Saturday, January 28, 2012

Defeating the Evil Overlord.

(This post has been reposted from Birds of a Writer: Defeating the Overlord Meatball: Otherwise known as Writer's Block! )

Okay so most of you probably don't know who the Overlord Meatball is. I'll explain, he's part of a comic strip my cousin and I once did. It was called "Bad Ideas" and about a pig who always got into trouble. One of the strips, he was a superhero and had to defeat the Overlord Meatball.

If you've been hit by Writer's Block, here are some ideas to try while you're waiting for your car to be repaired. (Reference to an older post on Birds of a Writer)
  • Get exercise! Run, take the dog for a walk, or finish cleaning the house! As long as you're not writing. Sometimes people spend too much time thinking about something and they fry their brain. Doing something else will get those juices flowing again.
  • Do nothing. Yeah, you read that right! Do nothing! Sit down, turn off the music, the TV, get away from whatever could distract you and just let your mind drift. Try to not think. Or you could just think about whatever. As long as you're not doing anything. And it doesn't have to be for long, five to ten minutes even.
  • Go read something! There's been times where I'm stuck on something and when I'm reading I'll suddenly get an idea.
  • Talk about it over with a friend. They may help you brainstorm new ideas you may have never thought of.
  • Do something really homework. (This is great for if you can't sleep too!)
  • Draw something! I love drawing maps for my stories, they help me plan things.
  • Get to know your characters better. Some stories are character driven. If you're having trouble thinking of a scene or something doesn't seem right, try filling out a character sheet. Character sheet are lists of things about your character (eye color, hair color, hobbies, relationships, dislikes/loves, etc).
  • Sleep on it. It's proven that sleep may help you overcome problems. A dream may help you find that jewel your Main Character (MC) is looking for, or it may introduce you to another character. Plus, not only will you be feeling better, you'll know what to do!
  • Tackle another problem that is bothering you. If you can't write and it's the night before that big test, studying for it may help. Not only will you do better on that test, but you won't have to worry about it when you wake up.
  • Just write! Turn off anything that distracts you and write for a certain amount of time or till you reach a certain word count. Don't stop to go through the spelling errors or grammar errors. Wait to get to those once you're done. And write about anything! Let it go in any direction. Even if you're rambling about your day, that's fine too!
  • Start at the end, middle, or beginning! Say you know how you want it to end, but you don't know how to begin a story. That's fine! Write that ending and try to come up with events leading to that ending.
  • Write a spin off. Have a favorite character besides the MC? Try writing a spin off about them! You never know will it will go and it may even give you new insight to your story.
  • Write in a Journal. Journals are extremely helpful because you can write in it whenever you want and you can write about anything you want. Plus no one has to see it. You can even put pictures in it, record conversations, draw, the possibilities are limitless. 
  • Learn about a new culture. Always wanted to learn about Ancient Egypt, well go ahead and do it! You never know, something from a new culture might give you inspiration and you'll learn new things. 
  • Travel! If you always wanted to visit the Grand Canyon, why not? And if you can't travel or take a vacation, look around your backyard or town. Talk to your neighbors. Explore the baseball park or even go see a game. 
  • Look at pictures. I've found several ideas for stories by looking at pictures. And if it helps, print out those pictures and put them wherever you write or keep them in a folder so you can pull them out whenever you want to. 
So do you have any other tips for overcoming Writer's Block? If you feel like sharing, post a comment!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kaye - 100% crazy with a side of nuts

Since I'll be posting quite often on here (Tuesday, every week, I'll try not to make everyone sick of me), I should introduce myself. Hi, I'm Kaye Dominique!  I'd rather not post pictures of me online, so here's a dream avatar I made.
I'm sixteen years old, in the middle of my third year of high school. I moved to Canada when I was nine years old from the Philippines. My English isn't heavily accented like other Filipino kids, and since I don't look Filipino, I'm often mistaken as Korean. (Even my own parents think I look Korean.)
Writing is my life. I can`t go a day without it. I have to write something everyday, even if it`s crap. This leads to a lot of deleted files on my iPod Documents app. I`ve been writing since grade eight. I started with fanfiction and eventually got to where I am today, original fiction with a healthy dose of insane characters and gore. This year, I also discovered that I am now incapable of writing anything else, proven by the children`s story assignment. Yeah...that didn`t work out too well. I ended up with a story about a garden of severed arms. Cantarella, which was up on inkpop for a short time, is an entry in the Polar Expressions contest. The winners will be announced next month. I`m so excited!
My personality...I'm emotionally imbalanced. I'm obsessive over certain types of things. The sadistic side of me helps with my stories, since all of them are really dark and twisted.
My hobbies include playing Minecraft, crocheting and crafting. Sounds nice, right? Yes, because I totally don't push mobs into lava pools or go crazy with the TNT. Nope. I want Assassin's Creed Revelations because of the story, not because I can murder everyone in sight (and desynchronize because of it). I also don't make cute and cuddly crocheted armies that I could take over the world with.
I did not make the cute monsters in the picture, but I`m working on it.
You`ll see me posting tips about characterization, portraying emotion, crafts that writers and readers would enjoy and also how to kill someone with a spoon. I`m just kidding with that last one. XD I just had two cups of green tea (green tea-flavoured sugar is more like it), so I`m kind of hyper right now. Sorry if I scared anyone!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Using Italics

Italics are often used in writing to put emphasis on a word, or even a phrase. They make the word stand out in our minds, and we understand that it is very important. It catches our eyes. Used sparingly, it's a good tool to have.

Italics look like this. They're nice for a while, but soon they get a little annoying, don't you agree? Like this. I could go on and on and write this entire post in italics. I probably should, just to make a point. But I won't, because you are our blog followers and you're awesome because you are reading this. Yay!

They can also be used in dialogue. For example, look at these examples:
"I hate you."
"I hate you."
"I hate you."

In the first sentence, the words are relatively equally spoken. No word is placed above another. The speaker doesn't emphasize any one of them. In the second example, the speaker places emphasis on the word hate. He/she hates you, and wants to make sure you understand that he/she doesn't merely dislike you. They hate you. In the final example, the emphasis is placed on you. The speaker hates you. Not Bob or your aunt or Lauren Lopez. You. If you listen to people speak in real life (real life...what real life? Oh the horror.), you'll notice that they don't say each word equally. They emphasize words. They draw them out and speak them differently.

Great. Now that I've shown you the wonders of italics, we can get to why I really wanted to write this post. To show you the horrors of italics. Go look at the second paragraph again, the one almost at the top. Do you see how annoying it is when I italicize too many words in one sentence? In one paragraph? Not only does it hurt my eyes, but it hurts my Inner Sense of Writerness, too. In other words, it makes me cringe.

Italics must be used sparingly. I repeat: sparingly. Only when you really, really need them. A good rule of thumb: if your writing still works without the italics, cut them. It gets annoying to the reader when they start finding italics on every other page.

Now, I've never seen something as dreadful as my example in a published book. I just did that to make a point. But I have read books where the author used excessive italics. And it was annoying.

If you use too many italics, they start to lose their meaning. Your reader no longer cares about the italicized word, because they've seen so many others that they've just stopped noticing. And you don't want that.

So, how often should you use italics, then? There's really no way of giving a definite answer. I could give you numbers, but they'd be meaningless. That being said, I wouldn't use italics any more often than every four pages or so, at a minimum. If your reader is starting to say "Wow, that author uses italics a lot.", then you've gone too far. If they don't notice, you might be fine.

Don't abuse italics, people. It doesn't make for good writing.

Originally posted over yonder.

PS: Join the party over at the Daily WHS Thread on Inkpop!  No RSVP required! 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Inkie Interview! Meet Wonder_Struck!

So today we're having our first Inkie interview. Inkies are members have the writing site Inkpop who are real writers just like the rest of us. So here's our first Inkie, Wonder_Struck! Take it away! 

My name is Jen or Wonder_Struck on Inkpop, I'm 19 years old and a writer. Books are a passion and obsession in my life and I'm sure I'll be buried with them :)
I'm an optimistic type who loves romance and strong female leads. I'm an emotional sort of person which leads to a lot of angst for my characters.
Writing for me, is opening my heart and pouring it into paper. If I'm feeling sad or angry, my characters will feel it. I let myself to seep into the pages and I give myself to my characters. It's such an escape for me to do, it's something that I can't let go of. I can go into my character's world and get away for awhile and I think that's the best part.

Q: So you wrote stories about talking animals when you were little, has that effected your writing today? Do you remember one specifically and if so, what one is your favorite?
A: You know, I would say it's affected me in my creativity. I mean, I was writing about talking animals that went on all these adventures. As a child there were no boundaries to my imagination. I think that in terms of my writing now, I think outside of the box and can come up with great creative ideas. In terms of the animal stories I wrote there are two that stand out to me. One I wrote on my own which was about a unicorn and his forest friends and how they used to help out people who needed it. It was the longest story I ever wrote when I was little (it was about 10 pages.) The other was for class and we had to invent a legend. We had been talking folklore and legends and I decided to write about how rabbits got their tails. My teacher told me it was the best story she had seen and I never got phrase from her.

Q: Have you always wanted to do something that involves writing and books?
A: I think I have. I've only gone through one period in my life where I chose to give up writing. It was when I was in my tweens and I convinced myself it wasn't worth it. I stopped for a few years and I'm back at it. It's just something I've always felt I was going to do. It never seemed to be a choice. I know I'll be doing other things and have a different career then just being an author but it's still there and it's something I know I'll do.

Q: Does your belief in astrology (I'm a Gemini too!), affect your writing at all?
No it doesn't. In fact, I don't even know when my characters birthdays are! I should probably remedy that. The fact is, I view it as a personal belief of mine like anything else and I don't want it to seep into the writing in case it ruins it. I don't want Anna, (one of my characters), not to run away from *spoiler* because her astrological chart said she couldn't. I always give a little of myself to my characters but my personal beliefs stay personal to me. (Just to note, that I also wouldn't let my astrological chart ruin what I was going to do, my belief doesn't go that far.)

Q: On your profile you mention that the YA genre has gotten a "bad name due to some books", if you could change this opinion that some people may have, how would you do so?
I think I'm already doing it. I'm writing in the YA genre and I'm trying to make my books stand out. What people don't realize is just because a book involves romance and the supernatural it doesn't make that book for example, Twilight. Not everything is a rip off of Twilight and Harry Potter. Mine certainly aren't. My books are ones I want published someday and I want people to see a strong female main character and a story that catches their attention and makes them go "Hey the YA genre isn't bad." I don't want them to look at the cover and think they've read it all before. They should give some of the books a chance, they might be surprised.

Q: Being a romantic, has that too affected your writing? Do you enjoy writing projects with romance in it?
It has. It's interesting because I've never had a serious relationship but my characters do. There is always romance in my novels. It's just something beautiful to write about and it can create so much conflict. I do love reading projects with romance in it. That doesn't mean I like a project solely focused on romance however. I like there to be more (like action, drama, etc) but I definitely gravitate to the projects that have it. Also unlike my belief in astrology this is a trait of mine not a belief therefore it makes more sense it would transpire into my writing.
Q: Looking on your profile I noticed that you said that you had a cover made by a wonderful Inkie for your Midnight series. What is your Midnight series and what is it about?
The Midnight series is my baby. It's a project that started off with a one line idea and grew into this huge thing that I'm so excited to be writing. I actually did scrap the original idea and am completely starting anew with it. But, I'm really excited to do my new idea. It's going to be a series although I have no idea how many books. I'm really bad with that sort of thing because I come up with such intricate plotlines and story arcs, most of my series books end up being longer then I anticipate.
The Mark of Midnight
Seventeen year old Anna is just a normal teenager. She goes to school, work, has friends, and parties. Death is never in her mind -- she has plenty of years to live. On the cold night of December 9th she is returning home from a party when she skids at an intersection and gets into a violent car crash.
She is immediately rushed to the hospital but the doctors say she is beyond help. Anna's heart has stopped beating and she has no brain function left. At the stroke of midnight on that night, December 9th, she is declared dead.
But she comes back.
Her family and friends are thrilled that she has been given a miracle, relieved to have their beloved Anna back. Anna, though, starts to wish that she'd stayed dead. Strange things start to happen when she is around fire and flames and her dreams are plagued with nightmares of a boy who tries to kill her over and over.
Anna attempts to try to control what is happening to her but she may be at the breaking point.
She has been Marked.
Q: What is the Immortal Series you are writing?
Well it's a series (I believe it will be anyways) that is in the planning stages. It's just a really good idea that started when I was talking on the Procrastinator's thread with Candy. It grew into this piece that I was helping her with but she told me I should write it. So I decided I would. I thank Candy for her encouragement :D
Basically it's about how far you would go for someone. Everyone would like to believe they would choose their family above all else. But there's a line, that line in the sand that some people can't cross and the story kind of looks at that line and says how far would you push it for family?
Anyways, here's the pitch and the title of the first book.
Keenan and Siobhan have always been extremely close. They'd do anything for each other, from defending their brother or sister to cheering the other on. It doesn't matter what it is, they would do it.
Technology in the world is developing, making it possible for people to become immortal. Instantly Keenan and Siobhan jump at the chance. They'd love to be immortal, always be alive and never grow old.
But the technology is faulty. Something in the immortal compound is making it hard for the immortals to stay alive. Some are dying while others are managing to stay alive with the help of human blood. Because of the genetic DNA issues, which make the compound, react differently to different people, the immortals keep on dying.
Soon Keenan and Siobhan find a runaway named Alex. They take her in and begin to care for her, providing food, shelter, and help. Soon, though, Alex begins to steal Keenan's heart. But with Siobhan fading fast from the immortal compound, will Keenan choose his sister or a girl?
The bond of siblings is never broken.
Q: When will these projects be up on Inkpop?
A: I’m hoping to have Midnight premiere in February. As for Amaranthine, I have no idea. If anyone wants to be notified about either, they can go on my profile and tell me 
Q: Do you have a constant theme in your projects?
I do. I think one of my constant themes is taking an ordinary MC and making them extraordinary. I challenge them and put them in situations where they never thought they would survive or be able to handle. At the end of the series or book (no matter if the ending is tragic or not) they always come out stronger than before.
Q: What are your favorite genres to write in? Do you enjoy reading these genres as well? Why or why not?
Well obviously YA. I just love the genre as a whole. The stories appeal to me and as another plus the books are cheaper than adult fiction ;) I like writing fantasy, romance and paranormal. For me, I just love having a supernatural element to anything. It's also what I love to read. There's something so mysterious and interesting about the supernatural, so much can be done with it. It's great to write in and to read.
Q: When you write, what element of writing affects you’re writing the most (strong characters, plots, point of view, dialogue, etc)?
I would say dialogue and characters. I love acting and in drama class I wrote scripts. So I know how to do dialogue. I'm also a cut to the chase writer, I don't draw out descriptions and generally when I edit is when I describe what I need to. Characters though are so important to me. The one compliment I always get is the emotion I bring across in my writing. I can't do that without my characters. They give me a lot and I give them bits of myself. It's a very give-take relationship.

Q:Are you often inflicted by writer's block and when you are, what are some things you do to get unstuck?
A: Oh yes. I wouldn't call it Writer's Block though. It's more losing the voice of my MC or getting so distracted I become disinterested in my idea. Generally, I'll know where the plot is going but I just can't write it.
The tips I've come to use are mostly tried and true methods of battling writer's block: do some Word Wars, put down the project and do something else, take a break from writing it altogether and just working through it.
I have found a rather interesting method that probably seems crazy but it works for me. I absolutely love acting as I said previously. So when I get stuck or don't know how to continue, I act out a scene. I'll actually become my character and act out what I want the scene/ chapter to be like. It works surprisingly well for me.
Q: Is there a certain time (like at night) when you work the best? Or a certain place?
A: Not really. I don't do any writing in the morning however because my thoughts are always jumbled and a mess. I generally write when inspiration strikes or I'm doing a Word War. I don't have a certain place where I write although I want to have one. I'm in the process of eventually moving into a bigger bedroom (mine is really tiny) and I think that place will be where I write. Currently, I write in my teeny tiny bedroom but I feel like inspiration gets lost there at times because it's so cramped.
Quick questions:
Favorite author and book? This is impossible to answer. I don't really think I can pick any as my one favourite.
Cookies or brownies? Cookies (especially Snicker doodles)
Pink or green? Emerald Green
Football or hockey? ALWAYS hockey :D

Thanks so much for sharing this with us! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dialogue Punctuation

This is only semi-related, but it's priceless.

Dialogue loves to confuse writers and make them want to bash their heads against the wall. There are so many rules, and some don't even make sense.  Well, bash no more, because I shall (at least try to) explain.

A dialogue tag is a set of words placed directly before or after dialogue. He said, she said, I yelled, and so on. If you've got just a piece of dialogue with a tag, it'll look like this:
"I just went to the store," he said.

Let's look at that again.
"I just went to the store." He said.
"I just went to the store," He said.

"I just went to the store," he said.
Note the comma and lowercase h. Never use a period before a dialogue tag. Always use a comma, and never capitalize the next word unless it's I or a name.

"Did you buy me anything," she asked.

"Did you buy me anything?" she asked.
This is a question mark, so don't use a comma. Don't use one instead of an exclamation point, either.

"No," he replied. "But I knew I was forgetting something."

"No," he replied, "but I knew I was forgetting something."
Since No, but I knew I was forgetting something. is actually one sentence, you use a comma before the tag, and a comma after the tag.

"Aww," Susie pouted.

"Aww." Susie pouted.
There's no comma here, since Susie pouted. isn't a dialogue tag. It's simply stating an action. You can't pout a word, can you?

"How did you do that" he asked.
"I talked to him yesterday" he said.

"How did you do that?" he asked.
"I talked to him yesterday," he said.
You always need puncuation with your dialogue.

"Hey, that was funny," I laughed.
You can't laugh a word. You can't smile it either, and if you hiss it, it'd better have an s unless you speak Parseltongue.

"Hey, that was funny." I laughed.
I laughed isn't a tag, it's just a sentence.

"Hello everyone" he said.
"Hello everyone", he said.

"Hello everyone," he said.
You always, always, always need punctuation inside your quotes. Always. I can't think of a reason you wouldn't.

"Billy, did you do your homework?" the teacher asked. "No, my dog ate it," Billy replied.

"Billy, did you do your homework?" the teacher asked.
"No, my dog ate it," Billy replied.
Always, always, always start a new line for each new speaker.

I don't know why the rules are so confusing. I didn't write them. Yes, I know they don't make sense. You just have to learn to deal with it.

I hope that helped. Since I probably forgot something (or quite a few things), there's also a really great article here. The best way to learn all these rules is simply to read a lot of books. Books have a lot of dialogue, and hopefully you'll learn how it works as you read. Pay close attention, and watch where punctuation is placed in different situations. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me!

Originally posted here.