Tag Archive: writing

My Top 5 Tips for New Writers

When I think back to my early writing – the really early stuff, back when I thought that five pages was long enough to be a novel – I see a gigantic mess. Flat characters, rushed plots, things that little seven-year-old me didn’t think through that are now really creepy (like the fact that one of my characters accidentally had two wives), and fairytale romances. I have a document of those old stories and titled it “The Cheese Factory.”

I can’t save you from cheesy stories or flat characters – and honestly you’ll run into those through your entire writing career if that’s decide what you do, you’ll just grow more equipped to handle them – but I can give you a few starting tips, as someone who’s been there and someone who knows quite a few beginning writers.

1. Know that it’s a commitment

This is the most important. Whether you want to write one book or fifty, (more…)

The Power of Art

Art is a powerful thing. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Sometimes it feels like it’s simply words on a page or paint on a canvas or notes on the air. Other times, it’s impossible to miss how powerful it is. Other times it hits you like a train, bringing you to tears or making you grin uncontrollably. Art is much more than the sum of its parts. Art has the power to spawn emotion in a reader, viewer, listener. I know this first-hand, both from being so affected by art, and by seeing the reactions that my friends have when they read my writing.

“With great power comes great responsibility.” As artists, we have great power, but we have to be careful that we use that power wisely and that we do all we can to make sure it has the intended affect. As Christians, that means that we should reflect God in our writing, and not encourage things that are contrary to that. I don’t mean to say that we can’t portray those things in our writing, but we shouldn’t glorify them. It should be clear that they’re wrong. We should make art for the glory of God. “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) It tells us to do even the little things like eating and drinking to the glory of God, so how much more so should we glorify God in something so powerful as art? This is why one of my unwritten new year’s goals is to pray before everything I do. Which maybe seems a bit drastic, but I think it will help me to grow closer to God, glorify Him better through my writing (and in general), and relinquish control of things (something that I have trouble with).

I’ve personally found music and stories to be the most powerful art mediums. Music has brought me close to tears, reminded me of things I’d forgotten, and brought my mood back up when I’m disappointed or frustrated. My youth pastor said one week something along the lines of, “Art brings what we know about God from our minds to our hearts.” Music has certainly done that for me more than once, particularly this year.

Books have also brought me close to tears, made me care about people who don’t exist, sparked my imagination, taught me things (like the fact that Muhammed Ali beat George Foreman in “Rumble in the Jungle” by wearing him out with his own attacks. Thank you, Dreamtreaders), and inspired me to write my own books. I’ve always considered it to be the most powerful medium (though obviously I’m biased), because you can create and destroy so much “at the swipe of a pen,” as a friend of mine said.

Another section of her post said: “All that power, creativity, strength, is a gift. It’s inside every one of us, and nothing, absolutely nothing, is stopping us from using it. But it’s insane how much we take it for granted, look over it, or misuse it.” Let’s not take for granted how powerful art is, let’s not look over it, and let’s use it correctly so that its potential is not wasted or misused.

The closing paragraph of her post said: “WE ARE POWERFUL. NEVER FORGET THAT.”

My Goals for the New Year

With a new year comes new goals, and mine are probably overly ambitious. But hey, “if you shoot for the moon you may land among the stars.” At least I’ll be farther along than I was. So, without further ado, here are my many goals for 2018.

1. Prepare The Dark War Trilogy for publishing

This was originally “Publish The Dark War Trilogy,” but after scheduling everything out I found that wasn’t doable, so instead I’ll be aiming to have them all finished and edited so they’re ready by the end of the year and I’ll aim to publish them in early 2019.

2. Publish House of Mages

I’ll wait to tell you the release date of this until we’re at least into 2018, but it’s toward the middle of the year. I’d like to have the editing finished by February, but I’ve given myself a buffer there because I’m not sure how well my parents’ schedules will accommodate that, and they’re helping me with it.

3. Read a novel per week

This is self-explanatory. I’ve also updated my blog schedule, so the second and fourth Thursdays of the month will be book review days, instead of the last day of the month.

4. Study the bible/pray for half an hour each day

Self-explanatory. I’m terrible at remembering to take time for this because I tend to get caught up in doing other things. Hopefully scheduling out my days since I have so much to do will help, instead of all the things to do distracting from it.

5. Publish The Heart of the Baenor

Part of this will be finding a new title, because the current title is pretty lame. Again, I won’t give away the launch date just yet, but it’s late in the year.

6. Get started on The Historian

This is a novella I’m planning that’s the backstory of Terlon Screll, Detren’s mentor in The Shadow Raven. This is scheduled to be started in October, and I’ll probably finish it during NaNoWriMo.

7. Win all three NaNoWriMo events

This one’s self-explanatory. I’d like to win April Camp NaNoWriMo, July Camp NaNoWriMo, and November NaNoWriMo. And I already know what I’ll be working on for each one.

8. Write 2k every day

Self-explanatory.

9. Do some Kersir worldbuilding every day

This is a fantasy world I’ve been developing that draws its inspiration from the Middle East. It’s a lot of fun to work on. You can read a little bit more about it on my “My Books” page.

10. Focus on one drawing technique each month

I’m not much of a visual artist, but it’s kind of a side-hobby for me that I use to aid in my writing. I’d like to get better, however, so next year I’d like to work on different drawing techniques.

11. Start making an income

I plan on starting toward this goal with short stories. My plan is set to publish three anthologies and three standalone short stories next year, in addition to the two novels mentioned before. The first anthology will be seven of the stories I’ve written as Christmas presents, and it’ll be published on January 15th. The next goes up on February 21st, and it’ll be a nine-story anthology called The Mirror-Hunter Chronicles, which is nine other short stories I’ve written as Christmas presents that all tie together. I’ll also be publishing This Is His Story on February 14th. Watch out for further news on all of those, and consider following my Facebook page for more frequent updates. There are others, obviously, but they’re later in the year and their release dates will be announced once they get closer.

Character Interview: Livi Brooklyn

I’m sure many of you know Livi since she’s from my short story series Memories & Photographs, but in case you don’t: She’s a peppy high-schooler who loves bright colors, sunshine, rainbows, unicorns, and yellow Converse.

Livi: *heads into the interview room and sits down, bouncing one knee, a broad grin on her face* Hello.

Interviewer: Hello. How are you today?

Livi: I’m excellent! How are you?

Interviewer: I’m fine. *smiles a little* Shall we get started?

Livi: *nods vigorously*

Interviewer: What is your name?

Livi: Livi Marie Brooklyn.

Interviewer: How old are you?

Livi: I’m sixteen.

Interviewer: Do you have any siblings?

Livi: No, but Keslie and Dominic might as well be my brother and sister. *grins*

Interviewer: Do you have a job?

Livi: Nope. Not yet. I’d like to be a ballet instructor someday.

Interviewer: Next question, though I already know the answer: Are you an introvert or extrovert?

Livi: *laughs* Extrovert, of course!

Interviewer: What is your favorite food?

Livi: Ooh! That’s a tough one. Um… Lollipops.

Interviewer: Favorite color?

Livi: All of them! But if I absolutely have to pick, either hot pink or bright yellow.

Interviewer: Do you prefer movies or books?

Livi: All these hard questions! *laughs* Probably movies, but it’s close.

Interviewer: What is your favorite of each?

Livi: My favorite movie is probably Spiderman: Homecoming. Favorite book… Probably Dreamtreaders by Wayne Thomas Batson.

Interviewer: What is your favorite animal?

Livi: Unicorns.

Interviewer: What are your hobbies?

Livi: Dancing, reading, watching movies, and – most important – listening to music. You should see my collection.

Interviewer: Do you have any favorite artists?

Livi: Elvis and Imagine Dragons. And Britt Nicole, and tobyMac, and Owl City, and Taylor Swift. Sheesh! There’s no way I could lower it down. *laughs*

Interviewer: Which of these is most important to you: Kindness, intelligence, or bravery?

Livi: Kindness.

Interviewer: And honesty or selflessness?

Livi: Hon- Hmm… Selflessness, I think. But it’s so close!

Interviewer: What is something you can never leave the house without?

Livi: My MP3 player, fully charged, and a pair of headphones. I generally don’t care which one.

Interviewer: How many do you have?

Livi: Just one MP3 player, but at least a dozen pairs of headphones.

Interviewer: *nods* That was the last question. Thank you for your time.

Livi: Certainly! I’d love to talk again anytime. *grins and bounces out of her chair, skipping out*

My Writing Toolbox

My writing toolbox holds a variety of things, all for different reasons. Some I use more often than others, some I use quite rarely, but I use them all and I find them all useful. (All prices are marked, and all logos belong to their respective companies.)

Scrivener*

Scrivener is $50, but it’s an extremely useful tool and you only have to pay once. And you’re allowed to use the same license on multiple computers which you own and are the primary user of, as well as the computers of family members who live with you.

I’ve found this very useful in that it keeps all of your documents (story, character profiles, setting descriptions, research, etc.) in one file so that you can easily access them all from the same interface.

Another aspect I’ve found super useful is that it allows you to see two documents side-by-side. This has been helpful for me in rewriting, because I can see the original as I’m writing the new one so I know what I want to keep and what I want to change as I’m writing.

There are also features like the distraction-free mode, you can easily export your book to a word document no matter how small the sections are that you wrote it in, and you can design templates so that – for instance – all of your character profiles look the same.

Fighter’s Block

This is a free online word sprinting app set up like an RPG game battle. You set a word goal, and that’s the monster’s HP (health points, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term). As you write, the monster’s HP decreases and yours replenishes. The monster attacks you whenever you’re not writing, and you can customize how quickly and how much he hurts you. It’s great for getting your writing speed up.

Microsoft Word

This is included in most Windows computers, I believe, and it’s just a really simple word processor. I like it for writing when I’m not using one of my other tools (Scrivener, Google Docs, 4thewords, etc.). I have copies of most of my stories in Word documents so that I can store them in my usual writing folders on my computer. I also use Word to format my stories for conversion to PDF when I’m preparing to publish them through CreateSpace.

4thewords*

This is another online program. This one is a paid thing, but it’s only $4/month, and you can buy up to 20 months at a time. (It gets cheaper the more you buy at a time. 20 months, for instance, is only $60 instead of $80 if you buy the largest pack.)

This is another RPG-based tool. It’s set up like a full RPG, with zones, quests, wardrobe items, weapons, etc., but most of them are earned by writing. You battle monsters with time limits and specified word counts that are their HP, and they give drops that count toward quests or serve as crafting materials, depending on the monster and quests. It’s a really cool tool, and I’ve been using it for about a year now.

It also records your daily streak, which keeps me, at least, motivated to write every day. The minimum to reach a streak for the day is 444 words.

Story Binder

How this will work exactly depends on the person making it, but my story binder has character profiles, world information, and the first 49-ish pages of The Last Assassin. I like it because it’s something I can reference while I’m writing without switching programs or minimizing my story or anything (something you can also do with Scrivener using their two-pane view option). Plus it also makes me feel like I have some artistic talent to decorate it with fancy fonts and washi tape and stuff like that.

Cost: Depends on the cost of the binder, paper, and whatever you use to decorate it.

See more of my story binder at the above link.

Bullet Journal

Which should maybe be called my goal journal, because that’s the thing I use it for most. I use it to set and keep track of monthly and daily goals, as well as whatever writing-related things I happen to need written down while it’s around. I.e. Several characters’ MBTI types, a list of authors I’d like to interview here on the blog, future blog post ideas, etc.

Cost: Depends on the cost of the journal and whatever you use to decorate it.

See more of my bullet journal at the above link.

Storyworld First by Jill Williamson

This is an amazing book and an amazing worldbuilding reference. It’s a fairly small book, but there are so many worldbuilding ideas in here! You could spend weeks working straight through this thing. It’s incredible.

Cost: $13

 

 

 

 

What’s in your writing toolbox? Do you use some of these, too?

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