Category Archives: Writing

Monday Morning Wisdom #311

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Monday Morning Wisdom #311

“I tell my students there is such a thing as ‘writer’s block,’ and they should respect it. You shouldn’t write through it. It’s blocked because it ought to be blocked, because you haven’t got it right now.”
—Toni Morrison

Creative Juice #243

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Creative Juice #243

12 articles to marvel over:

Monday Morning Wisdom #310

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Monday Morning Wisdom #310

“Writing—the art of communicating thoughts to the mind, through the eye—is the great invention of the world.”
—Abraham Lincoln

Guest Post: Why Writers Should Have YouTube Channels, by Web Design Relief

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This article has been reprinted with the permission of Web Design Relief.  Whether you’re just starting out or a best-selling author, Web Design Relief will improve your existing website or build you an affordable, custom author website to support your author platform, boost your online presence, and act as a hub for your social media outreach. Web Design Relief is a division of Writer’s Relief, a highly recommended author’s submission service. Sign up for their free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit the site today to learn more.

As a writer, you may think YouTube isn’t a worthwhile platform for reaching out to your readers and building an audience. Think again—your readers love to watch videos! The media experts at Web Design Relief know that YouTube has over a billion users, and it’s currently the second most popular platform after Facebook. Here are more reasons why writers should have YouTube channels.

Why More Writers Are Creating YouTube Channels

More Exposure: The more times you show up in an Internet search, the better! Along with your social media platforms and author website, having a YouTube channel helps you reach a wider audience and makes you more findable by literary agents and editors. Since YouTube is owned by Google, it also sends traffic to YouTube channels. If a potential new reader conducts an online search for your topics or writing style, Google will display your YouTube channel in the search results. Be sure to keep your content fresh and interesting so visitors to your channel choose to become subscribers! Here are innovative ways to increase your visibility on YouTube.

Better Engagement: Readers who visit your YouTube channel are actively searching for your specific type of content, so your videos will command more of their attention and generate more responses and interaction. Plus, unlike posts on social media that can be buried under other posts and lost forever, YouTube videos will always pop up in a search if the topic is relevant. Visitors who watch your videos are obviously interested in you and your writing, so asking your YouTube audience to sign up for your e-mail list or newsletter is another great way to connect and grow your fan base.

Increased Readership. If you provide quality content on a consistent basis, your regular readers will be delighted with your channel and new readers who browsed in for one topic may stay and watch your other videos. Visitors who enjoy your content and subscribe to your channel will receive notifications whenever you post new content. Viewers who watch your YouTube channel are more likely to share your content with other booklovers and literature fans, bringing you and your writing to the attention of new readers—and potential new subscribers!

Joining Is Free: There’s no cost to create your YouTube channel and start posting videos. You can build your readership, become more visible in online searches, and engage your followers without spending lots of your hard-earned cash. YouTube does offer the option to purchase ads, but it’s not necessary to pay to play.

Bonus: Once you develop a substantial following on your YouTube channel, you can choose to monetize your videos so they can generate income for you! And while making a living from YouTubing is rare, you may bring in enough money to buy that new journal you’ve had your eye on.

YouTube Videos Can Be Reused: You can take the videos you create for your YouTube channel and embed them on your author website and into blog articles, as well as feature the videos on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. Since videos are popular on social media platforms, you’ll capture your followers’ attention more effectively in their feeds.

A YouTube channel is a great way to connect with your audience and grow your following. And you don’t need to have expensive video equipment or expert camera skills to get started! You can read some of your published work, answer questions about your writing process, give writing tips and advice, and much more. It’s a great way to stand out and be noticed!

Question: Which authors do you follow on YouTube?

Monday Morning Wisdom #309

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Monday Morning Wisdom #309

“The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting.”
—Stephen King

Creative Juice #241

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Creative Juice #241

Mentally stimulating. Inspiring. Lovely to look at.

Monday Morning Wisdom #308

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Monday Morning Wisdom #308

“Serious writers write, inspired or not. Over time they discover that routine is a better friend than inspiration.”
~Ralph Keyes

The Power of “What If. . .”

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I always have ideas for new writing projects—especially when I’m up to my elbows rewriting. My brain would much rather be working on the next shiny thing than polishing up my works-in-progress.

How do I generate ideas?

Most of my fiction ideas come from wondering “what if. . .” Like, what if a teenager discovers a unicorn living in the woods behind her house? What if a woman recognizes a missing girl as someone she’d seen in a recurring dream? What if the new girl in school decides to make friends by running for class president?

Please don’t steal my ideas—I’m working on all of these right now.

Instead, think what if. . .

Sometimes it helps to start with random elements: a setting, a character, a situation. Make lists of these things. Mix them up and see what happens.

Or here. I’ll make it easy for you.

Pick one item from column one, one from column two, one from column three and one from column four and see what happens. You may have to finagle a little.

What if . . .

1234
a carbuysa peanutbut it’s illegal.
a bearspanksa gloveand it catches fire.
a doctoreatsan atombut there’s an earthquake.
a garbage collectormakesan unknown virusand turns it into an empire.
a life guardformsa corporationand becomes very popular.
an insurance salesmanfollowsa hospitalbut an evil twin ruins it.
a horsebreaksa mermaidand it turns into gold.
a dogstealsa cellphoneand the same day keeps repeating.
a teacherinventsa cityand starts a trend.
a computer programmercooksa homeless personbut forgets where it is.
an astronautdrawsa calendarin the midst of a snowstorm.
a helicopterpretends to bean elevatorbut there’s a snake in the basement.
a zombiemortifiesgasolinejust as World War III begins.
a rabbilosesa joggerand falls in love.
a pregnant womanbuildsmoneyand becomes the next internet sensation.
a teenaged boylovesbooksand gets transported into a parallel universe.
my left shoefindsa rock bandand stumbles into a robbery in progress.
an armysellsa clarinetbut the warranty expired.
an elephantruns intoa backpackwhile acting as a Russian spy.
the presidentalienatesa nunwho turns out to be their birth mother.

Now it’s your turn. Use this idea generator to come up with a story line. It doesn’t have to adhere strictly to the four items you chose; let your imagination take you where it will. Write a piece of flash fiction or a short story. Post it on your blog or on social media, and include a link below. Or, better yet, submit it to a contest from the Poets and Writers database and tell us about it. (Good luck!)

Monday Morning Wisdom #307

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Monday Morning Wisdom #307

“It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.”
~Jack Kerouac

Guest Post: Using Direct And Indirect Characterization To Make Characters Seem Real, by Writer’s Relief

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This article has been reprinted with the permission of Writer’s Relief, a highly recommended author’s submission service. We assist writers with preparing their submissions and researching the best markets. We have a service for every budget, as well as a free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit our site today to learn more.

Even the best story will fall flat without spot-on character development. At Writer’s Relief, we know that good characterization is vital to a short story or novel. But bringing a character to life may sometimes seem complicated—what writing techniques should you use? Both direct and indirect characterization will make your characters seem more real. Here’s how to use characterization to help breathe life into your characters and move your plot forward.

How To Use Direct And Indirect Characterization

5 Writing Tips For Using Direct Characterization

Direct characterization is a very straightforward method of developing your character. You tell readers what they need to know about the character by describing specific attributes, routines, and desires. This method of characterization can be extremely useful for introducing a new character and making sure they take root in your readers’ minds. To use direct characterization in your writing, answer these questions:

What are your character’s physical attributes? Physical attributes—hair and eye color, height and body size, any scars or tattoos—will help readers to create a picture of your character. The more unique, the better! You can also include details about the character’s fashion sense.

What does your character do? This can provide an important piece of the character’s foundation. Telling readers your character’s job, whether or not they’re good at it, and whether or not they like their work, reveals a lot about who that character is.

What are your character’s hobbies? What does your character like to do with their spare time? This will give readers information about the character’s personality: A character who prefers quiet, intricate puzzles may be more patient and inquisitive, whereas a character who prefers skydiving and hiking may be bolder or perhaps even reckless.

What does your character like and dislike? Opinions and quirks come together to build your character’s worldview. Food preferences, pet peeves, and what they look for in friends are all details that will help round out your character.

What does your character want? By answering this simple question, you begin defining and communicating a character’s motivation. What goal are they working toward? What drives them forward? Understanding a character’s motivation is crucial to building readers’ knowledge of who that character is and what their story will be.

6 Writing Tips For Using Indirect Characterization

Indirect characterization lets readers get to know a character through thoughts, actions, and speech. This type of characterization focuses on how your character interacts with other characters, as well as the world around them. To use indirect characterization in your writing, answer these questions:

How does your character’s voice sound? In narration, thought, and dialogue, it’s important to develop a unique, recognizable voice for your character: Do they tend to use flowery, drawn-out language rife with similes and metaphors, or do they prefer to get straight to the point without mincing words? Does the character have an accent or any defining speech patterns? Whether a character talks a lot or lets others do the talking is also a good personality indicator.

Does your character choose to act or stand aside? Choosing to take initiative is hugely defining for a character, whether it’s during a dangerous situation or simply in day-to-day decisions. Do they confront situations head-on, or do they prefer to stand back and watch as things develop? Is the character a leader or a follower: Would they take charge of their friends or coworkers if necessary?

How does your character react to big events? It’s important to consider how your character will react under pressure or stress. Does your character stay calm or panic when they’re up against a crisis? Is “fight” or “flight” more your character’s M.O. (method of operation)?

How does your character treat other characters? It’s important to show how your character interacts with those socially below them as well as with their equals and superiors.

What are the consequences of your character’s actions? How does your character handle the consequences of their choices and actions? Do their motivations affect their reactions to consequences?

How does your character interpret the story’s setting? It’s important to show readers how the character describes the surroundings. Two characters might describe the same scene totally differently, depending on how observant they are and what they’re feeling at the time.

Both direct characterization and indirect characterization have benefits and drawbacks. For example, using too much direct characterization can make a character feel distanced from the readers, since you are only using superficial descriptions. But using too much indirect characterization can result in your readers struggling to put together a full character arc from a rootless series of actions and reactions. Each character has their own story, and it’s important to use a combination of direct and indirect characterization to create a three-dimensional, full character who will seem real to your readers. Check out this “interview” our experts put together—79 questions to help you discover all you need to know about your characters!

Question: What do you find most challenging about creating a character?