Writing: What You Like vs. What Readers Like

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Should we write what we would like to read?

Should we write what we like to write?

Should we write what other readers like?

To this I answer yes and no.

When writing any story you need to keep all three of these concerns in mind. First thing you need is an idea and story you are invested in. You have to like your own story if you’re going to write it. However, this story is not just for you, it’s for readers. As a reader, would you like your story? This is also important when writing. If you don’t like it as a reader, then you might need to make some changes. Because if you don’t like, other readers won’t like it.

We all want readers to enjoy our work, but this should not have too much sway on what we write. Yes, we want to write it in a way that is entertaining. Yes, we want to write it with enough skill that it is easy to read. But don’t write it solely based on a trend or on what your friends want you to write.

Especially don’t write because of a trend! When I was writing as a teenager the world around me was captivated my the Twilight Saga. Vampires were in. I thought that perhaps that what I should write about, because it was popular and I was not. So I had the question: It is better to write something original or to try and follow a trend? I emailed my question to one of my favourite authors Libba Bray. When she wrote me back, this is what she basically said.

Trends come and go. Always write the story that you need to tell. 

This is what I want you all to remember. A story should be a piece of your heart and soul. It should burn inside of you like a bright flame. It’s something you have to write. It should be something that compels you to write until the wee hours of the morning. It should be something that keeps you awake at night playing inside your head. It has to be worth writing.

Thank you for reading,

-Lalia LaRose

Creating Character Profiles: Simple, Complex, Visual, and Intense

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When creating characters it’s important to understand them, and as you know, character profiles are useful tools that help bring them to life. I mentioned this in my post about How to Create Believable Characters for Your Book. I will be going over four intensities of character profiles and their uses. I will also link my example profiles with them.

Simple:(Full credit for this list goes to Jenna Moreci. Check out her videos on YouTube for a more detailed explanation.)

This is the bare minimum you need to know about your character to make them believable. This where you might want to begin when building a character. It’ll help figure them out before you start writing.

  1. Roles
  2. Motivation
  3. Life Experiences
  4. Strengths
  5. Weaknesses

You will want all five categories to interact with each other in some way to make the start of a complex character. ALL CHARACTERS NEED TO HAVE THIS PROFILE.

Complex:

This is where you start expand on some unique and individual traits for your character. This will get you more in-touch with your character, which will help you in the writing process. You will be able to see your character more clearly after you make this profile for them.

  • Name
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Birthday
  • Astrology Sign
  • Origin: where they born and/or raised
  • Physical Description
  • Marital Status:
  • Family: siblings, parents, etc…
  • Background Story: brief summary of their life
  • Language: what they speak and read/write
  • Friends and Allies
  • Enemies and Villains
  • Dreams/Life Goals
  • Best Quality
  • Worst Quality
  • Strengths
  • Weakness
  • Fears
  • Talents/Powers/Abilities

With this template you’ll be able to see your character come to life. You can alter this list as you want, but this just some basic traits you’ll need to know if you want to understand your character.

Visual:

This profile is similar to the complex profile, except that it is organized in a more visually appealing way. It’s something you’d want to print off and look at once in a while, while writing. It’s not too difficult to make and you can customize as you want. It’s handy to have nearby when you need to quickly find some information about your character. This can be more simple or even more complex than what I have at the moment.

character-profile-visual

Feel free to use this profile, but please credit me if you post it online.

character-profile-visual

SocEcoStat: is my abbreviation for Socioeconomic Status

LGBTQ: is my abbreviation for Sexuality

❤ Xp: is my abbreviation for sexual/romantic experience.

Intense: (I want to credit Jenna Moreci for the majority of this list as well. I did some tweaking, but I got the majority of this list from her videos and blog.)

This is the profile you use when you want to know as many details as possible about your character. This is the profile you’ll want to use for your main characters. You can add even more traits than the ones I have. There are some character profiles that have 100 traits! It all depends on how well you need to know your character. If you have a hard time imagining a character and getting inside their heads, this is where this profile comes in handy. If you’re like me and I can get into my characters’ heads pretty easily, then this might just be a lot of writing for something you already know.

character-profile

And there you have it. The most important thing I want you to take from this, is that there is no one way to do a character profile. You will have to find what works for you and your characters. Always adapt what you find on the internet to fit your needs and wants. I encourage you to take inspiration from this blog post and change it!

Thank you for reading,

-Lalia LaRose

 

NaNoWriMo Goal Update: Epic Failure

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Hey guys and girls,

So as the title suggests I have already failed at my goal for this month, but I will not apologize or beat myself up over it. Setting and failing this goal has made me come to a realization. I am not a daily writer. I tend to write in spurts when I have the time and motivation. In one weekend I can get 10,000 words written if I don’t have any other obligations. This is just how I write and I believe it doesn’t make me any less of a writer.

It also just happened to work out that my first week and a half of November was hectic. Yesterday and today were my first days since the beginning of the month that I was able to lock myself in my room and get some writing done. Actually, after this post I will be writing in my novel, so three cheers for that!

I won’t lie, I felt pretty down about not meeting my goal, but I had to put my foot down and put myself in my place. Life doesn’t work out the way you want it to. In an ideal world I would be living on my own and not at home. In an ideal world I would be making a living from my writing. In an ideal world I would have met my goal. But we don’t live in an ideal world.

Sometimes no amount of determination and discipline can make us meet our goals. My first and only concern from this past week and half was to deal with my stress and anxiety, due to work. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and I love writing, but sometimes you have to set aside something to take care of yourself.

Bottom line is: I’m not a daily goal person. I’m not a daily writer. I’m not perfect. I’m not professional writer yet. But I’m okay with that. I am a quarterly goal achiever. I am a weekly writer. I am a good person. I AM A WRITER.

Everyone has a different process, everyone lives different lives, and no one should be judged for that. These are my personal feelings and nothing more.

Thanks for reading,

-Lalia LaRose

Showing vs. Telling: The Epic Battle of Writing

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As writers we’ve all heard the golden rule: Show, don’t tell. Everywhere you look for writing advice you see it again and again. Show, don’t tell! I get nauseous every time I read those words. SHOW, don’t tell! I’m not going to lie. It’s a good piece of advice for beginners who aren’t sure how to write a impactful scene. We all tell them the same thing. SHOW, DON’T TELL! I’m here give me personal opinion on the matter and hopefully set some writers free. (If I write that one more time I might vomit.)

When we give the advice-that-shall-not-be-named, we do so out of good intentions. We want beginners to realize that to write a scene with punch you need to set the scene, give description, and present important details. These are all things that beginners need to learn, but why the hell don’t we just say that? Because it’s easier to say three words, plus everyone knows what you mean when you say them. Right?

Well beginners might not know and that’s when you need to educate them. The best way to educate them is to give examples from other pieces of writing. We can’t just sit them down and tell them what to do, we need to show them. (Urk.) Get them to read some classics, and them some cultural literature. Canadian Literature happened to be one of my favourite classes in college.

Now, here’s something important I learned in college as well. You need to find balance in your writing. Just like in art, you need to emphasize some things and diminish others. This will draw more attention to what you’re emphasizing. This has to happen in our writing too. You should only add description where it’s needed. Only show the reader what’s important for them to know.

If little Timmy’s dog died you’ll want to describe how his eyes filled with tears, how his face contorted, and how his nose dripped as he cried. You don’t want to just say he was devastated. An important scene like this needs the emphasis, because it’s a major event in little Timmy’s life.

However, if little Timmy was at school and was talking to his friends about his dead dog, you’re not going to put much detail into the conversation. (Unless something important is revealed in the scene.) You’ll probably simply write “Little Timmy talked to his friends about the latest tragedy and they consoled him with hugs.”

How does one know when a scene is important enough for great description? This is tricky question to answer, because it depends on the story and plot. If you’ve made an outline- which I suggest you do- all of your plot points are important to the story and will need description. If your scene reveals: character traits, theme, plot development, character development, or important information. Basically, you will want to show your readers anything that drives the story forward.

WARNING: too much description and too many details will bore your readers.

If you’re describing an important object, like a diary, you’ll probably only want two, maybe three, sentences describing how it physically looks. You might want a sentence or two describing its sentimental value to the character. That’s only if it’s pivotal to the plot and story development. When you get into long descriptions of something, the easier it is to get the reader lost and confused with the details. You want to explain it as simply as possible, then add some flair and details to make it pop.

It’s always difficult to know when to add descriptive prose and how much detail you’ll need to add. I still have troubles with it. Some things I over-emphasize, and others I don’t emphasize enough. This where Critique Partners, Writing Buddies, and Beta-Readers come in handy. Fresh eyes and avid readers will be able to pick out where you have too much or too little description.

TIP 1: When there is something important you want to reveal try revealing it through dialogue!

Dialogue is a useful tool to use when there is something important that needs to be revealed, but is difficult to put into prose. Dialogue can also be paired with your prose to bring simplicity and impact to your scene.

For example: you have a few characters walking into a abandoned house. You’ll want to write some description about the environment. (TIP 2: use the five senses to add impactful description.) You can also use dialogue to aid in this description, like so:

“Hey Timmy,” Joe whispered, “Do you smell that?”

“Smell what?” Timmy asked.

“It smells like rotten eggs,” Joe crinkled his nose.

“Are you sure you didn’t just let one rip?” Timmy chuckled, “Be careful not to shit yourself.”

Now we know that there is particular smell in the house that might be concerning and we didn’t need to write it in the prose. Dialogue a lot of the time adds extra emphasis to a detail that is extremely important.

Showing has a place in writing, but so does telling. As writers we need to find that balance between showing and telling. This is something that takes time and practice. Just follow your instincts. You can always go back and fix it. Take online advice with a grain of salt and believe in your abilities. As you keep writing, you keep improving.

Thank you for reading,

-Lalia LaRose

Outlining 101: Planners, Pantsers and the Plan

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When you start writing your book you will need to have an idea of how to start. I know that there are Pantsers and Planners when it comes to writing novels. Planners are the type of people who make detailed outlines before they even start writing. Pantsers are the writers who just write the book straight from their head. However there are a few variations of these two type of writers.

There are writers who make their outline in their head and write the novel based off of that. These people I like to call the Invisible Planners. There are also people (like myself) who start writing without an outlines until they get a feel for the idea, and then they make the outline. These people I like to call Pantsy Planners. There are a lot of different type of writers, and ever writer should have their own unique process that works for them.

Every writer should have some kind of plan when they tackle a novel, no matter how detailed or bare-boned. Outlines give the writer direction, and even Pantsers have a plan, it just happens to unfold as they write. Planners are not better than Panstsers, and Pantsers are not better than Planners. The honest truth is that when you write a book it will always need to be changed. That’s what the editing and revising phases are for!

It’s true that Pantsers spend more time on fixing and refining their plot after they’ve done the first draft, but that’s not bad. It makes them take a hard look at their plot and makes them work their problem-solving muscles. It’s a process that might work for them, and if they realize that they should’ve had an outline, then it was a learning experience. My advice to Pansters is this: figure out your process and try making a very basic outline to see if it helps.

Planners on the other hand have a different set of issues they deal with. Sometimes they feel like they are restricted by their outline and writing doesn’t feel as freeing as it had before. Some don’t have this problem. There are planners who don’t experience any issues with having an outline. Personally, I sometimes feel like by having an outline my plot becomes predictable. However, I’ve found a way to fix this. When you write your outline don’t make it super detailed. I usually start by listing all my major events and find out how they affect each other. Cause and effect. Here’s my piece of advice to Planners: allow new and wild ideas to slip into your novel. You can always change your plan.

Outlines are useful tools for writers, but that does not mean that they can’t be inhibiting either. Every writer is different and they have to find their own process.

Thank you for reading,

Lalia LaRose

My NaNoWriMo Goal This Year (2016)

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I have never participated in NaNoWriMo before and technically I won’t be participating this year either. However, I will be setting myself a goal that I can only accomplish if I write a significant amount daily. That goal is to finish my WIP The Last Queen of Terrivea. Yesterday I finally broke the 50,000 word count mark and I want to keep going hard into this month. 

So I plan on writing like a maniac when I’m not at work to get this manuscript finished. There are two reasons why I want to do this. 

  1. This is my first novel and I want to get it finished as soon as possible so I can get into the editing phase. The way I think of it is that the quicker I finish writing, the sooner I can get to editing and revising, and then the closer I’ll get to publishing my first novel. 
  2. I have officially found myself a Critique Partner and I feel like I should get my manuscript finished as soon as possible so that I don’t slow down our critiquing process. We haven’t started yet, since we’re just working out a schedule, but I am looking forward to working with my first CP! 

If I finish The Last Queen of Terrivea this month, then I will have finished a full manuscript in about 6 months! Now onto how I’m going to achieve my goal. 

Since I’ve already got 50,000 words and I think I’m between half and two-thirds finished, I feel like I don’t need the exact same daily word count as other NaNoWriMo writers. I want to write at least 1,500 words a day, but knowing me I will miss days, so the plan is that when I miss day I will add the daily word count onto my catch up days. For example: I probably won’t get my 1,500 words in tomorrow (because I’m going into the city), so I will plan to write 3,000 words either today or on a later date to make up for tomorrow. 

1,500 words a day for the month of November will mean I will be writing a total of 45,000 words, or as many words until I’ve finished my manuscript. I’m quite excited to meet this goal! I’ll be posting an update when I’ve reached the goal this month. 

Wish me luck and thank you for reading,

Lalia LaRose