Writer Quirks

You hear a lot about gamers or comic book enthusiasts being characterized and stereotyped based on some “strange” characteristics that they have. As far as I’m concerned, we all have quirks that make us individual. When you read those “relatable” posts, however, it’s scary how accurate some of them are – no matter the label. Here are a few writer quirks that I think fit the bill:

Strange conversations

No matter what genre you’re writing, getting together with other writers always leads to strange conversations. Some writers will argue that there is no such thing as a strange conversation in the writer community; no topic is abnormal, and overhearing a snippet at random can be equal parts entertaining and terrifying. For example:

If I kill off the crush too fast, she won’t be crushed enough, so he has to stick around for a few more chapters. Maybe I could, like, cut off his leg or something in the mean time…she’d have to fall in love with him then, right?

That’s one of the mild examples of ordinary conversations. Anyone else would be confused or perhaps freaked out, but us writers get it.

Scolding your characters out loud

When a chapter, intense scene, or plot twist just isn’t going well, it’s usually because a character isn’t behaving correctly. When we’ve re-written the same sentence five times and it still isn’t right, our characters tend to get yelled at or scolded, and sometimes just doing it in our heads isn’t good enough:

Just cooperate, will you?!”

“Stop complaining, I’m working on it!”

“Okay, that’s enough. Go to your room!

It doesn’t always work, but it makes us feel better most of the time.

Grief at saying goodbye to our characters when we finish the novel

These characters are our creations, children that we watch over as they grow up and get their fairy tale endings (or not). When the time comes to type “The End” on the last page, a real grief leaves us in a funk for a while. These characters are real people to us, so living without them can be really sad and hard, even when the time comes to move on to new characters and plots. Saying goodbye to our characters is the same as saying goodbye to family or close friends. It hurts!

These are some of the quirks I find to be universal amongst short story and novel writers, If you’ve got some of your own, feel free to share them in the “comments” section!

Image Credit: http://www.fimfiction.net (via Google)
Language, Writing

The Power of Language: Part III

Now for my final thoughts on language and the power it has. I’ve talked about how the power works and what it means, but I haven’t really explained how it applies to writers.

Our job is to tell the stories that we care about, be it through short stories or novels. No matter what language we’re writing in, words are critical to doing that job. We can have the best characters and the most exciting plot ever seen, but if we use the wrong words to tell the story, no one is going to read it. As you can imagine, that puts a lot of pressure on us.

We spend years writing books, rejecting draft after draft because something just doesn’t “feel right”. There is a craft to writing, sure, a necessity in learning what makes a good story, strong characters, etc. But, a lot of the “real skills” of writing come from trusting your gut. You’ll get this niggling somewhere inside that something in that chapter isn’t working. Or, maybe you’ll get the sense that the last sentence you just wrote isn’t quite right.

These are frustrating moments because we are the only ones that can get that chapter/sentence just right. Other writers may be able to offer a word or two of advice, but they have their own nigglings to take care of. The entire perfection of the novel is sitting on our shoulders alone, and it is no fun what-so-ever. In fact, not being able to perfect that one sentence is a huge contributor to the terrifying writers block. Sometimes that niggling even gets so bad that we scrap the novel entirely. So, you see, using the right word could save a character’s life, maybe even a whole world.

There is a silver lining, though. It’s that instant when we finish a perfectly executed cliffhanger, or create the best scathing line of dialogue. Those little shivers that zap down our spines and leave us with the thought, “Yes, that’s it. Perfect!” These moments may be rare, but they’re powerful and leave us on a high for hours after. These are the moments where we feel like real writers, the moments where we feel as though we’ve conquered language and its power, even if it’s just for a little bit.

clipart bolt 1
Image Credit: http://www.clipartsheep.com (via Google)

Each writer uses words differently; each spins a different tale, telling stories of their own characters in their own worlds. The power of language – of the written word – unites us all, though, in a quest to construct the perfect sentence and novel. Having an appreciation and understanding of the language and the power it wields makes us better writers.

Learning another language, as I mentioned way back in Part I, has helped me understand and respect the power of language a lot more, making me a much better and more confident writer.

While writing gives me as much trouble as the next person, I trust that the words will lead me to the right place when the time is right and all will be right with the world.


The Bench

Today I have something a little different to share. As you probably guessed from my various posts about writing, I am a writer myself. It’s something that I started doing around age 13, and it’s been a passion of mine ever since. I have been working on some writing throughout the summer, and I have a small piece of fiction that I would like to show you. The inspiration that I used to create this piece was this picture:

Image Credit: http://screativeimage.com (Google)

The two of us came here a lot at first, it was a spot that we could find a type of peace that was impossible in our normal lives. The bench was always empty, it seemed, so it was the perfect place for two loners like us.

We would always debate over who had discovered this magical place first, me or her. We were both insistent on being the first explorer, but the truth was that we had found it together. The ground around the bench was beaten down with shoe prints, some faded from years gone by, and others fresh and new. Each indent told a story of our life together, an adventure that we had imagined and then created.

Looking at the more recent prints, though, it was easy to tell how our story had changed so drastically. The two sets of prints had become light, softer treading. These creases and indents depicted my sorrow, my anger. Their wear in the ground demonstrated the pacing back and forth that I had done in an effort to figure out how to bring the both of us back to our bench. Our peace and solitude there had been destroyed by the curtain between the two worlds. The curtain that had lured her away from me and had enticed her to cross over the barrier with promises of solitude and happiness. It hadn’t created happiness, though, not for me.

Her prints were starting to fade now, as her memory began to disappear from the world I was stuck in without her. The bench was no longer the same, and I was just as changed. Eventually, I stopped going altogether, and before I knew it, life had started to move on at its slow pace, and the bench remained where it was, lonely and empty of adventures.

Years later, I went back just to see if it was still standing and found that it was, and all the footprints had been wiped away by time. When I looked closely, though, I could still see two. One of mine and one of hers. We had both left the bench, and been forced apart, but the bench kept us alive and together. Our adventures still lived on here, and part of her would always be here with part of me. This would always be our place.

So, there’s just an abstract little something for you to read and hopefully enjoy. Feel free to let me know what you think, all feedback is good!


The Characters Rule the World

When I was getting into writing, the thing that fascinated me most was creating characters. When I was a little kid, I would create characters in my head and they would be my imaginary friends, but they never did impossible things like flying or anything like that. Instead, they were ordinary people like me, only they were my own creations. When I learned about creating my own characters, it was like I had developed that childhood tendency of creating my own friends.

Whenever I finish a short story, or I decide to kill a novella, I always feel this kind of loss, like I’ve let go of my friends. Months after I’ve put them to rest, I miss them and contemplate bringing them back to life through another story, just because they were so much fun to write.

The most important elements of writing are the plot, setting, conflict, theme, and characters, as told to us by Flocabulary in this catchy video:

I agree that all of these are crucial, but the most important one is the characters, in my point of view. They control the entire story and the author is swept along on the ride. What do I mean by that? Well, it is essentially exactly what I just said, the characters control the story. I can start a short story with a specific idea in my head about what I want to happen, but after I get going, the characters decide they don’t like the idea and are going to create their own plot. That may sound crazy, but it’s the truth!

For example, I had these two characters, one male and one female, who had this incredible relationship with each other. I had created them with the intention of making them into a couple, but once I started working with them, it was clear it wasn’t going to work. They had this incredible chemistry, but not the romantic kind. They would bicker in every scene, and the things that they would argue about were hilarious! I found myself laughing at their dialogue as I wrote it. I could see them in my head, like a movie scene, and I didn’t really feel like I was in control of it. They were doing their own thing, and all I was doing was writing it down for them.

See, for all of us writers, the characters are real, breathing people with real emotions and lives. Some of us see them in a crowd, or in a classroom or workplace. Some of us have them on our shoulders and as we go throughout our day, we can hear them voicing their opinions on what is going on around us. They aren’t just cardboard and paper stuck together, like the paper dolls we would make as kids.

Image Credit: http://www.origami-resource-center.com (Google)

For us, our characters are real people and part of our family. I think all fellow writers will agree when I say that the characters rule the world, end of story!