Fighting Game For Writers!

We are big advocates for demolishing writer’s block. We’ve talked about a variety of methods, websites, and apps to use against a writer’s worst nightmare. Here is a new one for you: Fighter’s Block.

So, after playing around with the online app for a few levels, I can officially declare this as a fun way to defeat writer’s block. There’s only a select amount of characters you can choose from and there’s only one enemy unlocked but there are little details in the structure and immersion of the game which makes it worthwhile.

Let’s break it down!

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Cute pixel sprites go up against each other in a game that challenges you to write, write, write before your character’s health reaches zero. You start off by choosing your hero (you can choose between Red or Karen, Quin is locked until you reach level 11) and your word goal for that particular level. Once you click fight, the battle has begun.

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You’ll notice the health bar of your character slowly (or quickly) diminishing if you’re not typing. As you write, the character’s health is regenerated and the enemy’s lowers.

To add more flair to your experience, you can customize your fighting background and writing difficulty to challenge yourself. The theme can be changed to different color schemes that can better your playing/writing experience. With the opponent you can easily change its speed and attack which works against you as you’re writing.

Your writing space can also be customized. From font to the display of your text box, this game is perfect for any writer looking for new ways to get back into the swing of things.

Why Three Is NOT A Crowd!

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It’s common in the writing community to have more than one pair of eyes editing your work. Some editors catch certain details, whether it’s proofing, copy editing, structural editing, or developmental edits. But what if you haven’t gotten too far into your writing career and you don’t have a team behind you quite yet? We have another option and idea for you: A WRITING GROUP.

Sounds very old school, maybe something you thought only existed on TV or in slice-of-life movies, but they’re very real and sometimes very necessary in a writer’s career. You’ll get the similar appeal from an editing team towards your writing, but a tad bit nicer and less cut-dry. A group will provide the outside perspective you need to help tie up the loose ends you may have missed. If your group (or partner) chooses meet-up times, it’ll boost your accountability with your writing and improve your relationship with your ability to write. Last but not least, you’ll get unconditional support from your peers, which you might need on those days you aren’t feeling confident.

A step beyond that: you’ll find friends. Friends who will love and support you (and your writing career but let’s get back to the sentiments), to push you in the right direction.

You’re Watching The Morning News

It’s important to find your muse and stick with it. Keeping the other creative stories at bay could be hard but worth shutting up until your current piece is complete. But what happens if your muse just so happens to be the news.

You know what I mean: writing a fictional story around a political mishap, or some celebrity scandal or even a cool invention that made its debut on the morning news but triggered your creative gears and now you can’t stop piecing together how it came to be.

Let’s talk about why it might be down your alley to talk about the trends in our society.

People read the news and are consumed by it. Good, bad, whatever it may be. This is what people will always turn to. If you’re in the writing gig and have a general interest in recreating the last scandal that popped up on your phone or TV, we say do it.

Some of the most recent best-sellers included work about politics, magical realism, plain ol’ literary realism/naturalism…but not a nonfiction story.

No, stay away from that unless you’re in a situation where you like the research your conducting.

To put it into perspective, when the Royal Wedding came around…twice…there was a huge influx in sales for stories about princesses and fictional retellings of how the couples came to be.

Think about that the next time you’re tuned into the six o’clock news.

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Revisit A Classic…

…to find new inspiration!

Recently, I’ve been interested in literature published before the 1960s. Just checked my Goodreads profile and yes, the earliest I have read was 1966. I felt like it was about time that I dive into the century prior.

I always thought that if someone was in a reading or writing slump, a good way to revive the inspiration is to visit a favorite book or possibly something new entirely but out of the person’s preferred genre. What are your thoughts on reading classics? Do you think it’s beneficial at all? Or just torture?

That being said, I’m reading The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. For the first time! And boy, can I say: revenge is best served cold, sweet Edmond!

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What In The World…?

Last week, we wrapped up our ‘Word’ series and spent a few days wondering what in the world would we share next? Let’s not waste any more time then!

We are talking about the creatures of mythology, who sometimes make appearances in novels and our writing. Let’s talk about Europe first.


 

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Valkyrie

Scandinavia

“Warrior woman who chooses who dies or lives in battle.”

Basic Facts:

  • Got her powers from Odin (yeah, one of the Gods from Norse Mythology.)
  • Very noble characters. This is reflected in their appearance (statuesque, very fair skin, golden or jet black hair.)
  • May sprout wings or wear feathered capes. Depends on the story being told.
  • More in tune with human “weaknesses” (i.e. jealous, act on revenge, etc.)
  • Magical people? In some cases, yes! It’s up to your digression. (Hint: they were mortals then were chosen by Odin…that says something.)
  • Notable Valkyries: Brynhildr, Svava

Interview with a Fictional Character

A great way to build realistic character development is to interview your characters. There are many different ways to go about interviewing a character. You could do a very basic overview (from the outside, looking in) and answer basic questions in a simple character template format.

Full Name

Birthday

Eye Color…etc.

So basic.

It’s like you’re filling out the census for them,  except you don’t have to worry about bubbling your answers in. . But, let’s say your character goes beyond that straightforward template, especially if it’s one of your main stars. What would you ask yourself about your character?

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Do they have a goal?

What’s their biggest flaw?

Do they have a religion?…etc.

You get the idea. We’re starting to dive a bit deeper here. Now you’re starting to take a step back and are starting to put yourself in their shoes to better understand their fictional life. They’re starting to come to life…THEY’RE ALIIIIIIVE!

Interview your character like I would interview Chris Hemsworth (as Thor) about Asgard or Gal Gadot (dressed as Wonder Woman) about forming the Justice League. Sorry (not sorry, it’s very relevant because of Infinity Wars) about the comic book/film references… moving right along!

Envision your character sitting across from you. Catch a glimpse of their mannerisms and body language in reaction to the personal questions you may ask.

Are you lying to yourself about something?

How did you meet your best friend?

What do you want your tombstone to say if you don’t survive this mission?…etc.

The more realistic the character becomes, the more you’ll question whether they exist or not. Make your reader believe!

Journaling

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If you enjoy journaling and are also a writer/author, the relationship between the two can get stronger if you put them together. Embracing a journal and writing entries regularly can help develop your skills as a creative writer.

Suddenly Jamie, a blogger, gave 10 reasons as to why journaling helps writing. Here are just a few that I believe are relevant to writing your novel:

  1. Helps develop writing habits.
  2. Helps find your unique voice.
  3. Clears your mind.
  4. Flushes out the crap.
  5. Alleviates the pressure to be “good.”

First, you need to find your own journaling style. If you’re a new writer and want to incorporate your journaling with your writing, there are many different ways to use your journal as a powerful writing tool. You shouldn’t feel pressure from your journaling to write more, think of it as a tool or technique that encourages your writing to happen, instead of falling into the abyss of writer’s block. One style of journaling is like John Steinback’s journals. He chooses to journal about his writing process and keeps himself updated about his writing outside of his current manuscript. Another method is to mirror something like ‘A Q&A a day’, also called “Big-Picture it,” you answer questions in which you revisit the questions after time has lapsed and in revisiting something may pop out in which you can use in your writing. If you enjoy poetry and Twitter, another interesting journaling technique is to use the character-limited social service to write a short sentence about anything. When choosing this route, you could write one tweet a week and compile 52 different poems! A similar tactic is using keywords to write in short hand. Lastly, snapshots are a fun way to journal about one moment in the day.

 

Now, if you’re comfortable with your journaling style but still want to try and weave it together with your writing, Mari L. McCarthy may be able to help. Journaling is not writing, so don’t substitute! Journaling can serve as a warm-up exercise prior to writing professionally. Writing in a journal can jumpstart thinking and test all kinds of limits for your creative writing. Your journal can be your personal therapist – to flush out the unwanted writing you may accidentally include in your novel.

The art of journaling can be a simple cure to writer’s block or can easily be used to keep your writing brain going between projects. Maybe taking a trip down to the local hobby store and picking up a journal is in your future…it counts as “work,” right?

Put Your Hand To It

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With technology constantly advancing, authors and writers have taken to saving their work on the hard drive of their personal computers. If they’re risk-takers, the manuscript will only be saved on their Google Drive. But, what happens if the internet breaks because of a technological apocalypse? Does a writer wave farewell to the 300-page world they had created and give up on the art of creative writing?

It might come as a surprise, but longhand isn’t a lost art, although it is growing more and more extinct as time moves forward. Authors like Neil Gaiman, Joyce Carol Oates, Tom Wolfe, Joe Haldeman, Andre Dubus III, and Joshua Ferris are only a few examples of authors who still take a pen and notebook to their home desk to write for several hours at a time. From a scientific standpoint, outside of creative writing, the reasons to use this style vary: individuals learn faster, recall more, are more creative, are less distracted, and  it keeps the brain sharp.

Need more of an author’s point of view to consider writing longhand? Patrick McLean posted a blog discussing his relationship with writing manuscripts by hand. He’s been reminded time and time again that every first draft won’t be perfect, so writing should be done effortlessly. In his experience, he sees that he writes better without a computer. Without the sounds of chat notifications, incoming emails, or the world wide web, McLean claims he has less distraction when writing. He sees paper as perishable but he sees technology as perishable as well; when the computer crashes, everything will be destroyed if there isn’t a backup on a hard drive. He firmly believes that just because technology evolves, the amount of content might grow, but that doesn’t mean the quality will get better.

Especially if you are in a slump or just looking for a way to revive your writing process, consider leaving technology on the side for a few hours. Give the old-fashioned longhand writing a try, instead of tapping away at a keyboard. It could potentially be lifechanging!

Fanfiction for the Soul

 

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Fanfiction has been in existence since 1939; you read that right. 1939. Now, fanfiction has served as an outlet for many to read and write as they please within a world the original storyteller has already created. It can be broken down into many subcategories as well, like: angst, crossover, fluff, darkfic, fix-fic, hurt/comfort, shipping, self-insert, smut, songfic, and WAFF. We’ve discussed some places where fanfiction can be found on the internet (Wattpad, FicWad, Tumblr, etc.) but another outlet which some can profit from is Kindle Worlds – Amazon’s fanfiction service.

Are you a writer of fanfiction and don’t like to admit it? Well, E.L. James and Anna Todd are two successful fanfiction writers and some writing professionals have taken to fanfiction as well. We all know E.L. James – writer of 50 Shades of Grey, and currently rewriting her best-selling series in Christian Grey’s point of view. Everyone knows the original 50 Shades was Twilight fanfiction. If you’re just learning this now, you read that right – Twilight fanfiction. Another author on the rise is Anna Todd. We’ve talked about her previously as a Wattpad star, but her original series After is based on some fanfiction she wrote about the British boyband sensation, One Direction. Embrace your love for writing fanfiction…these ladies did and they’re bestselling authors now!

Moving on to a more touch-y subject, many authors who rose to their fame the old-fashioned way don’t necessary enjoy fanfiction, especially of their own works. Authors like Stephanie Meyer, George R.R. Martin, J.D. Salinger, and Diana Gabaldon see fanfiction in a similar way: some form of plagiarism, discrediting the author of original story, and not a good way to write if you want to make a career out of it. But let’s break down why fanfiction is good for the soul, according to AutumnMooncakes (a fanfiction writer) and another source:

  1. To clear the air, fanfiction is not technically a form of plagiarism. It isn’t a form of trademark infringement until someone decides to make profit off it. This is exactly why E.L. James drastically changed her fanfiction to become an original piece of work.
  2. The writing of fanfiction helps embrace the creativity within an individual. Not all writers have a sense of what they wish to write about, all they know is – they want to write. So by using a world already created by published authors, the writer can exercise their own writing capabilities.
  3. Fanfiction has proven to be a form of support for members of the LGBTQ+ community. The connection people have to reading LGBTQ+ type fanfiction can change a person’s life in a way. So, why wouldn’t you want to helping people not feel alone?
  4. And find a way to deal with the bumps in the road of writing. Fanfiction sets creative limits with the characters already made by the author, getting the minor details right, and there needs to be plenty of research to make the character accurate. Even when the original author has added onto the series (i.e. spin-off, prequels), it makes the writing process more interesting to revisit the fanfiction piece to include new details.

I respect any author who dislikes fanfiction; they’re entitled to their own opinion and demand respect for their work. It should always be remembered a piece of fanfiction can save a life, can serve as an outlet for their fans who are facing their own struggles and a way for writers to embark on their journey of writing.

Writing Revelation

Anton Chekhov:

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”