Archive | April 2012

World-building – an obvious google search

I don’t know how I have never found this before. I’ve been on the SFWA website before. (It’s actually pretty cool there.) I’ve even posted articles from there.

However, I found this for the first time.

It’s a world building questionnaire.

And it is totally awesome. It has everything, from how big is a town, and how did humans get to the world.

If you write sci-fi or fantasy, I would seriously check it out.

I would also check out this persons rants about what makes bad world building and the following comments. The interesting thoughts there that I saw are:

1) Rulers usually throw money at people who can heal people and people who can destroy people. So why don’t healers (magical of course) get more money?

2) If the magical people have magical power and can throw fireballs at whoever, why isn’t a magical person king?

Oh, and if you were wondering, my google search was world building questionnaire. Don’t know why I didn’t think of it before.

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Typically jealousy turned to advice to a new writer.

If you’ve been around, you realize that I have recently seriously pursued publication. Seriously as in I actually did something about it. It’s been a long time coming and it’s been a really, really long time since I began writing.

(Just to recap:

  • Began writing a stupidly Star Trek story in 2002.
  • Began writing in February 2003
  • Submitted stuff to a writing contest in December 2003.  (Which gave me 3rd place.) First time I allowed pretty much anyone to see what I wrote.
  • Started role playing in spring of 2004.
  • Somewhere here I began seriously writing my first novel.
  • Gave up on first novel in August 2008 as being too difficult to fix all the holes and I wanted to write another novel.
  • Wrote second novel’s first draft between August 2008 and December 2008.  Began editing.
  • December 2009 began this blog.
  • Submitted  some stuff  to the college writing contest in January 2010 and lost.
  • Submitted Just Trust Me in January 2011 and came in 3rd place in Spring 2011.
  • March 2011 began another novel, mermaids.
  • Finally finished a synopsis in December 2011.
  • Submitted Shad for publication in Feb 2012 along with Just Trust Me to Tor.com.

In between 2007 and 2012 I’ve also been writing so many other stories, both novels and short stories. This just mainly highlights the big things that happened physical, And why do I show this? Because I’ve been working hard. I’ve heard a lot since I began writing to get to where I am. To get to the point that I am pretty good.

So why do I bring this up?

Because a facebook friend of mine mentioned that she began writing in October an idea she’s had. Okay. That’s fine. I wrote Shad based off of an idea I had for over a year. But the problem I’m having, and where I’m struggling, is that she then says that she is going to do a read through to make sure it looks good and then submit it for publication. (Not only that, but she got a call for a publishing house. I have a gut feeling based on what she said though it’s a self publishing house.)

Still, it’s hard, because I read this and it’s like she might have it all figured out when she has only been writing since October really. And I want to justify why my stuff is better than hers but that’s not fair either. I don’t know. Maybe it is.

On the other hand, maybe we could help each other. I mean, after all, we both write. I have been dying for a writing partner. But does that do me any good? I don’t know. I would be so scared that I would assume a superior attitude unintentionally because everything tells me that logically, what she has can’t be good. And besides, I don’t know if, in the beginning, I would have been ready to tear apart my novels to the degree I do now.

You know, that’s an interesting thought. Okay, I am actually going to change the total tone of this post starting now. Why? Because sometimes it works better for me to brood and sometimes it works better for me to help. So I’m going to try to help.

Here are the biggest things I have learned from that past experience writing.

1.) Learn to write badly. With some stories (not all) it works just getting a brain fart on paper and fixing it up really carefully. I’ve done that with my last two stories and they’ve come out pretty decently. Sometime, especially beginning writers, get so caught up in making it look good the first time that they forget to actually edit.

2.) Editing is a long, long process: Nothing is good the first time. Good only comes from careful editing that often happens several times. In a short story, I went through one scene almost four times before I finally moved on, just because I couldn’t get it right. Then later I edited it another two.

3.) Sometimes editing involves deleting. Anyone who has done any kind of editing knows that editing isn’t pretty. It’s hard. It involves making decisions and sometimes those decisions require a delete key. I’ve combined two scenes into one, which involved rewriting both scenes. I’ve deleted whole sections. I’ve discovered after complete a story and editing it once that the story didn’t have a really good plot and I needed to fix that. It doesn’t involve just a read through.

4.) Characters need to talk. No story will be good unless you yourself can hear the characters. I have looked at scenes and said, “No. I don’t like that line. He won’t say that.” I’ve also written scenes where it felt like I could hear the POV character’s in my head. The more you get to know your characters, the more you will have to listen to them. And sometimes that means bad/annoying things happen. Sometimes it means pretty cool things happen.

For example, in mermaids I had problems because I wanted one character (Ronen) to kiss another (Avi). I got it so that it would. However, Avi’s reaction that I originally wrote didn’t work and instead, she banished Ronen from ever seeing her again. (Haha!) Problem is that Ronen was needed to 1) tell her she is going to be reagent and 2) make her eventually fall in love with her. (Evil author strikes again.) I could listen to Avi and allow her to banish him or I could make it easier for me. I chose the former and–tada!–the story actually came out better. (See why it’s important now.)

5.) Your first novel (typically) sucks. I don’t remember where I read that exactly, but the  message is the same. The person said to write you first novel, learn everything you can, and then hide in a drawer because it really isn’t good. Though I still love the characters and the plot in Hope (my first novel), I did eventually discard it because it was so bad.

6.) If you can find them, find a writer support. When I first began, I had my brother. Then my sister kinda took over the place along with my friend, Alyssa. Now, I have no one and it is actually really hard. I would love to be able to sit down and talk with someone about this thing I should be writing instead of this, but I don’t have anyone. So find that special person and keep them close.

7.) Don’t ask yahoo answers for any help. They won’t help you.

That’s the big things I can think of right now. Writing is fun. It takes time. It’s hard because it is a personal activity that doesn’t involve other people too often. But if you really want to learn how to be a good writer, then go for it. Because nothing beats having hundreds of characters dancing in your head.

College abroad

I love learning about different cultures, so when my friend wrote this comparison between her life at a college in Georgia (USA) to her life in Reading, England, I had to read it.

Since it pretty much covered all of my confusion, here is the article for you to read as well.

Dear RP* friend,

RP = Role play. We would both have some characters and they would interact to create a story freestyle on a message board. 

We met because of a message board glitch. It allowed me to change my name to the evil twin of my name, and then hold you prisoner until you did something. I don’t remember what. But that is what began ETOLT.

We wrote ETOLT 1-4, then we began writing new stories. Even now, that we are both in college, we write stories over the summer while you “work” and I do nothing because I can’t find work. We even still reference our characters.

Did you know how much you helped m learn how to write though?

In some ways, I look at the time after we met to the time that I finally finished my first novel as taking such a long time. I would hardly do any writing because we’d be constantly RPing.

Yet, those weren’t wasted years. I learned so much about listening to a character and letting a character act as they want, and not as I want them to.

I also learned about dialogue and how valuable it is to have good dialouge.

In some ways, I learned about how how to cut out to boring stuff. Sometimes, when I read through our old stories, I hold my head in misery against the bad sections of just the characters doing literally nothing. We didn’t figure out right away to cut a scene if nothing happened. But that’s okay, because it went into my writing.

It’s also because of our RPs that I am now able to draw, although that has nothing to do with writing.

Sure, I do sometimes miss that we can’t do it all year, but that’s okay. We both have very busy lives now. I just thought you should know how much you actually helped me become the writer I am, because we all need help writing at some point in time.

Dear sister, or, Goodbye to a writing friend

Dear sister,

I began writing because of you. Did you know that? Sure, I also wrote because of Star Trek, but real computer writing began because of you. It started when I told you stories at night. Do you remember that? We’d stay up and I’d tell you an ongoing story. If we had to go to sleep, I come up with a cliff hanger quickly. However, telling you stories at night took too long, and we couldn’t record them, so I began to write them down for you. In the car on the way to Springfield on February 14th.

Jennifer Bullinger stared at out the scene before her.

However, I didn’t show them to you then. I showed them to our brother. He liked them and became my first helper in writing. But then again, he was eleven and I was fifteen. Neither of us knew much about writing.

I gave you these books to you for your thirteenth birthday. You still have them too, upstairs on your bookshelf. By the time I finished my first official novel, Hope, our brother didn’t want to read it and I wasn’t sure I wanted him to read it. He had become too logical.

However, in between those four years, you had matured. I began sharing with you ideas for my stories. You helped me tighten and improve plots; in many ways,  you became a bouncing board for my ideas. Even though you don’t always say much, you sometimes said enough and sometimes you realized that all I needed to do was talk aloud.

From when you were thirteen to sixteen, you helped me. I’d tell you ideas and you would tell me what you thought. Often, you were one of the first people to hear about a story idea. You were the first one to know why Sagi hates the Yoni. You know all about Shad and my mermaids. You heard my mental discussions about whether to give my mermaids legs or fins. You know a lot about my stories. More than any other reader.

And, whenever we get to share a room still, and I ask if you want to know a plot or two, you get all excited. You want to know them. You want to know them all.

Do you even realize how much you know about me and my writing? You are one of the only people who know I submitted work for publication. Only you, in our family, know about my blog. Only you know that I am considering submitted short stories for self publication. You gave me some serious help with my synopsis.

Often you are one of the first people to read what I write and you would get mad when you weren’t. You have no idea how much help you gave me when you would read it so I could ask you questions. Those times after you read a story helped me more than you could imagine.

You told me that you want a book dedicated after you, as payment for all the help I’ve given you. I agreed then. Jokingly I’d tell you that it would be to, “Elianna, because she thinks that she deserves a book for listening to all my brilliant thoughts when in reality she did so little.”

You know, it hasn’t been the same since the summer though. I don’t think it’s me. I want to share. I almost need someone to share all my ideas with. (I go insane sometimes with all my ideas.) However, you aren’t doing what I really need you to do. You aren’t reading anything.

Since September, I’ve written three short stories. All three of them are pretty good. (It’s not like summer of 2010 when I wrote a bunch of bad short stories.) But you not only have not read them, you haven’t even suggested that you want to read them. Counting those, it now places the number at five stories that you have not read of mine. Five. And yes, I’d like to know what you think, but I can’t force you to read them. I can’t demand that you do anything.

But I can’t discuss things with you if you don’t read then. I don’t think I’m asking too much. Maybe you do like hearing the plots; I don’t know. But here’s what I do know. You aren’t helping me anymore. Not only that, but you don’t want to.

It finally hit this weekend. I just suggested that it is hard because I want to write to more sections of story, but I don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of. Sure, I have a best friend at school, but she isn’t helpful in that area. I just e-mailed you on Thursday suggesting that it’d be helpful if you read it. When I asked if you saw my e-mail, you responded with, “I saw you were complaining.” Not meanly. Just in your normal voice of, “Yeah. I saw it. But I didn’t really think about it.”

Do you know what you told me then?  You basically said that you don’t care about what I write. You don’t care about my stories.

I realize that you’ve grown up. You’re almost eighteen now. Maybe you don’t have time for silly little stories your older sister writes. But I’m going to miss you nonetheless. I’m going to miss telling you all the ideas that come into my head. I’m going to miss getting your help with problems. I’m going to miss having characters that only we know about, like secrets sisters share. Or making Shad into a character on the wii.

Because even if you’ve grown up and you’ve moved on, I haven’t. I’m still writing. I’ll always be writing. Even if you aren’t going to read.

So I’m sorry it came to this. I really hope it wasn’t because I am at college now. But either way, I think I understand.  Just so you know.