Monthly Archives: March 2014

Bring Your Characters to Life

We’ve all heard about cosplaying before and how much of a popular subculture it has become in the last ten years or so. People get very enthusiastic about going to conventions, often called Cons, and dressing up as their favorite character from a TV show, book, movie, etc. The ability to be able to dress up for a few hours (or days, depending) as someone other than yourself is thrilling for some people.

Have you ever thought about cosplaying your own characters, though?

Think about it: you know your own character inside and out, their likes, their dislikes, their favorite toy/movie/season, and you how they look. Why not dress and act like them for a day?

This may sound silly, but if you think about it, this can actually help in your writing process when you are writing a story – especially if you’re in the character development phase.

If you have a dashing young man from England in the 1920s who wears a fedora and pantsuit, then wear a fedora and pantsuit and try to walk, talk, and act like him. If you have an older woman who is run down and beat from her workplace, but loves to go home and cook, try your hand at cooking (just don’t set the place on fire!) by also dressing how she would dress, act as she would, etc.

It can be a fun experience, all you have to do is try it out. If you don’t know exactly what you are going to do, that’s okay. You can be yourself but only act certain ways around the house, at the local cafe, at school, or anywhere you want. Pick one location and “play” how your character would act in that one location.

I think I might even try this for myself and post my findings later on!

Experiment! Don’t be afraid to look like a fool – it’s not really “you” who’s doing it!

If you’ve done this before, or if you are going to do this, let me know what happened!

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Mini-Series Part 4: Audience

First, I would like to apologize for my lack of posts the past few weeks – life had had a strong hold on me and I had no hope of escape.

Second, welcome to the last segment in my mini-series on building a story: audience!

Previously I had talked about character, setting, and content development, but today I’m going to talk about audience and the importance of writing for your audience. I have personally gained the knowledge about writing for audience in various classes I’ve taken here at my university, so it would be near impossible to cite any and all sources I’ve come across over the years.

Anyway, audience is probably the most important aspect of writing a story besides the actual writing portion of it! Why? Well, you want to be able to tailor your story to a certain audience before you decide to get it published – if you get it published.

Do you want to write for children or teens? Fiction or fantasy? Biographical or historical? There are many, many genres of writing out there and each story is tailored specifically to that genre. So before you think about writing your story in its entirety, try to think about who you want to write it for: who your target audience is.

Here’s a few tips I’ve gained over the years:

Don’t think vague; get specific! You don’t want to think too broadly on this one. Yes, some stories can span a multitude of genres, but think about the specific audience you want to write for: college students? Children between the ages of 8 and 12? Adults who like specifically romance?

Don’t expect to please everyone. Seriously, don’t get your hopes up. There is always going to be someone who isn’t happy with what you’ve written, but that doesn’t mean you should give up trying your best at what you’ve got! In fact, it should encourage you to try even harder!

Research other novels, authors, publishers, etc. before you get too far into your story. If you get an idea for how people are writing and what publishers are looking for you’ll be able to tailor your story even further to better suit the needs of who you want to publish with.

Ask family and/or friends who are around the age or group you are looking to write for to read what you’ve written and how you can make changes. Your family may try to be nice in saying your story is good, but if you know that something’s lacking you should stick your foot down and ask for any and all honest opinions and critiques. It is better to get a sense of whether or not your story is working for the audience you were initially writing for or not from someone who cares about you before giving it to someone who might just toss it out upon first glance.

Though these are just a few examples of why you should consider your audience for your story. It will help to make your story that much better and you’ll be able to put more into the story than not.

There are plenty of resources out there for you to consider when writing a story, but just try to also come up with your own as you go. You’ll get the hang of it as you go. You can use these tips for both story writing and blog writing.

Blog writing and story writing are two different things, though, so though I didn’t focus on blog writing this time around I will do my best to do a future mini-series that is dedicated to blog writing.

I hope you enjoyed my first mini-series. I still have a lot more to learn when it comes to doing these kinds of things (mini-series and advice giving), but I hope that I’ve done just that in my mini-series!

If any of you has any advice or tips for me on how you write a story or blogging or anything, leave a comment!

Mini-Series Part 3: Developing Content

Placing characters into your setting is the first step of creating the content of your story. But what about the content of the story? You know, the stuff that makes up the meat of it? How do you form that around the characters and the setting you’ve chosen to write about?

Take out a scrap paper or open a new document, but also open the document you put your initial idea about what you wanted to write about on. If you’ve chosen to write about a teenage girl who ends up at an asylum because she hears voices, but she’s really seeing the ghosts of her ancestors, or if you’re writing about an alien planet where you characters have supernatural powers, then start there.

I’ll use the asylum idea as my example for the upcoming tips and advice I’m about to give.

  • Start with a scenario. What’s the main idea of the story? For my example, the girl who is essentially a medium tells her parents about the occurrences and she is thought to be crazy, so she is sent to an asylum.
  • Begin at the end! Sometimes starting at the beginning is more challenging than starting at the end. Think of how you want your character(s) to end up and how you want your plot to end. Will the girl escape the asylum? Will the bad guy get what’s coming to him? Or are you going to have a cliffhanger and make a series out of it?
  • Don’t write the climax too soon. The climax of the story is the “big bang” that happens usually toward the end of the middle half of the book. For my example, the climax could possibly be when the girl in the asylum discovers that the person she had been sharing a room with is actually dead, but she’s been controlling everything around her. What does the main character do? Does she run for help or does she find another means to the end? Or does the person she discovers to be dead help to plan her escape? The climax is typically the most interesting part, so don’t write it too soon in your story!
  • Write the beginning as if you, yourself, were the main character. Typically writing a story is from your perspective through your character, but instead place yourself in your character’s shoes. Take a moment to close your eyes an imagine yourself as the girl with the ability to see and talk to the dead. Imagine the fear she must have of telling her parents, imagine the scenario of telling them and being called a freak. Imagine what happens when she is rolling up to the entrance of the asylum in her parents’ car and how the nurse and doctors are both in white. Think about everything your character is going through and write it down. You might not use all of it, but you’ll get the idea as to how it should begin.
  • Don’t write “filler.” Filler is not fun, not engaging, nor interesting. Filler is just to get something more out of the story, but nothing is really going on. You can write for pages about how white the walls of the asylum are and how white the floor is and how white the hair on the old lady sitting in the corner is. But it’s not interesting, it’s not filler. Don’t get me wrong, you can mention these things, but don’t go on for pages and pages about it. Always have something going on that can further engage your story.

So we have the bones, the blood, and now we have the vital organs of a story. The content is what makes the story, well, a story! It can turn a one page paper into a novel and it can turn an idea into something great. Without the content of the story, you really have nothing. Take the time to think about how you want to write this story and how you want to connect your plot together while placing the characters into the plot.

You’re well on your way to having a completed story! If you haven’t already, just continue to write about what is going on in your story and try to complete it within a year’s time. Yes, it takes time, and when you do finish just remember to breathe and pat yourself on the back for completing such a fete.

But there’s just one thing I want and need to cover: audience. It’s an important aspect to writing a story and is probably the most important aspect of story writing next to actually writing the story itself. So tune in next time for the last part of my mini-series on development!