Tag Archive | challenges

The art of hinting

Subtile information in stories is good. That’s how I like giving information in fact. I hate telling the reader flat out that such-and-such is going on. It’s much more fun to make the reader guess and think that it’s happening.

However, just because I like doing it doesn’t mean I’m good at it.

Especially with it comes to romance.

In my mermaid novel, I have two possible romances. Okay. Forget possible. I have two real romances.

Romance one is between Nessa’s bad/evil/corrupt brother, Sagi, and a woman who helps him win the election, Chava. Somehow, I need to make it seem perfectly understandable both why Sagi likes Chava, when he’s avoided all other possible romances for the last twenty years, and even more importantly, why Chava likes Sagi, all by the halfway point of the book. The Sagi one is going to be particularly hard considering that he has been basically breaking the law, been a jerk to his sister, cheated on the election and poisoned his dad. (Though I don’t think the reader will know for sure that the dad is poisoned until after they get together, and Chava knows none of this.)

All this when I haven’t really had any real relationship ever. I can’t imagine it’ll seem that realistic.

Yet, that’s the easy romance.

The harder romance is between Nessa’s half sister, Avi, and a lawyer, Ronen. if you haven’t read Just Trust Me, you should, but besides that, you would know that Avi is considered a huge shame upon her family because her mother had an affair with an Adamah, what would be pretty equal with the blacks of the South in the 1950s. (Keep in mind, Nessa’s family is royal.) Ronen, on the other hand, hates Adamahs because they killed his best friend when he was younger and then basically got off the hook.

However, he starts to like Avi.  He doesn’t want to like Avi so he promptly tries to be curt with her. (In the mean time, Eyal starts to woo Avi but that’s for a completely other problem I’m having, also involving hinting, but I won’t put it here so I don’t give out too many hints.) So, I need him to somehow be mean without being too mean and I don’t know what to do about that!


This all comes because I’m working on fixing up this chapter that invovles an argument with Avi and Ronen but I don’t have any basis for the argument. As such, it seems awkward and uncertain in my mind. I’m not even sure if it is needed. But if I can properly set the scene, perhaps I can make it needed.

Which sounds horrible. But I don’t think that I can just drop it. Otherwise, I do this huge jump from a debate and Sagi’s reaction to the debate to Nessa’s seating. Okay, maybe I could jump that much. But I really want to get some Avi/Ronen action.

This is why I should have properly listened to myself and sworn off love stories. Because then I wouldn’t have this issue at all.

Then again, I still would, because I have the problem with Eyal’s background, Sagi remember Gilah, Itamar changing against Nessa, and hundreds of other little things to sneak into the story.

And did I say before that I like writing novels? Maybe I should change my mind on that one. :)

To be carried along downstream, or to fight against the rocks, branches, and everything else

I’ve been thinking a lot about reactive writing. See, I read that in general, a story can be made up of three basic crises, and each one with the possible exception of the first one caused by the character reacting to the previous crisis, and thus causing the next one.

Initially, I thought that was ridiculous. You don’t need a few good crises tossed in to make a story. You need complications.

But what is complication?

Allow a momentary side note on my part. I quoted someone who said that your life doesn’t make a good life story. This is true, and I’m going to explain the reason why this relates.

In writing, we can’t just let the problems and complications wash over the hero, and the hero does nothing. That’s why writing a story about my time n school doesn’t work. Yes–things happen. But I don’t react strongly enough to how they react. So I don’t have the money for tuition this semester, well, I’ll take out a loan. So now I get a chance at a special scholarship, well, I’ll submit the papers and see what happens. I don’t decide to cheat on the applications in hopes that no one else will notice, or sneak into the office and steal the other applications.

This is also why journeys don’t work well in writing. In general, a journey has things happen, but they don’t have things that the character can react to happening.

So my new name for this is reactive writing. A story can’t just be about how something happy happened. It has to be how something happened in which a character overreacted and caused even more of a problem.

Unfortunately,  I’m not doing so well at this in something I’m writing now, but hopefully with much editing it will come out.

So, how reactive is your writing?

How School Helps Writing.

This would be school. And me.

So, I’ve talked about two things with school. First, I’ve discussed how school doesn’t help me write. The stress and the homework are suitable enough distractions that I do not wrong nearly as much as I should. The other thing I’ve mentioned with school is how I don’t want to go back. And if I haven’t, well,  I just did.

School started for me today however. Again. And although it’d make more sense for me to boast on here how in one year from now, I will be a published author, it is fair for me to say that in one year I will be a registered nurse. But this recent entry into school again got me thinking on the benefits of school and writing.  So let’s see what I can come up with.

!) There are more information sources while at school. See, if I’m having a hard time, with something, I can always talk to the English Teacher I work with. Or. one of my writing center mates. At least as far as grammar and such go.

2) I need to sit down and actually do something. During the summer time, I might sit down and start to do some writing, but then I get stuck, it’s too hot, I think that I need to give the dog a hair cut and fix the desk drawer and paint the bedroom and all sorts of things. While at school, I have to sit down and focus, and sometimes it helps to focus on writing instead of homework.

3) More brain stretching. However much we may not like homework, we do get our brain stretched.  Brain stretches mean our brain is more active and we should, in theory , be able to produce better stories.

4) In the same idea as number 3, introduction of new ideas. My Wednesday posts are basically things I’ve learned in class that I give to you all. But they are things that I think might someday work well into a plot, or even as a subplot, or should probably be something considered in some circumstances. However, without school, these new ideas would never be found.

5) There’s not a lot of time. This may seem like a contradiction of ideas. After all, seriously, if we are to be in school, we’re not going to have time, which is why we like summer, we have loads of free time. But this works actually in our favor.  Reason being that if we have ten minutes on the computer before dinner is finished, which are we more likely to do? During the summer, we’d figure that we would have plenty of time after dinner to write, but during the school year, we can probably figure that we should take that extra ten minutes and use it to our advantage.

So there we have it. Five reasons why school helps, instead of hinders, writing. So maybe that’ll make me a little more optimistic about starting.

Too bogged down.

So a recent trip and school year made me learn much about my writing. And some of this probably goes back to the benefits of not writing often. However, this week’s question is probably something that all writers should at least have a clue about.

When do you find yourself unable to write, as in either the plots are just not coming to you, or the writing isn’t coming? What do you do then?

For me, I have found that I cannot write when I’m stressed.  Absolutely nothing comes to my mind to write, and even if something does, it comes out like garbage. I also can’t write when I’m really tired (like on a bus trip) because it’s like trying to shove sludge through a straw and nothing comes out.

Anyway, what about any of you?

when drawing opens doors

I haven’t had any plots in forever. Nothing good. I blame school, because in  all honest, school sucks my plotting skills dry. So even though I want to write and plot and all, I have nothing and therefore, nothing gets written.

So, slightly off topic, I’ve been thinking about how to make a knitted mermaid today. And because it seemed like fun, I decided to draw a mermaid. Picture came out awesome, except that everyone thinks she is in the net when she is really rescuing the fish from the net.

And for some reason, this is opening up all sorts of plots. She told me so much of her culture.  Things like, the reason why no human has ever seen a mermaid, not really, is because they wipe the memory of anyone who sees them. And they would be mammals, which is kinda a duh, but isn’t. And they have these elite group that frees fish, because obviously they would have domestic fish just like we have domestic animals. Maybe something with them doing genetic splicing to allow people who humans thought drowned to live as merpeople under the water, so they still live, but they’re second-class citizens to the real merpeople. And all sorts of things.

Problem is, this sounds like a really awesome world to play around in, but I don’t want to write a mermaid story. I want to write my assassin story.   I want my assassin to talk to me.

So maybe, like my sister’s been pestering me to do, I should draw her picture. But I don’t have anything to draw for her because I know nothing about her. Absolutely nothing, except that her brother is about nine years older than her, her parents died when she was 10, and she’s lived on a pirate ship ever since. But maybe then, she’ll talk to me.

Question of the Week

So, I’m actually writing a post this Sunday. It’s amazing.

This question is coming from my recent writing challenge involving this topic.

How do you do research for your story? And how much do you think good research enhances a plot?

Is it via web, books, movies, or… something else I don’t know about?

Frustrations found on yahoo answers.

I made the mistake of getting on yahoo answers to ask a question about research. Yahoo answers sucks me in, especially since I found the writing section and that I’ve been answering questions from that.

And here’s something interesting that I found there. A lot of people, and I mean a lot, posted parts of their story or something asking people to critique it. I don’t. The little bit I skim makes me think that it isn’t worth my time sifting through the mostly bad stuff to find the good points, and then I’m just going to hurt the person when I say, “This is wrong and this is bad and this you should question.”  But I find it very interesting that people actually do this.

Another thing commonly found on there is something along the lines of, “Help me with refining a plot/naming a character/naming a book/anything remotely related to rewriting.” I’d like to just get on there and smack them and say, “Dude, it’s your book. Write your own book already!” I mean, if you can’t figure out how to get a person to the ball, then either a) you don’t have a writer’s talent for plots (A writer can get anything to happen if they think long enough. Notice that last phrase. YOu have to think about it.) or b) they shouldn’t be at the ball. (Characters tell you much information that one should listen to.)

And really, do these people really think that I can help them title their book/story? Three sentences are not enough to know what the story is about, general themes, or anything. Let’s see:

An ace pilot, determined to throw off his unsavory background, tries to win the most challenging race of the galaxy.

If I were to tell you that sentence of my summary from Shad, you wouldn’t touch anything upon his discovery of himself, his realization that winning wasn’t his dream, or anything else like that. You’d go something with the race when, in reality, the race is a minor part.

It just makes me wonder sometimes how many people out there so strongly desire to be writers that they’ll try anything to do it. It’s like that book, something like, no plot, no problem, how to get you writing anyway. You need a plot to have a book.

I know. This is just one giant rant. And yes, finding people to help you in your writing path I think would be helpful. I’ve gone for so long without someone that I don’t know how to do it now. But I wish i still had someone to bounce off ideas and such. However, I don’t think that yahoo answers is the place for that kind of association.

On a side note:

SummEry vs. SummAry. Summery modifies summer, as in, the December weather was quite summery at 70º. Summary is just a brief statement about something, for example, my sentence about Shad was a summary of the book.

more concerning characters

Characters  are, in many ways , the backbone of stories. If you can write good characters and maintain good tension, you will probably create a very captivating story.

However, creating good characters is a challenge. I call them 3-Dimensional characters, as I’m sure many other people do. 3D characters is what every author should strive for, although unfortunately, some published authors do notattain that.

So, how do you do it? One of the easiest and possibly the most often overlooked thing is by creating a background. It’s one thing to say that you’re going to have a characters that was raised by pirates and is now an assassin. But how did she flip over? How did being raised by pirates effect her? Were the pirates nice? Has she had any non-questionable associations? How did that relationship end? These questions are what makes a character a good character.

Another way to know that we have a good character is if the character is different and you can answer questions about the character to makes sense. For example, I’m asked what would Shad (from my novel) do in this situation. He sees someone get hit by a car; they’re still alive but obviously badly injured. No one else is nearby to help. What does he do? He would rush in there and help, but he’d probably forget about things like calling an ambulance, because he is more used to be in a society where you help each other as you would want to be and you have to do it yourself if you want it done. My reaction would be more along the lines of call for help, then go see if I can do something. (I might be in nursing school, but the idea that I’m the one who has to step in soon if there is an accident scares me.)

So, to help you find thee questions and more develop your characters, I have found these links. They were made more for roleplayers but they’ll help us writers too.

365 questions for roleplayers and writers is exactly that.  I will warn you however that it is a PDF, so although you should be able to view it, it might make acrobat open suddenly. (I never liked viewing PDFs from the web until I got a preview function in safari.)

Character Questions has a few less questions, but more in categories. So if you wanted to focus on the character’s family, you can do that easily. However, I don’t particularly like the website, just to warn you.

So see what you discover about your characters now.

dream, sweet, dangerous dreams

So here is an interesting  question. What does the use of dreams play in ones story? What should it play? Should it play any?

I was once working on a chain story. (For those who don’t know what a chain story is, it’s where a bunch of people take turns writing sections of a story.) Someone started a dream sequence that merged into several people’s dream sequence and I was stuck with the challenge of unraveling it all. (This was before I had any confidence in writing.) Then, the person in charge of the chain story declared that there was to be no more dreams, as least for the time.

I think partly because of that experience I have shied away from dreams. I’ve also probably avoided having dreams in my own writing, I think because they appear too magical.

That all being said, here are a few of my opinions about dreams in an easier to read format.

1) Understand that dreams aren’t like real life. In real life, I can talk about myself getting up, brushing my hair, grabbing my things for the shower, going downstairs, ect. Real life is linear. Dreams are not. Dreams jump around and even when we are telling someone about our dreams, we often use words like, “Somehow we ended up at WalMart,” and, “Somehow we got there.” Or, “For some reason I was driving a car.”

2) We don’t usually question our actions in dreams. Now, I have had dreams where I’m kinda awake, kinda asleep and decided, No, I’m not going to dream about that. Or I want to do that. But in really deep sleep, we usually just take it for granted that we’re driving a car, when we’ve never driven before in our life. It’s only after the dream that we say things like, “I was driving, but I’m not sure why.”

3) Dreams can be used to foreshadow. This is probably the most common type of dream, especially in fantasy stories, where we have some wise person appearing and telling the main character to not go to such and such, that of course, he goes to anyway.

4) Dreams can also be used to tell some of the character’s true personality. This is, in some ways, a reference back to chapter 3. Take, for example, our character, Jane. jane keeps having nightmares about killing people (proving that she can actual kill someone)  and then at the end of the story, she has to kill someone for whatever reason (hopefully a good one), although she has been telling herself the whole time that she will not.

5) Dreams should be done infrequently. Unless, of course, that is the basis of your whole story. But general advice is to avoid having the character have dreams constantly for whatever reason.

6) Readers don’t like dreams. Dreams, and flashbacks, interrupt the flow of the story forwards and brings it to a screeching halt. This is part of the reason behind number 5.

7) Dreams do have characters doing things they can’t normally do. For example, I’ve had dreams about me driving (I can’t drive.), about me fighting someone in my bedroom (Never did.) And about me fighting aliens. (Never going to happen.) And sometimes, we do things that we wouldn’t normally want to do in real life either.

So, any one else have thoughts about dreams in fiction? What are some of the best dream sequences you’ve read?

don’t you hate this?

I don’t know why, but I didn’t have a good day for some reason. Which is strange, because my Saturdays are usually good. But basically I’ve been frustrated all day.

So, to calm down, I decided I’ll write a little bit before bed. That usually helps. It takes me a minute or so to figure out the title of my most recent work, but once I do, I pull it up and go to scroll up a bit to remember where I left off at.

Only to find out that the stupid computer ate the whole thing!

I had this really awesome, dangerous, horrid scene that actually came out halfway decent for a first draft. I even posted a video here about intubation after writing that, because I figured the guy would need to be intubated.

But it’s just gone. My computer has no record of this modification. I thought I saved it. I’m usually good about saving things. But apparently I either didn’t this time or appleworks didn’t figure out it was saved.

See, my biggest problem is that the computer doesn’t even think it was modified at all. It wasn’t like I realized I started something and thought it was corrupted. It’s not like I didn’t press the save button when I was done. It is more like it never existed.

So now I’m even more frustrated because I can’t do anything. I have to rewrite the whole scene, and study for two tests, and go to bed. I think I should go to bed actually.

(Although, this story is going to be hard as it is. I’ve been tossing around this story since December. So I have a challenging story to write and now I have to rewrite a scene, which I hate doing. *giant sigh*)

I have a feeling I’m going to be sharing some tips about rewriting scenes later this week. (OH, and this does not replace the question of the week if you were wondering. This is a spontaneous post to let me rant. Question of the week will be here on Sunday as normal.)