Remember so those who died won’t have died in vain.

Don’t lock yourself away and forget that it ever happened. We all know that history repeats itself, so we should strive our best to make sure this particular point doesn’t. An act of war should never be forgotten. An act of war should be remembered for what it was. And, as Americans, it should royally tick us off that someone dared to attack us ON OUR OWN SOIL! We’re supposed to be a free country, right? But what does it make us if we don’t stand up for ourselves and let others know they can’t mess with us and get away with it?

So, today, remember the fallen and remember those who fight for us. Remember that your freedom comes at a price to countless others. Respect them and thank them for giving up a piece of their life to keep yours safe.

#AlwaysRemember

#NeverForget