The Writing Newbie

Writing is an adventure. Enjoy the journey and write the way you love!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Experience Book

A lot of writers when asked will give the advice: write what you know.
I don’t think that the people who say that literally mean that you can only write about things you’ve seen or experienced yourself. If that were true the list of existing books would be a lot smaller than it is today. There would be no fantasy or science fiction books for instance. Because let’s face it, none of us has ever seen an actual elf or alien before.

But it is true that writers use their experiences in their writing. If you write about something it’s useful to know what you’re writing, to do a little research. It’s also almost a necessity to use your own experiences to make your writing better.

With everything you write, take a moment to see if you can remember experiencing the same thing before. If you still know how you felt at that moment, or how something was done, it’s very useful to use that in your writing. For instance if you’re writing about a four year old child, it would help you a lot to remember what four year olds generally do and think and how they experience the world around them.

For those of you don’t have that good a memory, don’t worry. Just simply start to write things down now. If you don’t keep a daily journal (personally I’ve tried and failed several times to keep a daily journal.) just take a new notebook and keep it only to write experiences in.
It could be anything. For instance one night you’re home alone and you hear a funny noise. Or you see a big hairy spider somewhere. Bottom point: you’re scared. After you’ve calmed down a little take out your notebook and remember what it felt like. Did you freeze up? Did you scream? What did you feel? Write down as much as you can remember.
Now later if you ever have to write about a character getting really scared and you don’t quite know how to do that: take out your experience book and read what you’ve written right after you were scared yourself. You’ll probably even remember the feeling while reading it (it helps if you also note why you were scared).

You can write about anything from playing in the snow, going through a breakup, swimming in a pond, crushing on someone, being ill or cold. I actually wrote a scene where my main characters were in a mountain range and one of them was coming down with a fever. As it happened, at the time I was ill at home with a high fever, feeling terribly cold but determent to write (lol). It really made me relate to my characters because I was basically writing down how I felt myself, only then in the middle of a snow storm in the mountains.

You could even write about something that we all experience almost daily: Being bored to death.
You all know the feeling of wanting to do something and nothing at the same time. If someone suggests something to do you don’t feel like it. We just hang on the couch watching terrible shows on TV. Write down why you think you’re bored. What you are feeling at the moment. How you eventually got over it. Plus writing that down will give you something to do so you’ll be less bored haha.

For those of you who go to another area or country sometimes in the holidays, don’t forget to write down what you feel, see and experience! Especially when you’re on a holiday you experience and feel things you wouldn’t feel otherwise. The culture shock for instance. The feeling of being in a strange, new place. The odd food you’ll try. The change of scenery. Perhaps you’ll even be a little home sick. Just write down all your impressions and I assure you that it will come in handy one day! And if not it’s always fun to read it again some years down the road!
Please comment and if you’re going to try this let me know how it works out for you!

Oh and if you'd want you can also follow me on Twitter! :D

Keep writing!

Xx LordKiwii

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kiwi Time #3

Finally my finals are over!! Yaay!
I’m sorry that I haven’t uploaded in a while, but I’ve just gone through the two most boring weeks of my life in which I did little else than study, take exams and sleep.
But now that’s over and hopefully I won’t have to do a re-sit. If so I can fully enjoy my three (!) month vacation!
This is just a quick update because I have to go to the movies in about seven minutes. But I wanted to tell you all that I’m back and that I’ll post a new blog entry next Monday.
I hope that all of your writing is going well. I’ve got some great plans for this summer and hope to get a lot of writing done.

Also because this is kiwi time and because you probably don’t know this about me yet, I thought I would share something awesome: Next year I’ll be going to England! For an entire year.
Because high school is such fun (*cough cough*) I thought I would go to England and take another year there! I’ll be in the sixth form and I’ve already picked out my subjects and it’s going to be a lot of fun!
The reason I’m going is because I want to improve my English. I’m not a native English speaker by the way, for those of you who didn’t know. But I learned to speak it at a very early age. Because I write all my stories in English I thought it would be smart to improve my grammar and vocabulary.
And of course I hope that I’ll be able to find a publisher there!

Well, I’m going to see Prince of Persia now. I hope you all had a better two weeks than I had and I’ll be back with a post on Monday!

As always please leave comments saying whatever and if you have any questions about writing even if you think they’re stupid (which I assure you they’re not) please tell them to me so I can help or even write a post about it :3

Keep writing!

Xx LordKiwii

Monday, May 10, 2010

Useful Maps

So I already recommended you guys before to check out the site of Holly Lisle, because out of all the writing sites I visited that day, this one seemed pretty good. It really gives some great writing tips. Now I haven’t read any of her books personally, mainly because I’ve never seen them in a bookstore before (they don’t have a lot of English books in the bookstores here, which kinda sucks) but I imagine that it’s even greater when you’ve read her books. I really like authors who take the time to set up a site to help out aspiring authors or to tell them a bit about themselves and their lives and writing process.

So this is just a really quick post because I’m too busy with my exams right now to write a lot. I’ve only got a week left to study for them, so I’m stressed for time a bit. But anyway, I was checking out Holly’s site a bit and I came upon this great “map-workshop” that she put on her site. She says that she uses maps a lot in her stories and also gets a lot of ideas for stories by simply drawing a map randomly. Most of her novels were actually created by the creative spur that came from a map she’d drawn.

Personally I think maps are great things when you’re writing a story. I’ve made a few myself for the world my story takes place in. It’s really handy because you won’t easily make mistakes like mixing up the directions in which the characters travel to reach a certain city, which earlier was told to lie in the other direction. I already talked about this before in the post “Making Your Story Right”. I told you then to draw a map. Of course most of you can draw a map while you’re writing—it doesn’t have to be pretty at all, just as long as it can help you in your writing. But Holly has a very interesting way of making a map that allows you to get great ideas from it.

Here’s the link to the workshop:

Ok this post is a little short. So just for fun I’ll add some nice quotes about writing!

"Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead." --Gene Fowler

"The Six Golden Rules of Writing: Read, read, read, and write, write, write." -- Ernest Gaines

“Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing.” – Bonnie Friedman

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” -- E.L. Doctorow

“A professional writer is an amature who didn’t quit.”-- Richard Bach

“Writing is the hardest way of earning a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators.” – Olin Miller

“I want to live other lives. I’ve never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” – Anne Tyler

“If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” -- Toni Morrison

Well that was all for today. Hope you liked the quotes and I hope the map drawing will help some of you out a little! And if you have a favorite quote about writing, post it in the comments!

Keep writing!

Xx LordKiwii

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Fearsome Antagonist

The antagonist* in a story doesn’t always have to be an evil man, or a very powerful witch, or an abusive boyfriend, a fearsome lord. One of the most powerful antagonists there is, is fear.
Let’s say you are an evil knight, terrorizing the lands. Unless the people are mortally afraid of you, there isn’t much to you. You can wave your sword around all you want, but you won’t be much of an antagonist. In stories people are always afraid of the bad guy, and often for good reasons. That is why fear is immensely important for any story. Without something dark looming over our hero, without an antagonist standing in his way, there won’t be much of a story.

But as all of you know, you don’t necessarily have to be afraid of a person. People can be afraid of many things like diseases, animals, water, insects, volcanoes, fights, the dark, an attack and many more. In a story the antagonist doesn’t always have to be clearly shown as “the bad person”. It can also be a shadow that is always creeping onto the page from the edges. In books that take place around 1940 for instance the antagonist would be WW II. Of course that doesn’t mean that you can’t also put in an enemy soldier that makes our protagonist’s** life living hell, or an annoying bully. Often there is one main antagonist and a few smaller antagonists. Having something like WW II hanging over the protagonists back, makes the story a lot more interesting, his actions a lot more meaningful and relatively normal scenes can suddenly be really exciting.

In the 21th century the mostly unseen fear would be terrorism. Everyone has to deal with it at some point. This antagonist of ours isn’t entirely invisible of course. Everyone remembers the twin towers and every other attack there has been since then. And everyone is extremely afraid that something like that is going to happen again. But it doesn’t consume us in our every day live. We don’t constantly think about it. It’s not like an evil witch that is tormenting your village. It’s something that you don’t really think about, but always lingers somewhere in your mind. For instance yesterday it was Remembrance of the Dead in the Netherlands. On the Dam Square in Amsterdam there was a crowd just like always including some of the royal family. I was watching it live when suddenly during the two minutes of silence I heard shouting and then everybody started screaming and panicking and started running in all directions. I can tell you that the first thought in my mind was “Oh God not another attack”. As it turned out it was just a man screaming to cause a ruckus and people got scared and panicked, thinking it was an attack. You could see how scared everyone was (even I was scared and I was save in my own home). That is what fear does with you. Everyone was thinking about terrorism or some other sort of attack on the royal family like the one that happened a year earlier.

And it’s that kind of fear that makes the strongest antagonist.

So if any of you had an antagonist that was lacking something, or felt that your story wasn’t excited enough: add more fear. Make the people constantly afraid. If something happen make them think they’re under attack. Make the antagonist have a horrible reputation, no matter what he is really like. Make people whisper his name in fear. Make the people of your story nervously talk about his power, his troops. Or if you’re making a kind of story where the antagonist is for instance an abusive boyfriend; make him get hold of the key to the apartment. Let him come in unexpected in the night so that the protagonist is constant afraid it could happen again. Make her turn down the photos of him when he’s not there because she trembles every time she sees him. Make the reader know how afraid they are.

But don’t overdo it of course. You don’t have to remind the reader every second. But if you give small hints and sometimes remind them of the fear, they’ll feel it themselves as soon as the open the book.

Some people don’t like to write or read about villains. They detest them in books as much as they would do if they were real. That’s good, that means that you are making a solid, fearsome characters. And there are some people, like me, who actually enjoy creating villains and think up the evil deed that they will do.
Either way, every story needs a bad guy because without someone standing in the protagonist’s way, there wouldn’t be much of a story.

Good luck to everyone in thinking up the fear for their story and creating their antagonists! And as always please leave comments with questions, criticism, a friendly hello, or suggestions of what I can write about next time!
For those of you who did not know:

A person, or a group of people who oppose the main character, or the main character. A.K.A.: the villain or the bad guy.

The main character, the person around whom the plot revolves. It’s the person that the reader is supposed to relate to and care about. A.K.A.: the hero.

Keep writing!

Xx LordKiwii