Monday, February 27, 2017

My Writing Life in Gifs

As I was sitting here on this comfy sofa, looking at my blog, I thought "you know, Grace, you've got a nice even number of posts here.  Six for January, six for February.  Such a nice even number, and so consistent!"

And then out of some dark recess of my mind, came this thought: "WRITE ANOTHER ONE".  Because there is a part of me that likes to drive my perfectionist self completely bonkers.

So here I am, writing a blog post.  About my emotions as a writer.  I got a small part of the inspiration for this post from something I helped the fabulous Maggie at Maggie's Musings with earlier this week.  Check her out, she's an awesome person.

Anyway, I'm going to show you once and for all how I feel using GIFS!  I LOVE GIFS!  THEY MAKE ME SO HAPPY!  If I missed something, let me know in the comments!

1. When you're forced to tear yourself away from a half-finished idea to interact with other humans:

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2. When people ask you to tell them what you're writing about:

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Or you'll be completely bored because I'll stutter and lose my place 500 times.

3. When you have 500 story ideas and none of them actually get off the ground:

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4. When someone criticizes your writing really harshly:

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Talking puppies make me happy.  Don't argue with me.

5. When you're researching for a science fiction novel but you don't understand science:

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Time travel is infuriatingly difficult and full of contradictions.

6. When you reread your old writing:

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Destroy all evidence.

7. When your characters are being cute and adorable, even if it's not supposed to happen in the story at all:

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8. When you wake up one morning and realize you haven't written anything in a month:

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Where did all the time go???  I'm still a writer...right?

9. When you come across a plot hole but can't figure out how to fix it, no matter how hard you try:

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I will NOT rework my entire plot to accommodate this!

10. When you're plum out of ideas but you've determined to finish this novel if it kills you:

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They're at the swimming pool for three chapters for a reason, I promise!

So there you have it, folks.  My writing adventures in gif form.  Let me know if you guys relate, or if I'm the only writer in the universe who feels any of these.

Right now I'm a combination of 3 and 10.  SOO MANY IDEAS!  AND THEY ALL FLOP AFTER THE FIRST CHAPTER!  Mostly I'm having trouble coming up with an actual conflict because my stories can't consist solely of number 7.  There has to be struggles.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A New Idea: We'll See if I Can Make This Happen

Growing up, my mom never had to convince me to read a book.  She had to convince me to stop reading and actually go outside or eat something or speak to people.  I've always read a lot, and I've always really liked it.

Recently, though, I've had trouble actually sitting down and reading a book.  I read a bunch over Christmas break, but after that it took me an entire month to read Of Mice and Men, which is really short.

So I have decided to fix this lack of literature by holding myself accountable to all you lovely readers.  Every month I'll read at least two books from my TBR list, and then at the end of the month write a blog post with a short review (only a few paragraphs at the most) of each one and a rating on a scale of 1-5.  I love sharing books with people, so this will give me a chance to do that as well as motivate me to crack open that book I got from the library in December (our library allows you to renew books for one year, so of course I procrastinate).  

What do y'all think of this idea?  Is it good?  Do you promise to yell at me over comments if it's the 30th and yet you see no book post?  Thank you, you're all darlings.

Oh and I should probably say that this is starting in March, because February is nearly over and while I have been reading, I haven't been doing it with this goal in mind.  

Check out my Goodreads profile (link in the sidebar), as that's where I'll be keeping a list of these books.

Friday, February 17, 2017

You Want to Go Home and Rethink Your Universal Language

Ah, the universal language.  What would we do without a way for our characters to communicate perfectly with each other?  How would we write our stories?

Not very well.  Welcome to the FIFTH!  YES THE FIFTH! installment of "You Want to Go Home and Rethink Your _________".

The rest of the series:
You Want to Go Home and Rethink Your Superior Race
You Want to Go Home and Rethink Your Chosen One
You Want to Go Home and Rethink Your Redemption Arc
You Want to Go Home and Rethink Your Love Triangle

And onward to the universal language.

This is terribly overused.  It seems like every fantasy land or space story has ONE language that EVERYBODY speaks, and there are little to no exceptions.  The one guy they need information from right that second or the world will blow up probably doesn't speak the universal language (and they left their translator at home) probably can't speak the common tongue, but he's only included for suspense.

Basically my problem is this: Universal languages are used constantly, and only discarded to build suspense or create drastic misunderstandings and dramatic irony.

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So allow me to suggest situations where it's fine to use a universal language, and ways to improve this trope when you do use it.

1. You can have a mostly universal language if the country it originates from is the center of power.
Let's take English, for example.  Many countries start teaching their children English from the time they're very young because that is the language spoken by many powerful people who at some time or another controlled a large part of the world (England's former empire, anyone?) and the business that went on in that world.

So if your "universal language" exists because one country or planet has taken control of a lot of what goes on elsewhere, or if one people group has formed an empire, it's fairly justified in it's existence.

2. Not everybody will jump on the bandwagon.
That being said, bear in mind that there are going to be quite a few people groups who either haven't been or refuse to be influenced by this empire, and these people are either not going to speak the language, or speak it very badly.  And they're not just going to show up to add suspense.  If your characters are going on a quest or leaving their home for any reason whatsoever, they're probably going to run into at least one person who doesn't speak their language.  These people could be hostile or friendly, but whatever they are, they exist and should have a place in your story.  Oh, and I should point out: JUST BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT A PART OF THE EMPIRE OR ARE FAMILIAR WITH THE COMMON LANGUAGE DOES NOT MEAN THEIR INFERIOR.  Different and/or unique people groups are fine, but do not write them as inferior just because they aren't a part of your grand collective.

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3. People will still retain something of their original language/culture.
You know how people who don't have English as their first language speak with an accent?  THE SAME IS TRUE IN FICTIONAL WORLDS.  Unless your characters are part of a controlling society in which nothing but the common language is allowed to be spoken, your various people will have accents and cultural differences.  Especially if the language is only spoken because of trade or business.  Actually, shoot that.  They'll probably have accents anyway.  And it's fine!  It makes them unique!  It shows that the world is big and many different people inhabit it!

4. Don't forget how vast our planet is.
Something people forget when writing about other planets is that they're not the same as a country.  NOT.  AT.  ALL.  Countries can have one people group and only one or two types of environments, but planets, especially ones capable of sustaining human life, should not have one of either.  There should be different countries, governments, races, languages, terrain, environments, animals, and so on and so forth.  Remember, our planet is HUGE, and VARIED.  Making other planets one-shot wonders counts as cheating in my head.

5. Try having translators instead of one language.
Instead of having everyone speak the same language, have a computer that can translate most known languages or a person on board your ship or part of your team who can understand a bunch of languages.  For example, in Star Trek they use universal translators, a handheld device which can translate alien languages into the language of the user.

Having translators instead can actually eliminate the need for a universal language, but to make them realistic they shouldn't be able to translate EVERY language.  There are going to be dialects or languages completely unknown to the creators of the translator, so unless it figures out languages itself (in which case humanity beware because technology is about to take over), you'll still have the same problem you get in point 2.

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So there you go!  How to use a universal language so it doesn't sound like there's no variety in your story.  

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Care and Keeping of Your Extroverted Characters

So in my last post I talked about introverts and some things to keep in mind when writing them.  The thing is, while you have extroverted writers (one of them used to run this blog), there's a very VERY large number of introverts who write as well, and in fact a lot of writers are somewhere on the introverted scale, because while our extroverted friends are busy hanging out with people, we're communicating in other, non-verbal ways.

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As I live with multiple extroverts and have befriended a few, I've learned a few things.  If any extroverts want to correct me or add anything, I will be eternally grateful.  And just like with my last post, everybody's different, and not all of these things are true for everybody.

That being said, let's get on to a few things to remember when writing (or just generally interacting with) your extroverted people.  Because let's be fair, they need taken care of and are kind of your pets.

1. Extroverts get their energy from other people, and like to make friends.
Just like how introverts get their energy from solitude, extroverts need to be around people to charge up.  This doesn't mean they don't appreciate peace and quiet, they might even relish it, but eventually they have to resurface for some human interaction.  Make sure they get this as often as food and water, and be sure to let them socialize with other extroverts on their daily walks.

2. They can be impulsive or randomly decide things.
Of course this can be true of some introverts, and this isn't true for all extroverts, but I've found that as a general rule, extroverts are more willing to dive headfirst into things.  You may need to occasionally hold them back by their sweatshirt hood and give them a little talk about responsibility and waiting until everything's been thought through.

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3. They can be very open about how they feel.
If you have a feely extrovert, they're probably not going to hide it as much as you might.  They're going to want someone there to talk about their feelings and have a shoulder to cry on or an ear to squeal into deafness.  These moments are best with tea and your extrovert's favorite blanket, and can be improved by promising them a social event the next day.  Feeling type extroverts aren't shy about their emotions and often process them externally, talking through their problems instead of hiding for a while to sort them out alone.  Always have other extroverts available in case you need backup for an emotional breakdown, and find someone to take care of yours for a day or so afterwards while you process the emotions they've given you.  

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4. They can talk without thinking.
Most introverts like to think about what we're about to say before we say it.  Extroverts don't do that as easily, so you have to remember that what your introvert says might just be a random thought that popped into their head.  Sometimes this can be mean, or hurt your feelings, but they might not realize that.  Be patient with your extrovert and remind them that it's best to think about what they say and the consequences it might have.

So there you have it!  Some ways to keep your extroverted characters happy and healthy.  Keep in mind that they're not all the same, but they all need a good introvert to take care of them and keep them from doing anything silly like buying all the chocolate in the store, shutting themselves up for too long, or spilling their emotions to the obliging lamppost.  Have fun writing them, and don't be afraid to ask them for advice if you're not sure how they work.  

*And please remember that I myself am not an extrovert, so I might not be right about everything.  If there's anything you'd like to add, feel free to use the comment section.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Writing Introverts: Some Things to Keep in Mind

I am an introvert, and I am proud of this fact.  The problem is, there's a lot of stereotypes out there that aren't always true.  What are they and how do you fix them?  Well that's what I'm here for.  What would you do without me?  (Answer: NOTHING)

Now that we've established that, let's move on to introverts.

I think most of the reasons for misconceptions is that we are not usually the most open people.  You'll come across introverts who wear their hearts on their sleeves, but in my experience we tend to keep a lot to ourselves.  If we don't think it needs to be said, we don't say it.  This results in people having to assume things, and usually getting them wrong.  I'm going to roll up my sleeves and settle this down once and for all, so I don't have to answer 500 extroverted questions every time I lean against the wall and watch quietly at a party.  Ready?

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1. Not all introverts hate people.
I personally happen to LOVE people.  I love learning about them, spending time with them, so on and so forth.  In fact, when I'm hanging out one-on-one or in small groups, I can get pretty lively.  But I am most certainly NOT an extrovert.  Never have been, never will be, as far as I can tell.  See, here's the thing a lot of people are missing: Extroverts get their energy from people, introverts get their energy from solitude.  This means that an introvert could love people and enjoy hanging out with their friends, and even be outgoing and friendly towards strangers, they just need time to recharge when they're done.

2. Observing does not equal unhappiness.
When I'm at a party and the room is filled with people, or I'm at a large family gathering and the table has lots of conversations going, I'm probably not saying anything.  I'm probably sitting or standing quietly, possibly eating or hanging out around the snack table.  This doesn't mean I'm not enjoying the party.  While I'm doing this, I'm absorbing all the conversations happening around me and generally listening and watching what's going on.  I happen to like this.  Sure, I might occasionally wish someone would come over and talk to me (heaven help me if I go up to them first!), but leaning against the wall pretending to be invisible is the next best thing.  You hear some pretty awesome things that way.  Or we're just here for the food.

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Actual footage of an introvert at a party.

3. We don't like talking on the phone.
"Martha called Laura, but Laura didn't pick up the phone.  Martha started worrying.  Was she hurt?  Sad?  Martha began to frantically think of ways to help her friend."
Laura was not hurt or sad.  Laura was enjoying a very nice show on Netflix, in her pajamas, and eating pizza.  When the phone rang she looked at it and said "nah, not today".  Laura happens to be just fine.  
I'm not honestly sure what it is about telephones we don't like.  We just...don't.  We avoid them.  Text us.  TEXT US.

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4. We're not always the best at handling outward emotions.
This isn't true for everyone, of course, but if you want your character to spill their guts out, well, don't pick your introvert.  Of course, not all extroverts are super-emotional people who can't shut up about their feelings, but introverts in general are less inclined to trust people with the things they've mulled over until 4 am.  And then when we do tell it's very hesitantly and in absolute privacy.  We don't tend to express our emotions physically unless we're extremely comfortable with the people we're around, or we're acting a part to keep you from bombarding us with questions about our mental health and do we feel anything?  Because you're really not sure (shhhhhh this is a secret but we're not sure either).

The same thing is true when a lot of people around them are emoting.  It's very draining on introverts to handle other people's feels.  We might not mind it, we might be good at it, but it's going to leave us very tired and ready for a long nap or all the Avengers movies watched back-to-back.  Again, some are more sensitive to this than others (I happen to be really empathetic, so I'm partly speaking from personal experience), but as a general rule we aren't prepared to be bombarded with emotions.  We'd love to help, but warn us first and give us some way to recharge when you've finished.  

That being said, your introverted character might be the friend everyone trusts with their secrets and goes to with all their problems, and they might be the character who has wise advice when you need it, but they're going to follow their counseling sessions with long walks in the woods, an entire pizza, or their nose in a book for at least a week.  

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I hope this has been helpful in your writing adventures.  I will continue to introvert, and try to answer any other questions you might have on our behavior patterns.  If you do happen to have any questions, I'll be in my Hobbit-hole and tea is at four. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Why You Should Read the Book First

This is the first post where I don't have to specify who's writing it!  Hooray!  I was running out of ways to say hello.

So books are a thing which exist (I hope you knew that, as you've been reading this blog), and if they're really popular, they get turned into movies.  Sometimes, those movies are epic and amazing works of art.  Other times, they change the main character's race and completely rewrite the ending and force you to throw the book across the room and curl into the fetal position.

The thing is, even if you have a fantastic movie and the producers have done a pretty decent job of representing the book (because none will ever be perfect, but I appreciate good attempts), you're not going to get the full picture.

But there are people who think you will.  Cue sad piano music.

Yes, the sad truth of it all is there are people who believe they can just watch the movies and get on with their lives.  People who believe the book could have nothing more to offer, and that nothing could have been left out that they needed to know.  Let us have a moment of silence for these poor lost souls.

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So why should you read the book?  What's so special about books?  Why can't the movie give you the full picture?  Most importantly, why should you read the book first?  Before you watch the film?  Well I am about to explain that to you.

1. You can create your own idea of the setting and characters.
When you watch a movie, you're being forced to accept the characters and scenery the directors and producers set before you.  Once you've seen them, it's pretty likely that you'll see them that way forever.  For example, before watching the Hobbit movies, I imagined Thorin Oakenshield one way.  After watching the movies, it changed.  Now he will forever be Richard Armitage (not that I have a problem with that).  The same thing happened with Bilbo Baggins, Legolas, Aragorn, Gandalf, Frodo, Samwise, and all the other characters in that series.  

When you read the books first, on the other hand, you're establishing in your own mind the way YOU and YOU ALONE believe those characters should look or the setting should be made, with nothing but the author's descriptions to go on.  You are in control, and you're imagination is the one calling the shots.  Even if you might like the movie's version better, you'll have your own pictures in your head to base them off of.  Who knows?  It could completely change the way you think of the films.  Having something directly contradict the way you imagined it can be pretty jarring.  

2. You get to enjoy the author's writing style.
Every writer has their own way of telling a story, and when the book is being made into a movie, that part doesn't usually make the trip.  Part of what makes reading so enjoyable is having an author you love, or encountering a way of storytelling you hadn't been aware of before.  A brilliant example of this is The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak.  When I discovered the movie I wasn't aware it was based off a book at all.  I enjoyed the movie, then went to look for the book.  It blew me away.  The writing style was unique and beautiful, the narrator was perfect, and the movie became bland and boring.  

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Actual footage of what happens to badly done movies.

3. The book often has more backstory, or character building scenes.
Movies only have so much time, and they need to move the plot along so you get the beginning, middle, and end, all in two hours.  This means there's a lot of in-between bits they're forced to leave out.  Often these are scenes the author has included which reveal important character traits, hidden motives, or reasons why the next scene even exists at all.  More often than not, this ends in the book having much deeper characters and fewer plot holes than the film rendition.  

That's right, you can be the one who's read the book first!  In my eyes, this is AWESOME!  Even though you get mad at the writers, directors, producers, costume and set designers, theaters, and that one annoying friend who says the movie was better, you'll know exactly what's happening, why it's happening, and what didn't happen!  You'll have all kinds of special knowledge you'll be able to pass on to your friends and annoy them with, and you'll be able to help them figure out what on earth is going on.  OF COURSE you can't apparate on Hogwarts property!  It should be obvious!

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So there you have it.  Four reasons why you should read the book first.  

Keep in mind that there will be people who disagree with my obviously perfect reasoning.  These people are peasants and should not be spoken to about anything literary.  Oh, fine you can speak to them, just be nice?  And convince them, somehow, to read.  Because reading is important and...

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Changing it Up

Hello!  It is Grace, and it always will be Grace.  BECAUSE I HAVE TAKEN OVER THE UNIVERSE!

No, actually, it's because this is my blog now.  As you can see, I have drastically altered the name and design, although I'm keeping the domain name the same so you can find me.  Don't worry, it's still the same blog!

Basically what happened was Faith started this thing last January (has it really been a whole year?), and then recruited me to help keep it up.

And then I wrote all the blog posts.

And I loved it.

So yesterday Faith asked if I wanted to just take over, and do my own thing.  She's setting up her own blog somewhere else, it's on WordPress and it's very nice, and you should check it out right here!  As of this very second she hasn't posted anything, because she's a busy little bee and has no time, but she will sooner or later so DON'T GIVE UP ON HER BECAUSE SHE HAS LEFT THIS BLOG SHE IS STILL A BEAUTIFUL PERSON AND SHOULD BE APPRECIATED BY THE UNIVERSE!

Anyway, I'll probably be posting much the same stuff as before, so don't expect massive changes.  The "You Want to Go Home and Rethink Your ________" posts are going to become a once-monthly thing, and I've got up until April planned, so if you have any ideas for topics I could cover in those posts please leave them in the comments!  I'd be happy to hear from you!

So that's that!  Have a lovely day!  If you need anything else I'll be in my Hobbit-hole and tea is at four.