#IWSG November 2017 – Rethinking my blog and writing

A short post for the Insecure Writers Support Group this month, all about my current state of affairs and things I think will be interesting to the neurotic writers who pass by blogs like this every month.

First, if you haven’t seen my guest post on world-building on John Robin’s blog, be sure to check that out – it was fun to write, and I really have to do that more often,

I’m looking at new ways to use this blog

So one big change I’m making now (and a reason for the lack of updates) is deciding what I want to use this blog for. Some of my writing tips have gone over well, and I might go back to doing that weekly. I like the idea of previewing others’ writing like I did for the Launch Pad contest – I could see myself doing little previews of upcoming and released indie works.

One thing’s for sure – I can’t do long updates or too frequent ones. Regular updates, yes, but probably not more than once, maybe twice a week. I need to do more actual writing!

NaNoWriMo

No. Not really, anyway. I need to finish the book I’m working on, not start a new one now. I’d rather devote a set amount of time to working on my current book than set a specific word count. I’ll start with 1 hour per day, and see if I can boost that up a bit.

Anxiety

I’m doing some online counseling (best option I have at the moment) and it will spill over onto this blog in some form. I think my writing and my anxiety interact in many ways, and that some tips to deal with one will also help with the other. I’m on the lookout for other blogs that talk about anxiety and writing – there should be some good links with IWSG I would think!

Anyway, that’s my rambling IWSG post for November. If you have some ideas for content for my blog, feel free to leave comments. I’ll be looking around some of your blogs too!

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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!


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Setting #4 – Results

 

Time to finish off this month’s writing exercises.

I’m sharing an excerpt from Painted Blue Eyes as an example of a setting might look “in action” – that is, how setting description can blend into the narrative. I encourage you to share your own work, and to look at what sensory info you’ve included as you worked the setting into your story.

At the start of Painted Blue Eyes, my goal was to describe a setting that many people should know fairly well – the dusty attic of an old relative’s house. I used the familiar idea of stumbling into an old attic, along with sights and the memories it triggered in the main character. Blending sensory info with the feelings triggered can be a great way to put the reader in the setting, even without long descriptions of all the senses.

What are your favorite passages that describe settings? I’d love to hear what stories you’ve read with excellent stage-setting and scene description.

Continue reading

Setting #4 – Share a setting from your story

This month we’ve answered lists of setting questions, gone outside, and used a room to describe a character. Now let’s see your settings in action.

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Show me what you got.

Let’s see a setting from a story you have written or are working on now. You could share an actual excerpt where you describe a setting in narrative, or you can compose a separate piece laying out a setting that you plan to use.

My best answer for this comes from a story I published called Painted Blue Eyes. The excerpt starts like this:

In the cramped space between ceiling and roof, I stepped around furniture older than any living relative. Rocking chairs and antique tables were hidden under filthy rags or tangled in cobwebs. I came to an ancient brown sofa, its seats bandaged many times over with duct tape.

I encourage you to share from your work, and I’ll post more on Thursday!

 

Creative Assets – Advice for Writers

This is a reblog from Lateral Action – a very good blog for creative types that I recommend you check out.

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This post talks about how content creators have to keep, well, creating content in order to survive. The traditional ways of getting a job don’t work for many creative types (God I wish someone had sit down with me and explained THAT 20 years ago …), so we have to get ourselves noticed through different means.

When you follow a creative path, you won’t find any of the usual milestones of success.

Unlike your friends who enter traditional jobs, with clear routes to promotion, finely calibrated pay grades and impressive job titles, there is no ‘career ladder’ for people like you and me; no incremental markers to indicate your progress.

So if you compare yourself to them, it can be easy to feel left behind as they climb higher and higher, from promotion to promotion. It’s obvious to all the world that their career is ‘going somewhere’.

Meanwhile, what are you up to?

On bad days, as you wrestle with another project that stubbornly resists your efforts to turn it into a masterpiece, with no fancy job title, and no promotion or pay rise in prospect, it can feel like you’re going nowhere fast.

If it’s a really bad day, you may be on the receiving end of some well-intentioned sympathy from a friend or family member, asking if it isn’t time you got “a real job”.

Have a look at the full article at this link!

 

Exercise 3 Results – Character Conflicts

On Tuesday, I asked you to write about conflicts facing your characters.

 

I gave you one example:

Character Goal: Flynn wants to be a good news reporter.

Conflict: He can’t be a reporter because he is the story now. He has to figure out his new role, and how his skills can help.

 

Here are two more examples for the same character:

Character Goal: Flynn wants to propose to his long-time girlfriend, Darya Fitzgerald.

Conflict: His ship is stranded in unknown space on the other side of the universe.

Character Goal: He wants to be adored and respected among the colonists of his ship.

Conflict: When aliens start talking to him first, many colonists are wary and some even fear him.

 

Note that I still have room to make the above problems even worse. Let’s worry about that next week.

For now, let’s see your characters and conflicts.

 


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Resources for Writing Teachers

http://thewritepractice.com/teachers/

My own lessons on the basics of writing are based on my class for ESL students, most of whom have only written some university essays and lots of text messages in both their first language as well as English.

This link here has some good ideas on reaching a broader base of learners, and so is extremely useful as I seek ways to spice up and improve my writing and how I teach.

 

Another writing lesson will go up soon!