Monday, March 29, 2010
But if you inspire to get your story published once it’s finished, you should really keep in mind who your public is going to be. Even when writing you should always have a little voice at the back of your head who from time to time reminds you who your writing this story for. That doesn’t mean that you have to write entirely for someone else. It just means that you have to take into account the kind of people that will eventually hold your book in their hands.
First think about what genre your story falls under. Are you writing an adventure, romance or perhaps fantasy novel? Each type of novel has a different public. If you really can’t find out what public that is going to be; hold a stakeout at your local bookstore or library and see what kind of people grab the books of the same genre of the shelve.
Other then the genre it’s important to know what age you’re going to be writing for. I don’t think that I have to explain that you need to write differently for small children then for adults. With stories for small children, the plot can’t be too difficult and you need to use relatively simple words that the children will be able to understand. It won’t work if you write a story that someone of you age understands and loves, and then try to sell it off as a children’s story.
When you contact an agent or a publisher, it is equally important to know who your public is going to be and what kind of genre your book falls under. Don’t send a young adult fantasy novel to a publisher who only publishes romance novels for adults. Publishers and agents always have information on their site about what kind of books they’re looking for. If it’s not in the submission guidelines for some reason, you can always look at the books that they’ve published in the past.
For those of you who wish to write for children, but don’t know how, I suggest you go to the children’s section of a bookstore and look at the kind of books they have there. They are categorized on age (the ages of the kids who are supposed to read them) and you can get a clear view of what kind of books are for what kind of kids. It is also always great to talk to some children and ask what they like about books the most and what they like to read about.
This was kind of a short and boring post, but I hope it helps you get some more info on how important it is to know who you are writing for. And it’s short because I’m insanely busy at the moment ^.^’
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
No really. Like most of you probably know, when you start writing a story that is called a draft. Your first draft to be exact. Writing the first draft takes a lot of time. You have to figure out the entire story, what people say, what’s going to happen etc. With other words you have to write your story. For those of you who are already at this stage and have completed their story, congratulations! Some people like to jump straight to the beginning of the story as soon as they’ve written the last line. They read it again and rewrite it.
Personally though, I prefer to keep it in my drawer, write on something else and then go back later to re-write it so that I have distanced myself from the story a bit and can look at it more objectively. Because it isn’t fun to have to delete those scenes you worked so hard on. By the way, always make sure you keep the first draft and save the rewrite as a second draft under a different name. Otherwise the “deleted scenes” will be really gone. This way you could always add them again if you get second thoughts (Or read it years later if you really want a good laugh).
I really can’t stress the importance of rewriting enough.
A lot of people are nervous about beginning a story and get stuck before they finish a page. Most of the time it’s because you’re too hard on yourself. The first draft is allowed to suck. It doesn’t have to be really good or perfect. It can be bad. Actually first drafts are usually pretty bad. You may not think so now while you’re writing it, but when you reach the end of your story and go back to the beginning, you’ll probably think the beginning isn’t good enough.
The reason why the first draft is generally bad and rewriting is important is because you learn while writing. Especially newbie’s like me learn a lot during the process of writing. While you write you practice the art of writing: you get a feeling for writing, you find a certain way to describe things, you find out what works and what doesn’t, you learn the rules of writing and you find your own “voice”, your way of writing. And of course you get to know your characters, the way they think, act and feel. While writing a story the characters are your best friends. It’s almost like meeting real people, at the beginning you hardly know anything about them and then slowly you get to know them. You get to know their likes and dislikes; you study them and learn to understand them. At the beginning of your story you didn’t know your characters that well.
While rewriting you remove the clear difference between the beginning of the story and the end. You improve the story, polish the rough edges and clean up any loose ends of things you started in your story and then completely forgot about and never mentioned again.
I recently started rewriting one of my finished stories that I haven’t worked on for over a year. I couldn’t really look all that objective at the story because I’m working on the sequels, but I was objective enough to see that the beginning sucked. At the very beginning I introduced my character and I didn’t recognize her at all. The character I introduced was nothing like the character she had become while writing. So I rewrote the whole thing. I also noticed that the beginning didn’t draw anyone in (it was quite boring) and didn’t show any of the promise of fantasy later on. It begins in a boring town, quite fantasy and magic-less. So it’s a bit boring compared to the rest of the story. Here I had a problem. The beginning can’t be boring! It should draw people in and make them want to read the entire book. Luckily my character loves reading and has a huge imagination. So I let her be herself and imagine away, bringing fantasy in the beginning of the book, making it a little more interesting. I showed it to my parents (who read nearly everything I write) and they agreed that the rewrite was a thousand times better. But even so I’m sure that once I’m finished with my second draft, I’ll start a third (even though I don’t really like rewriting).
So the five million drafts might have been a slight exaggeration, but I think every story needs three to five drafts before it’s perfect. You have to stop at one point though! Or you’ll go on forever.
For those of you who are thrilled and excited when thinking about rewriting—congratulations and I’m extremely jealous. For those of you, like me, who hate rewriting: it’s something that has to be done. Try to find the joy in polishing your story and remember that this way you’ll tell your story in the way it deserves.
Always keep writing!
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Right now I’m doing my happy dance, because: yaay a 1000 views already! I’m really glad that so many people visit my blog! ^^ And I really hope I’m actually helping you guys with your writing. But please comment a little, I want to know how you’re writing’s going and what you think about my blog, because I’m sure there are tons of things I could improve.
Alright now about me.
Normally I’m really really busy with school. In only a few weeks I’ll have my exams and I still feel hugely unprepared. And next Monday the two monster weeks from hell will start where I’ll have tons of hard tests.
And of course instead of getting ready and studying …. I’m ill. Well luckily it’s nothing serious but I still don’t feel up to it to go and study. Which leaves me lots of time to go on the internet and write on my story for a change ( which I’ll do when I’ve finished writing this post).
About my writing. I’ve been writing since forever, but when I was nine years old I started this fantasy/mystery book about a witch that was magically trapped in the attic of my main character, Sara. She accidentally helped her escape and with the help of a male witch who was the person who had locked the witch in the painting, she had to help get rid of him. It’s a pretty good and complicated plot for a nine year old to write and I’m still amazed that I managed to come up with that. And I find it really funny to read the first draft because it’s really childish and … well let’s say my writing has improved—a lot.
I want to be a published writer, like probably 99% of you guys. When I tell people they’re like “sure… you want to be a writer” in a way that says “it’s never going to happen” or “yeah and I want to be a rock star” (That’s also on my list of things I would like to be…. But I think I should stick with writing). But my parents and most of my classmates are really supportive and that’s great.
I’m going to keep this short because a) I have a terrible headache and b) I want to go writing because I’m almost at a point in my book that I’m really going to enjoy writing :-)
Alright one last thing about me before you get too bored, I love to read. I’m sure that comes as no surprise because generally speaking, every writer loves to read. But my room is literally stacked from floor to ceiling with books. Mostly fantasy but some romance novels, history books (I love history) and classics like Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Brontë sisters and Peter Pan from J.M. Barrie (I’m a big Peter Pan fan).
OK That’s enough about me for now. I hope you enjoy my blog at least half as much as I enjoy writing it!
ps. The wonderful picture of the boy reading belongs to Mar-ka who kindly allowed me to use it. Watch her great art right here: http://mar-ka.deviantart.com/
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
It is really important to pay special attention to the title of your story. Especially if you want to self-publish your story.
Just think to yourself, “Why do I grab a book of a shelf?”
When you’re at a bookstore, you are faced with hundreds of books. Still you always pick a few books from the shelf and read the text on the cover to see if you want to buy it. But why do you pick that one book?
I think that what makes a book attractive (at first sight) are three things:
- The color of the spine and the cover of the book
- The title
- The text on the back cover
The title is really important because it draws people’s attention and it has to convince someone to actually take the effort to take it off the shelf. It should be interesting, original and attractive.
Before you all go off, writing imaginative and creative titles, you have to keep in mind that the title must be representative for the rest of the story. It has to “fit” the story. You can’t have a promising title without the story to live up to that expectation. (Well you can but it won’t do your book any good).
Harry potter and the Philosopher’s stone sounds much better than The wizard school or Harry Potter and magic. The title is original and people will want to find out what it’s about. Harry is a very common name, it could have been you or me and “the Philosopher’s stone” is already associated with magic, myth and mystery. You have a good idea what kind of book it’s going to be just by looking at the title.
And for instance Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo sounds interesting. There is an unusual name and you start to wonder who it is. It also involves a gateway which we usually associate with action, mystery and magic. And some place called Foo that we’ve never heard about. You want to know more. And the gateway and Foo are very important elements in the story. It promises a gate way and Foo and you get it.
I also like the cover. You have this strange boy that is wet for some reason and looks exhausted. His right eye is shining a bright orange glow and he has a strange little creature on his shoulder. If you like fantasy stories and come across this book you’d probably be interested.
But remember, even though the title is really important, don’t go breaking your head over it yet. Write your story first. Work with a working title. I’ve named my story “New_Story” till I was finished and I gave it a different title.
Now that I’ve named the importance of a good title I’ll give you some great sites that give tips on how to find the perfect name for your story. But don’t worry if it doesn’t feel a 100% right yet. If you try to get it published your agent and/or editor will be there to help you pick the right title.
This article gives some good idea’s in naming your story.
This site also explains the importance of a title and gives some tips and ideas.
Wikihow is always helpful :)
If you know more great sites or tips, share them with the rest and don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section!
Friday, March 12, 2010
Most of you know that I spend a lot of time on Yahoo Answers. I’m usually somewhere in the books & answers section answering questions. And a question I’ve seen a lot is something along the lines of “What should I write my story about?”
Now a lot of people don’t like these kind of questions. And I agree with them that if you want to write or even be a writer, that you should be able to be creative enough to think of something to write about.
I named this post “writer’s block” because a lot of people have trouble with thinking up story idea’s. Even more find it difficult to keep going once they’ve past the first twenty pages or so. Their creativity just seems to have dried out. Don’t worry, I’ve never heard of the death of someone’s creativity before. It’s just a temporary block, it’ll get back again!
Here are some tips I think may help when you have no ideas. Personally I’ve never had that problem buy these tips helped me a lot when I was having a writer’s block.
- Write in a notebook or a sheet of paper. Write about anything. This is much like the practice notebook I’ve mentioned in Practice Makes Perfect. Even if you’re writing rubbish your brain will get the message that you need a story idea and it will get creative and think of one. (This can take a while but eventually the idea’s will come)
- What inspires you? Do you have a movie list like I do of movies which makes you just want to write and gets your brain to have all kinds of crazy thoughts? Do you love paintings? Take a look on creative art sites such as Deviantart and be inspired. (Get inspired and do your own thing, don’t steal of course). Or listen to music. Listen to the lyrics and pay attention to the feeling you get when listening to it.
- People. Go outside sit down on a bench somewhere and just watch the people passing you by. Imagine who they are, what kind of work they have and where they are going. Imagine what they’re thinking right there and then. You may find yourself a character. Perhaps you’ll get the hang of creating small pieces of the world of those people and find a story idea. Even if you don’t it’s great practice. Be sure you always have a pen and some paper with you though! So that you can write your thoughts down.
And my last tip is making a mind map. Now I assume most of you know what a mind map is. For those who don’t it’s when you link a lot of words to a key word or an idea. It’s great for getting new ideas for your story.
Step one: Think of the gengre that you love. For instance fantasy.
Step two: Pick a word that is related to fantasy and appeals to you. For instance you pick Magic.
Step three: Write the word Magic in the middle of your empty sheet. Make sure it’s big and clear.
Step four: Think of all kinds of words that you relate to magic and perhaps fantasy. Write them around the word “magic” and link them to the word with a line. It can be any words like “Wand, wizard, evil queen, school, destiny, floating, flying, far away land, whispering trees, magical creatures, one hero” you name it.
Step five: A lot of people will be stimulated enough already to have a great idea for a story. Other still don’t. Try and take the words that you used and make a story line with it. It doesn’t matter if it sounds crappy at first. Just take a few hours and do something else. Then come back to the mind map and try again, or edit the story idea you had. You’ll probably find that you have a lot of new and fresh idea’s already.
I hope this will help you guys as much as it did me. They saved me from a lot of writer’s blocks that could have lasted for weeks and now only lasted for a few hours.
How do you cope with a writer’s block? If you have other idea’s please share them with the rest of the blog and post them in the comment section below!
Monday, March 8, 2010
I absolutely adored Alice (Mia Wasikowska ). I loved her entire character and the way she reacted to the things she saw and her imagination. Especially at the beginning and the end of the movie, I found that hilarious. (Don’t worry I won’t give any spoilers away).
I’m a big fan of Johnny Depp and every Tim Burton movie ever made, so I was very happy last night. The movie is full with Tim Burton’s extraordinary imagination which made it fascinating, fantastic and unique.
This movie is definitely going on my “inspirational movies” list. It’s a little list I have in my head of movies that stimulate my imagination and make me want to write. There just are some movies that are so imaginative and brilliant that they make me want to use my own imagination. Last night I couldn’t stop thinking about several absurd things and I wrote them all down. And right now, just thinking about the movie makes me want to pick up my pencil and fall down the rabbit hole into my own worlds.
I especially loved it when Alice said something like:
“Sometimes I think up six impossible things before breakfast.”
To which the Mad Hatter replied:
“That’s an excellent practice.”
Have you ever thought up six impossible things before breakfast? I’m sure I haven’t done it that often. Usually I’m in a zombie-like state until I finish my breakfast and listen to my favorite music a bit before going to school. I’m certain though that I must have thought of several impossible things before going to bed many times. Last night I thought up tons of impossible things, and even dreamed about them.
Do you have any funny rituals that stimulate your imagination? Or an inspirational movie list like I do? Let the rest know by leaving a comment!
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Make sure you write a little bit every day. Try writing small sentences or stories while you’re waiting for your friends to show up, or riding the bus home, or when you’re bored during that history lesson (Don’t tell your teachers I told you that! ). Write whenever you have free time. It doesn’t have to make sense.
I once got the great tip of buying a note book and taking it with me wherever I went. In that book you’re supposed to write in at least 15 minutes a day. Write anything. Start with random sentences like “I had never seen a blue bunny before. But there it was.” Or “If I had known this, I would have never bought that pen.” And go from there. Write whatever you want, don’t worry if the grammar is alright, or if the plot and characters are perfect. Write for the sake of writing. You can even write “This exercise is so stupid. I want to be outside and play soccer.” And go from there. You see if you write a lot, you’ll learn. It will begin to come natural to you. You’ll get used to the feeling of writing and the idea’s will come more easily.
There are also some really great sites filled with all kinds of writing exercises on them. If you’re just starting off, try an easy one. For instance if you know a lot about cars, do the exercise that says “Write a story about a car dealer who makes the deal of his life.” You know, write what excites you. Find an exercise that you think you’ll be able to pull off.
But after you’ve done a few, try to be brave enough to pick the one exercise that is hard or seems impossible. These little assignments can learn you a lot. They can teach you how to describe objects and rooms to your reader. They can teach you how to write about certain kinds of characters. They can learn you how to write about things you know nothing about. They teach you to be creative.
Here are some great sites I found, but search around a bit and find the site that works best for you.
This is the site of Meredith Sue Willis, an author and a veteran teacher of writing. She has nearly 150 exercises on her site and some great links and advice.
This site has some great exercises, one for each day for you to make. It also has a huge archive where you can find the previous exercises.
Here are some fun exercises and links to other websites.
I found tons more great sites, but I couldn’t post them all here. If you want more sites, go to Google and search for “writing exercises” or “fiction writing exercises.”
If you found some other great sites, please share them by leaving a comment!
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
But only when you try to publish your book, do you realize that writing it, was the easy part. In this first post of publishing 101 I’ll only scratch the surface of rules about publishing. Check the blog from time to time for more about publishing!
Tip 1: Send in your manuscript when it’s ready
This sounds logical, but a lot of Wribie’s make this mistake. I made it myself. After finishing my second book, I decided to try and get the first one published. Boy was I in for a surprise. I had no clue about the world of publishing and I still haven’t figured it out completely.
One thing I learned though is to only send your manuscript to an agent or publisher when you’re sure that it’s perfect. That’s it’s the best you could do. That there is no point in editing it further. I hadn’t done that. I had edited it only once. When I look back on what I sent to the agents, I’m surprised that one agent found it remotely interesting. Needles to say I re-wrote it. But keep in mind that you should only edit it so many times! Don’t start over-editing. You have to say “OK. Stop. Move on and go to another story” after the 10th rewrite or so. Otherwise you’ll never quit working on that story. Because let’s face it, we never find our stories 100% perfect.
Tip 2: Learn from rejection
Every writer must dread rejection. It feels terrible to have someone reject the work where you put your heart, soul and precious time in. But it’s not the end of the world. Personally I didn’t like the rejections of course, but I didn’t mind them much. I just kept thinking “your loss”. The point is, don’t give up! Most rejections are because they only have a limited amount of manuscripts they can accept. Or because it doesn’t suit their personal taste.
But let’s get to the learning. Most rejections will be a standard form. You should put these away in a nice box and forget about them. But a lot of rejections will have small comments or perhaps even a whole list of things that the editor or agent didn’t like about your story. Read them carefully, listen to their advice, and edit your story the way you see fit. It’s still your story though! Only edit it if you agree!
The publishing world uses a lot of terms that you may be unfamiliar with. This time I’ll explain the term unsolicited manuscript.
And unsolicited manuscript is a manuscript that the editor of a publisher didn’t ask for. Therefore if you see “no unsolicited manuscripts” on the site of a publisher, it means that you can’t just send your manuscript there. You first need a request to send it. You can get a request by sending a Query letter first. If they like it, they’ll request your manuscript.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Personally I think it doesn’t help to ask complete strangers on yahoo or a site like that. Because they don’t know your character. Character’s are like your own children, you know them best. And you should name them.
Naming your character
Step 1: Get the most detailed picture of your character possible. What does he look like? What does he like and dislike? What is his personality like? Is he nice, snobby, mean, annoying, helpful?
Step 2: I’m sure you’ve all met people and thought: your name really suits you. Or people whose name don’t suit them at all. A girl who always dresses in black and it kind of depressing to be around the name Summer doesn’t really suit her a name like Raven would suit her better. If you have a stuck up boy and old fashioned name like Winston or James suits him better than a name like Tom. Of course this isn’t a rule, but you could think to yourself what kind of name will suit your character best.
Step 3: Babies. What? No really. Try going to baby sites such as babynames.com. They are the best sites to get inspiration for your names. If you want names from a certain area or age, you could also search Google. Searches like “names from the 1700 in France” probably give you a lot of great hits.
Step 4: Make a list of your favorite names and ponder about all of them some time. Don’t decide right away. I know my parents made a list like this before I was born. For instance if I had been born a boy, my name would have been Daan.
Step 5: Try to narrow it down to your top 2. Then choose. This is the hard part of course. You could try writing a piece which introduces your character, or a random scene featuring your character. Try out both names. You’ll probably like one better than the other.
I hoped this helped you along on the painful naming process of your characters! Of course you can also have names in languages that don’t exist… but I’ll come back on that another day.