The Final Round of Writing Exercises Begins Next Tuesday

There are four weeks left in my currently-running series of writing exercises.

I’ve been talking about the components of short fiction writing as an aid to beginners, and these exercises will form the basis of a new book!

The Write, Or Else! book will start out as a textbook for my university ESL writing class.

I will take the blog posts from the writing exercise series and revise them slightly so I can use them in class. After that field test, I should have a decent book I can release to the public! A beginner’s guide to short fiction writing – but maybe I’ll give it a snappier name.

For the final 4 weeks, I’ll talk about putting the setting, characters, and plot challenges together into a working story.

It all starts on Tuesday, June 6. See you then!


Support my Inkshares campaign for Far Flung

I need your help to reach 250 pre-orders – click here for the full details about why and how I’m getting this sci-fi novel done through Inkshares.

Click the picture below to help this book become a reality. Let’s explore the universe together!

campaign

Final Thoughts on Second-Person POV

You can see other writing exercises here.

On Tuesday I wrote about the Late Student prompt in the 2nd-Person. It was a rather awkward exercise!

For your own example, you want to check the character’s actions and feelings for consistency. You are projecting these aspects onto the reader, and asking the reader to play a role. That means the reader has to understand the role and the character motivations very well. In a successful 2nd-person story, the reader would have to understand all of the choices made by the focus character. The reader should think That’s what I’d do in that situation.

Maybe now it’s really clear why 2nd-person is used for role-playing and books with multiple endings – those offer the reader (or player) choices as if they were really experiencing the events. A book written in 2nd-person with no branching choices would likely be a frustrating read:

In the story: “You run across the street despite the heavy traffic.”

Reader: “No, I freaking don’t, come on!”


An Upcoming Second-Person Novel – Mutants: Uprising

Anyway, for the conclusion of this month centered on POV, I’ll point you to another entry in the same Nerdist contest that my story is currently in. It’s called Mutants: Uprising by Jane-Holly Meissner, and the whole thing is written in the 2nd-person. See the sample here and judge for yourself how well it works!


 

Please support my Inkshares campaign for Far Flung

I need your help to reach 250 pre-orders – click here for the full details about why and how I’m getting this sci-fi novel done through Inkshares.

Click the picture below to help this book become a reality. Let’s explore the universe together!

 

POV Exercise – The Late Student, Part 3

You can see other writing exercises here.

The Late Student, Part 3 – All about you

Welcome back! We’re trying out different takes on one scene to get practice writing in different points of view.

This prompt is getting old, huh? That’s the thing about serious writing, though – you can expect to do multiple takes on the same prompt. If you ever get into ghostwriting, you’ll have to work with prompts and needed plot details you might not like – but you’ll have to give it your best. Ideally, an author should be able to generate a story from any prompt!


A student walks into the classroom late. The student walks down the aisle and sits in an empty seat. The professor stops the lecture for a moment to watch the student. The professor tries to continue the lecture, but he forgets what he was talking about and looks a bit frustrated and annoyed.


 

For our final take, let’s do 2nd-person!

Choose a character in the scenario and turn him or her into the reader.  You’re going to be telling the reader what he or she is doing. (Maybe it’s not hard to see why 2nd-person POV is rarely used outside role-playing and Choose Your Own Adventure books.)

This is my first attempt at 2nd-person ever. This is just for fun – it’s very difficult to sell anything written in the 2nd-person, and professional authors usually avoid it.

I will put the reader in the role of the professor:


You turn your eyes to the door as Daniel walks into the classroom. You quickly turn back to your lecture notes. Now is not the time; let him think you didn’t notice. You scan the notes – there it is, the bit about Constantine’s rise to power. You narrate, building the story of Roman history to a crescendo, and lowering your voice again as the paragraphs reach a natural break.

Erika, the one with the atrocious dye job, passes notes to Daniel, and you see your opportunity. You pounce. “So nice of you to join us, Daniel.”

The dejection on his face almost brings a smile to yours. If you cannot have the satisfaction of a student excelling with the material, schadenfreude will have to do.


I really want to see what you can do with 2nd-person POV

So few people write in it, it would be awesome to see more takes. I will return to this exercise on Thursday and in the future to revise and improve the examples – this could be a really fun and weird writing exercise for my students.

See you on Thursday!


 

Please support my Inkshares campaign for Far Flung

I need your help to reach 250 pre-orders – click here for the full details about why and how I’m getting this sci-fi novel done through Inkshares.

Click the picture below to help this book become a reality. Let’s explore the universe together!

Far Flung is in the Nerdist Sci-Fi Contest on Inkshares!

nerdistcontest

The Nerdist and Inkshares are having a party, and my readers are all invited!

Far Flung, my sci-fi novel draft, is going into the Nerdist Sci-fi Contest!

In 2169, Ulysess Spaceflight begins a private mission to colonize the Tau Ceti system. William Flynn, a rising star among the reporters for The Galactic Observer, is aboard with a unique opportunity to record the life of the colonists aboard the Tereshkova colony vessel. Instead of arriving at the fourth planet of Tau Ceti, however, the ship jumps to a new and unknown galaxy billions of lightyears from Earth.

Flynn and the crew are forced to survive in a war-torn region with no help from other humans. As they flee from hostile aliens, the crew is forced to trust the strange beings who offer aid and shelter. With no hope of returning to Earth, they must seek a new home among the stars.

pre-order far flung

Why should anyone be interested in Far Flung?

Did you ever watch Star Trek: Voyager and wish there were more danger and consequences for the crew’s actions? Did you ever watch the Battlestar Galactica revival and wonder what what happen if the crew met other beings and civilizations aside from the Cylons?

The story of Far Flung draws from episodic sci-fi and blends in a multiple point-of-view structure. See the story unfold through the eyes of five different characters on the colony ship Tereshkova – a rookie reporter, an upstart navigator, a brilliant engineer, an ex-military security chief, and an alien scientist. Their stories tie together the trials and dangers of a search for a new home.

Why put this on Inkshares?

I need a metaphorical kick in the butt to get this done. Maybe a real one too. Various issues have led to this book taking a long time, but this contest does not require a finished novel. If I win this, or get a minimum of 250 pre-orders, Far Flung will get finished. It will get the best possible attention that I can give it, along with the editorial talents of Inkshares and the publisher they hook me up with.

Why should anyone pay $10 for an ebook?

You aren’t just getting an ebook – you are contributing to a pool of money that will be used to secure editing, publication, and promotional deals. That’s the big difference between this an a Kickstarter – if I did a Kickstarter I would have to find an editor and a publisher, and handle all of my promotion by myself. At least this way, I can get help from industry professionals who know what it takes to get a book out there.

You get the satisfaction of helping an indie author make his dream come true. If that’s not worth $10, I don’t know what is!

What if Far Flung doesn’t win?

If I do not win the contest and I fail to get enough pre-orders, you get your money back. 100%, no questions asked, easy as that. I will find other ways to get this book done.

If I don’t win but I do get the minimum required pre-orders, I will have help from Inkshares with editing, publication, and promotion.

How close to finished is the book?

The second draft is complete from beginning to end, and the book stands at about 60,000 words in length. You can see samples from the third draft when you visit Far Flung on Inkshares and read the sample chapters.

If I win the contest or get enough pre-orders, I will be able to finish this book much faster than I would otherwise. I’ll have money for the services I need and help from industry professionals.

What are you waiting for? Pre-order Far Flung and let’s explore the universe together:

pre-order far flung

The Late Student – Part 2 Results

You can see other writing exercises here.

The Late Student Part 2 – Results

On Tuesday I went over the some of the  3rd-person POV styles that are used in fiction. For my sample result, I decided to go with 3rd-person objective:


The door opens slowly. Dr. Spencer continues the lecture as if unaware of Daniel’s entrance. Daniel holds his breath as he eases the door shut behind him. He looks furtively at Dr. Spencer as the professor continues his lecture. His eyes scan the room, and settle in the direction of an empty seat. He steps into the aisle, his footsteps barely audible as Dr. Spencer carries on. A girl with red-dyed hair looks up to Daniel as he slowly sits. She smiles as she leafs through the papers before her. She draws out copies of Dr. Spencer’s handouts and places them in front of Daniel.

“You’re a lifesaver,” Daniel whispers. Just as the words start leaving his mouth, however, Dr. Spencer hit a lull in his lecture. Daniel’s words echo throughout the now-quiet classroom.

“How nice of you to join us, Daniel,” Dr. Spencer says. His eyes turn to Daniel, and Daniel bites his lip. All students turn their eyes on him, and Daniel slouches in his seat.

“Uh, my bus was late,” Daniel says, “Won’t happen again.” Chuckles fill the room, but Dr. Spencer looks around with a deep frown, and the students end their laughter quickly.

“I’ll see you after class,” Dr. Spencer says. He turns away from Daniel and looks over his notes at the lectern. Daniel slouches even deeper as he mouths a curse under his breath.


I tried not to show direct emotions, thoughts or feelings as I wrote this objective piece. Any emotions should come about by implication from character expressions and reactions.

 

Join me next week when we try something just for fun – the Second Person POV!

POV Exercise – The Late Student, Part 2

POV Flowchart

The commonly used points-of-view for fiction writing. Image from Wikispaces.

 

You can see other writing exercises here.

The Late Student, Part 2

Welcome back! We’re trying out different takes on one scene to get practice writing in different points of view.

We’ll use the same prompt as last week:


A student walks into the classroom late. The student walks down the aisle and sits in an empty seat. The professor stops the lecture for a moment to watch the student. The professor tries to continue the lecture, but he forgets what he was talking about and looks a bit frustrated and annoyed.


 

This time, we’ll write in the third person.

Once again, the goal is to write a short scene based on the prompt. Choose a 3rd-person POV and write the story from that viewpoint. Let’s look at the different flavors of 3rd-person POVs that are used in writing:

Continue reading

The Late Student – Part 1 Results

You can see other writing exercises here.

The Late Student Part 1 – Results

On Tuesday I gave this prompt:


A student walks into the classroom late. The student walks down the aisle and sits in an empty seat. The professor stops the lecture for a moment to watch the student. The professor tries to continue the lecture, but he forgets what he was talking about and looks a bit frustrated and annoyed.


 

I wanted you to write a very short story in the first person from either the professor’s or the student’s viewpoint. For beginners, this exercise helps build some experience writing in the first-person, while for seasoned writers, it’s a chance to show off! Bizarre writing prompts are great, but it’s important to work with more mundane situations as well. When the situation is mundane, the writer is forced to paint in more emotions and detail to show how it matters to the main character – if it matters to your character, it will matter to the reader.

As usual, I give you my take

 

I don’t share my takes on these exercises because I think I’m an expert – heck, no, I know as well as anyone I need to improve a lot. I share them because some of my students have rarely or never written fiction, and I strive to get them writing regularly. I hope some readers of this blog appreciate the examples, and I always welcome feedback to make them better.

Anyway, here’s what I have for The Late Student, First Person POV:


I jumped out of the bus and ran up the hill. Not again, God he’s going to flunk me! I weave through clusters of students, brushing past elbows and handbags as I come to the door of the building. I run up the stairs, and I come to the classroom. I look in. Dr. Spencer’s really into the lecture, gesturing wildly and shouting so loud I could hear him halfway down the hall. Maybe I’ll get lucky.

I open the door slowly, and Dr. Spencer still doesn’t turn. My heart races as I step in and close the door behind me. I look to the third row, and spot Erika next to an empty seat. I’ve totally got this. I creep toward the seat, quiet as a ninja. I pass the linebacker – he told me his name, but my brain’s not registering it now.  He smiles widely, and his wink says I know how you feel bro. I narrowly avoid bumping into his muscled arm as I pass through the aisle between desks.

Erika sweeps back her red-dyed hair and smiles slightly when I sit next to her. She winks at me, and butterflies fill my stomach. Without missing a beat, she picks up the handout she’s got on her desk, revealing a second copy underneath. She hands me the extra copy, and I whisper, “You are a lifesaver!”

“How nice of you to join us, Daniel!” Dr. Spencer’s voice booms. My heart drops through the floor as everyone turns to look at me. I do my best Han Solo sheepish grin, and hear some stifled laughs from the room. Dr. Spencer, of course, is hardly amused. He glares into my eyes, and my stomach churns as I realize he’s waiting for me to say something in my defense.

“My, uh, bus was late,” I say, “Won’t happen again.” Some students start to laugh, but Dr. Spencer’s glare cuts them off. He then says those fateful words, the ones no student ever wants to hear.

“I’ll see you after class.”


 

Have fun with the prompt, and next week we’ll try a different take on it.