Friday, August 24, 2012

Paper vs. Computer, which is better?

Sorry for my also prolonged absent, I went on vacation and forgot some things. Anyways, this post was originally posted on Birds of a Writer.

Anyways, so today instead of rambling about books I will ramble about paper vs computers? Which is better? Or is there even a "better"?

Computers- Pros

  • Better organization. 
  • Its easier to store your files in multiple places. You can store them on your computer itself or on the internet. 
  • Easier to erase and add things. 
  • Easier way to share your story with multiple people. 
  • You can type up your project on different kinds of document writers besides Microsoft Office, like Scrivener, Wordpad, LibreOffice, and others. 
  • If you're a fast typist, you don't have to worry about messy hand writing and some people are faster typist then they are at handwriting. Its easy to change fonts too. 
  • You can store all your research and stuff into files for quick easy access. 
  • Your work can be password protected. 
  • If you want to put a document onto paper, then you have to print it off. And overtime, it'll cost lots of money. 
  • It might be easier to catch a virus, accidently delete something, or corrupt your project. 
  • If you change word processors (like when my Microsoft office stopped working and I had to convert all my files so they would work on different programs) you'll have to convert files. 
  • You can forget passwords or have something hacked.
  • If you share something online, there's always a chance it could be stolen. 
  • It can be easy to make a ton of files and loose stuff. 
  • Your computer can die and if you don't have backups, you'll loose your projects.
Paper- Pros
  • Like using different word processors, you can use different kinds of paper. 
  • You can use journals, notebooks, sketchbooks, or any other form of blank books to write in. You can even choose between lines and unlined (you can do choose this too on some word processors).
  • Different colored ink in pens, crayons, colored pencils, markers, etc. 
  • Pen vs pencil. 
  • You can write or draw in the margins. 
  • There's that wonderful feel of paper. 
  • Might be more convenient. 
Paper- Cons
  • Its easier to loose and destroy in some cases. 
  • No password protection. In most cases, anyone can find it and read it. 
  • You might have messy handwriting or get cramps easily. 
  • Its harder to share with multiple people. 
  • You might have a harder time keeping notes, research, and your project organized. 
  • It takes more space to store paper. 
  • It takes lots of time to write something and then transfer it to your computer.
  • Kills trees. 
Combined Pros.
  • Both can have different fonts, shapes, colors, and sizes. 
  • Both can be lined or no lines (in some cases).
  • With somethings on the computer, you can draw or write in the margins like on paper. 
  • You can organize your stuff into files. 
Combined Cons
  • Cramps either way. 
  • You can destroy stuff either way.
  • Distractions either way. 

So well, there it is. A list of the pros and cons of writing on either paper or computer. Which do you prefer? Do you have anything to add to these lists?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Quotes For Writers

Sorry about my prolonged absence!  I've been gone on and off so many times this summer that I lost track of when I was supposed to post.  So, here it goes! 

The post title says it all. Here are some of my favorite quotes on writing:

“If writers wrote as carelessly as some people talk, then adhasdh asdglaseuyt[bn[ pasdlgkhasdfasdf.”
― Lemony Snicket

“So what? All writers are lunatics!”
― Cornelia Funke

“If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”
― Toni Morrison

“Fiction is the truth inside the lie.”
― Stephen King

“Someone needs to tell those tales...There's magic in that. It's in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words.”
― Erin Morgenstern

“The trouble with quotes on the internet is that it’s difficult to discern whether or not they are genuine.”
― Abraham Lincoln

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
― J.K. Rowling

“Don't loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club.”
― Jack London

“Some people have a way with words, and other people...oh, uh, not have way.”
― Steve Martin

“we write every day, we fight every day, we think and scheme and dream a little dream every day. manuscripts pile up in the kitchen sink, run-on sentences dangle around our necks. we plant purple prose in our gardens and snip the adverbs only to thread them in our hair. we write with no guarantees, no certainties, no promises of what might come and we do it anyway. this is who we are.”
― Tahereh Mafi (No caps because that's how Tahereh Mafi blogs. And yet her blog is still awesome, because she neglects capitalization with style.)

“Some writers enjoy writing, I am told. Not me. I enjoy having written.”
― George R.R. Martin

I want to blow this up really big and put it on my ceiling,
above my bed.
“It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
― Madeleine L'Engle

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
― Mark Twain

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”
― Saul Bellow

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
― Robert Frost

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
― Stephen King

"A writer writes not because they like to write, but because writing is something that is ingrained in every fiber of their being."
― Me (from this blog post)

“Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it.
Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window.”
― William Faulkner

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.”
― Isaac Asimov

“Always be a poet, even in prose.”
― Charles Baudelaire

“Write the kind of story you would like to read. People will give you all sorts of advice about writing, but if you are not writing something you like, no one else will like it either.”
― Meg Cabot

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
― John Steinbeck

“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it.”
― Ana├»s Nin

“Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald

“I want to gather up all the ink cartridges in the universe, because somewhere, mixed in with all that ink, is the next great American novel. And I’d love nothing more than to drink it.”
― Jarod Kintz

"One does not simply write a novel. It is folly."
Creative Writing Cat

“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”
― Markus Zusak

“A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
― Thomas Mann

And my all-time favorite:
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
― Stephen King

You can learn quite a bit from quotes. There are many, many more out there, if you just search "quotes on writing". And no, I'm not an advertiser for Stephen King. I've never read a book by him. I just think he has good quotes on writing.

And yes, I had to throw in the Lincoln one.

What are your favorite quotes on writing?

This post was originally published at The Epic, the Awesome, and the Random.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How to Ruin your Novel

I'll say this first, all stories written are just previous stories with the writer's own twists. Everything's been done before, but that doesn't mean you can't use one or a few of those ideas. Just add your own touch to them. Of course, unless you're writing a crackfic to post for whatever reason on the Internet, don't shove everything your pretty little brain can think of into your novel. It has to make sense, or at least seem like it makes sense.  

Your readers aren't idiots. They don't need you to write paragraphs after paragraphs explaining every little thing. Some things are better left shrouded in mystery, piquing the reader's interest, others are better off explained in a few short sentences. Once you explain something, you don't need to repeat it every chapter. Stay on track. Don't start recapping the events like you're some commentator. It gets annoying.

No Emotion
If there are no emotions in a novel, it makes the novel feel like a manual or a textbook. Boring. If you want your readers to laugh and cry along with your characters, describe their emotions. Put yourself in your characters shoes. Even if you haven't experienced what they're going through, think about how they would be feeling.
Here's a body language cheat sheet to help you: [link]

No Conflict
There's absolutely no conflict in your story. People read stories to live another life through the characters. If they can't relate to them, they won't experience their life. The characters need to want something and that something needs to be worthwhile. There needs to be setbacks, things that prevent the character from getting what he or she wants. Make the reader want to stay and root for the characters.

The readers don't have to love your character, but they have to care about what happens to them. If they don't care about the character, they don't care about the book.
Antagonists don't have to be pure evil, the same way protagonists don't have to always be good. The antagonist may have the right goal in mind, but they're going about it the wrong way. The protagonist might resort to underhanded tactics to get what he or she wants. That's okay.

It might be a little hard to tell when you should begin your story. Just write enough to make your readers care about what happens to the character and make them continue reading. If you jump right into the action, say your character about to be killed by a monster, why should the reader care about their death? They don't really know much about him or her. Back up a little and try to express that character's motivation. You don't necessarily have to tell the reader what the character wants, but they should know that the character wants it.

Lazy writing is bad writing. Laziness isn't just limited to letting the draft sit there unedited for weeks, months, even years. It includes relying on cliches and telling instead of showing what the character is feeling, thinking and doing. Don't keep your readers away and give them a detached summary of what's going on in your head, show them.

Giving Up
Writing a novel is a lot of work. Sometimes, you just sit there for hours, staring at a blank page, waiting for words to come to you. At other times, you might be staring at a draft wondering how you're supposed to improve it. If you don't write your novel, then who will? It's certainly not going to write itselfYou have to write it. It's your story, isn't it?  

I hope this helps and have fun writing!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Character Needs vs. Wants

A huge part of figuring out who your characters are is figuring out what they want most in life. And also, what they need most. These are an integral part of your story. In fact, it's really the only reason you have a story at all. It's hard to write a book if you don't know what your character wants, and how far they'll go to get it.

At some point during your writing, I highly recommend you sit down and do two things. I recommend doing this before you even start the book, but if you're having character troubles, it's also a good way of straightening them out. You should write down the answers to these two questions:

1) What does your character want most?
2) What does this character need most?

These questions help you with character development. Actually, they help with plotting too. I'm convinced you can't have a book without having answered these questions in some way or other.

They're more complex than they seem, though. And no, they aren't the same question. What your character wants and what they need can often be two very separate things, sometimes conflicting. Here's an example from my book, Secrets of the Legend Chaser. Once again, I'll use my ever-willing (Haha, kidding, he has no choice! Love you, buddy! Yep, he'll be making me pay for this during revision tonight.) guinea pig, Davi.

What Davi wants: to find the dragon eggs (he's searching for a legendary bunch of them, a treasure allegedly stolen away by humans hundreds of years ago). A desire which, in turn, comes from a desire to feel responsible, to feel like he's able to accomplish something.
What Davi needs: to go back to his home and forgive his father.

What Davi wants and what he needs are two very different things. What he wants is completely controlled by him, something he feels he must achieve in order to prove himself.

He's actually not even aware of his need. It's there, in some deep part of him, but he doesn't know it. In fact, the last thing he wants is to go back and face his father. It's something he's been avoiding for five whole years.

What he doesn't realize is that he has a forgiveness problem. And a guilt problem. Both of these would be solved by returning to his father, but of course, that's the last thing he wants. But the guilt lurks at the corners of his mind, never leaving. It haunts his every step. It's slowly getting to him.

At one point in the book, Davi has realized that what he wants doesn't exist (which may or may not be actually the case, as he finds later....). He's crushed. Having been denied the one thing he wants, he's left with no choice but to return to his father. Where he finally gets his needs met.

Throughout the book, though, his wants and needs are at constant odds with one another. Davi pushes away his needs because he fears them, which creates more conflict. And your goal as a writer is always to create the maximum amount of conflict possible.

There's a good chance your character's wants and needs will be different. Sometimes they'll overlap, but often times they won't. Take advantage of this. Exploit it, because it has countless wonderful conflict opportunities to offer.

What your character wants, and what they need, are integral parts of your story. If you know them, you have a solid handle on who this character is, what what the plot will be.

You tell me: Do your characters' needs and wants differ? How do they conflict? How do you use this?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

How to Not Write A Good Pitch.

This post was originally posted on Birds of a Writer.

Book pitches (or blurbs, but I like to call them pitches) are very important. One could argue that they're the most important factor in whether or not someone will buy your book. I'm sure everyone here could say that they've bought or picked up a book because those 250 or some words on the inside flap or back cover sounded interesting. But I think that most authors end up having pitches that ends up sounding like a bunch of other pitches. So what does and what doesn't make a good pitch?

This has been annoying me a lot lately. Mostly because it seems like I see it on almost every book pitch I read. And I'm sure you've seen lots of these too. And guess what, they're not unique or exciting anymore. Here's what I mean:
  1. (Insert character name here) was a normal (girl/boy) who just wanted a normal lifeOr something like that. Guess what, people don't read books because they want to read about someone who's life is probably just as boring as their's. And characters who may have had a normal life in the beginning, their lives usually end up never being normal ever again. So why have it? 
  2. And nothing is as it seems... Blah, blah, blah. Yeah I get it, in every book nothing is as it seems. And do I really care? Probably not unless it's something really good. My advice: don't even put that in the pitch. It's boring and used way too much. In the book I'm writing, Night Lies, literally nothing is what it seems, but I say that no where in the pitch. Because I want it to be a surprise, something that my readers weren't suspecting. 
  3. Nothing will ever be the same... We got that already. Especially when you began the pitch with (Insert character name here) was a normal (girl/boy) who just wanted a normal life. In what story please tell me, is anything ever the same afterwards?
  4. (Character name) will learn some startling truths but not only everything else, but him/herself...Really? I had no idea that was going to happen! *sarcasm* 
  5. (Main Character) will have to choose between two men/women.Something like that. I've already had this talk about love triangles. They aren't cool anymore. 
  6. In a race against time...Doesn't everything end up being a race against time?
Now I'm not saying that you can't put these in your pitch, but when you're writing one, try to be original and not use the same thing we've seen over and over. People want something exciting and fresh, and while these are certainly exciting, they're just used all the time. 

But let's face it. Trying to fit your whole book into 250 (more or less) words is hard. And I'm sure every writer will tell you that. Sure some have it easier than others and some books have easier pitches than others. I've written several pitches for my unpublished books where I came up with a great one in a day while others took me a long time to get it right. 

Oh and the best way to make an especially bad pitch is to write a really good one, but then have the book be something totally different. 

Yeah I saw that once. 

No lie.

Well it wasn't in anything published, but I saw it once on Inkpop. There was this awesome pitch but when I went to read the story, it ended up being something totally different. I wasn't sure if the author meant to do that on purpose or if it was an accident. Because for all I know, the author could have just uploaded the wrong story and have not noticed. Although whatever the case was, it story wasn't all that good anyways. 

The point of that was, if you're going to write an awesome pitch, make sure it has something to do with the story. Because your readers will know that you lied and they will tell all their friends and you'll have lost what could have been a great book. 

Another tip, don't copy another book's pitch just because it's similar to yours and it sounds awesome. You'll most likely be found out and sued for all your worth because you stole some one else's work. That or people will assume that your book is a rip off of another great book and won't read yours. 

So what other things about pitches annoys you? Have you seen any other common pitch sentences? And have you ever read a book where the pitch was different from the story?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Advice on Chapters

It seems like a lot of writers are worried about the lengths of their chapters. What's considered too long, too short? What's just-right?

The good thing here is that the answer is short and sweet: there is no ideal chapter length. As long as all of your chapters are reasonably consistent (i.e. don't have one chapter take fifty pages and another take five), you'll be just fine.

Some books, like Maximum Ride, for example, have very short chapters. Many of these chapters have two to four pages. I've heard that Stephen King wrote a chapter that had only four words. Having short chapters like this makes the story seem like it moves along more quickly, highlighting the feelings of action and suspense. Some books, on the other hand, could have chapters up to fifty pages in length. This is fine, too. It highlights the complexity of the story, and breaks it up into broad pieces that each have something a little different.

The one thing to remember with chapters is that you never want to end in safe place. When you're reading a book, you want a convenient place to put it down, right? You're not going to stop reading in the middle of an action sequence or when something important is about to be revealed. You want to put it down in a place that's comfortable and has little or no tension.

Because of this, you don't want to end your chapter in a "safe" spot. Don't end with the protagonist contemplating recent events before she turns out the light to go to sleep. Instead, end with your main character dangling off the edge of a cliff. If you end every chapter with a moment of suspense, readers won't want to put your book down.

"Safe" doesn't necessarily mean that the MC is safe from space aliens or whatever. The character could be physically safe, but maybe the chapter ends with the revelation that the captain of the space aliens is actually her ex-boyfriend, or something. And action doesn't have to be life-threatening, either. It could also mean a heated argument, a love scene, etc.

Just remember: when you write a book, your goal is to write something that your readers can't put down. If you end each chapter with something exciting, they'll want to stay up half the night saying "one more more chapter..."

Originally spotted at The Epic, the Awesome, and the Random.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Inkie Interview- Kristin

Hey guys! So, we're back with "Inkie Interviews" (although really, anyone who wants to be interviewed can). I haven't done these since the  shutdown of Inkpop, but since I'm in contact with most of the Inkies again, I've started these back up. 

So our first interviewee of the summer is, Kristin, who will also be blogging with us. 

What story(ies) are you writing and what are they about? 
I am writing multiple stories at the moment. Hollow involves a soul sucking tree, family issues, life or death situations, kidnappings, choices, secret agencies, and all that jazz. Tearing Through The Light is about a girl who is capable of controlling oceans, and is being haunted by a ghost who wants her to use her power for evil. Falling will most likely be a novel in verse, and it is about a popular girl who is secretly depressed. Horizon is a fantasy novel that takes place in another world.

What is your favorite genres to write? 
I prefer to write paranormal and fantasy.

Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote? What was it about? 
I remember it, but not in exact detail. It was a crappy piece I wrote in grade one.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? 
No. I just realized I wanted to be a writer about a year or two ago. Before that, I wanted to be a teacher (I still do) or a counsellor. 

What do you do when you get Writer's Block? 
I eat food and watch weird videos and talk with my friends.

Is there a certain time when you write best?
Night, but I'm usually asleep then :P

If you could have anything as a major in college, what would it be?

What is your favorite place to be and why?
Probably camping in Jasper. It's nice to be surrounded by mountains, away from civilization, roasting marshmallows every night, and just roughing it.

And think fast!

Pizza or Desert Pizza?
Dessert pizza

Bananas or Strawberries?

Working in McDonalds or Dairy Queen?
Dairy Queen

Movies or TV Shows?
TV shows

Thanks so much, Kristin, for joining us today! It was great fun! 

If you're a writer or anyone else you know who is and would like to be interviewed, don't hesitate to be contact us! 


Also: If anyone knows how to fix the banner on top, I'd greatly appreciated it if you would contact me. I would like it to fill up the whole width of the front instead of partly filling it up.