This Blog Has Moved — To Happy-Writer.com!

Hey, everybody! You might’ve noticed posts have stagnated on this blog. I had a really rough spring/summer and found myself creatively … pooped out, for lack of a more polite term. Lately, though, I’ve been wanting to get back on the blogging horse, only, I’ve decided I want a do-over. A new blog, with its own domain name, focused more on writing. So, I’ve launched Happy Writer!

I want Happy Writer to be a place where writers can come together and talk about writing. Discuss worldbuilding, story structure, fleshing out characters; to get motivation and inspiration; to share tools for productivity and opportunities for publication. I just want a place to word vomit about writing, and I really like the idea of starting fresh, with my own fancy domain. (MOSTLY BECAUSE, when you have your own domain, it’s a whole lot easier to do link-ups and giveaways and things. The coding just works better, as silly as that is.)

That actually brings me to my next point: while I hope you’ll all follow me over to Happy Writer, subscribe to the new blog, and just generally enjoy what I’m trying to do over there, I really hope the writers among you consider participating in this weekly blog link up for writers that I’m hosting: WIP Wednesday. If you like gushing about your writing, and want excuses to post snippets of your WIPs and answering fun prompts about your work, you should totally check this out. I’ve got a million themes planned, and if lots of people participate, we can cultivate a really cool community of writers all supporting and encouraging each other. Please, please, please think about joining in!!

Okay, that’s it. That’s all. The fat lady has taken her final bow. Anymore blogging I do will be over yonder on Happy Writer. I hope you’ll consider coming along!

 A Necessary Divide | My NaNoWrimo 2015 Novel

I want to post a little bit about the novel I’ll be working on for NaNoWriMo 2015! I’m slightly cheating, in that I’m not starting a new novel from scratch. (Has there ever been a NaNo where I didn’t cheat?!) But the fifth book of my series needs some major revisions, so I’ve got plenty of writing to do this month.

Choosing to edit/expand on an existing made the plotting aspect of NaNo preparation easier, though I do miss out on that hysterical rush of frenzied creation so many of you are enjoying. But! This is work I need to do, and NaNo is affording me plenty of word sprints and community support to get it done!! Let me abuse some more exclamation points here so I can be sure not to overuse them in my novel!!!!!!!

In this book, my main 3 protagonists initially find themselves separated — and even when they come back together, there are chasms between them they’re either unwilling or unable to bridge. Meanwhile, a civil war is starting to crack their world down the middle, and even though they don’t want to encourage this, they don’t want their friends to fight for them, to risk dying for them, it becomes increasingly more obvious that there are tides you can’t stem.

SOME BITS THAT I HAVE SO FAR

I’m going to link up with LoonyLiterate’s Snazzy Snippets — The NaNoWriMo Edition and share a few snippets of this monster that have been written already:

1. A snippet without dialogue

This was a hard one to choose for — least of all because I love dialogue. But! A major component of this novel is the burgeoning civil war. Here’s a snippet of my protag, Charley, about to peek in on a rally the “other side” is holding:

The factory throbbed with noise — with shouts and cheers and a raucous stomping of feet. Charley would’ve thought a concert was being held in there, or a birthday party, some excuse to be drunken and joyful and loud, except, as he drew closer, he began to make out the anger underlying the commotion. The jeering. The booing. The sharp tinge to the laughter that made it sound cruel. His stomach clenched. Every instinct was telling him to turn around.

Continue reading ” A Necessary Divide | My NaNoWrimo 2015 Novel”

this tag is for writers! // the authorly bucket list

I’m not sure how I even stumbled upon this, but the idea behind the Authorly Bucket List Tag is to list three to seven things you, as a writer, need to work on (as in weaknesses) and three to seven things you’d like to work on (as in super fun projects outside of your comfort zone.) I’ve been doing lots of book-related tags lately but haven’t been able to find so many author/writer-related ones (if you have links to some, gimme gimme gimme!) so I really wanted to take a moment, get introspective, and give this tag a try.

So. Without further ado —

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Things I Need To Work On

Squishy Middles. Right now I’m fighting with revisions for a book that definitely lacks a toned, taut middle. This middle is as squishy as a spare-tire gets. (The kinds that hang off stomachs, because to my knowledge, actual spare tires are pretty solid? hopefully, at least, since you might need them to drive yourself home…) There are two chapters in particular where I know what needs to happen, but can’t decide on a good sequence for how it happens, and it’s killing the momentum of the plot. Squishy middles can lead to unsatisfying endings, because you lose that breakneck pace, and maybe haven’t employed all the foreshadowing and build-up your ending really needs!

Speaking of that … Satisfying Endings! The first book of the ~fantasy series~ I’m writing doesn’t have the robust, satisfying ending that it needs to have — a huge reason is because the story continues in the next volume, but I need this thing to have a juicy, satiating, satisfying ending all on its own! I’ve heard “if you have a problem in your third act, it’s because you have a problem in your first act” so this ties in with my general problem with plot — I have so much fun telling the story, I forget to make it all story-shaped. Were I better at that, at honing in on exactly what a book needs to be to make its ending satisfying and complete, I would be heads and shoulders past where I’m at now.

Basically, what I need to work on is plot. I love dialogue, I love characters, I love settings and relationships and action scenes and drama, but I definitely write all of that first and find my plot afterwards. Which leads to lots of rewriting, and panicking, and cobbling together what I can only cross my fingers and hope is a satisfying ending. I would love to really study plotting and get much better at it.

Things I’d Like to Try

Historical Fiction. I love period pieces, I love history, there’s so much I’d like to do. As Meat Loves Salt was deeply satisfying to me (and also a punch to the throat, but anyway) — I love the idea of entrenching a character drama in a historical setting and getting to teach a little history as you tell your story. (Because I love learning a little history as I read my stories. Even the ones that punch me in the throat.) A Jane Austen-esque period romance that’s m/m; something set in WWII, or Ancient Rome … so many possibilities!

A book about a dysfunctional family during the holidays because for some reason these are my favorite movies ever?

Straight-up horror because, again, these are my favorite movies ever. (A horror novel set during a dysfunctional family’s christmas gathering???)

A romance set in a coffee shop because, frankly, with the number of coffee shop AUs existing for every single fandom — there’s clearly a gold mine waiting in here.

I’d also like to fulfill middle-school!Christina’s dream of writing something to do with people with super powers. I have several drafts in ye olde back logs of my ninth grade attempts at these things. A boarding school for super powered children that’s really secretly training the kids for a militaristic takeover was the BIG ONE in high school — then I had an m/m romantic comedy where a guy gets electrocuted so many times he suddenly becomes able to conduct and control electricity. (This is a project I have so much dialogue and character stuff for — but no plot!! No story, no conflict. BLARGH. Frustrating!!)

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This tag was a lot of fun! I don’t know who out there is a writer as opposed to primarily a book blogger, so I’m going to say — if you’re a writer, and you want to do this, I tag thee! *waves feather quill wand* Go forth and self-examine, little writerlings out there!

“You want me to do … what?” // The Worst Writing Advice You’ve Ever Received

Yestervery-good-advice-1434724613day, I came across this post: The Ten Worst Pieces of Writing Advice You Will Ever Hear (And Probably Already Have). It breaks down some of the tired maxims thrown at every budding writing and explains why, while they might work sometimes, they don’t work all the time. It’s so true — While there may be tons of resources online for writers, not all of these tips, tricks, and tools bear the … ripest, tastiest of fruit. Meaning —

I’ve read some doozies out there. Advice that’s misguided at best, flat-out wrong at worst; tips that are outdated; suggestions for improvement that would actually make the piece about 1000 times worse. So, today I pose a question: What’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever received?

The worst advice I’ve ever seen on a blog post was about writing detailed sentences. The post said something like: “To write ‘She knocked on the door’ is boring and unimaginative. Instead, write: ‘She rapped her knuckles on the worn oaken door.'”

I … no. I don’t agree with this. Sometimes, if a character needs to open a door, just let them open the door. It moves the scene along quickly and avoids the pratfall of purple prose, which — if you’re rapping your knuckles against anything oaken, you’re already in severe danger. Violet Beauregard going violet danger.

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The other advice I received that I couldn’t help but shake my head at was given to me by my dad. He told me that I should include my character’s specific height, weight, hair color, and detailed physical characteristics in the first paragraph of the story. My reaction:

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I firmly believe such details should come organically, dropped into the story when they’re relevant. Sure, you want to give your readers an idea very early on of what a character looks like, but you rarely need to tell them the exact poundage this guy is carrying or that girl’s height down to the last inch!! It’s rare that omission will stop the story from progressing, and it’s absurd to think it needs to be in the very first paragraph. (tbh, no offense, father.)

Those are the worst I can think of, so now I turn it over to you: dear writers and book bloggers, what’s the most confusing, misguided, blatantly terrible advice you’ve come across??

Tips for Distraction Free Writing

As much as I love to write, I have a hard time getting into, and staying in, the “I’m working and focusing and being productive” mindset. Every time my phone dings or vibrates I have to snatch it up to see what’s happened; I have a tendency to spend much more time rereading what I’ve written than I spend writing something new; and it’s incredibly hard to stay in a word processor when I’ve got that internet browser open in the background, with Twitter just begging to be updated, Tumblr to be scrolled, and CNN.com to be glanced at quickly so I can act like I know something about current events.

So, if you’re like me, and have a desperately difficult time keeping yourself focused, here are a couple tricks and tips I’ve found useful, for when I really need to buckle down and write.

Try an app like WriteRoom, WriteOrDie, OmmWriter, or similar, (even Microsoft Word has a full screen Focus mode) that gives you a full-screen, no-nonsense, no-distraction view of your work. I love WriteRoom — it opens to a full black screen with a green font that makes me feel like a hacker in the earliest days of the internet. It’s also super easy on the eyes, and keeps me from getting overwhelmed by opening and flip-flopping between a ton of documents. I wouldn’t write my whole manuscript in WriteRoom, as it doesn’t do pages, italics, or anything like that, but it’s perfect for sprints, NaNoWriMo writing marathons, and those days when you just want to get words down.

Set a timer on your phone and down let yourself stop writing until it’s gone off. This works doubly well if you turn off your phone’s internet and place it inconveniently out of reach, so you’re not sabotaging yourself by checking it over and over.

Take the notebook and go somewhere outside, away from the Internet, to write by hand. Moving to different locations always helps me think, and I find I really need to write by hand when I’m still in the out-lining, figuring stuff out, “ack what is this thought I’m trying to capture???” stage of writing. I also like to number two to five pages at the start of the session and not let myself go inside until I’ve filled them all out.

And my final tip for distraction-free writing:

Be super interested in what you’re writing about. Much has been said for writing whether you feel inspired or not, but if your writing session feels like you’re wading through molasses, you might be not only torturing yourself, but not producing anything worth using. The best writing is going to come when you’re totally INTO whatever it is you’re working on. So, follow your whims — don’t handcuff yourself to a scene you’re not feeling. Jump ahead, jump around, write something you really want to write.

I like to read a little before I write, either a novel, part of my WIP, or even a book about writing to get myself in the right mindset — usually, by the time I’m sitting down to write, a certain scene, character, or snippet of dialogue is already floating to the surface, begging for my attention. When that happens, it doesn’t matter if my phone is chiming or what’s going on around me — my own fascination in my story trumps any distraction.

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So, my fellow writers and procrastinators, what are some tactics you try to keep yourself focused? Do you use any special apps or writing programs? And how do you avoid the temptation to update Twitter every two minutes? Leave a comment, tell me your secrets!