Category Archives: Tips & Tools

Letters of Questioning: Fickle Muse Will Return

So much to discus and inspire! Deep thoughts to be had or admired.  Here is the next installment of Letters of Questioning, my response to Dreamland’s Insurgents.

Dreamland’s Insurgents long live the Dream!,

I must say, I almost have to pity you, if you are finding my writing to be the highlight of humor in your reading list.  That said, I am ever so glad my twists and turns have delighted you.  My newer works, while still having that flair for the dramatic, and the twists you are coming to expect from me, seem to have a deeper undercurrent. I was even asked, after one such piece, if I needed a hug, seeing as its content was just a tish past twisted.

Speaking of punctuation, I must admit that many often criticize me in that regard. I am just a little too fond of… ellipses.  And maybe, just maybe, I like to add all the commas, even when they are not so necessary… Oi, and there I go, with a few to many of both.  But what are your thoughts? Punctuation is, I believe, one of the most undervalued tools in our tool belts as writers, and one that I think all too often, is overlooked.  Add to that, the right play on POV and I think they work flawlessly to really affect the readers’ emotional climate. So many stories are just written in some form of third person, and almost always have been through the fiction I have read, and yet, the writer has such power just by changing the POV.  Sprinkle in the right punctuation and you have a powerful duo!

As far as answering your questions about my fickle muses… Well, one never knows when or even where they might pop up!  And don’t even get me started on who they might be! Rest assured, however, you can be sure they will make more appearances. Just don’t count on them to be who you want, when you want, or where you want, because those bastards obviously have a mind of their own, and they are just powerful enough that I have no say in the matter. (But if you find some way to harness those guys, please, please, please let me know!)

“Shadow’s Savior” ahhhh that was a powerful piece. I find more and more, if you look deep in my writing, you will find there is a lot at work on those planes that I often don’t even realize.  Too often we are left cold, shaken, and alone, wondering what has happened to us, to our shadows, to the lives we meant to live.  I think I truly believe you are correct, that the struggle itself is the inspiration, or that “Bob Ross” look alike wouldn’t have been harvesting the writers’ tears!

Ultimately I can’t say that my own experiences with my muse are what inspired them, but I also can’t deny that my fickle muses are not exactly those tales, so take from that what you will! At the end of the day, all we can do is be a conduit to the life that haunts us, and the stories we are bound to tell.

 

As always I await your response,

Ravyn

 

As always, we love to hear from you! Our marvelous community! Would you like to be a part of the letters?  Hit us up!  Do you too have questions that are just burning to be answered?  Drop them in the comments below and they will make their way into our letters!

Blog Motivation

So having struggled to really find an idea that spoke to me for a few days now, I asked some friends what it is that they would like to see if they were looking to read a writing blog. One of the topics asked for was How to get and stay motivated to work on my blog. She went on to say, I have lots of posts in my brain, but have yet to find a way to hook my brain to my computer and download the posts.

This is a great topic! I have often found myself floundering. And it also gave me the idea for a couple posts, because in addition to this one, you get to look forward to a piece of fiction from me, dealing with the downloading from the brain! *grins* You know you are all dying to read that one! So, here we go, how to stay motivated:

  1. First off, try to have several posts done ahead. The reason I say this is because it is so much easier to maybe come back to it a little later if you really need to, without the pressure of, Oh My GERD, it is due to post in twenty minutes!!! *grins* and yes I have done that more than a time or two, hehehe.
  2. Secondly, keep an actual written list of your ideas. Update this list any time you have an idea, so that you have a ready place to go when you are not feeling inspired.
  3. Thirdly, write on a topic that actually interests you at the moment. Yes, you have created a marvelous list of ideas, but if they are not inspiring you at the moment, write on something else. Your lack of interest will show! You have thought of the ideas for a reason, so give them all the passion they deserve!

 

There you have it, three easy and quick steps for finding and keeping the motivation to write your blog posts! What do you do to find the motivation for working on your blog when you are feeling less than motivated? Do you keep a list of ideas? Do you just write randomly? Do you work ahead in your blog? Let me know!!!

Beat Sheets and Writing Helpers

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The writer’s toolbox is a varied thing.  Each and every writer has different ideas of what to put in one.  That is a topic for another time however.  What I wanna talk about today is beat sheets.  You know, those worksheets one can use to help know where your story is going, help create an outline.  Not that I use one of those… I am a pantser, but I do like to have a bit of knowledge of my story, a bit of structure.

I have been doing a ton of looking around the web lately for those wonderful little helpers.  Of course I never find what I like, what I think is the best, but I do take the best of what I find and create my perfect worksheets.

 

 

What about you?  Do you use any prefab worksheets to learn things about your up and coming novel?  Do you use them after you have your WIP up and running?  Or do you create your own outline?  Or pants the heck out of it?  What is your process?

A Great Explanation: Show vs Tell

I have a busy week ahead of me, but I wanted to share this great post I found that talks about show vs tell!  As a writer we hear that alot, probably even say it ourselves, but how do we explain that?  How do we share that with others?  Writers In the Storm have Margie Lawson there sharing that.  It is amazing.

It boils down to paying attention to the words you put around your characters actions.  The words you use to describe the action itself.  By using power words, visuals and things that can make you “feel” the action, you will be showing.  Any time the action feels flat, like you are just hearing about it, or just know it was done that would be telling.

 

I took much from that short article and I hope it helps you as well!  What did it teach you?  Did you better understand show vs tell?  How do you see them now?  Happy writing!

Critiquing the Journey

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This writing journey often involves others. I have to admit one of my favorite parts is reading the work of another and sharing in that joy of discovery! Not only of the creative way their mind works, but also of how I interpret that!

Writing to me is a process, a journey, and an important part of that is the sharing with other writers! That fellow communion of exchanging our writing is what makes us grow, see new ideas and create new ideals.
Without that exchange we would remain stagnant. Never changing. Never growing. What then would the purpose be?
writerstryingtobeoneThere is so much to be learned in the work of another. In the sharing of ideas. In seeing how another works. More than just in how they write, but in how they review what you have written! I think we get just as much out of how they see our works, how we see their works, and how we evaluate it. The doing of all of this makes us, or should make us, look at our own work differently. Through the lens of their mind.
And that too me is really what the journey is about. Looking at the world through a different lens. Sharing and growing on this wild ride we call life.
I should take a moment to say… critiquing to me is not about the grammar, the structure or even the idea… it is an expansion of the mind! It is the realization of what works and how something works. It is deeper than the surface, and if surface is all you are getting, then you have not yet dug deep enough.

 

 

What about you? What does the community of writing mean for you? How do you see the sharing of work with a peer? With a friend or family member that you have braved the sharing of your precious baby that means so much to you?

The Perfect Chair

 

It all started with a quest.  A quest for a perfect chair!  Now, mind you I have been spending my days typing away from one of those little fold up camp chairs, so anything could seem perfect after that!  But, I have since been questing for the perfect chair close to two years now and I think  I have gone and found it!  Isn’t she a beaut?!?

my new chair

 

 

I enlisted the help of my dad to find this chair.  He too has been on a similar mission, having gone through many chairs over the years.  I still don’t know that this one is it, but we both agreed, this had some mighty fine perks.

The back reclines, it has a nice free and easy rocker, of course it is one wheel and swivels all the way around.  Not only does the chair go up and down, but the arms on it do as well, so all around, there are very few complaints I would have made for it.

Now the real test comes about.  I have purchased this amazing chair… will it stand the test of use?!?  That is all I have left to answer.  On the bright side, my dad said if it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, if it doesn’t work out for me, he will buy it from me and go in search yet again for that elusive perfect office chair!

 

 

What about you?  What is your perfect office chair?  Do you have the best chair out there?  Are you stuck like I was in a camp chair, a folding chair or something equally horrifying?  Or are you too, still on that quest to find the perfect chair?

Characters, Me and the Journey

I have decided that my Camp NaNo novel is more than just Melody’s journey. It seems to me that it is also a representation of the journey I find myself on. Sure I know who I am, but yet… here I am after the loss of my wife trying to find the essence of who I was and who I became and who I want to be now.

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I write in such a way as I see myself stepping back and the characters filling in and telling me the story. I am just the “tool” they use to share their journey. Might be a strange way of looking at it, but I have found that more often than not this is how some of my best writing comes into play.

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“A little nonsense, now and then, is relished by the wisest men.”   ~Willy Wonka

It is sometimes rather funny to think of it as my characters knowing things I don’t, but that is how it works for me. Some people may decide what their character does for a living, but for me… they tell me. I may wish my characters name is something else, but what do you do when they are rather demanding and busy telling you they are so and so?

This is also how I come to learn of the journey or story I am telling. I know that really it boils down to my subconscious piecing together the tale I am working on, but sometimes… the glamor of letting ourselves believe our characters are “real” and magically sharing their tale with us, lets us look at things in a new light. After all, that is what writing is about, isn’t it? The magic of words. The magic of nothing becoming something. The magic of transporting ourselves to another place, another time, where things are maybe just a little bit different.

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That is just a little glimpse of my journey in writing, what about you? How often do you find yourself relating to your main character? In personality or in the journey they are making? How often do you feel they are just an expression of you on the page?

Creative Spaces

Life has this sneaky way of catching up with us. Camp NaNo allows me to forget all those little things I don’t really want to do on a daily basis, but yarny was down last night for maintenance, and so instead of writing I then decided it was time to clean out my writing space that I had neglected since my wife died.
The creative process, at least for me does not like clutter, and so my writing space is almost always relatively neat, but when life got in the way I let it slide.  Obviously there was clutter everywhere, not just my writing space.

Finding myself with time, and feeling like having that “creative space” back would help me find my “writing groove” once more I set to work. No easy feat, as you can see…

My messy writing space

I did manage to pull it together in short order though, and it is so welcoming! I couldn’t wait to set up the other laptop and get back to my creative space. Here is what it looks like now…

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Now I am ready to get busy working on my Camp NaNo story once more! Of course it could just mean that I can be distracted all the easier, having two screens to really lay out everything I am working on. Or be distracted by facebook, who knows… it’s the journey!

What about you? Do you have a place perfect for writing? Do you like to leave home or curl up somewhere no one can find you? What is your ideal location?

Visual Story Information

Working hard on my Camp NaNo story I decided that this time around I needed more than just a rough sketch of my story.  Having a planet hopping, ship captain for a main character means that my locations and cultures are always changing.  That means I need to know a lot more than just what I am adding to my story and I need a way to keep all the information straight.  Having come to this realization I started furiously writing on my post-it notes.  Trying to figure out what I need to add, what I already know, and different area’s of my story.  This is what I have come up with so far:

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With this in mind I also set to work finding a place to keep little storyline notes online.  I like to keep as much about my story online as I can, that way I can always have access to my writing on the go.  The search led me to Trello I am really excited to start trying that out as well.  Having the hard copy up on my wall is great, but I can’t carry that in my pocket.

Each section is color coded so I know at a quick glance what it is.  The purple is questions raised from what I have already, the Orange is things I know so far, the Yellow are places, the Light Pink are my characters and the Dark Pink is my Plot Points.  Next I am going to get all my scenes figured in and then figure out what plot points they go with, and make a timeline so I know when things are happening!  I am pretty excited to see where this leads, as I think it will really help flesh out my story more and make it possible to wrap up all my loose ends.  Wouldn’t want to leave anything unknown…

How about you?  What do you do to keep track of your story?  The places and people in it, and the plot points and how they will pan out?

Writing Idea Jar

We all have those days as writers. Days where we just don’t know where to start, or what to work on. What do you do about it? Well, being a creative type, and having a great love for looking things up, I figured it would be great to talk about making a Writing Idea Jar.

What you need is based fully on what you would want. You can have a mason jar, maybe a box, or even a little notebook. Whatever appeals to you as a writer. You will also want something to put your writing prompts on, colored paper strips, index cards, or that little notebook. Whatever is your flavor.
Then, the most important piece of this is the writing prompts or writing exercises. I will give you a few to get started, but know these are only a starting place! Inspiration can come from anywhere, add things as you think of them.

  • Write at least 100 words about a dog and a pair of eyeglasses.
  • Write at least 400 words about a betrayal, a theater, a note and a pair of dice.
  • Write at least 100 words about a mirror and a historic item.
  • Write at least 200 words about a period of severe weather, a clue and a locked box.
  • Write at least 250 words about a natural disaster, a bridge, and a boot. Focusing on one character’s internal monologue.
  • Write at least 300 words about a secret, a knife, a horn and a hunter.
  • Write at least 400 words about a banishment, a cloak and a weapon.
  • Write at least 300 words about a rebellion, a treasure and a lamp.
  • Write at least 350 words about a meeting, a dream and a clue.
  • Write at least 150 words about a loss, a newspaper, a farmer, a scroll and a school. Focus on dialog.

Hope you find this helpful in creating your own little Writing Idea Jar, or box, or book.  Let me know any of your ideas!